When I realized that my little Braun whirly-blade just wasn't up to the standards that a true Coffee geek required, I set out to get myself a decent Burr grinder. Enter the Saeco MC2002. I was pleasantly surprised at the heft of this little machine, indicating that there is enough metal inside the plastic body to keep it from moving about on the counter when in operation. After reading the included manual, I gave the hoppers a quick wash and went about filling this machine with some beans.
Setting the grind adjustment is as simple as turning the bean hopper to the desired position. The on/off switch is a rocker switch on the base of the machine. When turned on, the motor runs at high RPMs, and it is this force which ejects the ground coffee into the collection hopper. There is a button on the side of the grinder which, when depressed, allows for the removal of the ground coffee hopper for easy washing. One big problem I see here are the two little plastic hooks which secure the hopper to the grinder. These can be easily broken. The collection hopper also has a little lid which flips up for scooping out the ground coffee. On the down side, this hopper also has a piece of plastic which acts as a baffle to direct the ground coffee down into the bin. This is required to keep the fast-moving grounds inside the collection bin and not out the lid. Unfortunately, due to the high speed of the grinder, the ground coffee does manage to escape even with the plastic baffle in place. The only solution I could come up with was to leave a towel covering the ground coffee hopper.
The grinding burrs are commercial grade steel, and can be easily replaced by removing three screws from the top burr plate. I was informed that a set of burrs should last the average home user 3-5 years, depending on use.
I must point out here that at this stage in my coffee geek journey (July 2002), my usual beverage was from a Moka pot, or stove top espresso maker. The grind for this device is usually a medium to fine grind, but nothing as fine as required for true espresso. Thus, I cannot remark about the quality of grind for espresso, just the Moka pot and Drip methods.
The espresso beans I used were quite a dark roast, and very oily. This proved very problematic for the grinder. Normally, once the beans have been ground, they travel through a chute into the collection hopper. This chute is covered by a plastic grid whose main function appears to be either to clog up the machine or keep unwary fingers out of the grinder machanism. With my oily espresso beans, the machine was so clogged that after two days of use (1/4 lb of coffee) very little of the ground coffee made its way to the collection hopper. I spent a good long while using toothpicks to scrape the collected ground coffee out of the chute. Using a medium roast bean afterwards provided a clog-free chute.
The ground coffee hopper was large enought to hold enough coffee for an 8 - 10 cup pot of drip coffee, although using a spoon to remove the ground coffee was just a bit too tedious for me, so I removed the bin and dumped the coffee into the filter. Simple enough.
My biggest disappointment with the Saeco MC2002 grinder was the large amount of static electricity it produced. Once the lid of the collection bin is lifted, the ground coffee jumps everywhere. I tried leaving the machine rest for 30 - 45 seconds after turning it off, but still the static caused a ground-coffee shower.
If Saeco can minimize (dare we say eliminate!) the static this grinder produces, and figure out a way to keep the ground coffee inside the collection bin when in operation (the baffle just doesn't work), they will have a good little machine the consumer can be happy with. Until then, there will be ground coffe everywhere!
After two weeks of using this grinder, I cleaned it up the best I could and returned it for a full refund, citing the above as my reasons. With the money, I purchased a Solis Maestro, and have been happy ever since.