This is a very good grinder, overpriced as most things are but comes with a comforting 2 year warranty so just buy and grind.
Positive Product Points
Dump beans in, set grind type, turn timer knob to grind, pull out fresh grounds and use. Very easy. Machine looks good and has good sized hopper to hold beans. The 2 piece burr grinding gears look tough and it uses the better conical gears rather than grinding discs. Better than blade grinders hands down. Timer knob rather than on/off switch.
Negative Product Points
Grounds catcher doesn't always stay in place while grinding as will slowly moves out of position from the vibrations of grinding. Says Starbucks on the side. Wouldn't take much of an impact to crack the plastic of the bean hopper. Price is high... it's just 2 gears, a motor, a switch and a plastic box after all. Timer knob rather than on/off switch.
This machine is made by Solis for Starbucks. I only use this for grinding espresso beans. It grinds beans very fine - like extremely fine sugar granules. Some reviewers have felt that they can't get a fine enough grind but I can't imagine getting any finer than what I'm getting now and I wouldn't want to.
Keep your eye on the grinds catcher as it can move forward from the vibrations of grinding.
Be careful if you ever need to turn this unit upside down as one of the grinding gears will just fall out so lift it out by hand first. If you want to change beans then be aware that the first bit of grinds will be leftovers held within the conical grinding gears from the previous batch unless you let the grinder work until you hear the change in the whiring sound of the gears indicating that nothing is passing through them anymore. Then add your new beans.
The timer knob rather than an on/off switch is both useful and annoying... it just depends. It's useful if you want to walk away while it grinds and annoying if you want if off but it still has a while to go before the timer shuts off. You can probably turn the knob toward off manually but I don't think it's a good idea in the long run. I rated this machine with mostly 7s, if 5 being average, then 7 is very good.
I bought this on sale at Starbucks for $129 Canadian. The regular price was $179. They threw in a free 1lb of coffee beans. The girl I dealt with was pleasant though not knowledgeable about the product. I had researched it out very thoroughly on this site anyway so it didn't matter.
Three Month Followup
No problems experienced thus far. I have experienced the dreaded "static cling" a couple of times. Washing out the grinds catcher with dish soap and water, then drying it thoroughly helped. It's kind of interesting, almost freaky... when the grinds catcher has static and you pull it out of the grinder, some of the grinds can actually jump right out of the catcher and form a circular ring pattern on the counter top... must be experienced to be believed... weird. Anyway, it has something to do with dryness levels in the house and positive vs. negative charges between the beans and the grinder pieces, blah, blah, blah. If you want to change beans just run the grinder until completely empty and then add the other beans. This way I avoid having to pour unground beans out of the hopper which would be awkward and messy. The key is not to use more beans than you really need for each brewing session.
The timer knob and lack of an on/off switch remains a mixed bag... useful at times to have a timer, annoying at other times not to have an on/off switch, but it always works. You do get used to where to turn it for the amount of beans you want to grind so I guess I lean toward having a timer over an on/off switch.
I'm very pleased with this grinder though I always keep it set to fine grind for espresso.
One Year Followup
This grinder has worked perfectly for this last year. We use it everyday and there is no sign of the blades dulling or not performing as well as when it was first purchased. Highly recommended if you can buy it on sale.