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Coffee Grinders & my Solis Maestro Plus

letterk

Moderator Emeritus
Seems we need a thread about coffee grinders in The Speakeasy.

To start, here's a quick review of my new Solis Maestro Plus. Quick background - I love good coffee, but have only just recently been interested in improving the quality at home. So take my comments as coming from basically a newbie. Other coffee connoisseurs, such as DJ, have much more experience than I and would be able to offer far greater advice.

My previous equipment was a basic blade grinder and a typical department store drip coffee machine. My initial goal was to be able to make espresso at home and my wish list (from talks with a board member and reading coffeegeek.com) included a Rancilio Rocky grinder and a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. The grinder was number one on my list and I was waiting for a good deal. After reading quite a few reviews I had the Solis Maestro (standard) as a second choice.

Talking with my wife changed the plans slightly, as she really wanted to just be able to make a great pot of drip coffee, without all the skill and time required for espresso. So, while espresso is still a goal, great drip coffee has become the immediate plan, and the need for espresso quality grind is lessened.

Right before Christmas, my wife broke our blade grinder. Luckily my in-laws planned on getting me a grinder as a Christmas gift. When asked for recommendations, I suggested the Maestro ($115) as I didn't necessarily want to ask for the Rocky due to the higher price. I had my hesitations about the Maestro as I've read that there were a few shortcomings, including noise and instability from a light machine, and not a quite fine enough grind for espresso. I knew the Plus model ($150) was an improvement in both areas, but at the increased price, the Rocky wasn't that much more.

Luckily, eBay came to the rescue and this gentlemen occasionally sells the Maestro Plus, factory refurbished for $115 shipped, the same price as the standard model. The grinder is drop shipped from the distributor in Portland, and includes a 6 month warranty (versus the normal year). Actually, since I purchased mine, I've seen him sell it for $105 shipped, so you may be able to get a better deal.

While I still would like to get the Rocky, I'll probably be happy I got the Maestro as having a dedicated espresso grinder seems to be recommended. So I'll need to purchase another grinder in the future. The Maestro will handle my normal drip and French press needs quite nicely. I believe it will also let me at least get started with espresso once the need arises.

So, finally, on to my brief review.

It's a very nice machine. The 4lb metal base really promotes a quality feel. It's very easy to use and cleaning seems to be easy as well.

While it takes longer than a blade grinder, the resulting grind is infinitely better than my old blade grinder. The grind is very consistent and the resulting coffee was the best made at home so far. The grind is easy to adjust and there are helpful markings for common grind size (drip, espresso, etc...) It also seems to leave very little residual grinds left in the machine with an empty bean hopper.

It's very stable and quite a bit quieter than I was expecting.

Compared to the standard model, it has 40 grind settings versus 16, and claims to be able to grind fine enough for Turkish coffee (although I have no plans to actually test that).

Another plus is that my wife thinks it looks nice, so leaving it on the counter is OK.

The timed grinding feature will probably go unused.

While not really much of a concern, I've found two things that could be improved. I find I get some grinds behind the grind catch box. Also, while it incorporates some design features to reduce static build-up, it's still there.

Overall I'm very happy with the grinder.

Do you have a favorite grinder and would you care to review it?
 
John,

I have the same machine and love it. I did a great deal of research and for the price point, it was my choice. I think the Plus is worth the few extra pieces of coin for all the subtle improvements of the Maestro. I actually have a review of it posted on www.wholelattelove.com I took the same route you did also, I bought it from these folks (free shipping included) for ~$115.00 refurbished with a full warranty. I've had it for going on 2 years now I think with no problems.

This machine does it all for me with little or no trouble. The only thing that took me a bit was learning the right setting for the espresso grind I wanted. The first try I had to use a paper clip to break up the clump that formed in the chute. A bit of trial and error and now it is perfect. Recently I have been playing around with the grind settings for my new Vacuum Pot, and it is painless.

If I could justify buying a higher end grinder, I would in a heartbeat; but there is zero need because this Plus meets my needs. I recommend it to anyone that is in the market. Solis is well known name in the business and parts are available if you ever need them.

-Scott-
 

Dinder1

Moderator Emeritus
Nice review John. A consistent grind is crucial in brewing a good cup of coffee, and I am sure that you will notice a big improvement in the cup.
Now as far as keeping your coffee in the supplied hopper...I don't recommend it. The hopper on the grinder is not airtight, and relying on the timer for proper dosing just does not give you a consistent dose of ground coffee. I always measure my whole beans by volume, then I throw them in the grinder until they are all ground, switch off the grinder, and brew.
Coffees enemies are light, and air, so just store your coffee in a airtight container tucked away in a nice dark cool cupboard, and all will be good.
Enjoy the new grinder John, it should last you many years.
DJ.
 

ouch

Moderator Emeritus
This notion may be anathema to serious coffee gurus, but I've found a use for the cheap, crappy blade grinders: use them with your Aeropress! Unlike persnickety espresso machines, the Aeropress doesn't seem to mind a less than ideal grind, and I've had some excellent cups at work, something I had not thought possible.
 
This notion may be anathema to serious coffee gurus, but I've found a use for the cheap, crappy blade grinders: use them with your Aeropress! Unlike persnickety espresso machines, the Aeropress doesn't seem to mind a less than ideal grind, and I've had some excellent cups at work, something I had not thought possible.
Even with a French press and supposedly an Aeropress, a consistent grind should be crucial. The fine particles would be over-extracted while the coarser would be under-extracted. :confused:
 

ouch

Moderator Emeritus
Very true, but not nearly as bad a result as other methods, including lots of commercial offerings.

Eg: blade grinder + French press = yuck!:crying:
 

Dinder1

Moderator Emeritus
Very true, but not nearly as bad a result as other methods, including lots of commercial offerings.

Eg: blade grinder + French press = yuck!:crying:
True, blade grinders generate quite a bit of heat, which also degrades the coffee. Burr grinders turn at a much slower RPM, thus cooler coffee = lesser degradation, plus you get a much more uniform grind = a more uniform extraction.
DJ.
 

letterk

Moderator Emeritus
Nice review John. A consistent grind is crucial in brewing a good cup of coffee, and I am sure that you will notice a big improvement in the cup.
Now as far as keeping your coffee in the supplied hopper...I don't recommend it. The hopper on the grinder is not airtight, and relying on the timer for proper dosing just does not give you a consistent dose of ground coffee. I always measure my whole beans by volume, then I throw them in the grinder until they are all ground, switch off the grinder, and brew.
Coffees enemies are light, and air, so just store your coffee in a airtight container tucked away in a nice dark cool cupboard, and all will be good.
Enjoy the new grinder John, it should last you many years.
DJ.
DJ, I've only used it a few times, but I do the same. I'm measure out the beans and then use them up in one sitting.
 
How efficient would this grinder be for single servings? Are there smaller/more appropriate burr grinders for a party of one?
I have a Macap M5, which is already an overkill for home use, and once you know the quantities, it is perfect for a party of one. I think the same can be said of virtually every grinder.
 

HlSheppard

Moderator Emeritus
Now you're talkin' Lyrt!

I've got both a Solis Maestro AND a Mini Mazzer!! LOL

:biggrin:

Overkill? Yeah, just like the 400 metric tons of shaving equipment, coffee roasting stuff, pipe tobacco and beer that I have as well....:001_tt2:
 
I have the Solis Maestro Plus and love it. It grinds properly for any demands I place on it--the French Press which starts off every day--coarse and even (even is the most important feature,) and perfectly fine for my espresso shots throughout the day, pulled in an Olympia-Cremina Pump. This type of machine, while it does pull an exquisite shot, is not at all forgiving of an uneven grind. The Solis does it for me.
Another excellent machine is the Capresso Infinity, which also gives me the God shots in my Olympia. If you have a pump machine that uses a pressurized portafilter, then the evenness of the grind is less of an issue.
 

Dinder1

Moderator Emeritus
Now you're talkin' Lyrt!

I've got both a Solis Maestro AND a Mini Mazzer!! LOL

:biggrin:

Overkill? Yeah, just like the 400 metric tons of shaving equipment, coffee roasting stuff, pipe tobacco and beer that I have as well....:001_tt2:
Same here, only I have a Mazzer Super in my combo.:eek: Talk about overkill!:lol:
DJ.
 
I have a Macap M5, which is already an overkill for home use, and once you know the quantities, it is perfect for a party of one. I think the same can be said of virtually every grinder.
Uh...yyyyeah...that thing's bigger than my kitchen, so I'll likely pass. :biggrin:

Looks like you can do all sorts of things with that rig, not just grind coffee. Does it make waffles, too? :wink:
 
I just meant that if my overkill is good for one person, a Maestro (a Mazzer, a Rancilio, etc.) is likely to be too. :biggrin:

Honestly, the reason I bought an overkill was I didn’t want to bother with static electricity. And the reason I didn’t buy a Mazzer is I find it ugly.
 
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