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Topic: Solis Maestro Conical Burr Mill (13 msgs / 281 lines)
1) From: Demetrios Yannakopoulos
Hello all,
I've been reading the recent postings about Solis war-stories and I'm
getting cold feet about the "Solis Maestro Conical Burr Mill." I'm
considering spending the $130-or-so and buying one of these gizmos....
However what I've been reading here about both Solis products and Solis
Service is a bit discouraging. Anyone out there who has this product?
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2) From: Jim Schulman
I used the Solis Mulino, a predecessor of the Maestro, for about a year with no 
problems. Baratza, the importer, has an outstanding record in customer service. The 
Maestro is perhaps the "least fuss" most user friendly grinder on the market.
However, it is a home grinder with a plastic burr carrier, and that imposes certain 
limitations. It works for everything from presspots to espresso machines with 53mm 
(domestic sized) portafilters. But it has trouble grinding precisely enough for 58mm 
(commercial sized portafilters). The burr set will need more frequent replacement 
than ones in a commercial or commercially derived grinder, especially when used for 
espresso grinding.
I would recommend the Maestro for anything from presspots to small espresso machines. 
But if you're using a Gaggia, Sylvia, or something larger, the best low cost choice 
is the Innova Conical, which runs about $150. In terms of usability, it isn't even 
close to the Maestro, being noisier, messier and slower, but it will give you a 
proper espresso grind. The Rancilio Rocky at about $220 is also a great choice, and 
is a lot quieter to boot. Both grinders use light duty commercial components in a 
domestic package. Fully commercial grinders are all very good, but go for $350 and up.
On 7 Sep 2002 at 22:45, Demetrios Yannakopoulos wrote:
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3) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
I agree with almost everything what Jim wrote about the Maestro grinder and
about Baratza.  I really cannot understand why anybody would be not
completely satisfied with Baratza's customer support.
Some time ago I burned the thermal fuse inside the Maestro because something
tough got stuck in the grinder.  Baratza people promptly sent step-by-step
instructions how to correct the problem and offered help by telephone via
their 800 number if I had any problems following the instructions.  What
more could you ask for? It was an easy fix following their printed
instructions, although I did not bypass the fuse, but pot in a new one
(available for about $1.50 from Fry's electronics or for little more from
Radio Shack.
Jim wrote that the Maestro "has trouble grinding precisely enough for 58mm
(commercial sized) portafilters."  The only experience I have with the 58mm
portafilter is with the E61 portafilter in our Miss Tea -- and I have no
problems at all with grinding the coffee directly into the inserted basket.
I would recommend the Maestro over any under $200 grinder, including the
Innova Conical (which we do not have.) Our Maestro grinds fine and evenly
enough for the 25 to 28 second 2oz espresso pull; can grind even finer, for
excellent Turkish or Greek coffee in an Ibrik.
Cheers, Lubos
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4) From: James Gundlach
On Saturday, September 7, 2002, at 10:57 PM, Irene and Lubos Palounek 
I guess my comments sparked this discussion.  I am not dissatisfied with 
Baratza's support.  It is elements of the design of the Solis machines 
that bother me.  The SL-90's manual says the gasket is not owner 
replaceable.  Baratza sent instructions and asked me if I thought I 
could do the job.  I said I could and they sent the gasket along with 
very good instructions.  I do think that less than half of the consumers 
buying this level of espresso machine could and they would have to send 
the machine in regularly to replace a part that is expected to wear 
out.  Outside of the cost, this is an unacceptable loss of use of the 
espresso machine.  The same kind of problem exists with the 166 
grinder.  The inner burr is described as not user replaceable and 
Baratza even says that it is not likely to wear out, but mine did.  The 
costs of shipping plus parts plus shipping add up to almost as much as a 
new grinder.  Add the cost of loss of use of the equipment and you are 
better off buying another.  This design element in effect makes the 
Solis grinder a disposable.  I did not get that impression when I read 
the description before I bought it.  If I had known what I know now, I 
would not have bought it.  I'm off looking for a Rocky.
Jim Gundlach
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5) From: Angelo
Not the one I got. I couldn't get it to grind fine enough for vac, let 
alone espresso....I was told that it might have been set too coarsely at 
the factory...I exchanged it..
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6) From: EuropaChris
The issue is not that the Maestro (or 166) can't grind enough or fine enough.  The problem is the burrs wear out WAY too fast.  My 166 worked wonderfully when it was new.  After 8 months or so I noticed that I had to clean out clumps of dust more often.  My Cory rod in my Yama started plugging up, my moka pot started plugging up, and my espresso tasted like a dirty ashtray.  I suffered through another 4 months of this before I said "screw it" and bought a Rocky.  
Ahhhh, so THIS is how espresso is supposed to taste again.  Vac pots and moka pots worked again, and I'm in heaven.
In short, the Solis grinder is a very nice piece.  However, the flimsy burr carrier and the total lack of rigidity between the top and bottom burrs pretty much prevents it from ever really getting a decent EVEN grind.  When new, it's acceptable, after some time goes by, it's worthless.
My suggestion - for press and drip, the Solis is just fine.  But, if you even THINK of getting into espresso seriously, forget it, spend the extra $100, and get at least a Rocky.  You'll never regret it.
"Irene and Lubos Palounek"  wrote:
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7) From: Charles Cowdrick
I've had a Solis Maestro for over a year with absolutely no complaints.
I recently purchased a Tea and Mazzer Mini and at first was getting better
shots on the Tea with the Maestro. It took awhile (and quite a few beans!)
to dial in the Mini. In any case, the Solis Maestro is well worth the money,
I believe.
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8) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Charles Cowdrick wrote that he at first was getting better shots on his Miss
Tea with the Maestro grinder than with the Mazzer Mini.
May I ask, Charles, if you now think that the Mazzer Mini is worth the extra
money?  We, too, have Miss Tea and the Solis Maestro and I am seriously
thinking about buying a better coffee mill. I will appreciate any comments.
I am now quite happy with our Maestro.  However, I was quite happy with our
old Rotel espresso machine and bought Miss Tea mainly because the old
espresso machine was slowly dying.  Now I see that I would not be happy with
anything lower than Miss Tea.
Cheers, Lubos
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9) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
thank you for writing your "...suggestion - for press and drip, the Solis is
just fine.  But, if you even THINK of getting into espresso seriously,
forget it, spend the extra $100, and get at least a Rocky.  You'll never
regret it."
"At least a Rocky." Well, is the Mazzer Mini or other higher priced grinder
recommended over the Rocky? Or, another thought. The Maestro can be now
bought for about hundred dollars. What about buying several Maestro instead
one better grinder ... and keep replacing the Maestro when needed?
Cheers, Lubos
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10) From: NOEL HONG
I agree. The plastic burr holder gets looser/wobbler with use.  I have a 
~1y/o Solis Maestro that has become more than inadequate for espresso 
grinds. Even for a relatively forgiving IsomacTea.  Compared with the 
MazzerMini, the Solis lack of fine graduation plus the progressively 
worsening "looseness" of the burr holder makes it a mediocre espresso 
grinder. I'm noticing a significant range in the grind even for my press pot 
coffee grind (I grind on what most people would consider too fine for press 
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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11) From: The Scarlet Wombat
I went one step beyond the Mazzer mini and got the super Jolly, but I 
suspect there is a lot of similarity between them.  It is well worth the 
investment ifyou have the bucks.  It will outlast you and perhaps, your 
children, as well.  The grind is absolutely superb.  My only problem with 
the Super Jolly, and it really is not a problem, is that it will not grind 
coarsely enough for a press pot, or, if it does, I do not know how to coax 
it to do so.  But, for espresso or vac pot, I do not believe you can go 
wrong by getting a high end mill.
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12) From: Jack Berry
I have been using mine for about 8 months now with no 
real problem. It's a $105 machine so you shouldn't 
expect a Mazzer. It's certainly worth what I paid for 
it. Keep it clean and don't feed it rocks - you should 
be ok.
--- Original Message ---
From: "Demetrios Yannakopoulos" 
Subject: +Solis Maestro Conical Burr Mill
stories and I'm
Burr Mill." I'm
these gizmos....
products and Solis
has this product?
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13) From: Charles Cowdrick
Lubos wrote:
I'm getting those red-brown carmel-flavored shots that I previously only got
by visiting a KC coffeehouse that uses a Schomer-modified La Marzocco and
Schomer's blends. Not as *thick* a crema, and not as *pronounced* a carmel,
but I'm using my own blend and definitely pulling the best shots I've ever
pulled. I used the Maestro for a week until I had the time (and nerve,
probably) to set up the Mini (I bought the Tea and the Mini at the same
time). I got a great shot right off the bat with the Solis/Tea combination.
I thought, why change? and almost sent the Mini back. In fact, the Mini has
been a lesson in patience. One very small adjustment makes a big difference,
and the Mini and I are still getting to know each other. (Actually, the
Mini, Tea, and I are getting to know each other. We're talking two weeks of
experience here.)  But I fully expect the Mini to outlive me. It's a tank.
It weighs 24 pounds! Here's a example of  why I think it's worth the money:
There is a little, green light on the switch that indicates that the Mini is
running. I had pulled a shot and sometime later noticed that the green light
was on. The Mini is so quiet, I hadn't heard that I hadn't shut it off.
Contrary to my first thought (*I've ruined the grinder*), the next shot was
excellent. It had probably run, w/out beans in the hopper, for a half-hour.
Is it worth the extra money? For me, who obviously spends money wantonly on
coffee stuff, yes it is. But just as obvious to me is that the Maestro a
fine grinder for home use. But I don't know anything about Starbuck's
version--in fact, I didn't know that they had a version of the Solis. BTW, I
read the daily digest version of the list, so I always feel a day late and
can never figure out how to get a Re: in the subject line. O well. PS: I'm
an old guy so I can be cranky, right? My question: where did the "Miss" come
from? If I were to think of  the Tea in an anthropomorphic way, I'd think of
a Mister: this thing's brawny!
BTW, in an earlier post you gave out a couple of good book sites. I'll add
my plug for www.abebooks.com for a wonderful site of US and British used
book dealers. Whew, this was a long post . . . sorry everyone! -- Charles
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