Okay! I think it's a fitting time for my review! Having been using this grinder for 3 weeks now, and having spent a few weeks adding bits and pieces to this review and giving it a fair trial, here we go!
My reasons for the purchase:
1) This grinder seemed simple to use day-to-day. A movement towards simplicity in coffee and life in general.
2) Straight through grind path, sick of grinders with a whole long tunneled pathway with chutes/chambers that fill up. Seemed very little retention, much less wasted coffee.
3) Fluffy grinds, no clumping.
4) Super easy to clean.
Other add-ons which were nice, but didn't really matter to me:
-weight-based dosing (am quite happy to weigh doses myself)
Even though the weighed dosing is a main feature of this version of the Sette, I bought it as it was the newest and improved version of the Sette, and wanted to avoid any of the issues the older models had (which after emailing Baratza they confirmed they had sorted out those older issues with the 270Wi).
So did it live up to my reasons for getting it?
1) Simplicity: yep! It truly is a very simple and easy to understand grinder to use. Set your dose, push play, and you get that!
2) Retention: not zero, but VERY low. I was sick of wasting coffee, and don't think it makes sense to have to waste so much in order to get rid of old grinds.
3) Fluffy/no-clumps: Have never seen grounds this fluffy and clump-free. Really really nice. Even upon using a much darker, oily roast that I had done (which in my experience tend to clump more), they were still fluffy.
4) Easy to clean: super easy, I'm doing full cleans more frequently as a result.
And the noise many have mentioned I did not even really notice. Sure it makes a bit of noise, but it is just such a joy to use that it doesn't even occur to me. It's grinding hard coffee beans, I'm cool with noise :P. And how fast this grinder is, truly, it's only noisy for a very short period of time.
Once you set up the portafilter hook/holder and push dose, it delivers the coffee very neatly into the centre of the basket. I was initially worried that my higher doses (22.5 grams) would go back into the chute/opening and clog the burrs but that wasn't the case at all. There's actually a little room up that path before you hit the burrs anyway, but the amount I dose it hasn't really reached the path. And I'm dosing between 21.5g and 23g depending on the bean. I may not even need to order the drop-down fork. If the mound did ever creep up there, removing the portafilter can knock the top layer off a little. Depends on your bean and dose! Many have gotten around that by doing it in two doses, and collapsing in between.
The vertical grind path and way the burrs are designed is... brilliant. Have never seen that style of grinding before, and gosh darn it's fast...
Distribution-wise, this has been an amazing part of this... even though it's fast, it shoots the coffee directly into the centre of the basket, but as the grounds are so fluffy, it distributes really well through the whole basket while dosing, and there's honestly not much need to have to add any extra steps. I think the lack of clumps really allows the basket to be filled easily, as the grounds can move more freely within the basket (that's my theory on the clumps debate [emoji14] ).
My method has been dose, one vertical collapse, a spin of my distribution tool (just to get the top 1/3-1/2 layer well distributed), and tamp. This is a massive difference compared to other grinders I've had, in which depending on the bean and grind consistency I'd have to go through a few different methods to get a nice even extraction. I've found (not exaggerating) pretty much every extraction through the naked portafilter to be so beautiful and even (something I really struggled to achieve with consistency in other grinders). Never has there been any stubborn dead spots.
In terms of the mess while dosing that some have gotten, mine has been mooostly pretty minimal, and mostly caused by my carelessness than the grinder! Some grinds do go onto the portafilter hook/holder and can fall off the mound, but no big deal. It really depends on the day/dose/bean, there is a bit of spillage at times, but I don't mind. (A little update, I have a feeling certain beans behave differently, my current Colombian bean is being much messier than others! Am now trialling two separate doses as this particular bean or even weather is leading to some static and mess)
I also did notice that if you did a full clean of the burrs (which I'm now doing probably once a week, as cleaning is a BREEZE), the first grind you do after will be a little 'staticky', and some grinds fly about a little and get stuck even underneath the burr carrier. But that's only for the first grind after a full clean.
In terms of retention, it's not zero, but it's very minimal. After you do a dose, there will be coffee grounds stuck within the gaps which it passes through to get to the basket. After purging everything out at the end, I removed the burr carrier, fully cleaned it out, measured the grounds and got 1.6 grams.
The weighed doses are freakishly accurate! Always pretty spot on, with maybe 0.1-0.2g deviation every now and then, no biggie! The intelligent feature certainly learns and adjusts things automatically the more that you use a particular dose setting.
It has a burst mode which works great to top up or even just to use manually. So if you've set the dose at 22g, and it doses 21.8g, you can push the play button and it will do a very short burst. You can do this as much as you like to top it to 22g (usually takes one or two 'bursts').
Also has the pulse mode (essentially manual mode) you hold down play, it tares whatever is on the forks, and it will grind for as long as you hold play. But be wary, it grinds fast haha, so you have to be on top of that. But it does come up with the weight you're dosing on the screen, handy!
Adjusting the grind is done with the macro and micro adjustment collars, and is very straight-forward. One thing that is strange is that you need to rotate the macro and micro in opposite directions for going coarser or finer (eg if wanting to go finer on the macro adjuster, you rotate it clockwise, on the micro you rotate anti-clockwise to go finer). Not a bother however, but perhaps it's simply how the threads run.
Dialing in a shot has been super easy, only took a few shots to dial in my Colombian Popayan Supremo, setting 12F/G got me in the ballpark, dosing 22.5 grams. I've found that changing the macro setting by one notch (from 12 to 11) is enough to go from a 1:2 doppio espresso to a 1:1 doppio ristretto within a slightly longer time and vice-versa. Which is awesome for easily switching if you're keen for a 'double-riz'! The micro settings allow for much smaller adjustments (in which I'm still playing with to determine their effect).
My first few shots were great, but then it started to get quite erratic in extraction output, so then decided to run about 1kg of old coffee through the burrs after a bit of research. Many opinions on seasoning, but thought it wouldn't hurt to.
Grind consistency and particle size is awesome too by the way! (Not that I have done microscopic tests hehe)
And the most important thing....... taste. After all, you can buy a grinder for all these wonderful whizz-bang features, but if the end product, the coffee you drink, is shocking, what's the point! It's safe to say..... the coffee is unreal. Am using a Profitec Pro 500, and initially in my inconsistent shots in early days it would taste great then some shots would not be very pleasant... but after a little tweaking and much more coffee put through it is settling. Still getting some odd results from grind changes as I'm still finding how a certain grind change will translate into yield, but I'm hoping it will settle further as more coffee goes through.
There's much talk of conical vs. flat burr grinders in terms of flavour profiles, and at this stage I can't overly tell. The shots have been lush, fruity, full, and overall very flavoursome. Been getting them more consistently too.
One thing that is always at the top of my priorities too is durability, so I really hope the grinder lasts a good amount of time. The plastic housing etc doesn't bother me one bit. It's as though Baratza put more time and money into the essentials and practical functionality (apart from the earlier model issues :P) rather than just the housing exterior, which I like. Of course we'll see how we go.
And recently I've had a fractured ankle and been hopping around on crutches, and this grinder makes the process so, so much easier. So if anyone out there had an injury like that, it's perfect for that situation! [emoji14]
I'll also do a little video review at some stage so you can see it in action. I've seen alot of commercial reviews but only a few user reviews, and I find video reviews so helpful to me so I hope it helps others in seeing how it operates.
And I'm well aware of people 'fanboying' to justify and validate their purchase of a grinder, but I'm legitimately impressed with its functionality, grind consistency, and espresso it produces.
I have used it only once for coarser grinds/pour over (still usually use my other grinder for that), and compared to my flat burr it made a nice enough brew, but I'd have to play with it more and get the right grind setting. It also overshot the grind weight by like a gram or two (which I've heard it's a bit harder to dose right for a coarser grind), but I'm sure if I consistently used it it would learn, like the clever cookie it is.
So in terms of cons, the only cons (for me personally) is the slight mess it can make at times, which to be honest I think it's hard to find a grinder that won't make a little mess. If you're filling a relatively small portafilter it's a given to have a few strays, some people go a funnel (which may be tricky with the Sette) or dose into a canister if they wish to avoid that. To each their own! I don't mind the little mess. After I'm done, I just brush it all into my knock box.
Another thing is there isn't really an on/off switch. So when you plug it in and switch on at the wall, it automatically switches on, and then after a certain time period (couple of minutes) it switches off. But not really a big deal, and to get the display back on you can just push any button. Just no off switch apart from at the wall.
It also at times can be tricky after a clean to get the burr carrier back in place haha. I'm still unsure what the secret is, but you just have to fit it right and line up SOMEthing correctly and it pops back in.
I can't think of any other cons at this stage if I'm being honest!
But any questions anyone has about it feel free to ask and I'll do my best. I know I researched a LOT on a few of forum threads, articles, videos etc (seriously... too much), and found it really helpful to get a wide range of user experiences. I've found at times with certain grinders many people quick to write negative experiences and issues about grinders, but not as many write positive ones (on many different forums, just from what I've seen), or moreso those folk who have loved their grinder have often kept it to themselves. So here's hoping that someone may get some benefit from this. I wanted to be honest with my experience of the grinder, and if I have any negative occurrences I'll post those too.
(I also wanted to be as thorough and extensive as possible haha, so if you've gotten this far through my ramblings, well done ;D)