I am looking for a new grinder to go with my La Pavoni Europiccola. I am currently using the Starbucks Barista that has been re-calibrated for a finer grind. I only pull a couple of shots a day.I would like to upgrade but keep the cost below $300.
I have narrowed it to the following:
Gaggia MDF - (ugly and would prefer doserless)
Ascaso I-2 - (like the stepless adjustment but it is a big machine - 16" tall!)
Virtuoso - (Concerns about espresso grind quality)
La Pavoni PGC - (don't know much about it except that it uses the same burr set as the I-2)
I am leaning towards the Ascaso because of the stepless adjustment.
Any thoughts or experiences would be greatly appreciated.
I can't comment on the other grinders, but I do own a Virtuoso, which I use with my Gaggia New Baby.
Reviews are mixed on them. If you ask people on here, they'll tell you they're great!
Ask the folks on Home Barista, and they'll tell you they're woefully inadequate.
The Virtuoso is a great all around grinder, and it certainly grinds fine enough for espresso. My one complaint would be that the steps on this grinder are too far apart to really dial-in your shots. I've compensated for this by adjusting dose and tamp pressure.
I know some of the other users on here have converted their Virtuoso's to stepless and are really happy with them.
I don't have any experience with a machine like yours, so I can't comment on how they would work together.
My guess is that you'd probably be happier with a dedicated espresso grinder, but the Virtuoso is adequate for espresso.
The gaps in the steps is my primary concerns with the Virtuoso. Although I may be nit picking too much. I have heard that the Virtuoso is more than capable of grinding great espresso. Maybe I have been reading too many postings on stepless grinders!!!
I have a Maestro, which from what I understand is a Virtuoso with US made burrs instead of the fancy schmancy foreign ones, and it's housing is lighter. It's been great for espresso, I'm not that happy with the bodum grind though - the coarsest setting is still not quite coarse enough for me. But I mostly make drip and espresso, so I'm happy with it. Also got the portaholder (which also works on the virtuoso); kind of neat to be able to grind into your portafilter while you do other things - drawback is that it does tend to waste some espresso (sprays around the kitchen a bit:)