I hate unexpected expenses. I guess everybody does.
Somehow since the last time I used it my coffee grinder was jammed up. I tore the whole machine down this morning and rebuilt it (which it wasn’t really designed for, but whatever), but the point was pretty clear — the burr set is all mounted using plastic parts, and once something is jammed up and broken in the plastic parts, you’re done. It is, of course, out of warranty now.
Horrified readers, this is not my 24-pound espresso grinder, crafted with pride in Italy. Rather it was a terrible plastic contraption branded by Starbucks (made by Solis) that does a half-mediocre job of coffee grinding (not espresso; the cognoscenti among you know one needs two grinders for appropriate coffee enjoyment), without the plastic chute problems that a lot of <$200 grinders suffer (namely huge problems with static and a terrible mess every time the tray is removed).
I think the best choice is probably a commercial Bunn coffee grinder, but these are all in the $600 to $1000 range (for example, an FPG), and are also the size of an eight-core Power Mac. Worse still, they’re really not built for small-batch grinding. Bunn makes a consumer grinder ($175), but it’s made of plastic (not steel), and the reviews put it right up there with every other plastic coffee grinder — it’s crap, and the grind is inconsistent).
I can’t really use my stepless Mazzer for drip/press/chemex/vacpot brewing if I still want to pull espresso shots from it, so I’m probably going to have to pick up a stepped espresso grinder in order to get something that will both last and be able to produce consistent-sized grounds. I’m looking at a stepped MACAP MC4C83R doserless, though my local (and favorite) coffee equipment vendor is out of them for a while, which sort of sucks.