Pros: Inexpesnsive, easy to use, easy to clean.
When I'm not too lazy, I grind my own beans in the morning. I like the intense flavor you get from freshly ground coffee beans. I also like the pleasant aroma that grinding the beans creates. I love the smell of coffee in the morning, and grinding the beans increases that aroma.
The Black and Decker SmarGrind is an inexpensive coffee grinder that is sufficient for my morning coffee needs. I paid under fifteen dollars for this coffee grinder at Wal-Mart. I checked Epinions for prices and did not see any listed. However, there was a unit similar to this one available for twelve dollars from one of Epinions partner sites.
This grinder is easy to operate. It allows you to grind beans in small amounts, so you don't grind too many beans at once. The individual serving sizes are convenient for me, since I do not make a full pot of coffee. If I am making coffee, I normally make a half pot. If I'm making cappuccino, I only need a fraction of the amount of coffee that you would use for a pot of coffee. Operation entails placing removing the plastic see-through top, placing your beans inside the grinding area, replacing the lid and pushing a brown button attached to the lid. This grinder only grinds while the button is depressed. The grinder will not operate while the lid is off. Once your grind is chopped to your desired level, remove the lid and tap your grounds into your filter. The grinding area is not removable, so this can be a little bit messy.
Cleaning and Storage are also fairly simple. One disadvantage of grinding coffee beans is that it can be messy. When you tap the beans out, you can get fine particles on your countertop. Also, the coffee beans leave a fine residue in the bottom of the grinder. I would recommend you clean it out after each use, so you don't end up with build-up...which causes the dreaded skunk brew. Any serious coffee drinker has had a cup of that stuff before. There is a small cleaning brush attached to the back of the unit to assist in brushing the residue out of the grinder. The power cord also winds up beneath the unit around a triangular post. This makes for compact and easy storage when you are not using this grinder.
My only complaint about this device is the noise level. I had another coffee maker that had a built-in grinder. That grinder always seemed to jam or clog and was really more hassle than it was worth. However, it was a bit quieter than the Black and Decker SmartGrind. The noise will wake you up roughly, before the pleasant aroma of brewing coffee has a chance to wake you up pleasantly. It does not take long to grind the beans, so the discomfort of the noise is short-lived.
The durability of the Black and Decker SmartGrind is good. I have owned this unit for several years and have not had any problems with dull blades. The hard plastic construction is durable and easy to clean. I doubt that it would withstand rough treatment, like a solid drop to the floor, but it might. The components of this grinder are fairly simple, so there are not a lot of parts to have problems with. I would imagine the only "weak" area in this grinder might be the grind button. Because of the safety feature that requires the lid to be in place before grinding, I could see a problem arising caused by the grinder getting out of whack (or the plastic nib on the lid wearing down or breaking). However, I have not experienced this.
My Overall Impression with this grinder is that you get a big bang for a small buck. The price point makes this grinder very affordable. The lack of complicated buttons or parts leaves a lot less opportunity for this device to fail (as opposed to my built-in grinder that had constant problems jamming). This grinder may be noisy, but it is easy to clean and easy to operate. I would give this device five stars out of a possible five. I don't downgrade it because of the noise...I don't know how you can grind beans quietly...and the noise is worth the end product!
This review is part of Dianapinions Best Little Write Off