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Whether it’s the caffeine or the smooth tastes that send relaxation through our systems, many of us need our daily dose of coffee. No judgment here. Simple pleasures in life are often what get us through the day. But we also understand if you want to take a little more hands-on control of your daily coffee routine, and if so, the Baratza Encore and the Barataza Virtuoso+ are great places to start. As you gain sophistication, you might consider graduating to the Baratza Sette and Baratza Vario grinders, both of which work better for espresso.
If you don’t get the grounds right, you will never enjoy your home brews. Whether you want to stop spending money at Starbucks or are particular about making the perfect cup of joe, choosing the right grinder is exactly where you need to start.
Baratza Grinder Comparison
Baratza sells nearly ten different coffee grinders. The Encore, Virtuoso+, and Sette grinders are all conical burr grinders, while the Vario series feature flat burr grinders. In most cases, the flat burr grinders are better for espresso, but the Sette series shines when it comes to espresso. There is one more Baratza grinder series called the Forte series, but the Forte series is for commercial use. Here we focus on the machines best suited for your kitchen counter. Here are the highlights:
Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso
Baratza makes the best conical burr grinders money can buy. You simply need to determine which model is suitable for you. The Baratza Encore is an entry-level, all-purpose grinder, while the Virtuoso+ is the more advanced grinder that will help you advance your game. But which is right for you? We will help you decide.
Baratza Encore Review
If you consider yourself a coffee novice in search of better-tasting coffee or a coffee enthusiast on a tight budget, the Baratza Encore is a great place to start.
Simply pour your favorite whole beans into the hopper, and turn the hopper (which acts as a dial) to the grind settings you want. Then turn it on and let Baratza do its magic. It’s an entry-level grinder for sure, but it is also effortless to use, and it produces consistent grinds every time it is used. If you are new home brewing, you will soon learn that consistency is a big deal.
The grinder will hold up to 8 ounces of beans in its hopper, though most people won’t grind that much at once if they are making a single cup of coffee.
The Baratza Encore is versatile, too, with 40 separate grind settings. Whether you prefer coarse grinds for cold brew or french press coffee, medium grinds for your pour-over variety, or super-fine espresso grinds, the Encore can get the job done. The grind ranges and consistency are really what set the Encore apart as an incredible value for an entry-level coffee grinder.
Compared to other entry-level grinders, the Encore stands head-and-shoulders above the rest, but it does have its limitations. While the range of grind is impressive, you won’t find the exact precise coffee bean grinds that the Baratza Virtuoso produces or that flat burr grinders would produce. The Encore is a conical burr, which is great for versatility but is not the best option for espresso.
Baratza Encore Features
While the burrs are made of steel, most of the Encore is made of plastic. Because of this, it doesn’t have the high-end feel that some coffee equipment has, but it still gets the job done. In some aspects, it is a straightforward machine, but compared to other entry-level grinders, it is sophisticated, well-functioning, and durable.
The Baratza Encore features a simple calibration system, which is excellent if you are a picky coffee drinker or just want to geek out a little bit. Most grinders don’t feature a calibration system at this level, so this is just another reason you might choose Baratza over any other brands.
There is also a quick pulse button which you can use to drain out the grinder or add a few coffee grounds to your dosage.
Since the Encore is a fairly basic model, it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles more expensive machines have. It doesn’t even have basic controls or even a timer. Still, it does feature the 40 grind options, which can make a world of difference as you start to refine your perfect cup of coffee.
Is a Baratza Encore Worth The Money?
Baratza is well known for its customer service and for designing products that can be repaired. It is part of their brand ethos. For this reason alone, theBaratza Encore is an excellent option as an entry-level grinder. The machine grinds slowly, which produces less heat than alternatives with high RPMs, and with 40 grind speeds, it is very versatile.SUMMARY PROS
- Best entry-level grinder
- Basic functionality
- 40 grind settings
- Easily repaired
Baratza Virtuoso Plus Review
The Baratza Virtuoso is essentially a more advanced and refined version of the Baratza Encore. They are both conical grinders, featuring some of the same technology and tooling, but Virtuouso+ is still the better buy if you can afford it. Sometimes simple features make a big difference, and such is the case with the Virtuoso+.
When the Virtuoso model was initially introduced, it grew in popularity because of precise grinding that produced better consistency. Better consistency leads to better coffee, regardless of favorite brew method. While modern grinders have caught up to the long-reigning Virtuoso, the Baratza product remains a coffee-lover favorite because Baratza designs its products for simplicity and easy repair.
So how else does the Baratza Virtuoso series differ from the Baratza Encore? Aside from the refined, metal touch, the Baratza Virtuoso+ features a high-performance grinding process that generates finer grounds. The finer grounds work better for espresso, as an example, than you could consistently grind up with the Encore.
The Virtuoso+ also has 40 grind settings, which you can adjust and perfect to your taste over time. We like that both the Virtuoso+ and the Encore are free of unnecessary buttons and gadgetry. There is a time and place for that, but at this price point, coffee enthusiasts are looking for a high-quality grinder at an affordable price, and Baratza delivers the best products for the segment.
Baratza Virtuoso+ Features
Baratza grinders are designed to fit your kitchen counter and have a short enough profile to fit under cabinets. They are sleek enough to leave out as a conversational piece without needing to worry about hiding elsewhere in your kitchen when you have someone over. Besides, if you are a coffee lover, most average joes will be impressed with the lengths you go through for a cup of joe.
At one point, the Baratza Virtuoso+ stood in a class of its own. Nowadays, several other brands have developed grinders of similar quality, if not better. Still, the Baratza Virtuoso+ is an incredible value, and many enthusiasts still prefer it to the competition because of its simplicity, ease of repair, and long-standing reputation.
Like the Encore before, the Virtuoso Plus features a burr calibration system to ensure your grounds are fine-tuned to precision, as well as innovative speed control that reduces heat and noise associated with many grinders.
The most significant difference is the digital timer that will help you create a consistent cup of coffee every single day. Baratza also threw in an LED backlight on the catch bin, which doesn’t add much tangible value but does look fabulous when paired with stainless steel.
Is a Virtuoso Worth The Money?
The Baratza Virtuoso is a tried-and-true grinder that delivers cafe-quality smoothness to your cup. We recommend the Virtuoso over the Encore because of its refined look and a digital screen showing a timer. While the Virtuoso will look great and work wonderfully in your home, don’t be surprised if you happen to see one in a corner cafe somewhere.SUMMARY PROS
- Features timer on digital display
- Basic functionality
- Sleek, aluminum look
- 40 grind settings
- Easily repaired
Baratza Sette vs. Baratza Vario
Often Baratza grinders are grouped into two categories: Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso+ and Baratza Sette vs. Vario. While there are many reasons for this, the most significant two reasons are price and quality. While the entry-level Encore and Virtuoso+ are renowned, the Sette series and Vario series are a step above. And even though the Vario series is the only flat burr grinder in the bunch, and flat burr grinders are genuinely known to work well for espresso, the Sette series perhaps excels with espresso more so than even a Vario. Still, the Vario is the best all-around grinder regardless of your favorite brewing method.
Baratza Sette Review
While you can brew up espresso using the Encore or Virtuoso models, they work best for other coffee brews. If brewing up espresso is your primary goal, you will want to check out the Sette series, which is available at multiple price points. Naturally, the more expensive models include more sophisticated technology.
The most basic model is the Sette 30, which gets the job done with more than 30 steps of adjustment. If you are strapped for cash but want to up your beverage game, the Sette 30 is worth considering. Still, if you can afford to do so, we recommend investing in the Sette 270 or Sette 270Wi.
The Sette 270 and Sette 270Wi both feature a uniquely designed burr built to reduce fines. The result is a smooth body and cafe-quality taste. What’s the difference between the two models? The Sette 270Wi grinds by weight.
So is the Baratza Sette any good? If you were to check out the Baratza Reddit crowd, you would find a near cult-like following of espresso drinkers for the Baratza Sette. It is considered to be close to the gold-standard espresso grinders. If you prefer pour-overs or another brew method, you might consider the Vario reviewed below, which has more versatility but stick with the Sette for espresso. And who doesn’t love nice, smooth shots of espresso?
Early models of the Sette 270 had some issues with the motor breaking down. The burr design for the Sette 270 is revolutionary in that it has two burrs. The top burr is motorized, while the lower burr is static. The advanced design needed some refining, but most of the durability concerns have been addressed now. As I mentioned, the Sette has a near-cult following in some circles that love consistent espresso.
Baratza Sette Features
Espresso grinders usually aren’t cheap, but the Sette series comes in as affordable options. All of the Baratza Sette grinders feature 30 grind settings, but the Sette 30 doesn’t feature the micro-adjustments available on the Baratza Sette 270 and Baratza Sette 270Wi.
As far as which you should buy, it depends on your budget. The Sette 30 gets the job done, but Sette 270 and 270Wi are cream-of-the-crop grinders. The Sette 270Wi includes an Acaia weight-based dose system. The weighing technology allows for a level of precision you simply can’t find elsewhere. The 270Wi is also considered an intelligent machine because it includes an automatically programmed offset that learns your setting preferences.
Coffee grounds flow out of the grinder into a portafilter, grounds bin, or preferred brewing device. The Baratza Sette series has a front-mounted control panel with programmable buttons. If you have a few coffee lovers, or particularly espresso lovers, in your household, you will be incredibly grateful for the ability to save three pre-set preferences, all at the touch of a button.
No one likes bitter or stale beverages, which often happens when machines are well cleaned. Baratza solves this problem by designing a grinder that minimizes the ground coffee left in the machine. Ensuring minimal grinds are stuck in the burrs, the coffee then inherently tastes fresher because it doesn’t have that stale coffee mixed in.
The grinder body, like all Baratza grinders, is designed to fit discreetly in tight spaces. Keep it on the kitchen counter or even in your office. Don’t let your location hold you back from a great cup of coffee.
Is a Baratza Sette Worth The Money?
If you enjoy espresso, there is no better grinder on the market, regardless of the price range. If you happen to be on a tighter budget, the Sette 30 is a top-notch grinder, but the Baratza Sette 270 and Sette 270Wi grinders are the best in class. The Baratza Sette 270Wi precision weighs the grounds for a consistent cup of coffee every time.SUMMARY PROS
- Great for Espresso
- Not great for brewed coffee
- Discreet design
- 30 macro adjustments
- 9 step-less micro adjustments
Baratza Vario Review
The Baratza Vario is one of our favorite all-around grinders. If you are looking for a grinder that will work for cold brew and espresso, you would be hard-pressed to find something better than the Vario. The Virtuoso+ might be the best for brewed coffee, and the Sette series might be best for espresso, but the Vario series is the best that will work for brewed coffee or espresso.That’s saying something. Truly, the grind quality is second-to-none, which is astounding when you consider it works for all brewing styles.
Baratza Vario Features
Aesthetically, the Vario is our favorite-looking grinder. Something about it is just sophisticated, and of course, it provides accurate dosing using a digital timer on the primary model and electronic scale on the Vario-W. Additionally, both models have programmable buttons that remember your preferred settings and style. If you prefer to grind by weight, opt for the Vario-W. These aren’t your entry-level burr grinders, but they are still an excellent choice and incredible value considering all they offer.
The Vario features 230 steps of adjustment, providing precise coffee grounds, just like you would expect. You will want to load up the finest beans in the transparent bean hopper. The Vario has ceramic burrs that remain sharp twice as long as steel burrs, making the Vario as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. And the belt system that drives the system results in the quietest grind Baratza makes.
Like other advanced Baratzas, the Vario features three settings that can be preset for your grinding preferences.
Is a Baratza Vario Worth The Money?
Seriously, we might sound like a broken record, but the Vario and Vario-W are our favorite grinders due to their versatility. They work great for both brewed coffee and espresso. They also have a beautiful machine body, but we would expect nothing less from Baratza.
The only downside is that the Vario series might be a little expensive for some, but it’s worth the investment for the versatility. Otherwise, you might need two grinders if you like brewed coffee and espresso. The Baratza Vario-W elevates the game even more through precision weighing, and no other grinder works for such a range of brewing options.SUMMARY PROS
- Great for Espresso
- More expensive than entry-level grinders
- Great for Brewed Coffee
- Vario-W includes advanced weigh technology
- Easy to use and clean
- Easy to repair
What is the best Baratza Alternative? Baratza vs. Breville?
Breville Smart Grinder Pro is reported to have more consistency than either the Baratza Encore or the Baratza Virtuoso+ entry-level grinders. Baratza is hard to beat, but if you are looking for an alternative brand, we recommend Breville. It has 60 settings and is versatile enough to work with any brew. Whether french press, filter, or espresso, the intelligent dosing IQ will turn loose beans into beautiful, café quality brew.
Of course, after researching grinders, if you decide to stick with single-serve pods, you can always check out our comparison of Nespresso vs. Keurig, but I have a hunch you are ready to roll with your coffee grinder. 😎
Why Is A Coffee Grinder Important?
Purchasing a quality coffee grinder is the best investment you can make toward improving your home coffee experience. Freshly ground coffee has more authentic and more robust flavoring than pre-ground coffee, which has begun to go stale and frequently develops bitter undertones. Whole bean coffee maintains its integrity much longer than pre-ground coffee because it hasn’t faced the worst impacts of oxidation throughout the bean. Accordingly, the flavors are rich and might be surprisingly tasty if you don’t frequently grind your beans.
The other thing to keep in mind is that owning your grinder gives you the power to refine your preferences and tastes over time. Did you know that espresso uses superfine grounds, but french press coffee uses course grounds? Sure, they are made from different types of coffee brewers, but owning a grinder enables you to experiment with different coffees using various brewers. Owning a coffee grinder is the very best way to refine the perfect cup of coffee for your tastes and preferences.
Conical Burr vs. Flat Burr
Let’s start with the price. Conical burrs are generally less expensive, so most people purchasing a home grinder will begin with a conical burr. In fact, both the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso are conical burrs. Flat burrs are more costly and might take an investment of around a thousand dollars. Fortunately for you, the consumer, both conical burrs and flat burrs grind up a great cup of coffee and will create multiple types of grinds used with popular brew methods.
A conical burr pulls coffee beans through a cone-shaped center burr, where the grinding occurs. It’s an efficient process and affordable to manufacture such grinders. The unique attribute related to conical burrs is that regardless of how fine you intend the grind to be, there is less precision. The process will result in some finer grounds and some smaller grounds. The scale of the imbalance will naturally depend on how finely you grind the beans.
To coffee enthusiasts, the imprecision associated with conical burrs introduces a slight bitterness but also a rich flavor. It’s also worth noting these burrs can be used to create grounds perfect for nearly any type of brewing.
Flat burrs require a more powerful grinding and thus are usually much noisier than conical burrs. Flat burrs feature two razor-sharp edges that face each other. Coffee beans are pulled through both sets of teeth, the second of which is more precise. As a result, the machine produces a very uniform grind. A flat burr isn’t as versatile because it usually makes finer grinds (customarily associated with espresso), but it creates consistent grinds that produce a smooth flavor.
Of course, there is always more to the story; while conical burrs and flat burrs are most common, the Sette series utilizes a unique steel ring burr that produces grounds perfect for espresso.
What Is The Baratza Coffee Grinder?
We love Baratza grinders because they are reliable and offer strong value compared to their competitors. Plus, it is kind of incredible that Baratza only makes grinders. Nothing else. Not only that, but they focus on making the best burr grinders on the market, which make a much more consistent cup of coffee than blade grinder alternatives. You can get any cheap little blade grinder off of Amazon, but if you’ve read this far (Thanks!), then we know you take your coffee seriously. Any of the Baratza grinders will do, but these are our specific recommendations:
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