Straight To The Point
A good coffee grinder can drastically improve the quality of your coffee, and our favorite company, Baratza, makes three models to match a variety of price points and brewing styles. The kicker? They tend to be pricier than the competition. We think our testing shows how both the Baratza Virtuoso+ spirit Barata Encore grind coffee better than most, but we also have years of real world experience with these grinders, and wanted to share some thoughts from Serious Eats editors about why we think these grinders are worth the investment.
They’re Unmatched In Grind Quality
I spent 16 years working in various roles for specialty coffee roasting companies, and I’ve used a version of the Baratza Virtuoso+ as my everyday home grinder for 13 of them. Even when I used to spend my days training people how to brew coffee with $3,500 commercial grinders, I often found that the coffee I brewed for myself at home was sweeter, more balanced, and more consistent. There are certainly some advantages to high-end commercial grinders, but I always found that my trusty Virtuoso was able to grind just as well as the latest in grinding technology. Baratza also builds excellent grinders for espresso, too.
“When I designed the tests for my espresso machine review, I wanted to find a grinder that balanced precision and consistency with affordability—I wanted to use a grinder that people reading the review could use in their own homes,” says Ashley Rodriguez, a Serious Eats contributor and coffee professional. “That’s why I chose the Baratza Sette 270. It was the only grinder in that price range to offer that many specific micro adjustments.”
The quality boost isn’t just noticeable by coffee pros, either.
“It was during grad school that I started to drink coffee more regularly, and upgrading to a Baratza Encore was my first step towards a better at-home cup,” says Jacob Dean, our updates editor. “For the first time, I was able to have fresh, consistently ground coffee, and it was a springboard to learning more about coffee.”
That moment opened up a new culinary side of coffee for Jake eight years ago, when he first bought his Baratza Encore. Which brings us to the next point…
They’re Built To Last
While the price point of Baratza grinders might be intimidating to some, the Serious Eats team has over 30 years of combined experience with Baratza grinders in daily use, and every model is designed to last. Over the years, I’ve upgraded from the Virtuoso to the Virtuoso Preciso to the Virtuoso+, and every time I got a new grinder, I gifted my old one to someone who needed one. It’s not uncommon to find a Baratza grinder that’s been in use for many years.
“I bought my Baratza Virtuoso eight years ago,” says Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director at Serious Eats. “Suffice it to say, I’m just another voice in the chorus recommending this grinder—it’s held up admirably through years of near-daily use, grinds well for the kind of coffee I make at home (read: not espresso), and , after some of its plastic parts did finally fail about a year ago, I found the repair process to be easy and seamless, with my fully refurbished unit now running as good as new.”
That repairability is key to a Baratza grinder’s lifespan, and it’s also the next thing we wanted to highlight.
They’re Extremely Repairable
While Daniel had success repairing his own home grinder, I’ve also personally rescued more than six different Baratza models from closets over the years and got them all working again with less than $50 worth of parts. Aside from designing their grinders to last, Baratza also designed almost all of their parts to be interchangeable. And replacement parts are also crafted with quality in mind, not just functionality.
“I love that Baratza makes replaceable burrs. I didn’t know burrs, like anything blade-like, grow dull over time and will need to be swapped out (they’d be pretty impossible to sharpen),” says commerce editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm. “It makes me feel like Baratza takes the longevity of their gear seriously, and I know I’ll be happy with my grinder for years and years to come.”
And it’s not just the replacement parts that she enjoys…
They Have Great User-Friendly Features
“I love how simple it is to use (it just has an on/off switch and a pulse button at the front),” Riddley says. “But what I really, really love is its anti-static ground bin, which takes about 40 seconds to kick in (I just fill my coffee pot and prepare a filter during this time), but drastically cuts down on the amount of grounds that end up on the countertop.”
It’s true: Baratza grinders have a number of design features that are extremely user-friendly. The Virtuoso+ and Sette 270 add programmable timers to their operation as an upgrade over the Encore, but all three models are built with easy operation in mind. Between the easy-to-read grind adjustments, anti-static grounds bins, and one-touch operation, Baratza grinders are streamlined to get you grinding without having to think too much—a bonus for early mornings.
So, What’s the Catch?
No machine is perfect, and the biggest criticism of Baratza grinders is that some of the repairs can get quite involved and require a whole afternoon, some patience, and a little mechanical know-how. It’s why we appreciate them repair program: for a fee, you can send your grinder back to HQ and Baratza will refurbish it in house. It does take some time (which is why I like to have a backup hand grinder around), but it’s rare that a Baratza grinder can’t be salvaged and spiffed up as good as new.
The other catch, of course, is the price. Baratza grinders tend to be a little more expensive than their competition, but, in our opinion, they’re worth it.
How long do Baratza grinders last?
Multiple Serious Eats staffers have Baratza grinders that are around eight years old, and with some minor repairs and replacement parts, find that their grinders are still running in excellent shape. Their stainless steel burrs are all rated for 500 pounds of coffee grinding, which means that most people will find their burrs stay sharp for seven to 10 years based on how much coffee they drink at home
Is the Baratza Virtuoso+ worth it over the Encore?
In our coffee grinder testing, we found the Virtuoso+ was quieter, ground coffee faster, and is built sturdier with a solid metal base. It also comes standard with a higher-end set of grinding burrs, which can be purchased and installed into an Encore to upgrade the more entry-level model. Both grinders are excellent, but we recommend the Virtuoso+ if you’re a heavy coffee drinker.
How often should I clean my Baratza grinder?
We recommend cleaning your grinder every four to six weeks, and we have a handy guide showing you how. Coffee grinders can get a build up of coffee oils in the grinding chamber, so cleaning your grinder regularly can help cut down on stale and rancid flavors from getting into your fresh ground coffee while also helping to keep it running smoothly.
Do Baratza grinders go on sale?
Baratza grinders don’t go on sale very often, and prices are set by the manufacturer limiting how much a retailer can discount each grinder. Because sales are so infrequent, we suggest snagging one while it’s discounted due to its incredible, long-lasting value.