baratza

  • Budget Grinder Shootout

    Happy 2021! 

    We wanted to kick off the new year with a look at four fantastic budget grinders that are perfect for new users. Check out the video below to see these grinders in action, hosted by yours truly! (And check out our new studio!)

    Let’s recap the breakdown:

    Bodum Bistro

    The Bistro is a grinder with a lot of range and some great usability features. First, it can definitely handle everything from a shot of espresso with a pressurized basket to a press. The grounds are not as consistent as we’d like at either extreme, but fine for both applications and everything in between. 

    With a layout of grind times and recipes built into the hopper lid, you’ll be able to get started quick with this grinder. We also liked the grippy rubber material on the catch bin as well as the rubber gasket that prevents mess. Unfortunately, due to static buildup, the catch bin can get messy in a hurry.

    Otherwise, we had good retention results, but the general plasticy nature of the dials and buttons here leave something to be desired.

    Capresso Infinity

    The Infinity offers quite simple controls in its timer dial that grinds until it stops. The timer doesn’t match up to seconds, which can be confusing at first. We generally just found it easier to single dose (pour in only the beans you need) or just manually hold the dial in place to grind and then rotate it closed when finished.

    The Infinity offers decent consistency and a little less range than the Bistro. With that said we generally liked the quality of the grounds more and enjoyed the lack of mess and low retention. The casing on the Infinity also feels more solid than the other grinders in this lineup.

    Solis Scala

    The Solis Scala is a really nice sweet spot on this list. It offers a pretty solid range that can definitely run from pressurized espresso shots up to presses. It also provides an impressive degree of consistency across its range. Its timer/push button activation is intuitive and it offers some solid retention and limited static.

    The catch bin is a little small and the plastic lid might take a little bit of getting used to. This grinder also feels a little plasticy all around, but it’s not quite “cheap” feeling either.

    Overall, the Scala is a highlight of this list when you combine performance, price, and usability.

    Baratza Encore

    The classic on this list, the Encore is definitely a great option that will last you many years. While we actually think the Scala stands toe-to-toe with the Encore in terms of performance, there’s no denying that Baratza’s grinder offers great range and consistency. We also love the simplicity of this machine.

    Static here is minimal, but the Encore does usually end up retaining half a gram of coffee or so. Not terrible, but it could be better. Otherwise, this is a great grinder that is also easy to get parts for, meaning you can keep it running for a very long time with a little bit of elbow grease.

    So there you have it! Unfortunately as usual we can’t just point to one of these grinders as the king of the entry level. But hopefully this comparison has helped you understand what makes them tick just a little bit more.

  • Baratza Encore 2020 Review

    The Baratza Encore is one of the most popular brew coffee grinders in the world. Featuring conical steel burrs, stepped grind adjustment, and simple operation, all for an entry level price, it’s easy to see why this grinder is so popular. Read on for more details about this fantastic grinder below!

    The Basics

    The Baratza Encore is a grinder specifically designed for brewed coffee. This means that it works for press, drip, and pour over brewing, but can’t grind fine enough for espresso. This has nothing to do with it being lower quality, and everything to do with specific design.

    The Encore’s 40mm conical steel burrs are engineered to provide consistent grounds and reduce retention from finer drip settings all the way up to coarse press settings. These burrs grind fast and are incredibly durable, which means they should produce the perfect grind for your brews year after year. Grind setting is handled by an well marked stepped adjustment operated by rotating the hopper. It’s intuitive, comfortable, and precise. This stepped adjust makes it easy to switch between grind levels for different brew methods.

    The Encore can be engaged by rotating its bi-directional on/off switch, or by pressing and holding the pulse button found on the front of the grinder. Both control options work great, and the catch bin is easy to remove and scoop grounds from. The Encore is also a stylish grinder, available in slick white and black color options. This makes it adaptable if looks are important to you!

    What really puts this grinder over the top for us is its reliability and support. Baratza offers highly engineered, long-lasting products. Considering the Encore’s price, we’d normally assume it is an entry level grinder that you’d wear out after a few years of use. Not so. This is a grinder that is built like a tank and really goes the distance.

    One of our favorite ways to use the Encore is as a single dose, so let’s talk a little bit about that next.

    Single Dosing

    One of the best ways to enjoy multiple coffee roasts and ensure that no beans are wasted is with single dosing. Instead of filling the hopper with beans, you measure out just enough beans for your brew method. This is easiest to do with a scale for pour over, but can work just as well for drip and press brewing too. From there, you dump the grounds in, flip the grinder on, and let it grind through your beans. Because of its relatively low retention, the Baratza Encore makes a fantastic single dose grinder for pour over. 

    You can, of course, fill this grinder’s hopper up to the top and use a combination of the on setting and pulse to grind just enough as well. We just like pointing out that it’s such an excellent single dose grinder because it’s one of the ones we use for coffee testing here at Seattle Coffee Gear!

    It’s for all of these reasons that it’s hard for us not to recommend the Baratza Encore. The perfect blend of performance, price, and reliability, this grinder is a phenomenal way to start your home coffee journey.

  • 2020 Getting Started Guide: Drip Coffee

    We’ve looked at pour over, superautos, and semi-autos in our buying guides posts so far, but there’s a couple of stones still left unturned. Today we’re going to offer some advice for buying a machine perfect for one of the simplest, but most approachable kinds of coffee brewing: Drip! Drip coffee is easy to get started with, but with so many brewers out there it can be hard to get a grasp of what will provide the best bang for your buck. We’re here to help!

    Grinders

    First thing’s first, you need a way to grind your beans! While you could use pre-ground coffee, using freshly ground beans is the best way to get the most out of your brewer. In fact, having coffee that’s been freshly ground is arguably the most important part of the process alongside temperature stability. 

    With that in mind, it’s hard to recommend any grinder as highly for first time drip brewers as the Baratza Encore. This grinder is well priced, consistent, easy to use, and will last quite some time. Baratza is one of the best grinder producers that we know, and it shows in this no-frills knockout of a product. If your budget has a bit more headroom we can also wholeheartedly recommend the Eureka Filtro. The filtro offers just a bit more performance and reliability due to its larger burrs, which are specifically designed for drip brewing. The Filtro also features stepless grind adjust, which gives you more precise control over grind size.

    But what about upgrading? You may want something that provides a little bit more in the bells and whistles department in the future. On the Baratza front, the Vario-W features more micro adjustments than the Encore, with the addition of weight based dosing. As you explore the coffee world you’ll find that weight is a better way to dose your coffee than volume, and the Vario-W helps with that.  Eureka also offers an excellent grinder upgrade in the form of the Brew Pro. The Brew Pro features the same powerful burrs as the Filtro mentioned above. It also adds timed grinding via a vibrant touch screen. The perfect upgrade if you become accustomed to the precision stepless adjust of the filtro.

    Brewers

    It’s time for the main event! Selecting a brewer is actually a bit easier than you’d think. The two most important pieces of a drip brewer are temperature consistency and the ability to evenly wet grounds. Bonuses like pre-infusion are nice to get the absolute most flavor out of your coffee. For all of this and a palatable price, check out the Bonavita Connoisseur. This brewer offers exceptional temperature stability, has a wide angle showerhead for the water, and even does simple pre-infusion. It’s the perfect option to start with, and comes at an excellent price too. 

    But what about an upgrade? Eventually you might want more control than the Connoisseur offers. There’s arguably no better upgrade option you’ll find than the Breville Precision Brewer. This brewer offers an incredible degree of control over your coffee. Including options for brewing over ice, using a pour over attachment, specific gold cup brewing settings, and tons of options for setting custom recipes, the Precision Brewer should be the last machine you’ll ever need. 

    Thanks for joining us for this look at getting started with your drip brewing shopping list!

    Check out the rest of our getting started guides!

  • New Product Spotlight: Baratza Sette 270Wi

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi offers a few great improvements of the 270W. The old model was the first grinder to feature Acaia technology in the grinder itself. If you've never heard of Acaia, they make excellent scales specifically for weighing coffee. This means that you can save tablespace by combining grinder and scale, a great option for those working with smaller kitchens. Because the grinder is adjustable you can also grind into a plastic container (included in the box) instead of a portafilter. This flexibility makes the Wi a solid choice for grinding for pourover as well. The Wi operates on the high quality conical steel burrs you'd expect from a high end grinder.

    Intelligent Technology

    The original 270W featured two circuit boards, one that measured weight and one that controlled grinding. This led to a slight delay in start and stop time for grinding. The 270Wi combines these two processes in one circuit board, resulting in much more accurate grinds to the weigh you set.

    The Wi also learns as you grind. If you set grind weight at 22 grams and the grinder under grinds to 21.4 grams, it'll compensate on the next grind. If it then over grinds it'll compensate back. While this process can take a few grinds to dial in, eventually it'll nail your target weight every time.

    Improved Usability

    The other addition to the Wi is the pulse feature. This allows you to pulse a little extra coffee into your container or portafilter. You could also, in theory, pulse an entire grind if you want to circumvent the automatic grinding.

    Additionally, you can stop and restart automatic grinding without fear of the grinder restarting the grind process and over grinding.

    Finally, slight modifications to grind speed has resulted in a minor noise reduction over the W as well.

    Our early tests with the 270Wi have been quite promising. You can check out what our resident expert Gail has to say about the Wi in our crew review below, and order one for yourself here!

     

  • Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270W vs Eureka Atom

    What a year for grinders! Out of all the grinders released in 2016, none have excited us as much as the Baratza Sette 270W and the Eureka Atom. Of course, you know about the Baratza Sette 270W and its entry-level brother, the 270. Baratza kicked off SCAA 2016 by announcing the Sette and it quickly built hype amongst home brewers. The Eureka Atom? It flew under the radar. But we want to change that! Both these grinders deserve a place in a home barista’s kitchen for very different reasons. But which one’s right for you?
  • Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 and Sette 270W

    The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 and 270W have finally been released for home barista’s kitchens. Have you gotten your hands on one of the Settes? If you haven’t, you’re not alone! Both grinders are in high-demand and it’s no surprise why. Baratza built both the Sette 270 and 270W with the hardware to grind efficiently and quickly—3.5 to 5.5 grams per second!
  • Crew Comparison: Eureka Atom vs Baratza Forté AP

    Owning a commercial grinder for your home can step up your espresso game. We know it might sound crazy, but trust us! Many professional baristas have come to us praising the benefits of a using a commercial grinder with their home espresso machine. These grinders are built with hardware that can hold up to repeated use and the features to quickly get the job done! Whether it’s handling your espresso crave or entertaining your guests, the Baratza Forté AP Grinder and Eureka Atom Grinder are two commercial grinders you need to check out!
  • Crew Review: Baratza Sette 270W

    After months of weighty anticipation, Baratza released the Baratza Sette 270W and 270 in late October 2016. We know there’s a lot of you still waiting for their grinder, so while you wait, check out this updated review on the Baratza Sette 270W.
  • Crew Review: Baratza Encore Grinder

    How Does It Compare?

    Functionally adept yet simple, the Baratza Encore is an entry-level grinder that wows home brewers with ground coffee for multiple brew methods. People have been calling the Encore the go-to grinder for home brewing since it’s release. And that’s sometimes all you need: an entry-level grinder that can make coffee for your French press or your V60.

    Baratza’s reputation creates jitters—not caused by caffeine—amongst its loyal fans and newbie followers like the release of the Baratza Sette 270. Chances are you’ve heard of the Sette 270 (and if you haven’t that’ll change soon). These are two completely different machines, but the following on the Sette 270 alone should have you taking a second glance at its introductory sibling, the Encore. If you’re just starting to make coffee at home, the Encore is an excellent choice as your go-to grinder.

    The Baratza Encore is a sleek, tailored machine designed for home grinding. The Baratza Encore is a sleek, tailored machine designed for home grinding.

    Use-Friendly Grinding

    The Baratza Encore has adjustable grind settings, an on and off switch, and manual grinding button. That’s it. You’re unencumbered by extra settings and can get right down to business. And getting down to business—also known as dialing in your grinds—takes no effort. Twist the bean hopper to one of its 40 settings and take your coffee through a test brew. Sure, 40 seems like a low number, but it can grind from a range between 250 and 1200 microns for a variety of brew methods.

    The Encore features 40 grinder settings for more ways to dial in your grind. The Encore features 40 grinder settings for more ways to dial in your grind.

    French Press To Espresso

    We recommend the Baratza Encore for French press, drip, pour over and espresso—well, sort of. While we would recommend the Baratza Encore with a pressurized portafilter, we wouldn’t recommend it with non-pressurized portafilter espresso machines. If you’re new to brewing espresso, you might be wondering why that is. A pressurized portafilter will reach the correct pressure in the portafilter basket before the espresso is released, ensuring you a better tasting shot. Of course, you’ll still want to play with the grind setting if your espresso isn’t to taste. The Encore might be hard pressed to adjust in its finer settings

    Grind Size

    Built with 40mm conical steel burrs, the Baratza Encore can grind from French press to espresso (with a pressurized portafilter). On the coarsest setting, the Encore had a few fines with the coarser grounds. This is pretty typical of grinders: the coarser you go the more inconsistency you’ll see in a grinder. When we moved a couple settings inward from the coarsest, we saw an improvement in consistency.

    The more fine we went, the better the Encore’s consistency improved—decent enough for espresso! Try it out on the finest settings and run your fingers through the grounds. Feels like table salt, right? For espresso, the grind size you’d want would be finer than that; that said, this would work in a pressurized portafilter.

    Efficiency and Noise Level

    The sweet silent grinding of the Baratza Encore wins over our ears. In 2012, Baratza upgraded the Encore’s Gearbox (GB.2.0) for faster, sturdier and quieter performance. Coupled with a high torque motor, the burrs run at a steady 450 RPM (rotations per minute) to reduce noise and heat—you don’t want to roast your beans when you’re grinding. The GB 2.0 also has a thermal threshold to cut power to the gears, saving the Encore from overheating.

    Home Size

    The Baratza Encore’s compact size opens up much-needed counter space for your coffee maker. Its petite stature is 13 inches tall by 6 inches deep and 5 inches wide—a perfect fit for apartments or a small office break room. The Encore’s matte black casing and simple functionality have reduced the costs while still creating a grinder that’s easy on the eyes.

    The Encore comes with a grounds catcher that helps keep your counter cleaner. The Encore comes with a grounds catcher that helps keep your counter cleaner.

    Conclusion

    The Baratza Encore compact, efficient and quiet grinding has given it a fan following for entry-level grinders. If you’re just beginning your coffee setup, the Encore is an excellent choice for the price and capabilities you’ll see from this small home grinder.

  • Crew Comparison: Baratza Encore vs OXO Barista Brain Grinder

    How Does It Compare?

    You’ve probably heard the grind is the most important part. You’d be right! From pour over to French press, the Baratza Encore and OXO Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder are two grinders that are up to the challenge! If you’ve been searching for beginner’s grinders, we bet the Encore has popped up a couple of times. It’s been around for years and with Baratza’s reputable name and quality build, it has been a consistent favorite amongst home brewers.

    The Barista Brain came to the market about a year ago and made its home with other entry-level grinders. With its user-friendly operation and extra features like a built-in scale, people just starting to build their coffee setup were drawn to the Barista Brain. If you’re in the market for an entry-level grinder, check out these two and see which one is right for you.

     

    The Baratza Encore is a sleek, tailored machine designed for home grinding. The Baratza Encore is a sleek, tailored machine designed for home grinding.
    OXOBaristaBrain_front Check out the OXO Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder!

    Grind

    Smart Settings

    The Baratza Encore and OXO Barista Brain both come equipped with 40mm conical steel burrs. For entry-level grinders, that’s not half bad! What it comes down to is how they use what their manufacturers gave them. The Encore has 40 macro settings to dial in a variety of different coffees. The straightforward design complements beginner baristas by removing all the guesswork—you’ll always find your spot! And it’s all manually operated, so it's all stop and go as you please.

    The Encore's manual button. The Encore's manual button.

    The Barista Brain has some geeky qualities that add more guidance than the Encore. Turn this grinder on and the controls light up like a Christmas tree. And we bet you’ll think it’s Christmas with all the different brew methods this machine can do! You can select the portafilter, grams or cups to use with each brew. Plus, with 15 macro and an additional five settings near the chute, the Barista Brian dials in fast. That said, the Barista Brain’s 15+ settings don’t offer as much to work with compared to the Encore’s 40 adjustments.

    The Barista Brain features a portafilter, gram and cup setting for quick dosing. The Barista Brain features a portafilter, gram and cup setting for quick dosing.

    Built-in Scale

    The Barista Brain’s built-in scale gives it a leg up over the competition. Using the grams application, you can set the amount of coffee and it will grind until the correct weight is reached—that’s it! And as we know, for the best brew, weighing the grams is essential. The convenient scale makes it effortless for entry-level home brewers to learn brewing ratios.

    Grade

    Brew Method

    Both the Baratza Encore and OXO Barista Brain grind for French press, drip, pour over, Chemex or even a pressurized portafilter! But both are definitely not fine enough for non-pressurized portafilters. Even if you did use the finest setting, both grinders wouldn’t be able to offer enough adjustments to properly dial-in. Since both are entry-level grinders, it's no surprise that they don’t grind well for espresso.

    The Encore features 40 grinder settings for more ways to dial in your grind. The Encore features 40 grinder settings for more ways to dial in your grind.

    Grind Size

    In a comparison of the finest grind size, both the Barista Brain and the Encore were neck and neck with consistency. And as we've discussed, the finest settings was still too granular for espresso. That said, at the coarsest setting the Encore came out ahead with consistent grounds. The coarsest setting can be hard for a grinder! And for the Barista Brain, we ended up with a lot of fine grounds mixed in with our chunky coffee. While it is still fine for French press, it’ll probably leave more grit and silt in your cup like a typical French press.

    With 15 macro settings and an additional five micro, the Barista Brain is easy to dial in. With 15 macro settings and an additional five micro, the Barista Brain is easy to dial in.

    Glamour

    Small Footprint

    The Baratza Encore’s uniformed design looks sleek and stylish in barista’s homes. It definitely helps to have a small footprint—the Encore is 13 inches tall, six inches deep and a not-so-staggering five inches wide. Overall, the only thing that seems to stick out is the Encore’s 8-ounce bean hopper.

    The Encore comes with a grounds catcher that helps keep your counter cleaner. The Encore comes with a grounds catcher that helps keep your counter cleaner.

    The OXO Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder isn’t too shabby in size either! The only difference is it’s a long machine at nine inches deep—that’s three extra inches on the Encore! In fact, the rest of it is just a tad bigger than the Encore, including the 16-ounce bean hopper. And is it ever really bad to have a bigger bean hopper? We don’t think so.

    Long and slim, the Barista Brain has an ergonomic design. Long and slim, the Barista Brain has an ergonomic design.

    Conclusion

    If you’re looking for the perfect beginner grinder, check out the Baratza Encore and OXO Barista Brain Grinder. Both are great grinders for French press, pour over, Chemex, drip brewing and even in a pressurized portafilter. Share what grinder you’d take home in the comments below.

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