Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso

Why did we do this Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso comparison? We’ve done grinder comparisons between models from different companies, but in this review about the Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso, we’ll be comparing two different models put out by the same company.

Obviously, if a company has put more than one grinder on the market, each of the models has significant differences from each other. We’ll be thorough about exposing these differences in the following detailed comparison between the Baratza Encore burr grinder and the Virtuoso coffee grinder to help you get the best value for your money, starting with a look at these models’ features.

We compare the grinders on features, build quality, grind settings, price, and aesthetics and will declare an overall winner

Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso: Quick Overview

Comparison metric

Winner

Features

Baratza Virtuoso

Build quality

Baratza Virtuoso

Grind settings

Baratza Virtuoso

Price

Baratza Encore

Aesthetics

Baratza Virtuoso

Overall winner

Baratza Virtuoso

The verdict:
As the Baratza Virtuoso is basically a higher end model than the Baratza Encore, it should come as no surprise that the Virtuoso is the clear winner.
The Virtuoso wins on almost all point in our Encore vs. Virtuoso comparison, except on price. It's higher quality burrs and better overall build quality come at a higher price than the Baratza Encore. However, it's still a great price for an excellent grinder.

Features: Baratza Virtuoso vs. Encore

The Baratza Encore and the Baratza Virtuoso are very similar in terms of features. They both feature the very useful pulse button, which allows users to grind their beans manually. Both grinders also feature a setting for automatic grinds. However, this is where they differ.

The more expensive Virtuoso features the classic automatic timer. It can be set for any time up to 60 seconds. In contrast, the Encore does not natively feature any kind of automatic grind setting. However, for an additional fee, users can purchase the Baratza Esatto. This unit attaches to the Encore and transforms it into a grind by weight style grinder.
The fact that  the Baratza Virtuoso grinder uses a timer while the Baratza Encore and Esatto combination uses a weight system is one of the biggest points of comparison between these two units.

Another one of the features that Baratza likes to tote about both of these models is the large hopper size. Each model is easily capable of holding 8 ounces of beans, which should be more than enough for home use.

No Baratza Encore review, however, is complete without mentioning the option to add a 9-ounce hopper extension (sold separately, of course). Fortunately, this accessory is also compatible with the Baratza Virtuoso. Each unit also features a similarly sized grind bin for collecting ground coffee beans before use.

Clearly, the features of the Baratza Encore are very similar to that of the Baratza Virtuoso grinder, making it difficult to choose a winner for this section. However, because the Virtuoso comes with a built in shutoff timer, while the Encore required the purchase of the Esatto accessory to achieve auto-shutoff, the Virtuoso is declared the winner.

Build Quality: Baratza Virtuoso vs. Encore

Whether it’s their low end or expensive models, Baratza makes a point of building all of their units using quality parts. However, some of their units feel more durable than others. This is certainly the case when comparing the Baratza Virtuoso vs. Encore.

Though their sizes are comparable, the Virtuoso weighs nearly nine pounds, while the Encore weighs just seven pounds. The extra two pounds may not seem like much, but it indicates that the Virtuoso was built with more heavy duty parts than the Encore.
This isn’t surprising, considering the Encore is marketed as an entry level unit and thus contains a number of cheap, plastic components to keep costs low. Most of the parts in both units are replaceable and can be ordered through Baratza.

Though the Baratza Virtuoso grinder has a higher build quality than the Baratza Encore, it isn’t without its problems. No Baratza Virtuoso review is complete without mentioning the unit’s tendency to ship with a loose timer knob.

Countless customers have complained that the knob has fallen off during use. Fortunately, this is not a serious problem and can be fixed with a spot of glue.
Finally, one can compare the build quality of these two units by looking at their motor and output quantities. Though they both motors run at 450 rpm by default, though the user can manually adjust the motor to run between 400 and 495 rpm. However, the Virtuoso can grind a higher number of beans at 1.5 to 2.4 grams per second. Meanwhile, the Encore chugs along at all 0.8 to 1.1 grams per second.

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Grind Settings: Baratza Virtuoso vs. Encore

At first glance, the Baratza Encore burr grinder and the Baratza Virtuoso grinder have identical grind settings. Both range from an extremely fine settings suitable for espresso and Turkish coffee to a rather coarse setting that’s best for French presses. This range is quantized into 40 discrete settings, which can be selected by rotating the hopper. According to Baratza, the measured range of grinds is from 250 microns at the lower end to 1200 microns on the upper end.

However, not all is the same between these two grinders. Though they feature the same number of grind settings, the Encore’s burrs are not able to produce the same quality of grind as the Virtuoso. This isn’t to say that the Encore produces a bad grind, simply that the Virtuoso is known for its excellent grinds.

This grinder is universally praised for its distinct lack of fine grinds, especially on medium and coarse settings. What this means is that the sludge leftover at the bottom of a cup of copy is utterly eliminated. This impressive feat is achieved using Baratza’s specialized 40 mm conical burrs.

Commenter Ernest provided a bit more details on the difference in burrs in the comment section:

Ernest Commenter

Gotta disagree a bit here. The mechanical difference between the Virt and Enc is that the latter uses a much cheaper burrset that will overheat the grind if the motor is operated at the same speed as the MUCH more expensive burrset Baratza sources for the Virt/Prec. The motors are identical. weight differences are just cabinetry and a base plug used to increase stability and perceived value. You buy the Virt for the great burrset…and hence fewer fines, and 2x speed. As such i think it merits use in a small commercial operation. Encores are ok for non-espresso home use.If you’re lucky you can dial espresso in nicely with a Virt, but that’s where the Preciso’s vernier adjuster helps out…but a bit expensively.Again, the motors and drives are identical. It’s those burrs from Lichtenstein that make the difference

Because these two grinders are produced by the same manufacturer and feature similar grind settings, consumers should base their purchasing decision of a Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso on other factors, such as the cost or available features. However, the Virtuoso does have a reputation for producing extremely high quality and consistent grinds, and thus is this sections winner.

Price: Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso

As we’ve already alluded to, the Baratza Encore and the Virtuoso are aimed at two different niches in the same market. Not surprisingly, this means they have different costs.

The Baratza Encore typically sells for about $130 as of 2015. Meanwhile, the Virtuoso can be found for around $230. It’s clear from these prices that Baratza is positioning the Encore as its entry level unit, while the Virtuoso is one step closer to a serious grinder. This is especially evident when compared to the rest of Baratza’s grinder line.

Though the Virtuoso undoubtedly has a higher quality build and grind consistency, it’s hard to believe that most consumers find those advantages worthy of $100 extra. After all, if you’re in need of a high quality grinder, you’re probably willing to spend a bit extra to get a prosumer level model that’s even nicer than the Virtuoso.
For this reason, the Baratza Encore can be considered a better value.

Aesthetics: Baratza Virtuoso vs. Encore

Judging the aesthetics of the Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso is quite difficult, as these two units look rather similar. Baratza has a very consistent design throughout all of his models, which makes it hard to rate any of them on design differences. 

The biggest difference between the Encore and the Virtuoso is the inclusion of a stainless steel plate on the front of the Virtuoso. The Encore features only black plastic. Overall the Virtuoso sports a more solid look.

Obviously, the decision between which is of these two is rather subjective and best left up to the buyer, but if you ask us, we like the smart look of the Virtuoso. The stainless steel just looks more dignified. Both units have a similar footprint, which isn’t too large or too small.

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Overall Winner: Baratza Virtuoso

Baratza Virtuoso - Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
List Price: $229.00
Price: $229.00
Price Disclaimer
  • ernest meunier

    Gotta disagree a bit here. The mechanical difference between the Virt and Enc is that the latter uses a much cheaper burrset that will overheat the grind if the motor is operated at the same speed as the MUCH more expensive burrset Baratza sources for the Virt/Prec. The motors are identical. weight differences are just cabinetry and a base plug used to increase stability and perceived value. Ya buy the Virt for the great burrset…and hence fewer fines, and 2x speed. As such i think it merits use in a small commercial operation. Encores are ok for non-espresso home use.
    If you’re lucky you can dial espresso in nicely with a Virt, but that’s where the preciso’s vernier adjuster helps out…but a bit expensively.
    Again, the motors and drives are identical. It’s those burrs from Lichtenstein that make the difference.

    • Hi Ernest,

      thank you for your detailed comment! I have included it in the text itself as it is a valuable addition.

      Jacco
      Chief Grinder