If you’ve spent any amount of time researching high-end grinders, which we’ll assume you have, seeing as you’re browsing a coffee grinder themed website and looking at a Baratza Forte review, you’ll have undoubtedly heard a great deal of praise for Baratza.
We like to think of this company as the Apple of coffee grinders. Both companies have extremely vocal fans, but also sell great products that make it easy to see why they deserve the praise.
Because Baratza produces such a wide range of grinders, it’s hard to know which of the grinders is right for your needs. In the following Baratza Forte review, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of the Baratza Forte to help you make the decision of whether or not this high-end grinder is for you.
We also did a number of reviews on other popular Baratza grinders with excellent grind results, like the Virtuoso and Preciso.
We also did a comparison of the Baratza Forte vs. the Baratza Vario, the other workhorse from Baratza.
Baratza markets the Forte as a unit fit for commercial use, which means they packed it with every feature at their disposal. By far the most impressive features available are the different dosing settings. The Forte offers both grind-by-weight and timed settings, with the ability to program three presets of each. Rather uniquely, the grinder’s computer system can convert between the weight and time presets to within 0.5 grams.
If you’re comparing this with one of Baratza’s lower end models, such as a comparison between the Baratza Forte vs. Vario (we got a more detailed comparison below), this is one of the biggest upgraded the Forte features. The grind-by-weight setting is particularly accurate to 0.2 grams. There’s also a manual grind button, which keeps the unit continually grinding until the button is released.
Of course, no Baratza Forte review would be complete without a discussion of some of its smaller, auxiliary features. The unit features a
Its function is mainly for choosing your grind settings, but it goes a long way towards improving the machine’s aesthetics. The touch screen also acts as the standby switch for the Forte. Touch the unit once, and it the screen lights up, ready to grind. A second touch puts the unit in standby mode. Again, this doesn’t really offer much that the lower end Baratza models don’t already have, but if you’re looking at the Baratza Forte vs. Vario, you have to admit that the touchscreen makes you want the Forte just a little bit more.
We’ve already mentioned how the Baratza Forte markets itself as a grinder suitable for commercial use, so it’s not too surprising that this grinder is an extremely sturdy unit. Rather than cutting corners to lower the cost of the Forte, Baratza instead opted to build this product with the highest quality components available. It uses almost exclusively metal components, with the most breakable pieces probably being the ceramic burrs.
Of course, this makes the unit rather heavy (around 17 pounds), which is a pain for shipping purposes, but a good thing once the grinder is actually on the counter. Like most Baratza products, many of the parts inside the Forte can be ordered individually from Baratza should something fail.
Their customer support is a great too if you’re not exactly sure what part of the grinder is malfunctioning.
The Forte features a plethora of grind settings, which are controlled via a unique macro/micro slider. The macro slider ranges from ultra fine to
Do a bit of math, and you’ll see this means the Baratza Forte offers an astonishing 260 distinct grind settings. According to Baratza, this translates to a range of 230 to 1150 microns, meaning each setting changes the size of the grounds by about 3.5 microns.
The Vario is together with the Forte on the top of Baratza's product range. As it has commercial qualities as well, they make for an interesting comparison.
If this somehow isn’t enough of a grind range to meet your settings, then we’d love to hear about the exotic brew methods you’re using to make your coffee. You also can still use the Baratza Forte as it features manually adjustable burrs. Doing so requires the use of the burr adjustment tool that is included with the purchase of the Forte. This might also be necessary if the Forte wasn’t properly calibrated by the factory or the previous owner.In terms of consistency, the grinder also performs admirably. Interestingly, it features flat ceramic burrs, rather than the more advanced conical burrs seen on most comparable grinders, but this doesn’t seem to affect its reliability at all.
If you need a bit less power at a lower price, then the Baratza Vario might be a better choice for you.
The Virtuoso is an upgrade from the Encore, in terms of better build quality and burr set, at a higher price tag.
There’s little doubt that the biggest downside of the Baratza Forte is its price. At a list price of $999, the cheapest you’ll be able to find a new unit for sale is a hefty $899. There are a few used Fortes on the market, which go for slightly less than the new Fortes.
Obviously, this is an expensive piece of equipment; it is, after all, marketed towards commercial buyers. However, if you’ve got the cash, this is a great piece of machinery and a decent value. It offers numerous features, has a large range of grind settings, and is incredibly reliable. If you want a top notch grinder that’s built to last, the Baratza Forte is a great option.
Earlier in this Baratza Forte review, we mentioned how the
There’s really no way to directly compare these units. On every front except for
The answer to this depends on the setting you plan on using the Forte in. For a café or other commercial setting, it’s definitely worth paying the extra money to get the better, more reliable unit. However, in a home setting, it’s difficult to think the Forte offers much that the Vario doesn’t.
The choice between the Baratza Forte and the Mazzer Mini is one of the most common coffee grinder comparison made. Much like in the case of the Forte vs. the Vario, the dilemma of Baratza Forte vs. Mazzer Mini can be resolved by considering how you plan on using the unit. Though the Mazzer Mini would make a perfectly fine commercial coffee grinder, especially if you purchase the version with a doser, it also feels a bit more at home in a kitchen than the Baratza Forte.
The Forte seems best suited for professional use, unless you’re quite dedicated to coffee and willing to spend to get the best. In terms of performance or aesthetics, however, neither of these two machines is any better than the other. At the end of the day, the machine that’s best for you is largely a matter of personal preference.
The Mazzer Mini is in the same price class as the Vario, with the Super Jolly being on par with the Forte. Definitely worth a read if you're looking for a superb grinder.
The K30 and EK43 are pure coffee grinding beasts. Their price is in a class of its own, but these are for commercial grade grinders that simply won't let you down
The Rancilio Rocky is a range of commercial grade grinders at a very affordable price. Worth looking into if you don't want to spend more than $500 on a grinder.