A Baratza coffee grinder is not for everyone. They are not for budding interior designers who obsess over the aesthetic elements of each kitchen appliance. They are not for the average coffee drinker who is perfectly satisfied with the quality of drip coffee available in fast food chains.
A Baratza grinder is for the experienced coffee aficionado who seeks perfection in every cup of coffee or shot of espresso. For this latter group, Baratza offers exactly what is needed to prepare a grind for the perfect cup of coffee—nothing less, nothing more.
If you find yourself in the latter group, dissatisfied with pre-ground beans, imprecise mass-produced burrs, and a lack of control over grind consistency, a Baratza can bring your experience to the next level.
After wading through many existing coffee grinder reviews and product information, we have compiled a list that shows you the best Baratza grinder.
Based on features, convenience, performance, excellent build quality and great value for your money, we present you:
The Best Baratza Coffee Grinder of 2016
The Baratza Virtuoso is a commercial grade machine when it comes to performance and quality and consistent grinds. At about twice the price of the Encore, it's definitely worth the difference though.
Baratza, an Arabic and Swahili term, refers to a gathering place for drinking coffee. Based out of Bellevue, Washington, United States, Baratza is a purveyor of high-end precision coffee grinders for the specialty coffee community. This niche focus allows them to hone a single product line and perfect it.Although you won’t find a Baratza grinder in your local discount department store, the company has garnered a strong cult following from coffee enthusiasts worldwide. Known for excellent product quality, innovation, and hands-on customer support, Baratza has cemented its reputation amongst the coffee aficionado circles.
In 1999, coffee enthusiasts Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy founded Baratza. Unhappy with the status quo of coffee equipment, more notably, with grinders, the co-founders envisioned a better way to produce high-quality coffee grinds at home.
In 2003, determined to minimize the number of products that end up in landfills, Baratza began to refurbish returned grinders and to resell them directly to consumers through their website. Baratza refurbished grinders come at a discount to regular Baratza grinders.
In 2005, Baratza released its first conical burr grinder, the Virtuoso. The same year, Baratza expanded its green initiative by eliminating all Styrofoam from product packaging, replacing it with paper.
In 2007, Baratza upgraded the design of one of its best-selling grinder series, the Maestro.
In 2008, Baratza introduced the Vario, a lightweight commercial flat burr grinder. This was one of the first grinders to use Baratza’s innovative micro/macro burr adjustment technology.
In 2010, Baratza released one of its most popular conical burr grinders, the Preciso.
In 2011, the Specialty Coffee Association of America awarded Baratza’s Essato and Vario W the “Best New Product” designation, citing their innovative weight-based grinding mechanism.
In 2013, Baratza won another Specialty Coffee Association of America accolade for its new Forté grinder.
Today Baratza enjoys a strong niche following from coffee connoisseurs worldwide.
Baratza products are all designed in Seattle, United States. All of the precision burrs found in Baratza grinders are manufactured in Europe, most often in Italy. Once all the parts have been sourced, the grinders are assembled in Taiwan.
Despite being aimed at the high-end consumer market, Baratza’s grinders tend to sport an industrial/commercial aesthetic. They are incredibly simple in look, and typically feature matte plastic or nickel-plated metal as the main housing component.
There is little to differentiate each grinder visually from a separate model, given the entire product line shares a near identical silhouette. What these grinders lack in looks, however, they make up for in build quality and performance. The heart of a Baratza’s design lies in its central component—the high precision, high performance, European made burrs, available in stainless steel and ceramic.
The Baratza Virtuoso is a mid-end conical burr grinder aimed at home-brewing specialty coffee connoisseurs. While its compact design and simple silhouette may look fairly boring in your kitchen, its features and performance are anything but.
Geared for high-performance, precision, and consistency, the Virtuoso is a commercial grade machine at a very reasonable price point.
Featuring a European made stainless steel conical burr set, the Baratza Virtuoso produces a very uniform grind across all coarseness settings and manages to avoid the problem of coffee dust that plagues most grinders under $500.
A high-torque motor that effortlessly achieves a consistent low-RPM rotation keeps the full integrity of your beans intact. As is common with Baratza grinders, the Virtuoso’s burrs can be manually calibrated for extra grinding precision.
The coarseness of your grind can be easily adjusted by rotating the hopper in 40 increments, from coarse to fine.
Its removable, airtight hopper holds nearly a pound of beans and keeps them fresh for extended periods of time.
Although the Baratza Virtuoso’s 40 settings are plenty for most grinds, the missing macro-micro adjustments of Baratza’s pricier machines means that ultra-fine adjustments can only be made through the fussy process of calibration. The supposed high-precision timer does not have any numbers to indicate time, and instead uses segmented bars to visually set grinding times. This is inconvenient and inexact, and proper espresso dosing may still require a scale.
Some customers have also complained that the timer knob has a tendency to fall off the machine, indicating a subpar build quality. This is further compounded by reports of the machine failing after less than a year of use.
The Baratza Virtuoso produces an excellent uniformity of grinds, and avoids many of the shortcomings of similarly priced grinders. Its lack of quantity precision, however, prevents it from being ideal for espresso perfectionists.
All things considered, it would be very hard to find a burr grinder in the same price range that could produce such uniform, consistent grinds.
In this article we compare the Breville Smart Grinder (both the original and the Pro) to the Virtuoso. These machines are so close it's almost a tie, but you can't go wrong with any of them.
The Baratza Encore is an entry-level burr grinder, which offers less features for a lower price. In this article we help you decide if the Baratza Virtuoso is worth its higher price tag (hint: It is!).
The Preciso and the Virtuoso not only look almost identical, they are also very similar in features. The difference is in the grinds settings and we find out if that turns out in favor of the Preciso.
The Baratza Encore is dubbed as an entry-level
The Encore’s main improvement over previous entry-level Baratza devices is its gearbox, now reinforced with fiberglass for extra durability. Borrowing a note from the Baratza Maestro Plus, the encore features a “pulse” button on its front face, allowing you to grind directly into a portafilter or cone filter.
Its conical burrs can be adjusted in 40 separate grind consistencies, from fine to coarse, and are easily controlled by rotating the hopper. The produced grinds are uniform, with minimal clumping. The encore’s hopper is slightly smaller than other Baratza devices but will keep your beans just as fresh, for just as long.
The Encore’s high torque motor rotates effortlessly at a low RPM, preserving the complex aromatics of your beans. This grinder would be a great companion to your French press, drip machine, or Turkish pot.
Despite having 40 adjustments, some espresso machines will seem like they need an extra notch; one notch would be too fine, and the one below it would be too coarse. Although this can be dealt with by adjusting
The Baratza Encore grinder is also missing quantity settings, and the Baratza Maestro Plus timer has been replaced with a simple on/off
The Encore’s build quality is notably lower than that of Baratza’s more expensive grinders, and its plastic housing doesn’t feel as sturdy. Although not all that common, and easily rectified by Baratza’s customer service, people have complained about defects that range from frequent clogging to complete machine failure.
The Baratza Encore is a solid conical burr
The Capresso Infinity is a popular burr coffee grinder and is often considered by many as an alternative for the Baratza Encore. We decided to take them both for a spin and see what's what.
Learn how the Encore stacks up to its bigger and more expensive brother, the Baratza Virtuoso. Here you'll find out if the additional features are justified by the higher price tag of the Virtuoso.
The Baratza Encore and the Bodum Bistro are in the same price class, making it direct competitors in the entry-level burr grinder market. Reason enough to do a head-to-head comparison.
The Baratza Vario-W is a high-end burr grinder for consumers who are very serious about the quality of their coffee. Although it is not the best looking grinder on the market, owing to a cluttered interface and drab design reminiscent of 1970s kitchen appliances, the Baratza Vario-W is a high-performance, high-precision, and high-convenience grinder that few machines can compete with.
The Baratza Vario-W uses high precision ceramic burrs to grind your beans to an incredibly uniform consistency. Its coarseness control is very expansive, and features the same sort of macro-micro adjustments available on the more expensive Baratza Forte AP.
There are 10 macro settings, and 23 micro settings, giving you a functional number of 230 adjustment increments.
Furthermore, as is standard for all Baratza machines, the Baratza Vario-W can also be calibrated manually. This is fantastic for fine-tuning an ideal coarseness for any espresso machine and portafilter on the market.
The main distinguishing feature between the Vario-W and the original Vario is the addition of a new electronic scale, which weighs your beans precisely. The Baratza Vario-W also features programmable settings, 3 buttons that can be assigned to interrupt the grind cycle once specific weight is reached. Once you have found the ideal grind weight for a specific brewing method, the results can be easily and quickly reproduced. Finally, the Vario-W’s hopper is removable and airtight.
The Baratza Vario-W’s most apparent drawback is poor build quality. While some of the trim is made of nickel-plated metal, the majority of the machine is encased in cheap plastic. This is also apparent with the device’s dials, which may feel slightly flimsy, and its cheap LCD screen, which is prone to flickering. The upgraded Vario-W 986 does now have a mechanism for holding a portafilter in place while you grind.
Espresso dosing may also be imprecise due to static buildup, with up to 3 grams being lost to cling. Finally, the Vario-W’s ceramic burrs and factory calibration are not ideal for French press, even at the machine’s coarsest settings.
The Baratza Vario-W’s main draws include excellent grind uniformity, expansive coarseness controls, a high-precision electronic scale for perfect dosing, and programmable settings. However, given its high price point, it is incredibly surprising that this device has such a poor build quality. The Baratza Vario-W can be a sensible investment, as long as you don’t mind the occasional call to Baratza’s customer service.
The Baratza Vario 886 is a high-end flat burr grinder, designed primarily for espresso connoisseurs who want to pull a fantastic shot of espresso. Although nearly identical to the Vario-W, the Vario 886 lower price tag comes with a tradeoff: a timing feature replaces the weight sensor of the W.
On its exterior, the machine looks just as drab, and its interface is just as cluttered. However, this is mitigated by the machine’s excellent and highly consistent operation.
Using high precision flat ceramic burrs, the Baratza Vario 886 produces an incredible grind with excellent uniformity. Its burrs are adjusted in 230 increments using a macro and micro slider. A precision timer replaces the W’s scale, and grind times can be saved as presets on one of the machine’s 3 programmable buttons.
Like the Vario-W, the Vario 886 comes with a detachable portafilter cradle, allowing you to grind directly into an espresso portafilter. A high torque, low RPM motor keeps your beans cool while grinding, and maintains all the subtle aromas of your beans.
The Vario 886’s hopper is removable, airtight, and will keep your beans fresh for weeks. As mentioned previously, it is unfortunate that this model of the Vario does not have a weight sensor. Unless you are content with eyeballing your grind quantity, buying a scale is required for true quantity precision.
The Baratza Vario 886 has many of the same issues as the W, chief of which is a subpar build quality. While the machine feels sturdy, there are many customer reports of the machine arriving DOA or failing after a few months of use. While this 886’s grind container also has a slight problem with static cling, it isn’t as detrimental because of the included portafilter holder.
The Baratza Vario 886 is a fantastic grinder for most brews of coffee and produces very uniform grinds with minimal clumping. It trades in the weighing mechanism of the Vario-W for a precision timer and also includes a portafilter holder. Build quality issues aside, this is one of the most precise and consistent grinders for the consumer market.
The Baratza Preciso conical burr grinder is a mid-level grinder geared specifically for espresso drinkers. Baratza’s typical silhouette is unchanged, and the Baratza Preciso sports a near-identical look to the Virtuoso; it has the same ABS plastic housing and nickel-plated trim. Despite the lack of visual differences, however, the Baratza Preciso is a very different beast.
First and foremost, the Preciso improves greatly upon the Baratza Virtuoso’s 40 grind settings, multiplying them to a whopping 440. This is achieved by adjusting two separate sliders, a 40-increment macro slider, and an 11-increment micro slider.
The Preciso uses the same high-precision 40 mm conical burrs found on the Virtuoso, but the increased control (called MICROAdjust) over coarseness makes the Preciso much more ideal for espresso.
With that in mind, Baratza has also included a very convenient portafilter holder alongside the standard grinds container. It features the same airtight, removable bean hopper, and the same low RPM motor as the Virtuoso. Combining 440 grind settings with the ability to manually calibrate the burrs make the Preciso a great grinder for any brew methods, especially espresso.
Despite the fantastic consistency of grinds, the Baratza Preciso is riddled with issues. Given the Preciso’s similarity to the Baratza Virtuoso, it should come as no surprise that its build quality is also suspect. Many customers have complained about receiving dead units, experiencing clogging out of the box, or having the machine fail before its time. While the machine is heavy, components like the timer dial are flimsy and weak.
Like the Virtuoso, Preciso’s timer lacks clearly marked grind times, so you’re still forced to estimate using the segmented bars. Another commonly reported problem is calibration drift, which can occur after several grind cycles on the machine’s finest settings.
Costing almost 50% more than the Baratza Virtuoso, the Baratza Preciso machine is one of the more expensive mid-range grinders on the market. While many of the issues of the Baratza Virtuoso were forgivable, the Baratza Preciso’s price should make you more critical of its flaws. Yes, it is a fantastic companion to your espresso machine when it works, but a machine of this price should not have so many build quality issues.
The Virtuoso and Preciso are almost identical, except for the MIRCOadjust settings (and their price tag).
The Vario is together with the Forte on the top of Baratza's product range. This article explains the differences.
The Baratza Forte AP is a high-end commercial grade flat burr grinder. It is feature-packed and fairly compact. Although it could easily find itself at home in a small independent café, its size is perfectly reasonable for a kitchen counter as well. While dubbed as an all-purpose grinder, this machine excels at preparing espresso, and many of its unique features seem fine-tuned for the sensitivity of espresso machines.
The star of the show is the Baratza Forte’s high precision flat burrs. Manufactured in Europe, Forte AP’s burrs produce an incredibly consistent, café quality grind in any coarseness you could possibly want. The machine boasts a high degree of precision in grind coarseness, allowing you to select the consistency with a macro slide-dial (10 settings) and a micro slide-dial (26 settings), yielding 260 steps.
With a bit of tinkering and help from Baratza’s customer support, its burrs can also be manually calibrated to your liking.
The build quality is fantastic and sturdy, with some customers likening it to a tiny tank. As previously mentioned, this grinder boasts many features ideal for grinding espresso, including precision dosing by weight (+- 0.1 grams) and time (+- 0.5 grams). An included grinds container can be used to collect larger quantities of grinds, and a portafilter holder allows you to grind your coffee directly into an espresso portafilter. Finally, its large removable hopper holds nearly a pound of beans, keeping them fresh with an airtight lid.
There are several inconveniences, however, especially notable for their impact on espresso grinding. The first notable disadvantage is the Baratza Forte AP’s portafilter holder, which seems too small for some of the bigger, open bottomed portafilters. Secondly, there is no convenient way to use the grinds weighing feature when grinding into a portafilter, and thus you can only use the slightly less precise dose timer. Because of differences in density in different roasts and beans, it might make more sense to grind into the receptacle, and then manually transfer the grinds into a portafilter.
The biggest drawback, however, is the grinder’s price. At almost $1000, this grinder is only for the most devoted of coffee lovers.
The Baratza Forte AP is an incredible, sturdy, high precision grinder whose performance is unmatched in the sub $1000 range. Because of its restrictive pricing, it isn’t for just anybody. But if you are a dedicated, espresso-drinking perfectionist, there are few machines that will satisfy you like the Baratza Forte AP.
The G 285 Maestro is a discontinued version of Baratza’s entry-level burr grinders, now replaced by the Baratza Encore. Because the Encore was based on the design of the Baratza Maestro, the machines are nearly identical. They are both compact, simple, and fairly nondescript in appearance.
However, the Baratza Maestro uses inferior gearbox architecture, compounding the machine’s issues with subpar build quality. If you are in the market for an entry-level Baratza grinder, you should avoid the Baratza Maestro in favor of the much-improved Baratza Encore.
Breville has a large range of coffee grinders, most of them directly competing with Baratza in price and features.
Capresso is selling the popular Infinity product range of coffee grinders, which is in the same class as the Baratza Encore.