Which Baratza Grinder is right for you? – A Comparison of the Models

Baratza Grinders swept the coffee word by storm when they were founded in 1999 and offered reasonably priced but high quality coffee grinders.

Which Baratza Grinder is right for you? - A Comparison of the Models | Foodal.com

They offer an array of coffee grinders from the $129 Encore model to the top of the line $899 commercial quality Forte. However, this wide selection may lead to confusion as to which Baratza Grinder is best for your needs.

The most important thing to consider when purchasing any grinder is to decide what kind of brewing method(s) that you will be using now and in the future.

Do you just want better coffee?

Will you stick with simple brewing systems such as automatic drip such as the Behmor Brazen, pour overs such as Chemex, or french presses such as the Espro Press?

Or will you be delving into the world of espresso which requires consistency and the ability to precisely “dial in” grind size, coffee weight, etc.

Sometimes you do get what you pay for and in the coffee world this definitely holds true. The better (and generally more expensive) the equipment the easier it is to dial in great espresso shots or even influence the nuances of you pour overs.

If you are brand new to the coffee world you may want to read our blog posts “Which Brew Are You? 5 Ways to Brew Your Morning Coffee” and “The Perfect Grind” and then continue with Foodal’s Coffee Grinder Buying Guide.

Baratza Virtuoso Ceramic Conical Burr Coffee Grinder  | Foodal.com

Without further ado, we’ll delve into all the Baratza Coffee Grinder models and discuss their pros and cons, capabilities, and most importantly “best suited for” categories and give you our recommendations for the best use for each model.

Baratza Grinders fall into two categories – those with conical burrs and those with flat burrs. Which type of burr is better has consumed many thousands of posts on the various internet forums so we’ll leave those arguments where they are best debated.

Conical Burr Grinders

Baratza’s conical grinders includes the Encore, Virtuoso, and the Preciso with all three having 40mm conical burrs made in Liechtenstein that are good for around 500 lbs of coffee grinding before needing replacing (an easy no tool need task).

The three primarily differ in motor power, the construction of the case, and the adjustability to be able to “dial in” a grind and additional timing features.  The Virtuoso and Preciso also have better burr sets then the encore (closer tolerances).

All three of these Baratza grinders feature new 160 watt DC motors that are low revving compared to AC motors used in older models and rotate the burrs at 450 rps resulting in less heat transfer to the beans and the grinds.

In 2012, Baratza introduced a second generation Gearbox . The redesign significantly increased the strength and durability of the drive transmission while decreasing noise.

The Encore

Baratza’s entry level conical burr grinder is the $129 Encore. Boasting 40 settings, it has the ability to grind a coarse French press grind up to a fine espresso fine grind; the settings are adjustable by turning the hopper.

The only timing control that this model possesses is an intermittent pulse button on the front of the machine and an on/off knob on the side.

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder | Foodal.com

Baratza Encore – Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The slowest of the conical burr grinders, the Encore is able to grind about 1 gram per second which translates up to two minutes of grinding time for a 12 cup automatic drip pot. The Encore has no portafilter holder for espresso.

Recommended For: Those who brew small automatic drip or pour over pots, use a single serve system (such as refillable Keurig capsules), use small French presses, or are on a low budget.

Not recommended for those who currently brew espresso or believe they may in the future as there are not enough settings to dial in within the range required for espresso. Read Foodal’s Complete Baratza Encore Review or see it Amazon.

The Virtuoso

A step up from the Encore is the $229 Virtuoso. A cast zinc upper casing and base add both structural strength and greatly enhance the beauty over the plasticy Encore.

This Baratza grinder also gives a more consistent grind at both ends of the spectrum. It has a more powerful motor and is able to grind around 2 grams per second or double the speed of the Encore.

Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Coffee Grinder | Foodal.com

Baratza Virtuoso – Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The Virtuoso also offers timing options; beside the intermittent pulse button, this grinder also has a 60 second time switch and can be set in increments for grinding by the dose (useful when grinding for all brewing methods but almost necessary for espresso).

The Virtuoso is our most highly recommended machine for new coffee connoisseurs and unless bitten deep by the espresso bug, will be the best all-around grinder for the average household.

Recommended For: Those who brew regular sized automatic drip or pour over pots or for those who are just getting into home espresso and want to minimize initial costs. Read Foodal’s in depth review or take a gander at real world customer comments on Amazon.

The Preciso

The Preciso is our number one recommendation for those looking to get into home espresso with a limited budget (and is excels at other brewing methods as well).

At $299, the Preciso brings much needed extra steps via a micro adjustment that allows users to find a grind setting in between the 40 macro steps.

Baratza Preciso Coffee Grinder | Foodal.com

Baratza Preciso – Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

These extra steps are crucial to allowing the home barista to dial in their espresso shots; where the Encore and Virtuoso may have only 2 or 3 of the 40 steps at the finest grind level required, the Preciso expands this to six or seven settings which is crucial to getting espresso shots “just right.”

Different beans and different roasts require small adjustments to their grind levels and this is really the cheapest and decent quality Baratza grinder that allows for these adjustments.

The Preciso comes with the “Portaholder” which allows for hands-free grinding into an espresso portafilter and makes clean up easy. The regular 5 oz. grounds bin is also included.

Recommended For: Those who are just getting into home espresso and want decent quality grinder that is adjustable enough to be dialed in for espresso shots and that doesn’t “break the bank” in terms of costs.

The Preciso also works well for all forms of coffee grinding to include automatic drip, pour over, and French pots and the micro steps can be used for “dialing in” these types of brew processes as well. See Foodal’s in-depth review for more details or check it out on Amazon.

Flat Burr Ceramic Grinders

The flat burr lineup includes the Vario, Vario W, and the Forte. All three have 54mm flat swiss made ceramic burrs that are long lasting with the estimated life being around 750lbs of coffee before replacement (again no tools required and easy) is needed.

Vario-W grinders at work | Foodal.com

Vario-W grinders with different types of beans in use in a brew bar.

All three have digital displays with the Forte’s being more advanced. A 160 watt motor powers both the Vario and the Vario-W and all three use a belt drive transmission to reduce noise.

The three vary on how they dose coffee and while the Vario models are good up to light restaurant use, the Forte is designed for heavier commercial work.

The Vario

The Vario at $449 provides a great step up from the Preciso. The digital front panel is capable of saving three presets that digital control dosing timing and the machine feature easy to read and adjust macro and micro control levelers.

The adjustment levers are connected to milled metal camshafts. As a lever is moved, a lobe on the camshaft presses against the bottom of the lower burr resulting a small gap occurring between the lower burr and fixed upper burr.

Baratza Vario Coffee Grinder | Foodal.com

Baratza Vario – Flat Ceramic Coffee Grinder

The micro and macro adjustment levers allow for 230 distinct and easily repeatable grind settings that make it ideal for adjusting for espresso shots. Both the hopper and the grounds bin are capable of holding 8 ounces of beans.

Like the Preciso, the Vario includes a portaholder that allows for hands free dosing directly into an espresso portafilter.

Recommended For: Heavy home users, those a little more serious about home espresso, and light commercial use. Learn more about the Baratza Vario. Read Foodal’s detailed review or check out all of the customer comments on Amazon.

 The Vario-W

At $549, the Vario-W brings allot to the table for $100 more that its sister the Vario. Instead of time based grinding, the Vario-W utilizes a desired grind weight and will grind a dose within 0.2 grams of the selected amount.

This gives the barista a better method in controlling the brew variables rather than depending on extra steps and scales for weighing.

Baratza Vario W Coffee Grinder | Foodal.com

Baratza Vario-W – Flat Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder

The only downside is that the portaholder feature that is available on the regular Vario cannot be used with the Vario-W and the grinds are captured within the 120 gram capacity bin.

Recommended For: Heavy home users, those wanting to control all variables in brewing espresso, and light commercial use. Read Foodal’s review and learn more about the Vario-W or you can see what the consensus is on Amazon.

The Forte

At $899, the Forte is the tank of the Bartaza grinder series; featuring all aluminum construction and innovative features such as the “shut off” hopper, despite a small footprint, the forte was designed for heavy use within commercial coffee shops or for dedicated home espresso buffs.

This machine gives the barista the choice of weight dosing accurate to .02 grams, time based dosing, and can even calculate a weight preset into a time value that is accurate within plus or minus .5 grams of the set point allowing easy and repeatable dosing for espresso.

Baratza Forte AP (All-Purpose) - Flat Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder | Foodal.com

Baratza Forte AP (All-Purpose) – Flat Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder

Thanks to a large motor and larger gear to belt ratio grinds at an extremely fast 2.0 grams per second for espresso and 3.5 to 3.7 grams per second for French press or a drip grind.

Similar to Vario, the Forte features all metal macro adjustment levers that give 10 macro choices to the grind size.

However, instead of the 10 micro adjustments found on the Vario line, the Forte has 26 micro settings allow for complete finessing of the grind and make this machine perfect for a café or a dedicated home espresso fan.

The Forte comes standard with the new “Shut Off” hopper.

Recommended For: Those wanting to control absolutely all variables in brewing espresso, and heavy commercial use at busy cafes and coffee houses. Read Foodal’s in depth review and learn more about the Forte or see what the buzz is about on Amazon.


Shut Off Hopper

The new Shut Off hopper holds 300 grams of coffee (a 250 gram hopper extension is available). This hopper is vastly improved and is unique to anything that has come before it.

Baratza Shut Off Hopper | Foodal.com

Baratza Shut-off Hopper

It allows for valve to be close prior to the removal of a hopper trapping the beans inside of the hopper while it is being removed. With only an average of 10 grams of bean loss, this feature minimizes costs, waste, and cleanup.

Although it comes stock with the Forte model, the Shut Off Hopper is also available for purchase separately and can be retro fitted onto any of the other Bartaza grinder models. Learn more about the Baratza Shut Off Hopper.

Esatto Scale

The Esatto Coffee Scale attaches to the bottom of an Encore, Virtuoso, or Preciso and converts them into weight-based grinding similar to that of the Vario-W.

Simply set the weight of the grind that you want, and the Esatto takes over to include weighting the ground coffee within .10 of gram and stopping automatically.

Esatto Scale for Baratza Coffee Grinders | Foodal.com

Esatto Coffee Scale

Three programmable buttons store desired weight settings and allow for repeatable and accurate one-touch grinding.

A highly recommended upgrade to any of Baratza’s conical burr coffee grinders. Learn more about the Baratza Esatto Scale.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and that it has assisted you in deciding which Baratza grinder you should purchase that fits your needs.  If you need more assistance please do not hesitate to comment below and I will be happy to answer your questions.

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