Are you new to brewing coffee with whole coffee beans? Well, you’ll need a reliable, handy-dandy grinder to help you break down your beans into grounds.
But how does one go about researching which entry-level burr grinders are best? The answer is simple! Start by reading our in-depth comparison between two of the most popular entry-level grinders on the market right now: the Baratza Encore vs the Capresso Infinity.
Background on Baratza
Created in 1999, the Baratza company is one of the most well-known coffee grinder producers on the market today. The brainchild of Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy, Baratza has been specializing in creating state-of-the-art coffee grinders, focusing on its primary goals of innovation, consistency, and excellence for all of its products.
Coming from the Arabic and Swahili languages, “baratza” means “a place where locals gather to drink coffee.” As their name implies, the company’s primary goal is to provide a quality product and service to its customers, as well as supporting the specialty coffee community–those who are passionate about coffee and who want to learn the art of making coffee. Baratza achieves this by not only selling well-made and affordable coffee grinders but also through providing outstanding customer service.
Becoming Acquainted with Capresso
Instead of specializing in only coffee grinders, Capresso has a strong presence in the coffee market due to its production of grinders, coffee makers, espresso machines, and even milk frothers. Only 5 years older than the Baraza company, Capresso has been in the coffee game since 1994 and has created many firsts for the coffee machine industry, from authentically designed espresso machines to coffeemaker/conical burr grinder combinations.
Unlike the method in which Baratza is named, the word “Capresso” actually comes from the fusion of the words “cappuccino” and “espresso.” This spunky title reflects the personality that this company brings to the coffee industry: one that is inventive, innovative, and revolutionary to brewing coffee.
Baratza Encore vs Capresso Infinity
Before we get into the specifics of comparing these two little machines against one another, it’s nice to have an over-arching description of each. First of all, they are both automatic conical burr grinders, as are both decent entry-level beginner grinders. They’re durable, well-made, affordable, and are great machines for the prices that they’re sold for on the market. They don’t dispense coffee grounds by set dosage, so they do require your own careful eye in order when measuring exactly how much coffee grounds you need in a single grind.
Baratza Encore Overview
An automatic conical burr grinder, the Baratza Encore has an impressive amount of 40 different grind settings. Along with this, the Encore also has a toggle on/off switch, a pulse button, adjustment levels, as well as a ground bin. With efficiency and simplicity as its top two priorities, the Encore is designed to be easy to learn, operate and clean. The Baratza Encore is a favorite of many home-coffee brewers and is considered by some to the best coffee grinder for espresso.
Recently, the Encore has gotten an upgrade on its look and design. A lot of the new changes mainly consisting of the simplification of the button and knob, as well as the overall sleek look of the machine. Constructed with these qualities in mind, the Encore is perfectly suited for both beginning and expert baristas, especially those who aren’t super concerned with fancy or flair. It comes in two colors, black and white, keeping it simple for you to choose which looks best in your kitchen.
One great thing that Baratza does in order to ensure customer satisfaction is providing a warranty for their products. This way, if some misfortune should befall your beloved grinder, you have a guarantee of getting it fixed. Furthermore, they also provide outstanding customer service to ensure that every customer is satisfied with each product by providing step-by-step over the phone service to customers, a troubleshooting guide, and even extra parts and instructions to repair your grinder.
Safety is a key quality of the Baratza because it’s designed to make sure that you can take it apart easily without the risk of injury. For example, when cleaning the grinder blades on the Encore, all you have to do is turn the bean hopper to 40 (make sure the grinder is turned off, obviously), and it will release the bean hopper from the grinder. Once this happens, there is a microswitch within the grinder that is no longer engaged, preventing any accidents from happening while cleaning the blades.
Another feature that we enjoy about the Encore is the pulse button located on the front of the machine. Having a pulse option is a beneficial feature because instead of the grounds being dispensed in the container below, you can easily disperse them in your portafilter basket if you have an espresso machine. With a pulse button, you can easily dispense the grounds in intervals, allowing you to avoid wasting extra coffee that you don’t need at the moment.
Manual Grinding Only
Now, if you’re looking for a manual grinder only, then this may be a great fit for you. The Encore is more advanced since most of its functions are operated manually, such as the on/of switch as well as the selection of grind size. In addition, the Encore also has a pulse button on the front of the machine that further allows you more control the grinding process. This is a simple yet more advanced grinder choice, so if you’re looking for a grinder that has the option of timed grinding, the Encore isn’t for you.
Capresso Infinity Overview
Another automatic conical burr grinder, the Capresso Infinity is designed with maximum aroma and flavor retention in mind. It operates well and is able to grind at a variety of sizes, but many professional baristas may label the Infinity as more of a beginner burr grinder. With only 16 grind settings, the Capresso is primarily concerned with simplicity over luxury or efficiency.
Only coming in one color, the Capresso Infinity is made out of stainless steel, making it a nice fit for your kitchen no matter what the color scheme of your kitchen is. Since it’s made out of a sturdier material, the Infinity is also strong and durable enough to last you for several years if you keep up with the overall maintenance of your machine.
Level Of Ease
If you’re a baby barista and grinding is new to you, the Infinity is a great option to understand the differences between grind sizes and how different sizes impact the overall quality of your brewed coffee. The Infinity is very easy to operate, making it a perfect choice for home coffee grinders who are just starting out. However, this may not be the best choice if you’re an experienced at grinding coffee, or if you’re outgrowing your own entry-level grinder and are searching for a more advanced option.
One of our favorite qualities about the Capresso Infinity is that it produces a low amount of noise when grinding. Typically, grinders can create a lot of racket due to the speed of the burrs as they break down the beans. However, the Infinity does a decent job of remaining somewhat quiet, making it both an efficient and pleasant process.
Another benefit to the Infinity is the complementary tools given along with the purchase of the machine. The Infinity comes with a complimentary brush to clean the burrs of the grinder, as well as a scoop to remove the grounds. Though the scoop and the complimentary brush is a nice thought, we recommend getting one that’s larger in order to clean the burrs more efficiently and effectively than this tiny brush.
When it comes to flexibility in grind size, the Infinity tends to fall short a little bit. Though it has a decent amount of grind size settings, the machine struggles with producing a consistent, fine grind for espresso brewing. If you take the bean hopper and inner pieces apart from the actual burrs themselves, you can see that the teeth on the conical burrs are much farther apart than other conical burr grinders. This fact indicates that the Infinity is naturally going to produce an inconsistent grind with almost every setting you choose, so it’s better adapted for coarser grinding anyway.
Anti-Static Coffee Container
Since this container is made of plastic, once your ground coffee enters into this chamber, you may notice a little bit of static present that makes the grounds bounce around or stick to the inner walls of the container. Static shouldn’t ruin the flavor or freshness of your coffee, but it can make a mess in your kitchen. Thankfully, the simple solution for this is once grinding has been completed, give the chamber a quick tap with your finger, and then remove it from the grinder and lightly tap the container on the kitchen counter. This will help loosen the grounds and remove the static from the coffee.
Now, let’s play the comparison game. Both of these grinders are enjoyed by many coffee lovers around the world, but they do have some notable differences between them that will determine which grinder is best suited for you. Here are just a few of the most important ones.
Buttons and Knobs
On the front of the Encore, you’ll notice a button that will allow you to pulse your grinder during the grinding process. Along with the toggle button on the front, the Encore also has a knob on the side that easily allows you to turn it on and off. The simplicity of these buttons can do wonders when you’re half asleep in the morning attempting to make coffee.
On the front of the Infinity, there is a knob that operates as a timer labeled with increments from 0-10. These increments measure different amounts of grinding time and range anywhere from 5 seconds to a full minute.
In order to adjust the grind size on the Baratza, all you have to do is turn the plastic bean hopper in order to adjust the setting of the grind size. With numbers from 0-40, twisting the bean hopper towards zero will produce a finer grind for Turkish coffee or espresso brewing, and twisting it towards 40 will produce a coarser grind for French press or cold brewing.
Unlike the Baratza, the Infinity is much less flexible when it comes to the precision of grind sizes. With only 16 settings, the Infinity gives you four levels within each grind size category: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, and Coarse. In order to change between settings, all you need to do is gently twist the bean hopper to change the size of your grind. However, when it comes to the variety of different grind sizes, the Baratza Encore has it beat.
Overall Size & Bean Hopper Size
If you’re looking for something that will take up little to no counter space in your kitchen, the Encore is a great fit. The Encore is about 13 inches tall, 5 inches wide, and 6 inches in depth, making it a great size to place on your countertop or tuck underneath a cabinet when not in use. For the Baratza, the bean hopper is an ideal size because it holds about 8 ounces of coffee beans, giving you a nice medium size amount of coffee to work with. The grounds bin is an impressive 5 ounces in size, allowing you to hold a large number of coffee grounds at once.
However, when it comes to size, the infinity takes the cake. It’s more compact than the Baratza is, sizing in at about 14.6 x 9.6 x 7.8 inches, it’s super easy to squeeze underneath a cabinet or a kitchen shelf. The bean hopper itself is about 8.8 ounces, allowing you to hold a little bit more coffee. Likewise, the container in which the coffee grounds are filtered into is about 4 ounces in volume, allowing you to only hold a slightly less amount of coffee than the Encore.
Though grinders should be able to make a wide range of different coffee beverages, there are some that are more suited for certain grind sizes over others. In the case of the Encore, it’s designed for grinding at a decent level for all grind sizes, instead of specializing in one grind size. So, it will do alright when brewing espresso, but it mainly works best for brewing methods such as the pour-over, French Press, and drip coffee.
Since the Infinity lacks grinding flexibility, it also lacks flexibility in the variety of drinks it is able to make. Though it can be used for finer grinding, it won’t match up as well to the Encore. As a result, if you’re primarily looking for a grinder to produce a finer sized grind, then an Infinity may not be for you. However, since it’s better at producing a consistent, coarser grind size, many baristas choose the Infinity for coarser brewing methods like the French press or pour-over.
After comparing the Baratza Encore vs Capresso Infinity, it’s obvious that they are both respectable entry-level conical burr grinders with important differences to consider before purchasing. Ultimately, if you’re looking for something that is affordable and simple to use, the Capresso Infinity is a decent choice. If you’re a beginning barista and you’re looking for something that will allow you to better understand the coffee grinding process, the Capresso Infinity is a great tool to do so.
However, if you’re looking for efficiency, quality, consistency, and affordability, the Baratza Encore is a beloved coffee grinder of many, and it’s a great tool for both beginning and advanced baristas. It’s a fantastic conical burr grinder in general, and out of the two, it’s our recommendation for the best grinder for espresso.