Is your wallet feeling a bit light from your daily trips to the coffee shop? Yeah, mine too. Luckily for you, the beginner level burr grinders are finally here to transform you into your favorite new barista.
Introducing, the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso.
Now, before you get scared off with the big fancy names, let’s break down the benefits and drawbacks of each grinder, so you can make the most informed decision in your coffee endeavors.
The term Baratza comes from Arabic and Swahili, translating to, “a place where locals gather to drink coffee”. The company Baratza, was founded in 1999 by Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy, who was on a search to give coffee lovers a quick and easy way to experience that glossy taste of pureed grounds.
The 40mm conical burrs available these products are the brains behind the magic, chopping up each coffee bean into a thousand tiny particles to give you the smoothest consistency that not even a local cafe hipster could find.
Of the two grinders we look at today, the Encore came earlier in the company’s history. Baratza invented its specific Encore grinder to give coffee enthusiasts freshly brewed beans right in the comfort of their own home.
From French Press to Espresso grinding, your options are limitless with the Encore. With just the click of a button, you can have home-made coffee grounds on your kitchen counter in seconds.
Virtuoso derives from the Italian language with a strong connotation to an honorable person or act, which directly correlates to its performance in the coffee crushing world. As new manufactures teamed up with Baratza, the Virtuoso was born with a high-quality burr grinding system to exceed the expectations of all.
Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
We’ll start with a user-friendly and financially reasonable Encore grinder that offers 40 different grind settings for easy and fast results. The exceptionally high number of grind settings is pretty widespread along all Encore’s, but this specific burr grinder is special in that fact.
The 40 different settings can allow you to choose from a fine coarse to a more chunky consistence depending on your coffee preferences. All of the popular brew methods will be right at your fingertips such as French Press, Chemex, pour over, espresso and so much more.
The high-speed Baratza produces a small foot-print for large production of results, along with a one-year warranty, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like insurance on their coffee habits?
The simplistic design of the Encore allows for any level of brewing enthusiast to quickly catch on to the status quo of burr grinding without any hassle.
The Encore’s downside is the issue of coffee beans clogging in the grinder. There are instructions on how to unclog the system so that it may continue in its powdering mode. However, the chances of the Encore spitting out a few less-ground beans into the dispenser are much greater than that of a higher-priced Encore.
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
The stylishly modern-looking Baratza Virtuoso+ gives you a chance to experience the many different types of brewing methods, grinding at 2g per second. Along with its high-speed functions, the Virtuoso+ includes a front-mounted dial allowing you to adjust the 40-second timer to your preferred settings.
The illuminating blue backlight in the grounds bin helps you to easily assess just how many coffee grounds your Virtuoso is manufacturing for your mug. Personally, I love anything that lights up: Christmas lights, jack o’ lanterns, bonfires, candles, and now, the Virtuoso+.
Similar to the Encore, the Virtuoso+ also has the 40 grind setting options to widen your horizon of coarseness in your coffee grounds. With the capacity to hold up to 8 oz. of coffee beans, this grinder can satisfy multiple cups of joe.
While this state of the art grinder has been consistently chosen over its generic alternate brand, even the Virtuoso has a few kinks that need working out. The coffee grounds bin has been seen as an essential aspect, but it doesn’t always hold up to its standards with some overspill present.
Battle of the Baratzas
Even if you’re the biggest coffee devotee, these two options can seem extremely similar. So, you may be wondering, how do I choose? But hey, that’s what we’re here for.
The key differences rely on the structure and mechanics of each grinder, making the two structures look indistinguishable to the
naked eye. Let’s take a glimpse at some of the key differences:
One of the biggest differences between the two grinders is issued in their grinding speeds and how fast they can produce fine coffee grounds.
The Encore inhabits M3 burrs to chop up coffee beans, meaning that the M3 burrs edges’ are more flat and dull, slowing down the process of grinding, so the Encore can only grind 1g/second.
The Virtuoso+ has M2 burrs that are better sharpened and inverted, creating the perfect recipe to break down tough coffee beans. Clocking in with a grind speed of 2g/second, the Virtuoso+ doubles the pace of the Encore.
So, let’s do some math to better break down the timely results of each grinder. Since both the Encore and Virtuoso+ can hold up to 8oz. per grind, we can assess just how fast each grinder would take to produce those 8oz. of coffee grounds.
With the Encore grinding 1g/second, it would take approximatley 226.4 seconds (or 3 minutes and 46 seconds) to grind 8oz. of coffee beans.
With the Virtuoso+ grinding 2g/second, it would take approximately 113.2 seconds (or 1 minutes and 53 seconds) to grind 8oz. of beans. As you can see, the Virtuoso+ slices the time in half with the M2 burrs.
Here we are looking at size, weight, and materials. There are differences on the first two fronts is slight, but more people may be concerned about the differences on the third.
The Encore is made completely from plastic, making it a light 6.83 lbs. It is a relatively manageable size, standing at 13.8 inches tall and 6.3 inches wide. This profile makes the Encore compact and easy to store. On the flip side, some users prefer the more substantial feel of a heavier, metal-based product.
The Virtuoso+ weighs in at 7.05 lbs and measures 6.69 x 6.69 x 12.6 inches. As a result it is a bit larger in weight and size, making it less portable. Despite the wider footprint, this product is actually shorter than the Encore. Plus, the mix of steel and plastic does make it more durable.
Switch or Timer?
One main difference between these products is actually how you control the grinding. Your preference here will depend entirely on how hands-on you like to be with your brewing.
Baratza’s Encore is equipped with an on-and-off switch. This allows you to be more hands-on with your grinding, as you manually start and stop the process. However, this also means you have to stand by to watch and measure. Those of you who want to land somewhere in the middle of hands-on grinding and convenience, this is for you.
The Virtuoso+ on the other hand has a 40-second timer. That feature gives you the freedom to leave the room if you need to, while your grinding continues. So if you’re really into that whole “automatic” part of automatic grinder, this option is for you.
Both the Encore and Virtuoso+ have sister products. These alternatives can range in price, depending on what you are searching for.
As far as the products themselves, the Virtuoso+ tops the Encore by about $100. That extra investment gets you faster, more precise grinding with more programmability hands-off.
However, both of these products top $100. While this is definitely not the highest price you’ll find for an automatic grinder, it cannot compete with the affordability of manual options. So on that front, you need to assess what level of convenience is best for your lifestyle.
Regardless of any skepticism to a higher-priced option though, the investment is generally worth it for avid coffee drinkers. Grinding and brewing at home can definitely save you a pretty penny. And nothing beats the taste of fresh-ground arabica coffee.
All-in-all, your choice of a burr grinder is one completely based off of your lifestyle needs. If you’re more concerned about speed and precision, try the Virtuoso+. The extra investment will get you a few extra gadgets to speed up your brewing process.
More concerned about the footprint and just need a quality product without the extra bells? Go for the Encore. You can save a few bucks and still have the grind range and a decently quick grinder.
Regardless of your decision, your new burr grinder will ultimately save you money. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of brewing anything from an Espresso to a French Press in the comfort of your kitchen. Oh, and let’s not forget about that indulgent, everlasting coffee aroma that will be circling your home for hours.