The coffee grinder you buy is a critical decision when shopping for your café or at-home coffee setup. During your search, you may be overwhelmed by the huge number of options available and have difficulty deciding what model is right for you.
Baratza offers some excellent coffee grinders for cafes and home setups, but you’ve got some decisions to make within their own lineup. We’ll compare two of Baratza’s popular conical burr grinders – The Baratza Sette and the Baratza Virtuoso+.
Conical burr grinders are best for delivering uniform and consistent grinds, but even though these grinders may seem similar, some key features set them apart. We’ll explain what makes these grinders similar and what makes them different, and help you decide which one is right for you.
Founded in 1999 and now owned by the Breville Group, Baratza is known for innovative, user-friendly, high-quality grinders. They’ve produced highly acclaimed coffee grinders such as the Vario, the Forte, and the Estatto. Many of their grinders feature weight-based grinding and easy-to-use macro/micro-adjustments.
Based in Washington, Baratza delivers great products and excellent customer service. Buying a Baratza grinder will give you access to their customer support team and a large catalog of accessories and parts to keep your grinder performing for years to come.
Virtuoso Overview and Features
The Virtuoso is Baratza’s debut coffee grinder, first released in 2005. It’s a tried and true, high-quality conical burr coffee grinder equipped with 40-millimeter steel burrs. The Virtuoso delivers consistent grind and cafe-quality taste. With 40 stepped grinder settings, it is a highly versatile grinder capable of producing grind for drip, French press coffee, or even espresso.
The Virtuoso has a very simple and clean design. It will look great in your kitchen and pair well with your other coffee appliances. It’s a small grinder with a footprint of 12 x 35 x 16 centimeters and a weight of 8 pounds. The Virtuoso comes with a fully removable 8-ounce bean hopper and grinds into a 5-ounce grind bin.
Baratza released the Virtuoso+ in 2021, improving upon the original design by adding an LCD display. Instead of using a dial, the Virtuoso+ has a 40-second digital timer allowing you to program and save your dose. Timed dosing is great, allowing you to press start and walk away while the Virtuoso prepares your dose, but there is still a pulse option for manual grinding if you prefer.
Sette Overview and Features
In 2016 the coffee giant, Baratza, launched the Sette 270 – a revolutionary home grinder. The Sette also features 40-millimeter conical steel burrs but has a unique burr design in which the outer burr rotates around the inner conical burr, allowing for high-speed grinding and almost zero grind retention while producing a consistent grind size.
The Sette has 31 macro steps but also has an additional stepless micro adjustment allowing for limitless grind settings, which can make a huge difference in your daily brew.
The Sette is primarily an espresso grinder. While it can produce a coarse grind for drip or pour-over, it performs best with finer espresso grinds.
The Sette also has a compact footprint at 13 x 40 x 24 centimeters and 7 pounds. It’s designed to fit under the standard kitchen cabinet height. The Sette also has a removable 10-ounce hopper and a 5.5-ounce grinding bin.
The Sette has a much more sleek and modern design. It is named “Sette” or seven in Italian because of its unique shape – take a look at it from the side. Baratza offers the Sette in two additional models – the Sette 270wi, which includes weight-based dosing, and the Sette 30, a more budget-friendly, entry-level coffee bean grinder.
A quick glance at a spec sheet may make you believe these two grinders are very similar. They both have 40-millimeter steel conical burrs. They both have a compact footprint that’s perfect for a cafe or home setup. They both use timed dosing from an LCD Backlit Screen. And both of these grinders deliver a consistent grind for the best-tasting coffee. So what sets these grinders apart?
Baratza Sette vs Virtuoso: Key Differences
Build Quality and Finish
While both grinders look great, the Sette has a more unique and modern design. Baratza really tried to revolutionize the way grinders look with the Sette, and its unique shape allows it to grind directly into your portafilter without using a chute.
If you want a more minimalist design, you may prefer the look of the Virtuoso, but the Sette looks great and will stand out in your coffee setup.
Grinding Adjustment and Range
While both of these grinders offer a large number of grind adjustments, the Sette provides the most precise grind. The Virtuoso has 40 stepped adjustments over a broader grind range of 200 – 1200 microns. The Sette grinds over a smaller range of 230 – 950 microns. However, with 31 macro adjustments and stepless micro-adjustments, the Sette will give you the most control over your grind size.
The more extensive grind range in the Virtuoso allows you to grind coffee grounds coarse enough for drip coffee and fine enough for espresso. However, the Virtuoso doesn’t deliver precise adjustments sufficient to fine-tune your recipe. While the Sette can’t deliver coarse grinds, it is the best grinder for espresso.
The high torque DC motor in the Virtuoso turns slowly, and it won’t heat your coffee during grinding. The Virtuoso grinds at a speed of 1.5 – 2.9 grams/sec. It’s a bit slower than the Sette, but this also means it’s a much quieter grinder.
The Sette is a very high-speed grinder and achieves a grinding speed of 3.5 – 5.5 grams/sec. It’s faster than most home grinders on the market, and you’ll definitely notice the speed when preparing multiple doses. However, the Sette is very noisy, and the grinding process will wake up any light sleepers in your house.
Burr Quality and Design
While both of these grinders have 40-millimeter conical burrs, Baratza has completely revolutionized the burr design for the Sette. Unlike in the Virtuoso, the Sette outer burr rotates around a stationary inner burr. This unique design helps the Sette achieve close to zero grind retention – you won’t have to worry about stale grinds left in your machine.
Sette Grinder burrs are specially designed by Etzinger – a European grinder company. They produce a finer grind that is more uniform than the Virtuoso. They are specially designed to deliver the perfect grind for espresso.
The Virtuoso burrs are well suited for coarser grinds for drip and filter coffee brewing methods. Conversely, the Sette burrs do not perform well for filter and drip.
Extra Features in the Sette (presets, portafilter holding, weight dosing option)
The Sette also has some nice added features that might justify its higher price point. The LCD Display in the Sette comes with three programmable preset buttons for the grind timer. Saving your timed grind settings will make it that much easier to switch between recipes. The Virtuoso lacks this convenient feature, so you’ll have to adjust the timer each time.
Since the Sette is an espresso grinder, it comes standard with adjustable portafilter arms to fit 49 to 58-millimeter portafilters. Grinding directly into the portafilter allows for faster workflow and less clumping of espresso grinds. Baratza has a portafilter holding accessory for the Virtuoso+, but it doesn’t come standard.
If you’re looking to buy the fully loaded Sette, the 270wi includes an Acaia weight scale built directly into the grinder. Instead of dosing with the digital control timer, the 270wi grinds by weight. The 270 wi has three adjustable weight presets to grind accurately to a tenth of a gram.
Grinding by weight means your doses will be consistent, and you’ll eliminate the variation that comes with timed grinding. This nice feature is not an option for the Virtuoso, and if you want to dose by weight, you’ll need to buy a separate scale.
Which One Should You Buy?
The Virtuoso and the Sette are excellent grinders, but they satisfy very different needs. If you’re looking for a quality grinder for drip, french press, or filter coffee, you should go with the Virtuoso.
The Virtuoso is a great choice if you primarily use these brew methods to prepare delicious coffee, and the 40 stepped adjustments are more than enough. The finer adjustments in the Sette 270 are overkill if you’re not preparing espresso and aren’t worth the added cost.
The Virtuoso grinds coffee beans fine enough for espresso but lacks precise enough adjustment to really perfect your recipe. If you’re using a cheaper espresso maker or a pressurized basket, the Virtuoso is a decent coffee grinder that might do the trick, but not with the same quality of a more premium espresso grinder.
The Sette 270 is the best option to pair with your espresso coffee machine. If you’re chasing that perfect espresso shot, the micro-adjustments in the Sette are critical to fine-tuning your espresso recipe. The Sette burrs are designed with espresso in mind and will give you the uniform and fluffy grinds you need. If cost is not an object, the weight dosing in the 270wi makes it the most precise grinder in the group.
If you need a coffee grinder for espresso but are on a tighter budget, the Sette 30 is a great choice. The Sette 30 lacks the micro-adjustments found in the 270 but is in a similar price range as the Virtuoso. Baratza sells the micro-adjustment ring as an accessory for the Sette 30, so you can add it later. This makes the Sette 30 the best dependable grinding machine to pair with an entry-level espresso machine.