When it comes to consumer coffee grinders, Baratza is the only manufacturer we recommend across the board without hesitation. The company has a wide array of grinders that are loved by coffee professionals and home enthusiasts alike. We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on all of their products (minus their newest version of the Sette, the 30 AP), and we ranked each grinder based on its features, grind quality, and price.
6 & 7. Sette 270 and 270W
Baratza’s Sette series launched to much fanfare, earning a coveted “2016 Best New Product” award at SCAA Expo. The conical burr grinder uses patented technology to spin the outer burr while the inner burr remains stationary (the opposite of conventional conical burr grinders). This allows the coffee to pass directly through the burr into the receptacle without any retention (most coffee grinders will retain as much as 8 grams of coffee, which means you have to use a few beans each time you grind unless you want stale ). Unfortunately, after we got our hands on a Sette it didn’t quite meet our high expectations. The grind adjustment has bigger leaps than expected, and the particle size distribution leaves something to be desired at the coarser end of the spectrum. Compared to other products in the price range, it remains a very good entry level home espresso grinder option. The grind-by-weight feature of the Sette 270W is nice, but at $500 we would like to see the grind be a little better. Most consumers would probably be better off getting a Sette 270 and spending the savings on a good scale which can also be used for brewing pour-overs.
We feel low grade guilt ranking the Vario second to last, because this really is an excellent grinder. The 54 mm. flat burrs on the Vario make the particle size distribution (i.e. consistency) on the Vario fantastic. Perhaps the only short coming in the awkward price. At $449, it’s considerably more expensive than the entry level Encore or Virtuoso without the grind-by-weight feature of the Vario-W or Forte. In our estimation, if you’re willing to drop almost $500 on a grinder, you’re probably willing to spend a bit more to get all of the bells and whistles. But if you’re looking for a good flat burr grinder for the least amount of money possible, this is your grinder.
If you’re currently grinding your coffee with a blade grinder (or one of the many fake burr grinders floating around there), the Encore will reveal a new world of coffee flavor to you. When it comes to grind quality, durability, and features, the Encore lags behind Baratza’s other, considerably more expensive products, we have this grinder ranking in #4 simply because the price point. At $139, the Encore costs as much as a year of Netflix, and you can use it to make delicious coffee. If nothing else, buy one for your relatives, so you don’t have to lug all of your gear around when visiting for the holidays.
For the last several years, the biggest industrial coffee grinder companies have been racing to bring grind-by-weight technology to market. But Baratza has beat them to it by a long shot. The Vario-W has all of the hardware of the Vario with a built in scale. The ability to save multiple settings means you can have the doses for a pour-over, French press, or batch brew at your fingertips. What seems like a simple feature amounts to a surprising amount of time savings. Be warned: once you get used to a grind-buy-weight grinder you’ll never want to go back.
2. Forte AP and BG
With coffee equipment, the old adage rings true: you get what you pay for. And if money is no object, there’s only one coffee grinder you should be buying: the Forte. You’ll see Baratza’s flagship grinder on the counters of many of the best coffee shops in the world, and for good reason. The metal construction means this is a grinder built to last, and the intuitive touchscreen makes changing settings a breeze. The 54 mm. flat burrs are made by Ditting, so you know you’re not going to get a better grind quality from a consumer grinder. The Forte comes in two models, the AP and the BG. The ceramic burrs of the AP make it better suited for espresso while the steel burrs of the BG make it better suited for filter coffee. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
You probably didn’t see that coming. We’ve ranked the Baratza Virtuoso as our best value consumer grinder because, quite simply, you can’t find a better value product at the price tag. The Virtuoso features significant quality and durability improvements over the Encore, while still miraculously staying under $250. The 40 mm. conical burrs have a surprisingly large range, and the partially metal body means you can count on this grinder being on your counter for years to come. For the vast majority of our readers, we can’t imagine a more perfect grinder.
All of Baratza’s grinders are available from our sponsors Prima Coffee and Amazon. All photos by Baratza.