Baratza is a brand known for quality coffee grinders and they have many products available. The two we’ll be looking at today are the Encore and Virtuoso. What makes this review difficult is that, on the surface, both grinders offer similar stats and level of performance. Even when you dig deeper, there are only a few small things here and there that separate them.
If you’re looking to get that perfect grind, to really improve the taste of your coffee, then let’s be clear right now: both of these are great products. This is a better to best comparison. However, one product just slightly edges out the other in terms of performance and flavor consistency. Let’s get down to it, which grinder is ideal for you?
Who Needs These?
Before getting into the grinders themselves, let’s talk about who needs a Barata. If you’re fine with regular old coffee grounds, if you just like coffee cause it gives you a caffeine boost and that’s it, then you probably don’t need a grinder. These machines are for people who don’t just enjoy the flavor of coffee, but enjoy its versatility and know that perfecting the grind is key to getting the best cup of Java.
If you want to make your own espresso or coarse French grind or any other coffee drink and you can’t stand pre-ground beans, then you need a grinder. They are absolutely essential if you want your coffee to taste a particular way, or if you feel like being truly adventurous with your morning drink.
This grinder is feature-rich, almost as rich as the coffee it produces. It comes with a super powerful DC motor that allows you to grind coffee between 250 and 1200 microns. With 40 different settings, you’ll have absolutely no problem getting the perfect size grind from your tastes.
The plastic hopper on top holds 8 ounces of beans, which should be plenty for you and one or two other people, so go on and enjoy your coffee. The motor is held within a durable plastic gearbox, and there’s an easy on/off switch for you to control grinding. Grinding speed is around 0.8 to 1.1g per second, which is fast compared to other grinders, but not quite as good as the Virtuoso.
The gears themselves are made from thermo-plastic, which gives you the surprising benefit of noise reduction. Compared to most other grinders, the Encore is fairly quiet. These parts are also very durable, meaning you’ll have no problem grinding coffee day after day for many years. In general, this is a great grinder with all the features you would need.
You can often find this grinder for about $180 to $230, making it the less affordable of the two.
- 40 settings, allowing you to grind between 250-1200 microns
- Easy on/off switch
- Surprisingly quiet
- Hopper is made from tinted ABS plastic, which protects the beans from sunlight that can diminish the coffee’s flavor
- Grind consistency isn’t quite as good as the Virtuoso
- Grind speed is about half that of the Virtuoso at 0.8-1.1g/second
The Virtuoso is very similar to the Encore, to the point where we have to really get nit-picky to start choosing differences between them. This grinder has an 8-ounce hopper with 40mm conical burrs that deliver a consistent grind each and every time.
This unit, much like the Encore, has 40 grind settings and can grind coffee between 250 to 1200 microns. Aside from the different in the burrs, the major difference is that the Virtuoso has slightly better controls. With the Encore, you can only choose the setting and that’s it. The Virtuoso allows you to choose how long the grind goes for (up to 60 seconds) and there’s a pulse button so that you can pulse the grind until they are perfect, whether it be a coarse French press or fine espresso grind.
The grind speed is a very impressive 1.5-2.4g per second. You also get the same tinted ABS plastic hopper that protects against sunlight. The Virtuoso is almost identical to the Encore, it just gives slightly more control with better grinding speed.
You can often find the Virtuoso for $200 to $250.
- Offers 40 grind settings along with a timer and a pulse button
- Provides amazing grind speed at 1.5-2.4g/second
- Gives you consistent grinding each and every time
- More expensive than the Encore
- Operating is slightly more complex than the Encore, meaning that it may not be right for amateurs
Which One is Right for You?
As stated above, this is a better to best comparison, so it’s hard to declare a clear winner. Both of them suit different users, but they offer similar levels of quality. They both have 40 grind settings, great grinding speeds (though the Virtuoso is significantly faster), a large hopper with tinted plastic and grind between 250 to 1200 microns.
But, there are some differences between them. The Virtuoso is the winner when it comes to performance. It has stronger burrs, provides a more consistent grind and the pulse button may be seen as essential to big coffee lovers who need things to be just right. The timer also allows you to set your grinding to the very second, which ensures you get the same grind each and every time.
However, the Encore has many of the same features and similar levels of performance, but it’s less expensive. Not only that, but the Encore is a little easier to use because it has less features.
So, if you’re an experienced coffee nut and need things to be perfect, get the Virtuoso. If this is your first foray into coffee grinding and you want something affordable and easy to use, then the Encore is ideal.
To be honest, you win with either one of these grinders because they are very similar. But, if you’re new and want to see want professional grinding is like without spending too much, then the Encore should be your first choice. If you want complete control of the grind with a pulse button and timer and don’t mind spending a little more, than the Virtuoso is your ideal choice.