Category Archives: baratza

Crew Review: Coffee Grinder Comparison

Coffee Grinder ComparisonGrinders, grinders, grinders! So many coffee grinders, but which to choose? Well, we asked Gail if she would be so kind and review a few side by side. We decided the best place to start would be taking some grinders that are all in the same price range and see how they match up. In this coffee grinder comparison we took a closer look at the Rancillio Rocky, the Baratza Virtuoso, the Baratza Preciso and the latest from Breville- the Smart Grinder Pro.

We were very pleased with the quality of all 4 coffee grinders. Hands down the construction of all 4 was nothing short of excellent. They all had a nice design and produced a good quality grind. Gail took each grinder down to it’s finest setting to see which would take the cake. In results we got, it was clear that the Rocky Rancillio will give you the finest grind. So, if you are looking for a grind that feels like a fine talc powder, you will want to go with the Rocky Rancillio. The other three grinders all delivered a grind that was consistent and worthy of espresso.

We also took a closer look into the burrs of each grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso and the Baratza Preciso both have 40mm stainless steel conical burrs. The Rocky Rancillio has 50mm steel flat burrs and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has stainless steel conical burrs. We are in the process of finding out the exact size of the burrs on the new Breville machine (yes, it is that new!).

Overall each grinder will get the job done, but some are better suited for different environments. Watch this Coffee Grinder Comparison Crew Review to see them side by side and for Gail’s take on where each will be best suited!

Crew Review: Baratza Preciso

Baratza PrecisoWe’ve long enjoyed the grinders produced by Baratza due to their ability to grind our coffee and espresso to just the right consistency to produce that the perfect cup. The other thing we love about Baratza is they are constantly innovating and improving their grinders. This means each usually model features an upgrade that causes us to like it even more. Such is the case with the Baratza Preciso, which used to be called the Virtuoso Preciso. While the name of this grinder changed to simply the Baratza Preciso a while back, we realized we didn’t have a video of this model with its new moniker. We’ve also had a few people request that we compare the Preciso with its cousin, the Baratza Virtuoso. Therefore, we decided why not kill two birds with one stone and create a video that solves both problems.

Like the Virtuoso, the Preciso is designed with 40mm conical steel burrs that will produce a consistent grind every time. Yet, while both grinders create a very good grind, we found that the Preciso has a couple of features that give it a slight advantage over the Virtuoso. The main difference between the Preciso and Virtuoso is that in addition to the 40 macro adjustments found on each machine, the Preciso also has 11 micro adjustments in the front. This allows you to have more control over how fine or coarse your grind is, since you can adjust the micro setting to future dial in the macro setting you have selected. In fact, we’ve found that the combination of these micro and macro adjustments allow the Preciso to have more precision and options than other models, meaning you will hardly ever have any trouble dialing in your grind.

We also like that the Preciso comes with a portaholder (which is not included with the Virtuoso, but you can buy the portaholder separately and add it on) that will hold your portafilter in the grinder for you for easy dosing. We even tested out several different portafilters in the portaholder, and were pleased to find that the majority of them fit without any adjustments.

Ultimately, we decided that the Preciso has a bit of an edge over the Virtuoso, since it has more options. Thus, the Preciso is a great machine for home baristas who is brewing different types of espresso and really wants to experiment with their coffee and their grind. That doesn’t mean the Virtuoso isn’t a good grinder, because it certainly works well. However, the Virtuoso is better suited for people who don’t need as fine a grind or are using a pressurized portafilter. Of course, we couldn’t claim that the Preciso was, like its name, more precise without first testing our theory. Watch Brendan and Gail as they put both the Baratza Preciso and Virtuoso to the test to see which machine can create the finest grind.

Crew Review: Baratza Preciso

SCG Portland Grand Opening Event on Saturday, June 28th

SCG PortlandCan you believe we’ve almost reached the end of June already? What is even more exciting is that the Grand Opening of our SCG Portland store is just three short days away! The Grand Opening festivities will begin at 10:00 a.m. so make sure to arrive early and join us for day filled with delicious coffee tastings, raffle drawings and other goodies.

Free Gift Bags

The first 30 customers in the door will get a free gift bag packed with all kinds of sweet stuff:

  • Coaster
  • Shot Glass
  • Coffee
  • A candy bar (loaded with coffee beans, of course!)
  • Cups
  • And more!

Free Gift with Purchase (while supplies last)

Something has to be a surprise, right? Let’s just say this: You’ll be sporting your love of coffee!

Raffle Drawing

Our giveaways don’t stop at just the gift bags or gifts with purchase! We’ll also be raffling off machines, grinders and other accessories from Bonavita, Jura, Baratza and more!

Tastings and Demos

In addition to our slew of giveaways, we’ll also be treating your taste buds. Local roasters like Ristretto and Sterling will be hosting coffee tastings through out the day. Likewise, Bonavita and Krups will be stopping by to teach you how to brew up the perfect cup of coffee or espresso on their gear. It wouldn’t be summer without some frosty treats to help you cool down, so we’ll also be mixing up some sweet snacks on our Breville ice cream maker.

If you’re in the area this Saturday, we’d love for you to stop by and help us celebrate the opening of our third retail store. You can find us at: 26 NW 23rd PL, Portland, OR 97210.

Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A

Mazzer Mini Type ABaratza Forte APIt’s time for another grinder matchup! In this two part series with Brendan and Gail, we got the Baratza Forte AP and the Mazzer Mini Type A together in a room and had them duke it out. This was somewhat of an easy comparison, since while these two electronically controlled grinders are similar in price; they are very different in functionality.

In the first corner is the Baratza Forte AP, which is a 54-millimeter flat ceramic burr grinder, with a removable hopper (you can also increase the size of the hopper by purchasing an extender), burr removal tool and portaholder. One of the features we love is that you have the ability to measure your dose by weight (when the grounds bin is in place) or by time (when the portaholder is in). In addition, there is an amazing range of settings on the Forte AP, as you can make both macro and micro adjustments to your grind. We tried out the finest, midrange and coarsest grind settings and were impressed with how fine and coarse the Forte could actually go. This well-rounded grinder is less commercial than the Mazzer Mini, and is a great option for home users who are looking to brew different types of coffee, from espresso to drip, at any given time. We have also seen the Forte used at pour over bars, as the option to dose your coffee by weight makes it a perfect fit.

In the other corner is the Mazzer Mini Type A. With 64-millimeter flat steel burrs, the burrs on the Mazzer are slightly larger than those on the Forte AP.  However, like Forte, the Mini Type A comes with a removable bean hopper that you can get in a variety of sizes (short, medium or tall). On the Mazzer, your dosage is always monitored by time, which you program, and there is a stop on the grind adjustments, so you can only take it down so far. However, with the Mini Type A it’s likely you wouldn’t be changing your grind setting very much, and when you did, you would probably be adjusting them in small increments so this isn’t a deal breaker. We tried playing with the finest, midrange and coarsest grind settings on this grinder as well, and found that the finest and midrange grinds were pretty similar to those on the Forte AP, but slightly more consistent. The coarsest grind wasn’t as good as the Forte’s, but again a bit smoother. The consistency of the Mazzer Mini Type A make it ideal for commercial setting dealing mostly with espresso, which is what it was designed for, a even a high end home use.

So which grinder won this round? Check out our videos to find out and to hear Brendan and Gail’s thoughts as they play around with each grinder.

Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A Part One

Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A Part Two

The Reluctant Barista: Baratza Grinder Groove

baratzaThere are many reasons why I remain a reluctant barista. Over the past year, my caffeinated knowledge has greatly improved and my skills have marginally improved but there remains a hole in my espresso education: Coffee grinders have me particularly perplexed. I understand the working parts, I have even taken them apart (and put them back together again) for cleaning purposes. However, when I see a fluffy pile of fresh coffee grounds and compare it to another pile, it all looks the same to me. Sure I can tell French press coarse from Turkish fine but the micro-adjustments have me stumped.

So, here I stand with the full line of Baratza coffee grinders in front of me. This is a quality coffee problem to have, except I only know how to use the Encore grinder! It is a sturdy little workhorse that pairs well with my Technivorm coffee maker. Instead of regurgitating RPMs and clump tests — which really isn’t my style — let’s start with what’s in it for you — which really is my style. How will you get your groove on with a Baratza coffee grinder?

Entry level/Drip Coffee = Encore. This is my not-so-secret weapon for successful office coffee. The Encore has an on/off knob, a pulse button and an adjustment ring on the collar. This is great for coffee preps like drip, pour-over, AeroPress, French press, Siphon and Chemex. It can also be adjusted finer for espresso grind if you are using a pressurized portafilter.

Mid-level/Multiple Brew Preps = Virtuoso. The Virtuoso is very consistent. It has an on/off knob, a timer, a pulse button and an adjustment ring on the collar. The particle size uniformity makes it well suited for coffee preps like espresso in addition to drip and manual brewing methods. This versatility is great for anyone who enjoys multiple brew preps.

Mad (coffee) Scientist/Espresso = Preciso. More fine-tuning options and a little bit faster output make the Preciso a conical burr home grinder with commercial functionality. There are 40 step adjustments multiplied by 11 micro-adjustments within each setting. I can’t even do the math or my brain will explode! Suffice it to say, if you enjoy playing around with different coffee and espresso blends, then this grinder is optimized for your caffeinated brewing adventures.

Pro Version/Multiple Brew Preps = Vario. So where does this grinder fit? The 54mm ceramic flat burrs provide accurate, fast-grinding performance. This is a professional-grade machine with optimal consistency within a very small footprint. It has 230 distinct grind settings from fine grind for espresso to coarse grind for French press. With a digital timer and three programmable buttons, the Vario has accurate one-touch dosing. Small cafes and roasters report a solid track record with the Vario and the Vario-W model, which adds weight-based functionality.

Cafe Version/All Purpose = Forte AP. While the Vario does a great job, the brand new Forte models are bigger, beefier and have digital touch screens. The AP features 54mm ceramic flat burrs which stay accurate longer than metal burrs and grind finer. The weight and time based functionality provides repeatable grinding results. Designed for long lasting cafe use and abuse, the AP shines for espresso and can grind for coarser settings also.

Cafe Version/Pour Over Preps = Forte BG. This model features 54mm flat steel burrs. Why offer a choice of burr sets when ceramic lasts longer and grinds finer? Metal burrs reduce ‘fines’ in the mid to coarse range of grinds. Pour over preps require particle consistency, which is harder to achieve in the coarser grind settings. The Forte BG is a specific solution to a problem that high end/Third Wave coffee bars have had — they demanded the highest quality burr grinder available for everything but espresso. The BG can still technically ‘do espresso’ but it has been designed to tackle mid-range particle quality and quantity.

forte grindsOnce you have selected a grinder for your intended usage, then you can dial it in. This had — up to now — been my downfall, then I realized I was rushing it. It takes time, patience and a pound of beans … and that’s asking a lot from an impatient person like myself. I tried the Forte AP since it is new and fancy (and I love new and fancy) and I paired it with the Pasquini Livia G4 Automatic espresso machine because that is also new and fancy. The process involves picking an initial setting and noting the results with each incremental change. Instead of visually inspecting the grind, this is a combination of timing the espresso shots and tasting the results. Word to the wise: Just sip — otherwise you are in for a sleepless night! I filled a frothing pitcher with discarded espresso shots before I felt comfortable with the right setting for particle size and dosage.

One final note before I leave you up to your elbows in coffee grounds … Sadly for me, this process needs to be repeated if you change your beans or the machine you are using. Grinders are not universally calibrated so there is no cheat-sheet to tell you what number or setting will be optimal. This is a situation where trial and error, er I mean to say, highly scientific methodology is the only way to help any grinder find its groove.

Crew Review: Baratza Forte AP & BG Coffee Grinders

Baratza Forte APThere’s a lot to love about Baratza grinders in general, but the Baratza Forte models take all of that love and kick it up to a higher level. Seriously.

Featuring a high grade metal casing, sophisticated programming (by either time or weight variables), an upgraded bean hopper with a gate valve (for easy bean removal!) and an LED screen, both the Baratza Forte AP and BG models are solidly commercial grade.

What’s the difference between the two of them? Primarily the burrs: The Forte AP has flat ceramic burrs and the Forte BG has flat stainless steel burrs. This translates into the AP functioning as more of an all-purpose grinder, geared toward an espresso through fine drip range, while the BG is built specifically for pour over preparation and, therefore, isn’t meant to grind in the espresso range. Other than that, the AP also comes with a solid metal holder on which you can rest your espresso machine’s portafilter, because you’ll now be able to calibrate the grind and program the weight, then automatically update your programming to grind the correct weight directly into your portafilter.

To find out more about these grinders, check out our first look review of them. Gail goes over the features and specs, then demonstrates their grind consistency and performance.

Crew Review: Baratza Forte AP & BG Coffee Grinders

SCG Crew’s Favorite Gear: Coffee Grinders

Whether you’re a pour over aficionado or an espresso maestro, selecting the right grinder for the job is one of the most important decisions you can make.

We asked the crew to share their opinions of which grinders they prefer in both the stepped and stepless grinder classes. Watch and learn what they dig and why!

Stepped Coffee Grinders Stepless Coffee Grinders

Compare: Baratza Vario vs. Rancilio Rocky

Compare - Rancilio Rocky vs. Baratza VarioA toe-to-toe, or, rather, a burr-to-burr grudge match is always fun, right? We must think so — we do them often enough!

Due to popular request, we decided to match up the Baratza Vario and the Rancilio Rocky coffee grinders. While these are in similar price ranges, they both have different pros and cons and folks are often torn on which to choose.

If you’re not sure which might best suit your needs, watch as we go through features, compare burr sets and then demonstrate their grind quality.

Compare: Baratza Coffee Grinders

BaratzaToday is the day when we look ourselves in the mirror and sternly pose the following question: If required to at gunpoint, would we be able to perform a side by side comparison of the Baratza grinders? Why we might be required to do so at gunpoint is neither here nor there, but we do believe that an unquestioned life is not worth living … so we ask the tough questions.

To get the answers, we turn to the beautiful Bunny Malaspino, who was more than happy to perform such a comparison (sans weaponry) for us in this video. Watch as she breaks down the current Baratza line-up — Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso, Vario and Vario-W — and shows us how they compare functionally. If you’ve been concerned about your own ability to perform such a comparison under such stressful circumstances, this video is for you.

SCG Experiments: Playing with Single Shots

We’re not quite sure why one would want to pull single shots, but we’ve been asked multiple times to experiment and provide our tips on how to get the job done. So we drafted Jess to take on the formidable task of dialing in a single shot. Off-camera, she worked on the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione and the Crossland CC1; while she had success on the former, the latter still proves to be a challenge.

Watch her pull a few shots on the Rocket, varying an element each time to dial it in. The singles she pulled did taste great, but, still … really? We’re triples all the way, friends.