Category Archives: baratza

Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 vs Vario-W

How Does It Compare?

We’re comparing 2011’s hottest grinder, the Baratza Vario-W, to this year’s anticipated Baratza Sette 270. What has changed and improved in Baratza’s grinders in that five-year gap? The Sette 270’s reimagined design helps eliminate wasted grounds thanks to the horizontally mounted motor and outer rotating burr that creates a direct shot from the bean hopper through the burrs and into your brewer. The Vario-W features a scale mounted on the bottom and only worked with the dosing container—you can’t balance portafilters or a V60 on that tiny scale. Fortunately, coffee friends, the Sette 270’s arms can hold brewers like a portafilter or V60. And, when the Sette 270W comes out, those arms will have a scale!

The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.
The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.

Grind

With over 270 steps in your grind, the Baratza Sette 270 has earned its name. The Sette 270 features 31 stepped adjustments from fine to coarse markers and a second adjustment that’s actually stepless. Yep, you read that correctly. Baratza features ABC markers on the second adjustment that act as a guide—Battleship, anyone—but it offers infinite settings. These markers guide beginners back to their ideal grind and create over 270 setting options. It’s actually quite satisfying to be able to get back to your dialed-in grind if you lose your place—almost as satisfying as sinking your opponent’s Battleship.

Sette_display
Three programmable buttons allow you to save more grind settings. The Sette 270 doses by time.

The Baratza Vario-W offers 230 steps of adjustments and it’s all stepped here. There are 10 macro settings and the second set from A to W. Within each macro step, you can adjust the ABC settings to dial in your grind. That’s still an impressive amount of options, even if the Sette 270 beats it—only by a little. The Vario-W has been a solid grinder for home brewers and offers them an easy way to click back to their grinder setting.

The Baratza Vario-W offers 230 grinder settings using two stepped adjustments.
The Baratza Vario-W offers 230 grinder settings using two stepped adjustments.

Steel or ceramic burrs? This is another topic debated in the coffee community. The Baratza Sette 270 is equipped with 40mm conical steel burrs that produce even particles and fewer fines. However, steel burrs can create more friction and heat, which can cause the beans to heat up and potentially burn. The Baratza Vario-W features 54mm flat ceramic burrs that transfer less heat. Ceramic burrs are also sharper and can have a longer life in your grinder if properly cared for. One downside to ceramic burrs is that they are more fragile than their steel counterpart—chipping can be an issue. In a quick match against grinders, we compared the ceramic versus steel grounds and noticed the Sette 270’s steel burrs produced better consistency. The Sette 270 didn’t burn our beans, however, if you’re grinding through a lot of coffee you could noticed warm grounds. In our taste test—the best part—we think both produced phenomenal coffee that wasn’t burned.

Grade

Baratza knows that flexibility for different brew methods is important and in the last five years that’s been on the forefront of their mind. That’s why the Baratza Sette 270’s new design features two adjustable arms and a third arm to steady different methods…like a portafilter! The Sette’s unique shape offers additional space for large containers or swing those arms around to grasp your 58mm portafilter (or any size portafilter, let’s be honest). The updated holder trumps the Baratza Vario-W—sorry, Vario-W. While we love that the Vario-W could grind from French Press to espresso, you needed some sort of flat-bottomed container to balance on the sensor. AKA, you had to scoop your grounds from a container into your portafilter. If there’s one thing we don’t need more of at Seattle Coffee Gear it’s coffee grounds all over our counter.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Vario-W holds 8-ounces of beans for a couple cups of coffee.
The Vario-W holds 8-ounces of beans for a couple cups of coffee.

As we know, that Sette 270’s seven-shaped design also creates less coffee waste, but more importantly, how’s the consistency? It’s excellent. On the finest setting, we produced beautiful, even grounds perfect for a non-pressurized portafilter. We’re even pleased that the Sette 270’s coarsest setting was still so consistent! The further away the burrs get, the less consistent the grind tends to be, so it was a welcomed sight to see nice, symmetrical grounds. While the Sette 270 is great for most brewing methods, we’re on the fence about it producing big enough grounds for French press. Baratza does market it for coffee presses, so give it a go and tell us what you think about the Sette 270’s performance!

The Vario-W produced excellent consistency on that you can use on a non-pressurized portafilter.
The Vario-W produced excellent consistency on that you can use on a non-pressurized portafilter.

The Vario-W might be a better option for someone who’s a frequent French press brewer. Of course, Baratza has designed these products to accommodate all types of brewing, so we encourage our coffee friends to branch out and try new methods! And the espresso consistency is so beautiful on the Vario-W, it would be a waste not to use it. Between the Vario-W and Sette 270’s espresso grind, we couldn’t see any difference in consistency. Honestly, you could take either one of these grinders home and it would complement any home barista with an extensive coffee bar.

Glamour

We’re digging the Baratza Sette 270’s modern design to boot! It’s a style that’s fashionable and functional. The angular structure is breaking away from Baratza’s boxier grinder styles and most other grinders in the market. We’ve noticed a swing with other manufacturers designing trendy products—we’re thinking about the Rocket Espresso Appartamento and its retro dots—and it’s no surprised that people are also onboard with this! The Sette 270’s colors are also complementary to modern taste and easily assimilates into a home brewer’s kitchen—it’s no surprise to us that the Sette 270 is in high demand.

The Sette 270’s user-friendly interface makes dialing in the grind easy for beginners.

The Baratza Vario-W is designed similarly to the rest of Baratza’s grinders lineup and it’s a style that’s worked for Baratza. The one feature that makes the Vario-W stand out is the combination of the digital LCD display and tactile grind settings. The interface is displayed front and center and is extremely user-friendly for beginners with the marked adjustments. While the Sette 270 is also user-friendly, the adjustments are angled in a downward tier that is a hair more difficult to see. Both interfaces, though, are a snap to navigate for new home brewers.

The Vario-W's mainstream style seamlessly fits into modern kitchens.
The Vario-W’s mainstream style seamlessly fits into modern kitchens.

When we first unboxed the Sette 270, we were so enamored by its style and features that we forgot to note the noise level. After grinding our morning beans, it was hard to block out how loud this guy was. The noise level is partly due to the fact that there’s no metal casing around the Sette 270. And you’re probably thinking, why not add the sound-proofing, the metal case would have driven up the price, coffee friends, and we’re happy with the low cost of this caliber of a grinder. Grinders are notorious for being loud and you’re likely to always be on your neighbors hit list—fear not! There are grinders like the Vario-W that are a bit quieter. The Vario-W has a metal casing that helps control the noise level.

Conclusion

In the five years since Baratza revealed the Vario-W, the demands have changed in the coffee community. The demand has gone up for a grinder that’s flexible for different brewing methods and Baratza has answered that demand by supplying us with the Sette 270. For many home brewers, we can see the highlight of this grinder is its flexible design that can hold a V60 or a portafilter. And as the coffee community grows, so do novice brewers. Both the Vario-W and Sette 270 offer user-friendly settings that are easy to learn how to dial in your grind. We wouldn’t call these entry-level machines, no sir, these are definitely for mid-level and experienced home baristas. What do you guys think? Watch our crew review comparison video and let us know what grinder you’re leaning towards!

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Grinder

How Does It Compare?

The hearty Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a well-rounded machine built with powerful, slow rotating steel burrs and stepped adjustments. With over 40 distinct settings, the Virtuoso makes dialing in you grind a snap. It’s designed to grind for a wide range of brew methods, however, the stepped settings limit you to set increments, which means you have less control over your grind. That’s where the Baratza Preciso Grinder comes in—it’s nearly identical to the Virtuoso but features 40 macro and an additional 11 micro steps for each to create more customization. Both models have 40mm steel conical burrs that can create beautiful, consistent grounds. Just so you know, the Virtuoso is the grinder of choice in the SCG kitchen and it never fails to make the Crew a good cup of coffee! One of the highlights of the Virtuoso is it’s always consistent and not too loud, which for us, means we can make pot after pot without disturbing the office.

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a compact, entry-level grinder perfect for a variety of brew methods.
The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a compact, entry-level grinder perfect for a variety of brew methods.

Grind

With 40 grind settings, the Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is ready to grind from fine espresso to a coarse French press. Pro Tip: The marked adjustments are in increments of two, so when you’re going from one (fine) to 40 (coarse) just keep that in mind. We took the grinder out for a spin at the coarsest setting and discovered its consistency left more to be desired. That’s not surprising because the coarser you go the more space the burrs have to allow grounds to escape. We usually have our grinder set at about 20 or 22 for our drip coffee maker and noticed it was much more consistent in the drip range.

The Virtuoso features 40 grind settings. Pro Tip: Each marker is in increments of two.
The Virtuoso features 40 grind settings. Pro Tip: Each marker is in increments of two.

The consistency of the finer grind is partly thanks to the 40mm steel conical burrs—steel tends to create more consistent grounds. Pair those burrs with the 40 stepped adjustments and it’s easy for us coffee lovers to replicate cup after cup without much fuss. Even though stepped adjustments are limiting, it does make it easier to dial in and find again if you switch the grind size. In fact, if you’re trying to make espresso, that could be a turnoff with the limited adjustments.

Grade

Sure, the 40 stepped settings offer a wide range of brewing methods for baristas, but there’s a catch. The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder can do espresso but it’s incredibly limited to how dialed in you can get—that’s why there are so many grinders specifically designed for espresso. Even at the finest setting, we felt it would be better suited for a pressurized portafilter. That means you’re probably not using the Virtuoso with high-end machines with only non-pressurized options. If you were interested in using the Virtuoso on a semi-automatic without a pressurized portafilter, we’d recommend stepping up to the Preciso. However, at this affordable price point, we think people interested in the Virtuoso are also interested in pour over, drip or a smaller, entry-level espresso machine.

Glamour

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder runs quietly, thanks in part to the slow 450 RPM  burr speed. All grinders make a little noise, but the Crew appreciates that we can grind enough coffee for a couple of pots without alerting the whole office. Another reason it grinds smoothly is the metal casing wrapped around the top, which helps the stability of the grinder and keeps the vibration down. Fashion and function! We dig it.

The Virtuoso features both a timed and manual option for grinding.
The Virtuoso features both a timed and manual option for grinding.
The timer goes up to 60-seconds of grinding.
The timer goes up to 60-seconds of grinding.

The compact, sleek design is one of its glamorous qualities—the 8-ounce bean hopper only makes the grinder 13 inches high. We bet that’ll clear most cabinets. Most of the specialty coffees we carry are in 12-ounce bags, so we can easily run a whole bags worth. The only catch is that the steel burrs heat up if grinding that much coffee—we recommend grinding smaller amounts and then letting the grinder rest. And with the manual-style 60-second timer, it’s clear to us that it’s designed to grind small amounts.

The 8-ounce bean hopper makes the grinder 13-inches tall.
The 8-ounce bean hopper makes the grinder 13-inches tall.

Conclusion

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder features a wide range of easily adjusted settings to accomplish drinks from an espresso to a rich French press coffee. We typically see this grinder going home with beginner brewers, but at SCG, we have a wide range of experienced baristas, who all enjoy using the Virtuoso in the morning. It’s compact, quiet and the stepped grind settings make it a user-friendly grinder. What’s your favorite feature on the Virtuoso? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Crew Comparison: Baratza Sette 270 vs Eureka Mignon

How Does It Compare?

We’ve been grinding with our Baratza Sette 270 for the last month—eagerly awaiting its arrival—and we asked ourselves, “What else we could compare to the Sette 270?” On this Crew Comparison, we decided to match it against the Eureka Mignon. In stores, we use the Mignon with our semi-automatic machines, such as the Rocket Appartamento, and we knew it would be a fierce contender against the Sette 270. Both feature time-based dosing with quality steel burrs that can grind beans from drip to espresso. When it comes down to deciding between the two, the nitty gritty details and the unique design will ultimately influence what you take home.

The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has finally arrived.
The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has finally arrived.
Oh hello, Eureka Mignon. Mignon means “dainty” in French. We can see where it gets its name from.

Grind

We’ll start the nitty gritty details with the burrs (pun intended). The compact Eureka Mignon is equipped with 50mm flat steel burrs that have been a constant companion for our store machines. It creates consistently fine grinds for espresso thanks to those steel burrs and even could make a consistent grind for our pour over samples. Needless to say, we’ve been impressed with the Mignon. If you’ve read our Crew Review on the Baratza Sette 270, it’s safe to say you probably know the phenomenal consistency, from espresso to pour over, of the Sette 270’s 40mm conical steel burrs. In fact, the Sette 270’s coarsest setting is the most consistent grind we’ve seen at that caliber. Side-by-side, the espresso grounds are nearly identical and well suited for a non-pressurized portafilter espresso machine, but the Mignon can go finer than the Sette 270.

The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.
The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.

Another reason the Mignon’s our go-to choice for in-store use is because of its simple controls. It features either a manual or timed dosing (although, we’ll tell you right now the timed controls are not as sophisticated as the Sette 270). The time dosage is on the right side of the machine and it’s just your typical twist timer like those old kitchen timers. You can time between 4 to 15 seconds or switch it to manual—how we have it in store—and dose until your container is full. The Sette 270 features three programmable buttons to set your timed dosage. The digital interface can be adjusted from 0 to 99 seconds and is incredibly user-friendly. It also features a manual button, which is activated when you press and hold the start/pause button.

The Mignon's old-timey dial is easy to use, but offers less precision than a programmable timed dosage.
The Mignon’s turn-dial is easy to use but offers less precision than a programmable timed dosage.

One of the more user-friendly features on the Sette 270 is the grind adjustment. There is a stepped adjustment with 31 macro settings and a second set of stepless settings, which have the letters A-W as guides. The Mignon’s stepless grind adjustment offers limitless grinding options but once you lose it, you’ll need to dial in your grind all over again. Don’t get us wrong, we appreciate the amount of control with a stepless grinder, but it’s a blessing and a curse. For entry-level barista’s, the Sette 270’s professional grinding power with the programmable, user-friendly control is an easy go-to suggestion.

Grade

As we mentioned above, these grinders easily turn whole beans into beautiful grounds from espresso to pour over. The range on the Eureka Mignon might actually be a little better, in our opinion, thanks to the stepless grind adjustment. However, going back and forth on the Mignon can be frustrating, so we’ve always got our store models dialed into one machine—then we barely touch it again. You could get a decent French press grind on the Mignon, but then you’ll be wildly spinning the dial back to espresso…need we say more?

The stepless grinder is both a blessing and a curse. It create limitless options, but is difficult to dial-in if you lose your sweet spot.
The stepless grinder is both a blessing and a curse. It creates limitless options but is difficult to dial-in if you lose your sweet spot.

The Baratza Sette 270 has 31 stepped settings and an additional stepless adjustment ring with guided labels for fine tuning the grind. With these guided markers, it makes it a lot easier to adjust for a range of brewing. We’re still not convinced it can make a coarse enough grind for French press, but we’ve tried it with AeroPress and it holds up well. AeroPress has more pressure, so we tend to grind between a pour-over and French press, which is why the Sette 270 performs well.

Sette_display

Glamour

Both grinders live up to their clever name. The Eureka Mignon, which means “dainty” in French, is compact and features angled sides that can squeeze between kitchen appliances. The Baratza Sette 270 get its name from the unique seven shape—sette is seven in Italian—and features 270 grind settings if you use the guides. The Sette 270’s shape isn’t all glamour, the motor lays horizontally and allows beans to flow from the hopper directly into your portafilter, decreasing the chance of grounds sticking and going stale. We don’t see a lot of static on the Mignon’s chute, but grounds are notorious for sticking to every surface and Baratza’s solution takes out the middleman—the chute in this case—and creates a direct shot.

The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.
The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.

The Sette 270’s unique shape also makes it wider—it’s nearly three inches taller than the Mignon. Of course, that does free space below the burrs for different brewing methods. The Sette 270 features three adjustable arms—the third one is there to help stabilize—that hold anything from a V60 to a portafilter. The dainty Mignon has the advantage with its square shape to be able to integrate easily in the kitchen, but it only has a portafilter holder. Some of our retail store Mignon’s we’ve removed the portafilter holder, so we could use it for pour over. In the few seconds, you’ll be grinding, holding your brewer there isn’t the worst feature.

The square-shaped Mignon makes it easy to fit into tight spaces on a home brewers counter top.
The square-shaped Mignon makes it easy to fit into tight spaces on a home brewers counter top.

If you wanted to have an exact grind every time, the Sette 270 is the way to go. The three programmable options and intuitive digital display create a swift user experience. The Mignon, by no means, is hard to handle, but it’s turn-dial disappears on the side. You know what the say: Out of sight, out of mind. We generally use manual dosing, which is efficient for our in-store use, but some users might miss the digital display.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.

Conclusion

Could you go wrong with either of these machines? We don’t think so! The Baratza Sette 270 is a powerful machine featuring reimagined design and functionality. However, we adore the Eureka Mignon and have made it one of our go-to grinders in store. That said, between the two, the Sette 270 is better suited for entry-level baristas or brewers looking for convenience. The digital and programmable display create an effortless user experience and the stepped and marked stepless adjustments allow you to learn how to dial in your grind. Both of these grinders will easily make you a delicious cup of coffee and it all comes down to the nitty gritty details. What do you think? Drop us a comment below and let us know if you’d take the Sette 270 or the Mignon!

Stay tuned this summer for the release of the Baratza Sette 270! Before you know it, you’ll be grinding with one of these guys.

Crew Review: Baratza Sette 270

How Does It Compare?

Here it is, the Baratza Sette 270! We’ll be testing its counterpart, the Baratza 270W soon, but in the meantime, we’ll give you the low down on Baratza’s two newest grinders. The main difference is the Sette 270W measure grounds by weight and features Bluetooth technology while the Sette 270 measures by time (as you’d find on a lot of grinders). Besides the extra technology added into the Sette 270W, these grinders, these grinders feature the same powerful mechanics.

Sette_front
The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has arrived on this week’s Crew Review.

Grind

Built with 40mm steel conical burrs,the mechanics of the Sette 270 seem similar to most other grinders on the market. We’ll just tell you, they’re not! The Sette 270’s magic is in its design. It’s the only grinder that has the outer burr rotate while the inner burr is fixed. With the motor mounted horizontally instead of vertically, the bean hopper is seated directly above the burrs, giving the beans a straight shot down the hatch—leaving virtually no grounds behind! Seriously, the coffee only travels vertically so the grounds don’t have a place to sit and stale.

The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.
The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.

This inspired design increases the Sette 270’s speed and efficiency. Baratza clocked the grinder at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second! If you’re in doubt, check out our Crew Review video for yourself! Outfitted with a stepped macro and a stepless micro adjustment ring, it allows you to fine-tune your grind from French press coarse down to espresso fine. We’ve experimented with the finest settings to see if we could choke the grinder and the Sette 270 persevered! We’re blown away by how fast and efficiently the Sette 270 turns beans the size of pencil erasers into powdered sugar.

Sette_display
Three programmable buttons allow you to save more grind settings.

Once you’ve played around with the Sette 270 and found your just-right grind, Baratza gives you three programmable buttons to lock in time. But let’s say you want to change up your volume, Baratza’s got an answer for that too! Kyle from Baratza calls it, the “pulse” button. If you press and hold it, it’ll start manually grinding until you release it.

Pro Tip: It takes a second to engage the manual grind, so be quick about it! If you only want a small amount, do some trials with the grind and program it to save on beans.

Glamour

Did you know Sette in Italian is seven? Right, right! The name’s in the design. Purely talking about the Sette 270’s looks, the shape is similar to some recent espresso machines that have been released like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II. The angular shape is breaking away from the mainstream style we’re accustomed to and showing off more curves. All these new dimensions are aesthetically pleasing and fit in easily with different espresso machines and coffee makers available.

The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.
The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.

Cleanup has never been easier! With the beans direct path, there are almost no residual grinds. If you do want to do some light cleanup, the bean hopper comes off easily with a door (Kyle calls it a ‘Hopper Stopper’) that swings shut. There’s a handful of beans left over, so you’ll want to either vacuum or tip those out. Afterward, we recommend taking a grinder brush and sweeping out the leftover grinds. A deeper clean is easy to achieve too. You don’t need a screwdriver on the Sette 270, the whole burr twists right off! Take the macro adjustment past the lowest setting and it’ll drop out. This does mean you’ll lose your grind setting, so be aware of the macro setting and be patient dialing it back in. Luckily, there are no loose screws or small parts to worry about.

Grade

We’ve been working our way up to this: What other benefits are hiding in the Sette 270’s horizontal design? Constructed to optimize efficiency, Baratza created the best convertible holder we’ve seen in a long time. The horizontal design freed up space for a container up to 5.75 inches tall and 3.50 inches wide. The width is based on how far the two arms extend. These arms also have a third smaller arm to easily hook in your portafilter. Switch it from espresso to holding a Hario V60—yeah, it can do that. It can handle holding different types of equipment for the different grind settings it offers.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.

We know you’re itching for the deets on the Sette 270W. Kyle from Baratza visited us and revealed the in and outs of this new innovation. Both are built with the same mechanics, but the Sette 270W takes this innovation further using weight measurement and Bluetooth. Check out our Baratza Sneak Peek 270W video and let us know what you think!

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