Tag Archives: Grinders

How-To: Re-Calibrating the Baratza Encore

When Baratza released their new Encore grinder, they made a point of talking about how the re-engineering of the burr set resulted in a lower cost burr grinder that could still go fine enough for traditional espresso machines. While the consistency isn’t quite as good as its Virtuoso, Preciso or Vario counterparts, it does do a fairly solid job grinding for espresso — as long as the 0-point is set accurately.

The first demo model we tested worked just fine from the factory and we were able to use it with the Rancilio Silvia without issue; however, subsequent models — and a few customer reports — led us down the path of re-calibration. In this video, Gail shows how to take apart, re-calibrate and then put back together the Encore, including a demonstration of the grind quality before and after the adjustment.

Compare: Grinder Sound Meter Readings

When discussing the sound differential between rotary and vibratory pumps, we’re often asked which one is more quiet; our answer is invariably: Does it matter? Your coffee grinder’s the loudest thing in the room!

But how loud is it? We devised a practical test to basically show the difference between the grinders, decibel-wise. What did we learn? The tone’s the thing! While the decibel levels are actually quite similar, there were models that ‘sounded’ louder than others, simply because of a difference in tone. So the moral is … they’re all loud. :)

Watch Gail’s test in action!

Selecting a Commercial-Grade Espresso Machine

You wake up one morning and think, I want to open up my own cafe! Or perhaps you’re already running a small business and you want to add espresso as a complementary service. Or you’re the operations manager at your company and you think espresso in the break room would be an awesome idea. But how do you choose from the plethora of machines available? Do you need a one group, two group — four group?! — machine? What do the terms ‘semi-automatic’, ‘automatic’ and ‘volumetric’ mean in terms of actual functionality and your business’ workflow?

In this overview, Gail walks us through a few things you should consider as you’re researching commercial espresso machines. She discusses how to plan for your busiest times, your budget, your workflow needs and — of course! — grinders! If you’re just getting started and don’t know where to start, this video primer is the place for you.

Brew Tips: Switching Roasts and Grinds

If you’re experimenting with different styles of coffees — roast styles, bean blends, etc. — you’ll need to adjust your grind to dial that specific coffee in for your machine. It’s definitely not a set it and forget type of scenario, and there are general rules of thumb one might follow when switching between coffees that have a significantly different roast profile.

Watch Gail provide tips and advice on things to keep in mind when dialing in different coffees.

Compare: Baratza Encore vs. Breville Smart Grinder

In the market for an entry-level coffee grinder? You don’t need to drop a ton o’ loot to pick up a nice model from either Baratza or Breville.

In this video, we compare the features, grind quality and performance of the Encore and the Smart Grinder, then pull shots on the Nuova Simonelli Oscar to test how well they perform.

Compare: Hand Grinder vs. Electric Grinder

Does true grit always win in the end? Will a little extra elbow grease make all the difference in your espresso extraction? We put Gail through a serious test to find out!

Watch as she grinds up coffee at an espresso grind using the Hario Mini Mill Slim and the Baratza Virtuoso. Serious exercise was had — and possibly a few international conventions transgressed.

Grinder Throwdown: Virtuoso vs. Smartgrinder vs. Rocky

Looking for an entry-level espresso-grade grinder and not sure where to start? Well, we like a grudge match around here, so you may have seen the previous stand-offs between the Breville Smart Grinder vs the Rancilio Rocky and the Baratza Virtuoso vs Breville Smart Grinder. Those may have left you wondering: How do all three stack up against each other? Being the mind readers that we are at SCG, Kat and I used a Breville BES900XL and Velton’s Bonsai Blend to put these grinders through the paces.

Let’s compare them side-by-side:

Baratza Virtuoso Breville Smart Grinder Rancilio Rocky
Burr Type Conical steel Conical steel Flat steel
Burr Size 40mm 40mm 55mm
Case Material Plastic Brushed stainless steel Stainless steel
Height 13 inches 14 inches 14 inches
Hopper Capacity 8 oz. 1 lb and hopper is removable! 8 oz.
Weight 16 lbs 5.6 lbs 18 lbs
Programmability None LCD screen lets you set grind (coarse to fine) volume (in cups and shots depending on fineness of grind) and dosage (weak to strong) None
Timer or on/off switch Timer and manual Timer and manual setting Manual only
Time to grind double shot 12 sec 22 sec 20-30 sec
Dosing Only with timer, not by weight/volume Automatically adjusts with grind; from coarser (dose in cups) to fine (dose in shots) Doser avail for +$10, otherwise chute only
Grind consistency (1-5 scale, 5=most consistent) 40 individual step settingsFinest setting: 3

Coarsest setting: 1

25 settingsFinest setting: 4

Coarsest setting: 2

55 settingsFinest setting: 5, like talc

Coarsest setting: 3

Shot performance (scale of 1-5, 5=strongest) 3: Overall, a solid shot, with the depth you’d expect from a fresh grind and proper dial-in. 4: A solid shot with great flavor and slightly more complex notes using the 2nd finest setting. 5: Shot has a great mouth feel, and you can taste more complexity and richness to the shot.
Notes No frills, no fuss, easy to use, it’s a strong performer for espresso and other coffee applications. No electric panel makes trouble shooting a breeze as your grinder ages. The lightest of the pack, this grinder is extremely versatile and a great value. It’s all about the features and accessories: portafilter holders, ground coffee canister, removable hopper to switch out beans. Commercial quality for home use and it shows. Largest footprint of all grinders, a big commitment to your counter top, but with definite benefits in shot quality.

The Rocky is a literal heavyweight coming in at 18 pounds and a hundred dollar heftier price tag, but there’s no doubt that the commercial quality burrs make a difference when it comes to tasting the complexity of your shot. I love the Virtuoso’s ease of use and inherent versatility, so it’s often my go-to for testing espresso, pour overs and french press. But like an ostrich, I am drawn to shiny objects and I wish it had more stainless in the casing. The Smart Grinder fulfills this need, and weighing in under six pounds means it doesn’t need to be a permanent fixture on your countertop – but it could be because it’s great for households with multiple coffee drinkers with different bean preferences. What would you choose?

Compare: Grinder Performance with Rocket Giotto Evoluzione

We often talk about the importance of grinders and how investing in a good burr grinder will positively impact your shot, so we thought we’d demonstrate it for you!

Watch Gail pull shots on the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione using the Baratza Preciso, Baratza Vario, Mazzer Mini E and Mahlkonig Pro M Espresso. We taste each shot and give our practical assessment and comparison of each of them. Yum!

Compare: Baratza Coffee Grinders

One of the darlings of both the home and commercial espresso communities, Baratza produces several different types of coffee grinders designed to suit pretty much any coffee need. With the majority of them clocking in at under $500, they provide excellent functionality for the price.

To break down the differences between their offerings, Gail lines them up and knocks them down! Okay, she doesn’t really knock them down … but she does show off their burr sets, compare functionality and demonstrates grind consistency on the Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso and Vario.