Baratza Encore Vs Virtuoso

March 15th, 2020

Both of these high-quality coffee grinders produce a beautiful grind… but one has the edge.

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Both of these high-quality coffee grinders produce a beautiful grind… but one has the
edge.

Coffee is heavenly. And if you grind your own coffee beans… you’re nothing short of a wizard working
magic into a cup.

In this article, we’re going to review two incredibly popular coffee bean grinders by Baritza: the Encore
and the Virtuosa.

  • We’ll analyze these models in detail, compare them, and pick a winner to help you decide which
    one to buy.
  • After that, we’ll explain why Baratza grinders are such an excellent choice in the first place.
  • We’ll finish off with some coffee grinding tips to help you get the most out of new grinder.

Let’s jump into our detailed comparison: the Battle of the Baratzas.

Baratza Encore vs. Virtuoso: Our Review

When it comes to deciding whether the Encore or the Virtuoso is the better buy, there’s a lot to consider. Both of these grinders are high quality and superbly functional, with clever extra features. We’ll compare them on aspects like speed, controls, price and grind size… and see if we can choose a
clear winner.

Price

Both these grinders are far from being the cheapest on the market. You can pick up a basic electric coffee grinder for under $20, but you can expect to pay that several times over for one of the models we’re reviewing here. The reason behind this is simple: these are quality grinders. They offer a fast, precise grind and years of excellent use.

There is a clear winner when we compare the average prices of these grinders: you can expect to pay up to $100 more for the Virtuoso. Read on to discover whether this price bump is worth it.

Lowest price: the Encore can cost up to S100 less.

Quality

These grinders are excellent quality. Their grinding burrs are hardened alloy steel that’s been manufactured in Europe. The plastic resins used for crafting the bodies are superb quality. The hoppers are tinted and protect your beans from UV rays that could water down the flavor. This dedication to high quality is a large part of the reason you can expect to fork out a little more for one of these grinders… and we think it’s totally worth it.

If we compare the Encore with the Virtuoso, it’s clear that one of the grinders offers even better quality than the other. The Encore is crafted entirely out of plastic, while the Virtuoso boasts a slick, shiny metal top and base. This adds weight and stability to the grinder, an extra level of hardiness… and an interesting touch to the aesthetic design.

Highest Quality:

The Virtuoso features a metal base and top, which adds to its already excellent quality.

Function

Coffee brewers will agree that the most important aspect of a coffee grinder is how well it actually
grinds.

Because of the high quality of the 40mm conical grinding burrs, both of these grinders put out some incredible grounds. They’re fast and precise. But again, one of these grinders is better at the job… and we think this difference is significant.

The speed with which a burr breaks up coffee beans can change the actual flavor of the finished grounds. This is because the grinding process heats the beans, which is considered a negative in the flavor department. So, the faster your grinder can work through your beans, the less detrimental heat exposure there is.

The Encore is pretty fast: the burr turns at an RPM of 450 and can produce between 0.8 and 1.1 grams of coffee a second. However, the Virtuoso is about twice as fast, spitting out between 1.5 and 2.4 grams of coffee a second at an RPM of 500. For finnicky drinkers, who really taste this sort of thing, that’s a sizable difference in heat exposure time. And for everyone, it’s a difference in the amount of time you’ll be waiting to enjoy your freshly ground cuppa.

But how significant is this point, really? The heat exposure will only truly start to hit home if you’re grinding several loads back to back, because then the machine won’t have time to cool down between grinds. And the Virtuoso cuts the waiting time in half, but that wait is already pretty short. If you’re not a highly experienced coffee taster, or you won’t be using your coffee grinder too frequently and extensively, I don’t think the speed aspect will make much difference to you. However… the next aspect we cover here will.

Grind size is a pretty weighty word when it comes to producing coffee grounds. You’re looking for precision: grounds that are too full of tiny, “dusty” particles mean that some grounds will inevitably filter through to your cuppa, making it “muddy” with possibly even a pool of grounds waiting for you at the bottom of your cup. A precise grind can alter the flavor and texture of your coffee, and particular grind sizes can be used when making different cups of coffee, to create a certain effect.

This is why grind size is so crucial. It has to be precise. Both of these grinders offer precise grinds with a huge range: there’s 40 different grind settings, and a grind range of 250 to 1200, available on both machines. But the Virtuoso sports a special kind of burr. The cutting edges are particularly sharp and steep, and can be found in another (discontinued) Baratzo grinder – the Preciso – which is designed for producing perfectly precise espresso grounds. So, the Virtuoso offers a wonderfully precise grind: very few dusty particles are muddying up cups of coffee created by this baby.

Cleanest Function:

The Virtuoso grinds faster and more precisely.

Controls

The Encore is equipped with a couple of simple controls. There’s a convenient pulse button in the front, and an on/off switch that you can toggle on and leave for as long as you’d like. Basic, and functional.

The Virtuoso has the pulse button, but it also has a timer. Time is shown on a neat digital display on the grinder’s face.

The timer definitely offers added convenience. You don’t have to wing it; you can figure out how long it needs run to create the perfect amount of grounds, and you don’t have to return to switch it off. When mornings are a rush – and you haven’t even had your daily dose of caffeine yet – this is ideal.

Best Controls:

Besides a pulse button, the Virtuoso has a timer with a digital display.

Practicality

Both of these grinders are wonderfully practical for daily use. They’re fast, durable and come with hoppers that can hold up to 8 ounces: nearly a whole average-sized packet of coffee beans.

When it comes to cleanability, I’d have to say that both of these grinders are average. They have smooth surfaces which are easy to wipe, and the hoppers are quick to detach so that you can submerge them in water and give them a thorough clean. However, the buttons and dials aren’t smooth, and there are a lot of ridges where dust could gather. Fortunately, since you won’t be using these machines for anything wet or sticky, cleaning the body should be limited to a wipe down with a soft, damp cloth once or twice a week, and removing the hopper for a wash (read below to find out more on how – and how often – to clean the inner workings of your grinder).

Both grinders also have a modest-sized footprint: they won’t take up too much precious space on your countertop or in your cabinets. The Encore boasts a slightly smaller base, which makes it a little more practical to store than the Virtuoso. It’s also a bit lighter – it doesn’t have those sturdy metal parts – so it’s easier to move around. Considering that this makes it somewhat less durable and stable, though, I’m not sure that this is a benefit.

Most practical: the Encore is slightly smaller and lighter.

Conclusion

Both of these grinders are an excellent buy if you love brewing up extraordinary cups of coffee in your own home. They’re fast, practical, excellent quality, and deliver delicious grounds.

However, if your bank balance is willing to kiss a little extra cash goodbye, we’d have to say that the Virtuoso is a better machine. It’s more durable and stable; it offers a faster, more precise grind; it has a handy timer. It’s hard to say no to a machine of this caliber.

Encore: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Slightly smaller footprint

 Lighter

 Less expensive, while still being excellent quality

 Slower

 Not as precise

 Somewhat less sturdy and durable

 No timer

Virtuoso: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Hardy metal parts

 Special burr offers excellent precision

 Higher reps means faster grinding spee

 Timer with digital display

 More expensive

 Slightly bigger and heavier

What Makes Baratza Special?

Clearly, Baratza makes some excellent coffee grinders. Here’s why you should opt for a Baratza machine next time you’re shopping for grinders.

  • They’re local: they were founded in the USA in 1999, and they’re still based in the USA’s coffee kingdom of Seattle.
  • They have a commitment to quality. This means that they use top-quality parts, sourcing from around the globe when necessary.
  • They prioritize thinking out of the box, in order to come up with innovations that improve their clients’ experiences.
  • They’re wonderfully eco-friendly: they encourage buyers to send broken grinders in for repairs, instead of trashing them. Apparently, their grinders are designed to respond well to maintenance and repair work… and they even have a program where they sell refurbished grinders, complete with fresh warranties.

How to Get the Most Out of Your New Coffee Grinder

If you grind your own coffee, here are 6 handy tips that will help you brew up an even more delicious cuppa.

1. In order to keep your coffee tasting fresh and your machine in good condition, clean your
grinder regularly.
2. If a bean gets stuck, try unplugging the grinder and using a pen or a pencil to dislodge the bean.
If that doesn’t work, turn the grinder upside down and give it a shake. Taking the grinder apart is
a last resort.
3. Your beans and all components of your grinder need to stay perfectly dry… otherwise beans and
grounds will stick to your grinder, nothing will flow properly, and electronics could short.
4. For a good brew, start off with incredible beans.
5. Use the right grind size for the type of coffee you plan on brewing – this makes a big difference
to the finished brew.
6. Use a kitchen scale to measure your beans: you’ll end up with consistent results and no
wastage.
7. Use your grind immediately for optimum flavor and freshness.
Happy buying and brewing!

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