There are some poor souls we see every so often, grinding their coffee beans at the super market, not experiencing the joy of fresh grinding their coffee just thirty seconds before use. Personally, I’d crush my coffee beans tediously by hand if I had to, just to savor that freshness.
Perhaps these super market coffee grinders just work better that the blade grinders of yore. However, there are plenty of entry level grinders on the market today.
If you are also looking for coffee grinding perfection, then let’s check out two of the most discussed home grinders available from Baratza, a Seattle coffee maker company that has taken grinding to an obsessive level.
First we’ll look at the Sette 30 which is the cheaper of the two and then we’ll look at the Sette 270 which is a nicer all around grinder.
Baratza makes grinders of a variety of different levels and steps for the causal grinder, coffee hound, or even commercial or industrial use.
Okay, maybe industrial is a branch to far. Still they have quite a variety of grinders and with all the options it can be difficult to understand what is best going to fit your needs.
What Kind of Grinder Is Best?
The distinction between their grinders is all about how the beans are processed. Meaning, that the grinding mechanisms are of different classes: Connical Burr Grinders and Flat Burr Grinders.
Both the Sette 30 and 270 use conical burr grinders which should be great for the home barista because they work great and don’t cost as much as the flat kind.
For instance you would have to pay quite a bit more to get the cheapest flat burr grinder in the Baratza lineup!
Baristas, who better to trust than those who work with coffee all day, generally report that conical burr grinders are more forgiving than flat burr operated grinders. This is probably due to conical burrs having an easier to dial-in adjustment and feature material that is less likely to heat up or expose the beans to rough processing.
Home coffee drinkers might not see these reasoning in their daily coffee practice because they simply aren’t producing Barista-level amounts of coffee.
Many enthusiasts will claim that different kinds of coffee grinders are better at emphasizing different notes. Sure, this doesn’t have much anecdotal evidence to support the claim, but it’s easy to think that burrs will have a varying affect depending on their build, material, and overall processing capabilities.
- Conical burr grinders seem to do best with beans that have unique and bright flavors, such as those of exotic African coffees.
- Flat burr grinders supposedly meld together light coffees and enhance darker notes, think style from South and Central American plantations.
Release of the Sette Series
The reason for the developments around the Baratza Sette Series stems from feedback involving the Brew Grinder, and it’s committed following.
Baratza initially planned to unveil the Sette 30 grinder to it’s inner circle of testers and repeat customers, and it would have to be marketed as a brew grinder using the BG burr. In March of 2016 the unit went out to be tested and scrutinized.
The feedback came back and it revealed a wealth of knowledge. Some testers found that they loved it, while other testers said that the grind was not coarse enough or had too many fine grinding settings. This means in, outside of coffee-speak, that the grinder was in fact not as honed in for specific tasks as it could be.
It was still possible to grind for brewed coffee, but not as intuitively as many users would like. Baratza returned to the drawing board. The testers spoke and a new mission began. Baratza went forward with the idea to develop a burr that could operate on a large scale of brew profile but had fine adjustments from those settings as well.
Baratza spoke out:
“Given the feedback from testing, we do not think the Sette 30 will meet the high standard and expectations of the Specialty Coffee enthusiast, or of Baratza.”
Sad as many were to see the postponement, it was well worth the wait.
The Sette 30 came onto the market as an ideal entry level, conical burr grinder. It’s touted as an inexpensive grinder to get started on an espresso journey. It’s the base level model of the series of Sette grinders. It’s reported by Baratza to be good at manual coffee but better for Espresso style brewing practices.
Its also got some of the best reviews of Baratza’s grinders even though it’s not their best seller.
Coming in hot with a stationary 40 millimeter conical burr. The inner burr being stationary while the upper burr rotates is a major difference in this class of grinder. You’d be hard pressed to find this kind of design applied these days but the reason for it is to optimize for speed and low grind retention.
In fact, the Sette grinds at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second which is about twice as fast as the Baratza Vario. Read our breakdown of the Baratza Vario Vs. Sette grinders for more information.
The Sette 30 uses a macro-adjust with 30 steps of adjustment. So regardless of what the Baratza is specifically meant for, there’s plenty for room to hone in and experiment with a variety of grind settings and steps in between them.
One special thing about this series of coffee grinders is their vast grind settings that are difficult to match via competitors.
Suitable for basic and advanced espresso machines, the focus here is to try new grind settings to match whatever machine or process you have. There’s bound to be a few you’ll love. Those new to the exactitudes of broad grinder setting, that radically changes on the few steps available will quickly become disenchanted and move up to an investment like the Sette series grinders.
The Sette Series has, at its core, a revolutionary grinding mechanism that produces game-changing performance. Many home grinders tend to be on the slow side in comparison to supermarket grinders. That’s due to the arrangement of the burrs and the worry of overheating beans. With the Sette series, speed and efficiency are both put on a pedestal.
Key aspects of this innovative mechanism include:
Straight-thru vertical transports: Grinding of the beans (highly efficient and results in minimal residual coffee in the system) is treated through a single, easy to maintain, chamber fed by gravity and resilient burrs.
Outer Burr Ring: Grinding here takes place at two to three times the efficiency of other grinders in it’s class. Due to the size of the outer burr ring and the impressive geometric blades, fitting together like teeth of an otherworldly beast.
Gear box: A proprietary design owes Baratza a unique understanding of a grinder gear box. The planetary and crown gear maximize efficiency of power usage and keeps heat in it’s place: outside the grinder.
Powerful DC motor: This motor aids to maximum starting torque and efficiency, resulting in cooler operation.
Advanced Adjustements in the Sette Series
The Sette 30’s adjustments will change the flow, and leave the extraction per blend or roast. This helps beginners learn the basic functions of the grinder without ruining a batch.
The dramatic changes to the Sette grinder series after it’s initial reveal and postponement is the straight thru chamber design. This means that beans literally travel straight through the grinder, vertically, proceeding directly to the portafilter or grounds container.
Speaking of which, there’s a lot of headroom for whatever storage container you’re planning to use and the device holder, which allows you remove or change position of the arms to grind directly into the supplied grounds bin. This is a brilliant addition to the design of home grinders, as often grinding large batches can’t be done conveniently.
Highlighting the differences between the Sette 30 & 270
- Number of Grind Settings So how does the the Sette 30 differ from the 270? Well the numbers in the name say a lot. The 30 AP has thirty macro grind settings. The 270 has thirty as well, but adds nine micro adjustments to each for a total of 270 settings. Much finer control of grind size on the 270 with those micro adjustments. That leaves the Sette 30 more suited to serving less demanding brewing on single boiler or entry level espresso machines or brew methods like Aeropress or pour over where grind size is a little less critical.
- Burr Material The inner workings of the 270, namely the burr casing, is made with resilient metal while the plastic casing of the 30 could lend itself to some static buildup. Though it might sound a bit tedious of a detail to focus on, if you’ve dealt with a static problem in your cafe you know what a difference metal makes as a static deterrent and as long-lasting piece of equipment. The stock AP burrs are what you want for espresso and other finer grinding. For those in need of even coarser grinding, Baratza has the optional accessory, BG burr, their brew grind burr. It costs less than thirty dollars and fits all the Sette models.
- Programmability On the Sette 30, you set one grind time in hundredth of a second intervals up to ten seconds and then tenth of a second increments for times over ten seconds. The 270 comes with 3 programmable timed presets. These timing scenarios are great especially for the larger grind, which the units accommodate with head-room in the design.
- Portafilter And Bin Accommodation
All Sette models allow for portafilters or large grind bins. The 30 once again uses plastic whereas the 270s use sturdy metal builds for the forks. While you must remove the 30s portafiler forks, the 270 is adjustable without.
Pros of the Sette Grinder Class
The Sette models have the same burr set, same grind size range, same grinding speed, so what’s the big difference? These slight variations in the extra micro adjustments, metal build on the burr casing and support forks, and extendable timer is what makes the improvements to the 270s.
Addionally, the same reliable testers that brought the creation of the Sette 30 to life, have spread through the coffee forums to further clarify the difference in the 30 and the 270. Reports show that the 270 is further engineered with burrs that perform their grinding differently with (physically) very hard or very soft beans. This means that the burrs had to be optimized for the vast middle ground of a variety of bean types and roasts.
Cons of the Sette Grinder Class
If noise is a concern, keep in mind the Sette series is a bit louder than other grinders. This is caused by the high grinding speed and possibly also owed to the straight through chamber design. Luckily this is capable of grinding large batches. With the proper storage container, one could reasonably grind beans on Sunday night, for the rest of the week, without waking the whole house.
The Ingenuity of Engineering
These grinders feature relatively smaller burrs. So how can a grinder with burrs no larger than a hand grinder be so fast?
What sets this class apart from basically every other grinder is that the outer burr itself rotates. Whereas the small inner burr is typically responsible for the auger of beans into the unit, the much larger surface of the outer burr is left to that task.
Despite the low energy consumption of the DC motor, the size of that outer burr, grinding beans, is able to make the job fast. That the inner burr is auguring beans also means that whether you have enough beans for a single dose or enough for the week, there won’t be any hangups in speed and efficiency. This is actually not a bad tradeoff for a little extra noise right?
Ease of Cleaning with the Baratza Sette
The straight through chamber makes this a very easy grinder to clean. It should be noted that it’s recommended to give these beauties a bit of regular maintenance to keep your investment in working order.
Since it’s ideal to clean your grinder periodically, time saving might be of great concern.
Grinder cleaner tablets are a small pellet type cleaner that’s food-safe and isn’t of much concern if mixed in with grounds. However, they’re made to avoid that.
The pellets get ground like normal coffee but on their own. Every once and a while this is something to be in good practice of doing. If you notice things aren’t tasting god, grounds wise or perhasp you’re noticing some retention of grinds, throw some pellets in to clean it out.
The pellets you’ll find aren’t oil-based and will relieve the residue that’s built up in even high-end grinders.
Some companies will, probably to protect themselves, advise against using rice. While the results of this practice in the long run are unknown, perhaps the starch from the rice will remain in your grinder, it seems to be okay if you run out of pellets and are in dire need of a cleaning. Otherwise you can remove the burrs and take the machine apart to clean it by hand.
All and all, the Sette class grinders are remarkable. If you’re interested in metal components that will last longer, and grind adjustments galore then the 270 is worth the price tag. These are reasonably priced, surprisingly fast, kitchen friendly, and produces a good, uniform grind across a wide range of settings