For people who really care a great deal about the flavor of their coffee, it’s important to have their own (good) coffee bean grinder.
The fundamental goal of making coffee isn’t just to deliver caffeine to the brain. It’s important to get what’s sealed inside the bean, the naturally delicious flavor components and oils.
The original method of the forefathers of coffee actually involved boiling the whole roasted beans in hot water while agitating them with a stirring utensil.
With some patience and lots of time you’d eventually end up with a bitter, high-caffeine, coffee solution.
Now that technology has progressed enough to give lovers of the dark drink a home solution, then advancements in coffee grinder are able to take place. The idea here is that the beans only get ground right before they’re needed for the coffee making process. This should give the best possible taste that the beans have to offer.
The Best Grinder for the Best Price – That’s All We Want
The true coffee enthusiast will argue that beans should undergo the transformation to grounds less than thirty seconds before brew time. There’s a plethora of ways to make that happen but a proper coffee grinder is the most convenient way to make that happen.
Now, there are a lot of grinders out there, and some of them are not anywhere near affordable for most people. But the good news is that there are a number of models that won’t break the bank, but can still do a great job of grinding for a wide variety of coffee preparation methods.
As far as specific models go, two which stand out are the Baratza Encore and the Bodum Bistro.
Baratza is a company that was founded in 1999, and one that focuses solely on coffee grinding products. This alone should give you some insight into just how seriously they take the coffee grinding process. The Encore is one of the jewels in its crown.
Bodum, on the other hand, has been around for much longer. Since it’s inception in 1944, they’ve made waves in the way people enjoy their brews. They also feature a product range that is more expansive, including coffee makers, water kettles and many other items. The company has even tried to register “French Press” as a trademark in several territories, but failed in the US and Canada.
Still, it’s common to hear Bodum used colloquially in reference to the French Press itself. That said, they take coffee making utensils very seriously.
So let’s match up these two impressive grinders and determine what’s going to get the job done right.
How the Encore and the Bistro are Kind of the Same
One thing to keep in mind is that the Baratza Encore and Bodum Bistro do have their similarities. Both are relatively affordable.
These are essentially entry level grinders. The Encore only costs a little bit more than the Bistro and both models do perform similarly. Click for exact pricing.
Both of these products also make use of conical burrs which crush the beans, as opposed to chopping them up. This crushing motion is supposed to allow the resulting grind to maintain the taste and scent of the beans. This design also allows the products to do their jobs, without requiring sharpening for a long time.
It’s important to note that there are several different kinds of coffee grinders.
- Blade: These use a blade, and operate like a small blender. They’re inexpensive and very common. The reason you’ll find them so cheap is that, unlike a blender that’s dealing with liquid, the high RPM is enough to burn the fragile beans if the grinding operation is done in excess. That leaves us with a ton of unusable debris, and often makes these grinders undesirable to clean.
- Disc: This kind of grinder processes the coffee beans as they fall in between two discs or cones, one of which grinds the beans against the other, which remains stationary. You’re not going to be experiencing burning which this action of mechanism. These grinders are great for consistency. Obviously a good solution for high quality coffee, but they are quite expensive.
- Burr: These can be synonymous with the old fashioned hand grinders. But those are the old school, time and labor intensive units, but they produce a very consistent product, and there is no chance of burning the coffee. They are still made today, and size of the grind can be adjusted from very course to powder. Then here are burr grinders that are powered by electric motors, which takes the effort out and is faster. A quality grind is definitely possible, but this is where price and quality come in.
The burr grinder is a popular choice for coffee aficionados, because it grinds the beans in a very uniform size. If you’re a little obsessive about your coffee (in this case a good thing!) then control over your grind becomes very important for recreating a brew that you particularly enjoyed. A uniform ground is much more difficult to achieve in a blade grinder, especially if you are trying to do a coarser grind.
What is the Difference Between the Bistro & the Encore
What separates these two beauties, an area where the Encore has the edge, is in terms of greater control over the fineness or coarseness of the grind.
While the Bistro boasts of 14 steps when setting the grind from the most fine grind to the most coarse, the Encore tops this by offering a total of 40 steps between its most coarse setting to its most fine.
This would allow the user to truly experiment with new grind settings for beans and expand into coffee selections that require variable grinds.
This greater control is important because it allows coffee lovers to make more precise adjustments, as they search for just the right kind of grind for their drip coffee, espresso or other coffee creation. This also allows for greater “repeatability” so that once the user has found a setting that she likes, she can take note of it and keep on going back to it for future cups.
Let’s say you’re going for a larger bulk. Then the Bistro has the advantage with a larger capacity.
Now, there isn’t as much of a gap when considering the bean hopper sizes. Here, the Encore has a capacity of 227 grams while the Bistro can handle 220 grams. But when looking at the grounds bin storage, the Encore can store up to 142 grams, while the Bistro can handle 11 ounces or around 311 grams.
So there’s a large difference here, which can matter a great deal if the owner often prepares coffee for larger groups.
Which One is More Portable?
Now, not that you’re going to be lugging your grinder around, but just in case you were curious. The Bodum is a significantly lighter unit that the Baratza. So if you planning on hiding your grinder and digging it out for the morning brew each day than this might be something important to weigh in on your decision.
These factors probably have something to due with the construction of these two grinders. The Bistro comes with a borosilicate glass container for collection of the grinds. This is opposed to the plastic grinds bucket on the Baratza Encore.
This might seem like a small detail but there is a good reason for using glass. The problem is static electricity.
Are the Bins Anti-Static
As beans pass through the grinding burrs, they pick up an electrical charge from the machine that causes the ground coffee to literally jump from out of the grinder or stick stubbornly to the sides of the grind bucket.
This problem tends to become worse when the chamber is made of plastic. That’s due to plastics nature as a very poor conductor of electrical charge, thus plastic grind chambers don’t allow the electricity in the ground coffee to dissipate quickly.
Score that a win for the Bistro – it won’t have nearly the same amount of static charge in the grind bin.
Most experts say the only solution to ridding the electrical charge from the equation is time. But we both know that fresh grounds beans don’t have the patience to sit around unused. Our offering of advice is simply to procure a glass grind bucket.
But don’t let that one factor completely sway your decision making.
The Quiet Coffee Grinder: Which one is Better?
A coffee grinder can be enemy number one for the lazy roommate who doesn’t “get” coffee like us. The solution to appeasing them is in a coffee grinder that doesn’t sound like a space shuttle prepping for flight.
I can also attest to the sleepy baby or spouse in the early morning hours. I have been known to grind coffee in the garage to keep the noise level down!
The Baratza uses a direct current motor which doesn’t produce noticeable heat and keeps the beans cool as they are processed. This is optimum if you’re working with a large amount of beans and worry about burning your investment. This motor also aids in reducing the overall noise level – perfect for those morning-after coffees.
The Bodum, on the other hand, doesn’t offer this feature and while users claim it isn’t especially noisy, the Bistro isn’t as quiet as the Baratza.
Why Grind Settings Are Important
Aside from having fresh coffee, what makes the grind so important? There are a few variables at work here. So let’s break it down.
Hot water and coffee come in contact for varying lengths depending on what the brewing is trying to achieve and what process she is using. Furthermore, to be in contact with each other is directly related to the way the beans are ground.
The more surface area a bean has exposed to water, then the less dwell time is needed. Thus, if you’re using a brew method that uses a longer dwell time, you’ll need to use a coarser grind. For example, if you’re making french press or percolator coffee then a coarse grind is going to be your best bet. However, a fine grind for an Aeropress or espresso machine is optimum. It just depends on the brew process and the coffee results you’re seeking.
For more on burr coffee grinders with different grind settings check out our breakdown on the subject.
Can Flavored Coffee be used in a Coffee Grinder?
One should keep in mind that flavored coffees are not your friend in the grinder. Flavored coffees use natural oils extracted from a variety of sources:
- Vanilla beans
- Cocoa beans
- Nuts and berries
Like a coffee roaster, a coffee flavorist will find a great coffee bean that isn’t commercially viable, perhaps not cheap, or not in quantity. So a flavorist will develop a profile around the desired bean and develop natural oils in conjunction with one another as a means to “copy” the flavor. This is fine for those pursuing a certain brew, but it these oils will not be kind to your grinder.
The beans, when ground, will impart their flavor to the burrs or blades, and chamber of the grinder. This makes for a very difficult cleanup or noticeably tainted coffee grinds.
Conclusions: Is the Baratza Encore Actually Better than the Bodum Bistro?
There is a great advantage in having the enormous amount of grind settings that the Baratza features. But there is something to consider when approaching the heavy build of the Bodum.
The Bodum is a solid machine with a glass catch for grounds, and though it doesn’t boast the same number of grind settings, it still gets the main grind settings covered at a lower price point.
They both feature a stylish design, which could compliment your countertop and prove to visitors your level of dedication to the coffee arts.
Depending on your expertise and needs in your coffee prep, the Baratza Encore would most likely be your best bet at achieving a more consistent quality grind. Not to mention it’s going to make less noise too!
If you’re ultimately looking to save and aren’t ready for the intense amount of options and add-ons that Baratza has available, then the Bodum Bistro is a solid contender.
Check out our further reviews of small electric burr coffee makers, to see comparisons of a wider selection of entry level models… and lastly, if your pockets are a bit deeper the Baratza Virtuoso is a solid upgrade fro the Encore. You can see our comparison of the Baratza Encore vs Virtuoso here.