Imagine yourself sitting in a room filled with family and community members, casually sipping on a hot cup of coffee and discussing the day with your loved ones. The place is filled with the smell of incense and roasting coffee beans. The company Baratza decided to name itself after the term used in Arabic and Swahili for the coffee house–the heart of the community.
The company kicked off in 1999 with the sole goal of perfecting the world of coffee grinders. The dynamic duo, Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy, set out to create a line of high-quality grinders that would meet the demands of both the novice and the connoisseur. The company quickly gained notoriety for their constant innovation, quality, and consistency with their products.
We will be discussing two of their most popular grinders: the Encore and the Virtuoso.
We’ll be identifying the differences between these two best selling coffee grinders and figuring out which grinder is best for different people.
Why Would Anyone Want a Coffee Grinder Anyway?
There is nothing more satisfying than smelling the rich, earthy scent of freshly ground beans in the morning. Regardless of your skill level, ditching the bag of pre-ground coffee is the first step to creating a better tasting cup of coffee.
When whole coffee beans are ground, they start to release the gases that give it flavor. If you bought your coffee pre-ground from the store, chances are you have already lost a lot of the flavor those original whole beans provided. By grinding your beans, you will find your morning coffee to have more flavor and aroma.
Learning to adjust your coffee grind also allows you more control over how bold your cup of coffee will be. The analogy most commonly used is pebbles versus sand. If you have a jar of rocks and pour water over them, the water will slip through much faster than if you pour water over the same amount of sand.
Your standard coffee maker will use a coarse grind whereas an espresso maker will use a fine grind.
Weather, such as cold or humidity, will affect how you will want your bean grind. If your espresso shots are taking too long to brew, adjust the grind to be coarser. If it is brewing too fast, adjust the grind to be finer.
What Kind of Coffee Drinker Are You?
Before we get into the details about each coffee grinder, it is important to realize that they are meant for two different kinds of coffee drinkers.
If this is your first time purchasing a small coffee grinder, I would highly recommend starting with the Baratza Encore. This ideal for the initiate who is just looking to get their feet wet. If you want to dive into the world of coffee grinding, but you also want to keep coffee-making in the mornings simple, I would recommend reading on about the Encore.
However, if you are a novice looking to become an expert or a coffee-grinder veteran, I would recommend reading on for the Baratza Virtuoso.
Both coffee grinders are high-quality and efficient. The most notable difference will be the control over the process. The Encore makes it easy to adjust the bean without much prior knowledge or practice, ensuring your coffee ends up the way you like it. The Virtuoso allows more control, although demanding more precision, for the coffee aficionado to create their ideal cup of coffee and experiment with their grind.
What Makes the Baratza Encore Grinder Desirable?
The Baratza Encore has gained a name for itself since its inception in the early 2000s.
It is ideal for anyone looking to upgrade from pre-ground beans to grinding their beans at home. This coffee-grinder provides the perfect grind sizes for both drip and pour-over methods of coffee making, which are the two most popular ways to make coffee at home.
One of the features that makes it especially favorable for the beginner is the settings for adjusting the bean grind. There are forty settings in total, which is the same as the virtuoso, but unlike the Virtuoso, there is no fiddling in-between these settings. Your choices are clear-cut and easy to repeat for consistently good coffee.
When it comes to included features, the Encore has a lot to offer. The grind settings range from a fine, almost Espresso suitable grind to coarse grind which is ideal for drip coffee or French Presses.
The medium to coarse option is the most suitable for manual brewing methods such as the Aeropress, Siphon or Chemex.
For more information on the Aeropress, click here.
The burrs that are included in the mechanism are patented and specially designed by the Baratza brand. Baratza prides itself on creating a precise grind that will generate consistently ground beans.
What About for the Experienced Coffee-Maker?
I grew up in Alaska near the ocean. One of the most significant challenges I met when adjusting my grind was the constant weather changes. One day it would be humid. The next day it would be dry. Cold days affected my brew times. Hot days did as well. When making espresso, there is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing those perfect three layers divide themselves. If any of this resonates with you, I would highly recommend going for the Virtuoso over the Encore.
If you have already worked with grinding your beans or you would like to become an expert at home coffee-making, I recommend the Virtuoso. This is a grinder that lives up to its name by delivering technical versatility, classic style, and a consistent, high-quality grind.
Unlike the Encore, the Virtuoso gives the domestic barista more control over how they would like their grind. Again, there are 40 standard settings for adjusting the grind, but unlike the Encore, there is the ability to move in between these settings to choose the perfect sized grind for your weather and coffee tastes.
The Virtuoso uses 40mm conical burrs to provide consistency from cup to cup.
All in all, these are both quality devices but are intended for different audiences. The Encore, as we said, is perfect for amateur coffee lovers that are eager to learn and improve their skill sets. The Virtuoso, on the other hand, is for those ready for a more complicated, hands-on brewing processes.
Whichever you choose, remember to enjoy the satisfying smells, tastes, and experiences that come from grinding your beans fresh each morning.