How to Pick the Best Grinder for Your Brewing Style

     Many coffee drinkers fail at making an exceptional cup because they do not use a sufficient grinder. The grind type determines how quickly the water passes over the grounds, and different brewing systems require a specific grind. For example, espresso requires a powder-like grind so that the surface area can open up and extract the flavors and oils within the 20-30 seconds it takes to pull a shot. A simple rule to follow is, the shorter the brew time, the finer the grind. It is essential to have a proper grinder to achieve your specific brewing machine's ideal grind level..

Burr vs. Blade

     When discussing grinders, there are two types to think about, Burr and Blade. Burr grinders are for the serious coffee drinker and are my pick of choice every time. I honestly cannot remember the last time I used a blade grinder. Unlike a blade grinder that inconsistently slices coffee beans, burr grinders grind the beans like a millstone between two discs. These retractable discs allow for a much more even grind and the ability to achieve versatile grind levels. We currently have two types of burr grinders in the shop, electrical and manual. Baratza has been my go-to brand for electrical burr grinders for many years now. From your standard grinder to the more commercial-grade grinder, Baratza offers a versatile selection of home grinders for you to choose from.

Which Baratza Grinder is Right for You?

     So, now that we understand the difference between a blade and burr grinder, and why the burr grinder is the best option, let’s explore the different types of Baratza grinders. Whether you are looking for a great espresso or just a delicious everyday brew, we are here to help you make the best choice for your home brewing experience. The grinder comparison chart (shown above) is a great visual tool that will show the pros and cons of each type. If you are like me and need more research, then keep on reading!

Grosche Bremen Manual Grinder (Level – Hands-On Barista):

     Oops, I lied. There is one grinder that is not from Baratza. This manual grinder is from Grosche and is perfect for those that enjoy having a more hands-on approach to the grinding experience. As long as the burrs are adjusted to the correct settings, you should be able to achieve the same consistency as a standard electric grinder (not ideal for an espresso grind). Hand grinders are the best travel companion because they are small, portable, and do not need electricity. If you are looking for a cheaper and more portable machine, then this grinder is a great option.

*Best for: Coarse to Fine Grind (sugar in the raw –> fine table salt)

Baratza Encore Conical Burr (Level – Enthusiast):

     This is our best-selling grinder in the shop. It is an excellent entry-level conical burr grinder and is what I usually recommend to customers that are beginning to elevate their coffee brewing game. It comes at a reasonable price, $139, and has 40 individual grind settings that span from coarse to fine. It produces a very consistent grind thanks to the high-carbon steel, 40mm burrs. A convenient, front-mounted pulse button makes it easy to grind on demand into your brew basket. The efficient DC motor keeps your beans cool, even during extended grind times, while a combination of electric and gear speed reducers slows the burr to 450 RPM, ensuring a smooth bean feed and reducing noise, heat and static buildup. Although great for your daily drip or pour over, this grinder is not optimal for the espresso enthusiast. The Encore is an excellent, all-around home grinder and is the perfect intro to fresh ground coffee.

*Best for: Coarse to Fine Grind (sugar in the raw –> fine table salt)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr (Level – Bean Buff):

     The Virtuoso+ is a step-up from the Encore with a selling price at $249. The difference is all in the details and the display is eye-catching with the added metal upper casing and base. Its advanced, precision steel conical burrs can achieve a consistently precise grind from coarse to fine. The grind power is twice as fast as the Encore with a throughput rate of 2 grams per second. You can accurately dose your coffee with the addition of a digital timer, which can be set to the tenth of a second. While the beans are grinding, you can check the consistency with the included LED’s that shine into the grounds bin. The machine is perhaps the best bang for your buck and will take your morning brew to the next level.

*Best for: Coarse to Fine Grind (sugar in the raw –> fine table salt)

Baratza Sette 30 Grinder (Level – Espresso Expert):

     If you are an avid espresso drinker, then look no further. At $269, this entry-level espresso grinder is a wonderful option for users who want to experiment with extractions for espresso and other finer grind machines, like Aeropress and Hario V60. Featuring 30 different grind settings, it is suitable for basic and advanced espresso machines and features Baratza’s redesigned gearbox and burrset (the outer burr rotates around a fixed inner burr). This new design can grind fast, up to 5g per second! Similar to the Virtuoso+, the Sette 30 has a digital timer with resolution to the tenth of a second. Unlike most burr grinders that use a small pathway for ground coffee to travel through, the Sette 30 allows an easy pathway for grounds to fall from the burrs into the bin, portafilter, or most brewing devices. This grinder is a game changer for home espresso and will allow you to brew espresso like the pros!

*Best for: Extra Fine Grind (powdered sugar)

Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder (Level – Coffee Snob):

     If you want to become an at-home barista and are more particular about your brewing methods, then the Baratza Vario-W is the perfect grinder for you. Instead of using a timer, this grinder uses grind-by-weight technology to measure the exact amount of grounds you need. This high-end grinder is a bit pricier at $559, but its precision and reliability makes it worth every penny. It comes with three adjustable weight presets that will accurately grind your exact dose by the gram. You will experience less mess with its hopper shut off gate for an easier removal of the grounds. The Vario-W is a coffee-shop level grinder and is one of the highest-end home grinders you can purchase. 

*Best for: Coarse to Extra Fine Grind (sugar in the raw –> powdered sugar)

Baratza Forté AP (All Purpose) Burr Grinder (Level – Barista Pro)

     This is the most versatile, commercial-grade grinder you can own. No matter how you brew, from Chemex to espresso, this grinder will execute the exact grind for all brewing methods. The price is a little scary at $899.97, but its consistency (thanks to the 54mm ceramic burrs), and programmable grind modes (weight AND time), will almost make you forget how much you paid for it. This grinder features a multifunction touch screen, a larger daily bean capacity (up to 5lbs/day) and shut-off hopper. Its small footprint and stainless-steel casing will fit comfortably and add some chic to your coffee bar. This is truly the Ferrari of small-scale coffee grinders. You cannot get much better than this!

*Best for: Coarse to Extra Fine Grind (sugar in the raw –> powdered sugar)

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