Review - Baratza Encore Grinder
Making coffee shouldn't be complicated, but from the perspective of a beginner who is trying to figure out which equipment to buy, it often can be. For this individual who is excited to enter the world of lattes and espressos without any fuss, the Baratza Encore Grinder is a fantastic choice.
Save yourself the trouble of comparing features between products and let us do the work for you. In this review of Baratza's Encore Grinder, we'll take a look at the pros and cons, as well as who we think this grinder is great for and what alternatives exist for those that might prefer a different option.
appeals to most beginner brewers due to its simplicity of operation
the price fairly matches its reputation in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
For a beginner, the most exciting feature is likely to be the 40 different grind settings which you can choose from. We all love a fancy toy, don't we? But each of those grind settings serves a purpose.
By grinding your coffee beans to a variety of consistencies, you can make unique types of coffee. You'll need all of those settings if you're going to try your hand at making espressos, lattes and a range of other delicious drinks.
Most grinders fail to include this many setting, often having less than 20. As we will explain in the Baratza Encore Grinder review, with double the number of consistencies, you get far more value from a single grinder.
Despite the number of features, you'll also notice that it has a straightforward design that makes it simple to use. With very few buttons you can throw those new beans into the hopper and get a cup brewed within minutes, ideal for a beginner.
The Baratza Encore is designed as a mid-range option for beginners who aren't interested in the cheapest grinders but don't need the fanciest machines. As a relatively cheap grinder, especially for its build quality, it's a tremendous choice for beginners but is unlikely to satisfy advanced brew masters.
The Baratza Encore Grinder Review
In recent years Baratza had another popular line that went by the name "Maestro," and although loved by many, they had some manufacturing faults that caused the company to replace them.
Their replacement was the Encore, created to take over from the entry level Maestro which was far simpler but got the job done for amateurs who wanted a simple machine.
The Encore took all of the positives from the Maestro; simplicity, power, and beauty, and combined it with the superior build quality and a range of extra settings.
The result, the Baratza Encore, is one of their most popular models and understandably the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. But that's not to say that it's the right choice for everybody, as we'll explain in this review of the Baratza Encore Grinder.
Outstanding Value for Money
For many of us, the price is the biggest consideration and understandably so. We want to get the best value possible and stretch our dollars as far as they can go.
As with many other hobbies, you can spend as little or as much money as you would like to on appliances for making coffee. But you don't always get what you pay for, and the most expensive machines certainly aren't worth every cent.
While the Encore undeniably isn't the best grinder on the market, it doesn't aim to be, it exists to provide fantastic value for money, and in that pursuit, it's a champion.
The Baratza Encore represents some of the best money spent in the coffee industry.
With many of the features of far more expensive models, you'll be surprised at how affordable the Encore is. While it doesn't have some of the 'convenience' options of premium models, it doesn't sacrifice quality either.
Baratza decided to focus their efforts entirely on the essential features, creating a grinder that can deliver a range of consistencies without the hassle or the hefty price tag.
Quiet Gearbox for Early Mornings
A common joke in the coffee industry is that manufacturers never make coffee in the morning because if they did all of their grinders wouldn't be so loud. It's no exaggeration to say that many of the most popular models could wake up your family and your neighbors.
For those of us that enjoy a fresh cup in the morning, this is a real problem.
Baratza tries their best to be different. The Encore isn't silent, and it's certainly not the cheapest grinder available, but when compared to similarly sized options with the same level of power it's relatively quiet.
Specifically, you'll notice that the gearbox they use is made from plastic rather than metal. As you might imagine this does mean that the gears tend to wear quicker than professional alternatives, but the cost is also a fraction of those grinders.
Unlike bargain options, the plastic they use is made from 15% glass-filled thermoplastic that is sturdier than the plastic that you might be accustomed to in other appliances.
Slow and Steady
Coffee beans are delicate little beasts, but they also tend to bounce around rather than grind, a frustrating and peculiar paradox for us coffee lovers. To battle the beast, you need power but patience.
The Encore contains a powerful motor, but rather than letting it fly the machine tempers the pace, preventing the beans from bouncing around rather than cracking. This slow and steady pace enables you to create the perfect grind for your coffee.
If you grind your beans too fast, excess heat will build up, causing the beans to sweat and release the oils that you want to keep for optimal taste. But grind too slow, and half of the coffee is going to become stale and dry by the time you get ready to brew.
Find the right balance is tough, but Baratza has tested their machines extensively to ensure that no matter the setting you choose the blades will spin at just the right pace. At 450 revolutions per minute, the Encore never speeds up or slows down, maintaining the perfect speed for a tasty cup of joe.
Variety of Grind Settings to Choose From
Variety is the spice of life and making coffee is the same. For espresso you need a vastly different grind to a cappuccino and failing to do this will lead to substandard taste and consistency.
The Encore recognizes this, which is why it has 40 different grind settings, far more than even more expensive grinders. From as small as 250 microns through to 1200 microns at the upper end, you can churn out a grind for whatever appliance you are using and whichever type of coffee you're trying to make.
It should be noted however, that some users are experiencing significant amounts of clumping, especially when operating at the finer grind level. If not carefully managed clumping can create problems when making espresso by interrupting the flow of water.
To prevent this, it's recommended to grind at a slightly higher level and to let the grinder run for a touch longer than usual.
Sleek and Simple, Without Excessive Features
The Baratza Encore isn't fancy. It doesn't include some of the handy features that more expensive grinders have, but it also doesn't cost nearly as much.
Instead, the Baratza has a sleek and simple design with an on-off switch, a button for quick grinds and a dial for grind thickness. Nothing more and nothing less, this machine is simple but for a beginner simple is a positive rather than a negative.
Alternatives to the Baratza Encore Grinder
Perhaps the Baratza isn’t for you. If this is the case, we would suggest that more advanced users opt for a model with a few more gadgets and options. But if you're a beginner who doesn't want to splash out on a professional machine, the Encore could be a perfect choice. That said, here are a couple of other options.
Available at a price point not dissimilar to the Baratza Encore, the Breville Dose Control gives you 60 grind settings and a larger hopper that holds up to 12 ounces of the bean.
However, reviewers seem to have problems with longevity, often dealing with issues with the gearboxes and power.
Despite some of the complaints, Breville is a respected brand in the industry, and their products are usually of good quality. The Dose Control is also aimed at beginners, just like the Encore, and represents decent value for money if not bordering on slightly overpriced.
Another alternative is the Capresso Infinity, which although slow at only 250 RPM, can churn through a full batch of beans three times quicker than the Encore.
Unlike the Encore this model features a timer on the power switch, a handy feature for those of us that are easily distracted. Plus, you'll notice that with a slightly large hopper it can handle roughly an ounce more per batch.
Finally, where the Encore brings 40 different grind settings to the table, the Infinity offers a disappointing 16, and it might struggle with an espresso grind. Despite this, it's a budget option that could work for beginners who are only desiring thicker grind consistency.