To people who are truly committed to making – and having – quality coffee in the morning, the process begins with choosing the right beans. From there, you have to make sure the beans are ground thoroughly and consistently, without compromising its quality.
When choosing a grinder, you’ll need to consider few things. But first and foremost, you have to know which type of grinder will be able to bring out the flavor from your beans.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. Blade grinders are much cheaper (both in quality and performance), so we strongly recommend going with a burr grinder. We discuss the differences between blade and burr grinders in greater detail in this article.
best grind consistency yields the flavourful taste
the price is better than its contenders in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Conical Burr Grinder. This stepped grinder has a great reputation for its consistent grinding and versatile capabilities.
Baratza has always been a leading brand when it comes to grinders – and for very good reason. Their grinders always make it onto ‘Top 10’ lists, and in the case of our top picks, the Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Grinder is certainly no exception to that.
To start, the 40mm burrs are very high quality, and we were able to make our coffee grounds come out as fine or as coarse as we wanted. In terms of storage capacity, the hopper hold up to eight ounces of beans and the bin at the bottom holds up to five ounces of coffee grounds.
The 40-step adjustment feature, to me, is its best feature, and I recommend this grinder to those who are looking for a grinder that can grind beans for a variety of coffee drinks.
In this section, you’ll be able to see what sets this grinder apart from its competitors.
Upon looking at the Virtuoso, you’ll see something simple yet stylish about it. It’s not intimidating and it looks pretty straightforward. That’s because it is! The minimalist design is directly related to how easy it is to use.
Unlike other, newer coffee grinders that offer full automation, there’s beauty in operating a coffee grinder manually. The Virtuoso offers exactly just that. No digital displays, no LCD screens. Just your old-fashioned knobs and buttons. It’s all pretty self-explanatory. You put the beans in the hopper, adjust the 40-step gauge to your liking, then press the pulse button.
Alternatively, you can turn the timer knob for up to 60 seconds. Then, you get the coffee grounds from the bin at the bottom of the device. Its younger brother, the Encore, shares nearly the same interface, except for the 60-second timer.
All in all, I think that the Virtuoso coffee grinder is ideal for both the experts and novices.
The powerful DC motor is one of the things I liked most about this coffee grinder. It’s powerful yet gentle on your coffee beans.
You can use this grinder multiple times and it still only makes the beans slightly warm to the touch. This is very important because some grinder motors tend to heat up the beans to the point of overcooking them, which eventually ruins their consistency.
At the same time, the Virtuoso also runs relatively more quiet compared to other grinders. Running at 450 RPM, you can grind beans without your neighbors complaining about the noise. You don’t need that hassle at 6am on a Monday morning, do you?
If you’re looking for a wide range of grind settings, the Virtuoso will give you just that. With its 40 steps, you can play around with the settings in order to achieve the perfect coffee grounds.
Setting it to ‘0’ will give you the finest results. This is perfect for when you’re in the mood for Turkish coffee or something else that requires an ultra-fine grind. At ‘40’, you’ll get coarse coffee grounds, ideal for French press.
Since there are so many steps, that means you’re going to have to do a lot of experimentation. Sure, it might be annoying at first, be we promise it’s worth it. After getting the ideal setting, simply make a note of it so that you can use it next time for more consistency.
A word of caution, though. If you’re looking to make some espresso, you’re better off with a grinder that’s designed specifically for that purpose. While the Virtuoso can handle it, in the end, it’s not made solely with the espresso drinker in mind. We recommend Baratza’s Sette 270 or Sette 270W grinder for those of you who stick strictly to espresso.
Ask any coffee grinding afficionado, and they’re likely to tell you how durable a Baratza grinder is. The Virtuoso weighs in at around 9 pounds, so it’s durable and sturdy, but not too heavy.
The parts are also quite well-made. When you turn the hopper to adjust its grind settings, you’ll hear that solid ‘click’ to tell you that you did it right.
During our testing, we found that the coffee grounds would occasionally find their way through the gap in the grounds bin, so remember to wear an apron (or just avoid white clothing)! Of course, this happens with many grinders, so it’s understandable
Also, we felt that the grounds bin wasn’t conveniently shaped. It’s slightly rectangular, which can make it difficult to pour the contents out. However, if you’re making espresso, you would be using a portafilter instead of the grounds bin. Just remember to hold on to portafilter at all times! You can’t let it go on this grinder.
There’s no question about it: the Virtuoso produces rich-tasting coffee grounds thanks to its consistent particle distribution. We also found that is produced a more vibrant aroma and flavor that has a certain ‘kick’ to it. This is perhaps the Virtuoso’s trophy feature.
However, the Virtuoso is a bit more expensive than other grinders, so it begs the question, “Is it worth the extra $100?”
To answer that, let’s take a look first at a couple of its more affordable competitors.
Here we have two conical burrs, but one’s more automated than the other. When it comes to flexibility, I’m gonna have to say it’s a close match with Breville taking the win for this round.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro has a total of 60 grind settings, outdoing the Virtuoso’s 40 steps. They’re both perfect for use at home and are quite user-friendly, too. However, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is more ideal for beginner users because you don’t really have a lot of room for guesswork. In addition, both the Breville’s hopper and grounds bin are larger than that of the Virtuoso.
In terms of overall power, I’m going to have to give it to the Virtuoso, mainly because the coffee beans are processed more carefully and with very minimal heating; hence, the grounds come out slightly better on the Virtuoso. Money-wise, you can save a bit on the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, but it really comes down to personal preference.
Another great burr grinder is the Rancilio Rocky.
Similar to the Breville, the Rocky also offers more grind settings (55 to be exact), and its finest setting can give you talc-like consistency.
Flavor-wise, the Rocky beats the Virtuoso by a slim margin. It has the commercial quality that most users prefer over something that’s more fit to one’s tastes.
The Rancilio Rocky doesn’t have a timer and it’s operated manually, unlike the presence of a 60-second timer on the Virtuoso. It’s also considerably heavier than both the Virtuoso and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, and it takes much longer to grind your coffee beans.
In this match, the Baratza Virtuoso wins. While the Rancilio Rocky grinds extremely well for espresso, we feel that the cost of a Rocky just isn’t worth it if espresso isn’t your beverage of choice.
The Baratza Virtuoso definitely gives coffee drinkers ample versatility and grind control.
If you’re looking for a grinder that is simple and will last for years, then this could be the right choice for you. However, if you’re on a tight budget and only just starting your coffee grinding journey, you may be better off with something more automated that requires little to no guesswork.