BARATZA ENCORE VS VIRTUOSO (+): WHICH ONE TO PICK?
We all live to see another day and to drink another great cup of coffee. To brew ourselves a great cup of black gold, we need great beans to start. After we’ve made the selection of our beans, we need to grind them to get maximum flavor out of them. There are a lot of grinders on the market. We’ve narrowed it down to 2 of the same brand: Baratza Encore vs Virtuoso (+).
We will review in-depth, look at different features to give you a good overview of the pros and cons of each grinder. The Virtuoso is a bit more expensive.
BARATZA AS A BRAND
Baratza, pronounced as bah-‘rah-tsa, is a company that was founded in 1999 and is specialized in making grinders for making the best coffee. They have estimated revenue of around 9 million dollars according to Owler. Although the company is very young, it has already made a difference when it comes to grinding your coffee beans.
The thing about Baratza is, they care about customers a lot! Their site is great in reviews and problem-solving (Q&A with videos). They design their grinders to be fixed easily.
The Encore is one of the most popular grinders out there, making a lot of people happy. It’s convenient to use.
The Encore is one of the cheaper models and is seen as an entry-level burr grinder. You might think: entry-level? Even so, it delivers a very strong performance and is a durable product. Even if it breaks fast, as said before, Baratza gives tutorials to fix things.
The quality of the grind is great, as it uses a conical burr grinder (steel). Other machines might use another type of grinder, like a blade grinder (can heat up and slice your beans more). Conical burr grinders are very consistent!
It comes with a DC motor and has about 40 grind settings, this means you could grind from very coarse (thick) to very fine, making it suitable for every brew method out there. The range is between 250 and 1200 microns.
This grinder can be used for a lot of brewing methods like the French Press, Aeropress, Pour-over… It’s not a perfect grinder, as some things get through but not as many. Remember, we’re talking about an entry-level machine here.
The machine is made of durable plastic, perfect for daily use. It’s also very compact and won’t take a lot of place in your kitchen.
The Encore has a capacity of 8 ounces of coffee beans, allowing you to grind a lot in 1 run! The bean hopper is transparent.
The machine is easy to clean and maintain, as said before, you can review common problems or contact their customer service, they will be happy to help you.
The Virtuoso+ sounds promising. Virtuoso comes from Latin (Virtus) and signifies that it’s really good in doing the job, in this case: grinding! We’ve to look op to the Virtuoso! The Virtuoso signifies the next step within Baratza. This grinder is mid-level. It’s about $100 more expensive than the Encore.
It comes with 40 grind settings. It contains an M2 burr (40 mm) that allows it to grind more consistently. The range is between 250 and 1200 microns. When you’re going for an espresso, you’ll need that consistent fine grind to maximize your espresso experience. This grinder will give you flexibility with most brewing methods.
The machine also comes with a timer, to give you extra control. It also has a digital display and looks very modern. The machine is housed in (black) plastic and stainless steel. The hopper is transparent.
The Virtuoso+ is an upgrade from the regular Virtuoso. The Virtuoso came on the market in 2005 (see the timeline on Baratza website). Baratza regularly improves its products, based on customers’ feedback. The + version came in 2019 and has a timer and improved visibility of the bin.
FEATURES OVERVIEW: BARATZA ENCORE VS VIRTUOSO +
I know what you’re thinking now, these machines look quite the same from far, what’s the difference? We’ve made a small simple overview of the features. We will discuss them one by one for you.
These machines can differ about $100 in this range. We’ve said it before, the Encore is an entry-level grinder and will be suited for most people. The Virtuoso+ is the next level and thus mid-level. The main differences are the upgraded grinder (M3 vs M2), the materials it’s made of (plastic vs plastic and stainless steel). The speed is higher. The Virtuoso+ has extra small features like a timer and transparent grounds bin and LED lights. Think of it: is it nice to have or must have?
#2. Build (material)
The body of the Encore is made of plastic, that of the Virtuoso+ has also stainless steel. This doesn’t mean that the Encore isn’t sturdy or durable. It’s also made of high-quality materials and is very light in weight.
As with most things, if you handle this with care, you should be just fine. This is no dealbreaker for me, the most important thing is that there’s no plastic where there can be heat and that’s okay here.
The Virtuoso+ has more high-quality metal parts, increasing the potential and also the price.
#3. Bean capacity
The bean capacity of the hopper is the same for both machines. A capacity of 8 ounces means you’ll have about 227 grams of beans and allows you to be able to grind a large batch in 1 run.
#4. Grounds bin
The grounds bin has the same capacity, about 5 ounces or 142 grams of grounds. The Virtuoso+ has a transparent grounds bin, as it was upgraded from the Virtuoso in 2019.
#5. Grind speed
The Virtuoso+ outperforms the Encore by a lot and can do it nearly 2x faster, allowing you to brew more in the same time if needed. The main reason for this is the burr. The Encore has the M3, while the Virtuoso+ has the M2 burr.
#6. Grind settings
They both have 40 settings available to decide the grind size. They both have 40 mm conical burrs and allow you to grind consistently.
These 40 settings are easily adjusted and delete the part of the brewing process where you need to guess. Control is key here when going for a specific brew method.j
As said before, they have a different type of burr grinder (M3 vs M2). The M3, the one from Encore, isn’t very optimal for brewing espresso. It will give you a decent cup but not the standard that’s needed for espresso. Here, the Virtuoso+ is way better and a better fit for multiple purposes, justifying the higher price tag.
#7. Grind Range
The grinders both have a maximum range of 1200 microns, there’s a small difference in the minimal range: the Encore has a range starting from 250 and Virtuoso has a range of 200. This means that the Virtuoso can grind more consistently and is more suited for most brewing methods, like espresso for example.
IS BARATZA ENCORE WORTH IT?
The Encore grinder from Baratza is worth it. It’s an entry-level automatic grinder and gives you a lot of quality. If you’re a first-time buyer, you won’t be disappointed. With this, you can explore the world of coffee without investing too much money and enjoying the ride.
IS THE BARATZA ENCORE GOOD FOR ESPRESSO?
The machine gives you a lot of possibilities. You’ll see for yourself but we think you can do better with a dedicated espresso grinder. Espresso is about quality shots, you’ll do fine for espresso but you can make way better espresso with a manual grinder for example. The Encore is entry-level and has a lower minimal range compared to the Virtuoso+ for example. It will do the job but you won’t be ‘blown away.
IS THE BARATZA VIRTUOSO+ WORTH IT?
As with most things, you must consider your options and think about what your needs are. Do you want an allrounder and have the flexibility and keep your options open? When compared to the Encore, the entry-level grinder from Baratza, you might want to consider buying the Encore instead. Do you drink coffee regularly and will you use the grinder frequently? Do you want multiple options and a better grind range? Are you willing to pay the extra dollars (about $70 mostly)? The Virtuoso+ won’t disappoint you.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY BARATZA?
As a rule of thumb, we suggest you clean it every month, say every 4 weeks. The darker your beans are, the more you should clean them. A regular cleaning schedule highly increases the lifespan of your Baratza grinder.
We at Golden Sin think you should invest your money in decent coffee equipment, especially when you’re at the start of your coffee journey in life. The Baratza Encore and Virtuoso+ are both great options to consider for a great automatic coffee grinder. The Baratza encore vs Virtuoso +.
Think about it, are you happy with a decent entry-level allrounder? By all means, consider the Encore. Don’t rely on brewing great espressos with this machine. The Virtuoso+ gives you more control over the grinding process, a better grinding range but also comes with an extra timer.
In any case, you won’t be disappointed with any of these Baratza machines. Baratza comes with great support on their website. If you want a better espresso, pay the extra price for the Virtuoso+, if you don’t mind, go for the Encore.
Enjoy your coffee!