Why did we wait so long?

I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in my late 30’s. I don’t consider myself a coffee snob, or an expert by any means. But over the past decade or so, I have started to really like good coffee. I drink it more for the taste than the caffeine. We get our whole beans from our local coffee shop, Kéan Coffee. They source their own coffee beans and roast them in-house. When our automatic coffee maker broke in 2014, I did a lot of research to find one to replace it. It was between a Technivorm and a Bonavita. Both get great reviews and are SCAA Certified.

All SCA Certified Brewers have met these requirements, which are based on proper water temperature, brewing time, and ability to brew within the SCA Golden Cup recommendations.

SCA Certified Home Brewer Program

We chose the Bonavita because of its small footprint and simplicity. It was a good choice and makes a great cup of coffee.

However, we bought a cheap Capresso burr coffee grinder to go with it. The choice had less to do with price and more to do with the small footprint. Counter space is a premium in our kitchen and we wanted something small. The Capresso was better than a blade coffee grinder, but not by much. It left big chunks of coffee beans at the suggested grind.

It wasn’t until we had some coffee preground at Kean to take on vacation that we realized the difference a consistent grind can make. The pour over coffee we made while on vacation was syrupy, strong and delicious. What we had been making at home was weak and thin in comparison. We had been wasting money and great coffee by using a cheap grinder. We tried adjusting the grind to the finest setting, but it was still coarse with big chunks of beans. It was better, but still rather poor.

Kean sells Baratza Grinders in their stores, so I had confidence that this would be a good choice. Stellar reviews reinforced the decision. What sealed the deal for me was the “don’t dump it, fix it” philosophy of Baratza. They sell all the parts to fix the grinder should it ever fail and will repair it for you if you are not comfortable fixing it yourself. I hate having to throw away an appliance because it is not fixable. What a waste and it’s terrible for the environment.

Things I love about the Baratza Encore

  1. It has 40 settings for the grind, from very coarse to fine.
    (It is not recommended for espresso, but we don’t need it that fine.)
  2. It’s easy to set the grind. You simply rotate the hopper. It’s similar to my Mockmill grain mill.
  3. It’s taller than the Capresso, but still has a small footprint and doesn’t take up more room.
  4. It has a pulse button to get out the last bit of coffee.
  5. It’s heavy and feels well made.
  6. It’s relatively quiet.
    I have a Mockmill grain mill and a Vitamix blender. I’m used to loud appliances. However, the Capresso was terrible. The Baratza is much quieter.
    I used a sound level meter to test the decibels using the NiOSH app on my phone. It maxed out at 90.6 dB which is about as loud as a hair dryer. Loud, but only a problem under prolonged exposure. The TWA (Time Weighted Average) was 61.6 or close to normal conversation.
  7. The ground coffee does not stick to the bin.
    The Capresso had a static cling that made removing it from the bin a challenge.
  8. You can take it apart to clean it. They have a video showing you how to clean it.
    Bartza recommends doing this every month if you use dark, oily beans.
    You could only clean the bin of the Capresso. Old coffee was next to impossible to clear out.
  9. The coffee we make with the Bartza ground beans is delicious. We’re now getting our money’s worth.
  10. All of their documentation is on the website including a detailed troubleshooting guide.

Challenges with the Baratza

  1. The only thing that was challenging was putting on the gasket. You have to assemble the hopper when you unpack it. This allows you to wash and dry the parts, which is great. However, the rubber gasket is very hard to put on. There is a video showing how to do that, too.

Example of the ground coffee

Here’s an example of the consistency of the coffee using the Baratza Encore. This is using the 17 setting, which is one finer than the 18 recommended for the automatic drip coffee makers. We tried 18, it was great, but we decided we liked the 17 setting a little more. Our previous grinder left large chunks of whole beans no matter how fine we adjusted the settings.

Freshly ground coffee in a coffee maker basket with a paper liner.

Conclusion

If you care about making good coffee, don’t waste your time and money on a cheap coffee grinder. You will end up wasting more money on weak coffee. The Bartza Encore is their entry level model, but will work well for most people.