Burr grinders are a huge part of artisan coffee making. They give consistent grinds that are key to making great cups of coffee. You might have heard people say this, “a good grinder is more important than a good espresso machine. If you are able to make consistent grinds, you’ll make great espresso shots even if using a entry level espresso machine.”
When I started brewing my coffee at home this January, I went ahead and made my own researches about entry level burr grinders. And I went ahead and purchased the Baratza Encore. A few months with at least 2 grinds per day later, I think it’s about time that I share my experiences of using the Encore with you with this Baratza Encore review.
Right off the bat, let’s get into the product features. For an entry level grinder, there’s a lot to talk about the Encore.
40 Different Grind Settings
This is one of the first features that piqued my interest. With 40 grind settings. I thought that I could already have all the grind settings for all types of brewing methods. And I was almost correct about my assumptions. 40 grind settings will get you a really nice range of sizes. Check out the Pro’s and Con’s section to know more about the grind settings.
Large Hopper and Anti-Static Grounds Bin
The Encore has an 8oz (227 grams) bean hopper and a 5oz ( 142 grams) anti-static grounds bin. That can hold a lot of coffee. The coffee grounds bin itself could already make 14 cups or 7 mugs of coffee. And since the bin is anti-static, you won’t have the beans that are in the bin jumping all around the place after you grind your coffee.
In 2012, Baratza has upgraded the grinder gearbox to its 2nd generation gearbox. With this new gearbox, Baratza has made its grinder motors more durable, and even less noisy. Now I’m not much of a mechanics and gearbox person myself. In fact, I think that gearboxes fall under the same category as rocket science. So I won’t go around trying to explain this to you. Instead, you can check out this article in the NY Times that gives a detailed explanation. Skip on over to the 7th paragraph and it gives the explanation on the gearbox upgrade.
2 Ways to Grind
Although it isn’t controlled by a timer switch, the Encore on-and-off switch does the job for any grinding needs. It also has a pulse button just below the bean hopper to allow you to grind just a little bit more beans, or to grind the beans directly to a portafilter for your espresso needs.
If you want to take a look at the full details of the grinder, you could check it out at their website here.
With the Features of the Encore done, let’s look at the Pro’s and Con’s of the grinder.
- Lots of Grind Settings for an Entry Level Grinder
These 40 grind settings could already get you brewing coffee from espressos to French press. With so much grind options, the difficulty I start having with the grinder is: Which brewer will I use next?
Now to be perfectly honest with you, I have not made espressos in my house yet (that will probably come at a later time). But reading from so many user and professional company reviews, I saw that you could grind for espresso with the Encore, but you will be limited to making pressurized espressos.
- Less Beans Wasted
The Encore, and most probably all grinders of Baratza, were all designed so that you have less grounds stuck in the grinder. The chamber between the burr grinder and the chute is so small, a large percentage of coffee grounds head straight out into the coffee grounds bin after they are grinded.
- Beans Will Not Jump Out of the Grounds Bin
Grinding beans creates friction. Think of the metal burrs grinding near each other and creating a charge on the coffee grounds. When this charged grounds fall inside the bin, the charge is still there; and that is what we call static. (More on the subject of static in grinding here).
Because of this static, there is a tendency for the bins to jump out of the grounds bin the very moment you pull it out of the grinder. Baratza has made a solution to this by using an anti-static bin, so you don’t get to experience beans jumping out of your grinder with the Encore.
- Quite the Quiet Grinder
I think of myself as not too picky about noise levels… until I remembered the feeling of having a blender open up and block out every other sound in a room. We all have a tolerance level with noise, and with grinders, there is no exception.
Grinders are naturally noisy (listen to the ones in the coffee shops) because of the motors that run them. But the Encore produces a decreased noise. How do I gauge noisy? Anything that is less noisy than a blender. And the Encore does give out a lot lower sound. It is actually quite bearable as I can still talk to other people while grinding the beans.
- Easy to Clean
The bean hopper is easy to take out. The gasket and the burr underneath are also very easy to take out. Once you take out these components, just use a brush to give the inner burr a good cleaning, turn the grinder upside down, and tap the grounds out into the trash. It’s that easy. The inside container of the grinder is quite small so it’s easy to clean as most of the grounds are shot out to the grounds bin right away.
- Manual Calibration
This is an advanced feature of the Encore, and something that a lot of people might not want to tinker with. But the Encore could be manually calibrated to make the burrs go even nearer or farther away from each other. In effect giving the user even more grind settings than the 40 that is already there.
There are still some wasted grounds
Although the Encore uses a anti-static grounds bin, there is still static when the coffee grounds move from the grinder to the bin. Because of this, some beans will inevitably stick to the plastic wall between the grinder and the bin. This isn’t a lot, but there are some grounds that are still wasted.
- Not Suitable for Commercial Use
Since this is an entry level grinder for home use, it isn’t built to be like one of those commercial grinders that could grind for a whole day non-stop. If you are grinding way too much (like using the grinder in a restaurant) and the motor heats up, there is an automatic cut-off switch in the circuitry that will stop the machine from grinding. So if you are always entertaining large crowds or use this grinder in your coffee shop, this will become an issue.
- Limited to Pressurized Espresso Machines
Through research, I found out that although the grind size and consistency of the grounds are good for making espresso, the Encore is limited to grinding for pressurized espresso machines.
Making espresso is in a league of its own, and having the Encore be able to step into that realm is pretty awesome. However, for a grinder, it is certainly no match for the higher tier grinders that cost 2 to 4 times more than the Encore. So if you want to exclusively make espresso, and be able to extract more flavor out of your shot, then this grinder may not be for you.
Will This Product Suit You?
Before I head on to my personal opinion, here’s a list to help you see if the Encore suits you:
- You have budgeted about $130 – $150 for your grinder
- You are or are planning to brew your coffee using drippers (V60, Chemex, Melitta), auto-drip machines, Aeropress, siphon, French press, or other immersion drippers.
- For espresso making, you are using the grinder for pressurized espresso only. Or you do not plan to make espresso at all.
- The grinder you’re buying is for home use
- You have a relatively small number of frequent guest (about 14 cups per brew cycle, 1 brew cycle is about 5-10 minutes depending on the brewing machine)
In the months that I’ve been using this grinder. I could say for a fact that I am very satisfied with it. When it comes to brewing coffee, I’ve been able to rely on the grinder to give a consistent grind. And that at least leaves the variable of grind size consistency out of the equation.
It’s not to say that I already make great coffee. Just this afternoon, I saw a video from MistoBox on how they prepare coffe using the Hario V60. I tried it out and boom! I found out that there is much to improve on my brewing.
Brewing coffee (as you know, or are about to find out) is a mixture of variables that, when done right, will ultimately give you feeling that goes something like, “Oh wow! What is this stuff?”
At least that’s how I felt after I brewed coffee using the V60.
So what does the grinder have to do with all of this? It has kept the grind size consistent for me. And I’m not saying that other entry level grinders couldn’t do that, but through the months of using the Encore, I’m happy with the consistency that it grinds my coffee, so I just need to focus on the size of the grounds, rather than other factors like grind consistency.
If you want to check it out, I used my Baratza Encore in my grind guide post.
As you can see, I’ve even used it to make posts and other stuff. If you ask me, the Baratza Encore is an awesome machine. And I plan on using it for a long time to come.
How about you? Fancy the Baratza Encore to start or enhance your coffee brewing experience? Have you tried, or are you using another grinder? Tell me what you think on the comments below! Thanks for reading!