Baratza Encore Review – Is It Worth It In 2021?
This grinder has been my daily driver for manual brewing for years, and It was my first foray to enjoy real coffee at home.
Often noted as the top entry-level grinder, it’s easy to see why the Encore has captivated your attention. But is it the Baratza Encore the right coffee grinder for you?
Here we dive into why it’s such a firm favorite at the beginner level, upgrading from a cheap blade grinder along with what it could improve on. Let’s get started with our in-depth review!
Baratza Encore Burr Grinder Review
The Encore is a solid entry-level coffee grinder. It’s automatic and equipped with 40 different settings for the perfect grind, all while being super easy to use.
More generally, it produces a uniform grind for most brewing methods that allow you to brew an excellent cup of coffee without breaking the bank.
For the more technical coffee minded of you, the grind range varies from 250 to 1200 microns – meaning you can rest easy if you enjoy more than just one brewing method.
Even though it’s not an exceptional grinder for espresso (we’ll dive into that shortly), it’s a solid choice for the following methods:
- French press
- Moka pot
And here, you have a graphic overview of what the Baratza can do for you.
Now that you have a summary of its pros and cons let’s check this all in detail.
If you’re investing your hard-earned cash, you need a coffee grinder that lasts. So, how durable is the Encore? Like anything from Baratza, it’s exceptional for its price point.
You can split it into 4 primary components:
- 40mm Steel conical burrs
- High torque gearbox (550 RPM power)
- 8 oz hopper
- Plastic casing
Its 40mm steel burrs in a conical shape, rotate at 550 RPM. This slow speed is a good thing when it comes to coffee; it prevents heat build-up and static, which would otherwise alter the flavor of your coffee grounds.
The gearbox is built with thermal overload protection, meaning if the motor driving the burrs starts to overheat, it automatically cuts out. Note – I use the Encore every day, and this hasn’t happened to me, but remember, its not a commercial grinder for prepping 10 brews at once!
Now, the material of the gears is important because it can ensure your device functions quietly. The gears of the latest Baratza Encore are made from 15% thermoplastic glass, an upgrade on the prior all-metal version. Leading to a reduction in noise, improvement in wear time, and shock resistance.
The 8 oz hopper provides enough capacity to hold and then grind enough coffee at once. With a 5 oz grounds bin, both of these holders fall within the standards for grinders, even among the options at a more premium level.
We’re not fans of plastic, but for an entry-level grinder at this price point, it’s expected. Nonetheless, the plastic casing is thick and sturdy, which makes it durable.
Overall, the build quality is solid, and it’s at the level you’d expect from this conical burr grinder.
This Baratza burr grinder comes with 40 settings to fine-tune the way you grind your coffee beans. All you need to do is rotate the hopper bin left to right to jump between the marked settings, it’s super easy and quick.
The grind settings will allow you to choose from superfine through to very coarse easily, to achieve the ideal particle size for your brewing method of choice.
So don’t worry if you enjoy a French Press in the morning followed by an Aeropress in the afternoon – any grind size covered with this pick.
The consistency of the grind is the most critical factor when it comes to brewing. Thankfully it performs exceptionally in this area for most uses cases.
But, there are a couple of small points to note:
While the Encore will produce grinds fine enough for an espresso, we’d recommend you only use this with a pressurized portafilter for the best results. Secondly, when you reach the coarsest end of the spectrum after the 35th setting or so, the grind becomes much less uniform.
Nonetheless, this setting is only really used for cold brews where you can flex the extraction time to account for the grind’s inconsistencies.
More generally, the grind range of 250 to 1200 microns makes it suitable for brewing any way you like. The Encore makes it easy to hit the sweet spot, even as a beginner finding their way to a perfect cuppa.
As a result, this conical burr grinder from Baratza ensures you can tailor the grind size while ensuring uniformity. Something that a blade grinder could never match.
Ease To Use
The Baratza Encore is easy to use because it’s automatic, and you can adjust the grind settings effortlessly. To turn it on, you only have to push the on/off switch on the side. And to adapt the grind settings, you only have to rotate the hopper.
Since the Baratza Encore’s gearbox makes the switches easy, you can do it effortlessly, even if you’re not tech-savvy at all. Just adjust it and let your machine do the rest.
This Baratza grinder is a solid choice, but it doesn’t come with flashy special features, except for one (which isn’t really special at all but..). The 40 settings allow you to calibrate the perfect grind size. This alone is enough to improve your brewing skills since you can quickly adapt the particle size to the type of coffee you’re making.
Now, Baratza is known for its fast and reliable customer service. Be it for the Encore or any other products they sell, they answer fast and precisely, along with ensuring replacement parts are readily available. You can rest assured that the Encore will be by your side for years to come!
The Baratza does come at a premium price compared to other beginner options, such as blade grinders. Nonetheless, it’s only slightly more than other comparative burr grinders in this category. As we have seen in the previous sections, it isn’t a perfect grinder, but for this price point and in this category, it’s exceptional.
Buying one of these, you can expect long-lasting build quality, ideal calibration with 40 settings, and something that’s super easy to use. If you’re just getting into brewing at home and testing different methods, the Encore is a perfect match for your coffee beans.
However, it’s not for pro coffee junkies who are looking for the perfect all-rounder. For that, you’re going to need to up your budget (something we pick up down below).
The Encore enjoys a broad set of excellent reviews (including from me!) and ratings because it delivers what it promises. As long as your expectations meet the value of the product, you’ll love it too.
Following the line from the pricing section, our Baratza Encore review will also show you the potential issues of this burr grinder. Here’s the list:
- It’s slow to grind, and hence, it’s not great if you need to prep coffee for many people.
- It’s not great with espresso unless you’re using a pressurized portafilter.
- It doesn’t come with advanced features, but you cannot expect them from an entry-level grinder.
- It can be messy, as the grounds frequently fall in the gap when you remove the grounds basket.
As you can see, the Baratza Encore isn’t perfect, but it’s still a solid choice. But if you feel that this grinder isn’t for you, then we have great alternatives for you in the next sections.
The Encore Isn’t For You If…
The Baratza Encore grinder isn’t for everybody, and that’s alright. Here you have exact scenarios for which this burr grinder is not an ideal choice.
You Have A Super Low Budget
Even though it’s not prohibitively expensive, it isn’t cheap either. So, if you don’t have an appropriate budget for a premium-priced entry-level burr grinder, then let it pass. If you’re looking for something cheaper that might be within your budget and still deliver the results you’re looking for, check out the Bodum Bistro instead of a cheap blade grinder.
You Want Advanced Features
This is an entry-level grinder, and it won’t offer the advanced features you’re looking for. Precision electronic timers to tailor grind time, integrates scales, grinding directly into portafilters, and other special features are out of the question. For beginners, it’s exceptional, but for pro coffee aficionados, it will fall short.
There are better alternatives to this in case you’re looking for advanced features. We recommend you to check out the Breville Smart Grinder Pro or Virtuoso +, the latter of which we have a short review below. Both cover all the weak points of the Encore by including pro features.
You Love to Brew Espresso
As we said at the beginning of this Baratza Encore review, this grinder falls short for brewing espresso. Even though it can grind the beans to a fine texture, you’ll need a pressurized portafilter to make the best of it.
It’s needed because the Encore doesn’t achieve the desired ground size consistently enough for this type of coffee. And for this, we have two alternatives that beat the Encore in this department. The Virtuoso + for an automatic experience and the Porlex JP30 if you prefer a manual grinder.
Best Encore Alternative
If you have found out that the Baratza Encore isn’t for you, then we have two awesome alternatives for you, the Virtuoso + (electric) and the Porlex JP30 (manual). Find more insights about each choice below.
Baratza Virtuoso + (Electric)
The classic! Offering excellent consistency and 40 grind adjustments, the Baratza Virtuoso+ is the perfect burr grinder for a home barista.
It costs a bit more, but it also comes packed with essential improvements over the Baratza Encore. Find all the pros of this supercharged upgrade below:
- This upgrade is twice as fast (1.5 – 2.4g/Sec) thanks to the superior DC motor.
- It comes with a 60-second timer to further tailor your coffee grinding experience.
- It has an upgraded and sharper set of (M2) burrs (although you can buy this separately and it works in both grinders)
- It can achieve a grind of 200 microns (20% finer than the Encore).
Overall, it’s a better choice if you can afford the higher price tag. It’s more powerful, more versatile, and features a stronger and more durable build quality with a digital display. And of course, you’ll also get the excellent customer service that Baratza is known for too.
Porlex JP30 (Manual)
The premium best overall crank option on the market. Designed and manufactured in Osaka, Japan the Porlex delivers perfectly if you're a manual brewer!
If you prefer a manual grinder that can deliver similar quality to what the Baratza Encore can offer, then the Porlex JP30 is for you. Unlike a manual blade grinder, it features ceramic conical burrs. They will grind your coffee consistently without altering its essence.
We like its stainless steel build, which complements the ceramic conical burrs, making it an excellent manual grinder.
It has a lower capacity than the Encore at only 30 grams, but after all, this one isn’t meant for grinding big batches of beans. It’s a more on-the-spot type of use for brewing a small cup in the morning.
And this one is better than the Baratza Encore when it comes to espresso because it achieves a more consistent ground. So if you want a manual and cheaper alternative, specifically for espresso, then this one’s for you.
The Final Verdict
As a beginner, the Encore Baratza will bring you the tools to brew better and tastier coffee. It brings you all the calibration settings to make it possible, and on top of that, it’s easy to use. The perfect combo for beginners.
But as we’ve said, it’s not a great choice for espresso. If that’s what you want to brew and that alone, then the Rancilio Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder will meet your expectations. But if you don’t only want espresso and still feel the Baratza Encore isn’t for you, then get the Virtuoso +.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this Baratza Encore review, and remember to stay caffeinated, folks!
Ahmed Mir is the founder of Sip Coffee House. If he isn’t working, you can probably find him experimenting with different brewing methods, hanging out outdoors, or traveling.