Whatever the case may be for improving your grind consistency. Whether your upgrading from the super-budget end of grinders or want a premium all-rounder, the Baratza Virtuoso can probably help.
You’re on the right track if you want to make better brews because grinders are just as, if not more essential, as good machines or techniques.
Below, our Baratza Virtuoso + review dives into the reasons why this grinder might be the best one for you.
Baratza Virtuoso+ 2021 Review
As the preferred brand of many specialty coffee drinkers at home, the Virtuoso+ produces a quality grind good enough for multifunctional home use.
- Consistent grind overall across all settings
- 40 grind settings (from espresso to cold brew)
- Great customer service
- Lacks advanced features
- Noisier than average
No single piece of brewing equipment can do it all. Burr grinders are no different. They either specialize in hand brew methods or espresso.
When it comes down to hand brews such as pour-over, french press, and AeroPress, the Baratza Virtuoso grinder really shines.
Espresso requires a specialized grinder because you need fine, consistent particles for your ground coffee. While it’s possible for the Virtuoso to execute an espresso grind (among its 40 grind settings), it will take a little while.
Nonetheless, if you’re solely brewing via this particular method of making coffee, you ideally would want a more powerful motor and bigger burrs.
Outside of this slight kink, the Baratza Virtuoso conical burr grinder is one of the best in its class. For machines in the same price range, it’s a top performer that performs one singular function better than just well: grinding coffee beans.
It’s a more-than-decent coffee grinder. The housing is a mix of plastic and stainless steel. Within its body, you have a 230g hopper, sufficient for daily home use.
A powerful DC motor with a grinding rotation of 550RPM (revolutions per minute) will produce uniform coffee grounds at a speed of around 1.4 – 2.4g/per second. And, of course, the steel conical burrs. The burr coffee grinder is preferred because it can grind consistently, dispersing heat as it grinds.
A clear and straightforward digital timer and display are on the front, topping off an elegant design for your everyday brew. There is also a pulse button for purging or grinding on demand.
We all have our own recipes for french press and drip coffee, so this is a way to grind on demand. All these bits and pieces work together to produce grind consistency across all 40 grind settings. Good quality grinders are able to minimize fines to produce evenly sized ground coffee.
This helps with an even, balanced extraction, which is best achieved with sufficient grind speed and solid stainless steel conical or flat burrs. Both of which are found in the Virtuoso coffee grinder.
As a result, If you need variability in which coffee you brew, the Baratza Virtuoso could be one of the best grinders for you. At this price, you’d find it challenging to find an alternative with the same grind range, speed, and grind quality.
The Virtuoso looks simple on the outside. Only the hopper, body and grounds bin are easy to spot upon first glance. The grounds bin has a 150g capacity, which is slightly smaller than what the 8oz bean hopper can hold. That yields a little more than 2L of coffee. Same as the Baratza Encore, and as long as you aren’t in a cafe, that should more than suffice.
You’ll find the gearbox to be decent, paired with a stainless steel upper body that lists all 40 grind settings. You can grind a fine, uniform particle size up until a coarse setting that’s fit for cold brew.
Just remember that with these 40mm steel burr grinders, you will find it challenging to achieve evenness the more coarse you go. It’s important to note that when you switch to finer grind settings, remember to keep the grinder running. This allows you to maintain the calibration of your steel burrs.
I didn’t do any of that when I first used my Baratza Encore years back. Little did I know that changing the grind size while the machine was off was altering the calibration of its burrs. No wonder my recipes changed every so often!
The gears are made of glass and thermoplastic, which help with heat diffusion. This is often an underappreciated but essential feature.
Coffee grinders build up enough heat to alter your recipe after grinding for the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee on average. Conical burrs were designed to help with heat distribution, but there are also lots of small things you can do to compensate for your grinder’s limitations.
In any case, the build quality matters for longevity and ease of use. The Virtuoso is definitely one high-quality burr grinder. From the bean hopper to the gears, it’s a grinder thats nice and more than handy to use at home.
With over 40 settings to choose from, you’ll be able to use this machine with basically all brew methods! It’s slightly above entry-level (which is the Baratza Encore), but you can definitely use it to produce a high-quality grind fit for an espresso machine.
The digital display and literally one thing to adjust the automatic grind timer make up the visuals you interact with on the machine. Yes, the Virtuoso is that simple to use. What’s left to figure out is the ideal size and time for each bean you’ll be putting through the grinding process. as a guide, remember that finer grinds will take more time to grind the same amount as coarser settings.
And while conical burrs help with the heat generated as you work this machine, do expect some heating to occur still, especially as you grind towards its maximum capacity.
As mentioned earlier, the 40 settings generate particles anywhere from 200-1200 microns, at an average pace of 2g per second at 550 rpm. That’s fine enough for espresso, and good enough for all other brew methods.
If you’re the type to taste different ways of brewing beans at a time just to differentiate the taste of each method of making coffee, the Virtuoso could well be a match made in heaven.
Ease of Use
With a rotating hopper, one switch for grinding, a clear display, and a timer dial, the Virtuoso burr grinder is one of the most straightforward top performers out there. It has fewer buttons than its competitor, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro (a decent option too, especially if you enjoy espresso most but not all of the time). And it’s also easy to clean.
Remember to wipe your hopper with a dry tissue or cloth daily to get rid of oils. If you brew coffee every day, but you don’t clean your equipment daily, you effectively shorten their lifespan and lower the aesthetic value.
If you’re looking to make better coffee with a simple machine at home, there’s a possible match between you and the Virtuoso.
This is the shortest aspect of this Baratza Virtuoso Review because this grinder seems to have been designed to do just one thing, but do it well: grind.
While it’s not as complicated as the Smart Grinder Pro, it also performs just as well given the timer switch, clear display, and simple on/off buttons.
What could become special is when you notice the difference moving from a manual grinder, a blade grinder, or even the Encore! At some point, you might also notice that a good grinder is as huge (if not bigger) investment as a good brewing machine.
High quality isn’t cheap. It’s less a rule of life and more a rule of supply and demand. The Baratza Virtuoso is no different.
As a mid-level conical burr coffee grinder, you will get good, consistent results. If you focus less on listed features and more on the finished product, I am confident that you’ll see the value of this grinder.
A machine like this Virtuoso+ burr grinder isn’t priced on the grounds bin, the timer dial, the digital display, etc. Its value is dictated more by the dc motor speed, burr size and quality, and of course, its ability to improve each cup of coffee you use it for.
Baratza grinders aren’t known to be the most affordable grinders (neither are they the absolute best), but they are accepted as good and more than reliable.
After all, you will be able to grind well for cold brews, french press all the way to an espresso machine. Without the arm strain you’ll soon get from hand-crank grinders and grinding fine. You even have a timer switch with this one if you’re a coffee creature of habit.
As mentioned briefly earlier, while this isn’t a powerful shop grinder, nonetheless it might suffice as a small cafe hero. What are the possible downsides to owning a grinding machine like this Baratza?
Budget constraints. Depending on how big your allocated budget for your grinder upgrade is, this isn’t exactly priced like peanuts. I do reiterate that it’s a top performer at its price point.
Speed. Because of the limited size and power, for whatever reason, if you want your coffee beans ground within 4 seconds, you’ll have to quadruple your budget. Another problem with slow automatic grinders is the amount of heat they generate just grinding through your coffee. In cafe settings, this can be made up for good customer service, but it’s just a longer wait at home.
Precision. If your goal is mastery of a specific brewing method, this also probably isn’t the best choice for you. The Virtuoso Conical Burr coffee grinder was made to perform well across many different brewing methods.
If you want to master espresso, you’ll need a bigger, faster grinder. If it’s french press that you’re currently into, this would be great, but a good hand grinder would work well too. It all depends on you and what you want to achieve with the coffee you make.
The Virtuoso+ Isn’t For You If…
No review would be complete without giving readers a proper heads up on potential issues, so below, we take a look at a few hypotheticals with the Virtuoso.
You want industrial level usage..
If you’re looking for a coffee shop grinder, the Virtuoso+ isn’t a good fit due to its volume constraints. Instead, check out the Rancilio Rocky for a high volume espresso grinder.
You only love espresso…
If espresso is your choice of coffee drink, again, the Virtuoso+ isn’t for you. It’s versatile, yes, but it isn’t optimized for a fine grind size nor the right grind time for espresso.
You want high tech features…
If for whatever reason you want lots of automated functions in your grinder, again, the minimalist Virtuoso+ is not for you.
You’re OCD about loose grounds…
If cleaning up is your least favorite part of brewing, be aware that the Virtuoso is subject to shaking the grounds catcher loose. This causes some grounds and some parchment to shake loose and get out through the gap.
The Final Verdict
I started out as a coffee professional before I became a home brewer. My exposure to Baratza started with the Encore, then the Sette, and finally the Virtuoso.
This unorthodox (but complete) exposure effectively highlighted the specs, specializations, and quality of each.
I highly recommend the Baratza Virtuoso if you like exploring different brewing methods at the end of the day. It produces even grounds through 40 different sizes and its decent grind speed.
But if you plan on specializing in just one method of making coffee, while the Virtuoso is a good choice based on its price point, there might be other machines out there for you than the virtuoso Baratza.
Just the same, the Virtuoso is a grinder you deliberately choose for the quality, price, and availability. Definitely a good piece of equipment to use and keep brewing with!