One of the fastest ways to elevate your home craft coffee experience is to grind coffee immediately before brewing. And, the Baratza Encore coffee grinder is one of the most popular options for a reason: it is an affordable entry-level grinder that maintains remarkable quality. I’ve used this grinder a lot, so I wanted to write a Baratza Encore grinder review to get into all the details.
Since the technical specifications can be confusing, I wanted to break down the features and benefits to see how they compare to other entry-level grinders.
I’ll also cover the pros and cons of the Encore and why I think you should avoid other super cheap burr grinders. Lastly, I’ll break down how the Encore compares to other Baratza grinders and give you a hack to upgrade its burrs for better grind quality.
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Encore Baratza Grinder Basic Features
- Baratza's best-selling award-winning entry-level grinder
- 40 grind settings
- 40mm commercial-grade conical burrs
- Fantastic price: quality ratio
- 1-year warranty
There are many reasons why coffee experts consider the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder to be the ultimate entry level grinder. Firstly, considering its affordable price, the precision conical burrs produce a remarkably consistent grind size and minimal fines. You can read this coffee grinding guide for more about particle size and how it affects extraction.
The Encore’s grind range also encompasses every brew method from AeroPress to French press. Compared to the far inferior quality of a blade grinder, you’ll brew more consistently and unlock new coffee flavors. And while you can technically grind fine enough for espresso, it is not ideal for that usage. Plus, the motor can struggle under the stress of espresso grinding.
Update: Baratza recently released an upgraded version called the Encore ESP, designed as an affordable espresso grinder. More on that later!
The Features I Loved at a Glance
I’ll give some of the Encore’s downsides and compare them to other grinders later. But for now, here are some of the features I loved when using it:
- Price: Its balance of cost to quality is fantastic!
- Durable Burrs: Steel 40 mm conical burrs by Etzinger
- DC Motor: Quiet operation
- Basic Calibration Screw:
- 40 Individual Grind Settings: A large enough grind range for AeroPress, pour over, French press, and cold brew!
- Large Bean Hopper Capacity: Fill it with 277 grams (8oz) of coffee at a time.
- Simplicity: Straightforward controls
Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder Review: Pros, Cons, & Other Considerations
If you are in the market for a coffee grinder, you probably know how quickly ground coffee goes stale. So while having any kind of grinder at home is a huge upgrade, there are pros and cons to every design. Let’s check out the upsides and downsides of the Encore grinder.
- Affordable and high-quality
- Quiet DC motor
- Durable steel burrs that you can easily upgrade
- Basic calibration system
- Produces little heat
- Gearbox design to prevent jams
- It cannot grind well for espresso.
- The 550 RPM motor is slow…extended grind times
- Grounds bin can create static (aka grinds can get stuck sometimes)
- Basic design and cheaper internal parts
As an entry-level grinder, the biggest drawback compared to more expensive grinders is the reliance on more plastic internal parts. More expensive models like the Virtuoso+ tend to weigh more because of the more durable internal build.
Espresso Grinding: Yes or No?
While the Encore does produce a precise grind for brewing coffee on most methods, I would not recommend it for espresso preparation. It can technically grind in the espresso range (as small as 250 microns,) but you will likely have trouble dialing in the perfect shot. Also, you risk overworking the Encore’s motor if you consistently grind for espresso.
I’ve prepared espresso on the higher-quality Virtuoso grinder. But even in that case, I often got stuck between two grind settings that didn’t work. For the most legit espresso geeks, consider the Sette 270, which has 270 grind sizes. Or, for the best espresso accuracy, check out Baratza’s Vario+ Flat Ceramic Burr Grinder.
UPDATE: The Encore ESP
Because of the standard Encore’s espresso limitation, Baratza came out with an updated version of their entry-level grinder called the Encore ESP. The reworked design gives it legitimate espresso capabilities while still being affordable.
This new version of the Encore still has 40mm M3 Etzinger burrs and a 550 RPM motor. However, the metal adjustment system is designed to be durable enough for everyday espresso grinding.
Baratza calibrated the first 20 grind settings to the finer espresso range, meaning each click is a much smaller change. These tiny increments give you the micro-adjustments you need to dial in espresso.
Entry-Level Espresso Grinder
Above 20 clicks, the changes become much more sizeable, similar to the standard Encore grinders. This design is a decent compromise. It gives espresso functionality without removing filter, drip, and French press brewing methods.
Upgrading Encore Burrs
The Virtuoso+, Baratza’s next grinder in their product lineup, has higher-quality precision M2 burrs. That upgrade is one of many that make it a more expensive and better product. But you can upgrade the Encore by separately purchasing M2 burrs from Baratza’s website.
If you like do-it-yourself projects at home, you can vastly improve the grind quality while saving some money (it costs much less than buying a Virtuoso. Sure, it is not the same as having a Virtuoso, but you’ll get better particular distribution, fewer fines, and be able to grind finer.
Encore vs Virtuoso vs Other Baratza Grinders
If you’re considering an Encore, you probably heard about the other Baratza grinder models. Let’s see how they compare, followed by a more detailed analysis of each option.
Virtuoso Coffee Grinder
As the next grinder up from the Encore, you’ll immediately notice the Baratza Virtuoso+ has a more solid construction. It weighs more because of fewer plastic parts, and the higher-quality M2 burrs are sharper and more consistent.
You can definitely grind fine enough for espresso. But the lack of micro-adjustments can make dialing in difficult.
If you’re serious about espresso, consider the Baratza Sette 270. There are 30 macro settings, each with nine micro-adjustments. Having 270 options means you can perfectly dial in espresso.
The downside is that it is more expensive, but compared to espresso grinding on the Encore or Virtuoso, you’ll have way more success with this product.
For people who won’t flinch at the cost, the Baratza Vario is one of the best grinders you can buy without entering the commercial product territory.
This grinder has professional-quality ceramic burrs with 230 total grind settings. Surprisingly, this design is not ideal for standard brewing methods like pour over or French press, although it can certainly work. But the high-density ceramic will outlast steel burrs and hold up to high-frequency espresso grinding.
Encore Baratza vs. Alternatives
In this collection of the best coffee grinders for every budget, I ranked the Encore as my top recommendation. But there were plenty of alternatives depending on your budget and needs, including:
- Fellow Gen 2 Ode Brew Grinder: A premium option with 64mm flat burrs for extra-serious coffee lovers.
- Bodum Bistro: This decent burr grinder is for those on a stricter budget.
- Hario Skerton Plus Manual Grinder: Hand grinding is one way to get fantastic grind quality without dropping a lot of money.
There is a separate guide to the best manual hand coffee grinders if you’re considering this option. The advantage of manual grinders is a fantastic quality at a much more affordable price than electric models.
How To Use Baratza Encore Grinder: Pro Tips
You can read this guide on how to grind coffee beans to learn how to dial in grind size for different brewing methods. But in this section, I’ll some specific tips for the Encore.
If you remove the plastic covering of your Encore, you will find a tiny calibration screw with three possible positions: coarse, neutral, and fine. And changing this screw optimizes the grinder to be more precise within that particular range.
For example, when I had an espresso machine at home, I put the screw of my Virtuoso to the fine setting to make it more suited for espresso. But after my espresso machine broke (and I haven’t yet justified buying a new one…) I moved the screw back to a neutral position to be better for AeroPress and pour-over brewing.
Baratza Encore Grind Settings
The Baratza grind settings go from 40 (most coarse) to 1 (finest.) The specific number will change depending on each coffee bean you use. But as a general guide, these numbers on the Encore will get you in the correct territory for getting a good extraction on their respective brewing method:
|Automatic Drip Machine
|8 or lower
Regular cleaning will keep your coffee tasting fresh and delicious. It will also extend the life of your Baratza grinder. Use the included brush as often as possible to remove old coffee grounds. But semi-regularly (every few months,) you should remove the grounds bin, hopper, hopper lid, and hopper gasket and wash in warm soapy water.
Never allow the ring burr to get wet, or it will rust!
You can also buy Urnex Grindz grinder cleaning tablets to absorb coffee residue and oils. These are especially useful if you grind dark roasts that leave more oil behind. Oils left long-term without any cleaning can damage your grinder.
Baratza Encore Burr Replacement
Over time, even the best grinders will wear out as the burr sharpness degrades. Baratza makes replacing the burrs convenient, and you can order replacement parts directly from their website.
With daily use, the burrs should last several years before you need to replace them. Sometimes the plastic ring burr holder can crack if an unroasted bean causes trouble. This intentional design allows the cheap plastic part to snap instead of a more expensive internal part.
I’ve had a Baratza Virtuoso at home for almost ten years and replaced the top burr twice and the conical burr once. The plastic ring burr holder is only five dollars, so consider ordering a few extras when replacing parts since that can break more often. Replacing the conical burr is a more involved project, and you only need to do that after several years/if you notice a decline in your grind quality.
Common Questions About the Encore
Let’s wrap up this review by answering the most common questions about the Encore.
Should I buy a Baratza Encore?
The Baratza Encore is a fantastic choice for a legit coffee lover ready to upgrade to a quality burr grinder at home. There are better/more expensive models, but the combination of price and grind consistency makes this grinder the best choice for most people.
Is the Encore good for pour over coffee?
The Baratza Encore will give you a great coffee making experience with pour-over brewing methods like V60, Chemex, and Kalita Wave. You’ll get a consistent grind (even extraction) and be able to subtly alter the brew by dialing in the perfect grind size every time.
Can you use the Baratza Encore for espresso?
While the Baratza Encore can technically grind in the espresso range, it is not optimized for espresso preparation. If you plan to brew espresso often, consider the Encore ESP, the Virtuoso+, or one of Baratza’s more expensive models designed for high-level espresso grinding.
Is Baratza owned by Breville?
Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy founded Baratza independently in 1999. But they were purchased by Breville in 2020.
How long does a Baratza Encore last?
With proper care and maintenance, the Baratza Encore can provide years of reliable service. The build quality and replaceable parts mean you should be able to count on it for up to ten years or more, so long as you keep up with the maintenance.
Baratza Encore Review: Final Thoughts
I hope this review gave you a solid understanding of the Baratza Encore and how it compares to other grinder options. Overall, it is the ultimate entry-level grinder because of its unique balance of affordability and quality. Sure, there are way better grinders out there. But you’ll have to pay significantly more for them. And compared to other budget-friendly burr grinders, the Encore is way better.
So if you’re ready to upgrade your daily grind experience by abandoning the stale taste of ground coffee, highly consider the Encore!