Baratza Encore vs Virtuoso. Is It Worth Spending More For The Latter?
Getting a quality grinder is a no-brainer if you want damn great coffee. It prepares your beans for the extraction process, to really get the flavor out and into your cup. But with such a wide range, how exactly do you choose?
To help you narrow down your list, let’s look at the two top players that are making waves in the burr grinder space: The Baratza Encore vs Virtuoso.
We’ll look at their individual qualities, grind settings and function, as well as other extra features, to give you a better idea on which Baratza grinder will help give you a taste of coffee bliss.
The Baratza Encore
The Baratza Encore is loved for being feature-packed – giving you precise grinding, durability, and a smooth operation (even for super fine espresso grounds!) at a pocket-friendly price.
Its super-grinding powers come from its powerful DC motor which helps power the burrs to give you a cool 40 grind settings. This allows you to take your grounds from coarse to very fine and everything in between – meaning you can grind or just about any brew method.
It also features an improved, reinforced-plastic gearbox, which houses new gears made of 15% glass-filled thermo plastic, making them more durable and less noisy. This allows you to use it every day without worrying about damaging it too easily.
The Encore’s large-capacity bean hopper which can effortlessly hold 8 ounces of beans only gives us another reason to smile over this grinder. This allows you to grind big batches without having to make it a grinding marathon of so many rounds.
Like what you’ve heard about the Encore so far? Read our Baratza Encore review here.
The Baratza Virtuoso
The Baratza Virtuoso is a VERY reliable machine that features 40mm conical burrs, which produce commercial-quality, even grounds. Uniformity in coffee grounds is important for you to achieve the ideal extraction rate, which will in turn, give your brew more flavor.
Using the Virtuoso gets your beans from the size of 250 to 1200 microns – which means you can easily get your coarse French press grind or fine espresso grind with just a turn of the hopper.
No need to take on a trial-and-error approach as this grinder is also built with a 60-second timer, which complements the Virtuoso’s pulse button feature. You can simply time each session and work with your ideal grinding duration again as needed. Read our full review of the Virtuoso here.
Now that you know exactly where these two grinder stand, let’s compare them head-to-head on quality, grinding performance, and any special features. This should help you discover which one will answer to your grinding and brewing needs.
If your daily aim is to experience coffee nirvana, then you definitely need a dependable grinder like the Encore or Virtuoso to prep your coffee beans, and get the most flavor and body out of them into your brew.
The Baratza Encore is a beautifully made of high quality materials, including top-grade plastic resin for its body. This makes it lighter and relatively easy to clean. The hopper is made of tinted ABS plastic, which helps protect your beans from UV rays that can potentially affect the freshness and overall quality of your coffee.
The Baratza Virtuoso is a versatile grinder that does not scrimp on quality of materials either. The body is partly made of the same high-quality plastic as the Encore, but with the addition of the more durable stainless steel top and base.
The addition of higher-quality steel materials on the Virtuoso may make it a bit more expensive and a little heavier (Encore at 7 lbs. and Virtuoso at 8 lbs.). However, this also makes the Virtuoso more stable and less prone to easy wear with everyday use.
WINNER: These two grinders are made by the same manufacturer, Baratza, so quality is very similar. But, the Virtuoso definitely edges out the entry-level Encore for having more high-quality metal parts that add value and better performance potential to it.
Grind Settings and Function
The Virtuoso and Encore have 40mm conical burrs which help produce uniform particle size in your grounds, ensuring that you get more of the coffee’s flavor during the brewing stage.
Getting the right grinding level becomes an easy job with these machines’ 40 grind settings. This convenient feature means you can simply ‘dial in’ your preferred fineness or coarseness, and let the Baratza take care of your beans.
It takes the guesswork out of your grinding session and enable you to get a range of particle sizes to match the brewing method you plan to use.
Now, while these two grinding stars do have similar features, the Encore and Virtuoso also have remarkable differences.
The Encore offers a grind speed of .8 to 1.1 g/sec while the Virtuoso does it faster at 1.5 to 2.4 g/sec. The relatively higher grinding speed of the Virtuoso allows you to work on more beans in less time – definitely ideal for when you have to produce several cups.
The Virtuoso also delivers a ‘cleaner’ grind with the coarse to medium coarse settings, which means you get almost zero fine coffee dust, and more of the coarse coffee grounds you’re aiming for.
This outstanding function translates to less coffee waste, as well as a sludge-free French press brew.
While both machines offer consistent grinds, the Virtuoso’s combo of a powerful DC motor and efficient gear and electronic speed reduction, enables you to enjoy the same grinding quality, and less noisy sessions every time.
WINNER: The Baratza Virtuoso gets top honors in this category, for giving you consistent grinding results, and for producing more grounds for a lesser amount of time.
Although made by the same manufacturer, the Encore and the Virtuoso each have their distinctive features that new java enthusiasts and coffee connoisseurs look for.
If you’re just getting into the specialty coffee or at-home brewing bandwagon, then the Baratza Encore is a good choice for you. It has a user-friendly on and off switch, which lets you start your grinding work with the simple touch of a button.
Another excellent feature of the Encore is its lighter weight of 7 lbs, which makes it slightly more portable than the Virtuoso.
The Virtuoso on the other hand makes the front-mounted pulse button feature even more useful and efficient with the addition of its 60-second timer – something that the Encore does not have.
The timer and pulse button combination lets you do a more precise grind, and you get to repeat that quality with every use. This is especially important when it comes to grinding into an espresso basket, which requires very fine and consistently-sized grounds.
Espresso fans also have the option of fitting it with the Virtuoso-compatible portafilter holder, which can be used to replace the grounds bin so you can enjoy hands-free, direct grinding on a portafilter.
WINNER: The Virtuoso definitely wins for extra features (but you pay more for them)
When it comes to grinders, the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso are extremely popular picks for there own reasons.
The Encore proves to be quite a worthy partner for the sort-of-new coffee enthusiast with its well-made body, 40 grind settings, and a convenient on and off switch. These features make it easy for those who are still in the ‘trying-it-out’ stage of coffee grinding to produce uniform grounds based on their brew’s needs. Oh, and the affordable price tag is only a bonus.
The Virtuoso gives home brewing fanatics more stability and control with its manual features such as the pulse button and timer, and more consistently even grounds that are ideal for brewing using drip, espresso, or French press methods.
Choosing any of these two grinders is a decision you won’t regret, because of their quality and consistent performance. They can also be user-calibrated to match your specific grinding requirements.
Just remember, damn great coffee isn’t just about the grinder – make sure to pair it with an equally dependable brewer and freshly-roasted beans so you can enjoy a pleasant coffee experience everyday.
If you’ve gone mad and after reading the Bartaza Encore vs Virtuosa showdown you’re STILL on the fence, take a look at some of other similar favourites on the market. We cover them here.