Baratza Encore ESP Review: Does It Live Up To The Hype?
The Baratza Encore ESP is a long-awaited addition to the Baratza line-up of home coffee grinders. An affordable coffee grinder suitable for filter coffee and espresso sounds too good to be true.
We were thrilled to get our hands on an early model to see if it met expectations. And for the most part, it exceeded them. Read on for our take on the new Baratza Encore ESP.
Summary Box: The Baratza Encore ESP
- Burr coffee grinder suitable for espresso and filter coffee
- 40 mm conical steel burr set
- Incredible value for money
I had high expectations for this grinder, and it met them. It looks great, works as advertised, and didn’t cost a fortune.– Customer
The Full Baratza Encore ESP Review
Let’s investigate the details to see if this highly anticipated grinder meets expectations (1). We’ll cover everything from grind capability to aesthetics, so by the time you’re done reading, you’ll know just how it feels to own this grinder. Or, if you don’t feel like reading, watch this video review with Steven from Home Grounds:
Design – 3.5/5
The design of the Baratza Encore ESP is nearly identical to the original Baratza Encore. It’s modern, classic, and unassuming, with a compact footprint measuring 12 cm wide by 16 cm deep by 35 cm tall. It has the same 225 g bean hopper and 140 g grounds catch bin as the original and is available in black or white.
The Encore ESP comes with a 24 g dosing cup that you can swap for the grounds bin, the first indicator of its dual-purpose nature.
The dosing cup is cleverly designed with an adaptor to fit both commercial-standard 58-mm portafilters and the 54-mm portafilters found on many domestic machines. Baratza remains one of the few premium grinder manufacturers focusing on the home market.
The other noticeable design update is the new adjustment collar, which now has a range for espresso. We’ll talk more about that when we discuss grinding performance.
Baratza is a highly respected manufacturer of top burr coffee grinders, and this is a well-made grinder. However, an affordable all-purpose grinder inevitably requires some sacrifices – in this case, plastic rather than metal in the build. The outer case, bean hopper, grounds catch bin, and dosing cup are all plastic. Notably, the Encore ESP has a metal adjustment collar, while it’s plastic on the Encore original.
You can still expect a long life from the Encore ESP. The interior components are well-engineered, and a heavy metal base keeps it rooted to your counter. Plus, the simple design leaves little to fail, with no digital screens or timers.
Baratza has an excellent reputation for customer care, so if anything goes wrong with your Encore ESP, you can expect prompt service. It is easy to buy replacement parts. The trade-off between build quality and low price is appropriate here.
Ease of Use – 4/5
The Baratza Encore ESP is straightforward to use. It has an on/off switch on the side and a pulse grinding button on the front. Fill the hopper with beans, turn the switch to start grinding, and turn it back to stop grinding. That’s it. The new grind adjustment collar works like the original: rotate it to your desired setting.
Baratza grinders are known for being loud; this one is no exception. In our tests, it maxed out at around 90 decibels when grinding at its mid-range setting.
Redesigned Grind Adjustment
It’s time to discuss the big change in the new Encore ESP, the redesigned grind adjustment system. The original Encore had 40 grind settings, and so does the ESP. But the 20 finest settings have been spaced more closely so you can better dial in an espresso shot. The 20 coarser settings have been spaced out to compensate.
This clever tactic expands the functionality of the original Encore while maintaining its simplicity and ease of use.
A common misconception among coffee novices is that an espresso grinder just needs to grind fine enough. Not so! That’s only half the battle. You also need fine adjustments for dialling in and consistent grind distribution. This is where the Baratza Encore ESP shines.
The Encore ESP is easy to clean and maintain. The dosing cup and grounds catch bin are static-free, so you won’t make a grainy mess of your countertop. A new quick-release mechanism makes it easy to remove the burrs to clean the interior or handle a clog.
Grinding Capability – 4/5
The fear with any all-purpose grinder is that it’s trying to do too much, and it ends up doing nothing well. A jack of all trades, master of none. The Baratza Encore ESP doesn’t seem to have fallen into that trap, which is especially impressive given its price point.
The Encore ESP features a set of M2 40-mm conical steel burrs, while the original has M3 40-mm conical steel burrs. The M2 burrs in the pricier Baratza Virtuoso+ have a sharper and steeper cutting surface, and they produce a more uniform grind with fewer fines in the espresso range.
The ESP uses a powerful, high-torque DC motor to drive the burrs at 550 rpm without overheating or stalling, even when handling denser light roast beans (2).
I’ve not been able to stall this with even the lightest roasted coffees.
Baratza claims this motor also keeps it quiet, but I would beg to differ.
Depending on grind size, the Encore ESP’s upgraded burr set outputs between 1.5 and 2.4 g/s. This is much faster than the notoriously slow Encore, which yielded about one g/s. If it is loud, at least it’s over quickly!
The obvious downside is that making grind adjustment steps smaller in the espresso range requires larger ones in the filter range. As you can see in the graph below, once you pass the 0-20 range for espresso, and enter the drip ranges, you get less adjustability. So, you can’t dial your drip brews as precisely, which may or may not be a big deal depending on your brewing style.
We found that the grinds were fairly clumpy rather than fluffy. This is easily remedied using a WDT tool – something we recommend with all grinders when preparing espresso (3).
Baratza Encore ESP vs. Fellow Opus
The Baratza Encore ESP was released the same week as its closest competition, the new Fellow Opus. Both are entry-level all-around grinders with a similar price tag and a ton of hype. So let’s make a quick comparison.
The Fellow Opus is a single-dosing grinder with an auto-off function, so it’s a bit more hands-off. It is also quieter and, arguably, more attractive – though it is only available in black. However, we found it couldn’t match the performance of the Baratza when grinding for espresso.
Check out this video with Steven from Home Grounds for a more thorough comparison:
Price – 5/5
The Baratza Encore ESP retails for around $280, which is remarkable given its capability. It is hard to overstate the value for money here, provided you intend to take full advantage of both brewing methods. It could cost $100 more and still be worth it. If you see a cheaper option that claims to do it all, I promise it will not measure up in performance or longevity.
The original Encore is about $80 cheaper, though it is increasingly on sale as the ESP rolls out. It is still a great deal for filter coffee lovers.
What we liked:
- Capable of grinding for espresso and drip coffee
- Easy to use
- Attractive and compact design
- Affordable price
What we didn’t like:
- Plastic build
- Loses some grind size precision in the filter range
Don’t Buy the Baratza Encore ESP If…
- You don’t make espresso: If you only make filter coffee, don’t buy this grinder just because it’s the latest and greatest. The original Baratza Encore is less expensive and superior for filter coffee.
- You only make espresso: Serious espresso enthusiasts should invest in a dedicated espresso grinder with a finer grind adjustment, even if it costs a bit more. The popular Baratza Sette 270 has 270 grind settings. Or splurge on the Eureka Mignon Silenzio, which has an infinite stepless adjustment.
- You want a hands-off grinder: For a more efficient workflow, consider the Baratza Virtuoso+ or the Fellow Opus, which use timing mechanisms. However, neither of these is entirely on par with the ESP for espresso.
The Baratza Encore ESP was released with a lot of hype. Consumers have been clamouring for an affordable way to enjoy espresso and filter coffee, and it is exciting to see such a well-respected brand step up to the plate. I was ready to be disappointed, but this grinder meets expectations, and it’s an excellent all-around grinder at an unbelievably low price.
- Bryman, H. (2022, May 12). With ESP Model, the Baratza Encore Adds Performance. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2022/05/12/with-esp-model-the-baratza-encore-adds-performance/
- Ryan, C. (2020, March 19). U.S. Brewers Cup Runner-Up Lance Hedrick on the Nifty Coffee Grounds Trick from His Routine. Retrieved from https://www.baristamagazine.com/brewers-cup-runner-up-lance-hedrick-on-the-nifty-coffee-grinds-trick-from-his-routine/
- Bryman, H. (2022, December 14). What is WDT in Espresso? We Talked to Its Creator, John Weiss. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2022/12/14/what-is-wdt-in-espresso-we-talked-to-its-creator-john-weiss/