Baratza Forte Grinder Review: Which Model Should You Get?
Baratza Forte is among the most interesting grinders on the market, one of the few in this price range that can grind by time or weight. But it doesn’t get much-deserved attention, perhaps because Baratza isn’t well-established at the prosumer level.
Let’s change that. Keep reading for all the details on the Baratza Forte AP and BG, including which of its two models is right for you.
Summary Box: The Baratza Forté AP and BG
- Compact commercial-grade grinder with 54 mm flat burrs
- Can dose by weight or time
- Available in two versions depending on preferred brew method
The Forte BG/AP is in a totally different league. Absolutely no extra fines/oversize particles. Consistency across different beans, roasts and brew methods is amazing.– Customer
The Full Baratza Forte Coffee Grinder Review
The Baratza Forte is among the most underrated prosumer grinders, largely because Baratza is better known for domestic grinders (1). There are two models, the All Purpose (AP) and the Brew Grinder (BG). This Baratza Forte review will help you decide which is right for you – or if another burr grinder might be better.
Design – 4/5
The Baratza Forte is a sleek-looking grinder with LED touch screen controls and shiny aluminium housing. It has a 300 g bean hopper and 170 g coffee grinds catch container, both of “smoked” plastic – a light grey plastic that better protects your coffee from UV rays.
It was designed for commercial applications but maintains a small footprint suitable for home users. It measures 18 cm deep by 13 cm wide by 36 cm tall and weighs just 6 kg. You can easily find space for it on your counter or slide it under upper cupboards.
The bean hopper on both models is equipped with Baratza’s patented “hopper stopper,” an innovative bean shut-off feature that allows you to remove the full hopper without wasting more than 10 grams of beans. This is useful if you find yourself regularly switching coffees.
The only design difference between the Forte AP and BG is that the AP has a grounds’ catch bin and a portafilter holding fork. The BG only has the catch bin. This makes sense given the use cases for both grinders, which we’ll discuss below.
Durability – 4.5/5
The durability of the Baratza Forte is the main reason for its price increase from the Vario. The Forte is an all-metal grinder with a stainless steel frame and aluminium housing. Unlike most Baratza coffee grinders, which are designed for home use only, the Forte is a commercial-grade grinder suitable for small coffee shops.
Both the Forté AP grinder and the BG offer the same incredible build quality. While they come with the same 1-year warranty (or 50 hours of cumulative motor run time) as all Baratza grinders, you should expect 5 to 10 years of service with proper care.
Ease of Use – 4/5
The Forte AP and BG sport a high-tech touch screen that makes it easy to dose by weight, time, or manually. There are three programmable dose presets for each grinding method, accurate to within 0.1 seconds or 0.2 grams.
Grind adjustment is a piece of cake with both models using the unique macro and micro sliders, which adjust the burrs through a grind range of 230 and 1150 microns for an accurate and precise grind. The macro adjustment system has ten large steps, and the micro adjustment system has 26 steps in between for fine tuning, giving a total of 260 grind settings. The exact grind setting is reported on the display screen, so it’s easy to find your way back when you switch brew methods regularly.
Cleaning and Maintenance
It’s easy to keep your Baratza Forte in good working order. As already mentioned, the no-fuss hopper removal makes it easy to access the burrs. From there, burr removal and calibration tools are included with the purchase for any cleaning and maintenance you need to perform.
Grinding Capability – 4.5/5
The Baratza Forte has a set of 54 mm flat burrs for accurate and precise grinding, but the details of the burr set are the major difference between the two models.
- The Forte AP has a set of 54mm flat ceramic burrs designed to produce uniform grounds at a wide range of sizes. This makes it suitable for grinding from espresso to French press. Grind speed ranges from 2.0 to 3.7 grams per second, depending on grind size.
- The Baratza Forte BG has a stainless steel burr set specifically made to be consistent for coarse grinding, for everything from Aeropress and pour over to press pot and cold brew. The burrs are shaped to reduce fines, delivering exceptional cup quality.
The burr set is the most important thing to consider when deciding which model to buy. If you plan to explore various brewing methods, choose the Forte AP. If you mostly brew drip coffee, choose the Forte BG. If you only use an espresso machine, we suggest looking for an espresso-specific grinder with a stepless grind adjustment.
Ceramic vs Steel Burrs
Ceramic and steel are the two most popular materials for coffee grinder burrs, and both have pros and cons. Ceramic burrs are slower to heat up and maintain their sharp cutting edges longer, but they can be fragile (2).
Ceramic burrs are more brittle than steel so you could chip the ceramic burr if a very hard rock was hiding in the beans.
Stainless steel burrs are sharper, less brittle, and less expensive to manufacture.
A Powerful Motor
The high-torque DC motor in the Baratza Forte is 70% more powerful than the Vario and runs twice as long. That’s the sort of upgrade you expect when moving from a domestic to a commercial grinder. It’s equipped with a thermal cut-off switch, so it will shut down before any damage occurs if you push it beyond its limits.
Despite being more powerful, the Forte isn’t any louder thanks to a reworked motor system and sound-dampening design.
Whether in your home or a cafe, this grinder won’t disrupt a lively conversation.
Value for Money – 3.5/5
The Baratza Forte is not a cheap grinder, retailing at around $1250 in Canada for the Forte AP version and about $50 more for the BG. For comparison, many prosumer all-around grinders with similar specs – like the Eureka Mignon Specialita, Niche Zero, or Mahlkonig X54 – run about $200 to $300 cheaper.
Is the Baratza Forte worth it? Yes, but only if weight-oriented dosing is essential to you; that sets it apart from the crowd.
The Baratza Vario W+ also grinds by weight and is in the lower price bracket, but it lacks the Forte’s build quality and motor power. It’s a very nice grinder and likely better value for most home users. The target audience for the Forte is small cafes or high-volume households, and for those cases, this grinder is excellent value.
Things We Liked:
- Consistent quality at every grind setting
- Option to dose by weight or time
- Long-lasting build quality
- Quiet, high-performance motor
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Not the best choice for dialling in espresso
Don’t Buy the Baratza Forte If…
- You want a more affordable option: If you want an all-purpose grinder like the Forte AP without the high price tag, consider the new Baratza Encore ESP, which is about a quarter of the price. You’ll make some sacrifices in build quality, grind settings, and burr size, but you’re getting a wide grind range and excellent value for money.
- You prefer single dosing: Single dosing is all the rage in home coffee and espresso grinder these days, making it easy to switch coffees daily. If you want to hop on that train, the much-hyped Fellow Opus grinder will serve you well. This versatile grinder is designed for drip coffee and espresso, has a stunning aesthetic, and is remarkably inexpensive.
- You prefer conical burrs: Compared with flat ceramic burrs, conical burrs are generally known to yield more fines, producing a coffee with a heavier body and richer mouthfeel (3). If that’s more to your taste, consider the long-time best-selling Baratza Encore coffee grinder, which has a 40 mm conical burr set. Just beware that it isn’t a rock-solid espresso grinder; stick to coffee.
The Baratza Forte AP and BG are excellent grinders that any coffee enthusiast would be lucky to own. The burr quality, engineering, and user-friendly design are all top-of-the-line. However, they are priced slightly too high to make sense for the average home user. We recommend these grinders for someone running a small coffee shop or a busy household of heavy coffee drinkers.
- Brown, N. (2020, October 2). Breville Acquires US Grinder Maker Baratza for $60 Million. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2020/10/02/breville-acquires-us-grinder-maker-baratza-for-60-million/
- Anderson, K. (2012, September 17). Steel vs Ceramic burrs and heat generation – the lowdown. Retrieved from https://baratza.com/steel-vs-ceramic-burrs-and-heat-generation-the-lowdown/
- Petrich, IL. (2020, May 12). Coffee Grinders: What’s the difference between conical & flat burr grinders? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/05/conical-vs-flat-burr-coffee-grinders-difference/