The Baratza Virtuoso Review (the ‘Plus’ Conical Burr grinder model)
A good grind is critical for a properly brewed cup of coffee, and that’s why baristas around the world loved the Baratza Virtuoso grinder. The Virtuoso + offers the same stellar grind consistency with a couple of attractive new features. So now you can channel your inner barista in the convenience of your own home.
The Baratza Virtuoso was our favourite grinder in 2019 and 2020, so let’s take a closer look at what makes the upgraded ‘plus’ version special.
SUMMARY: The Virtuoso Plus
- Consistent grinds, irrespective of the grind setting
- Amazing grind range: grind beans for espresso, French press, pour over, and more
- Build-quality can stand up to long-term wear and tear
It’s the tried and true, quality-driven grinder that most baristas have at home and even in their cafes!– Baratza
The Baratza Virtuoso Review (For the Upgraded ‘+’ Model)
The Virtuoso was an excellent grinder and for that reason, remained unchanged since its release in 2005. With this new model, the Virtuoso +, Baratza has updated its popular grinder by adding some neat design touches and much-demanded-for features. And yes, there is more than just a few extra grind settings on this upgrade.
P.S. You can see our selections of best coffee grinders here.
Design – 5/5
With metal accents on its body, a sleek black body, LED-lit grounds bin, and a digital display on the front, this grinder looks like a futuristic piece of equipment. It’s not a case of form over function, though. The Virtuoso + is designed to deliver in the areas that matter.
Burr & Motor Design:
The Virtuoso + carries over the 40 mm hardened steel burrs from the previous model. But we aren’t complaining as the precise, made-in-European burr set is one of the finest in the market.Inside this grinder is a high-torque DC motor coupled with a gear-reduction system that ensures that the conical burrs rotate at a steady speed of 550 RPM. Thanks to this DC motor, the Virtuoso + is able to maintain a compact size and run cooler than its competitors (1). It is also one of the quieter burr coffee grinders on sale today.
To protect the high-performance motor and burr, Baratza has equipped the Virtuoso + with a thermal cutoff switch. It prevents the motor from overheating due to excessive use.
Hopper & Grounds Bin:
The bean hopper is made from food-grade transparent plastic and has a 230 g capacity. It’s the LED-backlit grounds bin, however, that steals the show. It has a capacity of 140 g and is made of translucent plastic. As the machine grinds away the beans, blue LED lights illuminate the interior of the grounds bin so that you can keep an eye on your ground coffee.
Baratza says this feature is not just for show. Some of their customers had complained about not being able to see clearly when the bin filled up. So there was a possibility of the grounds backing up into the burr mechanism and damaging it. The LED lights are there as a safety measure. The fact that they make the grinder look uber-cool is just the cherry on top.
The Virtuoso + is a classy device that you’d love showing off to your friends and guests. A sculptured metal top and base encase its sleek black chassis. Dead-center of its body sits an LED-backlit LCD with a round knob. And the grounds bin lights up with blue LEDs when you start grinding. It has to be one of the best-looking home grinders we’ve ever seen.
The Virtuoso + has a physical footprint measuring 12 x 35 x 16 cm. It’s ideal for storing in your kitchen cabinet (although, why would you want to do that?). And weighing in at 3.6 kilos, it has a solid heft to it, which might not be great for moving it around every day.
Ease Of Cleaning:
Cleaning any grinder can be a hassle, and the Virtuoso + isn’t any different. You may need to turn the entire machine upside down to get the coffee residue out.
Keep in mind that it is the conical burrs that need to be cleaned, not the whole machine.
That’s why Baratza has equipped the Virtuoso + with a removable top burr to make your cleaning routine more manageable. If you want to give your grinder a deep clean (which is required if you’re going to keep grinding away for years to come), follow our burr grinder cleaning guide.
Durability – 4.5/5
The quality of the materials that Baratza used to make the Virtuoso + are is evident when you handle the grinder. The plastic hopper, grounds bin, and the chassis have a solid feel to them, and there’s hardly any flex. The sculpted metal top and base add rigidity to the machine, making it feel like it can last several years of use.
You have to keep in mind, though, that this is a home grinder and not a commercial workhorse. Even though its internals may be commercial-grade, it was designed with the home user in mind. Still, Baratza provides excellent service and support if you run into any problems.
Ease Of Use – 5/5
The older model’s side-mounted timer switch has been replaced with a centrally-placed timer dial that also acts as a pulse-grinding switch. Above this knob sits the digital display that helps you set the timer for grinding. The digital timer can be adjusted from 1 to 40 seconds in 0.1-second increments. This gives you a level of dosing control that was previously missing from the Virtuoso.
Operating this machine is quite simple. Adjust the bean hopper to set the desired grind particle size; rotate the timer knob to set a grinding time; push the knob to start grinding. You can also use the Virtuoso + in pulse-grinding mode by pressing down and holding the timer knob/switch for a couple of seconds. The digital display will show “P” to indicate that you’re in pulse-grinding mode. Push the button to grind and release to stop.
Grinding Capability (Settings, Range, & Consistency) – 4.5/5
The Virtuoso + has 40 grind settings for grind size adjustment, which will help you brew everything from espresso to French Press. No matter what setting you choose, the Virtuoso + will deliver a super-consistent grind. In fact, its uniformity in producing both fine and coarse grinds puts it in a class of its own. As the president of the commercial coffee equipment manufacturer, MPE Chicago, says (2):
Ideal extraction is a function of proper particle size uniformity.
Also, depending on the setting, you can grind at a speed of 1.5-2.4 g/second, which is more than enough for your daily grinding needs.
Baratza claims that this grinder can produce ground coffee ranging from 200 microns to 1200 microns. This means that you can go fine enough for espresso grind, but you won’t be able to fine-tune the grind to pull that perfect shot. At the coarser end, you can get a grind size that’s good enough for cupping and cold brew. So if you want versatility from your grinder, the Virtuoso + delivers in spades.
Value For Money – 4/5
The pricing is the chink in the Virtuoso +’s armour. Although it’s slightly more affordable than the trendy Fellow Ode, it sits at the expensive end of the spectrum for a home grinder. If you’re an old hand at manual brewing or an experienced barista, you understand the value that this grinder offers.
However, for someone looking to buy their first grinder or upgrade, it’s a serious chunk of cash. We can’t tell you if you’d be justified paying this price, but we can certainly tell you that it’s our pick for the best grinder of 2021.
Things we liked:
- High-quality 40 mm conical steel burrs
- Excellent grind consistency at a wide range of sizes
- LED-lit grounds bin is functional and beautiful
Things we didn’t like:
- Relatively expensive
- Stepped adjustment mechanism makes it hard to dial in espresso
Do Not Buy The Virtuoso + If…
Budget is your priority – If you know you want the Virtuoso + but can’t justify paying the high price, take a look at the Baratza Encore, which has the same conical burrs and a similar motor setup. It might be lacking the fancier features, but as we find out in our review, the Encore’s grind quality is on par with the Virtuoso +.
You’re mostly making espresso – If you live and breathe espresso, the Rancilio SD Rocky offers the ability to fine-tune your espresso shots without compromising on grind quality. It’s as close as a home grinder can get to the quality and longevity of a commercial product, although be prepared to pay a princely price for it.
Read our full review of SD Rocky here.
You want the most high-tech grinder – If you’re a fan of high-tech gadgets, you’ll love the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. You can micro-adjust your grind with 600 grind settings and program it to dose multiple cups based on custom settings.
You can learn more about this gear here.
The Virtuoso + Burr Grinder is perfect for the home brewing aficionado who prizes a highly consistent grind. Its exquisite design, excellent grinding capability, and handy features make it a winner in our books.
If you are partial to pour-overs and French Press brewing, and want precise control over your grind so you can extract a clean, smooth cup of coffee, then the Virtuoso + is meant for you.
If you occasionally dabble in espresso, the Virtuoso + will suffice for your needs. However, if you are obsessed with fine-tuning your espresso grind and dialling in your espresso machine to pull a perfect shot, then you should look elsewhere. But for most other people, this might be the last grinder they’ll ever need.
The Virtuoso + is our favourite grinder because we are coffee nerds, and we love its versatility and consistency. And if we have convinced you that the Virtuoso + deserves a place in your kitchen, head on over to Amazon to check it out.
No, the Virtuoso + cannot grind fine enough for Turkish coffee. In fact, most home grinders are incapable of grinding coffee beans to the fine powder required for Turkish coffee. If you brew it regularly (or plan to), we’d recommend a dedicated Turkish coffee grinder. This will grind for espresso, french press and all manual brew styles.
To deep-clean the Virtuoso + grinder (or any other burr grinder), you need to do more than just brush off grind residue. We recommend that you perform a deep-clean once every two months to keep your grinder running smoothly. Set aside some time on the weekend, and follow our instructions here on how to deep-clean a burr grinder.
The next step up from Virtuoso + conical burr coffee grinder is a grinder with flat burrs. They are more expensive than conical burr grinders but are capable of producing even more consistent grinds. Take a look at the Baratza Vario or the Rancilio SD Rocky if you want something more capable than the Virtuoso Plus.
- orientalmotor.com. (n.d.). Brushless DC Motor vs. AC Motor vs. Brushed Motor. Retrieved from https://www.orientalmotor.com/brushless-dc-motors-gear-motors/technology/AC-brushless-brushed-motors.html
- Eprahim, D. (2010, April 15). Optimizing Brewed Coffee Quality Through Proper Grinding. Retrieved from https://www.mpechicago.com/sites/default/files/resource-library/scaa_2010.pdf