Tag Archives: Baratza

Baratza Supports Street Bean – Guest Blog

Baratza recently donated grinders to Street Bean to support the important work they are doing – getting youth off the streets and giving them real skills, and an opportunity to improve their lives. Ben Blake, a long time Baratza friend and supporter, manages the Street Bean Cafe and we asked him to share about their program.

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by Ben Blake, Cafe Manager, Street Bean Espresso, Seattle WA

Before I start, I’d like to thank the folks at Baratza for their kindness. They’ve been helpful and extremely supportive over the last few years. Over the summer, they donated a set of Forte grinders to our cafe that have drastically improved the quality of our pourover bar, increased training opportunities, and allowed us to bring on a guest roaster as espresso.

When I first took over the Cafe Manager position at Street Bean, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. While the idea of combining my love for coffee with something meaningful was always appealing to me, I could never quite grasp what that would actually look like. I knew I’d be working for a non-profit in Seattle that dealt mainly with homeless and at-risk youth, and I knew we’d be serving coffee, but that’s about it. Through the first couple months here, I’ve seen just how important coffee can be in someone’s life, and just how meaningful it really is.

Let me explain a little bit.

We’re a non-profit that provides opportunities for street kids and at-risk youth to get on their feet, learn valuable career skills, and obtain a self-efficacy that doesn’t stop in the workplace.

We operate under the umbrella of New Horizons—a fantastic organization that provides all the resources for these kids. Food, clothes, shelter, case workers, counseling, coaching, community, etc. etc. Through the New Horizons Program they’re able to apply for internships in order to gain work experience and learn just what it means to have a job and be “employable.” Ultimately, Street Bean was created to compliment the New Horizons program and to provide a supportive employment component for the youth that were being served. We currently operate two “apprenticeship” slots where we not only train folks to become great baristas, but to help them move them beyond homelessness and abandonment into confidence, security, and successful future employment.

After successfully completing the apprenticeship, we have the opportunity to hire them on as a barista at Street Bean.

Over the last five years, we’ve seen an incredible success rate, and as of right now, we have four full-time baristas who are living on their own, completely off the streets.

I guess that all sounds nice, and it’s great to be able to say all of that, but even within the first month here, I’ve seen what that actually means. These “kids” have been completely transformed because of Street Bean. They’re grown men and women that have not only escaped life on the streets, but that have completely taken hold of their own lives through the medium of a cafe.

A conversation I had with our newest apprentice said it best. As I was chatting with him about his weekend, and about some upcoming challenges in his life, he stopped and looked at me with a big grin on his face.

“I love this place, man. I feel like it’s mine.”

That statement alone brought to life exactly what I was involved in, and it had nothing to do with homelessness, street life, or life problems. It transcends all of that. The community of a coffee shop is unique. It’s hard not to be engulfed by it. When you work behind the bar at a cafe, it’s your space. You want people to enjoy being there, so you put your best foot forward, and no matter what your past looks like, you take ownership of it.

Ownership is important for all of us. It gives us something to hold onto and something to call our own. Street Bean is actively doing that—not only for the youth in our program and the ones that have made it through—but for me, too.

Beyond having a good cause, though, we really strive to be a great cafe, and we’re only really able to do that through outside support. There’s no way we could offer up quality products without quality equipment, and as a non-profit that can be difficult at times.

When companies like Baratza partner with us, they’re not just giving a donation or a discount to a non-profit. They’re giving people the opportunity to get back on their feet through the coffee industry, to take hold of something and to own it, and to truly discover their identities.

It’s an amazing thing really, and we’re thrilled to be surrounded and supported by such amazing people. People who are willing to help us make Street Bean one of the best cafes in Seattle while also supporting our vision of empowering youth to get off the streets and onto a path that ends with a successful future. The coffee community is the perfect place for someone to turn their life around, and we’re really thankful for all of you.

Foreign Exchange Tech – Martin Fu

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We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Martin Fu to our Bellevue HQ this summer! Martin is the son of Leo Fu, the owner of our partner company PSI, in Taiwan, that is responsible for the manufacture and assembly of our grinders. Martin attends college in Tai Pei and on breaks, he goes back to Tai Chung to work for PSI as an assembler. Martin has been a great asset to Baratza this summer, already knowing all facets of assembly of our grinders. This time he got to see them AFTER they’ve been well used and was able to repair and refurbish them!

The team at HQ have treated him to fantastic coffee and food and in his downtime he’s learned something else new…. how to skateboard! He says “You will get yourself killed in Tai Pei because there are too many cars. There is so much room and clear spaces for a freshman of skateboarding to learn here.”

Before heading back to Taiwan, Martin took a trip to the Bay Area and caught up with local and visiting Baratza team members, pictured here with Pierce Jens from our Support Team and Kyra Kennedy, Baratza Co-owner.

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Colin Francois – Field Report from Barista Camp

June 13, 2014

Q & A With Colin Francois, Barista Camp Back From the Field- Report

Interviewed by Sarah Dooley

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Baratza is as serious about great home and light commercial grinders as we are about employee development. In the past year, we’ve sent two team members to the Barista Guild of America’s Barista Camp for Level 1 Certification. We believe in education experiences like these, combining top-notch curriculum with hands on activities. Recently our team member, Colin Francois joined 100 plus coffee people in Fontana, Wisconsin, population 1,625, for some good old fashion barista glamping. (Glamorous camping if you didn’t catch that one.)

SD: What is your role at Baratza?

CF: Baratza Sales Support

SD: Describe your day-to-day activities:

CF: I typically get to work just before my shift starts and make coffee for the office. One Chemex, two espresso’s and a cappuccino will usually do the trick for all of us. Then I get right to phone support, process sales and support emails while fighting off the slumber gnomes with more coffee. It’s actually pretty interesting, my conversations are never dull and we always seem to have a solution.

SD: Are you a member of the Barista Guild of America?

CF: Yes, most valuable membership I have to date!

SD: What inspired you to go to Barista Camp?

CF: Sarah Dooley (my co-worker) said it would be a great full circle experience of engaging activities, learning and relationship building.

SD: What’s your favorite beverage coffee and beyond?

CF: Chemex for coffee and an Old Fashioned

SD: What delighted you the most about the week?

CF: Laila Ghambari’s competition routine at camp was incredible! The second she mentioned concord grape, the fragrance filled the room… it gave me goosebumps.

SD: What was the worst part about camp?

CF: Breakfast was terrible. While I was thankful, I’m not a big fan “tub-o-eggs” and hash-browns. A large plate of fruit and a pile of bacon it was for me!

SD: Was there something you learned that will really help you with your career path in coffee?

CF: The Introduction to Cupping courses were a experiences for me. Tasting with the flavor wheel and using the unified language surrounding coffee made a lot of sense and I’ve immediately put it to use.

SD: Boxers or Briefs?

CF: Briefs

Wilbur Curtis' Seraphim Brewer

Wilbur Curtis’ Seraphim Brewer


SD: Besides Baratza’s newest grinder for light commercial use, the Forté Series, did you notice something particularly awesome in the world of equipment, ie: any new innovations or clever bar tools?

CF: The Seraphim by Curtis had a really cool look and the coffees prepared with this water delivery system were quite tasty.

SD: How many pull-ups can you do?

CF: Ha, 15

SD: What were your actual achievements from your time at camp?

CF: Hmmm….

  • Level 1 Certification
  • 2nd Place in the Camp 5K, I won a pretty cool Hario Ice Dripper just in time for Summer
  • Most importantly, I also feel like I am definitely more comfortable helping our customers troubleshoot brewing issues. Barista Camp reinforces the things you do know and opens your eyes to a lot of variables and processes that really just make you better.

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee


SD: Did you make a potential new email pen pal?

CF: At camp you get assigned to a camp team. On the first evening we broke into our groups, assigned a team leader, made a team poster and created a team name, in our case “Super Fines”. Interestingly enough, as we sat down in our groups, the subject of roommates came up. Had we met our roommates yet etc. It just so happened I hadn’t really met my roommate but I did come to see him up on the stage welcoming all of us to camp and sharing the festivities ahead. So while I hadn’t physically met my roomie, Lorenzo Perkins was there meeting and greeting all of us.

SD: Would you recommend barista camp to your peers in coffee? Why?

CF: Absolutely yes! Overall it was a really great learning experience. The coffee industry consists of people from a lot of different walks in life. It was fun to share and listen.

SD: If I was going to Barista Camp tomorrow, what should I bring?

CF: Take snacks to class for sure! Some of the sessions run upwards of 3 hours …oh and bring enough to share with at least one other person too.

Static in your grinding – it’s complex!

By Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Owner and Engineer

Static: the grossly misunderstood and (still, to this day) hotly debated phenomenon that plagues many facets of our lives but can REALLY (randomly) irritate those of us who grind our coffee beans daily.

As recently as mid 2011 there were breakthrough findings about the root cause of “static charges” that shatter the commonly held paradigms of what causes static. About the only remaining principle that survives from the old paradigm is that friction is a key ingredient in creating an imbalance of electrical charges, which shows it’s ugly face as “static”. The grinding of coffee in a burr grinder unavoidably includes a lot of friction – friction between the beans and their resultant particles, as well as between the coffee and grinder materials. In the presence of friction, dissimilar materials and non-uniform-shaped particles, the possibility of static rearing its ugly head, is ripe. Add to this, low humidity (Midwest in winter or Phoenix in the summer), varying degrees of moisture in the roasted beans, flooring and countertop materials and (yes) even the clothing and shoes of the grinder operator, and we have more variables than we can control.

At Baratza we sought out the advice and wisdom from people who spent 30+ years working with (or against!) static electricity issues. We’ve discussed and tested all-metal grinding chambers, grounding of the actual coffee powder, grounding of the coffee bin, and on and on – more crazy ideas than you’d care to know. We have also confided in most of the world’s commercial coffee grinder manufacturers and they all have expressed the same frustration with the randomness with which static shows up. Not one grinder manufacturer has found the panacea to eliminate this messy headache. Though the experts may not agree on all the contributing factors that cause static, there is agreement that the best way to manage the static is through Electrically Dissipative Materials. At Baratza, we use IDP (Inherently Dissipative Properties) plastics for transport and receiving our ground coffee powder. These dissipative materials “bleed off” any charge, in a much better way than conductive materials (i.e. Metals). IDP plastics cost 4X what standard plastics do, but we feel it is money well spent. Unfortunately, the coffee grinder gets blamed for causing the static mess that people encounter (because the whole beans showed no signs of static), but the same grinder, in the same room, at the same time, with different beans can show no signs of static, so is the fault that of the beans? There are myriad work-arounds shared by many to minimize or eliminate this messy problem. Probably the most universally effective is to momentarily increase the humidity of the whole beans just prior to grinding (this is fancy talk for spray a LITTLE water mist or droplets on them). Obviously, this only works if you have a small quantity of beans in your hopper, else the beans on the bottom get no water.

In summary, grinding coffee beans is an activity that occurs in a system made up of numerous uncontrolled variables (varietal of bean, degree of roast, freshness, humidity, temperature, etc). With the best grinder technology and some variables in your favor, you will have minimal to no static issues. If a few too many of these variables stack up against you, then you are bound to see a static-ee mess, to some degree. When you encounter static, we encourage you to wait 15-30 seconds after the grind has completed to allow the charge to bleed away, then tap the side of the bin and all the grounds should fall into the bin.

Good luck!

GrindZ

Rice, It’s Just Not a Good Idea (for cleaning!).

February 17, 2014

For many of us, cleaning the grinder is a monthly if not weekly routine.  That’s all good; please don’t ever change that very important routine.  Instead be mindful of a few details regarding the process so as not to permanently damage your grinder.

Using rice to clean your grinder is not a good idea.  Our experience repairing Baratza grinders has shown that using rice or other natural materials to clean a Baratza grinder can cause mechanical damage to your grinder.  This damage would not be covered under our warranty.

Grindz is a product, from Urnex, that was designed to clean grinders and has been tested to ensure it will not harm your grinder and is safe for use.  Grindz is flavor neutral, composed of food grade products, and does a great job eliminating stale oils, flavors, and residue from the burrs and grinding chamber.  Make sure you follow the factory instructions on the amount of product to use while cleaning your grinder.  For home use that is just around 40 grams of grindz tabs.

We recommend setting your conical (Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso) grinder around the setting of #20 and setting the flat burr grinders (Vario and Forte) at a setting of #5.  That’s just around the middle of your grind range allowing for a solid cleaning as the pellets are ground to powder.  At finer settings we have seen clogging occur and possible mechanical damage.

Follow your cleaning cycle with 30-40 gram coffee bean to purge any cleaner left in the grinder.

Thank you for caring for your Baratza grinder.  We wish you many tasty cups of coffee!

Commercial applications: Forte vs the Vario/Vario-W

by Kyle Anderson & Kyra Kennedy, Co-Owners of Baratza

December 12, 2013

Our experience with the Vario grinders over the last 3+ years has helped us understand the unique requirements of Baratza grinders in a commercial setting. We have continually improved these grinders to be more stout, however, without starting from scratch, it is not possible for us to make them as durable as the Forté. Even with improvements, the Vario adjustment arms can be accidentaly knocked out of adjustment or stones in the coffee beans can cause the drive belt to strip. We would recommend the Vario and Vario-W for about 1 lb./day in a light commercial setting. Any higher use than this is better suited to a Forte.

In contrast, the Forté was designed for commercial settings where grind accuracy, durability and reliability are paramount. The Forté is built around an all metal grinding chamber which produces an extremely accurate grind. The upgraded belt drive is capable of delivering 3 times more torque than a Vario belt drive. A faster gear ratio, combined with a powerful DC motor, increases the speed of grind and duty cycle. An all metal macro and micro adjustment system delivers a positive feel and secure grind settings. We recommend the Forté for about 5 lb/day on a continuous basis in the demanding environments of restaurants, cafés, and farmer’s markets.

Many cafés and roasters have made the decision to choose the Forté to support their businesses and here are just a few examples:

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Four Barrel Coffee Roasters, use the Forté-BG for their outside events. The weekend of the Renegade Fair, three Forte-BG grinders provided all the grinding action for approximately 700 pour overs each day, estimating that one grinder did about 300-350 cups over a 6-7hr period, while the others did between 150-175. At 24.5g per cup, that’s about 40lb of coffee per day.

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Counter Culture CoffeeThe Variety Show – the second installment of Counter Culture Coffee’s annual Works in Progress series – explored botanical coffee varieties with the owners of Finca El Puente, Moisés Herrera and Marysabel Caballero.  Erin McCarthy, 2013 World Brewers Cup Champion traveled with the tour using the Forte-BG to brew coffee for the tastings!

 

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1237594_10151856083010560_1344480058_nIntelligentsia Coffee Roasters - The Forté-BG is the grinder on truck for all their pour-over coffee on the“Mini Bar” parked at the High Line Hotel, in Chelsea, New York City. See Sprudge review

 

 

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Onyx Coffee Bar in Bellingham, Washington

 

 

 

new fortes

The Slow Bar at Steamdot Coffee in Anchorage, Alaska

3 DAYS – 3 BARATZA GIFTS !!

December 13, 2013

images-2Yes, we’re going crazy sending grinders out the doors and fulfilling all the orders that are flooding in, and it’s really got us in the holiday mood!  In case one of those grinders is not destined to be for you, we’d like to give you the opportunity to turn that around, plus we’ve got a couple of other gifts for some runners up!  We’re giving away these 3 fabulous gifts:

Vario Grinder

Vario Grinder – Grind from Espresso to French Press

Shut-Off Hopper (compatible to all our grinders)

Shut-Off Hopper (compatible to all our grinders)

tshirt

Ben Blake designed Brew Methods T-Shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s dead easy!  Starting today (Friday) until close of business on Tuesday 12/17 (3 business days!) we want you to post pictures of Baratza grinders in action – in homes, cafes, farmers markets, cupping tables, restaurants, you name it!    You can post them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but you must use the hashtag #BaratzaGifts in order to enter, and let us know where it was taken.  At the end of Tuesday we will pick our favorites, announce them and quickly get your info, so we can get these out to you for the holidays!  This gift offer is only open to the US.

Remember tag those pictures with #BaratzaGifts

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Grinding for Espresso

by Sarah Dooley, Education Manager

December 12, 2013

At Baratza, we spend a healthy amount of time in R&D!  Our goal is to be ahead of all the brewing and grinder questions, to be aware of structural and electrical efficiencies, and at times, just good old fashioned coffee talk. There is nothing like engaging directly with fellow coffee enthusiasts, answering questions and learning along side each other about coffee grinding!

This past weekend I had the privilege of offering a Q&A session, on grinding for espresso, at the Seattle Coffee Gear’s store in Bellevue. We set up all of our grinders and the Sylvia espresso machine. To my delight, five minutes into our start time four friendly faces walk through the door to kick off the learning & sharing. The questions throughout the demonstration time were great and so I captured some to share with you, along with answers that I trust will help you in your espresso making!

Coffee enthusiasts at SCG checking out grinding and weight!

Coffee enthusiasts at SCG checking out grinding and weight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I have the right grinder for what I am trying to do?

Check out our blog! Baratza Support Technician, Pierce Jens, has created a very detailed description of our grinder lineup.

Also, I will be at Seattle Coffee Gear on 12/14, covering this very topic. See below for more details.

Can I pull espresso with an Encore?
Yes, you can! I make great espresso with the Encore. You actually can with all of our grinders. Choosing the right grinder really depends on how you dial in and what you are looking for as an outcome.
As you move up in range in our grinders you get more ability to fine tune. The Virtuoso has a burr set that has a tighter particle range then the Encore burrs. It also grinds a little faster by burr design. As you venture into the Preciso there’s a micro adjustment ring for finding that half step between adjustments. With the Vario Series, you will find a few great new features. Starting with a flat ceramic burr. This series showcases a focus on macro and micro grind selection especially important for fine tuning espresso. We introduced a revolutionary change to grinders with the weight based grind feature of the Vario W (weight). Weight control is a very important factor for consistency when dialing in all brew methods.
The Forte Series, provoked by the demand of our commercial users comes with the function of the Vario W. signature weight based grinding but in the new form of an all metal body, metal grind chamber, reinforced adjustment arms with an intuitive touch screen interface. There is something for everyone in the Baratza grinder family!

How do I adjust my grinder for finer grind size, specifically for espresso?
We currently have two families of cutting surfaces or burrs, conical and flat.
With regards to the conical there is a very easy way to make adjustments towards a finer particle range. This solution lies in the adjustment ring assembly. This process is quite easy and only requires a few simple tools detailed in the guides below.

Removing the Case, Encore & Virtuoso
Removing the Case, Preciso
Adjusting the Calibration Screw, Barista, Maestro Plus, Virtuoso

When fine tuning the flat burr grinders, Vario and Forte we have a calibration exercise to bring the lower burr up or down to increase or decrease grind range. I’ve attached a guide for making those adjustments. You will need good lighting and the Baratza calibration tool.
Vario & Vario W – Calibration, Finer or Coarser

How do you dial in with a new coffee?
Every coffee behaves a little differently than another. It’s very similar to how every strawberry looks and tastes a little different than the last, even from the same small plant!  I use a pretty strict baseline recipe for dialing in espresso: Grams of ground coffee – 18g, Extraction/contact time- 28 seconds, Espresso volume 38ml

This is a simple starting point that is easy to remember. Based on taste I will adjust the Espresso Volume up our down a few ml. once my grind is set.

How fresh is too fresh?
Typcially, we brew coffee just around four days off the roast date. We do that out of need, and at times find ourselves really enjoying the coffee around seven to eleven days off the roast. That “sweet spot” really depends on roast, density, storage and your own personal preference. We’ve at times even enjoyed a coffee nearing it’s fourteenth day off roast, so don’t be afraid to just taste the coffee before you toss it. It might just be great!

What is the actual shelf life of my coffee?
Storage, varietal and roast play a big factor in the shelf life of a coffee. I store my coffee like I store my dry goods and grains. In airtight containers, away from strong smells that may leach into the coffee, out of direct sunlight and avoid extreme temperature changes. Preservation is partially the key. Varietal or density of bean along with your roast preference can play a part in the shelf life too. It comes down to taste and performance. Give yourself some credit as you become the espresso expert, and get to know your coffee you’ll soon know when it’s past its prime.

Whenever possible I encourage the good folks who take the time to brew espresso at home, to do it with some very simple controls. A scale that measures to the tenth of a gram- for measuring brew weights and grind weights, a timer, a few glasses that fit the extraction spouts well, fresh or locally sourced specialty coffee, good water (if it’s smelly or not clear don’t brew with it), an idea of your extraction recipe so you can have a baseline for what you do and the willingness to try new and old things. Making espresso well can pay off in the cup!

Remember, on Saturday 12/14, from 11-2, I will be at Seattle Coffee Gear in Bellevue again! This time sharing information about our range of grinders and helping people choose the right one for their brewing needs.  See Seattle Coffee Gear Class Schedule.  I encourage you to stop by and spend some time checking out our full range of grinders, and picking the one that’s right for you, for where you are in your coffee journey!  We will also be giving out a free grinder – these lucky people won the last one!

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Having a weak link (plastic burr holder) is a good thing!!

November 19, 2013
By Kyle Anderson, Chief Engineer
All of our grinders use a powerful DC motor that produces a very high torque (even at “locked rotor” conditions). In every electro-mechanical device, there should be some kind of easily replaceable or automatically resettable “fuse”. In the case of the Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso we have two of these safety systems.
The first is an automatically resettable thermal “fuse” (PTC) that when triggered, cuts power to the motor down to a few milliamps until the timer switch turns off. At this point it can cool down and automatically reset. The PTC requires a “locked rotor” event to last for about 2.5 seconds before the PTC is triggered. Under most abnormal conditions (i.e. a rock or unroasted coffee bean), the grinder will stall, then the PTC will trigger, and after the obstruction is removed, the grinder is ready to go again.
top_burr_preciso

In certain circumstances, the shock to the grinder may be great enough that the motor doesn’t have time to stall, but rather the ring burr carrier can act as a mechanical “fuse” . This is the second safety system.  This shows up as inconsistent grind and a broken tab on the burr holder. In the past, our main drive gear was the weak link and this was inconvenient to our users, because this was not a user-replaceable part. We have since redesigned our entire gearbox so it never fails. As a result, 100% of the torque produced by the grinder is resisted by the ring burr carrier. The ring burr carrier can easily be replaced by the end user, so the grinder is back in action quickly.  We have over 180,000 units in circulation and we go through a little less than 3000 burr holders per year. This works out to 1.7% of our Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso grinder owners replacing ONE burr holder per year (98.3% do not). In almost all cases, failure of this part is due to foreign objects (stones, screws, etc) or unroasted coffee beans getting into the grinder.

Now you know why we have a plastic burr holder and why it’s a good thing!

 

 

 

Grind Settings to get you started!

November 11, 2013

by Sarah Dooley, Education and Quality Manager

Preciso Burr  sm (640x428)Forte-BG-steel-burrVARIO-WCeramicBurr_290

Baratza provides our users with a range of versatile grinders for all brew types, price points, and to suit many locations and situations.

The Baratza grinders operate in two basic burr styles – conical and flat.  The conical burrs are steel which we use in the Encore, Virtuoso and Preciso.  The flat burrs are available in both ceramic or steel and are used in the Vario and Forté grinders.  We have been doing a lot of testing to find the sweet spot or remarkably tasty flavors in coffee with our grinders. Getting started (brewing coffee) is half the battle, so hopefully the settings in the table below will be of assistance.

BARATZA BREW BASICS – START GUIDE

Encore

Virtuoso

Preciso

Vario/Forte Ceramic

 Vario/Forte  Steel

Chemex

#21

#20

#20D

9L

7O

Hario

#14

#13

#13B

6M

4F

Siphon

#13

#12

#12B

5N

3N

Press Pot

#30

#28

#28G

10B

8L

Basket Brewers

#15

#14

#14F

6M

4Z

AeroPress

#14

#13

#13B

#6M

#4M

Espresso

#5

#4

#4C

2Q

*

 

To sum it all up – if you use great brewing techniques, freshly roasted coffee and Baratza grinders, we will take you where you want to go in the cup, time and time again!

*modifications to this grinder for an espresso grind particle, will offset the grind coarseness range of your grinder. For details email: support@baratza.com.