Tag Archives: Baratza

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:


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.


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!



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




Onyx Coffee Bar in Bellingham, Washington




new fortes

The Slow Bar at Steamdot Coffee in Anchorage, Alaska


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)


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


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!


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.

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.





Vario/Forte Ceramic

 Vario/Forte  Steel



















Press Pot






Basket Brewers



















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.


Refurbs: a Win-Win!

Picture of Pierce

In conjunction with our Repair Program, to support our goal of reducing waste to the landfills, we also have a vigorous Refurbished Grinder Program!

Refurbished grinders can be preowned grinders that are part of our warranty program or  they are grinders which we have loaned out to support coffee community events such as SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) meetings or TED coffee brew bar support ( Baratza at TED ) .   In all cases they have been fixed, cleaned, and updated to the newest parts, but may have minor blemishes and scratches from previous use. The refurbished grinders come with a 1 year warranty.

Currently we are putting new refurbs up on our web site on a daily basis.  We sell out extremely quickly of the lower priced models (Encore and Virtuoso) as people often go for these as their entry point to moving to a burr grinder, from a lower end whirly blade etc.,  As we come close to the holiday season, you might be interested in helping a special friend make such a move to improving their coffee experience, OR you might be ready yourself for a move up to something like our Vario or Vario-W.  Check them online here.


3 Winners – Grinder Repair, Sustainability, & Creative Writers!

October 28, 2013

by Sarah Dooley, Education & Quality Manager

Grinder repair

You may never run large volumes of rice through your grinder, wash it under a running faucet, or use it to grind peanuts into butter.  And we thank you!  But for those of you who do notice some warranted everyday wear and tear, we have the Grinder Repair Program, for you!

Our founders, Kyle and Kyra’s have a serious mission to keep landfills Baratza-Grinder-Free. To support that, we have created the Repair Program as a way to keep your grinder up to date with the latest product enhancements/ advancements.  Plus, we mend worn-out grinder units and support the great American re-gift (or reason to upgrade because you thoughtfully gave your grinder to your mother in law!).


Depending on which Baratza model you have, your repair price will range from $40 to $85.  There is one fee for every grinder, and it literally includes a top to bottom evaluation including:

  • Diagnose problem(s)
  • Replace worn/broken parts as needed (except burrs)
  • Thorough cleaning
  • Recalibration
  • Testing
  • Return shipping
  • 6 month warranty

We often get asked “When Should I Replace My Burrs?

Unless your burrs are damaged by under-roasted coffee, metal fragments or hard rocks; our rule of thumb is that you can expect the burrs on our grinders to last as follows:

  • Encore, Virtuoso and Preciso burrs 300 to 500 pounds of coffee
  • Vario and Vario-W 500 to 1000 pounds of coffee

There is an additional fee to replace the burrs.  If you think it’s time to do that we can install them for you while your grinder is here for repair.

Our Repair Program brings us an added ‘win’- your comments, and so we celebrate the Baratza-Owning Creative Writers out there!   For those of you who take the time to share some of the best short stories included with their prized grinder we’d like to share your comments to close out this blog post. We respectfully thank you for making us giggle, for keeping us busy learning and we hope you know it’s our mission to keep you grinding coffee for years to come. Thank You!

COMMENT :“I did a bad job putting the case back on and broke some of the plastic pieces…please help me.”

BARATZA: Yes, that happens to the best of us!

COMMENT “I poured ground coffee in the hopper on top of the beans, it clogged and now it won’t start.”

BARATZA: You see, grinders kind of like to do all the grinding…it makes them a little jealous when you put ground coffee in the hopper, silly goose.

COMMENT: “Thank you for the repair – I’m attached to this machine”.

BARATZA: Blushing, you are so welcome, Oliver Strand!

COMMENT: “If you will pardon the expression, today it ground to a halt.”


COMMENT: “Something’s slipping, maybe belt is missing?”

BARATZA: No comment.

COMMENT: “Won’t Grind”

BARATZA: You have come to the right place friend!




Rusty Burr

Rusty Burrs – Really??

by Kyle Anderson, Baratza President and Chief Designer

I think the time has come to write a bit about the misconceptions and perceptions surrounding trace amounts of visible rust on steel burrs in coffee grinders.

A few important points need to be made: first, ingesting rust is not a health concern. “The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicates that rust is not toxic…… If eaten, the acid in the digestive processes will convert rust to iron needed for blood formation or excrete the excess.” Second, the existence of rust is in no way evidence of a low quality grinder or burrs. Commercial grade steel burrs are made from high-carbon steel, NOT stainless steel as is often mis-stated. Carbon steel will rust if exposed to even slight humidity if not “seasoned” or protected with some sort of oil/lubricant. Rust is virtually non existent in coffee grinders that have had a few pounds of coffee put through them, even after periods of non-use. This is a result of “seasoning of the burrs” similar to cast iron cookware.
Rusty Burr
In recent talks with some commercial coffee grinder manufacturers, they admitted they often have rust present on their new grinder burrs, but most of these are never taken apart by the users (if ever) until the grinder has ground hundreds (or more) pounds of coffee so they do not have perception issues. Baratza grinders (by design) are made to allow quick burr removal by the end user. This in turn allows users to inspect the burrs on their new grinders even before they put coffee through it. Heck, we even made a tool to help you remove the burrs! The trace amounts of surface rust that are present on some of our burrs will quickly disappear after just a few pounds of use. By way of analogy, if you walk through a parking lot with high quality automobiles there, and look at the disc brake rotor, you will very often see the entire rotor coated with surface rust. This is NOT cause for concern, as a simple drive around the block removes all of the rust. No one takes their brand new Porsche (or Lexus) back to the dealer to get brakes replaced (or the car replaced!) because of rust on the brake rotor.

So, yes, you may find some rust when you receive your burrs. Yes, this is normal and it will not harm you, nor does it make for an inferior burr. Please enjoy your coffee!

Sarah Dooley

Sarah Dooley on Serving Well

Sarah Dooley

Sarah Dooley

Post by Sarah Dooley, Education and Quality Manager

No one will debate I have had the privilege of working with some of the coffee industry’s finest equipment employers, Visions Espresso, Espresso Parts, Olympia Coffee Roasters & La Marzocco, just to name a few. Everyone who knows me well will attest to my goals of delivering great experiences. I think about how it might feel to walk through the doors of a new space, talk to a total stranger about a product problem or order a specific beverage. I put myself in their shoes, I think about ways to make them feel safe, smart, and comfortable so they will trust me enough to be completely honest with their needs. Why? Because when people are comfortable they tend to remember well, share well, aren’t afraid to tell you the truth…even over share a little. The ultimate goal is to get past the fear and into solving a problem whether that is fixing the equipment, ordering the right beverage or introducing better brew habits. Obviously, understanding the needs and fears of another person is a bit of a vague comment as it applies to either being behind a bar, serving a table, or being in an equipment showroom. Either way my goals are simple. Get comfortable with my guest quickly so I can learn how to serve best. You can only do all the above by being a product expert, having a sincere desire to serve each person on their level of competency & having a true love of serving well.

As I started working at Baratza, I wondered how serving well and taking care might look for me and for the team I am joining. In the last two months I have come to learn that the culture at Baratza is focused on a total customer experience. Needless to say, a focus that continues well after the purchase and into the lifespan of the grinder with the customer. More on that culture, customer support and the operations team in my next blog…….

Kyra & Nick Cho at SCAA Cafe

Forte Feedback from the Professionals!

June 4, 2013

At SCAA in Boston, there was a satellite cafe at the entrance to the show, organized by Nick Cho and Elise Hogan of Kalita USA. They invited Prima Coffee, Marco, La Marzocco, and Baratza to join them in providing the coffee service. They also invited Baristas and coffee professionals from across the US to come and prepare coffees offered from some of the best Roasters in the industry. The attendees were guaranteed excellent coffee every day!

The Forté was on the brew bar – it’s first ‘outing’ – and was really put through it’s paces from a multitude of baristas who had never seen it before, not to mention the huge crowd constantly lined up for coffee! We were anxious to hear what they had to say and reached out to ask about their experiences around the areas of:

  • Ease of Setup
  • Ease of Use with Interface
  • Intuitiveness
  • Consistency
  • Durability
  • The new Shut-Off Hopper

The feedback below from professionals from Intelligentsia Coffee, Sightglass Coffee, and Four Barrel Coffee all point to a grinder that answers the requests we’d received for a quality, commercial, weight-based grinder.

Jesse Raub, Wholesale Educator, Intelligentsia Coffee:

“It seemed super simple to set up. The interface was great — after a minute of studying it, I was able to set the dose without even thinking. Everything on the grinder seemed spot on. I was able to use it without any extra instructions. The weight function was great — I set it for 30g and got 30.1g everytime. It was really amazing. I was grinding right around the middle setting across the board, and was grinding 30 grams at a time. I went through a kilo in three hours, so it cranked out 30 batches with no trouble at all. The Shut-off Hopper worked great!”

Annie McGee, Wholesale Account Representative, Sightglass Coffee Roasters

“Ease of set up was great, I was able to hop on the brew bar and immediately make the needed adjustments to begin service. I think what really impressed me was the volume that the grinder could handle while still providing consistency. In a 4 hour period I brewed 5 lbs of coffee, which is an incredible amount for a pour over station. During that time the grinder was able to keep up with my flow of service and remained consistent with dose and grind.”

Alex Powar, Education, Four Barrel Coffee Roasters

“Overall I’m really impressed with the sturdiness of the build and more than anything else, I’m particularly excited for what this grinder means for high end restaurant accounts that are looking for a grinder that can satisfy their coffee brewing needs. One of the biggest hurdles in restaurant coffee is convincing accounts of the necessity of spending time to weigh out coffee in and coffee out. The dream scenario from a wholesaler perspective is to find a durable grinder that produces consistent particle size and predictable integrated weight-based dosing that one can lock in so that it’s not as easy for baristas or restaurant staff to void the programmed parameters.”