Tag Archives: Burrs

Choosing the Best Baratza Grinder for YOU (revised)


What grinder is best for me? This question has popped up more than a few times in this Support department, I hope that this blog will help inform and educate how to optimize your grinder selection for your caffeination needs.
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of brew method(s) you plan on employing. Next, think about how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Coffee, like all things, can be a basic pleasure, or a scientific art. Having expensive equipment definitely helps procure good extractions, but spending gobs of money is not going to guarantee you delicious shots, beautiful art or delicate flavors in your pourover. Those things come from practice, understanding, and appreciation of the process. Are you interested in drinking a tasty cup of coffee, and that is all? Do you want to find the perfect balance of complimentary notes in your manual extraction? Or, do you want to pull an exact 30 second, two ounce with crema shot (or whatever parameters you prefer) and have the ability to change the shot time in increments as small as one second?
We have two different families of grinder models- conical and flat burr grinders. The discussion of which is better between conical vs flat burrs could be compared to the argument of Ford vs Chevy; people will stick to their side of the argument tooth and nail depending on personal preference. I can only speak specifically to the pros and cons of Baratza conical and flat burr grinders. All of our grinders are designed to grind per dose, they are not intended for batch grinding- that is, they are not intended to grind a whole pound of coffee through in one shot.
The current conical lineup includes the Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso. These grinders all have 40mm conical burrs made in Liechtenstein. We pride ourselves on having high carbon, hardened conical burrs excellent in quality that generally last for about five hundred pounds of coffee. The powerful DC motors are low revving compared to AC motors, spinning the burrs at ~450rpm and keeping heat transfer to the grounds down. The transmission gear layout, GB2.0, accurately meshes the helical worm shaft of the motor with the reduction gear for a smooth, direct drive transfer of power. The grind is adjusted in a cork screw type fashion, with the adjustment ring threads pulling the stationary upper burr closer or further from the rotating lower burr. Grounds retention in the machine is about a gram, which reduces the amount of purging coffee through needed. The 100+ gram capacity bin and the discharge chute are made of an anti-static plastic, which helps battle the inevitable static better than a coating.
The flat burr lineup includes the Vario, Vario W, Forté All Purpose (AP) and Forté Brew Grinder (BG). All four of these units use 54mm flat burrs, have a digital front panel capable of saving 3 preset functions, and the adjuster levers are easy to read and adjust. Grind size is adjusted by a milled metal camshaft. As you raise the adjustment lever, the lobe on the camshaft presses up against the bottom of the lower burr, decreasing the gap between the lower burr and the stationary upper burr. The same DC motor as used in the conicals powers the burr, but using a belt drive transmission that reduces noise.

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Our entry level conical burr grinder is the Encore. At $129 USD, it has a 40 setting range that produces an espresso fine grind as well the ability to grind a coarse French press grind. The Encore has an intermittent pulse button on the front of the machine as well as an on/off knob on the side. I recommend the Encore for those who do not want to commit substantial time for brewing, but understand and appreciate the benefit of fresh consistently ground coffee at home. The Encore does grind the slowest of our models, at an average rate of about a gram a second.
The Virtuoso is a step up from the Encore with a price point of $229 USD. With a sharp looking cast zinc upper casing and base, this grinder immediately catches the eye. Besides being nice to look at, it excels at a consistent coarse grind, and readily produces an espresso fine grind. Like the Encore, the Virtuoso has an intermittent pulse button, and on the side of the machine it also has a 60 second timer switch that offers a distinct advantage over the on/off switch of the Encore. The timer allows the user to roughly dose the amount of beans ground, and winds down, powering the grinder off while you prepare your filter/water/brew equipment. With a max throughput of around 2 grams a second, the Virtuoso is very efficient and quick enough for impatient coffee connoisseurs. I highly recommend the Virtuoso, as I enjoy operating mine at home for assorted manual brew methods.
The next step up in our model line, the Preciso, is directed for users who are seriously making espresso, along with manual extractions, and desire more control than the 40 step adjustment. Although the Virtuoso and Encore models will grind fine enough for espresso, a user may find it difficult to procure an exact shot time. The Preciso, at $299 USD, addresses this issue with the addition of a micro adjustment which allows users to find a grind setting in between the 40 macro steps, giving a total of 400 steps of adjustment. When pulling espresso shots the micro adjustment function can be used to adjust the shot time by as little as one second (all other variables remaining the same). I recommend the Preciso for users who are pulling shots and are controlling the other variables such as dosage, water weight, shot time, temperature, tamp pressure, and of course having fresh beans (preferably less than two weeks from the roast date).
The Vario is our ceramic flat burr grinder at $479 USD that grinds based on a time input (10.3 seconds, 15.8 seconds, etc). With macro and micro adjustment options, the Vario with the stock ceramic burrs is superb at grinding for espresso. We also offer a set of steel burrs that are designed for manual brew grinding. The digital display holds three preset times that are programmable by the user. A metal Porta Holder with dosing funnel is included with the Vario, allowing users to grind hands-free into the espresso basket with minimal mess from static spray. The regular grounds bin has a 140+ gram capacity and is made of static dissipating plastic. I recommend the Vario for espresso fanatics, and encourage heavy users to buy the Vario over the Preciso.
Mechanically speaking, the Vario-W is identical to the Vario. However, rather than grinding based on a time input, the Vario-W grinds based on a desired weight input and will grind the dose within 0.2 grams of the desired input. This allows users to control another variable in the brewing equation without additional equipment/steps. With a 300 gram maximum capacity of the load cell, the user cannot grind by weight directly into an espresso porta filter- only into the 120+ gram capacity grounds bin provided. A hopper with shutoff valve is included with the Vario-W, making it easy to remove the hopper without dumping the beans out or falling out the bottom when the hopper is removed. The Vario-W is priced at $559 USD.
At $129 USD, the Esatto is an attachment for our conical burr grinders that allows the users to grind by weight directly into the 60 gram capacity grounds bin provided, saving the user the extra step of weighing the dose on a separate scale. The Esatto has a 300 gram max cap for the scale and cannot grind by weight directly into an espresso porta filter. The Esatto fits the Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso, as well as our superseded models Maestro Plus and Baratza Starbucks Barista P/N 1MP1SP.
The Forté AP retails for $899 USD and is a more rugged version of the Vario. A perfect fit for low-volume, single origin or decaf espresso coffee grinder, we recommend it for grinding up to five pounds (2.25kg) of coffee in a day. Utilizing the same theory of operation as the Vario, the Forté has stronger transmission components, a metal grind chamber and metal levers. The metal components noticeably improve the dialing in process of extracting espresso shots.
Operationally, the Forté has both grind-by-time and grind-by-weight in one unit. Although dosing directly into the porta filter with the included metal PortaHolder can only be accomplished with grind-by-time, the Forte has a software conversion (Smart Dosing) allowing the user to most accurately dose directly into your porta filter. The Mahlkoenig ceramic burrs of the AP have a throughput rate of 2.0g/s to 3.5g/s. Designed to optimize espresso grinding, they are still capable of producing an acceptable French press coarse grind.
The Forté BG, at $919 USD, is identical to the Forté AP except the burr set. The Forté BG comes equipped with a steel burr set that was designed specifically to reduce the amount of fines found in the coarse grind. The throughput rate is 1.2 to 2.4 g/s. Although the Forté BG does not include a metal PortaHolder, the part can be purchased separately and used with the BG. With a small footprint and splendid coarse grind, the BG is an ideal match for your manual brew bar.

If you are looking for a grinder for Turkish
No Baratza grinders are designed for Turkish coffee grinding. Although our grinders are capable of producing a Turkish fine grind, the demands on the machine are high. Our grinders have a thermal overload protection circuit that will cut power to the motor if it draws a large amount. Power consumption for Turkish is great, which will cause the machine to shut down into protect mode until it has cooled down for 15 or 20 minutes- perhaps before even grinding a full dose. I have helped several customers with Baratza grinders and the intention of Turkish over the years; none in my experience have been satisfied. I recommend a hand grinder for home Turkish grinding.

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful in finding the Baratza grinder that best suits your needs and budget!

Life Expectancy of Burrs

by Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Founder and Chief Engineer

People ask us all the time about life expectancy of their burrs. It’s hard to give a hard and fast rule as the life expectancy of a burr varies, depending on the type of coffee, degree of roast, grind size, volume ground, and any rocks you may run into! The increasingly popular lighter roasted beans tend to be a lot harder on the burrs. However, as a good rule of thumb you can expect the burrs on our grinders to last as follows:

  • Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso and flat steel burrs (Vario and Forté) – 500-1000 pounds of coffee
  • Ceramic burrs (Vario and Forté) – 1000 to 1500 pounds of coffee

Forte ceramic burr_TSH4472lr

So, take my household for example, I mainly use a Forté-AP to grind for espresso. My household, plus some of the Baratza team, makes about 12 double shots a day, each dosed at 20 grams. The Forté-AP is grinding 240 grams a day or around 87,600 grams/year. There are 453 grams of coffee in a pound. So I am grinding about 193 pounds/year. This number is a little low since once a month I use my grinder to cater a coffee hour at our clubhouse and serve about 100 drinks. So I estimate that I grind about 198 pounds of coffee a year. Therefore, my Forté-AP burrs should last about 5 to 7 years!

It is difficult to know when to change the burrs. One clear indication that it is time for new burrs is if your grinder is not capable of grinding coarse any more. If you have questions or issues about your burrs and grinding, we have some great technical support videos on our YouTube Channel and grinder specific, frequently asked questions, here on our website’s troubleshooting page. I encourage you to check these out.

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.


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!

Steel vs Ceramic burrs and heat generation – the lowdown

September 17,2012

Recently we did a short blog on the life of burrs! It was well received and generated many more questions from our Baratza community, especially around the topic of the differences between ceramic and metal burrs, and the heat generated in burrs, when grinding. We decided it was time that Kyle Anderson, download some of that knowledge that he’s built up over his 20 years in the business of designing and manufacturing coffee machines and grinders, and let you in on some facts on these burrs! By the way, Kyle’s the President and Co-owner of Baratza, plus he’s the chief designer/engineer/geekhead – he knows a thing or two!

So, here you go………….

by Kyle Anderson

As with the ongoing argument about which is better: a Ford or a Chevy, so goes the banter about steel vs. ceramic burrs in coffee grinders. In the former argument the facts are few and the fur flies readily, in the later the same is true. The few known “facts” about steel and ceramic burrs are mixed in with a large dose of misunderstandings. My goal with this blog is to lay out the facts, dispel the most common misunderstandings, all in the hopes of producing a better educated coffee grinder user/buyer. While we have produced grinders for 11+ years with conical and flat burrs, I will limit this missive to flat burrs only.

First a few facts….
  • Ceramic burrs are harder than steel and last (on average) about twice as long as steel burrs.
  • Ceramic burrs are more brittle than steel so you could chip the ceramic burr if a very hard rock was hiding in the beans.
  • Ceramic burr are less thermally conductive than steel, this means these burrs transfer less heat than steel burrs (See below on heat).
  • Ceramic burrs require a custom mold or tool to form them. These tools are not cheap so there are far fewer ceramic burr designs to choose from than steel.
  • Unit cost of ceramic burrs are MUCH lower than comparable steel burrs, typically less than half (after the molds to make the burrs are paid for)
  • Ceramic burrs are ideal for heavy duty commercial applications (see LaMarzocco Swift grinder for $4500! It is only sold with ceramic burrs)
  • The material of the burr has no bearing on the speed it must rotate, this is a function of the design of the teeth.
  • The noise generated during grinding is a function of the teeth design not the material of the burr.
  • Ceramic and steel burrs both handle all roasts equally
  • Steel burrs MAY be more durable than ceramic if a stone is encountered, but the steel burr can dent or chip also.
Heat and grinding coffee beans: the big misunderstanding

Thermal conductivity of the burrs (i.e. The material they are made from) has NO BEARING on the root cause of heat build up in grinders which comes from a combination of internal friction as the coffee bean is crushed, and from minor friction in the actual cutting of the bean by the burrs. The sharper the burrs ,the less heat is created in the cutting of the bean. The majority of heat creation comes from the crushing of the bean. One could actually argue that the higher thermal conductivity of steel burrs can actually decrease the heat of the ground coffee in small batches. This is because the heat is created IN the bean and is then transferred to the burrs. If the burrs are steel, they will do a MUCH better job of transferring this heat away from the coffee and to the housing of the grinding mechanism. The actual surface temperature of the grinding surface will be similar whether the burr is steel or ceramic, except for that heat which is able to transfer through the burr and away from the coffee. In large industrial coffee grinders, the burrs are mounted to a plate that has water cooling running through it. The burrs conduct the heat away from the beans (and the grinding surface) to the water. A secondary source of heat in ground coffee comes from heat that is stored in the burrs and grinder housing (from coffee ground earlier or immediately preceding) and transferred back into the coffee being ground in the moment. And this brings me to another pet peeve:

The speed of rotation of grinding burrs and the effect on heat build up in the the ground coffee.

Dull and/or poorly designed burrs (of any material (steel or ceramic)) will result in inefficient grinding of the coffee which in turn will generate more heat in the beans. The actual speed of rotation of the burrs is not the dominant (or even significant) variable. I have seen designs of conical burrs turning at 3400 rpm and grinding 10+ grams per second and the coffee comes out cool. (Typical conical burr grinders turn at 300-500 rpm) An argument can be made for lessening the contact time that the coffee beans have with the burrs (once the burrs get hot). Remember, the surface of the burrs get hot from the beans that have been ground before, this hot surface can then conduct this heat back into new coffee. As coffee passes through the grind path quickly (this can only happen with well designed, sharp burrs and a clever grind chamber design) the contact time is so minimal that the only heat experienced by the coffee is that from its own crushing and cutting, not from latent heat in the burrs or grinder housing.

I hope this writing has shed some light on common misunderstandings relative to burrs materials and heat issues in the grinding of coffee.