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If you’re comparing the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso+, then you already know that delectable home coffee starts with a quality burr grinder and craft beans. Conical burr grinders are made for discriminating specialty coffee consumers. If you are upgrading from pre-ground coffee or a blade grinder, you will gain a quantum leap in flavor with either of these models. But how do they differ, and which will best suit your needs?
We’ll compare the grind characteristics, operation, construction, and other features of the two models. The Virtuoso+ costs about $100 more than the Encore and has an edge in burr performance and grind versatility. Is it worth it? Let’s find out.
About the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso+
The Baratza Encore coffee grinder is Baratza’s long standing entry-level offering in burr grinders, and a favorite in the specialty coffee market. It is easy to use and features straightforward controls.
The Encore’s settings include a manual on-off dial switch and a pulse button. The grind selection has 40 degrees of adjustment, which you choose by rotating the hopper. Coarseness ranges from 250 to 1200 microns, which is versatile enough for popular home methods such as manual pour-over, automatic drip, Chemex, and AeroPress.
The unit’s plastic body comes in black or white and is compact at 4.7 inches wide, 13.7 inches tall, and 6.3 inches deep. It takes up limited counter space and fits under most kitchen cabinets.
The Encore is easy to clean and maintain. You can replace the burrs and other components individually, making repairs economical. Baratza encourages this approach, selling parts on its website and offering a turnkey grinder repair program.
You can see the Encore in action in this video from the good folks at Seattle Coffee Gear:
Baratza Encore upgrades
For a faster and more uniform grind, you can upgrade the Baratza Encore rather than replace it. Upgrading entails swapping out its M3 burr for the better-performing M2 burr found in the Virtuoso+:
The M2 burr improves uniformity and reduces the fines—the smallest coffee particles—which can degrade coffee taste. It also almost doubles throughput speed. You can buy the parts from the Baratza website for about $49 and install the new burr yourself.
Alternatively, you can purchase Baratza’s Preciso burr kit for about $10 more. It includes redundant Encore parts but may save you some installation time. This option is also useful if you need to replace other parts or keep spares on hand.
Buying a refurbished Baratza Encore
The unit’s ease of repair makes buying a refurbished Baratza Encore a good bet in terms of reliability. Baratza sells refurbished models on its website, although inventory may be limited. All units come with a one-year warranty and have been cleaned, repaired, and upgraded as needed.
The Baratza Virtuoso+ coffee grinder is the next tier in Baratza’s consumer line. It targets home coffee lovers who want to up their game with a mid-range multipurpose grinder. The Virtuoso product line is well-established in the craft coffee world, and this latest model retails for over $100 more than the Encore.
The Virtuoso+ has 40 degrees of grind adjustment and a range of 200–1200 microns. As with the Encore, you choose your setting by rotating the hopper. It has an upgraded M2 burr that produces a more uniform grind, especially at coarse and espresso settings. Like the Encore, this model is versatile enough for most home methods such as manual pour-over, automatic drip, AeroPress, and cold brew. The more consistent grind does justice to espresso, although you can’t fine-tune between settings.
The Virtuoso+ has a front digital display and a 40-second timer adjustable to one-tenth of a second. Turning the knob clockwise advances time by one second, and turning it counterclockwise subtracts one-tenth of a second. It also has a pulse feature, which is useful for dosing coffee directly into an espresso portafilter. The timer gives you the flexibility to store beans in the hopper and grind precise quantities on demand.
The unit is solidly constructed with a sturdy base that reduces vibration. It has stylish appeal thanks to its digital display and black plastic and stainless steel body. The grounds bin is transparent and features LED lights for visibility.
Here, the folks at Seattle Coffee Gear take us on a tour of the Virtuoso+:
Difference between the Virtuoso+ and Virtuoso
The Virtuoso+ replaces the original Virtuoso coffee grinder that came to the market in 2005. The Virtuoso+ debuted in 2019. It retains the rugged mechanics and upgraded M2 burr. In response to consumer feedback, Baratza added some features to improve usability:
- Timer: The Virtuoso+ replaces the timer on the side of the Virtuoso grinder with a front-mounted digital timer.
- Improved grounds bin visibility: LED lights and a clearer bin let you watch the coffee volume. Excess grounds can back up into the unit and damage the motor.
Key differences between the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso+
When you’re weighing the Baratza Encore vs. the Virtuoso, you are starting with two solid performers for home specialty coffee. They differ primarily in ways that reflect their respective market positions as entry-level and mid-range grinders.
The models use different conical burrs. The Virtuoso+ has an M2 burr that grinds more precisely than the Encore’s M3 burr, producing more uniform particles for superior coffee taste. The contrast is most noticeable at the fine and coarse ends of the setting range. This makes the Virtuoso+ more suitable for producing consistently flavorful espresso and smooth brews from very coarse grinds.
The Virtuoso+ has a range of 200–1200 microns, while the Encore has a range of 250–1200 microns. The Virtuoso+ can grind more finely and produces a more uniform fine grind than the Encore, making it more suitable for espresso.
The Virtuoso’s throughput rate is about twice as fast as the Encore’s. The Virtuoso+ grinds at 1.5–2.4 grams per second compared to the Encore at 0.8–1.1 grams per second. The difference is largely due to burr geometry as the models share the same motor. The Virtuoso’s M2 burr grinds much faster than the Encore’s M3 burr.
The Encore features a manual on-off dial switch on the side panel and a front-mounted button to pulse-dose small amounts or directly into a portafilter. It does not have a timer.
The Virtuoso+ has a digital timer that can be set to one-tenth of a second. This enables you to dose a precise amount for minimum waste and brewing consistency. It also has a pulse mode that lets you top off or grind directly into a portafilter.
The Encore has a clear grounds bin with a horizontal line marking the optimal fill height. The Virtuoso+, which dispenses coffee much faster, has a lighted bin to help you monitor the amount. Both designs help prevent overfilling, which can push coffee into the unit and potentially damage the motor.
Weighing in at seven pounds, the Encore features a plastic body and consumer-grade parts designed to perform reliably with normal home use. The Virtuoso+ has a sturdier base that keeps the burrs better calibrated for more consistent performance. This stability makes this model ideal for high-volume home use, or modest workplace use. Its case consists of stainless steel and black plastic, and at eight pounds, it’s a little heavier than the Encore.
|Grind speed||0.8-1.1 g/sec||1.5-2.4 g/sec|
|Grind range||250-1200 microns||200-1200 microns|
|Body construction||plastic||plastic and stainless steel|
|Dimensions||4.7” W 13.7” H 6.3” D||4.7” W 13.7” H 6.3” D|
|Weight||7 pounds||8 pounds|
|Controls||on-off switch and pulse button||digital timer and pulse button|
|Grounds bin capacity||5 ounces||5 ounces|
|Hopper capacity||8 ounces||8 ounces|
What the Encore and Virtuoso+ have in common
As Baratza’s established consumer burr grinders, the Encore and Virtuoso+ share core features that offer sound value:
- Conical burrs: Both models use conical burrs for durability, sharpness longevity, and a precise grind.
- Grind adjustment settings: Both units have 40 steps from coarse to fine, although they differ slightly in range.
- Compact design: Both models have the same compact footprint and dimensions.
- Ease of maintenance and repair: You can replace the burrs and other components without swapping out the entire assembly. Baratza sells parts on its website and offers a prepaid repair program. Extending the life of either model can save you money.
- Accessories: Two accessories are available at extra charge and fit both models. The portaholder holds an espresso portafilter in place for hands-free grinding without spillage. To use, you swap the grinds bin for the portaholder. The hopper extender adds 8.8 ounces to the existing 8-ounce hopper capacity. It fits onto the existing hopper, and units are stackable.
Frequently asked questions
Is the Baratza Encore good for espresso?
With a low range of 250 microns, the Encore can grind beans finely and consistently enough to produce a quality shot.
However, if you are an espresso connoisseur, you may taste the difference between the Encore’s output and a grind with fewer fines. The Encore’s M3 burrs, while precision quality, don’t grind as uniformly as the Virtuoso+’s M2 burrs. This means that more fines are left behind to alter the flavor profile. The Virtuoso+ can also grind at 200 microns, which produces a better espresso in some machines.
Will you taste the difference? Some espresso aficionados say they can, so if possible, do a taste test before purchasing. Consider how often you plan to brew espresso. If it’s your go-to daily elixir, you want to be sure the Encore meets your expectations. For many consumers, it will.
Is the Baratza Virtuoso+ worth it?
When comparing the Baratza Encore vs. the Virtuoso+, the answer depends on whether you want features and performance beyond what the Encore delivers. If you are buying your first burr grinder or sticking with the same manual brew grind, you may be thrilled with the dependable Encore.
The Virtuoso+ may be the more worthwhile option if:
- Your grinder will get heavy daily use.
- You need the precision of a timer.
- You brew varied types of coffee and want a uniform grind at multiple settings.
- You brew espresso regularly.
Making the decision
When debating between the Baratza Encore and Virtuoso+, consider this: Will an entry-level performer suit your brew, or do you need more?
Buy the Encore if you want a straightforward, budget-friendly burr grinder for excellent coffee and are not overly concerned about espresso quality.
The Encore offers manual controls that should suffice if you don’t need to time your grind. It works well for average home volumes as grind consistency doesn’t quite match the Virtuoso’s output.
Buy the Virtuoso+ if you already use a burr grinder and want a wider adjustment range. If you treasure a well-crafted espresso, you will be happier with the Virtuoso+.
Also consider the Virtuoso+ if you want a timer for precise control over grind quantity or if you brew more than 10 cups per day.
Both machines have excellent reputations and are backed by Baratza’s extensive support. Choose the grinder that best suits your palate, and it will pay for itself with each satisfying cup.