Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder Review
A good cup of coffee starts with good coffee grounds.
Although this may sound like a simple enough epithet, it’s really not very easy getting a high-quality grind. You can be the best brewer in the world, with the most expensive coffee machine, the purest water, and the best raw coffee beans available, and your cup could still be ruined by a bad grind.
This is why having the best rated coffee grinder is so important if you have high expectations and standards for your daily dosage of caffeine.
In this Baratza Encore conical burr coffee grinder review, you’ll get to learn more about one of the most popular coffee grinders on the market: the Baratza Encore. Despite not being the best grinder that the market has to offer, its nice balance between affordability, performance, and design makes it a very worthwhile grinder to consider.
Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder Review
The Baratza Encore is not a new addition to the coffee grinder market. In fact, it has been around since the 2010s. But fortunately for the Encore, it has aged very well and still remains a relevant budget option for both amateurs and professionals alike in 2021.
Now, it should be said that even though I would be throwing the terms “entry-level” and “budget” around a lot, the Encore cannot be fully considered as a “budget grinder.” With a sticker price of $140, Baratza has positioned the Encore closer to mid-level or premium grinders in other brands. Nevertheless, if you want a Baratza coffee grinder, this is the most affordable one available from the company.
But speaking from experience, you won’t regret the $140 spent. This is a sentiment shared among many other users who have tried out the Encore. The machine returns on the investment very well with its balanced performance and great design.
Raw coffee beans are processed by the Encore’s 40mm conical stainless steel burrs. The burrs’ low speed (550 RPM) reduces heat generation which could badly affect the flavor profile of the beans. Additionally, the low RPM also effectively minimizes noise and static.
The Encore also features a new gearbox with individual gears being cast from glass-filled thermoplastic instead of metal like in older versions. This further dampens the noise level as well as having the added benefit of lengthening the lifespan of the grinder.
While it’s working, the Encore burr grinder can detect a jam and automatically shut itself down to protect the motor. Usually, thermal overload protection systems are only available on higher-tier grinders, so seeing it included in an entry-level product like this one is a nice surprise for a lot of users.
You can load whole coffee beans into the top transparent hopper with a holding capacity of around 0.5 pounds. The processed coffee grounds will fall via a chute into a 0.3-pounds grounds container.
The Baratza Encore has 40 different grind-size settings in total. You can set the machine to produce the correct size by twisting the hopper and align the marker with the measurement collar at the top of the machine. It’s a fairly simple system, but if you’re new to coffee grinding, you may need to take some time to learn and experiment with this.
Control is very straightforward with an ON/OFF power dial to the side and a single pulse grinding button at the front. Many features are notably missing like a timer function, but since this is an entry-level product, it’s to be expected.
Last, but not least, the overall aesthetic design of the grinder is pretty good. It has an all-plastic, black-painted exterior that looks quite nice when set on the counter. Sure, compared to the many affordable coffee grinders with metallic details, it doesn’t look nearly as good. But the Encore definitely has a charm of its own.
The important question is, how well does it perform?
Very well, thankfully. For nearly a decade, the Baratza Encore has maintained a high standing among users and reviewers due to its balanced performance. It can produce grounds with acceptable quality in a variety of sizes, from fine to medium and coarse.
According to many tests, the Encore can maintain a good sizing for as much as ¾ (about 60% to 70%) of its grinds at a medium grind setting. This is a very impressive number for an affordable machine and will be a darling for drinkers who love pour-over.
This Baratza coffee grinder also does a nice job in the finer and coarser regimens.
It does a particularly nice job at fine to medium-fine settings and is able to maintain an adequate level of consistency there. You can use the resulting grinds for your Espresso machine and you wouldn’t miss much of the beans’ essences.
On the other hand, many of the Baratza Encore conical burr coffee grinder reviews noted that at the coarsest settings, the grinds become visibly inconsistent. This can be an issue if you like French presses. Luckily, when this happens, all you need to do is reduce the grind size by a little bit and the consistency should increase. It’s been found that anywhere below #35 should do the trick for a good French press coffee.
Overall, it’s quite clear that the specialty of this grinder lies in the medium spectrum. While you can crank the lever towards finer or coarser, consistency would decrease the further you bring the machine towards either extreme.
40mm Conical Stainless Steel Burrs
Of course, we ought to have a talk about the Encore’s steel burs while we’re on the topic of its grinding performance. I have already spoken about the burrs’ most important qualities (reduced heat, static, and so on) in the overview, so I won’t reiterate all that’s been discussed here.
Instead, I’ll be delving further into one of the more common complaints among consumers like the debate between the merits of having ceramic burrs over stainless steel ones.
Basically, the burrs in burr grinders are typically made from either ceramic or stainless steel (in the case of the Encore, it’s the latter.)
Ceramic is the more popular out of the two in household grinders due to greater longevity. It can keep its sharpness for longer and requires less maintenance since it doesn’t rust or deteriorate from moisture or hot environments. Additionally, some people swear that ceramic burrs can impart a unique “earthy” flavor to the grounds. This property goes particularly well when it’s used to prepare an espresso grind.
The disadvantages are that ceramic burrs are quite fragile and can break very easily. They’re also more expensive than stainless steel burrs to replace.
On the other hand, while stainless steel burrs would eventually dull, they’re sharper and more accurate from the very beginning. As such, they can ensure greater consistency than their ceramic counterparts.
Unlike ceramic burrs that have a more organic taste profile, stainless steel burrs are known for having a “cleaner” and more sterile taste. This, along with their innate accuracy, makes stainless steel burrs a better choice for coarse grinds.
Beside being less convenient to maintain, stainless steel burrs also conduct heat. This can negatively impact the grinding process since heat can dramatically change the taste of the grounds.
Returning to the stainless steel burrs of the Encore, while it does have all of the aforementioned issues (and benefits,) most of the Baratza Encore coffee grinder reviews from users indicated that they are happy with the burrs’ construction. They can last a very long time and, according to some professional users, don’t distort the flavor profiles of the coffee grounds all that much compared to other grinders in-class.
As for ease of maintenance, all of the burrs can be removed from the machine and cleaned individually.
The low noise level is one of the best things about the Baratza Encore. As mentioned in the overview, it has an updated gearbox with gears made from thermoplastic instead of metal. Thus, it can reduce noise from deafening in earlier Encore models to a level decent enough that you don’t have to yell while talking with someone in the kitchen.
The Baratza Encore has a very bare-bones control interface. As mentioned earlier, you have an ON/OFF switch to the side of the machine and a pulse grinding button at the front. Since it’s a “budget” coffee grinder, the Encore notably lacks more novel features found in expensive grinders such as electronic screens and timers.
To people who have had experiences with coffee grinding, this is a pretty big drawback. Even the addition of a basic timer could make the grinding process a whole lot more convenient.
On the other hand, for novice users, this isn’t a shabby machine to experiment and learn the art of coffee-making on. The simple control gives you direct control over the grinding process, thus, it makes learning, adjusting, and even playing around easier.
At the top of the machine is the grind-size adjusting collar with 40 markings. To “tune in” to a size, you can twist the bean hopper and align the white arrow on the hopper with the desired number.
It’s a pretty simple system, but in my opinion, it could have been made even simpler by giving clear grind size divisions on the collar. Specifically, from which size to which is considered fine, medium, or coarse.
After all, the Encore is meant to be used by new users. As the collar doesn’t have any other markings than the grind size number, it would take some experimenting and extra readings to figure out which is the best number to choose.
Well, here’s a small tip:
- • Fine: From #1 - #16. In this range, the grinds are good for Turkish and espresso.
- • Medium: From #16 - #30/#31. Ideal for pour-over, aeropress, siphon, and flat drip.
- • Coarse: Above #31. From here on out are the territories of French presses, percolators, and cold brews.
Of course, you’ll need to do some experimenting to find the ones that would suit your brewing style best, but this short info should get you started.
Bean Hopper and Grind Container
The bean hopper and grind container of the Encore can hold 0.5 pounds and 0.3 pounds, respectively. Both of them are made from plastic and as far as I know, they do not hold a static charge. This would make cleaning significantly easier as coffee dust wouldn’t stick stubbornly to the sides like in metal hoppers and containers.
Most users are happy with these two parts and have nothing bad to say about them.
Normally, I focus only on the product itself, but Baratza’s customer service is such a remarkable aspect that I must dedicate an entire section about it.
Baratza’s customer service department has a stellar reputation of being helpful and there’s been a lot of stories shared about it. If you run into any issues whatsoever, such as a broken motor or parts, you can contact their customer service and they will work with you from there. Some have even reported that Baratza was willing to repair their out-of-warranty machines free of charge.
The company’s willingness to communicate with its customers have fostered quite a lot of brand loyalty. So, I daresay that setting money down for the Baratza Encore (or any Baratza machines overall) doesn’t just mean you’re buying the product itself, but the after-sale service, too. And as many have found, it’s well worth it.
As one of the best rated coffee grinders on the selling chart at the moment, the Baratza Encore has received a lot of reviews from consumers. Here are some of the more interesting opinions that I think you should read. Because they have had personal experiences with the grinder, they provide a more intimate view into how well the Encore works in reality.
Plus, there are also some nice insights that you could learn from, as well.
Alternative to Consider: OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
If you feel like the Baratza Encore isn’t quite what you’re looking for in a coffee grinder, there are many alternatives that may work for you. Here’s one notable model, in the same class and price range as the Encore, that you should take into consideration: the OXO Brew conical burr grinder.
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder Via: Amazon
The OXO Brew burr grinder starts at less than the Encore, but it’s still a respectable coffee grinding machine by its own right. Just like the Encore, it is OXO’s entry-level product and shouldn’t set you off by much. It is ideal for those who are shopping on a tight budget.
In terms of performance, the OXO conical burr grinder is a solid medium grind size machine. At its most optimal grind setting, it can maintain the correct sizing for about half of its grinds. While this may sound mediocre at first, for a machine at this price point, it’s quite decent.
The further you dial the grind size setting to the extremes (very fine or very coarse), the less consistent the performance will be. According to the words of many customers, the finest coffee grounds aren’t consistent enough to be able to work well with high-tier Espresso machines. You wouldn’t enjoy French-pressed coffee made from its coarsest setting, either. Instead, if you enjoy these types of brews, dial down to medium-fine or medium-coarse, which is where it's best.
This grinder is also equipped with 40mm conical stainless steel burrs, the same ones found in the Baratza Encore burr grinder. Their properties aren’t all that different from one another, so I won’t bore you with further dissection.
There is one notable issue about the burrs that I ought to mention, though. While the top burr is removable and can be cleaned, the bottom one is fixed solidly to the grinder. While it’s still possible to clean it, it is a lot more awkward doing it this way, so keep an eye out for that.
Noise is a big problem with the OXO grinder, too. Although it is not loud per se, the high-pitched whirring noise emitted by its motor is enough to cause a headache. If you’re sensitive to noises, fair warning: this grinder can get on your nerves quickly.
The control interface of the OXO conical burr grinder is simple like many other entry-level grinders out there. However, the power button in this case is integrated with a timer, too. For users of the Encore, the lack of a timer was one of the things that grated on them the most. If you’re part of this group, you may be happier with the OXO for this feature.
All in all, the machine has 15 size settings that can be set through a size adjustment collar, similar to the one on the Encore. One thing that I really like about the collar’s design is that the settings are clearly sectioned to make it easier for beginners to distinguish between fine, medium, and coarse grind settings.
The bean hopper can hold 0.75 pounds of raw beans and the transparent cover is treated with a layer of UV-blocking tint. UV light can quicken the beans’ oxidation process and ruins the taste. This will safeguard your precious coffee against that.
Fortunately, most households will not have any source of UV light for this to be a concern. The only way for beans to become UV-damaged is by leaving them in direct sunlight (which is the biggest source of UV light on Earth.) This information is useful if your kitchen has a lot of windows that could let in light accidentally.
That doesn’t mean you can just leave your coffee grinder in the open and not have to worry about it at all, however. It’s still good practice to keep your grinder away from the windows.
The grind container can hold 0.25 pounds of fresh grinds. That’s enough for about 12 cups of coffee.
With this Baratza Encore conical burr coffee grinder review, I hope you now have a better idea of what the Baratza Encore conical burr coffee grinder with bin is all about. It’s affordable and has good enough performance to appease the palette and brewing styles of most drinkers beside the most fastidious ones. So if you’re budget-minded or are looking for a starter grinder, it would be a nice buy.