Baratza has been making a large range of high-quality burr coffee grinders for many years now. But, no two products in their lineup have inspired such fierce competition as the Encore and Virtuoso.
The fact that the two devices share many of the same parts (and a similar price point) has made them easy targets for comparison, and today, we’re going to settle the score.
How do you go about choosing which one is better for you?
For many, choosing the right coffee grinder comes down to a specific set of requirements or preferences.
For this comparison, we focused in on seven distinct aspects of the Baratza Encore and the Baratza Virtuoso in order to help you decide which grinder deserves a spot in your home.
When you’re right in the middle of the morning rush, every moment matters. While the Baratza Encore is no slouch with a speed of .8 to 1.1 g/sec, the Virtuoso is a bit faster at 1.5 to 2.4 g/sec.
This isn’t a hugely significant difference by any means, and most people may not even really notice, but the fact remains that the higher-end product does come out ahead when it comes to serving up your grounds quickly and efficiently.
WINNER: The Baratza Virtuoso edges out ahead here, but the difference will be most notable to those needing to make multiple cups of coffee at a time.
Both the Encore and Virtuoso feature the same 40-setting grind control, providing a wide range of different coarseness options to choose from. Dialing in a 30, for instance, will produce very coarse grinds on both machines, whereas a 10 will give you a finer powder more suited to an espresso.
Overall, while the settings are exactly the same on both products, we did notice a slight difference between the two, which we’ll cover below.
WINNER: Both products feature the same settings, so there’s no clear winner here.
Interestingly, though the Baratza Encore and Baratza Virtuoso share nearly the exact same components, the inner burr on the Virtuoso is higher in quality than the one found on its sister product.
In various tests, we found that the Virtuoso produced noticeably finer grounds than the less-expensive Encore grinder, even when the settings on the two devices were set to equal numbers.
The difference wasn’t enough to be a deal-breaker by any means, but for those looking for a very high degree of control over the coarseness of their grounds, it may be worth spending a bit more and going with the Virtuoso on this basis alone.
WINNER: The Virtuoso comes out ahead with its superior inner burr, giving it better control over the end product.
Both the Encore and the Virtuoso have the exact same internal capacity of 8 oz. per grind. This is enough for several cups of coffee each, though it doesn’t compare to other, larger models that are more geared for commercial applications.
Still, for home use, you aren’t very likely to find much to complain about in terms of capacity, unless you have a full house filled with coffee addicts (a situation that we acknowledge is within the realm of possibility).
WINNER: Both the Baratza Encore and Baratza Virtuoso feature 8 oz. hopper capacities, so neither one has the advantage here.
The two coffee grinders don’t really come with a ton of extra features, but that’s okay. At this price range, you’re really just grinding coffee; you won’t find any weighted scales or other fancy additions in either line.
That said, the Virtuoso features a built-in 60-second timer on the side of the device, making it more ideal for multi-cup grinds. With the Encore, the on/off switch needs to be manually toggled, so there’s no setting and forgetting it involved here. In addition, the Virtuoso’s “pulse” button allows for a finer degree of manual control over the grind, which is a big deal for espresso addicts like me.
Finally, we noticed that the Encore is noticeably louder during use than the Virtuoso is. This could be because of the difference in burr quality, or the difference in build materials, but regardless, it isn’t night and day. Still, every little detail adds up.
WINNER: The Baratza Virtuoso, with its self-timer, pulse button functionality, and slightly quieter volume during use.
Both the Encore and the Virtuoso feel high-quality to the touch, but there are several differences between the two that are worth mentioning. For one, while the Encore utilizes a fully ABS-plastic body, the Virtuoso adds some metal into the mix, giving it a slight air of elegance not present on the lower-end model. In our opinion, it simply looks a bit better overall.
Aside from looks, there’s also a difference in weight between the two grinders. While the Virtuoso weighs right at 8 pounds, the Encore comes in a full pound less (likely due to the all-plastic body mentioned above). Depending upon your circumstances, this could be a good thing or a bad thing, but to us, the Virtuoso feels a bit more durable.
WINNER: The Virtuoso’s metal and plastic construction gives it an edge in looks, and the additional pound makes it feel more solid all-around.
Though both the Encore and the Virtuoso are both firmly in the “amateur/enthusiast” price range, you’ll find that there is a difference of about $100 between the two models. Whether or not you feel the higher-end Virtuoso is worth the additional chunk of change is largely dependent upon how much you value the subtle differences detailed above.
At the end of the day, both are going to produce good quality, perfectly usable coffee grounds for you to enjoy.
WINNER: This one is going to depend upon your preference. If you feel that the extra features are worthwhile for your needs, then the Virtuoso is for you.
Encore VS Virtuoso Brew Quality
This is another difficult question to answer, as truthfully, both the Encore and the Virtuoso are perfectly capable of producing grinds that can go on to become fantastic cups of coffee.
That said, it will largely come down to what you normally find yourself drinking on any given day. If a regular cup of joe is all you’re after, and you’re just getting started with home-brewing, the Baratza Encore represents a fantastic value.
That said, if you are a big espresso fan, or you just prefer to have more control over your coffee grounds than most, the Virtuoso’s improved burr means better accuracy and a more even grind throughout.
WINNER: When it comes down to it, the Virtuoso simply provides a more accurate grind relative to the settings you feed it. This means a higher quality grind, which in turn will produce a higher quality cup of coffee.
Overall, both the Encore and the Virtuoso will produce results worthy of their respective price tags. That said, for my money, the Virtuoso provides the much-coveted ability to produce extremely thin, even grinds, which are essential to making a quality cup of espresso.
If you’re in the market for something similar, the extra upcharge may just be worth it for you as well.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.