Most consumer coffee grinders are designed with general home use in mind, and thus shouldn't be expected to last too long if you're consistently grinding more than 10 cups of coffee's worth of beans day after day. However, if you do have enough caffeine addicts in your home that this a regular occurrence, we think it would be worth spending a bit extra on the Baratza Virtuoso+. Though it does cost more than most of the models we tested, that extra money goes into more commercial-grade components that are much more likely to stand up to heavy use than most of the models you'll find on the virtual shelves. In fact, it's been handling the caffeine habit of more than a dozen TGL workers in our office for 6 months without so much as a complaint. It was also a top performer in most of our tests, narrowly missing out on a top score in our grind consistency testing.
Baratza Virtuoso+ Review
Pros: Good grind consistency, burly components
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|Pros||Good grind consistency, burly components||Great grind consistency, intuitive interface, relatively clean and quiet||Quiet operation, good grind consistency, great for pourover||Above average grind consistency, clean operation||Good grind consistency, intuitive interface|
|Cons||Expensive||Not ideal for French press, expensive||Can produce enough static to hang onto grinds, not great at the extreme ends of the grind spectrum (coarse and fine)||Slightly pricier than some comparable models||Expensive, can be messy, creates a grating noise|
|Bottom Line||A consumer-level model that is built more like a durable, commercial-level machine||Top-notch performance in every category except for French press||Good grind consistency from a relatively quiet machine||Unlikely to win any popularity awards, but just as unlikely to displease||Delivers where it counts, but misses some of the finer details that could make it a great machine|
|Rating Categories||Baratza Virtuoso+||Breville Smart Pro||Krups GX420851||Baratza Encore||BREW Conical Burr...|
|Grind Consistency (35%)|
|User Friendliness (25%)|
|Specs||Baratza Virtuoso+||Breville Smart Pro||Krups GX420851||Baratza Encore||BREW Conical Burr...|
|Grinding Mechanism||conical burr||conical burr||conical burr||conical burr||conical burr|
|Burr/Blade Material||high-carbon steel||stainless steel||stainless steel||stainless steel||stainless steel|
|Dimensions||6.69" x 6.69" x 12.6"||12.5" x 8.5" x 16.3"||10.2" x 6.5" X 18.5"||4.7" x 6.3" x 13.8"||11.1" x 7.3" x 16.4"|
|Weight||7.05 lbs||6.4 lbs||6.2 lbs||6.83 lbs||5 lbs|
|Warranty||One Year Limited||One Year Limited||Two Year Limited||One Year Limited||Two Year Limited|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Because of its extra burly components, we think the Baratza Virtuoso+ is a great choice for large families, small offices, or any other setting where a grinder is going to see heavy use.
Our first grind consistency tests involved running pourover-sized grinds through a set of 5 mesh sieves to see how many of those grinds ended up in the ideal size range. In this test the Virtuoso+ kept 59% of the grinds in that ideal size range, with an additional 23% sitting just on either side of that ideal. That means that only 18% of the grinds sat at the extreme fine or coarse end of the spectrum, which are the grinds most likely to negatively impact a brew. Very few models were able to best this mark in our testing.
In our pourover testing, we were able to get the Virtuoso+ very close to the ideal extraction time of 3 minutes. We also found that, cup-to-cup, this extraction time varied very little. This is a good indication that the grinder is dishing out similar results time after time, making it easier to get your ideal cup of coffee every morning.
We did find that this machine got a bit less consistent at both the finer and coarser ends of the spectrum. This isn't a huge deal on the fine end, as this machine doesn't really get fine enough to make proper espresso grounds anyway. However, the extra fines it produces at the coarser end of the spectrum could over extract your French press brew a bit. We highly doubt it will ruin your French press brew, but there were other machines that performed better in this aspect.
The Virtuoso+ is relatively good at producing the same amount of grinds every time. When we measured multiple sets of grinds produced from the same dosage setting, we found only a 1.32 gram discrepancy, making it an above average performer in this test.
In our testing the Virtuoso+'s operation was cleaner than most, but certainly not the cleanest.
On a day to day basis, the Virtuoso+ doesn't require much cleanup. Neither the grind cup nor the grinding chute hang on to too many grinds, reducing spillage, and very few grinds manage to make their way out of the cup during the grinding process. However, the few grinds that do find their way out tend to gather in the little gap where the base of the machine meets the body. Once those discharged grinds build up enough to be noticable, they can be a bit gunky and hard to clean.
We had almost no complaints with the day-to-day use of the Virtuoso+, with the only small annoyances arising when we took the machine apart for deep cleaning.
This machine has one large, analog grind collar for setting the grind size, and one smaller dial with a correspondingly small digital display for setting the grind time (dose size). Neither of these functions are programmable (i.e. you can't program multiple different settings and then summon them at the push of a button) but they will stay where you set them. Therefore, if you tend to grind the same amount/grind size of coffee each morning, you won't have to fuss with the settings
Once we opened up the machine, things got a little less streamlined. While the process itself is straightforward, we found the lower burr to be quite resistant to being taken out for cleaning. Once the cleaning was done, we also had some issues with getting the rubber gasket to line up and actually stay where it's supposed to be. While we certainly didn't enjoy this process, it's something that only needs to be done once in a while, and thus shouldn't be considered a dealbreaker.
Despite the sturdier construction, the Virtuoso+ manages to keep things on the quieter side. The pitch is a bit higher than we'd like, but the sound stays very consistent and steady without any screeching accents that would otherwise upset your eardrums.
There are multiple models on the market that perform just as well, if not better, than the Baratza Virtuoso+ while selling for significantly less. However, this machine is likely to last longer than most when subjected to heavy use. Therefore, that price premium may be worth it in the long run if you regularly make more than 10 cups of coffee in a day.
The Baratza Virtuoso+ is a good all-arond grinder that really shines as a workhorse for large families, small offices, or other situations where a grinder will be asked to grind much more coffee than the average.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell