Baratza Encore Review
Pros: Above average grind consistency, clean operation
Cons: Slightly pricier than some comparable models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Baratza Encore is a well-designed machine that delivered all we needed in our testing process, but it didn't particularly endear itself to us either. If you just want a simple, reliable burr grinder, this model won't disappoint, but if you're looking for exceptional performance in any particular category (grind consistency, user friendliness, et cetera) you will probably be happier with a different machine.
In order to be worth its salt, a burr grinder has to grind significantly more consistently than a blade grinder. While it wasn't one of the top performing burr models in our grind consistency testing, the Encore still cleared this bar with room to spare. It did create more fine coffee dust than most of the other burr models we tested, but it still managed to get an impressive 69% of its grinds into the ideal size range when grinding at a pourover grind size. It took us some experimenting to find the right settings to mitigate those extra fine grinds, but once we did (#10 setting seemed to do the trick) the Encore created fairly consistent pourover extraction times. This means pourover aficionados will likely be able to get repeatable, predictable results with this machine.
We were also able to get decent results at the fine (espresso) and coarse (French press) ends of the spectrum, but again this took quite a bit of experimenting and dialing things in. Overall we think this machine is better suited to mid-range, pourover type grind sizes, but with some finicking you can get good French press results as well.
Possibly our favorite thing about the Encore is that it generally keeps things nice and tidy. It doesn't shoot grinds around when grinding like some other models, it doesn't create much static that would cause grinds to cling to things, the grind cups pour neatly, and the grind chute doesn't tend to spill many grinds. All in all we ended up with less required cleanup when using the Encore compared to most other models.
Though the Encore isn't really a standout performer in most categories, it also doesn't perform poorly in any category either. Sure, we wish that it ground a bit more consistently or cost a bit less, as we have found some models that grind slightly better while costing slightly less. However, neither of those faults are so egregious as to make us dislike the Encore. Possibly our biggest qualm with the Encore is that it doesn't quite live up to its name. It is more of a dependable opening act that will reliably get the crowd warmed up than it is a headliner worthy of an encore.
The Baratza Encore isn't a bad value — it offers decent overall performance at a reasonable price — but it isn't a particularly great value either. You can certainly get better or slightly better performance for less, but we don't think the Encore asks you to overpay too much either.
The Baratza Encore probably isn't going to earn any emphatic accolades, but it likely won't draw any passionate ire either. If you're looking for a no frills, no fuss type of burr grinder, it's not a bad choice.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell