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European manufacturer, Baratza, produces a range of grinders for both the domestic and commercial market. For home users looking to invest in a new or replacement grinder, choosing between all the features on offer with each model can be difficult. To help you decide, we take a look at two Baratza models, the Baratza Virtuoso vs. Preciso. If you are in the market for a good coffee grinder, then you’ll want to continue reading this comparison.
The Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder
|Dimensions:||14.6 x 7.8 x 7.2 inches|
|Grind speed:||1.5g/sec to 2.4g/sec|
|Grind range:||200 to 1200 microns
|Burrs:||40mm conical burrs|
|Grounds bin capacity:||5oz|
Yes (60 seconds)
The Virtuoso is aimed at the home brewer who’s ready to take their grinding to the next level. Offering a step up from Baratza’s entry-level unit, the Encore, the Virtuoso boasts a range of features designed to help the home brewer get the best out of their coffee and their chosen brewing methods.
Alongside the 40mm conical burrs, with the Virtuoso, you get a full 40 grind settings which can take you from espresso (fine) all the way up to French press (coarse) with all the steps in between.
The only thing the Virtuoso doesn’t do is grind extra fine. In fact, at the finest grind setting, the unit produces a grind with some granularity (more like sand than talc). This really isn’t an issue unless you want to brew Turkish coffee. The fine settings on the Virtuoso are certainly suitable for espresso and AeroPress. You can grind coffee beans for almost every coffee maker here.
The Virtuoso features Baratza’s second generation Gearbox (GB 2.0), which was introduced by the manufacturer in 2012. The GB 2.0 has been designed to have increased strength and durability in the drive transmission while decreasing noise. This is complemented by the high torque DC motor the drives the burrs.
For espresso, Baratza sells a handy potholder accessory that replaces the grounds bin. It is designed to hold an espresso portafilter, offering the convenience of grinding directly into the portafilter itself. This is an optional extra and can be purchased separately. Of course, you can always just remove the grounds bin and hold the portafilter underneath the dispenser!
The Virtuoso has an internal burr calibration system to ensure the full range of grind. The grinder can also be user calibrated. Speed is controlled to 500RPM to ensure smooth grinding and to reduce the heat generated during the grind.
The maintenance of the unit is quite straightforward. The hopper and grounds bin can be removed and cleaned in hot soapy water. The silicone seal around the top of the burrs can be removed, allowing the burrs themselves to be lifted out for cleaning with a stiff brush. You can also run an automatic cleaning cycle using special tablets.
Overall, the Virtuoso is a good all-around grinder for homebrewers looking for flexibility without lots of fancy extras.
The Preciso Coffee Grinder
|Dimensions:||12 x 35 x 16 inch|
|Grind settings:||40 (with 11 separate sub-settings within each one)|
|Grind speed:||1.5/sec to 2.4 g/sec|
|Grind range:||200 to 1170 microns|
|Burrs:||40mm conical burrs|
|Grounds bin capacity:
|Timer?||Yes (60 seconds)
As you can see from the features table, the Preciso shares much in common with the Virtuoso. For example, you get the same 40mm conical burrs, the same powerful GB 2.0 gearbox and the same bean hopper/ground coffee bin capacity. You also have the same basic operation, including the 60-second timer. The required maintenance is the same too, as is the burr calibration system. However, don’t be fooled, this grinder does offer a step up from the Virtuoso.
For example, at its finest setting, the Preciso can grind all the way down to an extremely fine (talc-like) granularity. The consistency of the ground coffee at the end of the scale is finer than the Virtuoso can produce. What the Preciso also offers is added control.
Indeed, as the name suggests, the Preciso is all about precision. It can produce an espresso grind just as easily as the grinds needed for your Chemex or Aeropress or even regular drip coffee maker. Whatever the grind, this grinder can produce with ease.
In fact, this is its major selling point over the Virtuoso. Not only do you get the 40 separate grind settings (from fine to coarse), you also benefit from Baratza’s micro-adjust system that offers 11 ‘sub-settings. This means that between each of the main settings, you can make smaller adjustments in 10-micron increments.
For the casual home user, this kind of control may not be a top priority, even if you want to grind for espresso. However, if you like to experiment with your grinds, the Preciso offers plenty of scopes to play around with! An added benefit of the Preciso is the fact that it is sold new with the handy potholder accessory discussed above.
Baratza also offers the Esatto accessory, which turns the unit into a ‘grind by weight grinder. It weighs the ground coffee to within +/- 0.2g while grinding. You can also buy a hopper extender which adds an extra 9oz to the capacity. These accessories are compatible with both the Virtuoso and Preciso models. They can be bought separately.
Overall, the Preciso is a solid grinder that’s a step up from the Virtuoso, for those looking for that extra level of precision.
What’s the overall verdict?
The Virtuoso and Preciso grinders have much in common, in terms of features and grind quality. In addition, both units are compact and user-friendly.
The main thing that sets a quality grinder apart from an inferior one is the burrs and with these two Baratza models, you have top-notch 40mm conical burrs that ensure the best possible grind quality for the longest possible time (as long as you follow the maintenance instructions, of course). In addition, both grinders feature the powerful GB 2.0 gearbox and have similar capacities that can be increased with one or more optional 9oz extenders.
Third-party reviews of both these models are generally, but not wholly, positive. Negatives mostly relate to problems with individual units breaking down. Overall, the Virtuoso fares better in terms of positive user reviews.
So choosing between these two models really comes down to your specific coffee grinding needs. The main question to ask yourself is whether 40 grind settings are enough. If you’d like the option to refine your grind even further, you may find the Preciso is the better choice.
With that in mind, for home brewers looking to invest in a grinder that offers flexibility and uniformity, in terms of grind size, the Virtuoso is a probably your best bet.
Of course, there’s more packed into the Preciso, but unless you need that extra control, you’re really paying for features you may never use. With the Virtuoso, you pay slightly less but can still grind for all types of homebrewing, including espresso, drip, French press, and Chemex etc. This may well be more than enough for your current and future home grinding needs.
However, if you have needs beyond those of the casual/semi-serious homebrewer, or just want the option to experiment with lots of different grind settings (especially with espresso grinds), the Preciso may be the way to go. There’s no doubt the micro-adjust system can really help you get the best out of your beans. While made for home users, the Preciso might also be worth considering for roasters, retailers or coffee shops looking to purchase a backup grinder for use alongside their main commercial unit.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you narrow down your choices. However, the best advice is to do your homework and, if possible, try before buying, to make sure you invest in the right grinder for your particular needs