Baratza Encore vs Virtuoso Plus – A Comparison and Review

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baratza encore vs virtuoso plus

Baratza is known for making quality products; they make Seattle coffee gear and have engineered some of the best grinders on the market since their inception in 1999. 

And we’re here to weigh two of their top-performing, quality burr grinders against each other: the Baratza Encore vs the Baratza Virtuoso Plus.

For the best coffee experience, which is better? We’re leaning towards the Virtuoso Plus; let’s explain why. 

At A Glance

 
Our Pick
Pros:
  • Grinds for a wide range of brew methods
  • Front-mounted pulse button
  • 40 mm steel M3 burr
  • More affordable choice
Pros:
  • Improved model
  • Faster grind speed
  • Improved M2 burr for more precision
  • High build quality with metal accents
Description:

This Baratza Encore is an excellent entry-level grinder with 40 individual grind settings, perfect for any brew method. Its easy-to-use rotary dial and front-facing pulse button give you optimal control for a uniform grind.

Description:

In many ways, the Virtuoso Plus is an improved version of the Encore. It features M2 burrs for higher precision and uniformity, better build quality, faster grind speed, and a precise timer. Only slightly more expensive, it's an investment worth making.

Pros:
  • Grinds for a wide range of brew methods
  • Front-mounted pulse button
  • 40 mm steel M3 burr
  • More affordable choice
Description:

This Baratza Encore is an excellent entry-level grinder with 40 individual grind settings, perfect for any brew method. Its easy-to-use rotary dial and front-facing pulse button give you optimal control for a uniform grind.

Our Pick
Pros:
  • Improved model
  • Faster grind speed
  • Improved M2 burr for more precision
  • High build quality with metal accents
Description:

In many ways, the Virtuoso Plus is an improved version of the Encore. It features M2 burrs for higher precision and uniformity, better build quality, faster grind speed, and a precise timer. Only slightly more expensive, it's an investment worth making.

Key Similarities 

  • Can grind for a wide range of brewing methods
  • 40 grind adjustment settings
  • 8 oz. hopper capacity
  • Similar dimensions and weight
  • Entry to medium-level coffee grinders; a great option for those staring out

Key Differences 

  • Conical Burrs—The Encore sports M3 stainless steel burrs, while the Virtuoso houses M2 burrs, giving you a more consistent grind size and quality.
  • Grind Speed—The Virtuoso has a faster grind speed at 2.4 grams per second, with the Encore at 0.8 g/s. This is partly due to a stronger motor in the Virtuoso (240 watts) vs. the Encore (160 watts). 
  • Convenient Features—The Virtuoso has a 40-second digital timer accurate to a 10th of a second and a backlit grounds bin; you’re able to dial to grind directly into the portafilter or included grounds bin. 
  • Materials/Build Quality — The Virtuoso features high-quality plastics blended with sculpted metal accents finished with satin and nickel. The Baratza offers more of a plastic, budget machine build quality that won’t be turning heads. 

Baratza Encore 

This uncomplicated, easy-to-use grinder boasts 40 individual grind settings, just like the Virtuoso. You’re able to fully customize your grind easily, from coarse to fine grind, and for a variety of brew methods.

You can grind your coffee beans your way by accessing the straight-forward rotary dial or by using the front-facing pulse button for short bursts adjustments. 

The burrs are sourced from stainless steel engineering with a 40mm diameter size. These large, heavy-duty burrs play a vital role in giving you, the coffee drinker, a uniform grind and, therefore, a better-tasting cup of coffee

The low g/s or RPM ensures your coffee won’t be prematurely extracted, though it does take a little longer to finish a grind cycle. 


Baratza Virtuoso Plus

With advanced features compared to the Baratza Encore, the Virtuoso is designed to optimize the grinding experience for the coffee enthusiast. 

With the same amount of grinder settings, you’re able to brew with 40 options of grind coarseness to match any brewing process.

But, with the Virtuoso, you have a 40-second digital timer accurate to a 10th of a second for improved consistency and the ability to replicate dosing easier than ever. Plus, you can grind directly into the portafilter or grounds bin. 

The 40mm stainless steel burrs are of the M2 variety, delivering fewer micro-fines than the Encore and making it suitable for espresso drinkers. You’ll also get a completed grind faster than before, with up to 2.4 grams ground in a second. 

Baratza Encore vs Virtusos Plus – Features Compared

Baratza EncoreBaratza Virtuoso Plus
MaterialBlack PlasticSculptured Metal & High-Quality Plastics
Weight6.8 lbs. 7 lbs. 
Dimensions6.3″ D. x 4.7″ W. x 13.8″ H. 6.7″ D. x 6.7″ W. x 12.6″ H,
Burrs40 mm stainless steel M3 burrs40 mm stainless steel M2 burrs
Microns Range250 – 1200200 – 1400
Bean Hopper Transparent bean hopperBacklit bean hopper
Bean Hopper Capacity8 oz.8 oz. 
Grind Settings40 individual grind settings 40 individual grind settings 
Interface Rotary dial with front-mounted pulse button Rotary dial with front-mounted LED digital timer 

Build Quality

Metal accents of the Baratza Virtuoso Plus

For build quality, we’re looking for the integrity of both grinders and which design features really stand out to us: the Virtuoso sweeps the category and then some. 

The Virtuoso’s grind quality is matched by its sleek, striking design. The mix of high-quality black plastics with sculpted metal accents makes the machine pop and your kitchen counter shine. The metal is nickel plated with a brushed satin finish, giving you not only a clean grinder but a wear-resistant one at that. 

The Baratza Encore really leans into the plastic for its grinder body, and although performs well, gives the impression of cut corners and an overall cheaper-looking design. There’s nothing to really bat your eyelashes at here. 

Winner: Virtuoso Plus

Accuracy

Accurate grind based on brew type is crucial. Once you’ve found the one that works, how repeatable is the process? Precise grinding is the ultimate goal, but just how often will you be able to duplicate your grind?

The Virtuoso is the easiest grinder to repeat a quality grind to your preferences. With the LED 40-second timer, you can keep track of your grind time down to a 10th of a second. You’ll be able to achieve a consistent grind size and an even more consistent taste with precise dosing and grinding control.  

The Virtuoso takes the trial-and-error and the guessing game out of making your perfect cups of coffee. The Baratza Encore, on the other hand, offers no such automatic dosing features and will require some practice—or a solid memory—to achieve an accurate grind. 

That said, the Encore still performs with a high standard of excellence, especially when considering this brewer as an entry-level machine.

Winner: Virtuoso Plus

Grind Settings & Functioning 

Sharper and more precise M2 burrs in the Virtuoso Plus (right) vs. M3 burrs (left). Source: Baratza

Both the Encore and Virtuoso have a wide grind range, with a staggering 40 grind settings. Below is a list of options for the preferred settings for different brew methods measured in microns. Microns are equivalent to 1-1 millionth of a meter and are used most often to describe the size of incredibly small components. 

Turkish Coffee (finest setting) — 1-3; extra fine powder as small as 250 microns 

Espresso/Specialty Coffee — 4-9; a little coarser than Turkish coffee with a consistency of up to 400 microns 

Moka Pot — 4-16; fine ground as hot water is siphoned into the chamber fast 

AeroPress — 4-23; dependent on your roast preference (i.e., light roast, medium, or dark) 

Chemex — 24-29; medium-fine grind so that the long-brewing time doesn’t make your coffee too strong

Pour-Over — 11-29; medium-fine grind for the pour-over enthusiast

French Press — 31-36; coarser grind similar to sea salt consistency 

Cold Brew (coarsest setting) — 37-40; extra coarse grind. 

While they look the same, there are two distinctions that mark the subtle differences between the two.

Across the same 40 settings, the Virtuoso has a grind size more adept to the finer grind or finest settings on the rotary dial. The Virtuoso can yield up to 1400 microns, while the Encore stretches to only 1200. 

The improved M2 grinder on the Virtuoso Plus, compared to the Encore’s M3, directly impacts the grind quality and the overall functionality of the grinder; there is a significant difference. 

M3 conical burr grinders have duller burrs that give you an, at times, inconsistent grind size depending on your brew method. M2 flat burr grinders are sharper and, combined with Virtuoso’s super-calibration system, lead to a more uniform grind without the micro-finer grounds and/or boulders.

Winner: Virtuoso Plus

Grinding Speed 

The Virtuoso, once again, wins the category, this time for grinding speed. With a powerful DC motor running at 240 watts, you’ll have your coffee grounds ready in just 12 seconds, or 2.4 grams of coffee per second. 

The Encore can take a little over 30 seconds to grind your coffee beans. This is a major difference when weighing the two brewers against each other, as the Encore’s more than double the time needed to grind will certainly slow your mornings down when brewing multiple cups. 

Winner: Virtuoso Plus

Grind Noise

Both electric burr grinders operate relatively quietly, with a difference between the two measured at only one decibel. This isn’t enough of a difference to score either way, so we’ll leave it at a tie. 

If your electric grinder is starting to run a little louder than usual, you may want to open the machine up to determine if you need a circuit board replacement. If it’s not the circuit board, you may need an adjustment ring replacement.

You can contact Baratza directly; both machines come with a limited one-year warranty. 

Winner: Tie

Value

When it comes to value, it’s more than just which grinder is the most affordable option. Price differences aside, you are getting more value and more bang for your buck with the Virtuoso. 

The improved M2 steel conical burrs plus the extra features in design far outweigh the cheaper price tag that may sway casual coffee drinkers. A backlit grounds pin, faster output, and 40-second timer programmed for achieving precision grinding bring you java that rivals that of coffee professionals. 

You get what you pay for, and if you have the means, we cannot stress the Virtuoso electric burr coffee grinder enough. 

Winner: Virtuoso Plus

The Verdict 

When shopping for a grinder, you don’t want to settle for good-enough equipment; you want a high-quality grinder that delivers delicious coffee consistently, and without trial and error.

Today we compared two popular entry-medium level grinders from Baratza: The Encore vs the Virtuoso Plus.

The Baratza Encore is a good grinder, whereas the Virtuoso Plus is an excellent one. The extra features in the Virtuoso Plus at a very modest premium made it an easy choice for us.

Our Pick
Baratza Virtuoso+

In many ways, the Virtuoso Plus is an improved version of the Encore. It features M2 burrs for higher precision and uniformity, better build quality, faster grind speed, and a precise timer. This is high-quality grinding experience at a relatively modest price.

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Author
Clint's skills as a barista have made it easy for him to transition into writing about coffee. With so much personal experience and passion, he is able to shed light on all aspects of coffee to ensure you can enjoy this delicious beverage as much as he does.

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