Our Valued Sponsor
OpinionsConsumer ReviewsGuides and How TosCoffeeGeek ReviewsResourcesForums
Espresso: Grinders - Espresso
Baratza Forte AP...impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
Donate to Coffee Kids
Coffee Kids works with farming communities around the world, improving lives. Donate today.
www.coffeekids.org
 
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered  
Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Baratza Forte...  
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
showing page 1 of 6 last page next page
Author Messages
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 376
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014, 5:04pm
Subject: Baratza Forte AP...impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

I have always been quite critical towards buying a commercial duty grinder for the home. Recently my needs have changed recently and I realized I could not get away with the HG One as my only grinder.  The Forte AP, for me seemed to be a great compromise between a full-fledged heavy duty commercial grinder and one designed for home use.

After reviewing the youtube videos, I was sold on the marketing.  Still, I was not quite sold on the $900 pricetag, $350 more than the Vario-W's $550, given they use the same set of ceramic burrs.    But looking further into the specs, I learned the Forte AP has a 64% more powerful DC motor (254W vs 153W), enabling cooler and quieter grinding.  Given that, along with vastly improved fit & finish and usability, I think the price increase was fair.  

With a little bit of shopping around and managed to acquire a brand new one for $720 shipped.

So here's what I discovered...

For its size, it's quite heavy.  With the metal portafilter holder, it's 13lbs, with the plastic bin it's 11lbs.    The unit overall feels very high quality.  The only exception to that would be the bean hopper. It's flimsy and it felt like I was going to break it when trying to remove it.  I do not recommend squeezing it without the lid installed.  It flexes quite easily, so try to keep the lid on when you grip it to remove it from the base.

Speaking of the hopper-- the integrated bean shut-off valve is a great addition, although it is hard to operate.  You kind of have to jiggle it to get the flap to pass through the beans.  I think the difficulty is attributed to the interior dome that prevents beans from flowing freely around the flap as you rotate the lever.  Also, the hopper feeds the beans at a very low angle. This is not a problem with a full hopper, but when getting towards the end of a batch many beans are left sitting on the shoulder of the feed throat.  Quite annoying to have to use a brush tool to sweep the beans down when you get towards the end of a batch.  Perhaps the older hopper design is better.  Not having to fiddle with stray beans all the time seems more valuable to me than being able to remove the hopper with beans in it.  I find myself flipping the unit upside down anyway to clear out the beans remaining in the throat.

The Forte-AP is a very good looking grinder, I'll be honest and state that I do not like the finish.   Brushed metal look is way over done.  I was planning to polish the unit to a mirror shine given it is all metal now, but unfortunately appears the finish has been cleared.    I think they did this for two reasons: cost savings and ease of maintenance.  As we all know, brushed stainless steel is hardly "stainless". My fridge, toaster and trash cans are all smudge magnets.  So there clearly is a benefit to the clear coat.  I just don't think the finish looks very high quality (see the pic below).  From afar, it looks great.. But close up, there is a noticeable orange-peel to it that degrades the true beauty of a raw metal surface.

It would look so much nicer if it had a mirror finish that matched my Cremina :)    Anyway this is all subjective...

z0mbie: 20140202_133745_20140202162455892.jpg
(Click for larger image)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 376
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014, 7:27pm
Subject: Baratza Forte AP...impressions (continued)
 

Onward to making espresso with it.

I found dialing in the grinds was somewhat difficult to do, as I was used to my HG One's stepless process.  I think part of the difficulty was just understanding the extents of between macro and micro settings.  I think with more dialing in experience, I should be able to get the roast dialed down within 3-4 shots.  I would like to mention the slider tension is very tight. No chance in hell for them to stray. Consequently, they are also harder to operate.  So much so that I found myself constantly overshooting my intended setting when trying to move them.  Anyway it's not a big issue and I would much rather prefer it like this than having the straying issue that was a complaint of the Vario models.  

Moving on.. Grinding by weight is simply awesome.  What wasn't so awesome is the "Smart Dose" feature Baratza presented in their videos.  It's a smart idea and sounded good in theory.   The idea is simple--Use the portafilter holder with time presets calibrated with the precise time it takes to grind a particular weight dose. This is done by setting the weight target, grinding, then switching over to Time mode to see at how much time passed and assigning that time to a preset.  But in practice it simply doesn't work very well.  The resulting dose is never exact.  The doses have been off by as much as 2 grams, actually.  Such a feature is entirely dependent on consistent flow rate of beans feeding the burrs.  Unfortunately flow rate changes as the amount of beans in the hopper changes.  So the "smart dose" isn't so smart after all as it does not account for this.  When you start, you can get an approximate dose within a few tenths of a gram.  But it continues degrade with each and every additional use of the grinder.  Frankly I've concluded that it is a marketing gimmick because I would not use it.  Being a great barista means being able to produce great espresso every time.  Such skill requires exacting, consistent execution and dosing exact weights is a critical part of that.  Large commercial machines have separate dosers for this precise reason--the barista makes the ultimate call as to how much grind is needed in the portafilter.  With the Forte, the only way to dose by weight directly into the portafilter is to supply grinder directly with the exact weight via an empty hopper.  But with the addition of the bean shut-off valve mechanism at the bottom of the hopper, some of the beans don't go all the way down the hopper. So you have the added step of grabbing your brush and sweeping around the "dome" to ensure your entire dose has gone down the hatch.  You'll be better off just using the grinder in manual mode and eying the portions that end up in the basket.

z0mbie: 20140202_181331.jpg
(Click for larger image)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 376
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014, 8:14pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP...impressions (continued)
 

I don't think any of the issues I've raised should be deal breakers for anyone wanting a solidly-built,  weight-based dosing grinder.. There really isn't any competition that I can see.  The price increase is substantial, but I believe it is justified, given the jump in power and weight.   And because I was able to secure one at a significant discount, it was honestly a no-brainer.   Would I buy it for $900.  Probably?  I dunno. I admit it's expensive at that price but so was my HG One and my Cremina.  But I got it for $720 so I'm quite happy.  What can I say :) ...If I was so worried about spending a hundred or two more on something I relaly wanted, I probably shouldn't even be toying with this stuff in the first place... <shrug>

It's really an impressive grinder.  My grind retention test yielded excellent results.. producing 15.8g dose out of 16grams.    See my test here.

Anyway, I may do a more thorough review in the future, but I hope this gives folks a good idea of what they're getting.

z0mbie: 20140202_133635_20140202191634809.jpg
(Click for larger image)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
moosepucky
Senior Member
moosepucky
Joined: 6 Jun 2009
Posts: 154
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Grinder: Super Jolly - Forte BG -...
Vac Pot: Cona - Santos
Drip: Bodum - Chemex - Hario -...
Roaster: Hottop KN-8828-B
Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014, 10:52pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

Excellent Review

z0mbie Said:

Speaking of the hopper-- the integrated bean shut-off valve is a great addition, although it is hard to operate.  You kind of have to jiggle it to get the flap to pass through the beans.  I think the difficulty is attributed to the interior dome that prevents beans from flowing freely around the flap as you rotate the lever.  Also, the hopper feeds the beans at a very low angle. This is not a problem with a full hopper, but when getting towards the end of a batch many beans are left sitting on the shoulder of the feed throat.  Quite annoying to have to use a brush tool to sweep the beans down when you get towards the end of a batch.  Perhaps the older hopper design is better.  Not having to fiddle with stray beans all the time seems more valuable to me than being able to remove the hopper with beans in it.  I find myself flipping the unit upside down anyway to clear out the beans remaining in the throat.

Posted February 2, 2014 link

I have reverted to the old style funnel shaped hopper on my Forte BG.

moosepucky: bg_pc_01-01-2014.jpg
(Click for larger image)
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
uscfroadie
Senior Member
uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 426
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP, BDB; owned...
Grinder: K30 Vario, Forte, Zass and...
Vac Pot: Nope
Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 5:47am
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

Scott,

Great write up, and I agree with pretty much everything you've mentioned, though the orange peel doesn't bother me since it's much less than what it was on my Mazzers (mini and SJ).

Similarly to you, I shopped around and got mine brand new for $700 shipped.  It's a really hard to beat grinder for that price.

The one thing you didn't mention was how it compared to the HG One as far as taste.  Having one of them too I have to say that you do give up quite a bit in the cup, as you would when you put it up against any large conical.  However, for a home use grinder, it's a great compromise being small and extremely easy to use.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,320
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 8:25am
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

uscfroadie Said:

The one thing you didn't mention was how it compared to the HG One as far as taste.

Posted February 3, 2014 link

Yes.  Great write up.  But you left us dying to know how well you think Forte grinds perform as espresso.  

BDL
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 376
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 9:42am
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

I withheld that part with the reasoning that my experience with dialing in has been quite limited and so I didn't want to be conclusive about cup quality.

But if you must know the shots I was able to produce were good.   At a later date was going to shoot videos of some pulls made with the grinder and do a more thorough in-cup evaluation.

I admit there's probably more room for improvement in my shots.   Compared to the HG one shots side by side they are very close but not without some abnormalities in the process.  If I try to duplicate the pulls identically they taste different. What I mean by that is trying to physically duplicate the extraction..That is, grind coarseness,  timing, flow rate, tamp,  mouse tail color, bonding, crema volume, etc... I got close but it's probably impossible for every tiny variable to match. I doubt I could do it using the same grinder, much less a different one :)

Anyway only by pulling tighter shots on the forte was I able to produce shots I would say I genuinely enjoy.  This is all very subjective and I'll admit the hg one has spoiled me :)

So it something seems off that I haven't figured out... pulling shots with standard timing (~30 seconds give or take a few) weren't panning out for the forte as it does for the hg one. They were a bit lacking in mouth feel and. Good flavor profile but thin. But tightening the grind and going to a 40, maybe 45 seconds, even, was tasting very good albeit just a tad bitter...  Not sure why.  The shots would require considerable effort getting it going (after 6-8 seconds of pre-infusion) but stay to take less pressure towards the middle to end of the shot. . Not so with the hg one, which pulls rich decadent shots rather effortlessly.

Could be the roast.. I mixed in 7 oz if newly roasted batch (24 hours old) with the batch already had in there (7 oz of 4 day old roast). I don't normally do this but needed more coffee to keep the hopper full in testing the smart dose feature.

Anyway if you have any ideas I'd like to hear it...

Perhaps I should have upped the dose instead.. I was trying to keep the variables to a minimum...

Anyway like I said i want to be fair and not make conclusions about the grinders in cup capability until I've gotten a better feel for making adjustments on an electric grinder which I have not had while lot of experience with.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 10:05am
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

+1 on the great review comments!

Though I agree that it will be complete once you do the cupping comparison to the HG one, I can't see how any 54mm flat burr grinder (no matter who makes it and how) can compare to either a 71mm or 83mm conical set, or even to a large flat set, such the 83's on the Major...despite all of the other factors that go into translating grinder quality to the cup.

I don't say this to kick the Forte, as I'm sure it's a fantastic grinder, but I'd have to taste it to believe that it comes close to a titan commercial grinder in the cup.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 376
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 12:29pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

emradguy Said:

+1 on the great review comments!

Though I agree that it will be complete once you do the cupping comparison to the HG one, I can't see how any 54mm flat burr grinder (no matter who makes it and how) can compare to either a 71mm or 83mm conical set, or even to a large flat set, such the 83's on the Major...despite all of the other factors that go into translating grinder quality to the cup.

I don't say this to kick the Forte, as I'm sure it's a fantastic grinder, but I'd have to taste it to believe that it comes close to a titan commercial grinder in the cup.

Posted February 3, 2014 link

<Nod>...  Though I have zero experience at formal cupping.

Maybe I'll try to pull shots literally side by side with my two Creminas (I'll have operate them on separate breakers)...  I've only been drinking espresso full time for about 6 months so my palate is nowhere near as perceptive as some of you. So I'm not able to pick out and verbalize the minute details yet like a seasoned connoisseur might.  But I definitely know if I like it or not. My primary points of reference...baseline,  if you will, have been the many shots I've had at Handsome and Stumptown, both just around the corner from where I live..

I should also mention I have not "topped out" my HG One yet. My shots have continually gotten progressively better since I've started.   I can say with certainty at least half of the shots I pull are on par with the aforementioned shops and a small few have been better.  

I will also say no one has tried my shots other than my wife and she seems to like it ... but she's my wife :).. She doesn't drink espresso regularly so her feedback isn't as valuable from an educational point of view.. If it was bad she would tell me, though I only offered her espresso only if it tastes good to me.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 1:22pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Forte AP.impressions after 3 weeks of daily use by an HG One owner.
 

I'm sure your shots are coming out great.  I mean, neither of those is a shabby grinder by any means...and most home users would be elated with the results from either one.  Cupping experience is (not that I have any), IMHO, akin to developing a wine vocabulary (not that I have much - and I'm ready for Jason to teach me a lesson here)..useful in communicating with others, but in the overall decision of do I like it or not (which is the bottom line, especially when you're drinking it at home) not very useful at all.  I didn't mean to say anything other than I think any 54mm flat burr grinder is in a different class than any large format commercial grinder.  Heck, I've been using a 54mm flat burr set for like 7 years...the Major in my profile is due to arrive tomorrow (I just couldn't wait to edit my account :) )

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
showing page 1 of 6 last page next page
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Baratza Forte...  
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered     Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
Discussions Quick Jump:
Symbols: New Posts= New Posts since your last visit      No New Posts= No New Posts since last visit     Go to most recent post= Newest post
Forum Rules:
No profanity, illegal acts or personal attacks will be tolerated in these discussion boards.
No commercial posting of any nature will be tolerated; only private sales by private individuals, in the "Buy and Sell" forum.
No SEO style postings will be tolerated. SEO related posts will result in immediate ban from CoffeeGeek.
No cross posting allowed - do not post your topic to more than one forum, nor repost a topic to the same forum.
Who Can Read The Forum? Anyone can read posts in these discussion boards.
Who Can Post New Topics? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post new topics.
Who Can Post Replies? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post replies.
Can Photos be posted? Anyone can post photos in their new topics or replies.
Who can change or delete posts? Any CoffeeGeek member can edit their own posts. Only moderators can delete posts.
Probationary Period: If you are a new signup for CoffeeGeek, you cannot promote, endorse, criticise or otherwise post an unsolicited endorsement for any company, product or service in your first five postings.
Commercial Equipment
Nuova Simonelli, La Marzocco, Rancilio. Nationwide installation. Instant financing options.
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
Home | Opinions | Consumer Reviews | Guides & How Tos | CoffeeGeek Reviews | Resources | Forums | Contact Us
CoffeeGeek.com, CoffeeGeek, and Coffee Geek, along with all associated content & images are copyright ©2000-2014 by Mark Prince, all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Content, code, and images may not be reused without permission. Usage of this website signifies agreement with our Terms and Conditions. (0.347808122635)
Privacy Policy | Copyright Info | Terms and Conditions | CoffeeGeek Advertisers | RSS | Find us on Google+