The Virtuoso is solidly built with an attractive design. The metal clad top front and weighted bottom give a comforting "heft" to the machine. There is no dancing on the counter, the Virtuoso just quietly and competently grinds away. The conical burrs provide an even consistent grind with minimal fines from espresso to press pot settings, (my range of use!).
The ergonomics are great! Not just for the coffee "techno" geek, but all users. The timer switch is accurate and repeatable and the front momentary switch is handy for finishing a few laggard beans. The grinds bin holds plenty for big press pot, Chemex or drip pots. For espresso the PF can be inserted below the grinds drop for a direct fill.
Although the hopper will hold 8 ounces of beans, around our place, we measure and grind. It easier to use, for multi brew processes, than most of the "pedigreed" espresso grinders: straight drop into the grinds bind, smaller footprint and easier to clean. No "futzing" around chasing down those stray, lingering and aging grounds in the doser or chute. You get the single origin or blend that you measured with virtually no remains from the previous grind. A light rap on the side and small brush up the chute, (okay, an occasional finger!!), produces about .1 gram of ground coffee.
Yes, the Virtuoso works very well for espresso, even with my picky Miss Sylvia, but one must call Baratza and get the directions to zero set the burrs. (A 5 minute, at most, task.) There are 40 grind settings. Miss Sylivia is happiest around 1.5 to 2.5, depending on the bean, the roast, the age and caf or decaf. The dialing in process is quick and consistent. Most of my shots meet the Golden Rule at 1.5, and they taste great too!!
For press pot I grind at 20-21. This is the same setting for my wife's drip machine. I don't mind a little slurry at the bottom of the cup and the default setting keeps life simple! The cups are better tasting and cleaner than the previous Bodum. For my Chemex, with Chemex folding filter, I am using a grind at about 14-15. Seems to provide the consistently right amount of brew time. Again, the minimal fines allow a finer grind without the risk of stalling.
Cleaning is very simple. Twist the hopper to 40+, (180 degrees max. if you are at "0" grind setting), and lift off. Easily lift off the silicon gasket from the top of the burrs. Grasp the upper burr by the tabs and lift off. A weekly cleaning with the Baratza supplied brush takes only a few minutes. Pull the grinds bin out, brush out the straight drop chute and the bottom of the bin compartment. A quick soap and water rinse of the bean hopper and gasket, then reassemble. The burrs are clearly marked in red for proper orientation and drop right in. Reset the gasket. Replace the bean hopper and you are clean and ready for your next cup.
At $200, the Baratza Virtuoso definitely fills the void between the SMP and a Rocky. I have only had mine a couple of months, but it is a proving to be quality grinder. The improvements over the Bodum/SM/SMP are substantial and obvious - stronger, quieter motor; bigger, better burrs; better, more solid burr carrier and minimal, (in my case - none!), static problems.
Will the Virtuoso burrs last as long as Rocky and group? Don't know yet. Will replacing the upper burr restore like new grinding? Don't know yet. Is the lower burr replaceable? Didn't ask Baratza, but guess I should.