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Baratza Virtuoso - J M's Review
Posted: October 26, 2008, 9:31pm
review rating: 6.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Baratza Virtuoso Grinder
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More About This Product
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso has 62 Reviews
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso has been rated 7.22 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since February 20, 2006.
Arrow Baratza Virtuoso reviews have been viewed 377,936 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Eero Simoncelli 9.08
Gone Gone 9.00
Aubrei Merrill 9.00
Joel Bristol 9.00
Yves Feder 8.83

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.0
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 8
Average Price: $229.00 Usability: 10
Price Paid: $180.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Gift Aesthetics 6
Owned for: 1 year Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: whirly blade grinder
Bottom Line: Work to unlock the potential, be patient, the price is right for entry level
Positive Product Points

Although it does not have an "infinite" scale, the forty selection levels let you dial it in just about anywhere.  The timer knob is really nice if you can figure out how many seconds you need to produce a full drip coffee machine's worth of grounds.  Excellent, responsive customer support and willingess to replace a product.  The burrs are very high quality, and the machine doesn't run too loud, even if it does make a strange noise.

Negative Product Points

At first, wasn't calibrated correctly for espresso level fine.  It got close...but close doesn't cut it!  It's kind of frustrating to know the machine has the potential but requires a fair amount of effort to unleash.  The Baratza website hints at a myriad of issues that have arisen with this grinder--hopefully they will take care of them in the future.  Most of them are very minor (knob falling off, anti-static bins, etc).  The toughest part is not being able to completely zero in on a grind like you can with a machine like the Rocky that will produce invisible  dust if you take it all the way down.

Detailed Commentary

I owned the grinder for 7 months and used it exclusively to prepare beans for drip coffee since I didn't yet have an espesso machine.  When I got the Silvia, I had the grinder all the way at 0 and was unable to get the grind fine enough to produce anything other than 12 second extractions, even with a full 180 lbs body weight tamp.  The Baratza website has instructions on re-calibration, so I gave it a go.  It's not too tough a process, but it is very tough to get the calibration locked once you have it figured out.  I tested my re-calibration by grinding beans and pulling a shot (I got a few wonderful shots with it) and then put the phillips head size 0 screw back in only to jerk the calibration off a bit and damage the plastic.  Now I can't get anything finer than drip coffee quality grinding out of it, so I contacted Baratza and am anxiously awaiting a replacement that is calibrated more finely.

Also, a word of caution--the motherboard on the inside opposite of the timer knob will shock you if you brush against it while it's plugged in.  The re-calibration instructions call for you to test the machine while the case is off, and be very careful if you do!  There are no safety warnings to this effect and if you're not careful you will surprise yourself.

I've only been able to compare this to a Rocky doserless and a commerical bunn grinder and the local roaster's shop, both of which do a better job (at least with a finnicky fine grind).  The Baratza does, however, in its compeltely natural state make for a great french press grinder.

Buying Experience

Can't say much--I opened it up under the Christmas tree.  Buy through a licensed vendor, keep your receipt (always!), do not buy refurb/ebay (the extra money is worth it), so you get the 1 year warranty.  Have your way with it during that year and if you ever see any problems Baratza will gladly help you out.

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review rating: 6.0
Posted: October 26, 2008, 9:31pm
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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