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Baratza Virtuoso - Steve Pacenka's Review
Posted: May 3, 2006, 10:11pm
review rating: 8.0
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 390,306 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: 7.6
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 7
Average Price: $229.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $199.00 Cost vs. Value 7
Where Bought: WholeLatteLove Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 6 months Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Krups burr, several blade models
Bottom Line: Good basic choice for people who need a wide range of grind sizes
Positive Product Points
  • No mess - good static control
  • Even grind
  • Quieter than others
Negative Product Points
  • Quality control problem
  • Slow at getting the last beans
Detailed Commentary

The Virtuoso does a creditable job grinding for drip, Aeropress, and Gaggia Carezza espresso.   I was looking for flexibility and a minimum grind size fine enough for the Carezza, which does not have a pressurized portafilter thus is quite sensitive to grind.  The Virtuoso has met these requirements at a relatively low price compared to the frequently recommended alternatives like the Rancilio Rocky.

The grinder is solidly built, heavy enough not to walk around or tip over.  It operates at a fairly low rotational speed and is correspondingly quieter than the other grinders I've used.  Grind size is adjusted in fixed steps by rotating the removable bean hopper which sits atop the motor unit.  A timer control is on one side, and there is a spring loaded "on" button on the front that can be pressed while holding a portafilter in the same hand near the grounds outlet chute, which normally feeds into a plastic basket.

The unit is easy enough to clean internally by rotating the beans hopper all the way to the largest setting, pulling it upward to detach it, removing a rubber shroud, and pulling out the upper burr.  A provided stiff bristle brush is good for cleaning out the narrow channels in the burr or poking into the grounds outlet chute from below.  I clean about once per pound.  (My beans are almost all all freshly roasted in the City+ to full city range, with little oil.)

Some have called the grinder too slow at grinding.  I'd rather have the quietness than to finish  a few seconds earlier.

Every other grinder I've owned has had static problems.  They leave a mess outside on the counter and inside in hoppers and in blade or burr vicinity.  The Virtuoso rarely has a stray ground.  The grind basket has a milky white coating that seems to repulse just about every particle that enters the basket.

Mark Prince has posted pictures in a CoffeeGeek forum of the remarkable evenness of the particle size that the Virtuoso yields.  Mine does that aspect well too.  Even particles are particularly important when there has to be uniform flow, such as under pressure in an espresso machine's portafilter.  Uneven grind fosters uneven flow which channels too much liquid through the rapid flow path and leaves the rest of the coffee underextracted.

It would have been nice to have the unit adjusted fine enough for espresso out of the box.  Instructions to make an internal range adjustment are now posted on Baratza's WWW site, and they seem easy enough to follow.  My grinds for a Carezza were okay at the lowest setting, little crema but good extraction times and tasty results  for doubles.

A minor quirk is that the bean intake does not always do a good job at feeding the last beans.  They get flung around but not grabbed.  It can take some manual help to get the last one or two to be grabbed by a burr.

A quibble: My unit has a missing screw or nut in its base that is supposed to prevent the bottom burr from falling out of the unit if it is inverted.  I learned this the hard way, by clogging the unit (my fault for holding a portafilter tightly to the grounds outlet chute), inverting the thing to pour out the unground beans and fragments, and having the lower burr fall out into the sink.  It was a pain getting it back in correctly.  It took several rounds of emailing tech support (thanks Kyle) to figure out why the thing fell out completely.  If it were documented in the manual or WWW how to open the bottom of the case I could have taken care of this without a week of email exchanges.  Several months later I still have an unsecured lower burr, but I know not to invert the unit and it has not clogged again.

Buying Experience

Internet order: fill in a form, click a few times, and it arrives a week or so later.  The dealer absorbed the sales tax for me, a customer in their own state.

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review rating: 8.0
Posted: May 3, 2006, 10:11pm
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