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Baratza Virtuoso - Random Person's Review
Posted: April 16, 2006, 11:39am
review rating: 4.5
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Baratza Virtuoso Grinder
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More About This Product
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso has 61 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 365,860 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: 2.2
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 2
Average Price: $229.00 Usability: 2
Price Paid: $199.00 Cost vs. Value 2
Where Bought: Whole Latte Love Aesthetics 3
Owned for: 2 weeks Overall 2
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Capresso Infinity
Bottom Line: Poor design, poorly executed.  And, it comes from the factory unable to grind fine enough for espresso!
Positive Product Points

Nice looking grinder
Solid, heavy feel
Relatively quiet

Negative Product Points

Poor factory calibration -- cannot grind for espresso
Poor seating of top burr -- completely jammed after a few uses

Detailed Commentary

After much wringing of hands I finally settled on this grinder as a reasonably priced alternative to my Capresso Infinity and a better (or so I was told) match with my brand new Gaggia Classic.  I had read about calibration issues and talked to Whole Latte Love about them and was assured that was no longer a problem.

But the fact is, it IS a problem.  My brand-new grinder cannot grind nearly fine enough for espresso, even at the zero point.  The Baratza website posts a complex set of instructions to fix this -- covering an entire page, with no paragraphs or spaces of any kind.  I chose not to act as my own tech on this as it seems to me a consumer product should ship appropriately calibrated.  I should not have to serve as a technician to grind for espresso inasmuch as this is an espresso grinder!  

In addtion, while packing the machine, the top burr (poorly seated to begin with) jammed onto the bottom burr and now cannot be removed.

I am about to return this machine.  I must say this is the first time in years that I have had to return an item for actual mechanical failure.  While not quite "dead on arrival," it might has well have been.  This is unacceptable.

I'm sure I will be offered a replacement machine -- but no thanks.  Baratza still has quite a bit to learn about quality control.  Even the silicone sleeve on the top burrs is poorly designed and doesn't quite stay on while the machine is running.  Apart from its relatively quiet operation, this machine is poorly designed and poorly executed.

The only silver lining is that while I was advised that the Capresso Infinity grinder would not be suitable for my Gaggia Classic, I resorted to it in frustration just to get some espresso going.  And the fact is, it works just fine!  I set it on the finest setting in the "fine" area (about five clicks from zero) and it works beautifully, consistently.  It is a much better looking grinder than the Virtuoso, runs much quieter, and takes up less counter space.  And more to its credit, it actually works!  So much for the advice of experts, who impart judgements to the Infinity based primarily on the performance of its cheaper siblings.

We'll see how consistent the Capresso remains over time, as well as whether I can deal with the annoyance of more frequent cleaning, etc., as I use this grinder for drip as well.  But if I do decide to get a dedicated espresso grinder, it's the Rocky for me.  So silly to focus on saving $85 by buying an inferior product.

UPDATE

Well I did bite the bullet and actually recalibrated the machine per Baratza's single-spaced one full page no paragraphs or pictures Website instructions.  Phew.  Yes, I did manage to do it.  But sadly, the machine still cannot grind fine enough for espresso.  Not even on zero.  And the grounds container got milky after a single rinse with water.

I did return it to WLL and the final indignity is that they charged me $20 for an alleged scratch on the housing -- probably due to my in-home recalibration, which they frankly should have done themselves and tested prior to marketing this product as a good match with an espresso machine.  And in any case, why bother recalibrating -- it doesn't grind fine enough anyway.  They must be full of returns also, as the one I was shipped still had the milky grounds container even though this problem has been fixed by Baratza in subsequent runs of the product.

So I did buy a Rocky Doserless instead and what a difference!  For the extra $85 there is no comparison in terms of build quality, grind consistency and quality, appearance, and of course the incredible espresso grind!  Set at 7 or so on the dial it's perfect every time, plus or minus the usual tweaking.  Mine was full of coffee in the product packaging -- probably because of Rancilio testing -- but it was perfectly calibrated at zero.  What a difference!  

I ordered my Rocky from 1st-Line as I was soured on WLL for recommending the Virtuoso in the first place without bothering to test it or recalibrate it before shipping.

Those of you wo are buying for espresso -- just skip this grinder and buy the Rocky!

Buying Experience

Whole Latte Love should not ship this grinder without checking its calibration first.  Otherwise, I'd say they are nice people.

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review rating: 4.5
Posted: April 16, 2006, 11:39am
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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