The full name of this product, "Baratza Virtuoso Preciso" is a bit confusing, because people can still purchase or own a "Baratza Virtuoso". The housing and appearance of both is almost the same, but there's more than meets the eye. The Preciso is an upgrade to the original Virtuoso, with a new burr set and a fine-stepped grind adjustment. In this review, I'll refer to my new purchase as the Preciso, and the older model as the Virtuoso.
My first quality grinder was the Virtuoso, which I purchased in early 2006. It was a good grinder for what I needed: I don't make my own espresso, but I do brew coffee by almost all other methods. Over the years I did a couple of repairs on it, including replacing an internal board when the lead to a component on the board snapped. Baratza support is excellent for this type of help, where they stay on top of problems with their products and are very good at helping customers who are technically beyond their warranty: my replacement board was free. They didn't require that I do it myself, but I felt technically capable enough to handle it.
However, in 2011 I managed to strip the drive train on the Virtuoso and gave up on it. (I was grinding minute rice as a cheap cleaner, and it wound up stripping the drive.) It was a good excuse to buy a new grinder, so I bought a Vario. This proved to have problems for me, that I will write up in a separate review, so I replaced this with the Preciso.
As a summary of operation, the Preciso is similar to the Virtuoso in that it has 40 "macro" clicks for settings, from 1 for fine to 40 for coarse. Unlike the Virtuoso, it also has a collar that allows finer adjustment with 11 "micro" clicks for A through K. That gives about 440 different settings, an especially fine control where needed-- though who knows where these might overlap in some fashion. There is a timer switch on the right, similar to the Virtuoso, that winds down after you let go of it, but there are no precise settings for it. The hopper is also the same as the Virtuoso, with a silicone rubber ring between the hopper and the inlet for the burrs. The rubber ring is vital to normal operation; if it's missing, beans don't feed into the burrs well at all, and you get a mess inside the grinder.
The burr set inside is different from the Virtuoso as well. The top burr slots in more tightly, although it is still encased in heavy plastic-- and they still use a red ink marker on one side of the top burr to indicate which side is which. I wish they would come up with a more durable mark here, as the ink tends to wear off over time with cleaning and adjustments.
There are only two real complaints that I have had about the Preciso:
- The timer switch knob still occasionally falls off! This was a silly problem with the Virtuoso, and oft-noted by many other reviewers. The Preciso switch is better at holding onto the knob, but vibrations will move it off about once every 10 grinds instead of once every two grinds. This is an improvement, but I would have expected them to have engineered this embarrassment out of their portfolio.
- Initially my grind was unusually fine. Drip was at about a 26/40 setting; I couldn't go below a grind of 9/40 without seizing up the burrs. This seems to have settled out somewhat. Baratza realizes this is a problem for customers and has documentation on how to change this by shifting an internal lock point on the burrset. I did not do this for myself, mainly because I have been reluctant to pry off the housing and get in there and check it. My settings have shifted slightly anyway, so I now have drip at 22/40 and moka pot at 20/40. At some point I'll get in there and see if it's the lock point or something else. But it speaks to initial quality that the user might have to go in there and adjust something themselves.
One of the things I like most about the Preciso is the low-dust nature of the grind. The main problem I had with the Vario is that, even at large drip settings, paper filters were slow to empty and almost always had the extra astringency of overextraction. This was caused by extra dust in the Vario grind. I do not have this problem at all with the Preciso; I can even use a very fine grind and not plug up a paper filter on a Clever Dripper. The brew might be overextracted this way, but the filter won't be plugged up. The drip proceeds quickly, even with a fine grind.
The unit also retains very little grinds in the chute. I usually tap these out on the next use-- by then the static is gone-- so unlike some espresso grinders there is very little potential for stale grinds to lower your brew quality.
As a non-espresso drinker, I don't have much need for the fine-step control of the Preciso. I have read that it is a good choice for espresso grind because it gives such fine control over the output; however, I still heartily recommend the Preciso as a non-espresso grinder because of its control over dust. This improves the quality of flavor and allows a finer grind where one wouldn't be possible with other grinders. I use my grinder for drip, moka pot, Aeropress, french press, Chemex, Krups Moka Brew, the occasional turkish experimentation, and vac pot-- in about that order of frequency. I like the results, although I don't feel too authoritative on my turkish results yet. It's better than the Virtuoso for turkish, but I'm not very good at getting results I like yet.
I am thus very happy with my purchase of the Preciso, enough to sell my Vario. It may not be as convenient as the Vario for espresso (e.g., no timers, less consistency on settings, etc.), but for my needs it is excellent. I don't need a timer, since I always put into the hopper only what I will grind at the moment, but if I do ever get into espresso I'll have a good start with what I have.