Are you an espresso enthusiast looking to bring your coffee to the home front?
The first step to having truly authentic espresso is having a fantastic grinder!
So you, my friend, are looking for one with burrs, not blades. For a thorough explanation of why burrs are absolutely imperative, check out my previous article Blades vs Burrs.
The first one that I would recommend is the Baratza Encore.
The Baratza Encore is as intuitive as it is long-lasting, if well-kept.
Though it is definitely more expensive than entry-level burr grinders, it is on the cheaper end of the high-end coffee equipment scale.
The Encore’s stainless steel burrs grind at many different settings, making it the perfect companion for any brewing method.
Baratza has an online guide for grind settings. They suggest an 8 for espresso, 18 for your standard drip coffee machine, 20 for a pour over, and 28 for a french press. But the best thing about having a personal grinder is that you can play around until you find what’s best for you.
Consistent with its instinctive design, the burrs are easily removable, and therefore simple to clean and calibrate.
The simplicity of the design is the second best thing about it.
Its 8 ounce hopper rotates controlling the size of the grind. Simply turn it clockwise to make the particles finer, and counter-clockwise to grind coarser.
The suggested grind settings are 2-4 for espresso, 13-21 for drips and pour overs, and 30-32 for French presses. But you have all the in-betweens to experiment with.
It averages about 1 gram per second. The grounds are caught in a 5 oz chamber that is easily popped out of place. So make sure you have your scale ready to measure the right ratio for your brewing method.
There are two ways to start the rig. There is a pulse button on the front, giving you more control of the volume of end product. And there is an on/off switch on the side as well.
As you probably know already the Baratza Encore is the entry level grinder in the Baratza line. Their are actually about 9 different models that Baratza currently manufactures ranging in prices between $100 and $1000!
If you are keen on owning a Baratza but aren’t sure if the Encore is right for you you can trade up to the Virtuoso which is more expensive than the Encore but an even more versitile grinder. You can see a direct comparison of the Virtuoso and the Encore here, or click here to see all of the Baratza grinders.
If you only plan on using the grinder for espresso, the Gaggia MDF would be perfect for you.
Though it is a tiny bit more expensive than the Baratza Encore, it has a clever new contraption attached to the front. A doser! You can dose directly into the portafilter handsfree thanks to the cradle that comes with your purchase.
It is separated into sections holding 7 g of coffee a piece. You can automatically dose by pulling the lever once for one cup espresso, or twice for two cups.
Just like the Encore, you turn the rotatable bean hopper to adjust the grind size. The Gaggia MDF can hold 10 oz of beans.
There are 34 Grind Settings at your fingertips.
The burrs in this grinder are flat, unlike the Baratza Encore. They are 50mm in diameter made of tempered steel. You can adjust them to grind powder fine for a Turkish coffee, coarse enough for a French press, and everything in between.
The suggested setting for Turkish Coffee is 1-4.
You have the range of 5-8 to play around with for espresso.
Pour overs have a wider range, 14-21, depending on your preferences and specific brewer.
For your standard drip coffee machine, you can grind anywhere from 22-26.
And you have French Press settings from 30-34.
Once you pick your grind setting, you flip the simple on/off switch and the grinds are caught into a wide cylinder.
Then you pull the lever once for one cup espresso, or twice for two cups.
Viola! Simple as that.
But a decision between the two grinders isn’t nearly as simple. Let’s look at the specs side by side.
|Gaggia MDF||Baratza Encore|
|Size||8.5 x 8″ x 13||12x35x16|
|Burrs||Flat, Stainless Steel||Conical, Stainless Steel|
|Hopper Size||10 ounces||8 oz|
|Adjust Grind Setting||turn hopper||turn hopper|
The Gaggia MDF is obviously designed for espresso (even though it can make grind for other brewing methods just fine) but if you are looking for something just a little bit nicer that the Encore then we’d like you to take a look at the Breville Smart Grinder Pro.
In fact you can see our direct comparison of the Encore and the Smart Grinder Pro here.
To summarize however we can say the Breville is a well rounded grinder that is designed to make great grind for all brewing methods. It’s a bit fancier than the Encore and priced higher but it’s generally more affordable than the Barazta Virtuoso so we think the price is very attractive.