To be honest, we’ve always been pretty skeptical about best coffee grinders under the $200 price tag. Far too many times, we’ve seen people ruin bags of quality beans in cheap grinders, unwilling to shell out the big bucks for a bigger and better machine.
But the question still remained in our minds: Is it possible to find the holy grail of coffee grinders?
Is there one efficient, simply designed, and affordable grinder that can handle any assignment from drip coffee makers to the finest espresso and French press?
Turns out, there is. Enter: The Encore.
Table of Contents
First up, let’s dig into the nitty gritty details of this fantastic grinder:
We aren’t the only ones who could wax lyrical about this little grinder – there are many who rave it’s the best entry-level grinder out there, and for good reason.
With 40 individual grind options, your specifically desired grounds are right at your fingertips.
The DC motor keeps the beans cool even during longer grind times, which is rare for a grinder in this price range. Many lower-priced steel burr grinders overheat the beans during grinding, which can affect the oils and result in a more bitter flavor.
A convenient pulse button on the front allows you to grind on demand straight into the brew basket.
We’ve simply found this grinder incredibly easy for beginners to use, yet impressively consistent in both quality and power.
In terms of best balancing price with quality, this conical burr grinder tops the charts by a long shot (no pun intended!)
We simply haven’t found another grinder on the market that offers such consistent results for every coffee type, from espresso to pour-over and French Press, for amazingly just over $100.
It’s the perfect beginner’s grinder, but by no means limited to amateur coffee lovers.
Here are some of our favorite features of this coffee grinder:
In terms of range and consistency, we haven’t found a grinder in this price category that can handle such a wide array of grind options as this one.
Simply adjust the grind setting to anywhere between 250 to 1200 microns, depending on what type of machine you’ll be using.
A “stepped” grind simply means that you can incrementally control the distance between burrs, resulting in the different grind sizes needed for various types of coffee.
What we love about the motor with this coffee grinder is that it doesn’t heat up the beans the way other similarly-priced burr grinders tend to do.
When the motor heats the beans, it can affect the natural oils which in turn impacts the flavor of the coffee.
The Encore’s motor uses a smart combo of speed gear reducers to slow down the burr speed to 450 PRM, which keeps the bean smooth while reducing heat buildup (and extra noise!)
While a French Press requires coarse grounds, espresso requires fine grounds – and drip coffee lands somewhere in the middle.
This coffee grinder handles them all beautifully, giving you the freedom to experiment with the type of coffee makers you like best!
Unlike some other grinders which practically require a physics degree to take apart, this coffee grinder easily comes apart for cleaning with no tools or complications.
The burrs come off easily, and the overall design of the grinder is clean and simple for quick cleaning and maintenance.
It could hardly be easier to grind right on demand into your brew basket, with the Encore’s straightforward pulse button located right on the front of the grinder.
This is a fantastic grinder for beginners, but also delivers the quality expected by higher-level baristas.
Perhaps more than anything, we’re incredibly impressed by the price point offered by this stellar grinder.
For the consistent quality of grounds, quick and quiet motor, variety of grind options and durability, we simply haven’t found anything else on the market to match this grinder.
What type of coffee is best suited for the Encore?
In all honesty, we were impressed by all of the different ground textures produced by this burr coffee grinder.
Its consistency and versatility are two of the key features that put this grinder at the top of our list.
If we had to choose, however, the Encore was most consistent and reliable when producing the slightly coarser grinds required for pour over, drip coffee, and French Press.
However, we may be splitting hairs a bit here since it definitely outperforms other grinders in its price range when grinding espresso-fine quality.
Bottom line: If you’re an experienced barista, you’ll probably notice a difference between the espresso grounds produced by the Encore and a more expensive grinder – but for everyday use, we still give it two thumbs up.
Making the most out of the grinder
If you’re looking for all the fancy bells and whistles that come with more advanced and expensive grinders, you won’t find them here on the Encore.
The settings are clear and straightforward, offering you the 40 grind types for whatever type of coffee you’re drinking.
From Chemex (pour-over) to French Press, espresso, or regular drip coffee… simply choose the grind setting, press, and go.
So to make the most of this machine, we encourage you to take advantage of its simplicity of design and use, and rely on this powerful grinder to cover all of your coffee cravings.
If you need a ton of complicated settings and tricky parts to deal with, this grinder probably isn’t for you.
But if a small price tag and cleanly-designed, quality grinder sounds up your alley, then definitely give this coffee grinder a try.
This may be already apparent, but this isn’t a grinder that gives you all the fancy convenience settings that a more expensive grinder would.
There are definitely more advanced grinders out there that would be more suited for high-volume commercial use, but for the price tag, this coffee grinder is a fantastic home grinder.
It’s not the fastest or most powerful grinder on the market – for that, you’ll need to shell out another $100 for the Virtuoso or another similar grinder.
How to clean the Encore coffee grinder
What we love about this grinder is how incredibly easy it is to clean compared to some of the others we tried!
No tools or mechanical knowledge whatsoever are required to remove the burrs and clean them, then replace them back into the grinder.
We recommend that you clean out this grinder every two months or so, to ensure your grinder continues running smoothly.
Here are the simple steps for cleaning:
1. Twist and remove the hopper.
When you rotate and align the nubbins on the top of the hopper, it will easily lift off. Take a paper towel and wipe off any residue from this part and place it to the side.
2. Take off the top gasket
Without the hopper there, you’ll be able to see right into the grinder! At the top, you’ll see the top gasket which you’ll want to remove and set aside as you clean the grinder.
3. Remove and clean burrs
In the center of the grinder you’ll find the burrs and burr holder, the main parts which need to be cleaned.
Take them out and with a soft brush, remove any leftover grinds or residue. Set aside these parts so you can clean the rest of the grinder.
4. Clean the inside of the grinder
Use the same soft brush to remove any residue from inside the machine, the same way as you did with the burrs and holder.
(But make sure not to turn the machine upside down, as this may disrupt the placement of the machine’s mechanical parts!)
5. Put it back together
Moving in reverse order, place all components back in their respective places.
Brush away any final leftover residue and double check that you’ve replaced all the parts that you set aside.
Voila! Your grinder is all clean and ready for use!
Encore vs. Virtuoso
These two grinders have definitely been topping the charts in the conical burr grinder space. While the Encore coffee grinder delivers consistent quality at a great price, the Virtuoso takes things to the next level with greater speed, power, and durability. Each grinder has its own attributes that are ideal for different uses!
Let’s break these grinders down by their various aspects:
1. Grind setting and functionality
Both grinders use the same size conical burrs, at 40mm, which helps them produce the uniform particles needed for an exceptionally fine-flavored cup of coffee.
They also both feature 40 grind options that you can easily dial in on with the simple turn of a button. So in these ways both machines offer a similar consistency of particle and variety of grinds.
The differences between these two begin when we look at the grind speed. While the Encore grinds at a speed of 0.8 - 1.1g/second, the Virtuoso overpowers this with a speed of 1.5 - 2.4g/second. Essentially, this makes the Virtuoso more ideal for grinding more beans in less time, when you have more cups of coffee to make.
We also found the Virtuoso to slightly outperform the Encore coffee grinder when it comes to the coarser to medium-coarse grounds.
While the Encore leaves a bit of fine coffee dust particles on the coarser settings, the Virtuoso virtually eliminates this, so you’re left with more pure coarse coffee grounds and less waste.
2. Grinder quality and durability
Baratza produces fine coffee grinders, so both the grinders are naturally made of high-quality materials that are built to last.
The Encore is lighter in weight (7 pounds), made with top-grade plastic resin for the body and tinted ABS plastic for the hopper (made to protect the beans from harmful UV rays.)
The Virtuoso’s body is made partially of the same plastic resin as the Encore, but adds durable stainless steel to its top and base.
These additions add some weight to the Virtuoso (8 pounds), and the appearance of higher quality. Overall, the stainless steel makes the Virtuoso slightly more durable and resistant to wear, if you don’t mind a slightly heavier machine.
3. Unique extra features
The Encore shines with its smaller price tag, lighter weight, and simplicity of use.
The on/off switch is foolproof for beginners, and it’s nearly impossible to produce a bad batch of grounds as long as you choose the setting you need.
That being said, the Virtuoso adds some extra features that will appeal to true coffee connoisseurs.
Its front-mounted pulse button has a convenient 60-second timer that the Encore lacks, which gives you a more precise grind.
This type of consistency of quality is important when you’re grinding into an espresso basket, because it requires very fine and uniformly-sized grounds.
While we love this machine for its performance in its price class, this is by no means the best or more powerful grinder on the market.
The Encore’s main competitors offer different benefits in terms of RMP, power, and overall quality.
We’ll lay out some of the Encore’s main competitors, so the ultimate choice will be up to you!
With so many burr grinders out on the market, we keep finding ourselves coming back to his machine time and time again.
In reality, it isn’t just the price that keeps this burr mill at the top of our charts – the consistency, quality, and durability are simply impressive for such a cleanly-designed, lightweight machine that fits easily on any kitchen counter.
We love all Baratza grinders, and would recommend them any day to a coffee enthusiast looking for a solid overall burr grinder.
And by all means, if you’re happy to shell out the extra hundred or so for a few more bells and whistles on the Virtuoso, that’s an excellent pick.
You’ll have slightly greater quality and consistency on the finest and coarsest ground settings, and the convenience of timed grinding.
But for an extremely solid everyday burr grinder, the Encore is just too impressive.