Ever wish for a grinder that just really seems to get it when it comes to producing great coffee? A grinder that you can really count on to produce the right type of grounds, in the right amounts, for the exact type coffee you want to drink – every time.
Seems pretty simple, right? Personally though, I hadn’t yet found that top burr grinder that just gave me a sense of trust in its quality and consistency time after time.
So when the new Breville Smart Grinder Pro landed on my countertop, I put it through its paces and expected a bit of the same: some excellent shots and pours, intermingled with a few throwaways.
But after consistently great shot after cup after pour, I have to admit: this innovative and technology-driven machine really does think like a barista.
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With this new model, Breville took their existing line of grinders and examined every possible way they could be expanded and improved upon. What they’ve come up with is truly one of the most efficient, powerful, and smart machines that we’ve seen out there.
You can feel the quality of this new high-end Breville conical burr grinder right out of the box, as its sleek and compact stainless steel body fits attractively on any countertop.
But appearances are only the beginning – under the hood, this grinder’s packing more power than you’d expect for such a streamlined machine.
Sixty (that’s right, sixty) individual grind settings are split up by category, so coffee fanatics can achieve the exact grind they need for press, percolator, drip, cold brew and espresso machines.
You can tell that the people at Breville understand coffee inside and out, as they’re really attended to the finer details that other machines have skipped over.
Pulling the perfect espresso shot is a fine and often tricky art, yet is easily matched by this grinder’s array of finely-tuned settings.
But get this – there are actually far more settings available than even that (we’re talking ten times more!) We’ll be getting into that later though...
Technology is the theme here, as you almost get the feeling they took inspiration from Apple in its design and functionality. Breville left no stone unturned in creating a machine that makes coffee grinding truly simple and enjoyable.
Its Grinding Timer feature and Dose IQ help automate the perfect dosage and portion, letting you “set it and forget it” for the perfect cup every time.
As far as features go, you can consider this new Breville conical burr grinder king of the coffee fanatic’s bells and whistles. That is to say, they’ve covered all the details in crafting the perfect user experience alongside a boldly smooth cup of joe.
What’s great about this grinder is that it incorporates a ton of extra useful features without becoming overly complicated. The machine manages to effortlessly balance its impressive array of extras with an intuitive, enjoyable user experience.
Here are some of our favorite features of the Baratza Encore coffee grinder:
Most grinders out there offer various grind settings for different types of coffee. But few, if any, match the range of this smart mill. Out of the package, you’ve got 60 different grind settings, categorized by manual press, percolator, drip, and espresso.
Most of the settings lie within the last two, which makes sense as these are the two coffee types that generally require the most subtle attainments in grind size and texture.
But if 60 straight-up settings aren’t enough for you, just remove the bottom conical burr to make 10 more micro-adjustments to each setting. Yes, that’s right – you’ve got 600 individual settings to keep you busy crafting up that exquisitely perfect cup of coffee. (If you never get anything else done, don’t say we didn’t warn you!)
Breville has added a handy “Grind Time” dial that lets you preset the perfect dose amount for each grind. If you already know the exact timing, you can pre-adjust the timer down to 2/10 of a second, all displayed satisfyingly on an sleek LED screen.
If you’re in a more experimental mode, simply hold down the button and the timer will begin counting up from zero. This is great for those who might not yet know what exactly to choose, or want to play around with what works best.
So let’s say you’ve established the best grinding timer for your coffee type, and perfected the automation.
You want to invite the neighbors over to show off your fancy new coffee-making skills – so you’d just need to multiply the time by the number of people, right?
Sure… but Breville is ready to step in and make this even easier for you using the next feature...
Enter Dose IQ, yet another handy feature that simply requires you to enter the number of shots or cups, and it will automatically adjust the dose accordingly. You just need to program your preferred dose (for each grind type) by holding down the button, and the machine will remember – so you can easily produce multiple portions with the same dosage.
The grinder can store programs for different grind types, so all you need to do is indicate espresso, pour-over, etc, and you’re good to go!
The one-pound hopper that comes with the SGP is larger than that of many other coffee grinders, which is useful in itself. But the real convenience comes in the simple release button that you push to lift the whole container away from the machine.
This lets you replace the beans without making a mess, and access the burrs for easy cleaning. (This is also how you’ll access the 10 extra grind settings.)
For those days when you just want to make your coffee and get on with it, without fiddling with timers – enter the hot button. This little metal button behind the portafilter container produces quick grounds on demand.
Simply push your container back on the wall to activate the hot button, and the LED will start counting up so you can visually see how much you’re grinding. Release, and the grind will stop. It’s a great feature for getting your fresh grounds quickly and easily without fiddling or tweaking any other settings.
What type of coffee is best suited for the Breville Smart Pro?
With its 60 grind settings, the Breville grinder definitely makes itself available for a wide variety of coffee makers. But, like any grinder, it has its strengths and weaknesses.
We were especially impressed with its performance in the espresso machine, cold brew and pour-over department, producing a remarkably consistently quality of grounds for each.
In fact, we have to nominate smart pro as the best in its class for both of these coffee types – no other machine simply came close in terms of producing such a high quality shot and pour-over consistently.
On the weaker end of the spectrum, though, this Breville doesn’t quite stack up with the same quality for the coarser grounds required for French Press. While still deemed acceptable, we did find a few stray grounds floating in our cup now and then.
So if you’re an avid user, you may not be quite as enamored by this model as our espresso and pour-over lovers.
Still, for overall performance and flexibility, we have to hand it to this grinder for its massive range. (Curious which pick we would recommend? We’ll be sharing down below!)
Pro tips to make the most out of this grinder
To be honest, this is grinder for true coffee lovers. If you’re going to set the grinder to one setting forever, you’ll probably still be happy with what you get, but you won’t be making the most of this grinder’s powerful range and capabilities!
So how can you make the most of this grinder? We’d start by having you explore its many options and grind types. The Grind Timer allows you to experiment with the best time for you, so take a few minutes to play around and see what produces the ideal portion for each of your coffee maker.
Once you find your favorite setting, hold the button down to program the machine in so it will remember the correct portion.
While we love this Breville coffee grinder, it’s not perfect by any means. There are a few weaker aspects here that you may want to consider, in case any of these may be a deal breaker:
It doesn’t have a scale, so it’s basing the grounds portions by time instead of weight. This is pretty common for many grinders, so it wasn’t a huge issue for us – and we found the portioning to be very consistent.
However, if you’re someone who wants to measure out their ground coffee by the gram before grinding it, this machine doesn’t make it very convenient. You’d need to repeatedly push the Start/Pause button if you wanted to grind this way, instead of using the timed function.
So if this is important to you, we’d recommend buying a scale and going with another grinder like the Baratza Encore, which makes manual grinding easier with its on/off switch.
This machine is an ace when it comes to espresso, pour over, and even coarser grinds for percolator. But the coarsest grounds didn’t always turn out as well as we hoped.
I guess we can’t expect perfection, right? If you’re looking for that perfect slow coffee cup, you may want to look elsewhere.