I'm in a Long-Term Relationship With My Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder

We've been happy together for going on 10 years now

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coffee grinder, chemex coffeemaker, mug, and plate of cookies Photo: Angela Lashbrook/Consumer Reports

I’m in most ways a creature of habit, and the moment I most look forward to is one of human history’s most beloved rituals: a daily cup of coffee. I first fell for it in high school, when I would ditch class (sorry, Mom) and, instead of smoking cigarettes at the public park where most of the other class ditchers went (okay, I sometimes did that, too—sorry again, Mom!) I’d park myself on one of the plush window seats at my favorite coffee shop, reading a book and gulping down blended mochas and Vietnamese iced coffees like my life depended on it. I’d emerge a few hours later, blinking in the California sunlight, wired and jittery and so, so happy.

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This passion evolved into a wonderful early career during college and a couple of years after in specialty coffee, primarily as a barista. Though I had access to some of the best coffee in San Francisco four or five mornings a week, there were still at least two mornings in which I had to fend for myself—and my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was becoming similarly addicted to the good stuff. After saving up a couple of days’ worth of tips, I purchased the least expensive—yet still highly recommended by my co-workers—electric burr grinder we sold at my job: the Baratza Encore.

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Almost 10 years later, my tireless Baratza is aging even better than me, despite my rather neglectful caretaking of the thing. For years, I hardly cleaned it (do as I say, not as I do!), though now I run Grindz burr grinder cleaning tablets through it monthly, and vacuum it thoroughly with my Miele vacuum once a week. It has lived in multiple kitchens and on both coasts, and it has been manhandled by more moving companies than I can remember. It grinds between 35 and 51 grams of coffee for me at least every single day, if not more than that. Visiting with friends and family has many joys, but the coffee they serve isn’t one of them. The two things I miss the most when I go on vacation are my dog and my Baratza Encore. 

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How I Like to Use My Baratza

The Baratza Encore is considered an “entry-level” coffee grinder, though it’s a little bit pricier than Consumer Reports’ top-rated grinder, the Oxo Brew Conical Burr coffee grinder. (Our testing team rated my Baratza as the third-best grinder.) It’s a simple appliance, which may be the secret to its longevity: Though it has an impressive 40 grind settings, all it does is grind beans. (Please, never put anything besides coffee beans or cleaning tablets in your burr grinder. Keep a small grinder specific for grinding spices instead.) It’s best for coarse grinds for French press and medium grinds for drip coffee or Aeropress. I have kept it hovering between settings 19 to 21 for the entire time I’ve owned it, and find that range to be perfect for my daily Chemex.

Why the Baratza Works So Well 

My morning coffee is as reliable and delicious now as it was when I first purchased the Baratza. For coffee, you want a burr grinder, which uses multiple surfaces to crush the beans rather than cut them, which is what the typical blade grinder—suitable only for spices—does. The Baratza Encore, specifically, has “conical” burrs, which are cone-shaped pieces of metal hardware fit into a metal ring that catch the beans between narrow channels grooved into the cone. The Encore’s materials are high quality, and my grinder’s burrs don’t show much sign of wear and tear at all. If you make espresso at home, the Encore maybe isn’t for you; you’re going to want a very precise, very fine grind, which in my opinion the Encore can’t quite handle. But for most other preparations, an Encore will be the ideal companion.

If My Baratza Dies, It’s Still a Keeper

When the Encore finally threatens to kick the bucket, the consumer-friendly Baratza has extensive repair instructions and sells spare parts, which saves consumers money and is better for the environment than having to replace the entire appliance. If you don’t trust yourself to attempt your own repairs, the company will also fix your Baratza grinder for you. It’s a less expensive, low-waste alternative to throwing it out and buying a new one, which is an increasingly common and thoroughly depressing answer to broken electronics and appliances. 

If the unthinkable scenario does come to pass—that my Baratza truly and completely cannot be resurrected—I won’t spare a second thought before replacing it with another Encore. And if I am well and truly blessed, I will one day be tiny and white-haired and still beginning each morning with the rough and welcome sound of the grinder, that velvety, earthy scent of the grounds filling my kitchen, courtesy of my Baratza. 

Angela Lashbrook

Angela Lashbrook

I believe shopping should be fun, safe, and sustainable, and I shape my coverage at Consumer Reports around how consumers of all ages can have better shopping experiences. I’ve worked in media for seven years, and my diverse time in the industry has taught me that quality service journalism is a critical resource. When I’m not working, I’m usually reading, cooking (or, more likely, eating), and hanging out with my dog, a Libra named Gordo.