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Baratza Virtuoso - Aubrei Merrill's Review
Posted: May 12, 2008, 9:28pm
review rating: 9.0
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Baratza Virtuoso Grinder
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More About This Product
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso has 61 Reviews
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso has been rated 7.22 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since February 20, 2006.
Arrow Baratza Virtuoso reviews have been viewed 366,125 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Eero Simoncelli 9.08
Gone Gone 9.00
Aubrei Merrill 9.00
Joel Bristol 9.00
Yves Feder 8.83

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.0
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 8
Average Price: $229.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $149.00 Cost vs. Value 7
Where Bought: baratza.com Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 2 weeks Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: na
Bottom Line: Your friendly neighborhood French Press grinder solution.
Positive Product Points

- Easy to switch between grinds
- Sturdy casing
- Fairly quick grinder
- Plug n play - fast + easy learning curve

Negative Product Points

- Grind is less even than I had imagined
- Pretty darn loud
- Timer arm falls off with borderline slapstick frequency

Detailed Commentary

Well after lurking in the home roasting section for a good long time, I finally branched into other forums and discovered I needed to upgrade from my whirlygig grinder.  I researched grinders extensively, everything from Mazzers to Macaps to Rockies and beyond.  I do not have an expresso machine - I am a French Pressaholic.  While the other grinders could certainly in theory handle a rougher, courser grind, they were specifically built for finer grinds - not my area of focus.  I started reading about the Virtuoso and found that the most complaints / negs were regarding its espresso capabilities.  No one knocked it for the courser grinds.

Being cost-conscious, I opted for the refurbed edition of the Virtuoso off of baratza.com.  I had it out of the box the minute it arrived and was delighted with the very brief and to-the-point manual and the fully assembled machine.  It's a sturdy little thing - nice brushed metal top, good solid weight to it, thick cord.  The grounds bin slides into the body of the grinder easily enough but with just the right amount of resistance to let you know that it's air sealed.  Couple of things that are good to know IMHO:

Course grind means COURSE.  I guess after years of whirlygig powder I was just shocked to see the marbles rolling out of the courser settings.  Dialed it down notch by notch and found the right settings for me.  I guess I was expecting mathematically exact grinds - they are not all of the same exact size and shape.  They are all roughly aligned, however, and there is very little sign of fines.  No more dust n' boulders here.

Static issues.  I don't have any!  Sure, I've only been using it for two weeks or so, but so far I haven't seen anything even approaching serious trouble with static.  The grinds either fall or are scooped out without a problem.  Two solid knocks on the grounds bin gets rid of 97% of the clinging remaining grinds. I was concerned about static after reading about some of the issues noted in this forum, but evidently the static issues have been resolved.

Popping beans.  Again, no issue here!  Some users seemed to have had problems with beans dancing above the burrs, not entering the chute.  So far so good - after about 8-10 grinds, I'm not noticing any beans that are hanging out above the burrs.  The model I purchased has the speed reducer, which was intended to prevent the bean popping problems - and it works.  There is also an interesting bean-guide above the burr chute - even if beans do pop up as they come into contact with the burrs, they impact on the bean guide and ricochet back into the burrs.  Nice!

All in all, I really like this little guy.  If I feel like using ye olde moka pot, it's super easy to move to the right grind (no moving while gears are moving, or guessing at the right position).   Bottom line, if you are looking for a dedicated FP grinder, I don't see why you should look elsewhere.  From what I've read about espresso grinds, there are better options - but for the Pressed, this is terrific.

Buying Experience

After reading so many positive statements about Baratza's customer service, I felt pretty comfortable buying a refurb off of their site.  So far so good - the buying process was standard issue, UPS dropped it off on time, and all is well.  It came in a new-looking box with 2 burr brushes and a manual.  Refurbs have a 6 month warranty, as opposed to a 1 year warranty for new units.  My only concern was minor - they didn't send an email with the shipping confirmation (I received one fairly promptly from UPS).  It's more of an optional message I guess - sort of a nice finishing touch.  Other than that I'm pleased with the vendor and delighted with the product.

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review rating: 9.0
Posted: May 12, 2008, 9:28pm
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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