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Baratza Virtuoso Preciso - Sam Decock's Review
Posted: January 28, 2012, 8:34am
review rating: 9.0
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Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
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More About This Product
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso Preciso has 22 Reviews
Arrow The Baratza Virtuoso Preciso has been rated 7.02 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since January 28, 2011.
Arrow Baratza Virtuoso Preciso reviews have been viewed 94,046 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Katie Robinson 10.00
Damian S 10.00
Nick C 10.00
Donald Varona 9.00
Hal Remz 9.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.6
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 7
Average Price: $300.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $299.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Barista Lab Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 1 month Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: LIDO, Hario Slim, Skerton
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a do-everything workhorse that excels across the entire grind spectrum without the $500+ price tag, this is the grinder for you. It is aesthetically pleasing, simple and easy to use, and has a world class customer service backing.
Positive Product Points

- Beautiful and high functioning burrs
- High quality grind consistency, especially in the coarse range
- Simple and easy to use
- Large range of grind sizes with minimal fines
- Can grind well for any method brewing and then some
- Hardly any static in grounds bin
-Easy to calibrate to any range
- Fantastic customer support

Negative Product Points

- Minor static issues mainly with highly chaffed coffees
-Some parts seem a bit cheap, but they are easy to replace (i.e. adjustment ring, burr holder).

Detailed Commentary

I have owned this grinder for about a month now and have used it for press, aeropress, and pour over coffee so far. I do not own an espresso machine, so I can't comment on that extreme end of the spectrum. I use the grinder 1-2 times per day and clean it around every 10 days. Most of the coffee being ground on it is light-medium home roast. *note* I received a replacement unit shortly after this review with the updated gear box to fix a burr stabilization issue.

First off, the build quality: I really like the look of the Baratza lineup. They have a simple yet elegant look to them with the brushed steel chest and high quality black plastic encasing the rest of the body. The plastic feels thick and of a good quality and the base of the grinder is a thick heavy piece of steel. It sits firmly on the counter and does not vibrate at all. It is a solid machine. The pulse button on the front of the machine is very easy to use and is typically my preferred method of grinding. I only grind between 15-30g at a time, so it's no problem for me to hold the button while I grind. If you were grinding larger amounts of coffee for an auto dripper, or large Chemex, the timer would come in handy. The timer switch is easy to use as well, although it feels a bit cheap the way it pushes into a plastic holder within the body. Once you get it firmly seated it remains in place and I have had no issues with it falling out. The timer allows for 60 seconds of grinding with markings that show 10 second increments. This grinder is extremely fast, so I doubt you would ever need the timer switch for the full 60 seconds. It takes me about 8-9 seconds to grind 16g of coffee. You can read Mark's writeup on the Preciso to get a better sense of the speed, but from my limited experience, this grinder does a fantastic job in that area.

Grind quality: As I mentioned above, I have only used this grinder for pour over grinds. The lowest on the settings I have gone is 17 for an aeropress with a short contact time. From what I have read from espresso users, this grinder can be easily dialed in for any system, but I can't stand behind any of that due to lack of personal experience. As for pour over grinds 18-24, I have been extremely impressed. The grind quality and consistency are fantastic. I owned a Breville Smart Grinder before I decided to move to a Preciso and the Breville always did a great job providing me with sweet and perfectly extracted cups. The Preciso takes it a bit further, as I now have full control of my final draw down times. By controlling my flow rate coming out of my kettle, I can focus on the timing of the water drawing down. This was difficult with the Breville and I chalked this up to a few extra fines, but the Preciso can be dialed in to the point of controlling the final draw down time.

Usability: Overall, this is an extremely easy grinder to use. I always weigh out my beans beforehand and then use the pulse button, but I plan on purchasing an Esatto in the near future to increase the usability of the grinder. If you are looking for a simple and easy to maintain grinder with excellent quality, look no further. Between the pulse button and the timer switch, you can easily approach this machine as a first time user and figure it out. To pick a grind setting just rotate the hopper to your desired setting and you're good to go.

Cleaning/Grounds retention: Mark has done a report on the grounds retention of this grinder, but I want to share my personal experiences. I grind 17g of beans and I get 17g in my grounds bin. When I remove the hopper and outer burr to look into the area under the burrs, there is hardly any coffee. There are little crevasses here and there that get filled with dust, but once they are filled, they don't retain any more coffee. Additionally, the fins that spin the coffee into and down the chute into the bin do a fantastic job. You are left with a ring of dust around the outside of the area under the burrs and in those small crevasses around the spinner arms, but all the grounds end up in the grounds bin. This makes cleaning a cinch. I simply remove the hopper, rubber ring, and outer burr. I clean the hopper, grounds bin, and rubber ring in soapy water and give them a good rinse. I set them out to dry overnight. I use the provided cleaning brush to rub the dust and coffee matter out of the outer burr and what I can reach on the inner burr. Sometimes I use a toothbrush as well. Then I use a toothpick to further clean the little pockets of dust, but for basic cleanings, I tend to not worry about these areas every time. I then blow down into the grounds shoot a couple of times over a garbage can to make sure I got everything out and the grinder is as clean as the day I received it. Obviously, this is a pretty intense cleaning cycle, but it just goes to show you how easy it is to make this thing shine like the day it came out of the box!

Noise: Some people worry about how loud a grinder is. When I first ran the motor on the Preciso, I was caught off guard by how easily you can hear the motor's gears turning. You can hear the power when you hit that pulse button. It's not a particularly loud grinder, but you definitely can hear and feel the power in the motor. If the hopper's top is on and you hold it down it dampens the sound quite a bit. *Baratza informed me that a new gear box will greatly reduce the volume of the grinder* Now that I have a replacement Preciso I am seeing the machine through a new light. With the new gear box, it is noticeably more quiet.

Overall, I really like this grinder. I have limited experience with other grinders, so I have little else to compare it to. Nevertheless, it turns out high quality grinds and offers the user near limitless flexibility in dialing in the grind. As a pour over/press grinder it handles the medium-fine to coarse range effortlessly and with near perfection, which is hard to do at the coarse end of the range.

Something to note: When my replacement unit arrived, it was producing espresso grinds at 22, so I had to do a little tweaking to get it where I wanted it. This was easily accomplished by removing the case and putting the calibration screw into the neutral window. There are three windows and depending on where the screw is placed, it adjusts the overall range of the grinder more fine or more coarse. Mine was calibrated to grind more fine (obviously), so I moved the screw to far left side of the neutral window, popped the case back on, ran a couple tests at 22 to test the drip grind and that was that. It was pretty painless and now I know how to adjust the calibration if I ever needed to. The new grinder picked up where my first grinder started in its first few days. The grinds are consistent and it has near limitless adjustment. I have read quite a bit about users having issues with their Preciso's adjustment and definitely agree that some of the grinder's internal parts could be made a bit sturdier (micro adjustment ring), but so far so good. Time will tell.

Buying Experience

I purchased it from Barista Lab through Amazon. As always, the shipping/buying experience with Amazon was great. With regards to customer service, the level of personal attention that Baratza gives to its customers is other worldly and I think that adds yet another positive check mark for this grinder or any other machine from Baratza.

The replacement grinder came directly from Baratza and was equipped with the updated gear box that features two points of contact on the drive shaft to help stabilize the lower burr. The customer service was excellent and I am happy to be up and running again.

Three Month Followup

This replacement has been working exactly as it should be since it arrived. It produces wonderful consistent grinds across the spectrum, although I use my Preciso solely for fine drip, drip, and coarse grinds. This replacement grinder has the updated gearbox, fiberglass reinforced adjustment ring, and an adjustment mechanism that attaches to a base ring that is attached to the top of the gearbox. Meaning, it's more sturdy and handles the stress of finer grinding much better. I have had absolutely no issues with it and really love this grinder.

Something to note for those concerned about the adjustment ring. Let's say that I did break my adjustment ring in some way either through a foreign object entering the grinder or some other cause. The replacement is ~$10. You remove the case, move the micro arm to the 8 o'clock position, the old adjustment ring pops off, you put the new ring with the arm at the 8 o'clock position, and then push downwards on the ring while moving the arm to the 6 o'clock position. That is all it takes - think of the micro adjustment arm as a locking mechanism for the adjustment ring. The opening on the front of the grinder is not big enough to allow the micro arm to swing to the 8 o'clock position, so it will only unlock once the case is off.

Overall, I am very pleased with this grinder and have not found another grinder that I would have rather preferred. That is even in comparison to the Vario W with metal burrs. In my opinion, the Preciso produces an incredibly consistent grind and doses by weight with the Esatto add on. All of that for $440, which is much cheaper than the Vario option and performs just as well.

I will add that there have been a few updates to these grinders since their release. First, Baratza's grinder now all have a new gearbox that is sturdier than before. It has two points of contact to the burr shaft and is more rugged. They have also reinforced the adjustment mechanism with fiberglass to prevent ware and tare that comes with espresso grinding. This is what has caused many users to struggle with grind settings needing to go progressively finer over time. The latest update that I have heard of was the addition of adhesive under the adjustment mechanism. Due to the fact that the Preciso has been used for a lot more espresso than the other Baratza grinders, the adjustment mechanism was not always staying seated. The added pressure and torque was causing some users to notice their adjustment rings lifting up. The base ring that the adjustment mechanism attaches to now come adhered to the gearbox directly from the factory. As I have said before, I do not use this grinder for espresso, so I can not comment on this grinder as it applies to espresso grinding. I typically grind in the fine drip to coarse press pot range and have had no problems with my adjustment mechanisms. I did receive one replacement grinder, but it was due to a completely separate issue. The lower burr's shaft became slightly detached from the motor and showed slight play. This was a unique issue and was taken care of promptly by Baratza.

This has been my experience since purchasing this grinder over these four months. I am in no way paid or compensated for my reviews and support of Baratza. Rather, I am a very happy customer. Yes, Baratza grinders have many plastic components, but they offer grind quality that is unmatched in this price range.

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review rating: 9.0
Posted: January 28, 2012, 8:34am
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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