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Baratza Virtuoso - A Grinder With Many Virtues

October 19, 2011

/files/u2252/Virtuoso.jpg" align="right" height="250" width="157" />It seems like most of the conversation today centers around the Baratza Vario and Preciso while the work horse like Virtuoso is not mentioned at all.  The other two grinders are deserving of the recognition they gain, but the Virtuoso should be more popular that it is currently among coffee lovers.  It sits in an odd place in the Baratza pricing matrix though. For a hundred dollars less you can get a very nice Baratza Plus. For a hundred dollars more you can get all the features of the Virtuoso but also have fine adjustment capability for espresso by selecting the Preciso.

Who then is the target audience for the Virtuoso? There are nice grinders for a little less, and nice grinders for a little more. I personally wonder how long it stays in the line up but for someone looking for an awesome coffee grinder with limited yet viable espresso capability, the Virtuoso has been an awesome choice. I caught wind of a rumor that Williams Sonoma was closing out these grinders. I checked with my local store and found they had three left - after all was said and done I ended up getting one for $50 plus tax. My expectations were not that high - I figured it would be a little better than the Maestro.

After unpacking the grinder I noticed a lot more heft - this is not a light weight item.  The style is attractive and the timer dial on the side was a welcome feature too.  The front button allows for dosing into a portafilter (if it wasn't designed for espresso this feature would have been left off) one handed by using your thumb. The burrs are 40mm conical burrs shaped very similar to the popular 68mm conical burrs found on very expensive espresso grinders.  Mod it to step less and watch it go to work. It really shines grinding for drip and press - the flavors are clearer with this grinder than with my Maestro.  

If I was buying a grinder today the $200 price tag might send me up toward the Preciso or down to the Maestro Plus, but I might just buy the Virtuoso - it is a proven product and still a lot of grinder for the money.

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