Baratza Sette: The Good, Bad, and Interesting

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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another_jim
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Postby another_jim » Sep 15, 2016, 3:14 pm

I've just posted my review in the Bench thread Baratza Sette 270 Review. The section on the effect of grind adjustment on particle distribution needs to be expanded into an FAQ article; but I'm too lazy to do that right now. For the impatient, below is an excerpt of the conclusion:

another_jim wrote:
  • This is an ideal entry level grinder. When I bought my first home grinder, I wondered why it was so damn slow compared to supermarket ones. Not with this one. For people just getting used to the mechanics of espresso making, a grinder that radically changes extraction with small grind adjustments is a nightmare. The Sette's adjustments will change the flow, and leave the extraction where it should be for most coffees. So beginners can learn the mechanics while having most coffees taste as intended.
  • If all the coffees you use for espresso are in the medium-light to medium-dark roast range, the Sette's extraction is near perfect. For these coffees, the Sette (quite shockingly) beat my K10 in blind tests more often than not, for the simple reason that the K10 needed to be very precisely dialed in to do better. However, for very light or very dark coffees, the Sette is only mediocre in taste. People who regularly use these roasts should not buy the Sette.

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baldheadracing
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Postby baldheadracing » Sep 15, 2016, 3:50 pm

another_jim wrote:The section on the effect of grind adjustment on particle distribution needs to be expanded into an FAQ article; but I'm too lazy to do that right now.

Most interesting - one wonders how much coffee must have been tasted to discern such a unique result! Thank-you!

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Postby another_jim » Sep 15, 2016, 3:59 pm

baldheadracing wrote:Most interesting - one wonders how much coffee must have been tasted to discern such a unique result! Thank-you!


Way more than I wished: about six weeks of alternating between my grinder and the Sette on daily shots, along with 35 blind side by sides over the same period. It took a long time to figure out that the results were sensitive to the particular coffees.

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Postby djdigy » Sep 15, 2016, 4:21 pm

Hi there,

Thank you for your time and effort,

I have a newbie question sorry but what did you mean saying 'very resistant to modify the extraction levels' ? Something about grind settings on the sette?

Best regards

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Postby RyanJE » Sep 15, 2016, 4:21 pm

Jim, Thanks for the information! Just curious on a couple points (especially as a K10 owner)...

1. How would you say ease of dialing in and getting even extractions is (in general and compared to K10).
2. You state it would produce better results for a newbie, but why not those with experience?
3. Did you purely single dose for your testing?
4. Any thoughts on performance with a drip or other brew type grind? Grind consistency at coarser settings?
5. Are you getting a Sette based on your blind results or or keeping the K10? :)
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Postby mrjag » Sep 15, 2016, 4:35 pm

Thanks for the feedback Jim.

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Postby baldheadracing » Sep 15, 2016, 4:42 pm

another_jim wrote:Way more than I wished: about six weeks of alternating between my grinder and the Sette on daily shots, along with 35 blind side by sides over the same period. It took a long time to figure out that the results were sensitive to the particular coffees.

A lot of sleuthing to arrive at the result! What a unique grinder. A burrset that behaves differently with (physically) very hard or very soft beans; optimized for the (assuming normality) vast middle ground. Now that is engineering!

... and now I can happily ignore this grinder :D.

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another_jim
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Postby another_jim » Sep 15, 2016, 5:08 pm

RyanJE wrote:Jim, Thanks for the information! Just curious on a couple points (especially as a K10 owner)...

1. How would you say ease of dialing in and getting even extractions is (in general and compared to K10).
2. You state it would produce better results for a newbie, but why not those with experience?
3. Did you purely single dose for your testing?
4. Any thoughts on performance with a drip or other brew type grind? Grind consistency at coarser settings?
5. Are you getting a Sette based on your blind results or or keeping the K10? :)


1. It's as easy to dial in for dose and flow as any grinder on the market. Extraction is nearly invariable over the grind range I used. From this I infer the grinder is mainly changing the fines proportion rather than the grind fineness. It should be noted that unlike the Vario/Forte, and like the other Baratza grinders, the burrs cannot be locked, since there is some play in the mechanism. I'm guessing the grinds are as fine as they will get in the espresso range and that the adjustments affect fines only. This means flow changes without extraction changes.

2. Take the K30. Breathe a little on the grind setting and there's a huge shift in taste, almost no shift if flow. Terrific for an experienced barista, especially at a store, who wants to work the taste without changing dose. But a total PITA to dial in in the first place, and forget about it for a newbie. The Sette is the opposite. The taste is basically set by Baratza to be optimal for most coffees, and you can dial it in with ease for dose and flow.

3. I checked for differences, then I single dosed. I have never found a grinder that tasted different for single and hopper dosing, but most grinders require different grind settings. The Sette's rotating outer burr creates such a powerful auguring effect that dosing doesn't affect the grind setting. This thing sucks the beans in like a supermarket Bunn.

4. Oddly, for me, it was good for French Press and sucked for drip. I didn't do much testing on it though, and my observations here are purely anecdotal.

5. Like most people with lots of experience, I was hugely impressed by the Sette, but didn't much like it for myself. In essence, it's preset for "optimal" extraction. That's great for normally roasted coffees that taste good when "optimally" extracted; not so good for the weird coffees. It equaled or even nudged out the K10 for about 2/3rds of the coffees I tried, and turned into a pumpkin for the rest. Put it this way; ten years ago, for the range of coffees in use by hobbyists then, this would have been the best grinder on the market. Now, with the much wider range of roasts and coffees used by hobbyists for espresso, it is not a grinder for those trying to push the envelope.

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Postby Calendar » Sep 15, 2016, 8:52 pm

Thanks Jim,

Fascinating reading.

In theory, I'm that guy who this grinder is intended for. I'm ready to move on from my Preciso of four years. The Sette seems ideal for me - home popcorn popper roaster - Gaggia Classic and a La Pavoni. I have a 270w model on pre-order.

...If all the coffees you use for espresso are in the medium-light to medium-dark roast range,..


Can you define "medium dark?" I roast into FC and FC+ - but never to a point where the beans show more than an occasional speck of oil here or there.

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Postby proxy » Sep 15, 2016, 9:11 pm

Great info Jim.

So, the sette doesn't taste that good on lighter coffees? By lighter coffees, you mean stuff from Heart Roasters, 49th Parallel Epic?

So, I was hoping to upgrade from my Baratza Vario (btw, with Vario I still can't make my shots taste quite as good as some of the best 3rd wave coffee shops, like Heart Roasters, Go Get Em Tiger etc).

Seems like Sette might be a downgrade from Vario for me?
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