Is the Baratza Forte a substantial upgrade?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
Thenitwas

#1: Post by Thenitwas »

Hi all!

First post here! Thank you all for the advice you guys have posted!

Some background, I'm a home user who does the occasional home event set up. Normal weeks see about 1-2 shots per day and weekends, 3-6 shots.

I'm currently using an Expobar E-61 Leva HX, paired with a Bezzera BB005. I do a little (hoping to expand) home roasts, hence to cup, I use a hand grinder (antique) which produces a crappy cupping experience. I do the occasional pour over using a kalita and the hand grinder doesn't cut it at all. I use my office's grinder though during working days.

What I saw in the Forte was this:

1) the ability to switch between grind size easily (BB005 is stepless)

2) The build has been reviewed by many to be sturdy and able to do a "continuous" shift, 2lb./day

3) Small footprint

4) Grind is close to that of a Mazzer Super Jolly, although a mazzer mini E near my place is going cheaper than a brand new Forte.

However, I have friends who commented that it's not a worthy machine to invest that much into. Being, the claim on it's sturdiness and continuous claim is somewhat flimsy. And some who believe I should use the money and get a proper roaster first (Huky or quest.....? For another time)

In addition, I am a backer of the Kickstarter "Handground" grinder, coming august, it should arrive.

I look forward to any kind of advice for my dilemma... Forte users in a cafe set up would be great to hear too!
"Nothing beats a well pulled shot."

Séb

#2: Post by Séb »

1- I do not consider the adjustments to be easy. The micro adjustments require a lot of force to move and thus once it move it tend to always go too high or too low from my target and i have to try to hold the lever with both hands and it can be a pain sometimes if i want a specific setting. Maybe it's because my grinder have seen little use still. Note that the macro adjustments are super easy on the other hand.

2- It is much more sturdier then all the other Baratza grinders but still not comparable to a true commercial grinder like a Mazzer or Malhkonig for example.

3- Yes, very small footprint, nice looking grinder, perfect home kitchen friendly!

4- According to most, it is effectively similar in grind quality to a SJ and much better then the Mini. I think that you need to pay a fair amount more to get better in the cup quality.

In conclusion i really like my Forte AP for home but i would never use it in a commercial cafe. I am a small micro roaster and sometimes i do some tasting sessions where i have to make 10-16 drinks in a row and i can start to feel some heat in the grinds. I am actually looking to get a Malhkonig Peak and keep the Forte for decaf only. But for normal home usage it is near the perfect grinder IMO.

BillRedding

#3: Post by BillRedding »

Séb,

Just for the record, if a Mazzer Super Jolly produces a better grind than a Mini does, I can only think it would be because of the SJ's burrs (what would 250W vs. 350W matter). Consequently, some Mini owners are replacing their Mini OEM burrs with SJ OEM burrs...so (and aside from the apparent fact that SJ burrs have a more aggressive cut than the Mini OEM burrs), essentially you change your Mini into a smaller SJ. ;-)

I'm not recommending anyone do or not do that (I'm not going to change mine out), just mentioning that particular "Mini mod" here (for posterity).

Of course, we're talking about the newer Minis with 64mm burrs (like the SJ), not older Minis with smaller burrs.

-- BR

Thenitwas

#4: Post by Thenitwas »

Thanks Seb for the replies to the 4 points!

So your Forte does heat up quite abit when making continuous drinks, how long between drinks by the way? I tend to weigh out my beans and dump them into my hopper to grind rather than a full bag in. Any difference? The low retention of the forte draws me to it too.

Bill:

:) I did see that mod before! should I though.... >< haha. tempting to do so.

In addition, how do you find your mini? Would it stand up to a light cafe setting?

Thanks again!
"Nothing beats a well pulled shot."

Séb

#5: Post by Séb »

Thenitwas wrote:So your Forte does heat up quite abit when making continuous drinks, how long between drinks by the way? I tend to weigh out my beans and dump them into my hopper to grind rather than a full bag in. Any difference? The low retention of the forte draws me to it too.
I can feel "some heat" so it is not a serious problem and this happen only when i do 10+ drinks in a row. How long between drink?...I will say about one minute maximum because i wanted to serve everyone asap. I use mine with the hopper almost always half full as a minimum, i do not single dose.

The retention is very low, the large LCD is very well made and easy to use without having to read the manual. It is fast (7-8sec for a double), not too noisy also. I really like it in fact but i would personally get something more robust like a K30 for example if it was for a true commercial environment. But for home use in a standard kitchen with a wife not too far away...it is probably as close to the perfect grinder that you can find.

Thenitwas

#6: Post by Thenitwas »

Séb wrote:probably as close to the perfect grinder that you can find.
Thanks Seb,

I would agree with you on that. my home parties I host or help out at is pretty minimal.

I currently own a Bezzera BB005 grinder. On the forum, some have mentioned it beats the mini in grind, almost close to the Super Jolly. However as it is stepless, it's a pain to grind for pourovers and espresso in a short time. My question is then, should i stick to my BB005 for espresso only and wait for my handgrinder to come for pourovers and cupping? I'm also looking to get a proper home roaster Huky 500 or Quest M3 to upgrade my air popper. Which do you reckon is a better step forward?

You mentioned the forte's micro adjustments are hard to make, them being a tad stiff. May I ask, between each macro adjustrment, approximately how much difference in extraction time for espresso?

Thanks again for your help!
"Nothing beats a well pulled shot."

Séb

#7: Post by Séb »

About your question related to the choice of roaster, i think this is two very good home roaster. From what i understand, there is an updated version of the Huky that address some inconveniences (the need to remove some parts to fill or empty the beans, etc.). The Huky offer more capacity, work on gas while the Quest is electric, smaller batch, more refine in term of construction from what i see in pictures because i never use any of those. You should do some search on the net and read as much as you can on both before making a decision. Check this thread also: Huky 500 or Quest M3

Now about the range of the macro settings on the Forte. First, you need to remember that each Forte AP grinder will be slightly different in term of the calibration so my numbers will be just to give you an idea. For my espresso needs, i use mostly 1L to 1Q and most of the time i am at 1M for a double shot of 18g that will yield about 34g in 28-30 sec or so. To me, the macro setting 2 is just not usable for an espresso. If i use 2A for example, the flow rate will be way too fast for an espresso. Of course i could recalibrate my grinder and this will affect the settings but you ask what extraction time difference would be if we go from one macro setting to an other and the answer is a big difference for sure! The macro are there to change from espresso to drip, aeropress, french press, etc... But for espresso you might use the setting 1 or 2 (depending on the grinder's calibration) but you will fine tuned with the micro adjustments and never play after that with the macro for espresso.

Thenitwas

#8: Post by Thenitwas »

Seb,

I've read that thread already! Thanks for that though! Now looking at the Redux version!
i am at 1M for a double shot of 18g
I would assume that would be the case! :) Maybe to clarify, how much difference does it make lets say from 1M to 1N? Thats the only downside to a stepped grinder.
double shot of 18g that will yield about 34g in 28-30 sec or so.
so a double in 14-15 sec?

Thanks!
"Nothing beats a well pulled shot."

BillRedding

#9: Post by BillRedding »

"In addition, how do you find your mini? Would it stand up to a light cafe setting?" -- Thenitwas


Short answers (just to answer your 2 questions above, and not go OT too much as this thread is about the OP's Baratza Forte, not my Mazzer):

1. I like it, and glad to have it. Two MINOR issues when I first started using it, but now just one and I can live with it.

2. Yes, IMO it would -- remember, a Mazzer is rated for COMMERCIAL use, even if only light/medium use as in the case of a Mini. It should outlast ME even!

-- BR

Thenitwas

#10: Post by Thenitwas »

Bill,

Thanks for your reply!

I wanted to know just how good the mini would be to temp me away from the forte, noting I have one locally for purchase cheaper than the Forte. Only qualm I have is the same problem to et drip grinds out of the mini and it's apparent sub par grind compared to my current grinder, BB005.

Like you said, I could update the burrs.....
"Nothing beats a well pulled shot."