Baratza blogs about steel vs. ceramic Forté burrs for espresso

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
Supporter ♡

#1: Post by baldheadracing »

... the ceramic burrs produce a traditional espresso flavor profile. They are great for blends and particularly coffees roasted for espresso. The cup flavors are complex, and usually have more body and mouth feel in comparison to the steel burrs (depending on the coffee).

The steel burrs have been engineered to produce a more even particle distribution and less fines. These burrs are ideal for pourover, batch, or home brewers and what we have termed, a "modern style espresso".

To expound a little on the term "modern style espresso" - we feel that espresso with our steel burrs tastes different, due to the lack of fines (or the very small grind particles) in the particle grouping. Overall, the ground coffee is more similar in size, especially in comparison to our ceramic burrs. The results in flavor profile are more simple flavors and a clean mouth feel. We like this burr set for single origin coffees not necessarily limited to coffees roasted for espresso or called espresso roast. ... ... mic-burrs/

Hmm. Might be time to buy steel burrs for my Vario.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

User avatar
Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

It would be interesting to know what sort of analysis they did to come to those conclusions. There is also no mention about whether the this is from the design of the burrs or the material, or both. (Not being critical- it just would be educational to hear the testing details.)
Espresso! My Espresso! -
LMWDP #644

Supporter ♡

#3: Post by baldheadracing »

It appears to be taste tests - no mention of blinding tasters, though, let alone the necessary double-blinding.

If one was a conspiracy theorist (or a marketing professional), then one could say that one of the blog post's purposes was to rehabilitate the steel burrset as something potentially desirable for (some) espresso - contrary to previous statements.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

User avatar

#4: Post by Eastsideloco »

For a long time I assumed that the steel burrs simply weren't capable of grinding for espresso—perhaps for reasons that made them well suited for brewing. But after hearing that Baratza was beginning to talk up the steel burrs for SO espressos, I tested it out using my Vario W, which is set up with steel burrs. It turns out that my dedicated brewing grinder is also a capable espresso grinder. While I rarely use it that way, I have done so when serving affogato for desert after a dinner party. (In that case, the speed of the electric motor seemed preferable to hand-grinding.)

[Update on 1/25: It is trickier to use the steel burrs with my HX machine than with my lever. Small setting changes make a pretty big difference in the shot, perhaps more so than with the ceramic burrs.]


#5: Post by Nate42 »

I would be curious to hear HB'ers take on how shots from the Forte BG compare with the much talked about EK43.

User avatar

#6: Post by jfrescki »

I gave mine a try yesterday with the blend I am using right now (Bodka Main Squeeze). Almost at burr touch I was unable to pull a shot using my typical 15g dose. I ended up with 28g in 8 seconds! It actually tasted pretty good though. Light body but not offensive, sweet even.

I might give it another go with a much higher dose, but given these results I don't see how even 21g could bring things in line.
Write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him.
- Will Rogers


#7: Post by cmin »

Roster/Shop by my wifes fam in MI, they have like 5 or 6 Varios with steel burrs for pour over, drip, press etc. Thought that was cool and told the owner I have a Preciso lol. I had one of their pour overs, can't remember what bean, but it was damn good.

User avatar

#8: Post by jesse »

cmin wrote:Roster/Shop by my wifes fam in MI, they have like 5 or 6 Varios with steel burrs for pour over, drip, press etc.
Can I ask which shop? I'm in Michigan.


#9: Post by cmin » replying to jesse »

Desert Oasis in Rochester where wife's fam lives. Really good. Always hit them up and grab beans when up there.


#10: Post by malling »

Vario with steel burr, have defiantly improved the in the cup result, compared to the ceramic type burrs usually found in Vario, for all the other brewing methods, but it's still inferior when compared to a bulk grinder, the vario with steel burrs it for people who is on a budget and who doesn't have the space for a bulk grinder.

And from what I have heard from people out there, then many are not able to brew espresso with the steel burrs, on the Forte version it should be possible, but a Vario I would strongly advice against using it for espresso with the steel burrs, the build quality is way to fragile for hard lightly roasted coffee in these kind of setting, and I can only imagine that the steel burrs put even more stress on the motor and assembly then the ceramic, and way too many have seen grinders burn out in espresso setting with the ceramic when used with very lightly roasted beans in the espresso setting.

I wouldn't risk it, it could be fun to try one day, but if it where something I wanted, then it makes more sense to upgrade to a forte