Is the Baratza Virtuoso for espresso?

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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Postby bm_cricket » Jan 20, 2016, 1:09 pm

Hi all!
I'm beginning to think my current grinder, a commercial grinder that seems to do a great job at consistently ground beans, is making me loose my hearing. (hyperbole but still... it's loud!)

I was given a Baratza Virtuoso because the prior owner said "it didn't work" but when I got it, put it together, and tested it the thing seems to work fine. It made it through several people between the prior owner and me so I'm not able to ask what "it didn't work" really means. All I can tell is that the grinder doesn't seem to get fine enough for espresso. It makes reasonably consistent grounds for drip coffee but not fine enough for espresso. The grinder claims to be good at espresso (from online sales sources) but I can't find a high quality review from people like us who are really fussy about our caffeine. :-)

So, lets get to the point: Is this grinder really any good for espresso? Should I try to "fix" it so it works for espresso or is it already doing exactly what it's designed to do?
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Postby Fausto » Jan 20, 2016, 1:17 pm

Here's the short answer:

The Baratza Virtuoso is capable of grinding fine enough for espresso, but not capable of making the small adjustments necessary to properly dial in a shot. Therefore it is generally recommended that the Preciso is the cheapest Baratza grinder that is adequate for making consistent espresso.

If your Virtuoso is not capable of grinding fine enough for espresso it needs to be calibrated finer. There are many guides on how to do this online, here is one:

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Postby bm_cricket » Jan 20, 2016, 1:24 pm

Fausto wrote:If your Virtuoso is not capable of grinding fine enough for espresso it needs to be calibrated finer.

Awesome! I'll give it a shot tomorrow (pun intended) and see how it works!

I'll check back and let you know how it works.
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Postby happycat » Jan 20, 2016, 5:06 pm

You may also be able to change the shims above and below the burr assembly. I did that on an Encore years ago. See gearbox upgrade video for that one.

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Postby turtle » Jan 20, 2016, 9:00 pm

It all depends on how picky you are about your espresso. If you drink it straight and always shoot for the perfect shot you may be disappointed but if you drink mostly latte or other milk coffees you might enjoy it.

As has been said, the adjustments are in "chunks" which is not something conducive to knocking 5 seconds each way on your time for the perfect shot.

But if you just want a good cup of coffee go at it.

You know the old saying: if you are not happy you can always upgrade and keep your current grinder for pour over or drip which is not as picky about an exacting grind.
Mick - Drinking in life one cup at a time
I'd rather be roasting coffee

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Postby bm_cricket » Jan 21, 2016, 12:44 pm

Thanks everyone! This really helped. The grinder was already set to a fairly fine grind but it wasn't as far to the fine setting as it could be. I noticed that the grinder makes a more broad particle size distribution than my commercial grinder, which makes a very narrow particle size distribution. I'm tempted to bring home some grain size sieves and a scale and quantify the difference. In any case I did use it to make espresso and it came out pretty good. It had a good body, color, and flavor, but it lacked some of the more subtle fruity tastes that my Ethiopian beans give when I use the commercial grinder. It was also a quick shot (about 15 seconds) but the grinder adjustment made a huge difference in the center of the particle size distribution and even being able to use it for espresso at all! On average grinds were a lot smaller and more suited to espresso. Thanks!
Life is short, enjoy every sip.

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Postby mixi » Jan 26, 2016, 7:17 pm

people (especially the ones with fancy grinders) don't like to hear it but i believe the virtuoso is one of the best grinders you can buy. settings 2-5 work fine for espresso in my experience. to compensate for not having a finer adjustment you can experiment with the amount of coffee you use for your shot. i also hava a mazzer major and i beliebe the virtuoso makes for better shots. it is highly inconvenient for making more than one shot every five minutes of course :)

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