Simply put, the Baratza Sette is a remarkable grinder. It is reasonably priced, surprisingly fast, kitchen friendly, and produces a good, uniform grind across a wide range of settings (from espresso to press pot). The last time I was so impressed with a grinder was the Robur, and look what happened there.
The Sette is comparable in size to other consumer grinders, designed in an elegant and functional "7" shape. It features a built-in timer that can be set to the nearest tenth of a second. This seems like a fine gradation until you realize the speed of this little grinder. At espresso settings, it takes only 4 seconds to grind a double shot of coffee beans (15g), comparable to my Robur. As other have noted, it's not the quietest grinder on the planet. But it's not loud for long.
Using the Sette is straightforward. The Sette features timed grinding, which works reasonably well, as long as you do not change coffees and/or grind settings. Doses generally fall within a weight range of 0.2g, which is good enough for a consistent double espresso. Control buttons include three presets, start/pause grinding, and stop. Changing a preset time is simple: push up/down arrows to the desired time, then push and hold the preset.
Grind adjustment is also straightforward, with a stepped "macro" ring supplemented by a stepless "micro" dial. There are plenty of grind settings in the espresso range. Grind settings are pleasantly stable; I was able to change from a fine espresso setting to coarse settings and back, without noting any difference in extraction.
The Sette grinds path is straight down from the burrs into the basket. Grinds do not get compacted in a horizontal chute, and tend to be fluffier than most grinders. The grinds appear to be highly uniform, more so than most grinders. No puck prep is required other than a tamp, although I would recommend a funnel/collar to reduce spills.
The Sette works better for single dosing than most grinders. There is little popcorning and low grinds retention (3g brushed out of the burrs). If you prefer to maintain a bean load (as I do), the hopper has a convenient "open-close" lever that allows you to easily swap one coffee for another without upending the grinder. (Unlike the 62 pound Robur, you can
actually upend the 7 pound Sette!)
The combination of fast grinding, timed dosing, easy adjustment, uniform fluffy grinds, and low retention make the Sette one of the most user-friendly grinders available. But can it beat the Robur? Sadly, no. Visually, bottomless pours were less consistently good with the Sette, sometimes showing dead spots and other evidence of uneven extraction. Taste was consistently better on the Robur, with greater clarity of flavor and less bitterness. Taste differences were more apparent in straight shots; Sette grinds worked quite well in cappuccinos.
Is this a fair comparison? Of course not. My dosered manual Robur retails for 7X as much as the Sette, and is 9X heavier. So the Sette is competing well above its weight class, and that makes its performance truly noteworthy.Robur vs Sette
In addition to espresso, I compared the Sette to a Breville Smart grinder with an Aeropress, Hario V60 coffee drip, Clever coffee dripper, vac pot/siphon and French press. The Sette did well in all these methods, producing brews comparable to the Smart.Smart vs Sette
French press is notable for its absence in the Baratza literature, so the latter was something of an experiment. The coarsest settings on both grinders are shown below.Coarsest Smart grind (left) vs coarsest Sette grind (right)
Despite the more even (and chaff-free) grind on the Sette, the Smart grind produced a brew with greater clarity and sweetness. After allowing the brews to settle and carefully pouring off the liquid, more sediment could be seen in the Sette cup. So the Sette can be used for French press, but it's clearly intended for brew methods that employ finer grinds (like espresso).French press sediment from Smart (left) vs Sette (right)
In conclusion: the Baratza Sette is a remarkable grinder that sets a new bar for performance in the home espresso grinder market. This truly innovative grinder stands out for its reasonable price, fast grinding speed, timed dosing, precise grind adjustment, versatility, user friendliness, and good (although not exceptional) grind quality. This grinder is an easy recommendation for espresso novices, and those who favor convenience over the ultimate in taste. Kudos to Baratza for another fine offering in the home grinder market.