For those making espresso at home, one subject all agree on is this: When it comes to exceptional espresso, the grinder is the most important piece of equipment.
In the past, espresso aficionados had few options among high-end grinders; in the pursuit of consistency, home baristas would often choose commercial grinders that looked natural in a cafe but ungainly on their kitchen counters. These same commercial grinders might require workarounds to accommodate their application to low volume home usage where 2-4 espressos per day were the norm versus the 40-60 or more per day in a cafe.
This changed with Baratza's introduction of the Vario, which was explicitly designed for the home in terms of ergonomics and price. It wasn't long before the Baratza Vario became the go-to recommendation for those with a budget around $500. Baratza continued to introduce incremental improvements, including a variant dedicated to brewed coffee (Vario BG) and later a beefier model, the Baratza Forte, designed with more demanding commercial usage in mind.
And so things went for a few years with forum discussions centered on various routines for single dosing, modest grinder modifications, or quiet acceptance of hulking commercial grinders on the counter. But even after a mere half day of testing the Sette 270, it was obvious to me that at the suggested retail price, Baratza had indeed created a winner.
- It is noisy
- The portafilter holder needs work
- It retains grinds in the exit chute
- It is very resistant to modifying the extraction levels.
- The design is attractive and the controls intuitive
- The price point puts it well beyond the current price/performance envelope
- Grind retention is almost zero (except for the chute), and single dosing is extremely easy.
- How can a grinder with burrs no larger than a Hario hand grinder be so fast? The trick is that the outer burr rotates, so instead of the small cone of the inner burr acting as the augur for the incoming beans, the much larger surface of the outer burr is doing the auguring. So you can single dose without adjusting the grind fineness: the beans get sucked in whether there's 10 or 500 grams in the hopper.
- The most important for last: how does it taste? And the answer isn't good or bad, but pretty much the same however you set the grind. This makes for very bulletproof and fault tolerant operation; very good taste on most coffees, but disappointment if the coffee you are using happens to require a very high or low extraction.
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)