Baratza Sette 270 · Grinder User Review

Coffee and espresso equipment reviews by the site's members.
From the Team HB review of the Baratza Sette 270:

Image 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.

THE BAD
  • 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 first two are no major problem since the grinder is so blindingly fast. The third is no problem for the timer model -- just tap the chute with the portafilter. But it may be a headache for the weighing version. The final property of very constant extraction will be discussed in the 'interesting' section below.

THE GOOD
  • 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.
The Sette 270 is not just fast, but blindingly fast; as fast as the largest commercial grinders. Lastly, it is very easy to precisely adjust the flow, and the taste and extraction are very stable.

THE INTERESTING
  • 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.
This is an ideal entry level grinder. The Sette's adjustments will change the flow, and leave the extraction where it should be for most coffees. So beginners can learn the mechanics while having most coffees taste as intended. If all the coffees you use for espresso are in the medium-light to medium-dark roast range, the Sette's extraction is near perfect. However, for very light or very dark coffees, the Sette is only mediocre in taste.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

PeetsFan
★★★★★
Reviewed on April 16th, 2021

Baratza makes three versions of this grinder: The Sette 30, the Sette 270 and the Sette 270Wi.

Summary: If you can afford it, buy the Sette 270Wi. Great solution! If it stretches your budget too far, buy the Sette 30 and add the $90, "Sette 270 Series Adjustment Assembly" upgrade kit, and your grinding quality will still be 100% as good. I highly recommend this grinder for home espresso brewers.

The entry-level Sette 30 can be user-upgraded to the micro-adjustability of the Sette 270, making the upgraded Sette 30 the best value. Without the upgrade, the Sette 30 isn't useful for espresso, in my opinion.

The Sette 270 adds time-based grinding.
The Sette 270Wi adds weight-based grinding, which is fantastic. I wish I'd purchased this model, but I didn't.

I am a home brewer, and my method for grinding espresso shots is to use single-dosing. The grinder comes with a large container. I tare this out on my scale and then add the 18 grams or so of beans. The Sette lets me dose into my portafilter, but this can be a little messy unless you use a dosing funnel. Instead, i grind back into the large container and then pour the ground coffee into my portafilter. I feel this approach is better because, as I pour the ground coffee into my portafilter, I can tap and distribute it evenly into the portafilter, which doesn't happen if I grind straight into the portafilter.

The Sette produces very fluffy, well-ground coffee. I haven't compared it to $1,000+ grinders. All I can say is that it is very affordable, the quality is excellent and it is very easy to use. I don't have any desire to upgrade to a different grinder. The downsides are that it is plastic and very loud. The loudness, I think, is due to the very open, pour-through design, which is what makes retention so low and makes the product perfect for single-dosing. Yesterday morning, my girlfriend was making coffee in the kitchen while I was still upstairs in bed, and I could easily hear the grinder.

My recommendation is to purchase the Sette 30 and then purchase the $90, "Sette 270 Series Adjustment Assembly" upgrade kit. The resulting cost in the US is $340, versus the $400 price of the Sette 270. This is because the added Timer feature of the Sette 270 isn't useful fo a single-dosing home user.

However, I also think the Sette 270Wi is very worthwhile, if you just add a dosing funnel AND if you have a larger portafilter, like the standard 58mm and not the Breville small portafilter. The 270Wi costs about $550, but it saves you a lot of time because you can program a weight and it will dose out that weight very accurately. Not only that, but this way, you can dose with beans in the hopper, which reduces "popcorning" and delivers a more consistent grind. It doesn't just save time, it also saves counter space, because you don't need to weigh out the beans on a scale, then move the container to the grinder. You still use a scale while brewing but you don't need to keep it on the counter, just on the tray of your espresso machine.

If I had it to do over again, I would have bought the Sette 270Wi. I feel it is worth the added cost.

[UPDATE, June 2021] The grinder stopped working! It began chugging while grinding, and finally (sorry) ground to a halt. I wrote to Baratza about it yesterday, and I'm still waiting to hear back from them.

Meanwhile, I followed a very clear video they created which shows how to remove the motor assembly. I followed this. When I removed the machine's top cover, I saw that one of the two wires connected to the top of the grinder had slipped loose. I reattached it, put everything back together, and all is well. Easy enough, but it shouldn't have come loose in the first place.