I wrote this Baratza Virtuoso Plus review to help you decide if it’s your best option.
For over a decade, the Baratza Virtuoso was a common upgrade for pour-over coffee enthusiasts. After getting an affordable grinder, the Virtuoso was the obvious alternative for those on a budget.
Besides, there were few options to get a home grinder with the quality and durability of the Virtuoso. Things have changed quite a bit in the last couple of years. The home-coffee grinder landscape transformed completely.
Affordable grinders aren’t limited to slow and cheap ceramic burr grinders anymore. On the contrary, TIMEMORE, 1Zpresso, and Normcore, to name a few, offer great manual grinders for less than 100 dollars.
Additionally, the home electric coffee grinders offering has grown too. Now, it’s easy to find several great grinders in the Baratza Virtuoso Plus price range. For this reason, it’s harder than ever to find out if it’s worth the money. And even harder to tell if it’s the best home coffee grinder for pour-over and drip coffee.
So, before digging deeper into it, let me wrap up the most important aspects of the Baratza Virtuoso Plus grinder for you.
Overview: Baratza Virtuoso Plus Review
The price tag of the Baratza Virtuoso Plus has been, like many other beloved Baratza grinders, one of its most appealing features. Looking at it, the price difference between the Baratza Encore -the best entry-level grinder- and the Baratza Virtuoso Plus is less than 100 dollars. Arguably, it’s pretty affordable considering that it’s among the best electric grinders for pour-over coffee. And if you don’t believe me, compare it to the Commandante MK4 and the Kinu M47, which are premium hand grinders.
Besides pricing, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus is well-built, with a potent motor, and high-quality steel burrs. Durable, reliable, and powerful, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus burr grinder is hard to beat in this price range.
One of its strongest points in favor is its brand. Baratza offers stellar customer service and technical support, and they’re really committed to making your grinders last as long as they should.
On the downside, this grinder has stepped grind adjustments, which puts it at a disadvantage for espresso grinding. Some users and experts claim that it works just fine along with pressurized portafilters, so if you’re setting up a prosumer home espresso bar, you might want to check other alternatives before pulling the trigger on this one.
Now, if you have a great automatic pour-over coffee maker or you’re mastering pour-over coffee at home, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus is one of the best you can find.
Tiny Spec Sheet: Baratza Virtuoso Plus Grinder
- 40 mm conical burrs
- Manufactured and assembled in Taiwan
- Burrs by Etzinger, made in Liechenstein
- Dimensions: Wide: 12 cm; Height: 35 cm; Depth: 16 cm
- Weight: 3.6 kg (8 lbs)
Is Baratza a good brand?
Yes, it is!
In 1999, the Y2K was near, people feared the end of the world, and good coffee grinders were exclusively manufactured in Europe, for commercial settings.
Back then, starting a company like Baratza was a bit crazy, but it eventually proved Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy right.
For years, Baratza has been leading the market in the coffee grinders for home. The company’s main differentiations have been affordable quality and customer service.
The company, based in the United States, created a whole new market, where some home appliances brands have entered in the past few years.
Breville is one of such companies, which wisely decided to acquire Baratza in 2020. Since then, little has changed for Baratza and its customers. People are still happy with Baratza grinders, and customer service is still above par.
Like few companies, Baratza is exclusively focused on creating high-quality consumer-level grinders. And that specialization makes them very good at what they do.
Who shouldn’t buy a Baratza Virtuoso Plus?
Like most things in life, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus isn’t for everybody. It’s a hardcore pour-over coffee grinder in spirit and that’s a pretty narrow niche. So, who should look for other alternatives?
People looking for the most affordable home coffee grinder
Paying more than 200 dollars for a coffee grinder isn’t for everyone. And if you have a very tight budget, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus isn’t your best option. The Baratza Encore is a great alternative if you’re looking for an electric grinder.
Furthermore, for less money, you can get a hand grinder with a similar performance. And to be honest my friend, I know people who would say that 1Zpresso and TIMEMORE can offer you better grinders for a lot less money!
Home baristas upgrading their espresso gear
If you already have a good burr grinder and want to upgrade your espresso bar, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus isn’t a sound alternative. The main reason is that it’s has stepped adjustment grind settings. In other words, dialing an espresso might be frustrating, particularly with a non-pressurized portafilter.
Coffee enthusiasts looking for high-tech gear
In this price range, you can find some grinders that look more modern and have more advanced features. Certainly, just by looking at the Baratza Virtuoso Plus, we know it’s a more conventional home grinder. And in terms of performance, it’s quite good, but it doesn’t have many bells and whistles.
Who is the Baratza Virtuoso Plus for?
The character of the Baratza Virtuoso Plus coffee grinder accommodates perfectly a very specific group of coffee lovers. Considering its performance capability and endurance, it’s a sound option for home use. Now, let’s find out who would be the happiest with the Baratza Virtuoso Plus.
Pour-over coffee enthusiasts
If we ask Baratza what kind of people were they thinking about when designing Virtuoso Plus, we don’t doubt what would be their answer. In spirit, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus is a pour-over coffee grinder, according to not only the manufacturer but to thousands of enthusiasts who praise it online and in person.
The Baratza Virtuoso Plus burr grinder offers a good range of grind adjustments and a sound grind size distribution. Working with this grinder to brew with your favorite dripper or the French press it’s a dream. Many users claim that even trained palates will enjoy a cup of coffee ground with the Baratza Virtuoso Plus. And for more lenient coffee lovers, the resulting cup tastes simply delicious.
Coffee enthusiasts upgrading their AP gear
40 grind settings are more than enough for a wide range of brewing devices. Perhaps it isn’t the best option for prosumer espresso machines, but it works great for nearly everything else, from a Moka pot to a French press.
Coming from Baratza, we know it’s a workhorse that can endure the wear and tear of the most demanding home baristas. And it’s relatively easy to clean and maintain. So, the Baratza Virtuoso+ is a great alternative for you if you’re looking for a grinder that can complement your espresso grinder, or you simply want a truly versatile option without breaking the bank.
Bear in mind that you can calibrate the Baratza Virtuoso Plus by taking a few steps. If you’re deep into coffee gear, you might like doing it yourself.
What’s the Plus in the updated Baratza Virtuoso+?
Baratza launched the original Virtuoso in 2005 and it was one of its most popular grinders since then. The Baratza Virtuoso+ came to the world recently, when the market started to become more competitive. Keeping a sound motor and burr set, the main differences between the original Virtuoso and the Virtuoso Plus are a digital timer switch and a backlit grounds bin.
Both features make little difference in terms of performance but add to the user experience both in terms of aesthetics and functionality.
Key Features of the Baratza Virtuoso Plus
Saying that the Baratza Virtuoso+ is one of the best grinder options for brewing filter and immersion coffee won’t cut it for most people. So, let me explain it in further detail.
Build Quality and design
The build quality of the Baratza Virtuoso+ is excellent. The case looks and feels solid. The aesthetics of the design though isn’t spectacular. I’m not fond of it, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
In terms of durability, the materials are out of the question. And if you lift this grinder, you’ll notice that it’s a lot heavier than it looks. So, following Michael Phillips’s advice -World Barista Champion 2010- this is a good sign.
Like many other Baratza home grinders, the Virtuoso Plus has a system in place that protects it from overheating. Additionally, every plastic part looks neat and durable. And one of the best things about Baratza is that you can find spare parts easily and they’re very affordable.
Burr set and motor
Most of the parts of the Baratza Virtuoso are made in Taiwan. Allegedly, Taiwanese products have shown a distinctive quality, and the Taiwanese business community has worked hard to improve their quality standards.
For that matter, Baratza is proof of the high-quality standards that Taiwanese manufacturers are capable of delivering. The Baratza Virtuoso Plus motor is powerful and it’s engineered to stay at a maximum speed of 500 RPM. Slowing the engine, the grinder prevents burr heating and affecting negatively the coffee grounds taste and aroma.
Another benefit of a slow motor is controlling the mess around the grinder. Looking at faster grinders of low quality, it’s impressive how much chaff and coffee ground fines get around the countertop.
The 40 mm Etzinger M2 conical steel burr set separates the Baratza Virtuoso Plus from most of its competitors. The size of the burrs isn’t remarkable at all. Is the quality of the burrs that makes the difference. The burr set is solid, and provides a more uniform grind size across a wide range of adjustments, they are sharper and faster as a result.
For this reason, although the motor slows down the grinding, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus can grind around 2 grams of coffee per second, which is twice as faster as the Baratza Encore.
As a result, you’ll enjoy a delicious cup of coffee when brewing pour-over coffee and immersion methods with the Baratza Virtuoso Plus, without waiting that long.
Bear in mind though, that in comparison with close competitors, like the Fellow Ode and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus isn’t the fastest.
Ease of Use
Adjusting the grind size is simple and convenient. In my experience with Baratza grinders, it’s easy to find a nice setting for each device without too much of a hassle. In the case of the Baratza Virtuoso+, versatility is the name of the game, and you can brew a delicious cup of coffee from the start.
You can begin grinding following their suggested grind sizes, but I recommend experimenting so that you can find your favorite.
|Brewing device||Baratza suggested grind size||Our recommended range|
|Automatic drip coffeemaker||18||16-19|
In my case, I prefer using a finer grind size for the French press, and I have tried several grind sizes for each recipe with my Aeropress.
Now, another feature that many customers love about the Baratza Virtuoso Plus is the digital timer. Setting it up is easy, so grinding outputs can be easily repeatable without using a scale.
Static can be an issue, but it isn’t a problem exclusive to the Baratza Virtuoso Plus. Most grinders in this price range face a similar problem, and you’ll always need to do some light cleaning after grinding your coffee beans.
Transferring the grounds from the container is easy, although the square corners might not be the most fortunate design decision here. You’ll find useful the Aeropress funnel here, particularly when adding the coffee grounds into a Moka pot, an Aeropress, or a small French press.
Using most drippers, adding the coffee grounds is smooth and without any complications.
Grind Retention And Consistency
Grind size distribution is pretty consistent, and it’s close in performance to other pricier grinders. According to several tasters I reached out to, the difference in taste and aroma is almost imperceptible.
That said, the 40 mm conical steel burrs provide their best results around the medium grind sizes. Both fellow coffee geeks and enthusiasts put the Baratza Virtuoso Plus among the top 3 in this field, when compared with similar grinders like the Breville Smart Grinder Pro and the Fellow Ode.
According to the manufacturer, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus has a grind range from 200 to 1400 microns. In this regard, it has a considerable difference from the Baratza Encore which starts at 250 microns and ends at 1200 microns.
Spare me a minute here: you won’t be using the 1 and 40 grind settings here frequently. These extreme adjustments allow for more consistent and cleaner results around 20 and 10 if that makes sense.
Retention is key here too. Having a low coffee grounds retention means that you’ll get fresh coffee after every grind, and the Baratza Virtuoso Plus is a champ in this aspect too. Most users find retention below 1 gram here. Still, bear in mind that cleaning the grinder regularly helps considerably. And this takes me to the next point.
If you’re already heard of the popcorning effect, you know it’s a crucial factor to assess how good is a home grinder. Mostly, because home coffee grinding is more prone to single-dosing, which is the best to get the freshest coffee possible.
For the Baratza Virtuoso Plus, single-dosing doesn’t come as naturally as some competitors, or hand grinders. For this reason, it can require pulsing at the end to work around some coffee beans scaping and bouncing the burrs now and then.
Taste-wise, the popcorning effect in a single serving is barely noticeable, and using the single-dose hopper is convenient, although makes little difference. I find it useful though because the default hopper is too large for common servings in home grinding.
Unlike cheap grinders below 100 dollars, the Baratza Virtuoso Plus doesn’t emit an awful, high-pitched noise. It’s still noisy, as you might expect, but not above average for high-quality grinders.
As fast as it’s, this level of noise for ten seconds shouldn’t be a problem, unless you have very light sleepers at home. Objectively speaking, some people put this level of noise around 90 dB, which is less loud than a mower in comparison. Checking users’ experience, I found that the noise of an electric pencil sharpener is close to the noise that makes the Baratza Virtuoso Plus.
Cleaning and maintenance
Cleaning any electric grinder is going to be a bit of a process. On balance, hand grinding is a bit of a choir. So, we could say that the convenience of an electric grinder comes with a compromise, which is cleaning it. I brush my grinder burrs daily and clean it more thoroughly every week.
The same applies to the Baratza Virtuoso Plus or any grinder for that matter. Now, in terms of durability, Baratza Virtuoso Plus users are pretty happy with it overall. Additionally, as I already said, the technical support team goes a long way to help you extend the lifetime of your grinder.
Recalibrating and fixing your grinder is relatively easy, and you’ll have all the support you need from Baratza to do so.
Proper care and maintenance will help to increase the durability of the Baratza Virtuoso Plus. Hopefully, you won’t need to buy any other grinder after getting this one. And if you want to upgrade in the future, you’ll be able to sell it or send it to Baratza as part of their refurbishment program.
Value for money
The Baratza Virtuoso Plus is mid-priced for home grinders. It has better features than many similar products, but its main strong points refer to performance, durability, and service.
It is a good choice for anyone who wants to upgrade from a simpler burr grinder or even for anyone serious enough to replace a blade grinder for good.
Considering the price, it’s a sound option in comparison with step-less grinders, commercial-grade equipment, or even close competitors like the Fellow Ode.
From the same brand, at almost the same price, the Virtuoso Plus is a better option for a wider range of brewing methods than the Sette 30, and it works better for pour-over and immersion coffee brewing.
Alternatives to the Baratza Virtuoso Plus
Enthusiasm for pour-over coffee has grown over the years, and the quality of the grinders for this brewing method too. Find below my top alternatives to the Baratza Virtuoso Plus.
The 1Zpresso JX has all but praises from the pour-over coffee lovers community. For a couple of years now, I have met users from all backgrounds that are surprised by its performance and build quality.
It comes with a high-quality steel burr set, and the entire grinder is very well designed and manufactured. It can be faster than the Baratza Encore and other electric grinders, without the static electricity issues, and the noise. For this reason, and its impressive grind size distribution, I recommend it as a serious alternative to the Baratza Virtuoso Plus.
Additionally, it’s more affordable and doesn’t require electricity.
If you have a more generous budget, check the Fellow Ode coffee grinder. It’s a bit pricier than the Baratza Virtuoso Plus, but it displays a slightly better grind size, and I found comments from sensory analysts that put the Fellow Ode as a more premium grinder.
The reasons aren’t only its commercial-grade flat burrs or seductive aesthetics. Several double-blind cupping sessions point to the Fellow Ode as the best option against the Baratza Virtuoso Plus.
In this regard, the difference is in the details and brands behind each grinder. I already stated above how good is customer service and technical support from Baratza. I don’t have any complaints about Fellow either though.
Now, durability is another thing. The latter is a reality for the Baratza Virtuoso+ and something still to be seen in the near future for the Fellow Ode.
Curious about this one? Read our Fellow Ode review.
Many coffee snobs would start throwing things when hearing about this brand, but I don’t think it’s fair. Let’s remember that Breville bought Baratza more than a year ago, and in the meantime, they might have learned a couple of things already.
First of all, even before acquiring Baratza, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro was a decent home grinder. It’s versatile and produces a very good grind size distribution. Furthermore, it has a very good burr set and a powerful motor.
Aesthetically speaking, I like it more than the Baratza Virtuoso+ and it has a bit more sophisticated user interface. The problem with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is its durability. Although I found mixed opinions, several owners have complained publicly about its lifetime. So, bear in mind that although it costs a few dozens of dollars less, it might not last as long as the other alternatives above.
The Baratza Virtuoso+ burr grinder is perfect for the home brewing aficionado who prizes a highly consistent grind.
Overall, this is a solid and respectable machine for pour-over and French press coffee enthusiasts.