The search, continued
Remember last week’s rant about the Saeco Titan? I promised to try a better burr grinder and here I pick up where I left off. Last night I returned to Williams Sonoma to spend $200 on the Baratza Virtuoso. Three months ago I would not have considered this a worthy expenditure. Today it seems more important than groceries.
At the store, as the clerk fetched the item from the stockroom, on the counter by the coffee brewing machines was a working Virtuoso complete with beans. They use it all day long! I gave it a spin at the coarsest setting, 40, which produced a grind too coarse even for French press. This eradicated any lingering doubts about the capabilities of this machine. My only regret was that I would have to wait until morning to sample the brew.
At last, amazing coffee
Holding the recipe constant from earlier trials, this time using the Virtuoso set at 35, I could see before I tasted it that my morning coffee would the best I’d ever made. The amount of dust in the ground coffee was much less due to the greater precision of the burr, and the screen in my French press pot didn’t clog up. Pouring the first cup, I could see rich color without the murkiness of a dusty grind.
The aroma and richness of flavor surpassed my expectations. This was one seductive brew. I almost drank the entire pot before it had cooled below scalding temperatures. It was barely within my power to resist consuming this coffee in toxic quantities. I had to wait several hours before writing this review to be sure my excitement wasn’t only a manifestation of caffeine.
Epic quality, Epicurean value
The main functional difference between cheaper grinders and the Virtuoso is the quality of the burr. It’s a simple metal tool but I learned that you can’t expect any precision from the cheaper models. If they were drill bits, even the sloppiest carpenter wouldn’t put up with the ragged holes they made. It is surprising, but the burr grinder market will bear a very low quality baseline. Thus the Baratza Virtuoso’s vast superiority earns it an epic rating.
While the step from blade grinder to low-end burr grinder made significantly better coffee, the difference was too little to justify the $100 price tag. A high-quality conical burr grinder makes such a satisfying brew, it is easily worth $200. If you are thinking of upgrading your blade grinder, hold out until you can afford this one.
I am still a coffee novice with much to learn about beans, roasts, and brews. But now I’m confident that I can explore the world of coffee without want for a better grinder.