When it comes to domestic coffee grinders, there are none that are on the same level as Baratza. They have long set the standard, somehow straddling the impossible line – To deliver a high quality of grind, without over-engineering, at a reasonable price.  

With message boards awash with great praise for the OG – The Encore – the announcement for the new “ESP” variant was sure to catch a bit of hype. But is it worth it? Let me explain why the answer is a resounding YES!

So, what is it? 

At last, a domestic espresso grinder that you don’t have to compromise grind quality, all delivered in a neat little package, priced under $350. 

How is it out of the box? 

With a look identical to the original Encore – Baratza have decided not to reinvent the wheel here. Supplied with an Etzinger burr set, a steel upper-burr ring for added stability and strength, but beyond that, it’s what we know and love. 

First time set up: 

An absolute breeze. Baratza has gone with a variable-step setting here – any adjustment from 1-20 moves the burr set just 9 microns apart, vital to ensuring that each adjustment is small enough to finely dial in any espresso grind. Then, adjustments 20-40 move the burr set 45 microns apart, to cover more ground, allowing you to move from doing 250ml pour-overs to 1.25lt batch brews in your Moccamaster. This is all managed on a single dial much less confusing than the macro/mirco twin-dial adjustment of the more expensive, and higher specified 270 range. There is a lot of range here, thanks to this design. You’ll be free to dose as low as you need a setting of 17 was where I was pulling shot at a 22g dose, at a 2:1 ratio, over 30 seconds.  

Daily Use: 

Moving from a Baratza 270w as my daily driver, it’s fair to say this grinder had some big shoes to fill. For espresso, the cup quality is indistinguishable compared to the higher tier 270. The place where the 270wi streams ahead is mostly in quality of life – the weighing of portafilters is a game changer, along with the micro adjustment providing a little more control. However, if you’re serious about great tasting coffee, you’ll already have a set of Acaia scales at your fingertips, reducing the importance of the nifty weighing feature on the 270wi.

For filter I would choose to stick with my J-Max 1zpresso hand-grinder. A bit more work for a whole lot more flavour. This is not to say the Encore ESP isn’t suitable for filter – the dual-range grind setting setup really does make this grinder a “Jack of all trades” - but I find the quality you get out of the hand-grinder to be worth the effort. 

Despite this grinder being made primarily for espresso, the dual-range grind-setting setup makes jumping between two vastly different grind-settings simpler than ever! Cup quality performs at a reasonable level at this price bracket, but certainly does not “wow” me like the espresso performance does. For the odd pourover, you’re covered. If you’re looking to get a little more serious about your filter extractions, yet are still on a strict budget, I’d recommend considering the 1zpresso J-Max; a little more work, but worth it in kind!

In closing, who would I recommend this to? Anyone who needs an entry level espresso grinder, or anyone who is already handy with a set of scales and does not find the value in stepping up to the pricier 270wi. Bravo, Baratza! You’ve done it again. Interested in getting your hands on one of these bad boys? Grab it here! 

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