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The Baratza Virtuoso and the Baratza Esatto: perfect together (some assembly required). The Essatto will also work with the maestro (recently discontinued) and the Maestro Plus.

The Problem

One of the most frequently dispensed pieces of coffee brewing advice around our roastery is “weigh your coffee” to achieve the correct dose.  For some reason, however, Americans seem to have a resistance to many sensible things in the kitchen, chief among them weighing things, preferring instead to dispense based on a completely antiquated system of volume measures (I dare you to find a “tablespoon” outside the US or UK).

Why is it important to weigh your coffee instead of measuring by the scoop?  Take it on faith that the amount of coffee you use to brew a cup matters.  Given that, here are two reasons to switch to weight-based dosing:

  1. Different roasts will have different densities, with light roasts being more dense.  Imagine it this way: scoop an equal volume of light and dark roast beans.  Because the dark roast are slightly larger, and have less moisture (as a result of being dried longer in the roasting process), there will be slightly less beans in your dark roast scoop, and they will collectively weigh less than the same size scoop of light roast.  When brewed, this will result in different extractions and total dissolved solids in the cup.
  2. You probably use a couple different scoops in your kitchen, each one of them being a slightly different volume, and/or, even with the same scoop you are not likely to be consistent.

Despite these good reasons to weigh your dose, volume-based dosing is still the norm, because for most people it’s inconvenient (or impossible, if they don’t have a good kitchen scale) to weigh their coffee every time they brew.  Enter the Baratza Esatto as a possible solution to weight-based dosing.

What is the Baratza Esatto?

Esatto, in Italian, means exact, or precise.  The Baratza Essatto, simply put, is an automatic weighing device designed to interface with certain Baratza grinders to dispense a pre-determined amount of coffee, ground on-demand at the time of use.

Image of the assembled system, from Baratza's website. I wish their site contained more information about the system, but surprisingly, it is almost completely silent on the system.

Essentially, the system consists of a base (think of something about the size of a shoe), the front of which contains a programmable interface to set the desired output of ground coffee.  The heart of the system is a load cell positioned to rest in the bottom of the grinder once it’s installed.  A special – smaller – coffee receptacle then replaces the one that came with the grinder.  A short, slotted “arm” holds the grinder’s rotary timer switch in the “on” position so the programmable interface can control the on/off of the grinder to deliver the desired mass.

The unit has three buttons that can be programmed to output the desired mass when the Start button is pressed.  I tested it with doses ranging from 7 grams to 60 grams output; I don’t know exactly what the lower or upper limits are.

Here's the unit out of the box. It measures 12 x 5.5 x 2 inches (approximately). Box content includes the weighing unit, the arm to hold the time switch, and the receptacle for ground coffee.

Grinders that work with the Esatto

Several grinders in the Baratza lineup work with the Esatto accessory: the Maestro (discontinued), Maestro Plus, Virtuoso and Preciso.  The Vario will NOT work with the Esatto.

How to assemble the Esatto to a grinder

The procedure is pretty straightforward and simple, as the following photos illustrate.

Start by removing the screw at the back of the unit and removing half the die cast cover.

Next, remove the rubber feet from the grinder. Pry gently, and/or use a pair of pliers.

Insert the grinder into the Esatto. The load cell goes above the frame of the grinder.

Plug the grinder into the socket inside the Esatto and coil up the cord.

Replace the cover.

Rotate the switch to 12:00 and insert the arm to hold the switch in the on position.

Insert the receptacle onto the load cell. The unit is now ready to use.

Using the Esatto

The Esatto is easy to use, as shown on the following photos.

The Esatto has three programmable doses. Simply press the desired memory location, set the dose with up and down arrows, and hold the memory location till it's stored. The press the Start button to grind the desired dose.

The Esatto is right at home on my home coffee bar.

The Results

So at the end of the day, the real question is, how accurate is it?  The short answer is, very accurate.  I ground approximately 100 samples, of doses ranging from 7 grams to 60 grams, and weighed them on an Ohaus Navigator balance (the Navigator is a laboratory-quality instrument with resolution of 0.1g).  Every observation was was -0.1 g from the setpoint.

The $64,000 question then becomes: do I recommend the Esatto?  Well, it depends.  For sure a good kitchen scale is more versatile.  But if you don’t have and won’t obtain a kitchen scale, this is a super way of dosing your coffee by weight.

http://www.muddydogcoffee.com

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Baratza Virtuoso

In addition to the Maestro, we are now stocking the Virtuoso grinder.  This is a sweet machine.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out.  It’s a deal at $199.

We also have a Vario in the house to evaluate; I need to give it a good look-see before I say any more about it.

I’ll do a photo and video review of each later in the week.  Meanwhile, here’s the particulars on the Virtuoso:

The Virtuoso™ has many of the winning features of the Maestro and Maestro Plus along with commercial grade components,  higher performance and sleeker style.  With the Virtuoso™, it’s now easier than ever to make professional quality coffee, whether at the home, the office or your café.

In additional to all the great features of the Maestro Plus™, the Virtuoso™ includes  commercial grade conical burrs,  a 480 watt DC motor, a new shape and a beautiful brushed-satin metal top.

Detailed Product Features:

Commercial Grade Conical Burrs

Manufactured in Italy, the Virtuoso’s™ 44mm grinding burrs are the same material and durability as the industry’s highest-quality line of commercial conical burr coffee grinders.   Conical burr grinders are exceptional at producing consistent grinds from very fine to coarse, as well as being durable and will remain sharp for many years.  The burrs have a precision mounting system to ensure a stable platform for accurate grinding.

Grind Coffee For Any Brewing Method

There are many coffee grinders on the market.  However, few have the ability to grind fine enough for a professional espresso machine and coarse enough for a press pot.  The Virtuoso™ has 40 steps of adjustment.  Choose the perfect setting by turning the bean hopper to the desired position.

Innovative calibration

Commercial grinders have a calibration system to ensure that the grinder will grind fine enough for espresso and has the range to grind coarse enough for press pot.  This feature is available in the Virtuoso™.  The grinders are calibrated when they are manufactured to ensure an accurate range of grind.  If necessary the grinders can be user calibrated.

DC Motor

The powerful, high torque 480 watt DC motor effortlessly drives the burrs.  This motor turns slowly resulting in cool, quiet operation and permits long grinding duty-cycles.  The circuitry is equipped with an automatically resetting, thermal cutoff switch.

Unique Speed Control

The Virtuoso™ uses a combination of gear and electronic speed reduction to control the rotation of the burr to 450 RPM. The electronic speed controller is adjustable from 405 to 495 RPM in the event that specific user conditions require modification of the speed. This slow speed reduces heat, noise, and static generation in the grinder. It also ensures that the beans feed smoothly into the burrs.

Timers switch and Pulse button

The Virtuoso™ has a sixty second timer, with segmented graphics, for easily repeatable grind times.   It also has a front mounted pulse button that manually controls the on/off function.  This is nice if you wish to grind a small amount of coffee for espresso.

Pulse button makes Espresso Easy

If you have an espresso machine, you will enjoy the convenience of being able to grind directly into the filter basket for your machine.  After you remove the coffee grounds bin, you can insert your filter basket (portafilter) directly under the dispensing chute to collect the coffee as it is being dispensed.  You can push the pulse button with your thumb while holding the filter basket for true one hand operation.

Easy to Clean

One important and often overlooked task required of owning a good coffee grinder is routine cleaning.  To clean the Virtuoso™, just remove the coffee been hopper to expose the grinding chamber.  At this point the outer ring burr simply lifts out.  The entire grinding chamber can then be thoroughly cleaned in a few minutes.

Service & Support

One year warranty.  If your grinder has a problem we will see if we can resolve it over the website or phone or will promptly send a replacement grinder and a return tag for your old one.

Product Specifications:

Color:  Black with a brushed-satin metal top and base

8 oz Bean Hopper.

5 oz. Grounds bin

Dimensions:  14”H x 5”W x 7” D

Weight: 8 lbs

Altogether, the Virtuoso by Baratza is clearly in a class of its own, making your coffee experience ultimately more satisfying. We hope you enjoy!

http://www.muddydogcoffee.com

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