If you are a coffee lover, you understand how crucial it is to get the grinding right to brew a great cup of coffee. For those looking into buying their first burr grinder or are searching for an ideal entry-level grinder to purchase, deciding which to choose can be overwhelming.
The Baratza Encore and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro are two well-known entry-level burr grinders, marketed as good choices for at-home beginner-level users.
In this article, we’ve provided a head-to-head comparison of these two popular grinders. We take a look at the key features and pros and cons of the Baratza Encore and Breville Smart Grinder Pro to help you make the best choice to suit your grinding goals.
Affordable and High-Quality
Both the Baratza Encore and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro are great choices for entry-level users due to their exceptional quality and reasonable price point.
Their grind size settings accommodate all standard brew styles, such as Espresso, Filter and Drip, French Press, Aeropress, and Chemex. However, as we will discuss later in the article, the Encore is more suitable to manual brewing methods.
Size and Construction
The Baratza Encore has 40 grind settings while the Smart Grinder Pro has 60, both with a wide range that goes from espresso-fine grounds to coarser grounds.
The Breville Grinder is made of stainless steel and comes in eight colors: black truffle, sea salt, royal champagne, damson blue, cranberry red, black sesame, and oyster Shell. It weighs 2.9 kg, with 21.4 x 16 x 38.9 cm as measurements.
The Baratza Encore is made of hard plastic and comes in two colors, black or white, and weighs 3kg. Its measurements are 12 x 35 x 16 cm.
Bean Hoppers and Dosing
The Breville Grinder has a bean hopper capacity of 500 grams, which is ideal for bigger batches. It has an easily accessible removable bean-hopper with a locking system.
It comes with two sizes of portafilter cradles (measuring 50-54 mm and 58 mm), so you can customise it to suit your espresso setup. This means you can grind directly into your portafilter before inserting it in your group head. There is also the option to dose into an included airtight container box or into a paper filter for pour over methods.
The Baratza Encore bean hopper capacity is 225g, with the optional extension that adds another 250g. It features a grind catcher bin but also offers the option to grind directly into a portafilter.
Potency and Burrs
A burr grinder is designed to provide potent power through grinding that should uniformly break the coffee beans. The reason a conical burr coffee grinder is preferable over a blade coffee grinder is consistency of particle sizes. Consistency in size allows for a bigger range of grind levels. Burr grinders are generally also quieter in operation than blade grinders.
Both grinders have 40mm commercial-grade conical steel burrs.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro has a burr speed of 450rpm and a 165-watt motor, which provides for sufficient speed that avoids overheating, which compromises the quality of the bean oil.
The Encore has a conical burr speed of 550rpm with a motor speed of 0.8g/sec to 1.1g/sec. The circuitry is equipped with a thermal cutoff switch.
One of the main differences between the Baratza Encore and the Smart Grinder Pro relates to dosing control and the usability of the design features.
The Baratza Encore has a straightforward interface and relatively few settings. The dosing is all manual, which means that to set the correct quantity of beans for each grind, you will a coffee scale to weigh the coffee dispensed to calculate the ratio of your brew.
The Breville Grinder interface is displayed on a LED screen, with various options to edit grind settings, dosage levels, and the volume of coffee of each dose. This dosing technology allows for fine-tuning of grind time and size allowing you to easily tweak settings to achieve the perfect grind for your brewing process. There is also the option of saving your favourite settings as default.
With the Baratza Encore, the grind size is manually adjusted by turning the hopper left, for fine, and right, for course, which is intuitive and easy to manage. The beans are ground manually by the pulse button located on the side and can be user-calibrated.
As mentioned above, with the Breville machine, this is all done via the LCD interface. It also has an adjustable top burr that can amplify the grind range and offers more features on customising and curating the grind size.
The Baratza Encore does not come with a timing function like the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, which also has a time-pausing program that is easy to manage, by simply holding the program button.
While many users do report success using the Encore for espresso, experts such as The Coffee Chronicler and Australia’s Five Senses warn that it is not suitable for espresso if using a regular portafilter, due to its lower performance with espresso-fine grinds. Many home coffee machines come with pressurised baskets, which are more forgiving, and mean you should have no problem with the grind from the Encore. However, if you are planning on only grinding for espresso, we recommend the Smart Grinder Pro, or looking at other coffee grinders such as the Baratza Sette or Rancilio Rocky.
Baratza provides replacement of internal parts in case of the need for repairs or rebuilds, which can be done by the customer themself. The company also encourages reselling by supplying pieces for all their products, including stainless steel conical burrs.
This is not the case with Breville, which does not sell parts of their products. They do have a repair service for products that exceed the 1-year warranty, but that demands shipping the whole machine to the company’s repair team.
At the time of writing the Baratza Encore is available for $231 while the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has an RRP of $399 however is often available on special.
The gap in price between the two machines is not surprising, given the technology built into the Breville grinder.
Choosing between the Barata Encore and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro
At the end of the day, these are both exceptional coffee grinders for home use.
They do however differ quite significantly, with the Breville being more high tech and programmable, and the Encore being more manual and minimalistic.
Further, the lack of precision at the espresso end of the grind-size spectrum, makes the Encore less suitable for espresso-only brewers. Worth noting again, however, is that if your coffee machine has portafilters with pressurised baskets, you are likely to be fine with the Encore, as they are more forgiving with less precise grind sizes.
Therefore, the key considerations in making your selection should revolve around the type of coffee you make, whether you have pressurised filter baskets, and how much you like the idea of being able to tweak and save settings via the “smart” features of the Smart Grinder Pro.
Another consideration that will no doubt factor is the significant price difference, with the Breville grinder being almost double the price of the Baratza. Further, the grinders do differ a lot in appearance, with the plastic housing of the Encore looking a bit lackluster next to the impressive brushed stainless steel of the Smart Ginder Pro, especially if you intend to slot it in next to your espresso machine.