Baratza Encore Grinder Announced: Maestro Series Rides Off Into the Sunset
Baratza has announced the release of their newest entry-level home coffee grinder. The Baratza Encore (more on this in a bit) has taken the Maestro Plus’s spot as the baddest entry-level home grinder on the planet. This announcement is bittersweet for me, as this means saying goodbye to the Maestro name. I (Matt) have been the proud owner of a Baratza Maestro for almost two and a half years now. It has been the best coffee investment I’ve made (or rather my wife made on my behalf when she gave it to me as a Christmas present). It has been the perfect home coffee grinder for the ridiculous variety of manual brewing devices I own. For someone who didn’t need a grinder for espresso, the Maestro has been perfect.
While the Maestro was discontinued a while ago, the Maestro name lived on through the Maestro Plus, a model which was set apart, at first, by its heavier base, timer, and pulse button. When the Maestro was originally discontinued, the base was dropped for a unified style and $129 “catch” price between the original Maestro ($99) and the Maestro Plus ($149). The Maestro Plus with it’s timer knob and on-demand pulse grinding button became the new premier entry-level home grinder. The Maestro Plus was a more than capable successor to the Maestro as Baratza’s base grinder, but with Baratza’s tick for progress and innovation, the Maestro Plus wasn’t going to last forever.
The time has come for the Maestro line to be no more, so I pour out some coffee for my fallen coffee-grinding comrades (R.I.P. Maestros), all the while taken back by what Baratza has been able to do yet again: make a good grinder even better. The replacement for the Maestro Plus is aptly named “Encore,” as I like to think that the Encore is the OG Maestro raising out of the ashes for another performance. You may be thinking, “Why didn’t Baratza call it the Maestro Plus Plus?” Okay, no one is thinking that, but regardless, this update isn’t a minor upgrade, there are some major changes.
The two big changes from the Maestro Plus to the Encore are the updated burrs and updated gearbox. The burrs for the Encore grinder are an entirely new burr set. According to Baratza, these burrs are similar to the Virtuoso Preciso burrs and were designed to bring espresso-grinding capabilities to their entry-level grinder. That’s huge news. Secondly, with the Encore, Baratza is rolling out what they are calling “Gearbox 2.0.” In this new gearbox, Baratza has increased the strength and durability of the drive transmission by using a new drive shaft, motor mounting plate, and bushings. These changes include a new drive gear made of 15% glass-filled thermo plastic which is quieter than the previous metal gear, wears better, and is more shock resistant. Baratza has said that during their testing of the Encore, they threw stainless steel screws into the burrs and in every case, the motor/gear/burrs stopped immediately thanks to the (automatically resettable) thermal cutout being triggered. The gears were fine. There really isn’t any good explanation for why Baratza would make these type of changes to their entry-level grinder other than that they really must care about pushing themselves and making the best grinders possible.
Since Apple is going to be unveiling their newest iPad this week, I’ll borrow from the late Steve Jobs:
One more thing, all of these added features to the Baratza Encore grinder for the same price as the Maestro Plus, $129.