The Baratza Sette 270 and 270W have been two of the most eagerly anticipated coffee grinders in years. The extremely competitive price (and features like almost zero grounds retention and grind by weight with your portafilter) attracted lots of pre-orders as soon as we announced the grinder back in April.
But many more people still want to know how this compact conical grinder series compares with the more expensive and prestigious flat burr competition. Now that we have access to the production Sette models, we’ve been diving into just that question, and we’ll be using this post to describe strengths of both burr styles.
There haven’t been many newcomers to the all-purpose category this year, but the compact commercial flat burr grinder category has gotten much more exciting thanks to models like the Eureka Atom, Compak E5 and Profitec T64, just to name a few. Because these grinders produce a similar flavor profile, this post will use an established commercial performer as the reference point to compare to the Sette. The Baratza Forte AP and it’s consumer grade Vario brother have been subjected to a huge number of blind taste testings over the years, which puts their cup quality on par with the established range of 64mm flat burr grinders. Another reason I chose the Forte for this comparison was that it pulls consistent shots with single dosing (which allowed me to make rapid adjustments).
The Grinding Process
The Clive team has been thoroughly impressed and completely satisfied by the Sette 270W’s grind by weight function from the first test, and we love that its stepless adjustment is infinite and instantaneous. When my first shot took 34 seconds, moving the micro adjust from C to F (some will find this reference point easier than numbers) brought the next shot time down to my desired 30 seconds. Fans of single dosing will love the standard 270 model, and the timed grind allows solid repeatability, especially when grinding for drip. But the improved portafilter holder and weighing function are the first design where I can actually let go of the portafilter and trust the dose to be completely accurate and dispensed right into the center of the basket (even with a less common 53mm portafilter size). As a long time fan of single dosing, I found the 270W remarkably intuitive and a breeze to crank out shots for the Clive team. Setting the grind weight to 20 grams is consistently accurate within .2 of a gram. With the standard 270, I would achieve roughly 20 grams by setting the grind time to 5 seconds. In addition to the improved portafilter holder, the production 270 model dispenses coffee into the basket much more cleanly, and I’ve found espresso shots to be more uniform and even in the bottomless portafilter. Almost no prep of the coffee bed is needed;, simply tapping the portafilter on a tamping mat and giving a level tamp results in great shots. The only downside to this tremendous grind speed is the sound. Households with light sleepers may find the Sette too loud, in which case we have other options like the nearly silent Eureka Atom.
Tasting Some Espresso
After comparing our central American Lovejoy blend among these grinders, I was excited to get my hands on a lightly roasted Ethiopian single origin for today’s test. I think the cup differences will be less noticeable as roast level increases, and fans of medium to dark roasted coffee and milk drinks will find great satisfaction with the Sette models. But with the specialty coffee I tested, I found it hard to describe the added intensity of the Sette shots. I found the flat burr grinders to produce more balanced and even flavor notes. As a person who largely prefers milk drinks over straight espresso, this test helped me more clearly understand how people can describe espresso in terms of “sweetness.”. In both grinders, the coffee was obviously a fruity Ethiopian. The straight espresso from flat burr grinders was generally easier to drink and the finish was cleaner. When paired with milk in a macchiato the results were more delicate. But when more milk is added to make a small cappuccino or cortado, the Sette shots are more interesting and satisfying. As I compared more shots, I realized that these tools will bring a variety of results when paired with different beans, brew ratios and beverages.
Whether you want to make a few drinks a day, are entertaining for big parties, or even starting a business, there are some considerations to think over before selecting the best grinder. These Sette tests and comparison will be ongoing, and we’d love to hear your questions and insights on the grinder options out there.