The Baratza Encore ESP may be one of the most anticipated coffee grinders of the last few years.
And the reason is that for many of us, the Baratza Encore is deeply nostalgic. It was the first coffee grinder many of us owned and helped us step into the world of specialty coffee. There was only one problem, the Encore really couldn’t do espresso… until now.
THE BARATZA ENCORE ESP IS A TRUSTED CLASSIC RE-ENGINEERED FOR ESPRESSO FROM THE INSIDE OUTBaratza
In this article, we will explain the differences that come with the Encore ESP and whether it lives up to its bold claims.
Baratza Encore ESP
The Encore ESP has all the strengths of the original Encore with the addition of an extended grind range for espresso, better burrs, and a dosing cup for a neater process. While the Encore was a filter grinder, the ESP is a true multi-purpose grinder that can authentically cater to the micro-adjustments required for espresso through to the coarseness required for Cold Brew.
Baratza Encore ESP Review
As mentioned this is the first update to the long-loved Baratza Encore. The ESP is short for espresso and so this is the same Encore but re-engineered to cater to the micro grind adjustments required for espresso. And the way they do it is quite simply ingenious as we will get into.
Design and Aesthetics
In terms of design and overall look, the Encore ESP is virtually identical to the original Encore. The only differences are that it is slightly more streamlined and less boxy, and now there is the option of the trendy dosing cup instead of the original grinds container.
The Encore ESP comes in the box with both the original grinds container as well as a dosing cup with a plastic mat for it to sit on. The two are easily interchangeable. This reflects both the rise of dosing cups (usually with single-dosing coffee grinders) and the awkwardness of pouring ground coffee from a grinds container into a portafilter.
The dosing cup is to fit onto a 54mm portafilter but also comes with a rubber ring that allows it to be used comfortably with the commercial-sized 59mm baskets and portafilters. The dosing cup is also anti-static to avoid excess messiness. Unfortunately, the dosing cup is quite a bit below the grinds chute so it can be quite messy still.
The Encore ESP is still mainly plastic in exterior as is fairly expected at this price point.
The Baratza Encore ESP comes with the standard hopper, however you can, and we would recommend, swapping it out for a single dosing hopper found here.
Grinding and Grind adjustment
The Baratza ESP comes armed with a far superior burr set to that boasted by the original Encore. The ESP comes with M2 40mm burrs, the same burr set used in their more expensive Virtuoso. These burrs are excellent burrs that are far quicker and more uniform than the original M3 burrs on the Encore.
However, the real uniqueness and genius of the ESP shines through in its grind adjustment system. As with the original Encore, the ESP has 40 numbered grind sizes and the grind is changed by twisting the hopper.
However, on the original the gaps between numbers were so large it meant dialing in for espresso was next to impossible or at the very best significantly sub-par.
This is where the ESP comes in. On the ESP numbers 1-20 are marked differently than 21-40. The reason is that numbers 1-20 are micro-adjustments that make tiny changes in the burr gap specifically to dial in espresso. For the geeks out there, 1-20 has a 9-micron burr gap or 18.8 burr space (which is even better than the Commandante). However, 21-40 make ‘normal’ sized adjustments the same as on the original Encore.
So 1-20 are micro-adjustments exclusively for espresso while 21-40 are normal grind adjustments for filter, pour over, French Press, Aeropress etc.
The brilliant way this is achieved is through the threading. Basically, 1-20 have small threads, and then 21-40 have significantly larger threads for an exponentially larger burr gap. If you don’t get it it doesn’t matter, basically it works! 1-20 are micro-adjustments for espresso, 21-40 are normal adjustments for all other brewing methods.
The grinder is powered by a DC motor at a powerful 550 RPM so there is next to no chance of stalling even on very light roasts.
In terms of functionality, there is one major difference from its predecessor. And that is the quick-release burrs. Basically, this means that you can take out the upper burr casing without the use of any tools. It is as simple as removing the hopper and lifting out the upper burr case. This is incredibly helpful for cleaning and just general maintenance.
As with the original, the Encore ESP is very straightforward to use. There is the on/off button on the side and a pulse/purge button on the front.
The unique grind adjustment system also means that true to its multi-purpose design it can easily switch between filter and espresso. It is as simple as turning the hopper and remembering the correct setting for each. Admittedly, there is a fair bit of retention in the ESP grinder, as with most grinders, so some sort of purge is worth doing particularly if you are switching beans for brewing method.
As with the original Baratza Encore, the Baratza ESP grinder continues to be fairly noisy and fairly messy. This is however expected at this price point and more than offset by the burr quality, build quality, and uniform grind size.
The grinds are fairly clumpy when they come out. However, this is easily remedied by the use of a WDT device which all espresso users should be doing anyway.
Who is the Baratza Encore ESP grinder for?
The Baratza Encore ESP is optimized for those looking for a quality multi-purpose coffee grinder but are restricted by finances. While this may not seem cheap to everyone, compared to some other grinders this is almost unbelievably affordable. And to be fair we wouldn’t recommend going any cheaper than this when it comes to buying a grinder.
It really is for those who do both filter and espresso. As the ESP is designed for espresso, this isn’t a good option if you only do filter coffee like pour over and Aeropress. This could work as an exclusive espresso grinder. It would certainly be far superior to some other grinders floating around that are used for espresso. However, again, its strength lies in its diversity that it can do both.
However, some may not be convinced. There was another coffee grinder released at the same time with the same target audience and at the same price point. And that is the Fellow Opus.
Baratza Encore vs Fellow Opus
Fellow is a well-known and well-trusted brand in the specialty coffee scene. In fact, we personally own a number of their products including their kettle and bean storage containers. They are known to be premium, elegant, and beautiful. They are also known to be fairly expensive.
However, the Fellow Opus is an exception to this rule. It is well made and corners have not been cut. However, to keep the price down, the entire exterior is made of plastic (like the Encore ESP).
Now the Fellow Opus and the Encore ESP are natural rivals. They share many of the strengths and weaknesses of each other and really are aiming at the same crowd.
The Opus also has 40mm burrs and 41 grind settings as well as an effective but somewhat confusing micro-adjustment system for espresso. The Opus is a single dosing grinder also with a dosing cup.
For more information, see our full review of the Fellow Opus.
To be honest choosing between these two grinders, it really comes down to a matter of preference. In my mind the Fellow Opus is undeniably nicer looking, however, its adjustment system is pretty finicky and Fellow grinders are still fairly new to the game. The Baratza Encore ESP is not elegant or particularly aesthetic, however, the original Baratza Encore is so trusted and well thought of that it seems the ESP will also be a grinder that can stand a few knocks and will last the difference. Its grind adjustment system for espresso is also a lot more simple than the Opus.
Baratza Encore ESP- The Verdict
In conclusion, the Baratza Encore ESP promises to be a great grinder for both espresso and filter for those starting out. Just like its predecessor, it can only be hoped that the ESP will be an affordable doorway for many into the world of specialty coffee.
The Baratza Encore ESP grinder is the Encore redesigned to cater not only for filter but finally for espresso also. There is lots to love about this coffee grinder and even the weaknesses that are present are fairly minor.
The three major differences from the original Encore are the dosing cup, better burrs, a grind adjustment system designed to cater to espresso, and quick-release burrs.
This has all the promise of being a terrific option for many dedicated coffee lovers.