When it comes to espresso, your grinder is the single most crucial piece of kit. While you can overcome failings in an espresso machine, if your grinder produces an inconsistent grind, there is no getting around the fact. A poor grind will result in either a bitter over-extracted brew or a sour under-extracted one.
So for the espresso enthusiast, a good espresso grinder is a must. The two main components of this are the capability to produce a uniform grind and enough settings to dial in your beans accurately. Enter the Baratza Sette 270- a grinder designed with the home enthusiast in mind that excels at espresso. This article will review the Baratza Sette 270 to see how well it fares and whether it is the best option for you.
Baratza Sette 270
The Baratza Sette 270 offers excellent grind consistency at the fine level, 270+ grind settings, and super fast grinding. Where it falls down is in durability, with much of the design being composed of plastic. Despite this, it is still a solid option for the espresso enthusiast at an excellent price.
Baratza is a significant player in the coffee world. They specialize in producing quality coffee grinders and are perhaps best known for their Baratza Encore grinder, the go-to entry-level grinder for manual coffee brewing. In 2016 Baratza released their Sette series of espresso grinders and turned grinding on its head. The Sette grinders featured an innovative design where the upper burr was motorized while the lower burr remained stationary. This unique design offered rapid grinding speeds, on a par with commercial grinders. Due to its new design, there were initially a few teething problems (which we will go into in more depth below), but most of these issues are now ironed out. And Baratza has once again demonstrated that they are a company that cares about its customers, offering excellent support.
Sette 30 vs. 270 vs. 270 Wi
There are three different grinders in the Sette series; while this review will focus mainly on the Baratza Sette 270, we thought we would quickly outline their differences below. All of the grinders in the Sette series are loaded with the same burrs (40mm Steel Conical Burrs) and have the same framework and design. As such, while they share identical grind quality, they have differences in their capabilities.
Baratza Sette 30
The Baratza Sette 30 is a slimmed-down version of the 270, with fewer grind adjustments (only 30) and more plastic in the design. It also offers timed-based dosing, which is accurate down to 0.1 of a second. However, the lack of settings makes it challenging to dial your beans in accurately. Despite this, it is still a good option if you are looking for an espresso grinder on a budget.
Baratza Sette 270
The Baratza Sette 270 offers a considerable step up in the number of grind settings available. In addition to the 30 Macro grind adjustments, a second dial offers a stepless micro-adjustment between each step, giving you the accuracy required to dial in espresso. It also has time-based dosing and the option of storing up to three doses, allowing you to easily switch between single or double shots.
Baratza Sette 270 Wi
Finally, the Baratza Sette 270 Wi offers the same grind adjustments as the 270, but instead of time-based dosing, it has weight-based dosing. This was the first home grinder with this capability and caused quite a stir when it was released. Of all the models, this one had the most complications. However, most of these have been overcome. The grinder is packed with an Acacia scale and offers highly accurate dosing. The motor also has a slightly lower RPM to increase longevity.
As we mentioned above, when the Sette series was first released, there were a few glitches, mainly with the Sette 270 Wi model. Motors were breaking down, gears weren’t lasting long, and the scales were inaccurate. Baratza has addressed these issues by reducing the RPM of the motor in the Wi and adjusting the build to reduce vibration and improve the accuracy of the scale. The gearbox is still a shortcoming, being composed of plastic. Despite the rocky start, the Sette espresso grinders have gone on to shake off the bad rap and prove themselves worthy of consideration.
Baratza Sette 270 Review
Overall, the grind consistency of the Sette 270 is excellent, especially at the finer settings. It is loaded with 40mm Steel Conical Burrs, compliments of the Swiss burr manufacturer Etzinger. These burrs produce fluffy and consistent grinds with minimal clumping. The grind consistency does drop as the grind size gets coarser. This is because this grinder uses an AP (All Purpose) or S1 burr set from Etzinger, primarily designed for espresso. If the coarser settings are more your mainstay, you would be better to opt for the Baratza Encore or Virtuoso, which are better for manual brewing. Baratza has now released a new BG (brew grind) or S2 burr set, which can be inserted into the Sette range and is aimed at the coarser settings.
The Sette 270 comes with a unique combination of stepped and infinite grind settings. There are 30 Macro adjustments and then a further nine micro settings (hence the 270). However, this name is a bit misleading, as the micro-adjustment ring is stepless, offering precise and accurate grind adjustment.
Baratza recommends starting at the following settings for your brew methods:
While this grinder is advertised as being capable of grinding for filter coffee, we don’t recommend it- this grinder is really optimized for fine grinds. At best you could do an Aeropress using a fine grind.
Quick Grind Time
One of the standout features of the Baratza Sette 270 is its speedy grind time. It grinds at an impressive 3.5g to 5.5g per second- which is on a par with many commercial grinders. This is the result of the powerful motor, the direct grind path, and the innovative rotation of the upper burr. So while most grinders have a stationary upper burr and a rotating lower burr, the Baratza Sette flips this and has a fixed lower burr and a rotating upper burr. This grinder is punching above its weight when it comes to grinding time.
It does pay to note that one of the downsides of the quick grind time is that it does make it a very loud grinder.
Near Zero Retention
Another superb feature of the Baratza Sette is that it can be used as a single-dosing grinder with near-zero retention. Most grinders retain some grinds in either the burrs or coffee chute after grinding- negatively impacting the flavor of the next brew (as some of the grinds are stale). It also means that whenever you change the grind setting or beans, you need to purge out some of the grinds. This is a hassle, particularly in a home setup, resulting in more waste, especially when dialing in espresso.
Enter the zero retention grinder. Zero retention grinders tend to be single dosing, so you don’t usually keep beans in the hopper. In contrast to other coffee grinders, they retain negligible amounts of grinds after each use. This type of grinder has been gaining a lot of momentum in the specialty coffee world, especially since the release of the Niche Zero.
The Sette 270 is designed so that the grounds fall vertically from the burrs directly into the portafilter. This means there is very low retention between uses (less than 1 gram), ergo less wastage. This makes dialing-in far more straightforward, with no need to purge between settings.
The time-based dosing is another excellent feature of this grinder. The control panel on the front of the grinder is simple to use, enabling you to set your grind time to within 0.01 seconds. Three programmable buttons allow you to set different dose times and switch easily between single and double shots. Overall, the time-based dosing is accurate and produces repeatable results that are more than adequate for most users.
The Sette 270 is super easy to clean and maintain. Due to the unique burr arrangement, you can literally pull out the lower cone burr without any additional tools in a matter of seconds. The burrs can then be easily cleaned out with either a brush or vacuum.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the design of the Sette 270. The name Sette is the Italian word for seven because the grinder mimics the shape of a 7. The grinder has a modern design with a small compact footprint to fit into most kitchens. It comes with a built in convertible holder allowing you to grind directly into your portafilter, or the grounds bin. The one point where the design falls down is in the build quality. It is mainly composed of plastic components, so it will not last a lifetime like some Italian grinders. On the positive, Baratza offers excellent customer support, and spare parts are readily available if you need them.
There are a couple of other espresso grinders you could consider.
Baratza Sette 30
If you want a dedicated espresso grinder on a budget, you could consider the younger brother, the Baratza Sette 30. With the same burrs, it offers the same grind consistency and quick grind times. However, it does have far fewer grind settings (only 30). If you are getting into the world of espresso, this is an excellent option that won’t break the bank. See our full review here.
Eureka Mignon Specialita
The Eureka Mignon Specialita is another excellent espresso grinder offering unparalleled construction and quality. It has a large following among specialty coffee lovers. Packed with 55mm flat steel burrs it produces a consistent grind size, has minimal retention, and accurate dosing. While a bit more expensive, the Specialita is a step up when it comes to build quality. It is a stunning grinder that will pair well with any espresso machine. See our full review here.
The Baratza Sette 270 is a decent option if you are looking for a dedicated espresso grinder. It has a lot going for it: excellent grind consistency at fine settings, speedy grind times, low retention, and infinite grind settings. All of these make it a superb choice for an espresso grinder. The one area it does fall down in is build quality.