Friday, March 28
I love the Baratza Forte! (a cheerful, not-too-technical review)
(A disclaimer, this is not intended to be a tech-heavy review / breakdown of the grinder. Other folks have already done an awesome job of that and you should check out their reviews. Here’s looking at you, Prima Coffee!)
You know, sometimes there’s a coffee tool that you work with and it’s fine, and it gets the job done.
Maybe you’re still pushing that Mr. Coffee glass pot brewer that you bought in college for your dorm room down the road. Maybe you have a coffee grinder that was gifted you by a relative who got a good deal on it at Macy’s. They help you make the coffee and they are fine.
Then you catch the coffee bug and you start to question these tools and their abilities. You could say it’s like this with anything…you enjoy riding your bicycle but then you meet some folks and they let you try out their bike which happens to ride a little smoother, faster, and lighter. Maybe you enter a race. Maybe you enter a couple of races and before you know it that old bike ain’t cutting it anymore and it’s time to upgrade. It’s more about following the pursuit of something better and more efficient and smart than keeping up with your friends (though that helps in the buying decision as well, lets be honest!)
I’ve had a number of coffee grinders over the years and they’ve all done a fine enough job for me at my humble house in the mornings and no doubt I’ve brewed some tasty cups at home. But they never quite matched the quality of grind, speed, and consistency of the best grinders that I would have access to at my job at the coffee roastery. I’m fortunate enough to be able to test and use a variety of different commercial grinders that do a wonderful job of grinding coffee so you can imagine my frequent frustration that I would experience at home when my home grinder just wouldn’t do the same job that the big guy at work would do.
My first better quality home grinder was the Maestro by Baratza. This is their entry level grinder that I still recommend to everyone I know who is looking to up their coffee game at home. After a number of years using the Maestro and being quite satisfied with the results I had the chance to try out some of their other models. I won a couple coffee brewing competitions and won some other really nice grinders from Baratza along the way. These grinders are truly great, especially for home use where smaller batches and infrequent brewing take place. They have really nice burr sets, decent speeds, and fairly nice quality of size distribution. But I’ve been hesitant for folks to use them in a high-volume application in fear that these models would hold up to the abuse.
About a year ago Baratza introduced a new model after listening to customer feedback and desire for a more robust and heavy duty grinder that would be suitable for commercial use either in restaurants or coffee shops. This grinder is called the Forte and they have hit the nail on the head.
Main things that jumped out to me right off the bat and gave me confidence in its ability for commercial applications-
The weight of the grinder itself - this thing is heavy! This is a good thing since a busy place requires your equipment to not dance across the counter and be noisy while grinding.
The digital interface and super great accuracy of the built-in scale. - This is super easy to use, crazy accurate (about .3g +/-), and looks good to boot!
Also, the grind adjustment sliders - HUGE improvement over those found on the Vario. These are all metal, and easier to click into place. BTW - that setting shown in the picture is the first setting I randomly chose out of the box and have only moved the left, micro-adjustment switch up and down and few places.
To that point, I felt on previous grinders that my brews were inconsistent from cup to cup and despite trying a lot of tactics to eliminate that, I kept coming back to inconsistencies in the grind for some reason. Not a problem at all on this grinder. It’s like I’m working with the grinders that at 3x the price and size.
Here’s a pic of a recent grind sample -
My job title is Wholesale Sales Rep. Part of what I do is to help folks make the right decision in coffee equipment for their cafes and restaurants. Though I’ve not really pushed this thing through the paces of a high volume place, I really have no doubt that it would do a great job. I’ve brewed multiple cups in a row for a few different get togethers and I can tell you without a doubt that this is absolutely a commercial-quality grinder all the way through and it does an amazing job.
Thanks Baratza team for allowing me to get to know this great grinder, you’ve really outdone yourselves this time!!