Versatility is a sought after feature for many home baristas, but with how many options are available it can be a little daunting to navigate which is the best fit for you. The grinders to consider in the $250 - $500 range are the Breville Dose Control Pro, Breville Smart Grinder Pro, Baratza Sette 270, Baratza 270 W, Baratza Vario, and the Baratza Vario W..
Looking for simple technology with straightforward adjustment? The Dose Control has an espresso focused doserless design (grinds directly into the portafilter), but its 60-settings of adjustment mean it can do a proper French press. With a height of 13", this is our shortest grinder and fits easily under cabinets. Does not include a grounds bin, just a removable portafilter holder. You can grind coffee into a secondary container or filter. But if you're going to be doing a lot of coarser grinding you may want to check out a grinder that includes a grounds bin.
Looking for more detailed information? Digital interface displays the programmable grind setting and grind time, which is switchable by the smooth rotating dials. The Smart Grinder sits at 15" making it able to fit under most cabinets. Like the Dose Control, this grinder can be switched between espresso, drip and French press methods. But it can grind directly into the portafilter or the included grounds bin.
Looking for a more full bodied cup of espresso? This grinder is extremely fast (5 seconds for 20 grams), which means it excels at lighter roasts and preserves more flavor. Extremely low grind retention, bigger macro adjustments for switching methods, with infinite micro adjustment for fine tuning, and is super portable. This grinder excels at finer grinds, but doesn't go coarse enough for pour over or press. It offers programmable grind time, or is excellent for single dosing, can grind directly into the portafilter, filter or the included grounds bin. Keep in mind that the power and speed of this grinder do make it louder than these other models.
Would you like to be more exact with how much coffee you dispense? The 270W builds on the strengths of the Sette and is our first grinder to offer real time weighing of the grounds for excellent consistency.
Super clean commercial quality espresso and pourover in the smallest possible footprint. Its ceramic flat burrs provide a significantly different flavor profile than the conical burrs above. At only 14" inches tall, the Vario can easily fit in areas with limited counter space. Includes a stainless steel portafilter holder and grounds bin. Super low grind retention, electronic grind term and excellent single dosing performance. Will need occasional calibration (tool included) depending on how frequently the grind setting is changed. The Vario offers a smoother grinding sound than these other models.
While the Vario is a great all purpose grinder, coarser grind enthusiasts might appreciate the real time weighing ability of the Vario W. May need to be calibrated for espresso use, and can only grind into the included grounds bin.