One of the great things about owning a Baratza burr grinder is the level of adjustability it provides – allowing you to get just the right grind size for your brew. Baratza grinders use burrs, not blades to grind. They determine grind size not by amount of time spent grinding, but rather by the amount of space between the burrs.
A grinder’s adjustability is a set range of grind sizes, but that range can be moved one way or the other by calibrating the adjustment system. This is helpful if you intend to use a grinder for a specific purpose (espresso, for example) and have no plans to grind very coarse. In such a case, calibrating finer gives your adjustment system more room on the espresso-end of the grind range, sacrificing coarse grinding.
Let’s explore how that adjustability is delivered in our machines.
Encore and Virtuoso
The Encore and Virtuoso are conical-burr grinders with the same basic anatomy and adjustment system. The cone burr spins under power while the ring burr is stationary relative to that spin. The ring burr does, however, move vertically as the grind size is adjusted.
Basically, imagine turning a screw: twisting the screw threads it into the screw hole – bringing the two closer together. The adjustment system works the same way, but inverse: we’re twisting the screw hole to bring the screw closer in.
These grinders can be calibrated by adjusting the distance between the adjustment ring and the surface onto which it mounts. This is done using the calibration ring. It’s basically a little stand on which the adjustment ring sits. It too threads onto the adjustment ring, but at a steeper angle. Setting the amount into which the two rings thread determines the grind range overall. From there, the adjustment ring sets where specifically inside that range your grind will be!
Vario, Vario-W and Forte
The Vario, Vario-W and Forte have a different adjustment system entirely. In fact, the burrs are flat in these machines,
requiring a different approach to adjustment and calibration.
The upper burr in these grinders is entirely stationary: held in place firmly by the upper burr carrier. The lower burr then must spin to grind coffee and also move vertically to determine the gap between the burrs (and as such, the grind size).
To move the lower burr up or down, these grinders utilize a clever system. The grind is adjusted via two levers: one which makes large changes and another which makes small (called “macro” and
“micro” respectively). These levers turn a camshaft which lifts a part called the adjustment rocker.
Basically, lifting a lever will lift the adjustment rocker.
The rocker is basically a hinged platform onto which the lower burr’s carrier sits. As you move the levers, the camshaft lifts the free end of the rocker up or down. This, in turn, pushes or drops the lower burr – creating a gap between it and the upper burr (the grind size).
The hinged nature of that rocker is critical, as it allows us to establish the lowest point to which the rocker can be dropped, which is to say the lowest the lower burr can drop! The free end will move up and down with the levers, but the stationary end can be lifted or lowered via calibration.
Calibrating the machine requires lifting or dropping the hinged end of the rocker using a set screw. It’s an easy process and the machines come with a tool designed to turn that screw, even though it’s just a 2mm hex screw (a common fitment).
The Sette series utilizes a revolutionary rethinking of burr grinders and their transmissions. The ring burr is spun inside the gearbox, allowing for clear passage of coffee vertically through the burrset without excess coffee retention in the system. A ring burr that’s inside a gearbox means the cone burr needs to move vertically in order to adjust the grind. The Sette’s adjustment ring pushes the cone burr and its holder (which is also a discharge chute) up and down in a fashion not dissimilar from the Encore and Virtuoso: threading the burr and holder up into the machine, narrowing the gap.
Again, imagine that inverse screw moving closer in as we rotate the screw hole.
Because of the unique design of the Sette, however, the calibration process is different: the cone burr is lifted relative to its holder by small washers, called “shims” during calibration. This reduces the gap between the burrs at all settings. Removing those shims increases the gap. As a result of either action, the overall grind range accomplished by the machine changes as the adjustment ring has not been moved.
Whichever grinder you have, there’s a clever system behind your grind. But even beyond fine and coarse, your grinder’s overall grind range can be changed to fit your needs at any time.