The Breville Smart Grinder Pro and the Baratza Encore are popular coffee grinders. Each claims to be an ideal entry-level, affordable option, but which is the better all-in-one home coffee grinder?
I prefer the Baratza Encore because it has a more consistent grind size and excels at filter coffee. If you’re making espresso, check out the Baratza Encore ESP model, which has more fine settings.
Meanwhile, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is easier to use with an LCD display and has more espresso settings. But, The Smart Grinder clumps on those fine settings, and I found the grounds are less consistent than the Encore.
In this breakdown of the Breville Smart Grinder Pro vs. Baratza Encore, I’ll compare the build, features, and capabilities of each coffee grinder. I’ll explain where each grinder excels to help you make an informed decision.
Baratza Encore Review
Baratza Encore highlights:
- Baratza M3 conical burrs
- Minimalist design
- Grind purge button
The Baratza Encore is an affordable, entry-level coffee grinder that doesn’t bother with any extra bells and whistles. It features just one button on the front for purging the grinder and a switch on the side for turning the motor on and off. The 225g hopper holds coffee beans until they’re ground into the Encore’s 140g dose bin.
And….that’s it. From the outside, the Encore’s lack of additional features doesn’t look impressive, but what’s on the inside counts. The 40mm stainless steel M3 conical burrs deliver an impressive grind consistency across a range of filter coffee settings. It makes a rich, full-bodied French press and clean, balanced pour-over. It can grind for espresso, but the fine settings are limited unless you use a pressurized filter basket. I recommend considering the Baratza Encore ESP model, which adds additional micro-adjustments to brew espresso and pour over coffee.
The Encore has become a staple home coffee grinder for many coffee lovers for a reason. It’s one of the most affordable coffee grinders on the market that produces consistent grinds. It lacks user experience features and has a plastic body that makes the grinder quite noisy. However, the Encore is a workhorse, and whatever features it lacks, it makes up for in the coffee it produces.
Excellent grind consistency
Limited for espresso (need Encore ESP model)
Breville Smart Grinder Pro Review
Breville Smart Grinder Pro highlights:
- LCD screen
- Programmable dosing
- 60 grind settings
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro was designed with the user experience in mind. It’s a simple, versatile, cost-effective grinder that’s easy to use. The hopper can hold up to 1 lb. of coffee, and grinds are dosed into either the included dose bin or directly into a 54mm portafilter. The Smart Grinder Pro has two time-based dosing presets and 60 different grind settings ranging from French press to espresso.
Breville makes the Smart Grinder Pro very intuitive for new home baristas. You adjust the grind setting with a side dial, and you can always see the current setting on an LCD screen on the front of the grinder. A sliding scale on the screen tells you which brew methods are ideal for any given grind setting. Directly below the screen are two buttons for grinding and dose settings and a dial for adjusting dose time. It’s pretty foolproof and doesn’t require a careful study of the manual to get started.
The 40mm stainless steel conical burrs are functional, albeit the drawback of this machine. The Smart Grinder Pro isn’t as consistent as other comparable coffee grinders. You’ll notice some clumping at the fine settings, and there aren’t enough coarse settings for French press brewing.
Overall, It’s an affordable, easy-to-use coffee grinder that prioritizes the user experience.
Intuitive to use
Wide range of settings, especially for espresso
Not as consistent as other coffee grinders
Poor grind retention
Design and Build
The Baratza Encore is much simpler looking than the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. The Encore’s body is plastic with analog switches and buttons. The Smart Grinder Pro has a metal body and a digital screen that controls both size adjustment and dosing. That screen displays the current grind setting (and what brew method it’s designed for ) and the current time-based dosing preset.
The Smart Grinder Pro is slightly bigger than the Encore – about 3 inches wider and taller. It’s larger size and metallic body give it a striking presence. Breville designed it to feel like a premium coffee grinder, with a sleek, modern aesthetic and a host of features built in (or what we call the “Breville look” with sleek steel).
On the other hand, the Encore almost feels like it was built not to be seen. Its minimalist design and monochrome plastic body make it an unobtrusive sight on a kitchen counter. It seems more concerned about the hardware inside than the aesthetic outside. However, the plastic build reduces the cost and the internals make up for it, as I’ll discuss.
Grind Quality and Brewing Use Cases
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro has 60 grind settings compared to the Baratza Encore’s 40. That may seem like the Breville is the more precise coffee grinder, but there is more to it.
The Encore has better grind consistency on medium and coarse grind settings. It produces a cleaner pour-over than the Smart Grinder Pro, where you’ll notice a brighter taste with more of the note on the bag.
The Smart Grinder Pro has more settings in the espresso range – about 10 to the Encore’s 2-3. However, the Breville grinder also produces more clumps, and a WDT tool is a must for consistent shots.
The base Encore can brew espresso, but I’ve only used it with a pressurized portafilter basket, which is more forgiving of different grind sizes. Don’t expect to use Encore for a prosumer machine with true filter baskets. The upgraded Baratza Encore ESP model does have a broad espresso range that outdoes the Smart Grinder Pro across all grind settings.
As a base model, however, the Smart Grinder Pro is a more capable, entry-level espresso grinder. The base Encore is better suited to filter and immersion coffee, like drip and French press.
Both the Baratza Encore and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro are conical burr coffee grinders. The encore uses Baratza’s M3 40mm burr, while the Smart Grinder Pro has stock Breville 40mm burrs. The M3 burrs have one extra spiral cutting edge running the length of the burr.
The Encore’s burrs generally produce a more uniform grind size distribution than the Smart Grinder Pro. The Encore also has much better grind retention than the Smart Grinder Pro, which can sometimes be upwards of 2g. You’d expect that from a flat burr grinder but not from conical burrs. The Encore, by contrast, often has a grind retention of less than 0.5g.
The burrs on the Smart Grinder Pro are functional, but the Baratza M3 burrs are a class above in terms of grind retention and consistency.
Ease of Use and Noise Level
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro’s LCD screen makes for a simpler user experience than the Baratza Encore. It provides a visual aid to determine the current grind setting and its ideal brew method, and it allows for time-based dosing presets.
The Baratza Encore requires more user input to get the desired results. There are no presets, so dosing has to be done manually. The adjustment dial also has no reference for what the numbers themselves mean outside of referring to the user manual. The Encore is nowhere near as seamless as the Smart Grinder Pro.
That said, grind settings are highly specific to each person and what they prefer for a brew method and the specific bean. It’ll take time to find the exact setting for each machine.
The Encore is also another notoriously loud Baratza grinder. It’s not as offensive as the Sette 270, but it’s quite noisy. The Smart Grinder Pro is quieter by comparison but isn’t quite in the absolute sense. Neither grinder is ideal if noise is a major concern, but the Smart Grind Pro is marginally better.
Both the Baratza Encore and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro are excellent budget grinders. Each grinder retails for less than $300, although the Encore is even cheaper than the Smart Grinder Pro.
The Smart Grinder Pro is a better value in terms of features. As a catch-all coffee grinder with some great quality-of-life improvements (like the LCD screen), it’s the most affordable grinder in its class.
The Baratza Encore produces better grind consistency and flavor, especially for filter coffee. The upgraded Encore ESP is the same price as the Smart Grinder Pro and has a greater espresso range that allows for much better shots. For coffee quality, including espresso, that makes the Encore ESP the better value.
Which of These Coffee Grinders is Better?
The Baratza Encore is the better grinder if you prefer grind quality, while the Smart Grinder Pro has a better user experience. I prefer a cleaner and more consistent cup and happily chose the Baratza Encore. I have my preferred settings, so the simple interface is fine. The Baratza Encore accomplishes morning filter brewing well, and the Encore ESP even more so.
If ease-of-use and extra features are a higher priority, the Smart Grinder Pro is a great choice. It doesn’t have Encore’s grind consistency, but it is easier to understand and use.
Each grinder is meant to suit different needs, and the value you get from either depends on which needs you want met.
For an even more in-depth grinder comparison, read our roundup article featuring some of our favorite espresso grinders.