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Baratza innovations changed home grinding for espresso and specialty coffee enthusiasts. About a decade ago Baratza introduced the Vario grinder. And to this day the Vario is still recommended as the entry-point into higher-end home grinding for espresso and specialty coffee.
Nearly ten years later and the Vario is still a major player in home grinding - and Baratza continues to innovate. Today an in-depth look at their newest product the Sette 30 AP. It’s the more affordable younger brother of the Sette 270 which came out in 2016 and was awarded best new product by the specialty coffee association.
In this article, a look at who the Sette 30 is for, how it differs from the 270 version, the innovations in the Sette line, a full specification list, some test results including grinding speed and noise levels and an up-close look at grind size range.
So the big innovation in Sette grinders is their straight thru design. It uses a 40 millimeter conical burr. What’s different in the Sette is the inner burr is stationary while the upper outer burr rotates. That’s opposite from just about every other conical burr grinder on the market. That setup allows for the straight thru design with very low grind retention and high speed grinding. In fact, the Sette grinds at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second which is about twice as fast as the Baratza Vario.
It’s the low grind retention that gets my attention. Why? Well if you’re into having the freshest possible grind, low retention grinders save you money by wasting next to none of your delicious and potentially pricey specialty coffee beans. Many classic Italian coffee grinders can retain a lot of ground coffee - and if you want it fresh with those grinders you have to grind off maybe three to five grams to get there.
So how does the the Sette 30 differ from the 270? Well the numbers in the name say a lot. The 30 AP has thirty macro grind settings. The 270 has thirty as well, but adds nine micro adjustments to each for a total of 270 settings. Much finer control of grind size on the 270 with those micro adjustments. And, that leaves the Sette 30 more suited to serving less demanding brewing on single boiler or entry level espresso machines or brew methods like Aeropress or pour over where grind size is a little less critical.
While all Sette models come with identical 40mm steel AP burrs, on the 270s they’re carried in a metal assembly while it’s plastic on the Sette 30. The stock AP burrs are what you want for espresso and other finer grinding. For coarser grinding, Baratza offers an optional BG burr, their brew grind burr. It costs less than thirty dollars and fits all the Sette models.
On the 30, you set one grind time in hundredth of a second intervals up to ten seconds and then tenth of a second increments for times over ten seconds. The 270 comes with 3 programmable timed presets on the W model it’s 3 programmable weight presets controlled by a built in scale.
All models accommodate portafilters or an included grinds bin. On the 30, the plastic support forks are adjusted by pulling them out and re-inserting. The 270s have a nicer metal support fork which adjust without removal.
The Sette models have the same burr set, same grind size range, same grinding speed, so what's the big difference? The extra micro adjustments, metal burr carrier, nicer support forks and programmable time or weight on the 270s.
To check timed dosing accuracy and grinding speed, I dialed in the grinder to produce a two ounce shot from eighteen grams of coffee in about twenty-five seconds. For that I ended up at a grind setting of seven and a grind time of 4.65 seconds. I ground five times using that timing and here are the results. An average of 17.99 grams were delivered with a maximum dose variation of 0.54 grams. Average grinding speed came out at 3.87 grams per second. I’ve tested a lot of grinders for dosing accuracy and that point five grams ranks right up there - it’s about as good some of my favorite low retention prosumer level grinders like the Ceado E37S.
With the straight-thru design, grind retention is very low and again right up there with the best in the business at around half a gram - and it’s often less than that depending on factors like bean type and ambient humidity. And I love the grind quality into a portafilter. Nice and fluffy. Pretty much clump free and even distribution with little to no spill.
A up close look at the grind size range shows perhaps slightly finer than what I’d call a medium grind on the coarse setting and very powdery at the fine setting. My dialed in grind for testing was set at seven. For reference, a setting of four on the grinder choked my machine with the OPV set to kick in at 10 bar.
So with excellent dosing accuracy, near zero grind retention and those beautiful fluffy grinds what are you giving up compared to more expensive grinders? Well it’s the ability to make super-fine adjustments to grind size. In my case, it was just 3 steps down from my dialed in grind size of seven to a setting of four which choked my machine. For high-end espresso, three steps of adjustment isn’t going to do it for many users with prosumer level machines. Now, there are ways around that. You can always adjust the dose weight to change the extraction. Some would consider that a cheat, but it’s a valid workaround for others.
With that in mind, in my opinion the Sette 30 is an excellent option for those grinding for single boiler entry-level espresso machines like the Gaggia Classic or Rancilio Silvia. Also perfect for those using machines with pressurized filter baskets who want to transition out of using pre-ground coffee or ESE pods. Also a good option for other brewing methods like pour over, drip or immersion brewing. For those you may want the optional BG or brew grind burr as the Sette’s stock AP burr produces a grind that’s on the fine side of medium.
If noise is a concern, keep in mind the Sette's is a bit louder than other grinders. Here it is with some unofficial noise measurements compared to the Baratza Vario. It’s a little louder due to it’s more open design and higher grinding speed.
That’s the Baratza Sette 30. It’s available now at Whole Latte Love. If you have more questions on this grinder or anything coffee use those comments and I’ll be sure to get you the answers. Come back soon for more of the best on everything coffee brought to you by Whole Latte Love.