Baratza Forte AP All Purpose Coffee Grinder [REVIEW]
Winning the ‘best product’ award at an SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) event is what set the tone for the Baratza Forte AP in the commercial market. But it owes its popularity largely to the immensely impressive feature bundle and the near-flawless performance for the past three years. Today, it dots the counter of many a famed Barista and a coffee-savant wannabe.
For the readers interested in knowing how this pocket-sized powerhouse fares when put to the test, I have just the right thing for you. But before we get onto finer grounds (no pun intended), I want to say this first.
The Baratza Forte is hands down, one of the finest ceramic burr coffee grinders in the market – even after 3 years since it launched. Now that I have got that off my chest, let me explain to you, what ticks this ahead in the time of all-inclusive bean to cup machines.
A Closer Look At The Baratza Forte AP
The very term ‘commercial’ tends to create the impression of a sophisticated looking machine with tons of paraphernalia. Not the Forte. It features an all-metal external casing with minimal buttons on it. An intuitively placed LED backlight touchscreen grabs all the attention and rightly so. This is where you tinker with your precious beans.
At just over 14 inches tall, the Baratza Forte is one of the most compact commercial-grade coffee grinders I’ve ever seen. It does not look like an oversized monstrosity and fits neatly in between the counter and the cabinet.
It weighs around 13 lbs. So, it may not be a good idea to move it frequently, unless you plan to include it in your workout regime. The additional weight gives it rock-hard stability even when it’s operational. You won’t find it budging a millimeter away from where you put it.
For the espresso connoisseur who prefers complete hands-free operation while transferring the ground coffee from the grinder to the coffee machine, the Baratza Forte includes a portaholder that locks in a portafilter and the ground coffee can be dispensed directly into it.
The Forte AP's Performance
At the heart of the Forte is a 54mm ceramic burr grinder. The Forte is also available in flat steel burrs. The recommendation from Baratza is to use steel burrs for brews and ceramic burrs for espresso. The burrs are powered by an upgraded high-torque motor that gives the Forte up to 70% more power. The result is a faster grind speed that is unmatched.
There are a bunch of different dosing settings that set the Forte a class apart which are controlled by a macro and a micro slider. The macro slider allows you to adjust the grind size from coarse to ultra-fine (Turkish coffee) in ten different settings.
The micro settings break it down further into twenty six settings for each of the macro settings. This gives you a whopping 260 grind settings.
You can choose grind-by-weight and timed dosage, with the option to program three presets for each. With the ability to convert between both presets to within a precise 0.5 grams, the Baratza Forte takes the guesswork out of the dosing and offers something for even the most discerning coffee lover.
If you are an alchemist who craves the most intricate measurements for dosing, you’d be pleased to know that the Forte offers an immaculate measurement in the grind-by-weight settings to up to 0.2 grams.
And if you are still not satisfied with the grind size, then you have the option to use manually adjustable burrs, which are included in the package.
This Coffee Grinder's Best Features
- High-quality metallic design with compact footprint
- Minimalist casing with large LED backlight touchscreen
- 54mm ceramic flat burr that prevents heat from tainting the bean's natural flavors and aroma
- High-torque motor with 70% more power than standard
- Weight and time-based dosing for the extra precision
- Up to 260 different adjustable grind settings
What They Could Do Better?
Despite all the goodness packed into this compact sized package, the Baratza Forte does have a few minor flaw...
- The portafilter sometimes slide off when the grinder is operating
- The weight-based dosing becomes unusable if you use a portafilter
- The coffee tend to heat up (very very) slightly when you're making finest grind settings for an extended period of time
Alternative & Similar Products
If you are looking for a slightly affordable option for home-use, then you may want to check the Mazzer Mini or the MACAP M4. Both coffee grinders produces excellent coffee across a wide-range of grinds.
If you just liked the LED screen and dosing features, and not as fussed about the superior quality component, then you should check out the Breville Smart Coffee Grinder.
The Coffee Barrister's Verdict
The Bazarta Forte AP Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder is the most advanced coffee grinder from Barartza till date. At just under $900 (as of Oct. 2016), it is not the cheapest unit that you can buy either. But considering that this has coffee-shop written all over it, it offers more than enough features that justify the price tag. If you cater to true connoisseurs who appreciate the role of the ground size, in their coffee, this will be worth every dollar you spend on it.