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Oxo Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder review: This Oxo grinder makes good coffee easy

The Oxo Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder combines a handy internal scale for precision plus convenient operation.

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Brian Bennett
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Brian Bennett

Senior writer

Brian Bennett is a senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET. He reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from cordless and robot vacuum cleaners to fire pits, grills and coffee makers. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he rides longboards downhill in his free time.

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The $200 Oxo Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder costs as much as some premium coffee makers. What sets this machine apart is a built-in scale, a feature usually reserved for more expensive commercial-style grinders. Not only can the Oxo grind the exact weight of grounds you'd like to brew, you can also set it to process beans based on how many cups of coffee will ultimately land in your pot.

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7.5

Oxo Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder

The Good

The Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder produces quality coffee grounds quickly. It also has a built-in scale for extra convenience. Thanks to intuitive controls, It's also simple to use.

The Bad

It costs more and feels less durable than competing burr grinders. It has comparatively fewer grind size settings as well.

The Bottom Line

Buy the Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder for its speed and handy built-in scale, but not to play with plenty of grind sizes.

The Oxo grinder also works quickly, whipping through coffee with more speed than the competing $145 Baratza Encore. The Encore has its positives, its price and finer control over grind size, to name two, but if what you want most is simple operation and the convenience of a built-in scale, the Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder strikes an excellent balance between the two.

Read more: The best coffee grinders you can buy right now

Oxo's coffee grinder weighs grounds for extra precision

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Design and features

The Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder cuts a convincingly premium profile you'd want to see in a $200 coffee grinder. A funnel-shaped hopper holds whole coffee beans up top. The hopper then feeds its contents into a grinding mechanism made from two pieces of steel.

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You have 15 different grind sizes to choose from.

You can adjust the quality of the grind between 15 different settings, ranging from fine enough for espresso or with the coarseness required for French press and siphon coffee. For a greater degree of grind size control, the Baratza Encore is the better choice. That machine offers a full 40 coarseness levels.

As to the Oxo's internal scale, it's fair to say a cheap $20 digital kitchen scale can tackle the same measurement duties for a lot less if you pair it with an affordable burr grinder. Even so, combining everything into one appliance makes a lot of sense. It's convenient, and it saves you countertop real estate.

Choosing the right portion of coffee is a snap too. Just dial the Oxo's main control knob to either the weight you'd like (in grams) or the number of cups you plan to brew. Hitting the button commands the machine to grind until grounds in the collection container reach your specified amount.

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Turn the dial to grind a precise weight of grounds.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The scale is a feature that's easy to grow accustomed to. I found manually weighing beans more annoying than ever after switching from the Barista Brain to using the Baratza Encore, which lacks a scale.

Performance

The Barista Brain held its own with other heavyweights of the bean grinding world, notably the Baratza Encore. In fact the Oxo unit is faster, turning 21 grams (0.74 ounces) of whole coffee beans into grounds suitable for drip (slightly coarser than its medium setting) in 8.9 seconds. By contrast the Encore took a much longer 21 seconds to complete the same task.

There is an upside to the Encore's slower grinding and that's less noise.

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To my eye the Oxo grinder (left) produced grounds slightly less uniform than the Baratza Encore (right).

Brian Bennett/CNET

In terms of grind size consistency, the two machines performed well. To my eye, the Encore had the edge with grounds that looked slightly more uniform in shape and surface area. This uniformity is the key to consistently extracting coffee's flavor. Since coffee's essence extracts faster from fine grinds and slower from coarse grinds, brewing a hodgepodge of coffee bit sizes creates an inferior cup with unbalanced flavor.

Conclusion

Whether the $200 Oxo Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder has a place on your kitchen counter really depends on what type of coffee drinker you are and how this might change in the future. If you're someone like me, then you like to try all sorts of roast styles and play with various grinds to hit that perfect cup. With its greater degree of grind control and consistency, plus sturdier construction, the $145 Baratza Encore is the way to go.

Otherwise, those who have no problem spending a little extra for a grinder that's faster, easier to use and offers the convenience of its own scale, the choice is simple. Get the Barista Brain since it's both a quality burr grinder and it'll save you time during the hectic AM rush.

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7.5

Oxo Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder

Score Breakdown

Performance 7.5Design 7.5Features 8Maintenance 7
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