In preparation of our upcoming espresso adventures we need a grinder capable of grinding fine grounds for espresso. While our Baratza Encore is perfectly capable of grinding very fine coffee, the grind size is not very precisely adjustable. There are 40 steps total, and only a couple of those steps produce espresso grinds.
Fortunately, there is a great community around the baratza encore and there are plenty of possible modifications. In this blog I'm showing my process of making the Baratza Encore step-less by removing the spring loaded plastic rivet that does the stepping. In combination with re-calibrating the burrs for the finest grind setting, we can get a little more control over the grind size which helps with dialing in our shots!
Lets take of the button and lid first. You'll need a flat screwdriver to pry open the case and a small philips screwdriver to remove the calibration screw. Watch the How to Recalibrate an Encore or Virtuoso Conical Grinder, by Baratza to get the details how to open your Baratza Encore up.
We now remove the small calibration screw. As seen in this picture, the screw was in the left-most calibration window, which is the coarsest grind setting. When reassembling the unit later, put the calibration screw back in the rightmost calibration window for the finest grind setting as explained in the official baratza calibration video.
After turning the black ring completely counter clockwise, you can remove the upper burr and step-ring completely. While you are at it, give the burrs a nice cleaning. I used a paint brush and tooth brush to clean out the left-over grounds that were clogging up inside.
The spring loaded, black plastic rivet should now be exposed. Carefully remove it, put it in a plastic baggy and store it in a safe place if you ever want to return your stepless grinder back to a stepped one. Cool sidestep project: There is a Baratza Encore 80 steps mode by faxer92 that that shows his replacement "two triangle" rivet, increasing the amount of steps from 40 to 80.
You can now put the unit back together. Start with the black plastic ring, ensure both holes are visible in the right-most calibration window and tighten the screw. You can now put the upper burr back in place. Pro tip: when the grind button is facing you, the tab marked red should be in 5 'o clock position. Slide the outer case back on and put the knob back in place.
Put the rubber funnel and the hopper back in place, by aligning the white mark on the hopper with position 40 on the grinder. You can now behold the smoothness of your stepless Baratza Encore grinder and tweak your grind more precisely to influence the extraction time of your espresso!
As you can see, the Baratza Encore is perfectly capable of grinding fine grounds. I fully understand that, even after this modification, the Baratza Encore is still not a coffee grinder made for espresso grounds. Some say that the consistency and controllability still isn't good enough. But for anyone on a smaller budget, or those who already have a Baratza Encore grinder it is really awesome that this modification allows you to dip your toes in espresso grinding before upgrading to a more expensive grinder!