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Baratza Forte AP VS BG Grinder Review 2018

Baratza Forte Grinder AP vs Baratza Forte BG Comparison Table


Which Is Better?
Baratza Forte AP vs  Forte BG

Last update: June 22, 2018 10:20 am
Last update: June 22, 2018 10:20 am

Overall Rating

Capacity

Grind Settings

Ease of Use

Extras & Options

Summary

A beautiful blend of form and function, featuring well-implemented technology.

A scaled back, less advanced (and less expensive) version of the Baratza Forte. Geared more toward home than commercial use. 

Recommended For

Anyone. But it's especially kind to novice baristas, and has enough capacity to handle most small business needs. 

This is an especially newbie-friendly machine and a great model to learn Barista skills on.  Great for power drinkers and can keep pace with larger households.

Are you a “power coffee drinker,” who’s looking for a prosumer grinder that can keep pace with your habit? Or maybe you're a small business owner looking to give yourself a competitive advantage by offering specialty coffee drinks?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you’re going to love our Baratza Forte AP vs BG comparison review.

Two things we should say right up front, before diving into particulars. First, these grinders are very similar models. They're from the Forte series, where AP stands for "All Purpose" and BG for "Brew Grinder"They’ve got much more in common than they have differences, so this is going to be a shorter piece that focuses on the major differences. Forte series, 

Second, unless you fall into one of the two groups described above (power drinker or small business owner), these grinders are almost certain to be overkill. They’re fantastic machines, but there’s little point in paying for capacity you don’t need. So if you’re a casual coffee drinker, then you’re going to be better off looking at some other grinder in most cases.

Having said that, let’s jump right in and take a closer look at these two models!

Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic

Both models are built on the same frame, and as such, have identical dimensions: 5.5” x 5” x 14,” and both weigh in at 13 pounds. There are some slight aesthetic differences, and overall, we find the Baratza Forte AP grinder to be the slightly more attractive of the two.

The Baratza Forte BG grinder has a plastic collection drawer on the front face, where the AP features a more open design, built to accommodate either a portafilter or a grounds bin. These differences are slight, and opinions on which is the more attractive machine will, of course, vary.

Hopper Capacity & Speed

This would normally be a key component of our Baratza Forte grinder review, but in this case, there’s not much to say, because both models feature the same 10-ounce bean hopper, and both can make use of the extension modules (sold separately), which increase overall capacity to 18 ounces.

There are some differences in grinding speed. The Forte AP can do espresso grinds at 2g/second, and Press grinds at as high as 3.7g/second, while the Baratza Forte BG coffee grinder can’t handle espresso grinds at all, does Aeropress grinds at 1.2g/second, and press grinds at 2.4g/second.

Again, we give the nod to the AP here. Not only is it faster overall, but it can do things (espresso grind) that the BG simply cannot. If you’re not offering espresso-based drinks at your place of business, this won’t matter, but if you want the option to do so, then of these two, the AP is the grinder you want.

An image of Baratza Forte AP grinder with portafilter attached

Grinding Burrs

An image of Baratza Forte BG's stainless steel burr grinder

Here’s the first of the major differences between the two machines. Coffee aficionados tend to have strong opinions about this, one way or the other.

The Baratza Forte grinder AP uses flat ceramic burrs for grinding, while the Baratza Forte BG uses flat stainless-steel burrs (made by Ditting).

In practice, the differences in the kinds of grounds these two types of burrs produce are slight, with stainless steel burrs producing a very slightly more consistent grind, but again, most coffee aficionados will have a clear preference for one over the other.

Personally, we prefer ceramic burrs, because stainless steel, being metal, tends to heat up with repeated use, which can sometimes burn your grounds, ruining them utterly. You just never see that problem with ceramic burrs, and we think the slight reduction in grind consistency is worth the trade.

We would like to emphasize here in our Baratza Forte BG review that if you prefer stainless steel burrs, the Baratza Forte BG brew grinder - metal burr will almost certainly wind up being your clear preference.

Grind Settings

Grind settings are an interesting topic and something that Baratza does really well, making it of particular interest in our Baratza Forte review.

A Note on Grinder Types

Broadly speaking, there are two types of grinders: Stepless grinders, which don’t have any predefined settings at all and give the user unlimited freedom to precisely dial in their preferred grind; and grinders with some number of predefined settings.

Coffee purists tend to prefer stepless grinders so they’re not saddled with the manufacturer’s grind setting decisions. Their chief complaint is that most grinders don’t have enough settings, and the coffee purist’s flavor preferences can easily fall somewhere in between two of the predefined settings.

If that happens, there’s just nothing to be done.

An image of Baratza Forte BG's "Macro” and "Micro" grind settings

Macro and Micro Grind Settings

Baratza has found an innovative way around that problem though, by using a combination of “Macro” and “Micro” grind settings.

Both machines use the same setup here, offering ten different “Macro” settings, paired with 26 different “Micro” settings, giving you a total of 260 different settings to work with. Even the most die-hard coffee purists are sure to find their ideal setting, given the sheer number these machines give you to work with.

Even better, the implementation of the Macro/Micro idea makes dialing into your preferred setting a breeze, which makes either machine very easy for novice baristas to master.

Grinder Operation

An image of of the touchscreen LCD of the Baratza Forte AP and BG Grinder

Both machines use the same touchscreen LCD as the centerpiece of the control system, so there is a bit of a learning curve whichever model you select. Nonetheless, it’s not an especially steep one, and within a couple hours of regular use, you should have the basics down pat and be well on your way to mastery.

There are a couple of key differences between the models though.

The Forte AP allows you to grind by time, weight, or manually, while the BG model only allows for manual grinding or grinding by weight.

With this in mind then, the high level view of the use of the machine (either model) is as follows:

Load beans into the hopper, select grind type (time, weight or manual for the AP, and time or manual for the BG), adjust your grind setting, push the button and go!

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleansing tabs can be used on both models, which makes cleanup a snap.

Just insert a cleansing tab, grind it through the system, and then, grind a few beans once cleaning is complete to work any remaining traces of the cleaning solution from the burrs, disposing of these grounds before grinding your next batch of beans for consumption.

If you’d rather not use the cleansing tabs, the burrs on both models are easily accessible and can be cleaned manually as needed.

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Pros & Cons of the Baratza Forte AP Grinder and Baratza Forte BG Grinder

Since these two models share so much in common, they have most of the same strengths and weaknesses. In our view, these are:

Strengths

  • Robust prosumer grinder with lots of high tech features
  • A tremendous number of grind settings (260)
  • Very forgiving of novice baristas
  • Can grind by weight, time, or manually

Weaknesses

  • Pricey
  • Has a bit of a learning curve, owing to its robust feature set

The key differences between these models come down to matters of personal preference and how you plan on using the machine.

If you’ve got your heart set on a machine with stainless steel burrs, then the Forte AP is going to disappoint. Also, we would like to mention here in our Baratza Forte AP review that if you don’t see yourself making use of espresso grinds, then the AP simply has functionality you don’t need.

On the other hand, prosumer devices should cater to a variety of tastes and preferences, and here, more is usually better, especially if it’s also cheaper. In our book, those two things combined make the AP very hard to say no to.

Baratza Forte AP vs BG Review Conclusion

In summary, when comparing the Baratza Forte AP vs BG, we find two highly similar machines with subtle differences at the margins, targeting different subsets of the prosumer market.

Overall, our view is that the Baratza Forte Grinder AP does everything that the BG does, and costs slightly less, making it the natural choice. While we can see some value in the BG’s tighter, weight-based focus, the difference just isn’t all that compelling to us.

We find the AP to be both marginally less expensive and more feature rich, making it an exceptional “general purpose” prosumer grinder, capable of handling just about anything you can throw at it.

Although the Forte BG is every bit as good in terms of overall quality, we regard it as a more tightly targeted niche product. It’s just not a machine built for everyone.

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Sources & Resources

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 Check out our side by side Baratza Forte AP vs BG comparison review.  Two very similar grinders with a couple of important differences @Baratza
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