This Coffee Gadget Is the Perfect Example of Repairability

Can you fix it? Yes you can

  • Baratza has finally launched a low-cost espresso grinder.
  • The Encore ESP is just as repairable as the rest of Baratza’s range.
  • Repairability is quickly becoming a desirable feature for buyers.
The Baratza Encore Espresso Grinder.

Baratza

Repairable gadgets are getting more popular, and they were never more important than they are now, and now you can add an espresso grinder to that list.

Baratza has announced an affordable espresso grinder, but the best part is that—like all Baratza grinders—it's totally repairable. And not just notionally repairable. Baratza sells spare parts, which are available locally around the world from Baratza dealers and resellers. Baratza also makes how-to guides and videos so you can easily do the repairs yourself. In fact, that might be the most important part. We're so used to replacing things when one part goes screwy that repair is no longer our first thought. The first step to more sustainable gadgets is wanting to fix them. 

"Having spares available, along with service guides for them, is a wonderfully high base from which we can climb even further," Kevin Purdy of repair advocate organization iFixit told Lifewire via email. 

More Encore

I have a Baratza Encore, and I've ordered parts, fixed it twice, and upgraded its burr (the conical part that does the grinding). Both of those repairs were for "consumable" parts that are expected to wear out, but spares-wise, the company offers everything, up to and including the motor. The Encore is Baratza's entry-level model, and perhaps the name is a clever reference to the fact that it can keep coming back. 

"Having spares available, along with service guides for them, is a wonderfully high base from which we can climb even further."

The new Encore ESP should prove to be equally resilient. It replaces the stock Encore's plastic adjustment ring with a metal one more suited to the precise tolerances of fine espresso grinds and uses a custom-sized glass dosing cup to collect the grounds and dump them into your espresso machine's portafilter (the handle thing that you shove into the machine proper).

But the most important part might be what hasn't changed. The Encore ESP shares most of its parts with the regular Encore and some of its parts with the higher-end Virtuoso+ model. This means that it is immediately repairable—or at least it will be when it goes on sale later this year

It might also mean that you can upgrade your existing model. Baratza has not yet made the repair manuals available, but when it does, we may find that the new metal adjustment ring can be retrofitted to the regular Baratza. You can already buy the Virtuoso's fancy burr and swap that into the Encore for better, faster, quieter grinds. 

Repairability

Baratza is an A++ example of why repairability is great. Users obviously get the advantage of buying into a sustainable ecosystem and can be confident that their device will last for years with a little help now and then. But the company itself also benefits. It might not sell as many replacement grinders, but it builds a loyal following that will recommend its products. Repairability turns out to make excellent economic sense, too. It also doesn't hurt that its products are excellent and regularly place at the top in buying guides

Keeping old gadgets around is a sustainability win, but the longer you keep them, the better they are in terms of repairability.

The Baratza Encore in Black and White.

Baratza

"Older [gadgets] are often more repairable and durable," Janet Gunter, co-founder of the Restart Project, told Lifewire via email

A relatively simple coffee grinder is easier to repair than a computer or phone, but those are getting easier to fix on your own, too. The US copyright office recently wrote exemptions into the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to make it legal to open up devices you own and fix them. 

Meanwhile, Google just announced a partnership with Right to Repair advocates iFixit. You'll be able to buy parts and see repair guides on the iFixit site. And last year, France introduced a law that requires gadgets to come with a repairability scorecard, so buyers can easily compare them. This, says iFixit's Kyle Wiens, has perhaps been the biggest factor pushing phone makers to take repairability seriously. Speaking to The Verge, Wiens says that 80% of buyers would give up their current phone brand for a more repairable model. 

That's the kind of fact that terrifies big companies and warms the hearts of their customers.

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