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Baratza Vario Grinder
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Discussions > Articles > First Looks... > Baratza Vario...  
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,611
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sat Dec 27, 2008, 2:19pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

I may have to check my previous comments.

I took the grinder apart last night and cleaned it thoroughly to photograph for this article. Today, I reassembled it, including putting the burr mount back into place, and now with Black Cat Classic, it's completely stalling the Ascaso Steel Duo even when grinding approximately 16g of coffee at about 5 'ticks' away from the finest setting on the micro adjustment lever.

I have to look into this more, but it may be that I didn't assemble the burr mount as tightly as possible when I first got the grinder and had a look see at the internals. This time around, I did fully assemble it, including twisting the upper burr mount to its tightest position, and the grinder is producing a fine enough grind to stall the shots.

Just pulled a shot with it now, and it's extremely fine in the grind.

Mark

 
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,611
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sat Dec 27, 2008, 3:04pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

One more thing I wanted to mention - if you have any questions about the grinder, please post them here and I'll do my best to answer.

I got one email question about clumping - there is no visible clumping that I can see from this grinder. The exit "chute" inside is quite small, but also the flow-path (for lack of a better word or term) that the ground coffee takes around the burrs is very narrow - but I think Mahlkonig / Baratza worked hard on optimizing the burr rotation speed against the size of that channel and the exit chute to make everything flow well without any real clumping.


That said, it may in fact be clumping, but some trick in the exit chute breaks up clumps. For a grinder to produce over 1g/second through that relatively tiny exit chute, I'd expect clumping, but it's not happening - not as the coffee falls into the portafilter, and not how it falls into the grinds bin.

Mark

 
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pumpkinscastle
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jan 2008
Posts: 247
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quickmilll Vetrano
Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly
Posted Sat Dec 27, 2008, 6:51pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

Great preview and I especially found your posts in the feedback section helpful. Now, many grinders can produce powdery grinds that stall a machine. But how do the shots taste (especially after the readjustment)? Are they aromatic and rich with nice texture? How do they compare to 1.) the Virtuoso as a barely able to grind for espresso grinder and 2.) a more dedicated espresso grinder (such as Rocky, Mazzers etc.).
The Mahlkoenig ceramic burrs should be capable of producing a high quality grind. I am just curious what your taste buds say!
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andtheodor
Senior Member


Joined: 13 May 2008
Posts: 61
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Yes
Grinder: Yes
Vac Pot: Yes
Posted Sat Dec 27, 2008, 7:07pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

PT's blog review sounds very impressed:

As for the Vario, it was the biggest surprise of all to me. I have never been able to figure out what kind of grinder I would want if I ever had a home set up. I had considered the Mazzer  Mini, but have been frustrated in my encounters with it. Itís slow, messy, and a little hard to work with. The Vario, however, was simple to use, kept a good pace with me, and was enabling me to produce commercial quality shots. As far as messiness goes, it was better than most Super Jollys. As an espresso grinder alone, itís quite amazing. The fact that it can be used to grind for both regular drip and French press is just a bonus. It is hands down what I will buy when I finally get my dream home set up.

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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Sat Dec 27, 2008, 7:49pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

mark, thank you for the preview; it's good to see some structured response to a grinder that has been a bit elusive, but very promising on paper.  

You seem very hesitant to talk about it's grind quality performance (although it seems intentional); grinding fine enough to choke a machine doesn't tell us much.  My virutuoso could choke my machine, but doesn't make it a good espresso grinder.  I'll definately wait for the final review, but can you give us any indication of how the shots taste?  Please???

I'm also a little unclear on how the burrs are mounted and I appologize if I missed it in your write up.  The top burr is stationary and the bottom burr rides on a cam. yes?  You say the burrs mount to metal which sounds good, but what does that metal mount to?  I guess ultimately my question is, what keeps the top and bottom burrs stationary when grinding?

If it's anything like my Virtuoso, the build quality won't match that of my M4s, but that's OK for a home grinder in my book.  At the potential price, size, timed dosing, no grind retention, clump free, it could possibly be one of the best home grinders to date.  I'm VERY excited to read to full review; any indication of that release date?

Thanks again :)
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,611
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sat Dec 27, 2008, 8:10pm
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

On build quality - if you look at the photo of the burrs inside, you;ll see that there's an outer ring of plastic. This is what the top burr set mounts on to - but unlike the other Baratza grinders with their fairly flimsy lock tabs, the tabs that the metal mount screws into on this grinder are (going by memory now about 3/4 inch long each, and there's three of them) - the top plate has to screw about 3/4 inch or more to "lock" it into place - its bayonette, once first under one of those hard plastic tabs, has to screw a further 3/4 inch or more under the tabs to lock down.

It's not ideal (I guess metal would be) but it's a huge improvement over the Virtuoso and Maestro line. I'll see if I have more photos of this to demonstrate (edit, found one, attached).

It feels incredibly solid inside though once the top burr is mounted - there's ABSOLUTELY no play if you try to wiggle it.

On grind quality - so far, it's very good, and I think I wrote in the review (or one of these forum replies) that I had it head to head with the Anfim Best (which IMO produces a better grind than the Rocky does) and it was difficult to tell the shots apart. I am using it primarily with an Ascaso Steel Duo (testing that as well), so it's not optimal. I'll have it set up with the PID'ed La Marzocco in the new year.

Mark

PS - if anyone wants photos of a specific part of the grinder (without tearing it apart), let me know.

MarkPrince: burrset1.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,611
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sun Dec 28, 2008, 3:15am
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

PS - the interior white part may be strengthened nylon, not plastic (well they're similar materials). Need to verify this.

I'm guessing that a low-friction material was chosen so the grinds can efficiently move along the outer pathway once the beans have been ground, heading to the exit chute. This would reduce heat and prevent clogging / clumping (?)

Mark

 
CoffeeGeek Senior Editor
www.twitter.com/coffeegeek www.flickr.com/coffeegeek, www.instagram.com/coffeegeek (you get the picture)
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Luca
Senior Member
Luca
Joined: 27 Jan 2004
Posts: 2,658
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Espresso: H: Maver W: FB-80
Grinder: H: Super Jolly W: Brasilia...
Vac Pot: Hario TCA-2
Roaster: Sample Roaster at Work
Posted Sun Dec 28, 2008, 3:28am
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

So is this the grinder that brewed coffee nuts should aspire to have on their bench at home?

I get the impression that the best espresso grinders are not also the best grinders for brewed coffee ...

 
General ramblings about coffee: http://www.pourquality.blogspot.com/

Reviews of Australian coffee: http://www.coffeereviewaustralia.com/
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xdavez
Senior Member
xdavez
Joined: 21 Nov 2007
Posts: 1,157
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: La Spaziale Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mazzer mini
Vac Pot: none
Drip: Technivorm
Posted Sun Dec 28, 2008, 7:08am
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

And the quest for cheap plastic espresso grinder continues.
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2_czech
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Jul 2007
Posts: 64
Location: Vancouver/Prague
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Dalla Corte Evolution
Grinder: Mahlkoenig KS30 Vario
Vac Pot: Cona, Hario, Bodum
Drip: Bunn, Fetco
Roaster: Joper
Posted Sun Dec 28, 2008, 9:10am
Subject: Re: Baratza Vario Grinder
 

mike, as far as i know from Mahlkoenig here in Germany the grinder is still officialy not on the European market ... hope it will be soon though!
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