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neutro
Senior Member


Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Quebec, Canada
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu May 31, 2012, 10:55am
Subject: Advice on new grinder...
 

First post in these forums, but I'm a long time reader of CoffeGeek. Following reviews here, I purchased my first burr grinder a few years ago. It's a Baratza Virtuoso, and I rather like it.

But now it seems the main gear is stripped, and the unholy sounds the Virtuoso makes now are frightening me. It does grind but at a reduced rate. I just ordered the gearbox 2.0 upgrade kit from Baratza and I'll try to make the switch, but considering the complexity of the operation, it may 1) take some time or 2) never be finished. So I'm kind of shopping around to see if I could buy something else that would be comparable.

I like the Virtuoso principally because of the wide range of grounds that it can make. I make moka pots (italian stove coffee pots) in the morning, and espresso in the afternoon and after dinner when I have guests, and then more occasionnaly I like to be able to grind for french press or drip, so a new grinder have to be versatile -- no espresso-only grinder for me. I'm not sure about the doser -- is there a grinder with an easily-removed doser out there? My point is I would have to switch from espresso to stove pot grind daily; I'm not sure if this is workable with a doser. It looks to me I should probably get a doserless grinder, even though I'm kind of tired of the mess I do with the Virtuoso when filling the espresso filters.

I rather like the general design of the Virtuoso and I like Baratza mainly for the fact that they encourage tinkering and self-repairs. But yet having a stripped gear after only 3-4 years of use is a let down, so I may be inclinded to try another brand. Right now I'm tempted by the famous Rancillo Rocky, although that would be the ultra-top-end of my budget, and I'm not sure this would be a huge upgrade from the Virtuoso if I take the doserless model (it seems to me I would have to place some kind of container under the chute, which would be less integrated than the Baratza models). The Lelit P43 and P53 seem to be for espresso grinds only so I guess those are not for me. I'm not sure if lower end grinders such as the Capresso Infinty would be worth a shot since they seem to have pretty much the same design as Baratza's at the same price.

Any opinion about what I should be looking at? Am I missing an obvious contender? Thanks for any hint.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu May 31, 2012, 2:43pm
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

If you are using a pressurized porta filter I can see how your grinder is able to be used for espresso. It is on the ragged edge for espresso with a nonpressurized pf.

Rocky is a espresso only grinder so it does not fit your stated needs.

The espresso/utility grinders from b. Are quite good from what the owners say. I am talking abiut the vario and its smaller siblings. They are in the rocky price range and will do a better job all around for you.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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neutro
Senior Member


Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Quebec, Canada
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu May 31, 2012, 7:02pm
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

calblacksmith Said:

If you are using a pressurized porta filter I can see how your grinder is able to be used for espresso. It is on the ragged edge for espresso with a nonpressurized pf.

Rocky is a espresso only grinder so it does not fit your stated needs.

The espresso/utility grinders from b. Are quite good from what the owners say. I am talking abiut the vario and its smaller siblings. They are in the rocky price range and will do a better job all around for you.

Posted May 31, 2012 link

Thanks a lot for this opinion. Keep in mind I'm not very experienced with either grinders or espresso machines.

I use both a pressurized porta filter (Saeco) machine and an non-pressurized porta filter (Faema Family). Of the 40 grind settings on the Baratza Virtuoso, I use #5 for espresso so I guess I understand why you say it's on the ragged edge -- I have maybe 4-5 grind adjustments that give acceptable results in the Faema. Thus it's not ideal for fine-tuning. But still the finest settings can choke the Faema, and the coarsest is for french press or the like, so it's pretty versatile.

I thought the Rancilio Rocky was kind of the same type of grinder. The description on idrinkcoffee.com -- canadian store where I bought the Baratza -- says: "The Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder has 55 Grind settings, ranging from coarse French press to ultra-fine Turkish. " So you'd say this is not a correct description?

I think if I'm staying with Baratza I may as well try to repair the Virtuoso first. But maybe what I should really do is keep the Baratza for the moka pot and buy something else for espresso...
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,747
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu May 31, 2012, 8:26pm
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

neutro Said:

I thought the Rancilio Rocky was kind of the same type of grinder. The description on idrinkcoffee.com -- canadian store where I bought the Baratza -- says: "The Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder has 55 Grind settings, ranging from coarse French press to ultra-fine Turkish. " So you'd say this is not a correct description?

I think if I'm staying with Baratza I may as well try to repair the Virtuoso first. But maybe what I should really do is keep the Baratza for the moka pot and buy something else for espresso...

Posted May 31, 2012 link

I used to have a Rocky, and feel it's steps are rather wide for fine tuning to proper espresso grind - depending on your beans largely.  However, I did find it was easily switched to a coarse grind for presspot.  I do agree that the Virtuoso is marginal for espresso - but this is based on what I've read here on CG and NOT personal experience.

My thought is your summary statement is your best option...keep the Virtuoso for everything not espresso and get yourself a good espresso only grinder - either stepless or with enough narrow steps that it seems stepless.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Jun 1, 2012, 5:51am
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

Francois,
Espresso requires a different KIND of grind than general use grinding. Espresso needs a BImodal grind, two different size particles but a lot of consistency in each size particle. The stock Virtuoso is a general use grinder and it is not designed to give you the two size but consistent particles.

The Rocky was designed for espresso and provides the BImodal grind but the steps are rather large as stated above. Yes, it adjusts from coarse to fine fairly easily due to the steps but the burrs are designed for espresso not general use so while the steps are a bit large for espresso tuning, the grind is not one for general use either. When the Rocky came out, it was a great performance per dollar value but time marches on and other grinders have come to market and perhaps represent a better performance/value benchmark.

The Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Click Here (www.google.com) has been designed with espresso in mind and at it's price point of $229 it does represent a good price/performance value though it is entry level in a grinder for espresso. The Vario Click Here (www.google.com) has been used by a lot of members here and it is said to have a quite good espresso grind AND it works well for other brewing methods. At $369 it is a head to head competator to the Rocky at $349 Click Here (www.wholelattelove.com) and thus Rocky does not present the same great "value" it used to be.

Baratza often has referb grinders and they represent an even better value to the buyer as they come fully backed by Baratza on the referb warranty. As the referb stock is constantly changing, you need to check in often to find the grinder you want. Click Here (www.baratza.com)

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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neutro
Senior Member


Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Quebec, Canada
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Jun 1, 2012, 11:33am
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

Seems that my initial reply was not posted; I guess I only previewed it :p

Anyway I have a tendency to write to much so I'll cut to the essentials.

I didn't know about the bimodal distribution required for espresso; I guess I should educate myself more on that topic before making any hasted purchase. It seems to me now that the grinder that best fits all of my needs would be the Baratza Vario, but I can't find it below about $450 in Canada -- in fact the best I can find is $469 plus taxes, shipping included. It's thus way more that I was prepared to spend, so I'll try to repair the Virtuoso and to save up for it. The Preciso is also more expensive at $319.

The Vario has also the problem of being a Baratza and I kind of feel burned after the Virtuoso broke after only 3 years. I hope newer Baratza grinders are more sturdy.

If I'm ready to do that I guess I should also consider the option of using two grinders -- the Virtuoso for moka pots and another specifically for espresso. The disadvantage of this being mostly countertop space.

Thanks for your opinions on this. I know that we should not skimp on grinders but $500 is a lot of money, I'll have to think about it.
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egoodman
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Apr 2010
Posts: 37
Location: Victoria BC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Vetrano
Grinder: Macap M4  </step> </doser>
Vac Pot: Bialetti Stainless
Drip: Melita Cone
Posted Fri Jun 1, 2012, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

It seems like there's always a sacrifice to be made in these choices.

Money, grind quality, versatility.

Or you could sacrifice a motor.  Yes, a motor.

OE Pharos uses 68mm conical burrs used in grinders like the K-10, but it's only $~270.

The trade offs?  
Cranking - isn't bad once you get used to it.  With practice it's almost as fast as a mid-range flat burr grinder.
Grind settings - are tricky to figure out and will usually end up with you some some basic mods.
Emptying grounds - pretty good with most recent revision, pull a plug and shake into a pf funnel.

Read some of the reviews/owners threads around.  
The quality is fantastic at any grind you might need, but I think the people who will enjoy it most are those who enjoy tinkering a bit.
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neutro
Senior Member


Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Quebec, Canada
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun Jun 3, 2012, 5:35pm
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

egoodman Said:

Or you could sacrifice a motor.  Yes, a motor.

OE Pharos uses 68mm conical burrs used in grinders like the K-10, but it's only $~270.

Posted June 1, 2012 link

That's interesting. However I have yet to find a retailer that offers it in Canada.
Yet I think I have unresolved issues concerning grinder choice... i.e. should I get a second grinder dedicated to espresso or should I try to get a grinder that does everything. Also, considering that $15 will fix my current Virtuoso, investing hundreds of dollars in a new grinder will take some reflexion first.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,747
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 8:22am
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

calblacksmith Said:

Espresso requires a different KIND of grind than general use grinding. Espresso needs a BImodal grind, two different size particles but a lot of consistency in each size particle.

Posted June 1, 2012 link

Wayne, thanks for the clarification on grind particles.  I had forgotten about that and hadn't made anything other than espresso (for myself to drink at least) for a very long time.  Others...sorry to be misleading about the Rocky's abilities (I guess my taste wasn't/isn't that sophisticated to notice).

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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neutro
Senior Member


Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Quebec, Canada
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 8:40am
Subject: Re: Advice on new grinder...
 

emradguy Said:

Wayne, thanks for the clarification on grind particles.  I had forgotten about that and hadn't made anything other than espresso (for myself to drink at least) for a very long time.  Others...sorry to be misleading about the Rocky's abilities (I guess my taste wasn't/isn't that sophisticated to notice).

Posted June 4, 2012 link

I guess there's lots to find about that in other threads and on this site. But in your opinions, if a grinder built for espresso (and thus able to produce a suitable grind size distribution) also has coarser settings (such as the Vario if I understand correctly), will this be detrimental to other types of coffee brew? I mean by that, will using the Vario for moka pot produce a sub-optimal brew (e.g. too bitter, ...)?

I'm still trying to figure out if I can do everything with one grinder. On one hand it's way less money and uses up less critical countertop space. On the other hand having two grinders would be better for sure. The thing is, we drink coffee mugs in the morning, not espresso shots. The espresso machine is thus not used as often as the moka pots. But I have a Faema Family, which uses non-pressurized porta-filter, and thus the grind is more critical. I'm somewhat of a beginner and (perhaps because of my grinder too) have a problem with consistency. I'd say 1 shot out of 3 is really good. So maybe I could learn how to produce great shots consistently with a better grinder. It seems to be that the next step for me would be a grinder in the $400-500 range, which is *lots* of money for me. Thus the need to pinpoint what I want and need exactly first.

Ideally that would be one grinder that does all, i.e. that can be fine-tuned for espresso but that can easily be configured for other grind types. If this will be a mediocre solution for either espresso or moka pots / french press, then I'll probably keep my current Virtuoso for coarser grinds and target an espresso-only grinder, while trying to find a place to put it.
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