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Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
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johnjacques
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Dec 2012
Posts: 26
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore Famosa / Elektra...
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Thu Jan 10, 2013, 4:55pm
Subject: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

After many years of using MDFs, first with an old metal-bodied model and for the last three years witha current model, I decided to upgrade my grinder in preparation for an upgrade to my machine. At the time, I had an Ascaso Dream with the wonderful brewhead mod, which had served me well over a couple of years (I don't need steam) and was planning on trying out a Salvatore and an Elektra Semiautomatica. I have both those machines now and I'll post my impressions in the appropriate forum.
Back to the grinder upgrade. I really liked the MDFs and I'd slowly adapted to their shortcomings. The limited number of steps, the doser, the grinds retention, the slow speed all seemed to me worth suffering in exchange for good grind quality, bomb-proof build and easy switching from drip to espresso grind and back again. That last need had always ruled out most of the obvious upgrades. Stepless wouldn't work for me.
Then I discovered the Vario. I had big reservations about the build quality, based on their other models. Not that they actually fell to pieces but they felt as if they might. In the end, my machine upgrade(s) forced my hand.
When the Vario arrived, I still had my Ascaso so comparisons are easy. Initial impressions were mixed. I missed the hewn from the solid feel of the Gaggia, the adjustment sliders felt very cheap and the whole effect was flimsy. On first use, the portafilter holder proved worse than useless, with grinds going everywhere. But... the grind itself was wonderful. It took almost no dialing in to begin getting the best results I'd ever had from the Ascaso and they were consistent. Cup after cup after cup. Not one sink job. The timer is phenomenally accurate, to the point where I can't imagine anyone needing the W. Switching grinds couldn't be easier and retention is basically zero. I gave up the unequal struggle with the portafilter holder. The standard catcher is far easier and creates zero mess. Grind then tip it into the portafilter. Easy. In fact, almost everything about this grinder is easy and much easier than on the MDF.
I still don't like the sliders. They lack positive detents to the point where I struggled for a whole day with my Salvatore because I didn't notice that the macro adjuster wasn't on 1 but stuck halfway between 1 and 2. The whole interface between the chute and the portafilter holder needs to be rethought and generally a little more metal and less plastic would be nice. But does it work? Unequivocally. Do I have any regrets? None. Value for money? I don't have hands on experience of more expensive grinders but the price difference between this and the MDF is completely justified.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 979
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Jan 14, 2013, 1:57pm
Subject: Re: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

johnjacques Said:

Value for money? I don't have hands on experience of more expensive grinders but the price difference between this and the MDF is completely justified.

Posted January 10, 2013 link

Consider that it's frequently compared to the Super Jolly and it's definitely a value.  You can't expect Super Jolly build for Vario pricing though.  Even the Mini is quite a bit more.
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johnjacques
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Dec 2012
Posts: 26
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore Famosa / Elektra...
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 1:56pm
Subject: Re: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

Oh, I couldn't agree more. I just wanted to draw a line between perceived wisdom and my personal experience.
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 476
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 9:58pm
Subject: Re: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

This is a great post. How did you come up with dealing with the MDF's doser? that thing drives me mad and i'm thinking about sawing it off, ha. Additionally, i find it very hard to switch between grinds because everything gets stuck in that doser and the chute. I always get some drip grind in my espressos.

Back to topic, I was also contemplating a switch to the Vario or Vario W because I also enjoy pour over and i hear it excels all around. My girlfriend has a bodum bistro but I don't think I could use that for even drip, ha.
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johnjacques
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Dec 2012
Posts: 26
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore Famosa / Elektra...
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Thu Jan 17, 2013, 1:34pm
Subject: Re: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

Thanks! I just dealt with it. Nothing clever and my particular MDF didn't retain too much. When I switched to drip, I didn't bother to flush but switching back to espresso, I ground a few grams to clean it out.
The good thing about the MDFs is the resale market. You'll have no trouble getting rid of yours if you want to upgrade. If you do upgrade to a Vario, you'll be amazed at the differences.
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 476
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Jan 18, 2013, 4:23pm
Subject: Re: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

I'm still trying to decide between the Vario and the preciso. I'm interested in grind product and retention because I only put beans in there that I plan to use right away. Therefore, a lot of the Varios selling points wouldn't be as useful.

I might just saw off the MDF doser. The value of tinkering with something outweighs the resale value, haha.
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,015
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Fri Jan 18, 2013, 4:46pm
Subject: Re: Upgrading from a Gaggia MDF to a Baratza Vario - the experience
 

I use the Preciso adding beans one use at a time, none sit in the hopper.  It works great.  I am sure the Vario does also.  Preciso has little retention, and from what I read, also true of the Vario.  If you have not already seen it, the Preciso review

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

I am happy with the Preciso for the money difference, but think that you get what you pay for.  I leave the Preciso set for espresso and tweak for bean differences.  Both are great values as refurbs from Baratza.com.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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