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My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
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hjkelly
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Jan 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Raleigh, NC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 11:25am
Subject: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

I got a Delonghi EC155 in December, and I've modded it a fair amount, but I'm still using a Capresso Infinity from my drip days! Been saving up for a Vario for three months, and the time has come to pull the trigger...

And then I saw the Orphan Espresso Pharos this morning, and now I'm having to revisit things. :)

I'm frugal, my wife even more so, plus she's not a coffee geek. $250 feels much better than the Vario's $450, but I sort of only have one shot at this. For someone who only makes one or two double shots a day, and occasionally has 1-2 people over, is the Pharos less than practical?

I know this is subjective, and ultimately it'll have been my decision, but I'd like to hear from some other Pharos owners: does it ever get bothersome? If you could only buy one grinder in the next five years, which would it be?

 
-Harrison
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rsinger
Senior Member
rsinger
Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 188
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: OE Pharos - #136!!  ;)
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 11:38am
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

Hi HJ!

I've had both an electric (Rancilio Rocky) and now the Pharos, and can offer a bit of advice.  I also generally make two espresso drinks per day, and rarely, but on occasion, make drinks for guests too.  In my mind, the grind quality, consistency, and reliability of the Pharos are  exceptional.  Additionally, although you can only grind enough coffee for one double shot at a time, the grind time is less than 30 seconds.  So on a daily basis, making a one double in the morning, and one at the end of the day, it is very functional, and is a great grinder.

Having said that, it does take a lot more effort that any electric grinder!  Even without comparing the attributes of respective grind quality, any electric grinder is a lot easerier to use, especially when considering making successive drinks for guests.  (I even invited guests to "grind their own" one time, just because of the time-effort factor! :)

Don't get me wrong, I love the Pharos, and coupled with the Bezzera Strega I have, the espresso is phenomenal (especially using Panther Coffee's SO's).  But it does take some work.  The lighter the roast, generally the more effort involved in manual grinding.

Lastly, if you decide to go with the Pharos, I added a number of the "Voodoodaddy" mods, which if you can still get them are well worth it.  If you go that route, let me know and I'll advise you.

Best,

Rick

 
New Bezzera Strega
OE Pharos: #136!!
Silvia's a virgin.....  again! (and sold)
Brasilia Cappuccino Del-1 Hx (sold too)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/66189160@N04/sets/72157628015297112/show/
http://espressoproject.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html
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jamierayo
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 111
Location: Alaska
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville DB, Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Mini E,...
Drip: Aeropress, Kalita Wave
Roaster: iRoast2, Behmor
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 1:42pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

Have you considered buying a used grinder?
The Rancilio Rocky can be had for $200-$250.
There's one in the BST forum for $240, including shipping, and they are a regular item on eBay.

I'm not saying it's a better grinder than the Pharos, but if you would rather have electric, the Rocky is more than capable for Espresso.

The Rocky was a top notch home grinder for years, before being eclipsed by the Baratza. It's still a great grinder, and unlike the Vario, it can be found relatively cheap for a used one.
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hjkelly
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Jan 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Raleigh, NC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 2:41pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

Rick, thanks for the perspective. It sounds like you're doing alright with the Pharos. I'm not worried about the elbow grease or even some of the idiosyncrasies of the grinder. It's that I'd avoid making a latte in the morning, or not offer one to a friend, because of the extra trouble.

Jamie, in my heart I actually preferred the Rocky to the Vario (proven durability, and it's just so... pretty). That's a good reminder, though. I admit I don't have the most discerning tongue... do you think I'd be left wanting with the Rocky?

 
-Harrison
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,166
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 2:49pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

I wouldn't ever buy a Rocky again, or recommend one. Steps are too wide making you have to compensate by adjusting dose weight...so, yeah, in my experience it'll leave you wanting more.

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


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 111
Location: Alaska
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville DB, Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Mini E,...
Drip: Aeropress, Kalita Wave
Roaster: iRoast2, Behmor
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 3:19pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

I upgraded my Rocky to Mazzer Mini E. The Mazzer is a huge improvement. I still think Rocky is a good grinder, & I don't think you'd be left wanting.

Is Rocky the best choice in the $400 price range?
I don't think so.

Is Rocky the best (electric) choice in the $250 price range?
Perhaps

If you were to buy a Rocky, your grinder would far outclass your current espresso machine. Considering what you're using now for a grinder, I think you'd be quite happy with the Rocky.
Like most of us who have upgraded from Rocky, you may outgrow it in a few years & then you will be left wanting. The nice thing about the Rocky is, as long as you took good care of it, it could likely be sold for just what you paid for it.

I never tried it, but there are some stepless mods for Rocky to consider as well.
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rsinger
Senior Member
rsinger
Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 188
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: OE Pharos - #136!!  ;)
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 6:34pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

BTW HJ:

When I had my Rocky I did do the stepless mod and a re-wiring mod of the main switch to allow a "constant on" so that I didn't have to hold the momentary switch in.  Both mods were easy to do (search Coffeegeek) and they increased Rocky's versatility.

Having said that, it's hard to beat the grind quality of the Pharos, and I never forgo an espresso or latte in the morning (or afternoon) because it's too much effort.  I just don't enjoy grinding for 3 or 4 drinks at one time, especially if I'm using lightly roasted beans :)


Best,

Rick

 
New Bezzera Strega
OE Pharos: #136!!
Silvia's a virgin.....  again! (and sold)
Brasilia Cappuccino Del-1 Hx (sold too)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/66189160@N04/sets/72157628015297112/show/
http://espressoproject.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html
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Prof
Senior Member
Prof
Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 715
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: PV Lusso
Grinder: Pharos 696
Drip: Aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 8:39pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

The Pharos is magic to how it makes most all beans smooth and full-bodied.  

Think of it as an over-$1k electric grinder quality done by hand for $250.

 
LMWDP # 010
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jamierayo
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 111
Location: Alaska
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville DB, Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Mini E,...
Drip: Aeropress, Kalita Wave
Roaster: iRoast2, Behmor
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 9:44pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

Prof Said:

The Pharos is magic to how it makes most all beans smooth and full-bodied.  

Think of it as an over-$1k electric grinder quality done by hand for $250.

Posted April 14, 2013 link

Well, I'm certainly not trying to talk anyone out of the Pharos. I'll likely buy one myself in the future. I highly doubt, however, that it will be taking the place of my Mazzer. I just don't think I'll want to crank that much :-0

The OP seemed to want the Baratza Vario over the Pharos, but just didn't want to spend that much. If that's the case, I still think a used Rocky would be a great alternative.
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dspear99ca
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Jan 2013
Posts: 93
Location: BC, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Coffee
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Sun Apr 14, 2013, 10:51pm
Subject: Re: My first espresso-suitable grinder purchase: Vario vs. Pharos?
 

It takes me longer than 30s to grind a doubleshot worth of beans in my Mazzer Mini doser. 10s to grind then at least 30s to click the paddle 6 times, clean out the chute with a knife, brush off the top of the doser paddle wheel, then a dozen more clicks to fully clear the doser.  If I know I'll be making multiple drinks I can grind it all at once which helps but it's still slow. If 30s of effort would really make you not offer a coffee drink to a guest, buy the Vario.  It's fast and hassle-free, almost no grounds retension or mess. An added bonus is that it's so dead simple to operate that your wife might actually use it.

Just my 2 cents but both the Vario and the Pharos are better grinders than the Rocky.
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