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jcfiend
Senior Member


Joined: 10 May 2013
Posts: 13
Location: texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Fri May 10, 2013, 7:46pm
Subject: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

Just bought a new Vario (not the "W" type) after some endless research and after more endless tinkering with amounts, brew temps, times, adjustments to the machine and even a new part from Baratza, the press pot coffee is marginal at best.  The machine will not grind course enough.  The suggested grinds from 3 local shops (all coffee roasted within 4 days of purchase) are all much courser than the most course setting on the Vario, and it's product is very close to drip grind.  I've actually had the coffee ground at purchase, taken it home and made a GREAT cup of pp, but as most know, ground coffee dies quick.  The Vario will only produce marginal to bad coffee from the same beans.  I've tweaked the grinder in every way possible.  Short of getting the newer burrs, which will not do espresso well, nothing is working.

I do both espresso and press pot and need a grinder to do both WELL, if there is such an animal.  I passed on the Mazzer mini after seeing that the Vario could match it head to head for espresso grind and, supposedly, still do pp.  Yeah, not so much.  

Any suggestions?  More than willing to fork over cash for a Mazzer, but it MUST be capable of pp.  Love my espresso shot, but often have to serve guests the pp.  

Budget: under $1000.  Plenty of used Mazzers around here for less.  Stepless is OK.  

Thanks in advance -
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johnboddie
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 207
Location: Virginia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL, Brasilia Mini Classic,...
Grinder: Rossi RR45a,Rocky,...
Drip: Cuisinart (non-grinding)
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat May 11, 2013, 5:50am
Subject: Re: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

Do space restrictions rule out having two grinders?

If not, you could keep your Baratza dialed in for espresso and pick up something like a Kitchen-Aid Pro (which will grind coarse) for less money than you'd spend on a new high-end grinder.
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Skylar
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Apr 2004
Posts: 137
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: lelit espresso
Grinder: lelit grinder
Vac Pot: B. D. Electric
Drip: chemex
Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Sat May 11, 2013, 6:49am
Subject: Re: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

The Mazzers are really espresso grinders as I understand it, so I am not at all sure attempting to use it for with French press and espresso will satisfy you. Please understand this is the sense I get from reading here for a number of years. Not from direct experience. I have a dedicated espresso grinder and folks here love their Varios. I too, use another grinder for alternative grinding (a kitchen aide pro) for chemex. Actually, since unlike a coarse mesh screen the blessed chemex filter deals with the excessive fines from my kitchen aid. I, cannot, in truth recommend the Kitchen Aid, for French press. Perhaps someone else has hands on experience with a grinder that is not overly costly and will do a proper French press grind.

Skylar
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tglodjo
Senior Member
tglodjo
Joined: 16 Oct 2012
Posts: 209
Location: Jackson, TN
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Virtuoso
Drip: Wave, V60, Chemex, Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat May 11, 2013, 7:43am
Subject: Re: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

From all my research, I found that the Vario was one of the only machines that could do great expresso and still grind for other brew methods. It does. Unfortunately, if you have it calibrated for espresso, the coarse setting won't be coarse enough for french press. You can calibrate it for french press, but then it won't grind great for espresso. It sucks. I was let down. However, I'm still glad I can easily move between espresso and a good medium grind for V60, Chemex, and Aeropress. If my budget looked like yours, I would do one of two things:

  1. Keep the Vario for espresso, and buy another burr from Baratza (e.g. the Encore, Virtuoso, or Preciso) for french press. You'd also waste less coffee since you wouldn't have to purge the Vario after changing settings.

  2. Get the Ditting burrs for the Vario and use for french press, and find a good used Mazzer or other similar grinder for espresso.

If you paid $450 for the Vario, these options would only put you out another $300-$350, keeping you well under your budget.

I completely understand the desire to have one grinder to cover both ends of the spectrum for you, and just like you, I hoped the Vario would do that. Unfortunately, it still requires a compromise on one end of the grind settings. I know of no other grinder that has the broad range it does, though.
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jcfiend
Senior Member


Joined: 10 May 2013
Posts: 13
Location: texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sat May 11, 2013, 12:09pm
Subject: Re: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

Good posts all, and thanks much.  My Vario is set up for as course a grind as possible, but still falls way short on my favorite roasts.  I did find that grinding somewhat finer than the coursest setting improved the flavor a bit, but nothing close to the potential of the beans.  Still very flat and often a bit sour.  Maybe a chemex is a good compromise, though coffee is one thing upon which I detest compromise.  

I guess I'll be looking for a dedicated course grinder.  

I'm beginning to feel as if I'd bought a boat -
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tglodjo
Senior Member
tglodjo
Joined: 16 Oct 2012
Posts: 209
Location: Jackson, TN
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Virtuoso
Drip: Wave, V60, Chemex, Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat May 11, 2013, 9:29pm
Subject: Re: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

There are two ways to calibrate the Vario. The first, and easiest, is to just turn the allen head screw near the shute tighter or looser. The second a little harder, referred to as primary calibration (see Click Here (www.baratza.com)). You take off the rubber grommet and slide an allen screw back and forth. If you do the second one, you should be able to get it too coarse. However, with the ceramic burrs it'll still produce more fines that you want to see. I have, however, used a Vario with the Ditting burrs and it easily ground the coffee too coarse for pp (it was road gravel!), but it was consistent.

Also, I'd recommend giving Baratza a call and talk to them about it. They provide top-notch customer support.
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jcfiend
Senior Member


Joined: 10 May 2013
Posts: 13
Location: texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon May 13, 2013, 7:38am
Subject: Re: Grinder for press pot and espresso
 

I did all the above before the first post, including having a conversation with Baratza.  Even replaced the upper carrier at their suggestion.  The Vario does not appear to be capable of the coarser (yes, the corrected spelling - I really need that cup of good press pot coffee!) grind needed for a good pp, as it cannot approach the grind recommended by the shops roasting/selling the stuff.  

I will be buying another grinder.
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