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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Mazzer mini vs...  
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mennamorato
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Nov 2013
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 10:23am
Subject: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

Hello all and thank you for viewing! I've been planning to purchase a new Rocket Cellini, and need help picking a grinder. My first pick was the Vario, but a local espresso machine guru claims they break constantly. If there are any owners I would appreciate a comment on these grinders. Thanks again!
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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 Fri Dec 13, 2013, 10:36am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

There are a ton of threads on here asking the same question. A quick search for "Vario" will bring up most of the answers you're looking for. In sum, many are happy with their Varios, though they do not have the longevity as other brands such as Mazzer. Baratza has excellent customer service, so they back up their Varios quite well. IMHO, you can't beat the Vario for the grind quality, price point, and overall size. The other grinders you mentioned are excellent entry-level grinders for espresso too. You just need to think through what's important to you.
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mennamorato
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Nov 2013
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 10:47am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

I've seen most of them, I am just worried about the overall reliability. I want a setup that would last 15 years without many problems.
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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 Fri Dec 13, 2013, 10:51am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

If that's the case, you probably don't want to go with the Vario. (And that comes from a very happy Vario owner!)
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mennamorato
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Nov 2013
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 10:53am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

What's the next best option, the Mazzer?
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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 Fri Dec 13, 2013, 10:56am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

I have no experience with any of the others, though based on what I've read here, look for a used Mazzer Super Jolly. It's a step up from all those you mention in terms of grind quality, and if you find it used, it would be at a much lower price point ($350-$500ish).
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mennamorato
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Nov 2013
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 11:00am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

I would if I could, can't find any for sale.
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SpaceTime
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Dec 2013
Posts: 271
Location: Virgo Cluster
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
Grinder: HG One, Pharos, LIDO
Drip: Freiling 33 & 44oz FP,...
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 12:03pm
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

Timely thread, thanks!  

I am going through the exact same analysis, on the exact same grinders - but throw one more in the mix that I am also considering - the Super Jolly (which I see just got mentioned in the thread since I started to pen my reply).  The only thing that throws me  off about the Super Jolly is the sheer size / weight, it is starting to get in the behemoth range and where my wife will start to wince at counter space and appearance.  It is big.  Both the Jolly and Mini have 64mm burrs, but the Jolly is 100W more power, faster, and the burrs produce a "supposed" fluffier, higher quality grind.  (there are different opinions on this of course).  The Jolly 64mm burrs have a different cut / configuration, and are a more aggressive cutter.

But the Super Jolly Doser model in the mid 600's is tempting, less if you look at the auctions.  However, the Doser is a love / hate thing... not everyone likes them.  I am on the fence myself.  There are plenty of debates in the archives for Doser mods on the Jolly to improve them for low volume home use... but still not everyone thinks it is the best route.

Also, you do realize that some Mini owners are putting the Super Jolly 64mm burrs in their Minis (the type A and B) after they purchase (~$40)?  Do note, however, that the Mazzer Mini Doser model (the cheaper one) uses 58mm burrs, and trying to put the 64's in there becomes a science project swapping out carriers, etc and not for the faint of heart.  

The Jolly burrs are a more aggressive cutter, cut your grind time in half supposedly when used on the Mini, and give a more fluffy grind reportedly - and some even dared to say with less clumpiness (all what I have read on this and HB forums in the archives - never tried it).  Also, there are no reports I have seen of the Minis bogging down with the Jolly's more aggressive, faster cutting burrs - there was thought it would be an issue with the 100 less watts in the Mini.  I am not sure what burr swapping will do to your warranty however.... ? ;-)

Anyway, posing these same grinder questions to an experienced Chris Coffee salesperson yielded their opinion that the best bang for the buck is the Compak K3 out of the three you mention.  After my research, asking many questions to many in the know, I would characterize the choice coming down to the Mini Type A or B vs the Compak K3.  (leaving the Jolly out of the equation for now).  Realize the A & B could also run you $300 to $400 more depending on the model you choose... but if you plan on putting the Jolly burrs in there, then some of the sting might come of the price difference due to a better grind.

Some would say that grind quality and what is in the cup does not justify the $400 premium the Mini Type A carries over a K3... some would even say they are neck in neck in grind quality.  (and some have, I am parroting what I have heard from the "experts" I have asked over the last few months.)  But when you throw the Jolly burrs in the mix on a Mini, and maybe then on a used Mini for less... well..... the score might change.

There are others here on CG that have actually used all these grinders, so put their inputs on the proverbial scale as they probably weigh more in the end... but also remember experience or not, a lot of what you still get in the end is opinion!  (data is harder to find than opinion - though it does exist in pockets with objective reviews but they are rare).  Sometimes experience and ownership introduces bias (yes, it's true ;-)) as once you make your own decision, then you spend the rest of your life justifying your choice as the best one!!  

Oh - and why did I not discuss the Vario?  For my needs, I am looking at build quality as one of my top criteria - the Vario does a great grind, is a fine tool with the ceramic burrs and all, but is a lot of plastic and will not IMHO / YMMV hold up as long - and as you stated, you want something to go 15 years.  Same with me.  Also, there is a lot of discussion / experience with "drift" on the Varios... some more than others, and the minority of those who talk about some are pretty disappointed by it.  It is more about consistency and maintaining that consistency once you dial in....

Thanks for reading if you made it this far....
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uscfroadie
Senior Member
uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 394
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP, BDB; owned...
Grinder: Forte, Zass and PeDe hand...
Vac Pot: Nope
Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 12:27pm
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

I'll throw in my $.02 having owned all of those and more with the exception of the K3.

Mini - My first "real" grinder.  Built well, good grind, very slow, and the doser is horrible.  

Sold it when I bought...a Macap M4D (digital doserless).  Built well, good grind quality, much faster than the Mini, no doser, less messy, despite adding the Schnozola to the Mazzer's doser.  Sold it in a package deal with a lever machine.  The buyer had to have that grinder, otherwise I would have probably kept it.  

With that gone I heard all the hoopla about a Super Jolly, so I bought one.  Very similar to the Mini, only the grind was a little better, but the doser was still horrible, and I'm not a fan of Mazzer's collar adjustment, much preferring Macap's worm-drive if you are only using the grinder for espresso.  Sold the SJ within a month (loved it that much!)...

And replaced it with a Vario.  LOVED the Vario and kept it the longest of any grinder I've ever owned.  I had ZERO problems with it over the course of nearly 3 years.  

Bought a Pharos to see if a big conical really was worth all the hype.  Yep, a big conical simply can't be beat for taste in the cup, but the Pharos was a pain to use, so it lasted less than a week in my house.  

Bought a HG One...oh man, that is one awesome grinder!!!!  It addressed everything I disliked about the Pharos - wondering adjustment, bean loading, EMPTYING THE GROUNDS BIN!!!!!  The HG One is over your price point, but man is it sweet, and the cup quality can't be beat by anything.  Still, a manual grinder is not for everyone.  

I have sitting next to it the new Baratza Forte (missed the Vario I sold after getting the HG One), which is a very robust and heavier Vario.  As far as doserless grinders go, it's extremely hard to beat, and street prices are about what you can expect to pay for a new Mazzer Super Jolly.  It's so much nicer to use than the SJ, for me the choice between those two is very easy.

In summary, I've owned a Mini, Macap M4D, Super Jolly, Vario, Pharos, HG One, and Forte, now with just the HG One and the Forte remaining.  The HG One is just an incredible grinder and is built like a tank.  You have to see one to really see the quality....unreal!  The Forte is too new to launch a verdict on just yet, but given my Vario's performance and it's more robust build quality, I expect great things from the little guy...and it's more portable than the HG One.

All grinders you mention will last a long time.  Whether or not you'll want to use them in 15 years is another question all together.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,954
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 12:32pm
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini vs Vario vs Macap M4 vs Compak K3
 

I'm going to make an argument for the Macap M4...in part because I own two of them.  Now, before I do, I have to say that the only thing I'd choose over it from the proposed list (including the Compak k3) is the Super Jolly.

I wouldn't pick the Baratza Vario becasue I have longevity issues with things that are largely plastic.  Having said that, I've read the grind quality is on par with the SJ.

When I selected my first Macap, I was looking at all of the other major players in the Mazzer Mini class, which includes the Compak k3 touch. I read a thorough review of these grinders found on home-barista.com (and it's still available for you to read today).  They all seemed to perform very well and it seemd like the "right" choice boiled down mostly to aesthetics, and how they operate mechanically (not the grind quality produced).  Of course, one doesn't know about which mechanical structure/functiuon they will gravitate towards until they get their hands on them.

I've read a lot of grinder posts over the past several years, including before I signed up here as emradguy. All the while, Mazzer grinders have been considered the gold standard. I can postulate my own hypothesis why that is, but some of the reasons I've read many, many times over are grind quality and mechanical indestructibility.  Seeing as how the grind quality is similar on the Macap M4 (in the eyes of experts), that leaves only the mechanical structure and useability to consider. As an owner of a Macap, I can attest to the fact that these grinders are indestructible. The things are really well-built solid workhorses.  I find the worm-screw adustment to be extremely easy to operate. It doesn't drift one nanometer in any direction...ever.  On the flip side, it is adjustable to the nth degree. I mean, if you can turn the screw only a naometer, that's all it'll move.  The Macap grinders seem to be known for low retention.  I don't single dose, so that's really only important to me in that my "first" shots won't have much stale grinds in them to screw them up.  I have not seen any of the issues others post about Mazzers, like whether or not to remove the static screen.  It's just not an issue for me (maybe that has something to do with my home environment...I don't know? All that aside, perhaps the biggest endorsement I can make is, I liked my first one so much, I bought a second one to handle my decaf beans.  and before anyone asks...no, I don't have any stock in Macap, friends in the company, or any other ties to them, other than having bought two of their M4 grinders.  I only have two negative things to say about my grinders, ok, well three.  First is, the switch on the M4T is a spring wound timer that, even at it's lowest increment setting, is impossible to set and forget and get only a single dose.  Problem solved by rotating it off when you're done dosing. Second is, the rocker switch on the regular M4 is covered by a protective plastic shield which, while keeping grinds out of the mechanism, makes it hard to press the rocker into the on and off positions.  Problem solved by holding on to the grinder with other fingers or the other hand while turning it on. (actually doesn't really affect turning it off much).  Last "negative" is that it doesn't compare to a titan class grinder (though Macap makes those too).

My grinder history is thus: Solis Maestro -> Rancilio Rocky -> Macap M4T + Macap M4 + OE Lido

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