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Help me choose a baratza
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Help me choose a...  
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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,095
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Sat Jan 18, 2014, 4:07pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

A bit of red herring with your coffee?
It's important to realize the degree that all these sites are a marketing and sales mill (and we are all willing unpaid participants....) farming and manufacturing consensus.
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sat Jan 18, 2014, 4:31pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

pilot25 Said:

The compensate the moderators who comment on here frequently.  Especially, in defense of Baratza

Posted January 18, 2014 link

This is a serious accusation from an anonymous member who has only been a member here for one year, and who may not know the long and transparent history this website and I have with Baratza. I believe in full transparency about what we do here at CoffeeGeek, so I'll use this opportunity to write again things I've already written about and made public ad nauseum throughout this site's history, with regards to Baratza.

  • Baratza has been a long time sponsor of the CoffeeGeek website. In fact, they were one of our first paid sponsors, back in early 2002.
  • Baratza has hired me in the past (last time was about 5 years ago) to do consulting work on their grinder projects. I made it very clear in my contracts with them that any paid consulting work would not influence my own ability to be honest and unbiased about their products in reviews.
  • Because Baratza has in the past hired me for consulting (and some photography) work, on every review I've written of their products (and you'll note, on CG there's a few I won't review, because I was involved in those products on consulting, etc) I write a full disclaimer as to my involvement with the company.
  • I have not, and will not review any Baratza product I've had any direct consultation involvement with.
  • Because of the potential for conflict of interest, I have not consulted with Baratza for almost half a decade now.

Now, as to the accusation. at no time have the moderators ever taken any kind of compensation from a sponsor or advertiser, in order to provide bias or favourable content for said sponsor or advertiser. Ever. This accusation makes me sick to read it, but I take solace in the fact that the people making this accusation are only reflecting their own perceptions and realities, not ours - the moderators here, or myself.

In the interest of full and complete transparency, a few years ago, as a Christmas bonus to the hard working moderators here, I negotiated a purchase and shipment of Baratza Vario grinders to them. That was at my expense. Baratza did not donate or gift these grinders. The moderators are 100% volunteer here, deriving zero -- ZERO income from what they do here -- and as the site owner, I try to give them a gift every year or so as a thank you. A few years back, I decided to gift some of them a Baratza grinder because I honestly believe these are the best grinders on the market for their price point, and I've tried literally every grinder on the market between $100 and $600. That was my cost, my expense. In full disclosure, Baratza insisted on paying the shipping, as their own thanks to me and to the moderators, but that, until now, was a secret between me and Baratza - the mods did not know about that. They only knew I'd made arrangements and payment to get them these grinders.

In further transparency, this year I made arrangements with Clive Coffee, Whole Latte Love and Square Mile Roasters to provide Christmas bonuses to the moderators for all the amazing work they do here, especially with the complete elimination of spam. Again, I paid for those things, Clive, WLL, and SQ did not, other than help me facilitate the offerings.

One last thought on Baratza; you'll find, and if you talk to the owners they'll be the first to say this, some of the most critical reviews of their products have come from me. Because of my past involvement with them financially, I feel enormous pressure to be as honest and as critical as possible of their products on the products' failings or bad points. It's probably fair to say that their past hiring of me as a consultant on grinder design has not helped them get favourable reviews, but caused the reviews to be even more critical and "pull no punches".

If you, or anyone here on the website thinks that their sponsorship has bought them favours in our forums, or with our moderators, again, I'll reiterate: you are reflecting your own values and ways in life, not mine or those of my moderators.

Mark Prince.

 
CoffeeGeek Senior Editor
www.twitter.com/coffeegeek www.flickr.com/coffeegeek, www.instagram.com/coffeegeek (you get the picture)
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z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 374
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sat Jan 18, 2014, 4:57pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

Thanks for clearing that up, Mark.. While I found the comment unsubstantiated I think it was great that someone spoke up about it.   Such unsubstantiated comments can really hurt a business. I've found Coffeegeek.com to be a great resource over the last several months delving into the world of coffee.

A Baratza Forte will be arriving at my step soon.  I was duly impressed by the improvements they've made and I look forward impressions of fellow users.  I may do a review once I've had enough time with it.   So far there aren't too many people who own one yet.. Maybe their price point is "reaching"... But as long as the build quality matches, I don't expect to be disappointed.
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sat Jan 18, 2014, 5:06pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

z0mbie Said:

Thanks for clearing that up, Mark.. While I found the comment unsubstantiated I think it was great that someone spoke up about it.   Such unsubstantiated comments can really hurt a business. I've found Coffeegeek.com to be a great resource over the last several months delving into the world of coffee.

Posted January 18, 2014 link

Thanks for the kind words!

I know it's very easy these days to think that, because a product or service gets favourable comment from a website author, owner, moderator, that somehow, those good words have been paid for. In this era of sponsored posts (we don't do that), limiting reviews to sponsors only (we don't do that), writing about only sponsors' events, offers, etc (again, we don't do that) on many web sites, it's easy to be cynical, I suppose.

I've always been extremely wary of this accusation; so much so that I'm very clear with all our current and past sponsors that their advertisements on CoffeeGeek do not in any way garner them any kind of special treatment in our forums. and I can tell you that I've lost a lot of revenue from this website because of that stance, with past sponsors who expected favourable treatment, or expecting to not follow our forum rules, finding out the reality (they're as bound to our forum rules as any business is) and revoking their sponsorship of CoffeeGeek because of this.

Because of that and many other factors that go into trying to make this website as unbiased as possible, I'll admit it stings when someone like Pilot makes an ad hominem accusation like he did.

Mark

 
CoffeeGeek Senior Editor
www.twitter.com/coffeegeek www.flickr.com/coffeegeek, www.instagram.com/coffeegeek (you get the picture)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,149
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 Jan 19, 2014, 6:03am
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

Mark,

That was a very, very thorough explanation of reality and, if you don't mind me saying so, rather above and beyond your obligation to the membership. I do understand that we constantly have new members joining, so I can see why you want to make it clear to the newbies that this site is on the up and up.  I'm impressed by how much detail you included in your explanation.  As you pointed out, the "opinion" you responded to merely reflects that person's experiences, not what really goes on in CG. Those of us who've been around a while know how honest and forthcoming you and the mods are - and have always been. The post in question also reflects his/her naivety in regards to espresso gear - particularly grinders. Those of us who've been around here a while (and other coffee enthusiast sites...or even elsewhere deep into the world of quality coffee preparation) also have a pretty good understanding (some more than others) of the range of gear out there on the market. So, we know when someone is (excuse the expression please) talking "out their @$$" or not. As always, I appreciate the high quality your mods contribute to this board and the extensive service they offer your members, particularly the behind the scenes activities they perform routinely. They are a fantastic group of individuals!

Ron

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Whitcoatsyndrom
Senior Member
Whitcoatsyndrom
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 178
Location: Roanoke, VA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco-OCS 12
Roaster: HG/BM
Posted Sun Jan 19, 2014, 10:50pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

The strong beliefs you and the mod team have in regard to CG's honest and ethical approach to information is why this site (almost) alone is where I get all information.  The information here is so valuable that I've been able to develop a moderate amount of espresso knowledge (much about equipment I don't even own...yet) without having to search multiple sources.  When I'm stressed or having a crappy day...CG helpe me relax...pulling a shot does too.  I'll never let a few naysayers that don't know what they are actually naysay-ing put a damper on this party.  Just my thanks for the wonderful world of coffee you've given me.

As far as this thread goes...The Vario is a great piece of equipment.  I've had it a few months and have been nothing but thrilled.  Just be careful with making adjustments while the burs are not moving (its a no no).  Just turn it on, make your adjustment, and turn it off...much easier if you are single dosing, which is a great thing to do anyway.  If you want to beef up the machine, go for the Forte portaholder add-on.  I got it for X-mas and the grinder is now quite heavy and does not look plasticy.  Also, no more dosing funnel needed.  

I'm a happy camper, thanks CG!
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 12:01am
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

Thanks for you kind words Ron and Brett!

Ron brings up something important about the Baratza grinders that Kyle Anderson has told me about often: these grinders are, by the nature of their super-fine adjustments, very susceptible to having minor problems occur if you try to adjust the grind when there is a) coffee in the hopper, b) the grinder isn't running.

We've all done this... maybe we think hey, I'm only moving it one click finer, it won't be a problem. But because of the microns-level adjustment of the Vario, the Preciso and other grinders from Baratza, it *is* a problem and can screw up the adjustment of the grinder; in some cases resulting in the requiring of an adjustment with the hex wrench thingie underneath the control area, and in more rare cases, requiring a swap out of the entire grind adjustment mechanism.

Kyle will never say this (and he hasn't said it to me) but I'll say it - probably 75% of the problems any Baratza grinder has is user error. User error. By adjusting the grinder when it's not running, or not maintaining the grinder properly. These are high precision instruments, and we treat them like a Braun blade whirleybird grinder. These grinders are otherwise pretty bullet proof, and if problems do arise, the company stands behind it with the best customer service in the specialty coffee industry. Even the complainant in this thread said himself that he's had long talks and fix-it walk thrus with the grinder's designer (and co-owner of Baratza, who is Kyle Anderson) and it's clear that they did everything they could to make him happy with the product. But some people are just never happy. And maybe a few people aren't willing to accept that their own failure to RTFM and follow the manual lead to the product's problems, not the product itself.

Mark

 
CoffeeGeek Senior Editor
www.twitter.com/coffeegeek www.flickr.com/coffeegeek, www.instagram.com/coffeegeek (you get the picture)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,149
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 Mon Jan 20, 2014, 2:08pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

MarkPrince Said:

Thanks for you kind words Ron and Brett!

Posted January 20, 2014 link

You are quite welcome sir!

MarkPrince Said:

Ron brings up something important about the Baratza grinders….

Posted January 20, 2014 link

One simple correction…Brett brought up that point ;)

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


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,310
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Jan 21, 2014, 11:05am
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

MarkPrince Said:

Ron brings up something important about the Baratza grinders that Kyle Anderson has told me about often: these grinders are, by the nature of their super-fine adjustments, very susceptible to having minor problems occur if you try to adjust the grind when there is a) coffee in the hopper, b) the grinder isn't running... Probably 75% of the problems any Baratza grinder has is user error. User error. By adjusting the grinder when it's not running, or not maintaining the grinder properly. These are high precision instruments, and we treat them like a Braun blade whirleybird grinder... And maybe a few people aren't willing to accept that their own failure to RTFM and follow the manual lead to the product's problems, not the product itself.

Posted January 20, 2014 link

 
That's one way of looking at it.  Another is deeming the failure to consider and design for real world use as a design flaw.  Toddler toys should be built toddler tough.

Baratza publishes a 3% failure rate per year for Vario plastic adjustment arms alone -- and that's a lot.  

The Preciso and Vario are excellent grinders which outperform their respective price ranges in many ways. But the construction changes which morphed the Vario into the Forte are an implicit acknowledgement by Baratza that their older, less expensive designs lack durability.  

BDL
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moosepucky
Senior Member
moosepucky
Joined: 6 Jun 2009
Posts: 154
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Grinder: Super Jolly - Forte BG -...
Vac Pot: Cona - Santos
Drip: Bodum - Chemex - Hario -...
Roaster: Hottop KN-8828-B
Posted Tue Jan 21, 2014, 11:36am
Subject: Re: Help me choose a baratza
 

boar_d_laze Said:

.......  the construction changes which morphed the Vario into the Forte are an implicit acknowledgement by Baratza that their older, less expensive designs lack durability.  

Posted January 21, 2014 link

I see the introduction of the Forte as a move into another market segment.  Home user and commercial market.

If the Forte were a replacement for the Vario, the Vario grinder would no longer be available or updated.

Not everyone wants a tank on their kitchen counter if they only brew coffee once a day.  Not everyone who drinks coffee is as fanatical as we are (well me anyway).

If used properly their products should last a lifetime.

I've never had a failure on any of the Baratza grinders I have owned and I have purchased their products for a log time (going back to the introduction of the Maestro grinder).  So far I have owned 5 of their products over the years.

Granted I've rebuilt the gearboxes on the older models I owned but this was not because of a failure but because an update was available that increased the reliability and cut down on the noise the grinder made.

I have replaced the plastic grind adjustment mech in the Preciso I purchased as a used grinder but that was not because it needed to be replaced but because I wanted to go back to factory specs when I replaced the burr set in it ( I doubt it needed the burrs replaced but hey.. why not...  No history with a used grinder and now it is basically new again). Grinder was already apart so no big to use a new part instead of putting in the old (possibly worn) part.

I should say: I do not work for them nor do I get any gratuities from them.  I just enjoy using their products as they do what they are designed to do with little muss or fuss.
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