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grinder in the 300-400$ range
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patou
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Nov 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 5:26am
Subject: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

I'm looking for a solid and trouble free grinder around 300$. I know, I know that's asking for a lot! I only need it for espresso, I have an Oscar Simonelli. I won't use it for other type of coffee.

I did look into the Vario from Baratza, but read many negative comments about it. Went to look at the Avanti Verona, at the "Espresso Mali" store in Montreal, but since it's a home label  I'm not sure because I couldn't find reviews on it. I'm also looking at the Rancillo Rocky (with or without the doser) for the comments on its solidity and durability.

I wonder about the Breville smart grinder, but afraid of the quality and grinding capacity for espresso

I'd appreciate your comments and suggestions.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,375
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 5:55am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

Vario is far far above all those you mentioned for espresso grinding quality. Some of the earlier runs had issues, a friends did, but they've updated them since. I know two owners both just over 2 years old no issues. I've got a Preciso. Rocky is built like a tank but that's pointless since it's espresso grinding and consistency will make you frustrated and bang your head against a wall and its high retention ;p , I used a modded stepless one and still didn't care for it (one of the guys mentioned above owned it and sold it for a Vario, way happier with the Vario). What issues did you read about? Baratza service is second to none, even if you do end up having some trouble they'll fix it fast.

Vario can't be beat for the money, if you want that same grind quality but want the built to last a lifetime build... your gonna have to find a used Super Jolley, or Compaq K6 etc in that price range.
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patou
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Nov 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 6:53am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

I've read many owners who had problem and had to return it. If this is frequent then there has to be problems regularly experienced by owners. Even if they do replaced them. But frankly I've read negative comments about every grinders... Just trying to get the best one and the most reliable.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,257
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 Mar 25, 2014, 7:24am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

The Rocky is inadequate for espresso. It was never a good grinder, but years ago it was good bang for the buck.  It's still not a good grinder, but it's expensive compared to the competition.  That it doesn't break easily doesn't seem to be much of a virtue considering its inadequacy for your purpose.  

The Baratza Preciso is adequate (adequate is better than inadequate, but not as good as good) for espresso.  It's a well-designed, easy to use grinder with, and over achieving burr set and all sorts of user friendly features and characteristics (neat, low retention, etc.).  But without a doubt, it's both plasticky and slightly flimsy.  

I understand (never used it myself) the LeLit PL53 is better built than and grinds about as well as the Preciso.  But also understand that it is nowhere nearly as friendly as the Preciso and is quite noisy to boot.  

The Baratza Vario is good for espresso, but also plasticky and slightly flimsy.  It is extremely friendly, one of the most user-friendly grinders on the market at any price.  There are no competitors at its price which grind as well or are as easy to use.  The Vario is huge bang for the buck.

If you want a better built grinder in the same performance league as the Vario you're looking at around $600 and up.  Baratza itself makes one; the Forte -- which is really just a better built Vario -- sells it for around $800, and it's well worth it.  

With either the Preciso or the Vario you run a greater risk of the grinder breaking, even if it's the latest model and even if you do everything just right, than if you buy an all-metal, more simply built machine.  However, they're both a lot of bang for the buck; the Vario especially.  When you consider either the Preciso or Vario, don't forget the excellence of Baratza service and  support.  That's not an endorsement -- just a reminder to factor ALL the trade-offs.  

Did I mention the Vario was big bang for the buck?

If you want a very good grinder which really does it all, you're looking at a machines which are too large for most kitchens and costs $600 or more.  Way more if you demand espresso excellence, great "use" characteristics, and walk-up convenience.  I'm sorry quality costs so much, but that's the way it is.

Rich
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Dave_E
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Mar 2014
Posts: 17
Location: Edmonton, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini
Grinder: Compak k3
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 8:36am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

Spend the extra couple of hundred dollars and get the Mazzer Mini or the Compac 3.  Either one will give the consistent grind you want and get the flavour we all savour.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 976
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 10:03am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

patou Said:

I did look into the Vario from Baratza, but read many negative comments about it.

Posted March 25, 2014 link

If you avoid all products with negative comments you'll end up buying nothing.  Vario really is the best bet in your price range.  You'll have to compromise somewhere.  If you want better build then you'll need to move up the pricing spectrum to something like the Forte or the Super Jolly.

patou Said:

I'm also looking at the Rancillo Rocky (with or without the doser) for the comments on its solidity and durability.

Posted March 25, 2014 link

Drop the Rocky.  Covered in countless recent threads that mention it.  Solidity and durability are gravy but what's in the cup is really what matters and the Rocky can't deliver there.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,375
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 10:17am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

Dave_E Said:

Spend the extra couple of hundred dollars and get the Mazzer Mini or the Compac 3.  Either one will give the consistent grind you want and get the flavour we all savour.

Posted March 25, 2014 link

Except the Vario outperforms the K3 and Mini class etc. I had the Vario and Mini side by side and with a Super Jolley too. Was equal to the SJ and quite noticeably better than the Mini in the cup and didn't have the Minis quirks or clumping or retention. Owners of the K3 and M4 that have owned/tested both said the Vario was better grinding as well. Doesn't have that tank like build, true, but all I care about is taste in cup. You want that taste with metal build quality you gotta go SJ, K6, or Forte as BDL point out for the money.
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patou
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Nov 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 10:56am
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

You have all been very helpfull with your comments, for that I thank you all very much. Guess I go for the Vario!
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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 Mar 25, 2014, 1:04pm
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

patou Said:

You have all been very helpfull with your comments, for that I thank you all very much. Guess I go for the Vario!

Posted March 25, 2014 link

Most but not all of the failures with the Vario models is user error and typically changing the grinder settings without the grinder running.

That is pretty much a "should not do" for any grinder but with the Baratza grinders it is especially important as they do use a fair amount of plastic parts internal that can crack and/or break if you try to force the setting down on the burrs with beans in them and beans are ALWAYS in the burrs

SO....

To make a grind setting change. Start the grinder with your had on the fine adjuster and move it ONLY when the grinder is running.

If you do this you should not have a break down outside of the normal wear and tear that all grinders experience.

I had a Vario-W for almost a year.  Nice espresso grinder.  Never had any issues with it until I decided to make it a brew grinder by replacing the ceramic burrs with steel ones. Then all h#!! broke loose and I now have a Forte-BG along with a Preciso/Esatto for pour over grinding and a SJ for espresso.
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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 373
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 2:43pm
Subject: Re: grinder in the 300-400$ range
 

I've got the regular Vario, and I've been pretty happy with it.  I use it for a NS Oscar & La Pavoni lever espresso machines.  (Macro setting is 2 & 4 respectively)  I do have to change grinds every day, switching to La Pavoni during the day and Oscar in the morning.  As long as I make the adjustments with the grinder running, make it at least 1 notch finer on the micro setting and then back off to the setting I really want I've had little trouble.  I do have the adjustment shims in place, and that was a really easy mod.

So far this grinder has been running well for nearly 1 year, so I'm very happy with it, the quick dial in capability, and repeatable settings.  (I rarely sink a shot due to the grind being off if I jot down the settings before changing over to another grind.)  It should serve you well.  It's made with lots of plastic, so when adjusting coarse or fine running the motor seems to take the stress off of some of the parts and lock in a better grind.  Overall low retention too, which is critical for my needs.

That being said...  Of course I still want an upgrade to a titan class!  I don't really need the upgrade, but would love a titan class bargain.
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