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Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Espresso Quality...  
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,256
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 Fri Apr 18, 2014, 10:17am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

toyman Said:

I upgraded my espresso machine recently from a Gaggia Classic to an Expobar Office Lever Plus

Posted April 18, 2014 link

Nice!  Welcome to the worlds of right temperature and pre-infusion.

(I've) been kicking around upgrading my Preciso as well.

Good idea!  The Expobar can "play back up" to a much better grinder than the Preciso.

A good bit of what I have found says the Preciso is up there (in the cup) with the other 'pro-sumer?' grinders (vario, K3, Macap, etc).

Not that it matters much, but just by way of orientation, that group is a lot more consumer than professional.  If a specialty coffee shop grinds your espresso in a K3, remember an appointment, leave a tip, and run away.

More to the point, the Preciso doesn't compete well with the others on your list.  Whoever says it's "up there (in the cup)" is mistaken -- possibly a result of owner bias.  The Preciso's limitations are partly burr size, partly motor, partly adjustment range, partly slop and slippage, and partly a bunch of stuff I neither know about nor would understand if someone told me.  It's user friendly as all get out, but bottom line, it's "adequate" in use and in the cup.  No better.

My two main considerations were the Compak K3 and the Vario as upgrades.  The wife, who doesn't drink coffee, likes the looks of the K3 over the Vario, but I like the low retention and ease of single dose use of the Baratza machines.

Remind me.  Which of you two doesn't drink coffee?  Who makes it?

Reading the endless info on the Vario, makes it out to be at the top (in the cup) of the pre-titan machines with lots of features at a good price, but without the build quality of the competition.

Unless you've defined "pre-titan" in the most favorable way possible to the Vario, there's a lot of "maybe" and "arguable" in the "in the cup" evaluation remark.  

Build quality is as build quality does.  The Vario may be less robust than a K3, but we're talking about probabilities not certainties.  An anonymous Vario may be more likely to break than an anonymous K3, but -- while it means you take a larger risk with a Vario than a K3 -- it doesn't mean YOUR Vario will ever be a problem.  

Pardon the quibbling, just trying to bring some honesty, specifics, and sophistication to the analysis.  What sounds like disagreement isn't.  We agree, the Vario's plastic build quality rightly gives one pause, and it's a lot of quality in the cup for very little money.  

IMO, the Vario is a "good" grinder.  It's not a "very good" grinder (in the M80/SJ/E7 class, and certainly not an "excellent grinder" (in the Cimbali Junior Max Hybrid/E37s/Mazzer Major class).  But "good" is a helluva lot better than "adequate," and the Preciso -- if that's the competition -- is merely "adequate."  

I actually considered keeping a load of cash in my pocket and dropping <$200 on a Virtuoso refurb with Preciso burrs for drip & press coffee, and dedicating the Preciso for espresso.

And end up with duller espresso, a great deal more difficult to dial in and considerably less consistent.  Your money, your priorities, your call.

Rich
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,867
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Fri Apr 18, 2014, 2:40pm
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

toyman Said:

I actually considered keeping a load of cash in my pocket and dropping <$200 on a Virtuoso refurb with Preciso burrs for drip & press coffee, and dedicating the Preciso for espresso.

Posted April 18, 2014 link

boar_d_laze Said:

And end up with duller espresso, a great deal more difficult to dial in and considerably less consistent.  Your money, your priorities, your call.

Rich

Posted April 18, 2014 link

I think you read this wrong Rich - the Preciso adjustment setting would be left alone in the espresso range while the refurb Virtuoso 586 (Viruoso w/Preciso burrs) would handle the coarser grinding duties. This would make dialing in for espresso easier and more consistent with the Preciso.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,256
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 Fri Apr 18, 2014, 4:26pm
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

EricBNC Said:

I think you read this wrong Rich - the Preciso adjustment setting would be left alone in the espresso range while the refurb Virtuoso 586 (Viruoso w/Preciso burrs) would handle the coarser grinding duties. This would make dialing in for espresso easier and more consistent with the Preciso.

Posted April 18, 2014 link

Hi Eric,

Sorry for the confusion, my answer could been clearer.  But no, I read it correctly.

All grinders require dialing in from jump street every time the beans are changed.  

Most grinders need at least some adjustment as the beans age.  Inexpensive grinders with small burrs typically need a great deal more adjustment than expensive grinders with large burrs.  To be specific, the Preciso needs FREQUENT adjustment.

Even used espresso only, and with minimal adjustment, Preciso burrs are subject to slip and slop.  

It all depends on the user's tolerance is for a grinder which is less than optimally adjusted and how much (s)he's willing to compensate for a sub-optimal grind by allowing for a great deal of variance in pull time -- and to further compromise on quality in the cup resulting from screwing around with flow rate.  

I can't tell you what someone will or won't find "good enough."  The best I can do is explain what's necessary to get the most out of beans and equipment while being clear about my own standards.

Using a Preciso for "espresso only" instead of as an "all purpose" grinder may not be as bad; but that doesn't make the Preciso good for espresso.  Even at optimal grind adjustment (which requires as much luck as skill with a Preciso and won't happen consistently), the best a Preciso can be is adequate.  

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER

Rich
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toyman
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2012
Posts: 49
Location: PA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever Plus,...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Sat Apr 19, 2014, 4:32am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

So, BDL, In your opinion, if I don't want to drop Titan $, single dose, and want low grind retention, what do I buy?   Vario or?
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,256
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 Sat Apr 19, 2014, 7:35am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

toyman Said:

So, BDL, In your opinion, if I don't want to drop Titan $, single dose, and want low grind retention, what do I buy?   Vario or?

Posted April 19, 2014 link

The Vario is huge bang for the buck for so many different "in the cup" and "in use" factors.  VERY low grind retention.

Hugely better build quality, plus I think  you do a little better n the cup (Vario fans disagree) at the Ceado E7/Mazzer Super Jolly/Quamar M80 level.  The Macap M4 is somewhere in there, too.  

The Mazzer SJ is good enough to belong on just about any list.  Most of its retention issues, such as they are, are in the doser and are easily resolved with the CBS (calblacksmith) mods -- which are very inexpensive and easy to perform.  

The Quamar is affordable but it's noisy; and its lousy doser makes it something of a pig.  You might be able to afford a Quamar M80e which gets rid of the crappy Fiorenzato doser and its retention issues in favor of some perfectly good electronics (not as nice as the Vario's though) at a very reasonable price; but is still noisy.  

If you can afford the money and the space, I like the E7 Timer as best value in the group, even though it's the most expsnsive, for its ease of use (less than the Vario), touch, build quality, clen sweeping doser, and adjustment scheme.  As I said, it's a matter of where you place your priorities.  But the E7 Timer is something like $350 more than the Vario and is big enough -- as are the other machines in this class -- to pose size problems in many kitchens.

The Forte, for about twice the price of the Vario, is the Vario perfected.  Excellent build quality, better electronics, and otherwise, alla time same same.

The best performance from a residential size walk up -- in my opinion slightly better in the cup than the Vario, but not quite as good "in use"--  is one of the two Mazzer Mini Es with SJ burrs.  But those are over a grand.  The game between a Mini with SJ burrs to a Forte, depending on your priorities, factoring in everything but looks, is close to a wash.  If low retention is a major priority, Forte ftw.

That's the list of new grinders available from major US internet retailers which meet your critiera; at least as I see it.  In terms of analysis I tried to stay with your goal of low retention -- but think you value it more highly than I do.  

If buying for myself:
Under $500: Vario; and
Under $1000: Ceado E7 Timer

If buying for one of my kids to pair with a BDB (for instance):
For my son the rocket scientist: Baratza Forte; and
For my daughter the ex barista: Ceado E7 Timer

For you though?  
If you can't get everything in one grinder at the Titan price range (and trust me, you can't), you're sure as hell not going to find it in the intermediate prosumer price ranges.  You're going to have to give up some things in order to get what you prize most.  Without a clear budget and set of priorities going beyond "low retention," it's hard to say buy this or buy that.  Your decision anyway.  

If the K3 vs Preciso theme includes an inelastic budget, then the Vario seems like the obvious choice.    

Hope this helps,
Rich
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,875
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat Apr 19, 2014, 3:59pm
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

Rich, not to get into a Pis88g contest, but I owned Vario/and Vario W, and previously to those SJ's and a Cimbali Max Hybrid. I found thus latter to be the least user friendly, and the pulls overall less satisfying than with of my SJ, or Varios, perhaps BECAUSE of the fuss, trapped beans, etc. To me, the Vario and SJ are almost identical in flavor profile. I'd certainly recommend an SJ used in that $375 + new burrs price range, if the OP really wants a battleship.

Maybe I just didn't like all the fuss with the Cimbali, for I'd NEVER personally recommend it over a Vario from an ease of use standpoint #1. I had no problems whatsoever with either of my Varios after 4 years, and because of that, had the confidence in Baratza's CS to upgrade to the Forte.
I believe a Vario refurb would be, both financially and quality wise an excellent upgrade from the Preciso as an ESPRESSO grinder. I actually prefer my pour-overs with the Preciso as compared too the Vario, by a wee margin.

As all things are, of course, YMMV.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,256
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 Sat Apr 19, 2014, 8:17pm
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

Rob,

In terms of other use characteristics besides maintenance and cleaning: Great dial-in ease; very little slippage; good dose; reasonably neat; and loud, but not unpleasant.  

In terms of most "in the cup" qualities, I thought it was excellent; in the same league, more or less, as an Anfirm Super Caimano, Mahlkonig K30 Vario, and  Mazzer Major, but different.  On the basis of short acquaintance, my impression was that the Junior Max was indistinguishable from the other hybrids -- the DRM and VST (don't know either well enough for more than an uncertain impression).  

But from maintenance and cleaning standpoints, I think the Cimbali Junior Max was an absolute pig.  In part because of the hopper, deck and throat; but also perhaps because there's so much retention inherent in a grinder with a hybrid burr set used hopper on

After four years, I got tired of dealing with the off tastes the Junior Max trapped without frequent PITA cleaning, and, as you know, bought an uber-Titan conical to replace it.  

Having both grinders up and running in the same room for a couple of weeks convinced me that I'd overrated the Junior Max's in the cup qualities relative to uber Titan Conicals.  While I still think it's "excellent" (and better than the very good SJ) in the broad spectrum that is "in the cup," I'd underrated the difference between excellent and uber.  The new grinder does everything at a higher level.

I just did a monthly cleaning today on the new grinder (Grindz, next cleaning I'll take the top burr off and vacuum).  Took three minutes -- including re-seasoning the burrs.

We agree that the best use of the Cimbali is replacing it with something better -- which is about as substantial as agreement gets.

Rich
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,875
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:29am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality using Compak K3 vs Baratza Precisio
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Rob,


We agree that the best use of the Cimbali is replacing it with something better -- which is about as substantial as agreement gets.

Rich

Posted April 19, 2014 link

LOL!
I also agree the taste profile from the CMH was slightly better than the SJ, but as you said, just a lot of extra issues.
BTW, Happy Easter and Passover to all!

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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