Baratza Vario to see/try in San Francisco?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
DanSF
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Equipment: super jolly, vivaldi II, espro press, breville smart grinder
Location: San Francisco, CA

Postby DanSF » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:18 am

Short story: I live in San Francisco and would like to see or, ideally, try a Baratza Vario grinder while deciding on a purchase. Are there local retailers who display them? Any local HB-ers want to show their's off?

Long story: After ~10 years using a Rocky and a Wega Mini Nova E61, I upgraded this fall. My desires had long-ago coalesced around a dual boiler, plumbed, rotary machine and a Mazzer Mini. I decided on La Spaziale Viv II, and when I talked to ChrisN, he suggested the Vario. At that point, however, I was determined to fulfill my fantasy of owning a Mazzer. Now, a couple months in, I'm thrilled with the shots and milk drinks but am also ready to explore the Vario. The Viv is more sensitive to weight than my E61, so I choke it a couple times a week because it's hard to control the Mini's dosing. Also, with the Viv's ability to dial in temperature, I'd like to do some bean dancing while exploring home-roasted single origins and offerings from the excellent roasters within walking distance (Ritual, Blue Bottle, 4 Barrel). The Vario seems able to address those needs, but I'm not comfortable buying it without ever having laid eyes on it. Hence the short story, above. Thanks!!

Beezer
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Real Name: Eli Amador
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Location: Fresno, CA

Postby Beezer » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:35 pm

I know Barefoot in Santa Clara had some Varios for sale in their shop last time I was there. It's a bit of a drive from San Francisco, but the coffee is worth it. Not sure if they'd let you pull the Vario out of the box to play with it, though.
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Marshall
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Postby Marshall » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:51 pm

Laying your hands on it won't tell you anything important, which is mainly how well does it perform with your beans and your espresso machine. The person who explains it to you will most likely be a barista who has never used it.

People here spend thousands and thousands on equipment they have never seen. It's no big deal.
Marshall
Los Angeles

Beezer
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Real Name: Eli Amador
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Location: Fresno, CA

Postby Beezer » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:17 pm

Marshall's right, of course. Also, if you don't like the Vario, I'm sure you could return it or sell it for almost as much as you bought it for.

You can also get a refurbed Vario directly from Baratza and save some money. That's what I did, and the grinder works great and looks like brand new.

For what it's worth, I have a Cimbali Max and a Vario right now, and I far prefer the Vario. They both do a great job grinding, but the Max is big, ugly, noisy and messy, whereas the Vario is small, quiet and very neat. Almost no wasted coffee, and the timed dosing feature is really cool.
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DanSF
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Equipment: super jolly, vivaldi II, espro press, breville smart grinder
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Postby DanSF » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:14 pm

Great thoughts. Thanks. I think this is a good excuse to check out Barefoot. 90% of what I care about is what's in the cup, but I confess, with some shame, that the potential for negative curb appeal is the reason I haven't pulled the trigger on a Vario. So a looksie will get me over that, and I anticipate it'll be head to head with the Mini by month's end. Loser gets gifted to my best friend or brother-in-law, both of whom have Rocky's.

CouleurCafé
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Postby CouleurCaf√© » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:30 pm

I saw some Varios for sale at Ritual on Valencia last month. I did not see any display models to test but they might be able to let you test one of the boxed items.

dialydose
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Real Name: Jason Walters
Equipment: Vivaldi II, Vario, Super Jolly
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Postby dialydose » Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:34 pm

DanSF wrote:90% of what I care about is what's in the cup, but I confess, with some shame, that the potential for negative curb appeal is the reason I haven't pulled the trigger on a Vario.


I had simlar thoughts before I bought one. However, if you really think about it, most people (as in 99.999% of people) would look at at two foot tall behemouth grinder and think it looks absurd in a home kitchen. Most people on here think differently, but if you are thinking about "curb appeal" it is the people who will actually see it that matter.

I think it looks good in person. It looks like it belongs in my kitchen which is my wife's baby, and that helps on the home front as well. I have a SJ and M4 as well, but my wife has a strict one grinder on the counter at a time policy and the Vario takes that honor about 80% of the time.

Beezer
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Location: Fresno, CA

Postby Beezer » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:44 pm

Agreed. Of all of the "serious" espresso grinders available, this is one of the better looking ones in terms of blending in on the counter. While I appreciate the looks of a Robur or Elektra Nino, my wife would never want one on "her" counter. She wasn't really happy about the Cimbali Max either, for that matter. I think she was happy to see Max go and Vario take his place.
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zin1953
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Location: Berkeley, CA USA

Postby zin1953 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:32 am

DanSF wrote:The Vario seems able to address those needs, but I'm not comfortable buying it without ever having laid eyes on it.

1)
Image
(Now you've seen it.) :mrgreen:

2) A wonderful bit of graffito from the 1960s read, "Eat $#!+ -- 50 million flies can't be wrong!" Well, we're not flies here, but there are a significant number of people both here and on CG that own (and are happy with) their Baratza Varios. Looking at a grinder in a store will give you an idea of how it looks. So, too, does looking at the picture above. Trying it on a machine in the store will give you an idea of how it works with the machine in the store, not with how it's going to work with your machine. Going to someone's house to try their Baratza Vario will give you an idea of how it works with their machine in their home, but not with your machine. And so on and so on and so on . . . .

This is an excellent example of why most online vendors offer something called "Buyer's Remorse." If it doesn't work out, you can return it . . .

Cheers,
Jason
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A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

DanSF
Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:18 am
Real Name: Dan
Equipment: super jolly, vivaldi II, espro press, breville smart grinder
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Postby DanSF » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:07 am

Thanks for all the advice and input. In the end, did I wait to see it in person before buying? Nope -- couldn't hold off so purchased on-line Friday for delivery dinner-time today. Too late to give it a serious dial in and trial, but out of the box I was impressed with the fit and solid feel. My concerns about curb appeal were immediately set to rest -- almost before I'd gotten it out of the impressive packaging. The porta-holder seems flimsy and has some play, but that's the only concern. Thanks again.