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New Baratza Grinder - Forte - Page 5

Postby IMAWriter on Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:37 pm

Sweet cabinet, worthy of all your coffee paraphernalia.
I have one very similar, and about 100 years old. My wife would have a heart attack were I to even HINT about a setup such as yours on it! :lol:

One quick impression, as it shouldn't change, at least not till maybe November here in the Nashville, TN area.
So far, ZERO static or clumping, at espresso grind. Same with drip. I don't do press pot, which for many grinders can be an issue, especially with chaff. I'll do a bit down the road.
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Postby IMAWriter on Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:51 pm

EvanOz85 wrote:http://www.baratza.com/new-products-forte-grinder-and-removable-hopper/

Looks like they listened to a lot of the input from Preciso/Vario owners.

Thought it good form to reply to our OP, Evan!
Sir, you are most correct, at least from my limited time with the Forte.
Basically, though, I believe they most likely will/should keep the Vario/Vario-W, Preciso siblings as is, so there are multiple options.
If you haven't yet had hands on with the Forte, you'll see it's seems much more than the sum of it's "upgrades" and new features.
As many Varios as I see in all our cafes here in Nashville, I can see m,any of these Fortes being used. IU'll wager many of the steel burr models for the ultimate (especially for the price), cafe friendly pour-over grinder.

That said, and I'm still getting cozy with mine, the ceramic burr version fits perfectly in my "HOME cafe."
Pourover, vac pot, Kalita, and hopefully soon, quality espresso again. The latter is the reason I went for the gold.

As mentioned, no specifics other than the tidbits offered, and I feel it only fair to find out everything I can first.
Lance's comments have been very helpful, and filed away for comparison.
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Postby ladalet on Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:35 am

IMAWriter wrote:Sweet cabinet, worthy of all your coffee paraphernalia.
I have one very similar, and about 100 years old.


Thanks, it really is not anything fancy. It does not sound nearly as cool as yours. I think 100 years ago the quality and craftsmanship was more than just a tad superior to my modern mass produced but fully functional cabinet. We have a small kitchen and it does the job.

IMAWriter wrote:My wife would have a heart attack were I to even HINT about a setup such as yours on it! :lol:


Ya, I feel pretty lucky. She has been a saint putting up with my coffee hobby. She does get a hand pulled latte every morning or whenever she pleases though :lol:

IMAWriter wrote:One quick impression, as it shouldn't change, at least not till maybe November here in the Nashville, TN area.
So far, ZERO static or clumping, at espresso grind. Same with drip. I don't do press pot, which for many grinders can be an issue, especially with chaff. I'll do a bit down the road.


I also have experienced absolutely no clumping nor static at all. Come November we here in Spokane Washington get very very dry winters at which time will come the true test for static.
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Postby bostonbuzz on Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:37 pm

The only thing I care about (and every dissatisfied vario owner as well) is how well does it hold a grind setting, and how accurate is changing the grind setting. I.e. does it take a while to set it when you change a micro 1 or 2 clicks, or is it just there? Is the lever mechanism solid feeling and made of metal, or is it still plasticy?
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Postby FinnLight on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:33 am

^This.

I think one of the major shortcomings of the vario is the adjustment mechanism. There seems to be some sort of sticking and slippage when making small micro adjustments and it can take quite a long time for the settings to settle. Also the lower burr should be spring-loaded so that it can't bounce around when single-dosing. I hope the use of metal parts remove some of these problems on the Forte, but I would have liked to see a traditional adjustment mechanism with a collar or a combination of a worm-drive and coarse adjustment lever.

Other than that I think the new Forte sounds very exciting.
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Postby IMAWriter on Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:06 pm

FinnLight wrote:^This.

I think one of the major shortcomings of the vario is the adjustment mechanism. There seems to be some sort of sticking and slippage when making small micro adjustments and it can take quite a long time for the settings to settle. Also the lower burr should be spring-loaded so that it can't bounce around when single-dosing. I hope the use of metal parts remove some of these problems on the Forte, but I would have liked to see a traditional adjustment mechanism with a collar or a combination of a worm-drive and coarse adjustment lever.

Other than that I think the new Forte sounds very exciting.

FWIW, I never had a problem with either my Vario, or later, my Vario-W. I did have a hairline crack on the burr holder of my Preciso, but a new one, 3 minutes, and back in business.
That said, I've had ZERO issues with the Forte. It holds rock steady, in fact significant pressure is need to move both the Macro and Micro levers. Thus, it takes maybe 1 more gram of "waste" to switch back between drip and espresso, maybe 2.5-3 grams total, just to make sure no coarse grounds are left. I am very pleased with the ceramic burr for vac pot.
As regards espresso, I'll be dialing in the Toscano tomorrow, and pulling shots on the Duetto 2.
A quick TASTE comparison between another friend's Vario (an older one) and the Forte were somewhat inconclusive. There was a bit more body from the shots pulled from the Forte/Astra combo than the Vario/Astra. I say inconclusive because my own home roasted blend was a bit dry and not as consistent, perhaps due to the dryness. Thus the Toscano.
I'll do my best to get some impressions up.
But as to the question of build quality, not that the Vario isn't a solid grinder, it IS, but the Forte is another thing entirely. Though visually somewhat similar to a Vario-W, it is substantially more rugged, and has new and outstanding features and usability. The PF fork and PERFECT cone from the grind is a joy.
So far, No static, NONE, even on a very dry day today, less than 30% humidity. At least for now, no RDT, WDT, STP or LSD necessary. :lol:




Edit: for clarity.
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Postby damonbowe on Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:42 am

Dunno if you noticed, but in addition to Prima's video review of the Forte, SCG now has one that looks qualitatively at grind capability by showing three different grind adjustments for each Forte model on a white plate. It is complete with laughing at their own jokes. :D
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Postby IMAWriter on Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:30 am

Well, Saturday, I purchased a bag of 4 day young Counter Culture Toscano, and plan to grind and pull shots on the Alex Duetto Tuesday, when the coffee will be 7 days old. I'd wait longer, but I really Jones-ing for some of this stuff, as I'm tired of my own home roasted! LOL
Down the road, I'll prolly get some Red Bird espresso, and maybe a SO Panama or such to further experiment.
As to the Kalita pourover, I will be grinding a # of home-roasated Gedeo Worka, purchased from Klatch.
I also made sure to have some roasted by Klatch, so as to have a benchmark. I can somewhat humbly say di got close enough, thankfully. It features a wonderful blackberry/raspberry combo, and a lovely bergamot at the onset. IMO, a PERFECT coffee for a Hario/Kalita, etc. Some here, more expert than me, with a Strega, L1, Achille, etc might want to try this coffee in their levers.

The purpose of all this is mainly to do some TASTE comparisons with the Vario and Forte. I don't expect earth shattering differences, but as I've explained, my overall impression of the Forte is that it is a BIG league grinder, perhaps along the lines of a Mahlkonig K30 Vario, which I've had the pleasure of using a few times while in LA. In this case, I'm referring to operationally, not as regards taste to taste.

I've already said many times on another forum that IMO, and FWIW, I've always thought the shots I've pulled with both my Varios (the W and regular) had a strong resemblance to those I pulled with my former Mazzer SJ.

So far, with the Forte, both pulling shots and brews with my Kalita , I believe I'm getting a touch more of the fruit elements from the same coffees I've enjoyed the past year, without losing the lower toned flavor elements. I don't claim to have nearly the expertise as many here, but the clarity of the citrus-y elements are improved.

That said, Tuesday's Kalita brews and espresso shots will hopefully allow me to be less imprecise in my statements. There will be 3 of us. I'd say we're all of equal "skill" as it were, not pros, but no squirts either.
Those tasting will not be in the vicinity of the grinders, nor will know which is which.

I stress we are amateurs, thus no spectrographs, or technical anything. Just impressions regarding taste, mouth feel, after taste, and YES, fluffiness of the grind and crema production.

Finally (sorry for all the verbiage) because the Forte costs a good deal more than a Vario-W, I believe it's important that those now fortunate to own, and really enjoy using the Forte do our best to show IF the upgrade is all everyone hopes it to be.


Edited for greater clarity.
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Postby IMAWriter on Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:56 pm

Forte versus Vario Pt 1 (Espresso) Pt 2 will be a Kalita showdown. MOST enlightening!!!

Friends to begin this little "non scientific" commentary, I must first say that Baratza makes a darn fine $459 (Vario) grinder.
As I assumed, when all was said and done, there would not be uber significant differences in quality of grind, flavor differences, etc between the Vario/Vario-W and the new Forte. But there ARE differences.

In our taste comparisons, using 9 day old, and very famous Counter Culture Toscano (a proper wait post roast date) I've come to the conclusion that, perhaps due to the same burr set, general design similarities, and quality of the Vario, the actual TASTE differences between these 2 grinders is, as I suspected not a hugely discernible thing, at least with THIS coffee as espresso.

[Side note] To my surprise, this purchase of Toscano appears to be roasted a shade lighter than I remember. So, to MY taste, shots from the Duetto revealed a wee bit less "bottom end" than I was formerly accustomed to. I wonder if I might have liked the Toscano even better pulled from a lever? A beautiful looking coffee, and very good nonetheless.

Our shots were both triples, using a triple synesso basket, 22 grams of coffee, and doubles, 17.5 grams. Overall, I preferred the doubles, being used to a less "dense", more lever-like shot. All triples were 50-55 ml by volume (approximately), doubles around 40-45ml, both including crema. One set of shots was pulled at 200f, another at 201f. We stirred, sipped/swallowed once per shot, sipped water, swished, spat and wrote down impressions.

Moving on, what I feel I can reliably say (speaking for both of us) is that the pulls from the Forte consistently revealed a wee bit more acidity, or perhaps "brightness", and slightly more complexity. BTW, I mean only a wee bit more, though clearly discernible.
The lower toned elements made themselves known equally in both grinders, though again I didn't get as much of that taste profile as I had previously with Toscano, perhaps a year ago. At least that's what my memory tells me.
Where the Forte also differs is an even greater uniformity of grind than the very even grind I've always seen from the Vario. There was still more fluffiness than you see from the Vario, which as owners know produces a very fluffy grind. Now, to be fair, my Forte burrs have had maybe 8-10 lbs of coffee beans through them, while on the other hand, my friend's Vario has 2.5 year old burrs. I guess, by ceramic burr standards, his burrs are still youngish? He estimates he's put maybe 150 #'s through them at most.
As I mentioned in a previous post, because burr sets and general grinding mechanics are similar in both grinders, I assumed this wouldn't be a "hallelujah moment!", more like a "wow, they just stepped up their game even more."
CONCLUSION PT 1
While the Forte was not an overwhelming winner, I believe if you then add that there is a more robust grind adjustment mechanism, fabulous electronics, heavy build construction, and versatility (being able to grind by either weight OR Time) I can say I am most happy I upgraded, and from these qualifications alone would do so again.

Pt 2 might make my above Conclusion even more......conclusive! Stay tuned.
Actually, below, Pt 2, Kalita showdown.



Edited for clarity, hopefully. And again for funky punctuation.
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Postby IMAWriter on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:36 am

PT 2 Baratza Forte/Vario SHOWDOWN, Kalita style.

Kalita Drip Impressions (Just mine)

Surprisingly (to me) there are even more significant differences as regards the pour-over, drip, vac pot grind range between these 2 grinders. (Even with my Forte's ceramic burr set, not the metal burr set recommended for drip/press.)
Borrowing the Vario, I prepared several Kalita 42 gram/700ml brews with both grinders. I brewed 3 separate pots with each grinder. Man, that was a lot of coffee finally saved in big Nissan thermoses (thermo?) for later!

In every case, with both grinders grinding as near as I could duplicate grind size, and timings within 15 seconds of each other, the clear winner was the Forte.
I most likely would have expected this result from the metal burr Forte.
The subtleties of the wonderful Ethiopian Gedeo Worka were totally at hand with the Forte ground Worka. What I get from this coffee, bergamot, and a raspberry/blackberry combo shown brilliantly. Still, I got a wonderful cup with the Vario prepared Kalita filter brews. Just not the same delineation of flavors. With the Forte, it was almost as if the cup of coffee was an Americano drawn from a lever espresso machine + 7 oz of water. The final 2 pots made the next day were the same with, for whatever reason a rip peach thing I got from the Forte's pot.

Proceed with CAUTION!!!
I'm now going to venture a guess as to WHY I discerned this distinct improvement regarding the greater flavor "explosion" from the coffee ground from the Forte.
Please keep in mind, I am an amateur, and my suppositions are strictly those as a coffee LOVER, not an expert!
NOTE: the following is most assuredly stuff you already know. Not trying to sound like a smart-a** here! :lol:

My guess is that the Forte's upgraded, all metal burr carrier/assembly and related upgrades perhaps hold the burrs more rigidly, thus allowing an even more uniform grind in these ranges. From what I've experienced, in the drip/vac pot, and even and coarser ranges, EVENNESS of grind seems a particularly a good thing. This avoids, as much as possible the dreaded fines that could cause over-extraction and bitterness, and chunks, that would create under-extraction. This is certainly a good thing, especially when brewing manually. Especially, in a cafe situation, having ultra reliable French Press, Chemex, Kalita, Hario, grind at your fingertips without nearly as much concern for stress to your grinder is why the Forte seems real popular with these folks.
In a busy cafe setting, this pretty much guarantees perfect results (with proper pouring technique). Again, I'm not knowledgeable enough to know if the increased grind speed of the Forte plays a part in my impressions regarding taste versus the Vario. FWIW, the increased speed did not transfer heat to the finished grind.

RANDOM THOUGHTS, and conclusions
Other than some beans getting hung up around the raised portion of the very cool new hopper with the stopper, the Forte is, for ME a wonderful grinder in every way. It was even calibrated perfectly from the get-go. No 2mm adjustment necessary. The manual is clearly laid out, and I recommend a thorough reading...RTFM so you can take advantage of all this grinder has to offer.

That said, those with a Vario, or contemplating purchase of same (or the Vario W) should do so with confidence, ESPECIALLY if a goodly amount of their grinding is in the espresso range. The upgraded build quality of the Forte is exceptional, but considering the outstanding Baratza CS support for ALL grinders, I would have no worries keeping your Vario, or purchasing a Vario if the price is more in line with your finances.
THAT SAID, owning a Forte, rest assured you'll have a full featured, solidly built, professional quality, full featured grinder with the ability to grind espresso to even greater standards, while at the same time owning a grinder that (IMO) goes over and above in the dip/vac/pour-over and French Press ranges.
IMO, the Forte is a cafe quality grinder that works splendidly in the home, incorporating the best attributes of the Vario line, but upgraded to a more exacting and robust standard. This comes with a larger price tag, of course ($899) but IMO, worth every penny.

Disclaimer: I did not experiment with French Press brewing, as it is not my preferred method. However I did coarse grind 15 grams of a Colombian Huila in both grinders, and the grind looked quite uniform, and, to my naked eye, pretty much similar. As mentioned, my Forte was stock, unadjusted via 2mm screw.
Disclaimer #2: I fully admit to being a long time, VERY happy Baratza customer. (nearly 10 years.)
I am not, nor ever have been professionally associated with Baratza.
In keeping with this, I'll not post a link to Baratza unless requested.


Edited for typos. Prolly still missed a bunch.
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