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!
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.