Anything between a Vario and a Monolith?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
PIXIllate

#1: Post by PIXIllate »

So I have a Vario that I'm finally okay with after tearing it apart and aligning it so I now get very consistent grinds. My long term plan is a Monolith Flat or MAX. I have read enough to be a little leary of the MAX and it almighty "UNIMODAL" grinds. Quite a few people find that it produces so few fines that they are constantly grinding at the touch point just to slow down shots enough. I've been wondering if those things aren't something entirely new that may require a new approach to shot control.

Short of a Monolith (it may be awhile before I can get one) does anyone have suggestions based on first hand experience upgrading from the Vario for a grinder in between these two that will improve my in-the-cup taste? I'm not really interested in the Niche as it's a conical and by the few accounts of people who have actually put them head to head a well aligned Vario beats it on taste. I've looked at the Ceado 37SD and the Atom 75 but there are quite a few frustrated owners out there claiming consistency issues. I also have a pretty severe height restriction of less than 15 inches.

I only single dose and only drink straight shots. Machine is a Profitec 600 with flow control.

free0177a
Supporter

#2: Post by free0177a »

Look up Lagom ($1700-1800) and Ultra ($2400) .
Fairly new to market, but generally getting good reviews.
(p.s., I do not own either yet, but strongly considering both..)

I am excited, later this winter James Hoffman is planning to have the ultimate grinder showdown to include:
- Monolith Flat Burr
- Lagom P64
- Lynn Weber EG-1
- Levercraft Ultra
- Mahlkönig EK43S

jevenator

#3: Post by jevenator »

I was very very happy with the upgrade to the Monolith from an aligned forte. The last few months I was running ceramic burrs which I think are inferior to steels. So the difference was pretty big. I didn't have steels anymore to compare. I kind of think I was getting better brews with the steel Forte though compared to the SSP burrs I have right now. But for espresso, it's fantastic. Build quality, adjustment, ease of repeatability paired with my machine is great.

I'm waiting for the Ultra as well and plan on doing some A/B testing. But from the few people that have the Ultra w/ HU burrs, the workflow on it looks even better and 98mm burrs should be a good jump from 75mm burrs.
LMWDP #643

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AssafL

#4: Post by AssafL »

Versalab M4 is still around. Same design as the M3 but stronger motor drive and double the belts.

Long grind path due to two sets of burrs.

And Mazzer are still around and favored by the pros.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

ziggomatic

#5: Post by ziggomatic »

PIXIllate wrote:So I have a Vario that I'm finally okay with after tearing it apart and aligning it so I now get very consistent grinds. My long term plan is a Monolith Flat or MAX. I have read enough to be a little leary of the MAX and it almighty "UNIMODAL" grinds. Quite a few people find that it produces so few fines that they are constantly grinding at the touch point just to slow down shots enough. I've been wondering if those things aren't something entirely new that may require a new approach to shot control.

Short of a Monolith (it may be awhile before I can get one) does anyone have suggestions based on first hand experience upgrading from the Vario for a grinder in between these two that will improve my in-the-cup taste? I'm not really interested in the Niche as it's a conical and by the few accounts of people who have actually put them head to head a well aligned Vario beats it on taste. I've looked at the Ceado 37SD and the Atom 75 but there are quite a few frustrated owners out there claiming consistency issues. I also have a pretty severe height restriction of less than 15 inches.

I only single dose and only drink straight shots. Machine is a Profitec 600 with flow control.
For what its worth, im getting tastier shots overall with my Alicorn aligned Vario (ceramic burrs) compared to my previous gen2 Monolith Conical. I only use light roast blends, so this could partially be the flat ceramic burrs vs. conical, but really my experience is totally on par with the claims that a properly aligned Vario can compete with any grinder out there.

It would definitely be fun to have a Monolith Max or Flat for direct comparison against my current setup, but i've been extremely happy with the Vario lately.

PIXIllate

#6: Post by PIXIllate »

Man, if James Hoffmann reviews the Kafatek grinders I may NEVER get a chance to buy one.

I've looked at the Logom and the Ultra. I think larger burrs and flat burrs are my must haves so the 64mm is out as is the Versalab and the Mazzurs. I don't do brew, only espresso.

I think the reason I'm struggling is that when you really dig into it there does not seem to be much of an upgrade path for someone who wants a single dosing, flat burr espresso grinder that is better than the little old Vario (once aligned).

It's hard to believe that with all the tooling out there none of the major grinder manufacturers can knock this out of the park for $2000-$2500. It's pretty disappointing to see the results people are reporting with the Ceado 37SD. I wonder if anyone has figured out why it's seems to be such an under performer? I guess maybe the alignment could suck from the factory?

Quester

#7: Post by Quester »

PIXIllate wrote:I think the reason I'm struggling is that when you really dig into it there does not seem to be much of an upgrade path for someone who wants a single dosing, flat burr espresso grinder that is better than the little old Vario (once aligned).
I've learned that once you have a great grinder "different" is more obvious than "better." I've done grinder shootouts with the Forte BG, EG-1, Versalab M4, Niche, and MAX. With great beans, the right recipe, and great technique, all of those grinders produce wonderful espresso.

The MAX is the most unique. There is a flavor experience I prefer with many beans, but it's a much harder grinder to use--at least with the Decent DE1. If I'm pulling lots a shots--like for a group--the Versalab is my favorite. Easy to dial in and doesn't require RDT or WDT.

Said more simply, you have all good choices!

free0177a
Supporter

#8: Post by free0177a »

I just thought about this,
but also see the master single doser list thread:

Single Dosing Grinder Updatable List

cccpu

#9: Post by cccpu »

Single dosing the Forté with the default BG hopper is a little less than ideal.
LMWDP #583

jerbear00

#10: Post by jerbear00 »

My 2 cents:

If the monolith is what you want just wait until you can get what you want. Otherwise, you will feel you made a compromise and will likely regret the "middle step."