Baratza Vario died

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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#1: Post by PlanetCC »

Sadly, when I went to go grind a French press this morning, I found that my Vario motor had died. I've had this grinder for probably 10 years, I've been a little frustrated with the grind settings and think it's time to go to single-dose. So I'm in the market for a mid range grinder that can go from espresso to French press. Although I do Chemex on occasion where a larger basket might be needed but I can work around this. My budget is somewhere in the range of $500-$900.

So what are the experts advice for some machines I can consider? I am by no means an expert barista, but I am working on my game

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#2: Post by Jeff »

Getting a grinder that will do well for both in that price range will involve a lot of tradeoffs.

Some of the things that would help people help you consider those tradeoffs are:

* I'm not familiar with Groundwork. Are your espresso beans at all shiny? Do you use beans that they would sell as "filter" for espresso?

* How many espressos do you make in one session?

* What kinds of coffee do you use for French press?

* When you make French press, what weight of beans do you use for a batch?

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#3: Post by PlanetCC (original poster) »

As for coffee, I am trying to find a local roaster that has some consistency. I started a new subscription in December and I'm still trying to decide where to source my beans. Typically the beans are not shiny, but I have opened an occasional bag where they are fairly oily.

I weigh my beans before and after the grind. However, if the machine can dial-in to where I can just get an espresso shot with some consistency, that would be nice.

I am not drinking a lot of coffee right now, usually a double shot espresso once or twice a day

If I have friends over, that's when I'll dig out the Chemex, but that is uncommon.

If I am in the mood for a French press coffee, I usually only make a 3 cup French press. Once in a while I venture into pour over.

I just watched a video by James Hoffman, and after his review, I am thinking of timemore 64s or Niche may suit my purposes.

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#4: Post by Jeff »

I had a Niche Zero for a few years and I was never able to make enjoyable filter coffee with it. I do think that it is a solid grinder for traditional espresso with excellent workflow. With a Niche Zero, I would want as second grinder for filter coffee, such as a Fellow Ode II or similar.

I have not used the Timemore grinders and don't have a lot of opinions from people whose tastes I understand well, so I can't comment much more on those.

A three-cup French press is around 20-25 g of coffee? If so, a good hand grinder might be an option there. Some of the moderately priced ones that are often suggested include the Kingrinder (I haven't kept up with their models) or the 1ZPresso Q2 "hepta", ZP6, or K-series grinders.

Edit: There have been some recent posts around the Varia VS3 and some seemingly new burrs for it, at least for filter coffee. I haven't looked into it recently.

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#5: Post by Jonk »

Consider repairing the Vario. If only to keep it for french press, chemex and other brews (in that case, make sure you've got the steel burrs). It's actually a good grinder for single dosing.

That means you can pick an espresso focused grinder, like the Niche Zero. To make the most of it, consider upgrading the espresso machine as well though.. :o

I have a Timemore 064. It's nice, but wouldn't be my first suggestion if you're mostly brewing medium-dark espresso. The Niche Zero is a more straightforward choice there IMO, the main edge for 064S would be if you insist on using it for several brew methods (but to ge the best results, you'd have to factor in a change of burrs too)

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#6: Post by John49 »

Parts for the Vario are readily available, a replacement motor is only $39. ... -sp0100771
If you're reluctant to try this you could send it to Baratza.

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#7: Post by PlanetCC (original poster) »

I am by no means a good barista. But I'm trying. Ha ha.

I have the Breville barista express with a built-in grinder. I am trying to improve my skill with this espresso maker. The grinder, however needs calibration or something because I cannot get a consistent grind out of this machine despite tearing it down to my comfort level. It needs an overhaul and I am trying to improve my skill before I jump into a more professional machine. So I use a separate grinder. I am limited on countertop space, but I understand next to coffee, the grinder really is the most important piece of equipment in my opinion.

The Vario has been good for this purpose, but just completely died on me so it is an opportunity to upgrade and I wouldn't mind getting something single dose, smaller, and quieter.

Keep in mind, I usually grind medium roast, but I am experimenting with light roast.

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#8: Post by yakster »

Having your Vario sent in to be refurbed and upgraded to steel burrs will also get you the upgraded Vario+ / Forte burr carrier parts and then you can get something good for espresso duty.

LMWDP # 272

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#9: Post by frijolabean »

I would 100% contact Baratza support first. A few years ago I bought a 10+ year old Forte secondhand, my first "high-end" grinder. After a few weeks, the motor gave out and it could no longer grind coffee. I was quite distressed when it stopped working, seeing how I had just made my largest coffee-related purchase and immediately had it break. Reached out to support and they sent me a replacement motor and a detailed installation guide, completely for free. I am not the most handy person, but I was still able to install the new motor and get the grinder working again without too much hassle.

I was honestly blown away, I figured I would have to ship it back to them and pay for full refurb. I knew Baratza had a good reputation for support and replacement parts, which is why I was okay buying the grinder in the first place -- ended up paying off way sooner than expected. Still using the same grinder to this day. I think this all happened recently after the Breville acquisition of Baratza, so I don't know if things have changed since then. Thankfully haven't needed any support since.

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#10: Post by ilVecchio »

A few months ago, Baratza refurbished my quite old Forte for a bit over $100, hard to beat that.