Choosing a grinder that can switch between espresso and drip - Page 3

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

I would choose the Vario over the Virtuoso. That way, when you do get into espresso, which you will do, you will not need a new grinder.
Scott
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lattelover (original poster)

#22: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Well, the votes are stacking up for the Vario! Still, I'm going to find out more on Monday about the possible "bugs", just to clear that up. I'll report back. Thank you, Sweaner.

hperry

#23: Post by hperry »

The only "bug" I'm aware of that was consistent was that early ones came adjusted too fine - something that was easily corrected and doesn't exist in the current ones shipping. I've noted one or two people reporting minor manufacturing flaws, but nothing that would worry me. If you have concerns I note that orphanespresso unpacks each unit and QCs it before shipping. The references that have already been cited in this thread should tell you all you need to know w/o having to do much more research.
Hal Perry

lattelover (original poster)

#24: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Another grinder thought (or thought-grinder):

I had a PM from Bluegrod, who agrees with KeepitSimple that if I'm using a "do-all" grinder and there are any residual grinds left in the grinder, then switching from espresso grind to filter/Frenchpress grind requires completely clearing out the residual grinds first, which sounds like a bother to me. I noticed that Mark, you're only using your Vario for espresso, so you don't have to deal with this.

I wasn't thinking about this with regard to the Vario until now, and I'm going to add it to my questions to ask Baratza on Monday. If anyone has any info. about this in the meantime, I'd love to hear it.

My thanks to both KeepitSimple and Bluegrod for pointing this out. This is really a major investigational effort!

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mhoy

#25: Post by mhoy »

lattelover wrote:Mark, thank you. It's great to hear from someone who's been using a Vario for an extended period of time. If it works well for espresso, I would think it would be fine for the coarser grinds. Can I ask: Did you have to recalibrate? Is it easy to clean? How much residual coffee is left behind in the trough of the exit chute?

also, I want to add one clarification to my previous lengthy reply: if I buy the Virtuoso it would be with the idea of getting a separate dedicated espresso grinder later, to go with the espresso machine. If it's a new Virtuoso, the difference would be around $250 dollars between the two options (1) Vario=$429; 2) Virtuoso=$200 new plus the cost of the espresso grinder, so around $650 total).
I'm not certain it would be good for a really coarse grind, I tried it once just to see what it looks like, but I only did so to look at the grinds. You need to run it while adjusting to a finer grind, so you would lose a little coffee when doing this, but no big deal. I haven't measured the residual coffee, but Mark Prince's review on Coffee Geek spoke well of it. The exit chute doesn't seem clogged. (I've been bad and not bothered cleaning internally since I got it). I have run some Grindz through and they certainly picked up some stuff along the way.

I calibrated it to be a bit finer, but heck that takes 30 seconds, if you mess it up, perhaps another minute and some bean to figure out where it should be set to.

It's not a light grinder (and it's also not a tank) and I think it's a reasonable size on the counter. A tiny beef would be the plastic vs the solid metal of some of the competitors, but they don't offer the ease changing grinds nor the electronically timed dosing (at the entry level price). All in all, I think it's a good grinder that will hold it's value.

Mark

lattelover (original poster)

#26: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Hal, thank you for the info. on the "bugs". I think the Vario has been out for about a year, so maybe they're worked it all out.

And Mark, I appreciate the extra detail you gave, especially on the coarse grind issue. Sweet Maria's has a grinding info. article that says the conical burr grinders are inconsistent when it comes to coarse grinds, i.e. for filter/French press. Anyone know anything about that? I'm asking with the idea of buying a grinder dedicated to the coarse grind.

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HB
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#27: Post by HB »

lattelover wrote:Sweet Maria's has a grinding info. article that says the conical burr grinders are inconsistent when it comes to coarse grinds, i.e. for filter/French press. Anyone know anything about that? I'm asking with the idea of buying a grinder dedicated to the coarse grind.
Funny how they say that and also say "grind finer": French Press Brewing Instructions from Sweet Maria's. I would not worry about it.
Dan Kehn

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JmanEspresso

#28: Post by JmanEspresso »

Ann,

Your worry about switching between beans your use for espresso, and those you use for brewing, possibly being a little bit of a pain, maybe losing some coffee... I think I may have a solution

You dont HAVE TO keep the hopper full with beans. IDK what the ratio of people is on this board, but I know at least some of us only add beans to the grinder as we need, while others open the bag of beans, and pour em in. Both ways have their advantages, and while you are only grinding for pour-over/FP, there should be no problem leaving the hopper full(if you are using the same bean).

When I am at my machine, I dose the amount of beans I want for a shot into the grinder, grind into the PF, and pull the shot. I dont keep coffee in the hopper, mainly because I rarely only have one type/blend of coffee Im working with. Its usually 3 or 4 different beans, so adding per shot works well for me, and others as well.

So, when the times comes that you buy an espresso machine, and you still brew coffee, just add whatever amoutn of beans to grinder that you are going to grind, for the beverage you are about to prepare.

IDK about OTHER small conical grinders and how they handle coarse grinds.. But I do know that my conical burr hand grinder does not brag about its coarse grinding capabilities. Other grinders, I cant speak for. But, since the vario will handle all your needs, why spend more money?(But dont let me stop you if you want to!!)

lattelover (original poster)

#29: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Dan, thank you for settling me down about the question of conical burr grinders and coarse grind. I also had a PM from Bluegrod praising his Virtuoso and saying how great it is for coarse grinds.

To JmanEspresso: I like your solution a lot and it answers a question I didn't ask but am glad to know about, which is about switching between different beans.

What I was referring to is the residual grind left in the trough of the exit chute of the grinder. That was a big problem for me with the Compak K3 touch---there was a lot left in that trough, it's difficult to get at and impossible to see, even with the top burr off. Getting the bottom burr off is too big a task for me to do on a regular basis. Also, there were a fair amount of grinds in the burr threads and clumped up in the well between the two burrs. That was after only a week or so of using a new machine.

I spoke with Roger at Chris' Coffee who said all the espresso grinders have some residual coffee grinds left after grinding. The reviews of the Vario indicate there is very little residual left, and one had photos with the top burr removed, to show the absence of residual. It seems to me that for the Vario to do what it promises as far as switching between coarse and fine, that it can't leave ANY residual grind behind. So if it actually does that, does that mean it's unique as far as that attribute?

Right now I'm leaning toward buying a Virtuoso, dedicating it to coarse grinds only, and get an espresso grinder/machine later, after saving up money and doing more research. I can't say enough about how much benefit this forum has been for me. My decision has evolved through the thread of this discussion. And I've gotten such an education in the process! As ever, thank you all.

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HB
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#30: Post by HB »

lattelover wrote:The reviews of the Vario indicate there is very little residual left, and one had photos with the top burr removed, to show the absence of residual. It seems to me that for Vario to do what it promises as far as switching between coarse and fine, that it can't leave ANY residual grind behind. So if it actually does that, does that mean it's unique as far as that attribute?
The Vario is unique in that it retains little grounds shot-to-shot, but it's not difficult to sweep the chute of other grinders as necessary if you're willing to remove the finger guard (see This paintbrush is the best $1.25 I've spent on my grinder, How to Tame a Messy Mazzer Doser, and Improving Mazzer doser efficiency for examples of "can do" workarounds). Keep in mind that the larger grinders we're talking about (Mazzer, Compak, etc.) are commercial grinders designed for coffee houses. Holding back 2 to 4 grams in the chute is inconsequential for cafe usage.

In my opinion, retained grounds isn't the main issue with dual duty grinders, it's preserving the espresso grind setting. For a given coffee, determining the exact espresso grind setting is quite important. If you've "dialed it in" to the millimeter, changing it to make a French press means the next espresso pour will be slightly off compared to the previous one, even if you mark the espresso setting. Even if I could purge all coffee residuals from grinder X, I still prefer a dedicated espresso grinder so time and coffee I've invested in dialing in the setting isn't lost. Since brewed coffee is generally less demanding on grinders, I would use a less expensive grinder for that purpose (e.g., a refurbished Solis Maestro, manual grinder, etc.).

Of course I speak of what's ideal. If space or funds are the main issue, then a dual duty grinder like the Baratza Vario or any other top grinder with a cheap brush works for me.
Dan Kehn