Choosing a grinder that can switch between espresso and drip - Page 4

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
lattelover (original poster)

#31: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

P.S. By trough, I'm referring to the trough at the top of the exit chute. It has some vertical tines in it.

Also, to JmanEspresso, my apologies if I wasn't clear with my question; although it turned out to be an unexpected bonus because I got help with something I didn't know to ask about! Again, thank you.

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Bob_McBob

#32: Post by Bob_McBob »

It seems a little silly to worry about buying a grinder to use for both espresso and French press, unless you are specifically buying the Vario. Pretty much all other espresso grinders are either completely unsuited to anything but espresso, or have design compromises that affect grinding for espresso, like stepped adjustment. It does seem like the Vario is probably the best grinder to buy in the $400 or less range. If you're interested in other espresso grinders, you can order a refurb Maestro from Baratza for $63, which will cover anything else.
Chris

Urnex: 100% dedicated focus on coffee and tea cleaning
Sponsored by Urnex
lattelover (original poster)

#33: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Dan,

Dan, what an ingenious solution! And I got a good chuckle about you changing the color of the cups to suit your mood! Also, I took note of your pristine equipment---not a grind to be seen. I'm so glad to have the link.

Thank you for pointing out the more important issue with the Vario. I didn't realize that none of the espresso grinders can return to the exact previous espresso setting once the setting is changed. That seems weird to me, but then I don't yet understand how the grinder mechanism works.

I thought the Vario might be different, but I think you're saying that it's the same issue with the Vario, even if it's a high tech electronic setting.

So that just leans me even further toward the Virtuoso or Maestro dedicated to coarse grinding and deal with the espresso issue, both grinder and machine, later. BIG THANK YOU, Dan!

After seeing your photos, I realized where some of the misunderstanding about my questions lies. The Compak K3 that I've been using is doserless. That was recommended by Chris' Coffee because I'm doing primarily filter/French press brewing. The rest of you probably all have doser grinders, so the exit chute goes into the doser. My exit chute does directly into the cup I use to catch the ground coffee. When I talked about the trough at the top of the exit chute, I meant a trough at the top of the throat of the exit chute, something like what Randy Glass is showing in his photos, which are in the link you (Dan) provided about the paint brush. I've been using a brush similar to Randy's, but mine is curved and I use it from the outside bottom of the trough to the inside upper part. His brush is bent and can be turned 180 degrees so the bend works both from the inside going down and the outside going up the chute.

As an aside, Cilio makes a curved natural bristle brush that I just ordered. Here's the link:

http://www.storehousecoffee.com/bristlebrush.html

To Bob_McBob: you've summed it up very well. It comes down to the Vario vs two dedicated grinders, one for coarse and one for fine. That underscores what everyone else said.

You've all helped me avoid an expensive poor choice that would have cost me money, time, and frustration.

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HB
Admin

#34: Post by HB »

lattelover wrote:I thought the Vario might be different, but I think you're saying that it's the same issue with the Vario, even if it's a high tech electronic setting.
The Vario has fancy electronic timers that you can set to 0.1 second intervals (e.g., 10.1 seconds for espresso). They're convenient, but have nothing to do with the grind settings, which are controlled by two manual levers (coarse/fine). The Vario adjustments have detents, so you could move the coarse adjustment from espresso to French press and return to the prior setting reliably followed by a short purge of grinds. The back and forth trick gets tiresome with worm-driven stepless adjustments (e.g., La Cimbali Junior, Max Hybrid, Macap M4 stepless) and is less reliable with infinite adjustment collars (e.g., Mazzer and Compak). As Bob points out, a dedicated French press duty grinder is not costly, especially if you're willing to buy a refurbished one or hand grinder.
Dan Kehn

lattelover (original poster)

#35: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Thanks again, Dan. If I've got it right, "detents" refer to the fact that the Vario is stepped, and that's what allows for reliable shifting between coarse and fine. When you say "could move", I wonder if it is yet to be revealed whether it actually does that. Also, I probably don't want to deal with "a short purge of grinds".

In sum, I definitely got the message now about getting a dedicated coarse grinder. I'm settled and set. My standing ovation and gratitude to all of you!

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HB
Admin

#36: Post by HB »

lattelover wrote:When you say "could move", I wonder if it is yet to be revealed whether it actually does that.
I'm nitpicking. At the risk of belaboring the point even further: Among the grinders I listed above, the Vario is the best designed for back-and-forth adjustment since you would not need to fuss with the fine setting for French press and returning to the coarse setting is about as easy as returning to the same setting for a stepped grinder. But as someone trying to guide you on your path to exceptional espresso, on principle I resist changing a grinder's setting for any other purpose than improving the next espresso.
Dan Kehn

hperry

#37: Post by hperry »

lattelover wrote:Thanks again, Dan. If I've got it right, "detents" refer to the fact that the Vario is stepped, and that's what allows for reliable shifting between coarse and fine. When you say "could move", I wonder if it is yet to be revealed whether it actually does that.
The Vario accurately returns to its previous settings.
In sum, I definitely got the message now about getting a dedicated coarse grinder. I'm settled and set. My standing ovation and gratitude to all of you!
I guess, in an ideal world. But the Vario has as a design goal to do what you want to do.
Also, I probably don't want to deal with "a short purge of grinds".
You will have to do that with a dedicated grinder also. It's more or less inherent in the design of all of them. One big advantage of the Vario is that it retains much less grinds than most. Personally I'd rather have one good grinder designed to fulfill both functions, than I would two inexpensive grinders of lesser quality.
Hal Perry

Baratza: skilled in the art of grinding
Sponsored by Baratza
lattelover (original poster)

#38: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

Hi All, sorry for the delay in replying. I took some time to consider and I found out about the "bug" in the Vario. It sounds pretty minor: there's a plastic clip on the two sliding buttons on the front and reportedly it can come loose and pop off. Apparently, the recalibration issue that was detailed in one of the earlier reviews has been corrected by Baratza.

I found a great price on a used Virtuoso; I've decided to get that and dedicate it to coarse grinds. I like that it has a conical burr grinder, is stepped and doserless. The Baratza website specifies that it is good for coarse grinds. I've been told that it is very easy to remove both burrs and to clean it in general, also that it doesn't leave much residual grind.

That will allow me time for research and saving money for an espresso grinder plus machine, both dedicated to espresso. Just researching the one issue of double boilers vs heat-exchangers is a whole new realm, especially for a cappuccino/latte lover like me.

I gather I can get a discount on the grinder-plus-machine combo. It makes for an easier decision about the grinder since it will be dedicated to espresso. Then I can get one with a doser that is stepless. With the discount for the combo and the great price for the used Virtuoso, I don't think I'll pay that much more for the two-grinder duo and it simplifies everything for me. For me, I think in this case that splitting is better than lumping!

Dan, thank you for the clarification. I don't consider it nitpicking and we got a wonderful quotable quote to boot!

Also, thanks to you and Hal for answering my question about whether the Vario is actually accurate in switching settings.

This has been a remarkable experience for me, sort of a spiraling down to essential questions and answers, with tremendous help and support along the way. Although I have yet to make my first cup of espresso, my sense is that it is a similar process, orchestrating an infinite range of possibility in subtle tones and variations, to spiral down to a cup of essence. I bow to the work you've all done in this universe of art and science, for an experience steeped in the sensory that embodies the ineffable.

lattelover (original poster)

#39: Post by lattelover (original poster) »

ADDENDUM ABOUT SWEET MARIA'S:

I just got an email from Sweet Maria's that their grinding info. article is confusing and they meant to say that the Zassenhaus MANUAL conical burr grinder might not provide an even enough grind for French press brewing, but they do recommend the electric conical burr grinders for French press brewing. They seem to be less particular about a grinder for filter/pour-over brewing, although I personally would be just as fussy.

So that clears that up. Once again, THANK YOU, Dan!