Baratza Vario Grinder - Second Look - Page 3

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HB
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#21: Post by HB »

Added link for easy reference...
greatphotos wrote:There is an adjustment screw near the exit chute for the burrs which Baratza support can guide you through doing.
Dan posted instructions for Recalibrating the Baratza Vario. Thanks Kyle for the assistance and Dan for the writeup!
Dan Kehn

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ddr

#22: Post by ddr »

Now that I have my burrs adjusted I can make some comments on the Vario. I will start off with a little background info:
  • 1) I drink straight espresso shots 90% of the time
    2) I drink cappuccino 10% of the time
    3) I describe the taste of espresso with these terms: "sweet", "burnt", "blech" (so don't expect much from me in taste descriptions)
    4) I have been drinking espresso for six months. Grinding with a Super Jolly
    5) I use a 58mm portafilter
  • - After adjusting the burrs on my Vario I have made about ten fourteen gram doubles.
    - I have no mess on my counter
    - I have wasted only about three grams total coffee (caught nicely in the grinder's portaholder catch tray).
    - The ground coffee drops directly into the center of the PF in a nice mound
    - No clumps
    - Grind, tamp, go
    - PT's Bella and Gizmo taste great, same to me as using my SJ
    - I have been using the manual button on the grinder rather than setting a specific time, although ten or eleven seconds seems to be the right time on this particular coffee at this particular age. Since I am one to switch coffee beans during a single day I may never take advantage of the timer.
For me, this grinder is great. It is not big, it does not need a paint job (like my SJ), it is very clean, it does not waste coffee, it does not create clumps. I will give other people an opportunity to try it out as soon as I can, I know people are eager to hear from folks who can describe the taste of coffee properly.

If anyone is put off by the need to adjust the burrs, it really only took me five minutes.

Thanks again to PT's Coffee for my Vario and the great beans!
Dan
LMWDP #242

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another_jim
Team HB

#23: Post by another_jim »

The twin Elektra Test or Can it Beat the Compak WBC?

Today, Dan Roscigno, "ddr," visited with his newly tweaked Vario, and we tested it against the Mazzer Mini and the Compak WBC. This is the write up of the test. As usual, these results are preliminary, one of many tests HB does when reviewing equipment.

The format of the test is as follows. We did comparison shots of the Sidamo Bonko, a light roasted fruit and flower coffee, at a lowish 14.5 gram dose, and of Black Cat, a medium roasted cocktail of Bourbon flavors, almond, chocolate, and cherry, at a highish 16.5 gram dose. We ground and filled identical baskets, with ID marks hidden below the rim, shuffled them, and pulled side by side shots on the twin Elektra Semis. We tasted twelve pairs of shots, then discussed our impressions and rated the shots, prior to IDing the baskets.

Our plan was to do 4 pairs against the Compak, with 2 pairs of each coffee, and 8 pairs with the Mini, with 4 pairs for each coffee.

But the Vario spanked the Mini three times in a row on the Black Cat, and edged it three times in a row on the Bonko. The Vario tasted silky and buttery, while the Mini tasted angular and edgy. On one Bonko shot, we thought the edgy flavor on the Mini was slightly better, but the mouthfeel edge of the Vario was too much. That was on the final shot, and we knew by then which grinder was which.

So we promoted the Vario to the Titan league, and did six shots against the Compak. Here we had two slight slight wins by the Compak, two by the Vario and two ties. We never could tell which grinder was which. On this day, the Vario played in the Titan league and won.

The result is rather better than any of the other Vario users have had. I do not know if that is due to production variations, or whether Kyle's Anderson's specific instructions on the tweak got this grinder to the stellar level Baratza had hoped it would attain.

The tweak puts the espresso level from the finest setting of the coarse slider, and roughly the 10th setting of the fine slider, to the 2nd finest setting of the coarse slider and again about the 10th setting of the fine setting slider. In all, you get 20 clicks of the fine slider to traverse the espresso range. It may be that this is the sweet spot for these grinders.

If this result holds up for all the test grinders, and the grinder is reliable, the Vario is the espresso bargain of the year.
Jim Schulman

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ddr

#24: Post by ddr »

Thanks for posting this Jim, and thanks for your hospitality. I was very glad to have my belief that the Vario is a great espresso grinder confirmed with blind testing.

Rob, I know you are waiting to hear about the Vario used for French Press; sorry, we were too wiped out after the 24 shots to do any more ;) I left the Vario with Jim for more testing as my press is packed up in a box and I will be out of town for a bit.
Dan
LMWDP #242

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dsc

#25: Post by dsc »

Hi guys,

so it's established that the Vario (or the model you were playing with in particular) is good for espresso, but seriously what about FP/drip? can it grind coarse enough when tweaked for espresso? will it hold its characteristics when switching from coarse/fine settings 3-4 times a day? will you have to un-tweak it to get good FP/drip extraction or will it work for it without touching any screws?

The grinder was advertised as a great one for all types of brewing, so in my opinion it should be tested not only with espresso, but with other methods as well.

Regards,
dsc.

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ddr

#26: Post by ddr »

dsc wrote:... but seriously what about FP/drip? Can it grind coarse enough when tweaked for espresso?
Hi Tom,

I would say yes, easily. HB's Vario did not need to be tweaked, and he has used his for both espresso and press ( Baratza Vario Grinder - Second Look )
The grinder was advertised as a great one for all types of brewing, so in my opinion it should be tested not only with espresso, but with other methods as well.
I can't drink that much coffee in a day (switching back and forth three times), but I can grind that much. What I will do, for a few weeks, each time I use the Vario for espresso is:
- switch the grind to press
- grind 20 grams
- visually check to see if the grinds look to be the proper size
- switch back to espresso
- grind, tamp, pull

While this will not tell you about the quality of the grind for press, it will say whether or not the mechanism for switching the grind back and forth holds up for a few weeks. I would say that this type of use would have to continue for years before anyone will know the long term answer.

One thing I did measure yesterday is how much coffee is wasted when switching coffee (not lost when making a shot, in this case it was switching from Bonko to Black Cat). To make the switch I removed tilted the grinder to empty the Bonko, then ground the trapped beans and weighed them. There was only 5.5 grams wasted on the switch.
Dan
LMWDP #242

akallio

#27: Post by akallio »

ddr wrote:One thing I did measure yesterday is how much coffee is wasted when switching coffee (not lost when making a shot, in this case it was switching from Bonko to Black Cat). To make the switch I removed tilted the grinder to empty the Bonko, then ground the trapped beans and weighed them. There was only 5.5 grams wasted on the switch.
Does the grinder have a latch on the hopper, like Mazzers and many others do? On my Mini-E, closing the latch and pouring out beans from the hopper will leave maybe something like 30-40 g beans inside, plus maybe 5 grams of grounds to the chute. You can scrape beans from inside the grinder, but that tends to be messy...

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hperry

#28: Post by hperry »

I don't use the hopper - just a measured 17 grams of beans. I'm not seeing any retainage. I pour 17g in and get 17g out.
Hal Perry

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another_jim
Team HB

#29: Post by another_jim »

Hal, are you talking about the Baratza Vario? There is a microswitch on the hopper mount. If you defeat the microswitch, the grinder throat only holds around 7 grams of beans.

On changing from espresso to press:

The good news is that I put 15 grams of beans into the empty hopper and ground out grind chamber today, and got 14.6 grams in the basket with no muss, no fuss. However, I don't know yet, how much of that 14.6 grams is from the 15 I put in, and how much is from the grind chamber.

So stay tuned on single dosing.

Switching a grinder between press and espresso requires a prior answer on the single dosing question. If you need to sacrificial grind, say, 21 grams of beans, to clear the hopper, grind chamber and doser (this is roughly what my K-10 requires when used with a hopper, since turning it upside down and shaking it is not an option), then switching between grind levels and coffees is going to be somewhat costly. If the sacrificial grinding comes to two or three grams, you're golden for home use. If it's around 7 grams (like my K-10 or most commercial grinders used without a hopper), it's doable, but nothing to write home about.
Jim Schulman

hperry

#30: Post by hperry »

another_jim wrote:Hal, are you talking about the Baratza Vario? There is a microswitch on the hopper mount. If you defeat the microswitch, the grinder throat only holds around 7 grams of beans.
Yes, sorry I didn't make that clear. I leave the hopper on, but simply dump my measured beans into it. It appears that what is going in is coming out almost entirely.
Hal Perry