The Alicorn: Achieving Precision Alignment with the Baratza Forté/Vario - Page 26

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
pcrussell50 (original poster)

#251: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

jamesb23 wrote:Makes sense. I need to determine what I like better for espresso between Vario steel/ceramic and my Sette. I'm probably not going to want to swap steel for ceramic every weekend just to do espresso. I also sadly may not be able to tell since the Breville Infuser isn't the most reliable machine. If I can justify the expense with my wife, I may get an ECM Classics or something similar in the future. The new flow control on these machines is intriguing too.
OT warning:
I've never had an Infuser, never tried one, never even seen one in person... But one of my mates here on HB, who has had a GS/3 and now has a DE and super high end grinders, IOW this bloke has high end tastes, nevertheless got an Infuser for his daughter in college, his daughter who grew up using high end equipment herself. And last report I heard, was quite satisfied with it. I would definitely make sure you are getting the maximum out of it that you can, before you move on. Then you can have the most valid possible comparison.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

jamesb23

#252: Post by jamesb23 » replying to pcrussell50 »

Biggest problem I've had is back to back the shots can be inconsistent, even after I think I've dialed in. I do believe it's capable of decent espresso, but it's frustrating sometimes, likely because of pressure and/or temp fluctuations. So I hear what you're saying but my hunch is that the Sette and its grind is holding me back less than the Infuser. I'm certainly curious if Vario changes that if I can align it!

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fsatira

#253: Post by fsatira »

I have attempted the mod on an original Vario. Unfortunately, the two M3x12 screws were fused to the aluminum casting and broke inside. As well, one of the 4 M3.5 x 16 screws did the same. Any advice on removing the fragments from the top outside casting, and sources in Canada for the screws?
I tried reaching out to Baratza for their overhaul service, but is is only available to US customers. Ryan at Baratza was very gracious, and may still be a source in case I need a new casting. I found someone who had the same issue, but searched and did not find if they were able to remove the broken screw fragments. Thanks!

Steveberco

#254: Post by Steveberco »

If you're looking for Canadian based service, idrinkcoffee.com is our local authorized Baratza service outfitter. Baratza does send parts to Canada for DIY work though.

pcrussell50 (original poster)

#255: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

fsatira wrote:I have attempted the mod on an original Vario. Unfortunately, the two M3x12 screws were fused to the aluminum casting and broke inside. As well, one of the 4 M3.5 x 16 screws did the same. Any advice on removing the fragments from the top outside casting, and sources in Canada for the screws?
I tried reaching out to Baratza for their overhaul service, but is is only available to US customers. Ryan at Baratza was very gracious, and may still be a source in case I need a new casting. I found someone who had the same issue, but searched and did not find if they were able to remove the broken screw fragments. Thanks!
My Vario is hyper aligned, (and with the two key Forte bits). And I have some frozen screws (maybe just one, I don't recall) in the metal part of the casing as well, (my Vario is one of the ancient originals, from summer 2009). But I cut one of the screws in half and proceeded anyway. So there is at least on place where a frozen screw is cut and doing nothing. I plan to address it at some point. But it's down my list a way.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

cskorton

#256: Post by cskorton »

Can anyone compare tastes in the cup between their hyper aligned Forte/Vario vs a Monolith Flat Titan or Max for espresso? Say, between light, medium, and dark roasts? I can get a refurb Forte for $750, as opposed to $3k for a monolith.

Quester

#257: Post by Quester » replying to cskorton »

I have a Forte BG and a MAX. My Forte is perfect with an ink test, but I'm not sure that's as good as going through the alignment procedure.

In terms of taste, I enjoy both, but I do notice the MAX accentuates some flavors that none of my other grinders are able to do in the same way. Keep in mind that I've not used anything darker than medium on either grinder. On a side note, I found the flavor of the Forte BG to be somewhat similar to the original burr in the EG-1.

I realize this is beyond the scope of your question, but some of this might be helpful as well.

Shots are easier to pull with the Forte BG--by quite a bit. The 98mm SSP LU burrs on my MAX produce so few fines that puck prep has to be really good.

The experience of using the MAX is a delight. Big chunk of metal. Great engineering. Strong earth magnets for the chute. Just pleasing. It's also much quieter than the Forte BG.

When I'm grinding really fine, the micro adjustments on the Forte can be just a tad too big. Adjusting on the MAX is better in every way.

Keep in mind the MAX now comes with burrs Denis designed--and there are options for different uses and roasts. So, they will be different than the SSP burrs I have.

If you are just looking at value in terms of the quality of coffee versus price, the Forte (and Niche) are hard to beat. And you can get a Forte right now--as you point out.

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Willinak
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#258: Post by Willinak »

Quester wrote:I have a Forte BG and a MAX.
If you are just looking at value in terms of the quality of coffee versus price, the Forte (and Niche) are hard to beat. And you can get a Forte right now--as you point out.
I have the BG and replaced the steel burr set with the ceramic set. The reason is that I had more difficulty getting puck resistance with the steel burrs, so I decided to try the ceramics since they're a lot cheaper than a grinder. I will say the ceramics solved the resistance issue and work well with my Decent with most espresso profiles.
I will also say, if I wanted brew most of the time, I'd probably switch back to the steel burrs because I think there is more "clarity" for lack of better vocabulary. I'm sure the ceramic produce more fines and when you pack those in a matrix with more coarse particles it's a denser puck, at least that's my theory.
All said the Forte' is an excellent, easy to use grinder, and the Baratza folks offer great service. I have a Niche on order, because of it's popularity with the H-B group. There's a lot of plastic in it, and that gives me concern but it supposedly grinds well and lasts. I'm still giving the Lagom the side eye.

Quester

#259: Post by Quester »

Willinak wrote:I have the BG and replaced the steel burr set with the ceramic set. The reason is that I had more difficulty getting puck resistance with the steel burrs, so I decided to try the ceramics since they're a lot cheaper than a grinder. I will say the ceramics solved the resistance issue and work well with my Decent with most espresso profiles.
The steels on my Forte are right on the edge of what works well with the DE1, but I think it works because I lucked out and got one from the factory that was well aligned. Right now I'm alternating between Forte and MAX for brew as well.
Willinak wrote:I will also say, if I wanted brew most of the time, I'd probably switch back to the steel burrs because I think there is more "clarity" for lack of better vocabulary.
What's been surprising is how well my MAX does brew. It will be interesting to compare the SSP burrs I have now with the Shuriken L/M I have on order.
Willinak wrote:I have a Niche on order, because of it's popularity with the H-B group. There's a lot of plastic in it, and that gives me concern but it supposedly grinds well and lasts. I'm still giving the Lagom the side eye.
Over the holidays I was up in the mountains and pulled shots every day for three weeks on my BDB (profiling) and my daughter's Niche. The Niche is a delight to use, and the prep is so much easier. It's also super satisfying to pull it apart, take all the bits out, and clean.

cskorton

#260: Post by cskorton »

So I guess the two thousand dollar question is, do you think the MAX is worth the huge premium over the Forte for espresso? It sounds like if you're pushing the boundaries on light roasts, maybe? What about medium and dark roasts or for those of us who like boring old 1:2 ratios? Have you ever tried blind taste tastes between the two?

With Scott Rao touting the use of his Niche and Forte at home, I guess I'm just skeptical of dropping all that $$ for a Monolith.

I'll caveat that by saying the best light roast shot I ever had of my life was pulled on a well aligned EK43, so similar to the MAX. It was significantly more balanced, layered, cleaner, and picked up notes that my Kinu m68 cannot (or is it a lack of skill on my part??).

The hard question everyone has to ask themselves is how much is pulling those extra notes worth it to them and how much effort and time are you willing to put into aligning a Forte? That's what I'm struggling with.