Baratza Vario Grinder - First Look - Page 20

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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HB
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#191: Post by HB »

I confirm that it is really hard to torque on the hopper tightly enough to press the small microswitch safety. I thought for certain it would snap, but it didn't. With that warning, look closely for microswitch that must be engaged by a U-shaped slot molded into the bottom of the hopper (sorry, there's no way that I'm taking it apart to post photos!). The tiny microswitch is on the far side of the grinder, right below the rim that accepts the bottom of the hopper.

I'm sure this is all covered in the instructions that I never read. :oops:
Dan Kehn

hperry

#192: Post by hperry »

HB wrote:I'm sure this is all covered in the instructions that I never read. :oops:
I'm not much for instructions either, but the reference that I found for the hopper was cryptic and didn't note the microswitch. However, I didn't read it carefully enough to say it wasn't there
Hal Perry

IMAWriter
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#193: Post by IMAWriter »

HB wrote:Wimp. :lol:
+1 :lol:
Rob
LMWDP #187
www.robertjason.com

IMAWriter
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#194: Post by IMAWriter »

flathead1 wrote:Nerd :)
Nice come back!
Rob
LMWDP #187
www.robertjason.com

portamento

#195: Post by portamento »

Man, there sure has been a lot of noise on this thread since the grinder was released. I am looking forward to more feedback on how this machine grinds coffee.

Is the french press grind dust-free with very even particles? Does it result in a really clean cup?

If so, is the espresso grind too even? Is it the "anti-conical" with a super-narrow particle distribution that makes for an unforgiving or one-dimensional cup profile?
Ryan

IMAWriter
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#196: Post by IMAWriter » replying to portamento »

We're all counting on the folks who have JUST received these grinders to answer those, and other questions.
As you well know, any new device takes a bit of dialing in, learning new methodology, trial and error (mostly error :lol: ) and as such, I'd imagine these folks need a week or so to REALLY have a well thought out opinion. Those are the thoughts I'm waiting for.
Rob
LMWDP #187
www.robertjason.com

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HB
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#197: Post by HB »

We had a good turnout for our informal Baratza Vario vs. Mazzer Mini shootout at Counter Culture. I worked the Mini and Bob worked the Vario. He fussed quite a bit with the grind setting and wasn't happy with the evenness of the Vario's natural drop pattern; Bob deftly corrected with Stockfleths Moves. The Mini is my long-dormant backup grinder, but dialing in was quick and easy. My only complaint was how slow it was compared to the other grinders at Counter Culture (Robur, Major, Jolly, and a host of others).

Cut to the chase:

Like Jim's Dalla Corte Mini vs. Elektra Semiautomatica experiment, there was no clear winner. Some, including me and Lem, thought the flavor profile of the Mini was better. The Vario's espressos had more body, especially the last couple shots. None of the shots were pulled blind, but even so, I think everyone agreed it was tough to pick one over the other. This was a much better showing for the Vario than last time against the Robur. One noteworthy difference isn't just the new competitor, but also the coffee. We used Toscano today, which has a larger margin of error than last week's Aficionado.
Dan Kehn

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sweaner
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#198: Post by sweaner »

Sounds like a moral victory for the Vario.

Next you should try a battle with the SJ. We also need someone to try the Vario with other brew methods.
Scott
LMWDP #248

IMAWriter
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#199: Post by IMAWriter »

Dan, can you explain what you mean by the Vario's "drop pattern?"
Thanks
Rob
LMWDP #187
www.robertjason.com

Bob Barraza

#200: Post by Bob Barraza »

I'll try to explain what I mean about the 'drop pattern'.

The Mini, like most grinders, has what you might call a delivery throat for the coffee to travel between the burrs and final delivery to the doser. The doser acts as a collection/mixing chamber and finally the 'trap door' that they finally drop through to the portafilter. All grinders have a characteristic of gently flinging the coffee to one side more than the other. For the sake of argument, that is what I was calling the drop pattern. Normally one compensates for this by continually moving the portafilter handle left to right to even the filling of the filter basket. With a doser, one has the advantage of looking down through the bottom of the doser into the portafilter, adjusting as needed.

The Vario is different in that the coffee seems to drop directly from the burrs and into the filter basket. The portafilter sits on its support directly under the drop area. All of this serves to minimize the amount of residual grinds between sessions/coffee types, and keeps the counter area tidy. The problem I had is that there didn't seem to be enough room to swing the portafilter handle back and forth to get an even distribution in the basket, and it was difficult to see what was going on unless I stopped the grinder and removed the portafilter to inspect.

At first I had trouble dialing in because it would either run too fast or choke. Then I began to notice a consistent sign of channeling (if the portafilter handle is at 6 o'clock, the channeling was around 7-8 o'clock). I compensated for this by grinding in 3 or 4 portions, removing the portafilter and thumping the portafilter against my hand to try to level the grounds, finishing up with the Stockfleth technique. The shots continued to pull unevenly and long with signs of minor channeling in the spent puck in the same location mentioned above.

I had a cold and was not in the mood to 'share' my cold so I did not participate in the tasting. Hence, I was surprised to hear the generally favorable comments on the shots I was pulling since they were running in the 30-35 second range, and significantly different delivery from both spouts of the portafilter. I wasn't intentionally trying for the long pulls, it was the best I could do in the allotted time before everyone needed to get to work. Given more time, I'm sure that I could have continued to improve.

In conclusion, although pricey, I think that this is a very nice grinder, sexy looking, and compact. The biggest selling point might be the ability to pre-set the grind time for up to three coffees. However, I don't know that I would be able to use that feature for espresso since I needed to interrupt the grinding to redistribute the coffee several times for each basket preparation. Also, the electronics and dainty grind adjustment levers would be a consideration for me as compared to the Mazzer Mini which is the equivalent of the AK-47 that can be field stripped and reassembled quickly with common tools.

I want to reiterate that I only spent a short time with the grinder, however, someone mentioned on Friday that Ian Stewart had made the same observation about the drop pattern. The last thought.... we visually compared the grind quality and it appeared very uniform, so the key is in getting a good distribution.

Cheers
Bob Barraza

LMWDP#0021