TUS172 wrote:Hmm... $429.00 versus $569.00 for a Mazzer Mini. I would save for a couple of months and invest in a proven grinder...
This is a high end price. High end expectations are in accord. JMHO
The La Cimbali Junior...(My 1st real high end grinder. Has far exceeded my expectations)... The quality of build and grind are outstanding...
I've owned a Mini for close to 9 years----and a Vario for a bit over one year.
Early last week, the Vario whirred, whined, and spun. Maybe a stone? Called Baratza, got a telephone diagnosis. By Thursday I received parts (little plastic gear and a new belt.) Followed the pdf instructions and repair accomplished. No apparent damage to the burrs, but those ceramics are hard to judge if the only technique you have is running your thumb over them. It's worth noting that when it comes to skills suited to machine servicing, I'm not the sharpest sandwich at the picnic.
I use both machines as single-dose grinders. I've replaced the Mini's doser with an OEM stainless funnel from a timer model, and I use a shaped yogurt cup that "locks" around the funnel and nicely directs all the flying grounds into the 54mm basket. The Vario requires no such fiddling and wins on user-friendly.
I've never set out to do a cup-to-cup comparison of the grinders. The cup they produce is noticeably different, and the nature of the difference changes with different coffees, degrees of roast, and length of rest. Sometimes I'd give the edge to the Mini, sometimes to the Vario. In sum, I'd rate them as equals.
Although my Mini is about as basic a grinder as possible, it's still a brute of a precision machine. The Vario seems to be a delicate little thing--quieter with many more buttons and blinking LEDs. However, the Mini is relegated to decaf use when I'm pulling multiple shots for guests, and the Vario is my daily grinder. The biggest difference for me is the ease with which I can anticipate a grind setting. Where a single adjustment on the Vario gets me to the sweet spot, the Mazzer might take some triangulating with 2 or more adjustments.
So, as long as there's a human who picks up the phone at Baratza Central, I'm a fan. I think that it does compete with the Mini (sort of.) I'd recommend the Vario over the Mini, and if one wants a more robust grinder, to skip the Mini and go for one of the big guys.