Baratza Vario Super Alignment owner experience - Page 3

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB

#21: Post by Jake_G »

guydebord wrote:Also, both the grind adjustment levers are terribly tight and difficult to move, every time I want to adjust I have to use considerable force... is there a way to correct this?
Its the detent pins and springs in the Forté lever arms. They have a very positive engagement with a washboard surface on the backside of the upper casting. They should get easier to move with time...
guydebord wrote:Is there a simple video tutorial on how to align the burrs with shims and chalk? I must confess, I have never done anything remotely close to that....
There are a few videos out there showing the basic process for EK43 and Mythos grinders, but I haven't seen one for Baratza grinders. The process is the same regardless.

The reason I am fond of the Baratza design of the Forté/Vario is that by aligning the grind chamber to the motor plate, the upper and lower burr carriers become parallel by default. Because of this, you can safely remove your burrs for cleaning, swap between ceramic and steel and generally go about your business without ever worrying of your burrs are still aligned. The only way they wouldn't be is if the burrs themselves are not ground parallel to the mounting surface, or if the burrs have been run in an grinder with poor alignment long enough to have an offset wear pattern.

Also, shimming is a fine strategy for steel burrs, but I've heard that doing so on the ceramic burrs risks cracking the burrs in half.

We don't want that happening...

Cheers!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

Cerini Coffee & Gifts: official US importer for Olympia Express
Sponsored by Cerini Coffee & Gifts
pcrussell50 (original poster)

#22: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

guydebord wrote:This is really tempting but I don't feel comfortable disassembling my Forte, I wish Jake was closer to NYC. Is there a simple video tutorial on how to align the burrs with shims and chalk? I must confess, I have never done anything remotely close to that....

Also, both the grind adjustment levers are terribly tight and difficult to move, every time I want to adjust I have to use considerable force... is there a way to correct this?
Baratza has a host of self-help videos on YouTube, some of which contain quite a bit of disassembly guidance. I conjunction with Jake's photo journal, I would not be afraid to do it at all. Baratza has carried the ball all the way to the goal line by having bottom burr runout at better than world class spec. Since the bottom is taken care of, All you have to do is loosen the top, use the levers to press it down and hold it against the already aligned bottom burr, and then tighten it back up. Voila... instant alignment. No shims. No fiddling. Seems a shame to use shims and markers when all the hard work has already been done.
Jake_G wrote:Its the detent pins and springs in the Forté lever arms. They have a very positive engagement with a washboard surface on the backside of the upper casting. They should get easier to move with time...

Cheers!

- Jake
Maybe a little lube in the washboard where the pin nubs ride it?

-Peter
LMWDP #553

iBrew

#23: Post by iBrew »

I'm surprised if correcting the Vario and Forte alignments is this easy why they aren't doing it at the factory.

User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB

#24: Post by Jake_G »

As am I. :|
LMWDP #704

turbo290

#25: Post by turbo290 »

I was pretty excited when I read this post. I just finished the alignment procedure which took about 45 minutes. Jake, your pictorial is spot on and easy to follow. No surprises or left over bits.
I'm not going to start drinking espresso at 5pm so I won't know about comparisons until tomorrow. One thing I can say, is that calibration post adjustment seems much easier. I used to have a little trouble deciding what was the sweet spot during the process. Today the audible feedback was much more pronounced. Perhaps because the burrs are now properly aligned?

pcrussell50 (original poster)

#26: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

Of course one should have as good an alignment as possible. But as a rule of thumb it makes more and more difference in taste, the lighter you go in roast. So unless you are really pushing it hard into super fine territory for long pre infusion light roasts, the actual taste improvement might be hard to detect.

Part of this project is to determine how the "FortArio" family grinders play against the elites in this super challenging space.

They are already well known from back in the day, for being great in the thick, syrupy, espresso porn space. That's old news for these grinders.

Also, as Jake has implied, the basic non weighing Vario with it's basic hopper without any bean shut offs or such, and the flapper mod, makes for a superb single dosing grinder as well. I can confirm that static retention and the need for RDT is right about the same as my Monolith Flat.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB

#27: Post by Jake_G »

turbo290 wrote:I used to have a little trouble deciding what was the sweet spot during the process. Today the audible feedback was much more pronounced. Perhaps because the burrs are now properly aligned?
I believe this to be the case. Before, you would get partial contact and then only as you increased the interference would the motor slow as the lower burr carrier was forced into some sort of pseudo-alignment.

After Alicorn-ing the grinder, the belt holds the lower burr carrier firmly in position between the bushings in such a way that the burrs are coplanar on approach and on initial contact. This makes the grinders very much more user friendly in a lot of ways.

When I got the Vario, the light roast SO Vietnam Typica that I'm working with had a clear ashy bitterness to it that was not present with my Super Jolly. I believe this was over-extraction of the smaller particles that were produced on account of the wide spreads caused by the misalignment. With the levers as far fine as I could go, I was getting 34g out in 24s with sour notes of under-extraction dominating the palette with an ashy bitterness that left one feeling very uncertain of the path to a better shot.

Post alignment, my shots are very largely on par with the Super Jolly and workflow is 10x better. Literally all you do is RDT (I dose into a basket, sprits a drip of condensation from the steam wand into my blind basket, invert over the dose and shake) dump the dose into the hopper and hit "Start". 19g is done in ~16s. No puffing, no tapping. Just done.

It's a beautiful thing.
turbo290 wrote:I'm not going to start drinking espresso at 5pm so I won't know about comparisons until tomorrow.
Let us know how things taste in the morning.

Cheers!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

Espresso Vision: the perfect cup of coffee starts with understanding your roast
Sponsored by Espresso Vision
turbo290

#28: Post by turbo290 »

Happy to report shots are improved. Better mouth feel and greater separation of flavours. Since the Vario is my only grinder I can't unfortunately conduct a blind taste test. However, I know someone here will. Dialling in the grind was a snap by the way.

STG

#29: Post by STG »

After reading this thread being on the verge of selling my tired old Vario, I was almost feeling bad about "upgrading" to the Niche Zero. Then I recall all the janking around trying to dial in the grind with a new roast or adjusting the grind for pour-over and back to espresso again and the constant minor frustration and then I realize... I still think I made the right choice. So far. One thing you can say, Baratza has absolutely outstanding customer service and I feel like they will never leave a customer high and dry.

Should I have not given up on the Vario?

pcrussell50 (original poster)

#30: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) » replying to STG »

Even on my Monolith, switching back and forth in wide grind size swings requires running the motor with no beans in the hopper while simultaneously adjusting coarser and finer to relieve residual stress in the adjustment mechanism and clear out old grounds and get the "squeak-point" back to zero. I find it literally no different with my Vario. Of course, I've only ever single dosed it. I don't know if I've ever had more than one dose of beans in the hopper one single time in ten years.

On the flip side, I can see how trying to go back and forth between drip and espresso on a grinder with a hopper full of beans would be an exercise in wasted beans and frustration, and why owners of hopper grinders often have two grinders, one dedicated to espresso only. I have found that if you use the Vario as a single doser, it behaves like more or less like the Monolith Flat regarding the need for running the motor with no beans to relieve internal stresses. I don't drink much drip, but I have a dedicated grinder for it anyway.

So Andre check this out: Both the Monolith Flat and the Vario are flat burr grinders. I wonder if the need to clear out residual grinds and relieve the internal stress on the grinding mechanism is a flat burr thing? I don't recall having to do much of that on my motorized 83mm conical burr LWW HG1, come to think of it. In any event I don't do it often on the Vario or MonFlat because I don't use either the Vario or the Monolith for brew grinding. You now have a Niche, which is a conical. So maybe this need that flatties have, from Vario to Monolith, for relieving residual stress does not apply as much too conicals?

-Peter
LMWDP #553