Baratza Vario Super Alignment owner experience - Page 25

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
PaddyBerlin

#241: Post by PaddyBerlin »

I finally took the plunge this weekend after being inspired by this reddit thread in which someone did the alignment procedure without the Forté grind chamber installed.

I had been hesitating because my 2019 Mahlkönig Vario has the plastic grind chamber.

Long story short, it worked almost perfectly:

Before:


After:


I'm now considering using a few shims to try to get that last little bit at the top right of the top burr sorted.

The circuit board is slightly different than the one Jake was working on, but it was easy to adjust the procedure accordingly.

Circuit Board of 2019 Mahlkönig Vario:



The difference in the cup is huge. It's night and day from before. No more boulders, and a huge increase in clarity and flavour.

My zero point where the burrs first touch is set at 1F. Previously I was grinding at around 5G for V60, and now I'm all the way up to between 8G and 10W. Once I get the alignment perfect, I will have to move the primary calibration screw to set it coarser so that I have more room to get up to a french press grind.

If anyone is still hesitating, I can attest to how well this procedure works.

turbo290

#242: Post by turbo290 »

At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I did the mod back in September and have been enjoying wonderful no clump fluffy grounds since. I see no reason to upgrade. When I see people asking for grinder recommendations, especially affordable options, the Vario is never on the list. Too bad the Vario has fallen off the radar as an excellent espresso grinder.

pcrussell50

#243: Post by pcrussell50 » replying to turbo290 »

Couldn't agree more. I won't sell my super-aligned Vario for anything, and I have a Monolith Max. While the Max is way more solid in look and feel, I'm still not convinced of the difference in the cup. (Still taste testing).

-Peter
LMWDP #553

neohk

#244: Post by neohk »

PaddyBerlin wrote:I finally took the plunge this weekend after being inspired by this reddit thread in which someone did the alignment procedure without the Forté grind chamber installed.

I had been hesitating because my 2019 Mahlkönig Vario has the plastic grind chamber.

Long story short, it worked almost perfectly:

Before:
image

After:
image

I'm now considering using a few shims to try to get that last little bit at the top right of the top burr sorted.

The circuit board is slightly different than the one Jake was working on, but it was easy to adjust the procedure accordingly.

Circuit Board of 2019 Mahlkönig Vario:

image

The difference in the cup is huge. It's night and day from before. No more boulders, and a huge increase in clarity and flavour.

My zero point where the burrs first touch is set at 1F. Previously I was grinding at around 5G for V60, and now I'm all the way up to between 8G and 10W. Once I get the alignment perfect, I will have to move the primary calibration screw to set it coarser so that I have more room to get up to a french press grind.

If anyone is still hesitating, I can attest to how well this procedure works.
Is it the same in vario you have a gap for a spacer under the steel burrs?
how did it go?

User avatar
mwebber

#245: Post by mwebber »

pcrussell50 wrote:Couldn't agree more. I won't sell my super-aligned Vario for anything, and I have a Monolith Max. While the Max is way more solid in look and feel, I'm still not convinced of the difference in the cup. (Still taste testing).

-Peter
I'm taking delivery of a new Forte next week because of what I've seen in this thread and the Alicorn thread. I ordered it with the ceramic burrs (planning on using it primarily for espresso). Should I grab a set of the steel burrs, too? I'm curious what the difference between the two is like in the cup with a super-aligned grinder.

pcrussell50

#246: Post by pcrussell50 » replying to mwebber »

The analogy to use/way I look at it is this: The ceramic is great "all rounder" burr. Almost impossible to make bad coffee with. It produces a wide distribution of grind sizes (without too many fines or boulders), for a rich mouthfeel in traditional espressos. It is less sensitive to alignment and will still make a great espresso even if not. The steel, when used for espresso, AND the grinder aligned, produces a very specific and narrow grind size, which also happens to be right where a lot of the cutting edge baristas pushing for maximum extraction yield out of light roasts like to be, and for baristas in general who like well developed light roasts, extracted just so. You might give up some mouthfeel due to fewer fines, in exchange for great clarity... but you can also "fake it" by pulling short or ristretto that still works even for light roasts.

TL;DR: If you are the sort who has been looking at Monolith FlatSSP or Monolith Max, and you know specifically why you have been looking at them, (other than the usual coolness/gotta have it factor), you will want a set of the steels for your Forte, to go along with the ceramics. You can swap back and forth without messing up the alignment.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

neohk

#247: Post by neohk » replying to pcrussell50 »

Would I mess up the alignment if I have to pull out the lower burr carrier to fit the spacers? Or is it only possible/recommended with a fully disassembled forte so I might as well do it while aligning?
Thanks

User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB

#248: Post by Jake_G »

Not at all.

The alignment itself is a method of ensuring that the axis of the upper and lower bushings are aligned with each other and are holding the journal of the burr carrier vertically such that the burrs are coplanar. Removing the lower burr carrier should have zero impact on that alignment once you've tightened the grind chamber to the motor plate. The lower burr carrier comes out quite easily and drops back into place with a little wiggling and twisting action to index it with the drive pulley.

The thing you have to look out for is the trust bearing on the Forte. The bottom of the burr carrier on the Vario rests directly on the brass ramp that Baratza calls the "Adjustment Spline", so all you do there is drop the carrier into the hex bore of the drive pulley. The Forte has a thrust bearing that rests on the adjustment spline and a little pin on the end of the burr carrier must be dropped into the center of the thrust bearing. It's easy enough, but the thrust bearing is just sort of hanging out on top of the adjustment spline, so have a long pointed implement like a bamboo skewer or equivalent is handy to line up the thrust washer before trying to drop the lower carrier into position.

Here's what that thrust washer looks like when looking into the grinder for reference:


As long as that silver thrust bearing is in the middle of the lower bushing, you should be good to go.

Cheers!

- Jake

User avatar
mwebber

#249: Post by mwebber »

pcrussell50 wrote:The analogy to use/way I look at it is this: The ceramic is great "all rounder" burr. Almost impossible to make bad coffee with. It produces a wide distribution of grind sizes (without too many fines or boulders), for a rich mouthfeel in traditional espressos. It is less sensitive to alignment and will still make a great espresso even if not. The steel, when used for espresso, AND the grinder aligned, produces a very specific and narrow grind size, which also happens to be right where a lot of the cutting edge baristas pushing for maximum extraction yield out of light roasts like to be, and for baristas in general who like well developed light roasts, extracted just so. You might give up some mouthfeel due to fewer fines, in exchange for great clarity... but you can also "fake it" by pulling short or ristretto that still works even for light roasts.

TL;DR: If you are the sort who has been looking at Monolith FlatSSP or Monolith Max, and you know specifically why you have been looking at them, (other than the usual coolness/gotta have it factor), you will want a set of the steels for your Forte, to go along with the ceramics. You can swap back and forth without messing up the alignment.

-Peter
This is a perfect analogy. Thanks, Peter!

I feel like I might stick with the ceramics for a while, at least until I upgrade from the La Pavoni. I've been eyeing a Linea Mini for a few years and this might be the year I pull the trigger. I am primarily a pourover person, so swapping in the steel burrs might make sense if I find the ceramics unsatisfying for medium grinds. Have you tried using the ceramic burrs for pourover?

pcrussell50

#250: Post by pcrussell50 » replying to mwebber »

I have not tried either ceramic or steel for pourover... simply because I am not a big pourover drinker. When I do, I have an old Kitchen Aid Proline grinder I use for Chemex or Aeropress or if I make a single serve drip using my flow controlled espresso machine (one of the neat tricks if you have flow control). I leave my espresso grinders set for espresso. :| It's just easier that way for me.

The Linea Mini is a fabulous look and feel machine. But don't be surprised if you find it less "flexible" than your Pavoni when it comes to shot pulling. With your Pavoni, you have control of the flow rate based on how hard you pull the lever. You will lose that with the LMLM. Of course, it's super temperature stable, so you will not have to put yourself in sync with your machine to get the extraction temperature you want. With the LMLM, you will just walk up and pull, any time you like, and the temperature will always be right. Pick your poison.

-Peter
LMWDP #553