Baratza Vario Super Alignment owner experience - Page 10

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

#91: Post by Jake_G » Oct 20, 2019, 11:01 am

mlunsford27 wrote:when I had the grinder reassembled, I colored the outer part of the bottom burr blue with a washable marker and ran the motor, moving the adjustment arms until the burrs barely touched for a few seconds. Only about half the circumference of the top burr had blue on it.
Did you color the burr and spin by hand before reassembly?

If you go through all the hassle of alignment, it would be a very big disappointment indeed to reassemble without first checking only to find that you had to pull it all apart to try again. I don't reassemble I've first verified that the alignment is perfect. That means all I have on the bench is the motor plate, with grind chamber and motor attached and i pull the upper burr to check alignment (and make corrections as needed) before reassembly.
Quester wrote:Peter, do you think some people might get confused about what "down" on the levers means?
Its very possible. In order to access the screws that secure the grind chamber, the guts of the grinder need to be set on the workbenches upside down. I set it on the throat of the upper burr carrier, so the motor is pointing up and the levers would need to be pressed downwards in this orientation to bring the burrs together. As has been mentioned by others, one can simply press down on the brass block that the LBC rides on to square the burrs up, but the levers to offer a bit more, well, leverage.
mlunsford27 wrote:What I ended up doing was putting some paper between the top burr and top burr carrier where there was no blue (where the burrs didn't touch) to better align the burrs.
I trust you mean you placed the paper where there was blue? The burrs touch where the blue is removed...

There is no shame in paper shims. Just remember that using shims with ceramic burrs is a bad idea, as they can break if the mounting surface isn't seated squarely on the burr carrier.

Cheers!

- Jake

STG

#92: Post by STG » Oct 20, 2019, 4:10 pm

ben8jam wrote:Updated to steel burrs and did the alignment steps, but there's still a pretty wide range of grind sizes. Evident in hand and also in the filter with some post pour-over muddiness with Kalita Wave. Perhaps my expectations were a bit high when comparing to commercial pour over grinders with much bigger burrs....

Is anyone here using the Vario with steel as a pour over grinder?
I just got my Vario back from Baratza with the Forte burr chamber and steel burrs. I had previously shelved the Vario after upgrading to Niche Zero. I have to say my initial impression is the Vario with steel burrs is significantly better than the Niche Zero at pour over grinding. I didn't even bother with this alicorn shennanigans alignment.

false1001

#93: Post by false1001 » Oct 21, 2019, 2:34 pm

Jake_G wrote: If you go through all the hassle of alignment, it would be a very big disappointment indeed to reassemble without first checking only to find that you had to pull it all apart to try again. I don't reassemble I've first verified that the alignment is perfect. That means all I have on the bench is the motor plate, with grind chamber and motor attached and i pull the upper burr to check alignment (and make corrections as needed) before reassembly.

Its very possible. In order to access the screws that secure the grind chamber, the guts of the grinder need to be set on the workbenches upside down. I set it on the throat of the upper burr carrier, so the motor is pointing up and the levers would need to be pressed downwards in this orientation to bring the burrs together. As has been mentioned by others, one can simply press down on the brass block that the LBC rides on to square the burrs up, but the levers to offer a bit more, well, leverage.

- Jake
This thread and your work is greatly appreciated Jake, the promise of an ultra aligned Vario would really change things for me. Just wanted to give some small feedback and say that encouraging random people on the internet to have their Vario plugged in and turned on while not fully assembled sounds like an easy way to get an ambitious person hurt. I also learned an awful lot about my Vario when constantly un/reassembling it when I was first aligning it.

Also, I think a video of the final step would be a huge help if someone has a tripod available. I've tried this twice now and after removing all of my shims I can see i'm more aligned, but i'm still not very close to the perfect results I'm seeing some people accomplish in this thread. I'm sure there's a trick I'm missing somewhere, but it's hard to know just from the text descriptions in this thread. I also still have the plastic housing, so maybe there's just a different level of tolerance with those.

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Jake_G
Team HB

#94: Post by Jake_G » Oct 21, 2019, 3:48 pm

false1001 wrote:Just wanted to give some small feedback and say that encouraging random people on the internet to have their Vario plugged in and turned on while not fully assembled sounds like an easy way to get an ambitious person hurt.
I agree and I would most certainly not advocate such steps be taken by anyone, myself included. If you could point me to where I made such encouragement, I will modify my post to make it clear that I don't suggest anyone do that.

What I did was either spin the burrs by hand to identify the ink pattern or hook up an 18V drill battery to the motor to spin it under it's own power. Either way works fine. It would quite difficult and I dangerous to hook the motor and control panel back up to the mains and try doing this using with 120V/240V out in the open. So no. Don't do that!

Cheers!

- Jake

false1001

#95: Post by false1001 » replying to Jake_G » Oct 22, 2019, 12:08 pm

Yup just making sure, all too often you see people dive into DIY projects with no safety context.

To add some very unscientific data points I ground three different coffees (Light roast Colombia, light roast Ethiopia, medium roast Rwanda) with the new alignment this morning. I shook the grinds in a cheap Amazon grounds filter cup for 30 seconds each time to "measure fines". FWIW I actually do get pretty consistent results with this method so the data shouldn't be entirely random. I normally got around 8-9% fines by weight before Alicorn-ing and this morning the fines ranged from 8%-12%. So actually more fines by weight. However, the grounds looked visually more uniform, my drawdown in a Kalita wave (which I've found to be extremely sensitive to grind adjustments) was more consistent between pours (and seemed faster, but I have no data to back that up), and there was a slight but definitely noticeable increase in clarity and cleanliness in the cup for all three coffees. Promising so far, but I'm afraid i'll have to upgrade the burr carrier to get the full effect.

Also, has anyone encountered an issue where the gross adjustment lever blocks the burr carrier screw slightly while pushed down? I'm afraid I didn't quite align it perfectly due to having to screw in from an angle because of that.

neohk

#96: Post by neohk » Nov 06, 2019, 7:50 pm

Jake_G wrote:Those shots are with the ceramic burrs.

I used the steels to align it purely for the contrast of the marker on the burrs (hard to see black dry erase on the ceramic burrs) and then swapped the ceramic burrs back in for testing.

It's the lower burr carrier that is different. The grind chambers are identical. I'm still in the process of evaluating the performance but so far it is hanging neck and neck with SSP equipped SJ.

The first Forté I did, the original "Alicorn" measured 3 microns TIR when turning the lower burr carrier by hand. This one was maybe 6, but I turned it with an 18V drill battery and the needle was bouncing because I did a poor job of ensuring everything was well fixtured. Suffice it to say that an unsecured part rotating under its own power isn't likely to lead to reduced runout when measured by a fixed dial indicator...

Yes.

All that is needed to get the Forté/Vario into a ridiculous state of alignment is to gently apply pressure to the levers when securing the grind chamber to the motor plate. That's all Baratza would need to do to dominate the market with these grinders. It's very odd to me that only 3 days before I got the grinder, someone else followed a simple procedure and shipped out a grinder that is "fine" when a slight alteration to the process makes it exemplary.

So far off was the grind chamber when I received it that when I loosened the screws to center the chamber, I lost calibration. What I mean is that the grinder was calibrated with about 72° of the lower burr in contact with the upper burr. Centering the grind chamber took the tilt out of the lower burr and with the levers all the way up, the lower burr didn't touch the upper any longer. I set the levers where I wanted the calibration point to be, loosened the primary calibration screw and nudged it backwards until I could feel the levers bringing the burrs together and snugged the calibration screw .this sounds complicated but it took me more time to go grab my 3mm hex key than it did to make the adjustment. After that, I slowly snugged the grind chamber screws back tight while managing belt tension and maintaining light pressure on the levers. That's all.

Before:
image


After:
image


I took pictures of the process. I'll try to post them in a simple step by step guide soonish.

Cheers!

- Jake
Hello, when you say ' gently apply pressure to the levers when securing the grind chamber to the motor plate' , do you mean the grind size adjustment levers?
Thanks

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Jake_G
Team HB

#97: Post by Jake_G » Nov 06, 2019, 7:51 pm

Yes

pcrussell50

#98: Post by pcrussell50 » Nov 06, 2019, 8:57 pm

neohk wrote:Hello, when you say ' gently apply pressure to the levers when securing the grind chamber to the motor plate' , do you mean the grind size adjustment levers?
Thanks
So this far down, in case it was lost in translation... the key to this whole shebang... the bottom burr of two different grinders in this family, a ten year old Vario and a current Forte, BOTH had 5-6 micron runout. That is world class. Monolith class. Maybe even better. SO... with that, if you loosen the top half, containing the upper burr, clamp it against the known good lower burr using the adjustment levers, this now forces the upper burr into alignment with the lower burr. Then tighten screws holding the top half so it holds the alignment once you remove the pressure being exerted by the adjustment levers.

The assumption here, based on the very diverse sample of two, is that the lower burr on any Vario or Forte probably has very low runout. Of course if you have a dial indicator you can/should verify it for yourself. It would be interesting to find out if the insanely good runout of BOTH the ten year old Vario and the brand new Forte are a crazy coincidence or something to be expected.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

Quester

#99: Post by Quester » Nov 07, 2019, 10:55 am

false1001 wrote:So actually more fines by weight. However, the grounds looked visually more uniform, my drawdown in a Kalita wave (which I've found to be extremely sensitive to grind adjustments) was more consistent between pours (and seemed faster, but I have no data to back that up), and there was a slight but definitely noticeable increase in clarity and cleanliness in the cup for all three coffees.
For both my EG-1 and Forte, a much finer grind setting than I had been using makes the drawdown times for V60s go down, not up. I assume the overall smaller target particle size lessens fines migration. Coffee tastes better.

mlunsford27

#100: Post by mlunsford27 » Nov 08, 2019, 4:13 pm

Hello All,

I wanted to give an update on my previous post on this thread. I tried several times to perform the alignment with decent results but not the perfect alignment. BUT, then instead of just loosening up the belt/motor, I completely removed the motor so that there was not tension in the belt. I then performed the alignment by tightening the metal grind chamber screws while lightly pushing down on adjustment arms to force the burrs into alignment...boom very first time got completely even marks all the way around the burr when I did the marker test.

So, takeaway is that if this alignment method is not working for anyone, try completely removing the motor, as the small tension on the belt may be enough to pull the bottom burr out of alignment I think.

Hope this helps someone.