goalerjones wrote:As I read more about grinders I see that my current model, Baratza Vario, was once "all the rage". Now it seems, when it's mentioned it's treated more as a red-headed stepchild.
As I consider new grinder discussions and research, I have to wonder has grinder tech advanced so far that my model is like owning a tricycle, while others race around on Cannondale 950gm bikes? Or is it that Upgrade-itis has overtaken the industry and made yesterday less appealing?
Disclosure: I've never used a Vario.
I'll say that your use
of the bicycle simile is spot on, but I think your execution
is off -- it's a bit exaggerated. The Vario is still a competent grinder, especially at its price. If you're comparing the Baratza to contemporary European grinders, I'd say it's more like an aluminum Trek from 2006
2009 versus a carbon Bianchi from now. Both Trek and Baratza are value-oriented companies that design products which attempt to deliver results above their price range. This comes at the cost of cache, always, and sometimes perceived quality, sometimes functional reliability.
At the time the Vario was released it caused a stir because it offered great grind quality, decent adjustment, and a home-friendly housing all for a price well under the commercials. At that time there wasn't as much competition in the high-end but strictly-home espresso grinder segment. It's chief competitor, I'd imagine, was the Rocky, a great and more solidly-built all arounder but inferior espresso grinder.
Nowadays I think the market has caught on and caught up with the Vario, even including Baratza themselves with the Sette 270. Then as now there has always been the option to buy used commercials but for some these don't meet space/appearance criteria. I think the Vario is still a relevant grinder, but I do think the Sette, if the bugs can be worked out, will be its spiritual successor. The only reason I'd say you should upgrade to another grinder is if you believe it worth the price. If you're happy with the look and feel of your Vario and, of course, the coffee it makes, then who cares about state-of-the-art grinders?
Just my two cents