Owner experience with Baratza Vario

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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Chert
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#1: Post by Chert »

Two cents on the BV after 3-4 days use. I am making espresso with Zoka Paladino which I like very much. At least after ten shots, gradually tightening the grind, I can see that I will have to recalibrate toward finer grind. So far my Zassenhaus produces much tastier Paladino shots than the Vario, but I get out of the house to go to work much faster. Using the grinder with the portaholder housing removed, my counter is much cleaner. The funnels sold by Orphan Espresso make a great accessory for use with the La Pavoni.


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kmills

#2: Post by kmills »

I'm a materials engineer! I just took a look at my Vario and its materials and I'd put a good bit of money on the three retaining tabs for the upper burrs carrier being made out of some GFRP or glass fiber reinforced polymer. GFRPs are identifiable by their unusually rough surface. A good example is the large chaff collector and lid for the Gene Cafe roaster. GFRPs are WAY stiffer than regular polymers and in general are tougher and stronger too. I can attest to this because a spent a good bit of my senior undergraduate time in an injection molding and materials testing lab watching parts get pulled to destruction (only 2 years ago). I can't comment on the mechanical design but the material is a good choice in terms of performance particularly when you consider that its a 20 cent part where as one milled out of steel or aluminum would cost $20 and not be much stiffer.

The burrs are really exciting too, Id bet they are yttria stabilized zirconia. I very tough (in a ceramic perspective) and very hard material which will last longer than any other part on the machine. Just don't feed it silicon carbide or diamonds.

The rest of the machine seems pretty well made as well but I do have a lot of static. I use a yogurt cup to stop that though. I don't understand why people say try new beans though, isn't this whole mess designed to deliver the goodness of the beans we desire? So that may be a real downside but an easy work around.

If HB need a resident materials tester I'm happy to fill the roll and answer questions!

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akallio

#3: Post by akallio »

kmills wrote:I very tough (in a ceramic perspective) and very hard material which will last longer than any other part on the machine. Just don't feed it silicon carbide or diamonds.
Or rocks. Looking at how often people (like me) have their Vario burrs broken by a single rock, it seems that unfortunately the average life time of those ceramic burrs is a lot shorter than of metal ones.

wookie

#4: Post by wookie »

akallio wrote:Looking at how often people (like me) have their Vario burrs broken by a single rock, it seems that unfortunately the average life time of those ceramic burrs is a lot shorter than of metal ones.
There is a basic trade off between burr hardness and brittleness. Ceramic burrs are probably both more durable (longer rated life) and more susceptible to catastrophic damage if you are unfortunate enough to have a rock end up in your coffee grinder.

But that doesn't mean that steel burrs are rock proof either. If a rock goes through steel burrs, there may be "less" damage, but it will probably still affect the grind enough to warrant replacement. For that reason, I check every bag of beans before grinding by emptying the bag on a white surface and culling anything that stands out by size or appearance. As a rough guess, I find one stone per 200 lbs of roasted beans.

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dialydose

#5: Post by dialydose »

akallio wrote:Or rocks. Looking at how often people (like me) have their Vario burrs broken by a single rock, it seems that unfortunately the average life time of those ceramic burrs is a lot shorter than of metal ones.
I haven't noticed an outbreak of Vario owners putting rocks in their grinders, but as a general matter it is a bad idea for any grinder. I think your comment is borne out of frustration with the fact that you put a rock through your grinder, not with the fact that doing so had consequences. It doesn't speak to the design of the grinder. When a small rock found its way into my M4, the burrs didn't "break" but certainly had to be replaced.

akallio

#6: Post by akallio »

I've got a stone or two through Mazzer, without any noticeable traces in the burrs or the quality of grounds. Maybe I was too eager to replace Vario burrs after the stone, but at least they had a couple of pieces missing, which was easy to spot. Also one reseller considered using broken burrs to void warranty, though Baratza disagreed and the story had a happy ending.

I am not saying that ceramic burrs are bad. They are just often considered to have extremely long life time, meaning that they stay sharp for a long time. However the probability of getting through the extremely long life time without any stones getting into grinder seems quite small to me (depending of course on your beans, routines etc.), why I would not emphasise that aspect of ceramic burrs so much. They are great in home use for other reasons.

jasonmolinari

#7: Post by jasonmolinari »

Speaking of burrs...how much do the vario burr replacements cost?

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akallio

#8: Post by akallio »

In Europe, about 55 euros with shipping.

jasonmolinari

#9: Post by jasonmolinari »

So about 2x what a Mini burrs are...just wondering.

Beezer

#10: Post by Beezer »

OK, I just received a refurbed Vario grinder.

I installed the hopper as per the instructions, and made sure to rotate the hopper until I heard a click and the tab on the back of the hopper lined up with the notch in the grinder body. I plugged it in and put in some beans, but the grinder doesn't seem to have any power. No LEDs lit up, no timer display, and no grinding action. I tried several times to rotate the hopper further, but it won't budge. I also removed and reinstalled the hopper several times, and nothing. I tried plugging it into various receptacles, and I tested to make sure the receptacles had power. Still no joy. I even tried pushing the little switch inside the hopper throat to see if that would activate the power, but it didn't do anything.

So any other ideas? I have sent an email to Baratza, but I don't think I'm going to hear from them until tomorrow since it's almost five o'clock already.

Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions.
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