Pharos vs HG 1 vs Baratza Vario that I have

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

#1: Post by jgood »

I have a Vario which I'm pretty happy with but always looking for even more magic in the cup! I tend to drink med dark roasts. My question is twofold -- will the Pharos or the HG 1 make a real difference, compared to my Vario -- and if so -- will there be a meaningful difference in the cup between the Pharos and the HG 1? I can see the HG 1 will be more convenient, and possibly faster, but will it make better espresso? Typically I make 2 doubles in the am and 2 doubles at lunchtime.

User avatar
baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by baldheadracing »

jgood wrote:... will the Pharos or the HG 1 make a real difference, compared to my Vario
ETA: This is in context of my Vario being stock with ceramic burrs, not Alicorn'd as it is now. I don't know how an Alicorn would do.

Yes in general, but it depended on the coffee. I found that the biggest difference was in ease of dialing-in.

(Roughly, the bigger the inner (cone) burr, the bigger the "sweet spot" before a change in grind setting to account for aging is wanted.)
jgood wrote:... will there be a meaningful difference in the cup between the Pharos and the HG 1? ...
Not in my experience. However, I did that comparison years ago between the first versions of both grinders.

Huge difference in the process, though. I'd get the HG-1 over the Pharos 2 if not constrained by budget.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

TallDan

#3: Post by TallDan »

I got a baratza vario and a HG-1 at the same time. I was never happy with the Vario for espresso, personally, and have been using the HG-1 for espresso and vario for other methods until recently. I know that many people here are very happy with the vario for espresso, so I'm in a minority, but I'd say that if you don't mind cranking it, the HG-1 is head and shoulders above the vario.

I tend to roast med-light, and I think that may be particularly unfavorable for the vario. It also makes the HG-1 kind of a pain to use.

jgood

#4: Post by jgood »

Thanks for the responses -- lots to consider. One more question -- if I ended up using the Pharos or HG 1 for Moka Pot (country house) how would either one do?

cmin

#5: Post by cmin »

I had a Voodoo mooded Pharos and HG1. Still used the Vario more (still have, one for pour over with steel burrs, other for spro). Wasn't really a difference except on light roast as Vario doesn't do that well with lighter coffees, I generally stick with med to med-light 80% of time and rest light roast. But I found hand grinding annoying, and where the Pharos and HG1 were better, light roast, that can be very annoying to grind and I lift 5x a week lol. And using a non Voodoo modded Pharos will make you bang your head against a wall. Though I did hear they made some changes on newer ones to be easier, not sure?

If you were spending HG1 money anyway, I would just pony up for an electric like Atom 75 etc. Cheaper, you have the Specialita.

jwCrema
Supporter ❤

#6: Post by jwCrema »

cmin wrote: If you were spending HG1 money anyway, I would just pony up for an electric like Atom 75 etc. Cheaper, you have the Specialita.
^^^This^^^^

Jeff

#7: Post by Jeff »

First, I completely agree with jwCrema is your goal is in-cup quality at a reasonable price. The HG-1 is beautiful and mitigates some of the usability challenges with many hand grinders, but it's a thousand dollars. And then people spend a few hundred on a motor kit... I bought my Compak K10 WBC for not much more than that, though admittedly a decade ago.

As you're drinking primarily dark roasts, I'm a bit more willing to share my perhaps outdated experiences in 2010-2011 with my Vario of that era, the original(?) Pharos, and the K10. Coffees were different then, with espresso probably being roasted darker than is the current practice. I was pulling local espresso roasts (Ritual, Four Barrel, ...) and drip-roast SO on roughly alternate weeks. The Titan Conical tests had just come out and I wanted to know about the same question as you; would a $1,000 grinder improve my coffee over the Vario? I bought the Pharos and used it for a while. When I switched from a Mazzer Mini to the early Vario, there was a very noticeable improvement in the cup. The change to the Pharos over the Vario was noticable, but not as significant. Based on that, I bought the K10 and eventually sold the Pharos. I continue to be very happy with the K10, cross-grading to the Niche Zero as we've moved and space is at more of a premium that it once was.

NB: This was before hyper-alignment or any other Vario mods. There are days I wish I still had the Vario to play with, now that these mods are reported to notably improve the performance of the Vario.