Single Dosing My Baratza Vario Success!

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

#1: Post by Joejoe »

I have had a Vario now for a few years and have used it with pretty good success. I recently found a great way to single dose with it that is working wonderfully and it makes it essentially a zero waste grinder. I also have it producing excellent fluffy grinds and it is repeatable over and over again.

First and foremost for the majority of the time I have had the vario I used it with a full hopper and I had to flush out 3-6 grams before using it and between adjustments of course. I would try to stay ahead of the grinder changing as of the hopper of beans dropped by adjusting finer and finer as the hopper got lower. I also got clumpy grinds but I don't think this itself was an issue but they weren't that pretty. When it was dialed in it worked well and I was mildly successful at best but I wasn't 100% satisfied and I wasted a decent amount. Making good espresso is like trying to hit a moving target and this grinder, like most, just added to the difficulty.

I tried to single dose but it never worked. I wouldn't get everything out that I put in for a few shots and then all of a sudden it would "puke" out a bunch of extra grinds. It also wouldn't grind fine enough and the grind would change.

What was keeping me from single dosing I discovered was a little rubber flap. You see flat burr grinders have a flap between the grinding chamber and the chute that is designed to essentially "clog" the grinder and slow down the grind so the grinds don't come flying out and cause a ton of static. This is also is what causes the vario to have clumpy grinds and was the culprit as to why not all the coffee was coming out when single dosing. This clogging also makes the grinder grind finer so for a few doses it would be coarser then it would clog up and get finer, then those grinds would release and it would get course again.

How did I overcome all this you ask, I'll tell you.

A) Take the grinder apart and remove that rubber flap. You can stick you finger up the chute and feel it. It is simple operation done with only a screw driver and 5 minutes. I didn't remove it completely, I took it off and put it back upside down, it is still there but pointing up out of the way. It also acts as a gasket for the chute so don't completely remove it.

B) Use the water drop trick on the beans to nullify the static issue. I weight out the beans and then drop a few drops of water and shake them up. Then I drop them in the grinder, I just have to double check the all go down cause a bean or two might get stuck to the side of the hopper. Some science magic at work here but it works perfect.

C) Calibrate the vario much much tighter. The burrs do touch but they are designed to, there are flat spots on the burrs that are designed to rub, the cutting blades will not touch and when the beans are in the burrs the burrs are under a lot of pressure and they get spread apart. My vario burrs start to touch and the motor goes under load somewhere around 3, not 1 like they used to recommend. I called baratza and the tech stated it was fine to have it calibrated this way. The tech also told me the factory setting for when the burrs touch is now somewhere around 2 and not 1 anymore.

That's it. I put 16g in and I get 16g of beautiful fluffy grinds out every single time. I am very mindful of distribution when I am grinding straight into my basket, I don't wdt. I either use just the basket or a bottomless portafilter. The bottomless is easier to manipulate and get the grinds in all the corners, kind of a nutation around. The spouts on a spouted portafilter get in the way and hit the back of the grinder. I level off what I don't get flat when grinding with my finger and I give a simple tamp. I have been getting excellent naked extractions too. I waste essentially nothing except when dialing in and I can switch beans easily. I am extremely happy with my grinder now.

Tell me what you think.

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#2: Post by Chert »

Interesting post.

Under C, you mean the fine slider on the left is at 1, 2 or 3 bars from the top when you can hear burr rub? I have mine calibrated to rub about midway down the slider scale.

I've had mine since 2010 mostly using it as single dose except with espresso road shows and I've never noticed it ejecting grinds in clumps and I've been quite satisfied with very low retention. I'll satisfy my curiosity and do post grind weighing a few times to see how much it retains now.
LMWDP #198
aromas remain enticing, and I intrigued, ah coffee!


#3: Post by wkmok1 »

I am seeing exactly the same thing with my Compak K3 grinder. It also has a silicon rubber gate between the grinding chamber and the chute. When the grinder was delivered, one of the vertical halves of the gate was missing. I got very fluffy grinds and can single dose very precisely. All I needed to do is to sweep the chute with a little brush. A few days ago, I installed a replacement gate from my dealer and the grinds become very clumpy and compacted. The amount of retention made it almost impossible to single dose. I have since uninstalled the gate.

Is there anything I need to worry about running the grinder without the gate?


#4: Post by Beenbag »

Many users remove those rubber gates from their K3's specifically to eliminate clumping.
On the "Push" and "Touch" versions it can increase the amount of static and "stray" grinds around the discharge.
I have never had a problem though running without the rubber.

Joejoe (original poster)

#5: Post by Joejoe (original poster) »

I don't think there is anything to worry about not having the gate in place as far as I know.


#6: Post by tayloreley »

Can someone help me figure out how to access this flap?


#7: Post by mdkmdk »

That's interesting. I purchased my Vario directly from Baratza in 2012 and it never had a flap there. I always give a light tap to the side, tight where the cute is, when the motor is still running, but sho the beans have gone through. Seems to work perfectly for non winter. Same thing plus a drop of water works well in NYC winter static.

Also the lid makes a great weighing "plate." When done weighing, it balances slightly off center on the hopper and cleanly flips over, sealing the hopper and cleanly getting all the beans in. Looks cool too.


#8: Post by nismo270r »

tayloreley wrote:Can someone help me figure out how to access this flap?
Easiest way is to remove the front panel - Vario Faceplate Replacement and Lever Shimming PDF

Then remove the rear section of the case - Baratza Grinders Vario & Vario W Case Removal

Then remove the two screws nearest the motor (with the lock washers). This photo shows one of the two screws:

Then just lift the two sections apart enough to slide the chute off and out. Flip the flap and reassemble in reverse order.

I will say, I tried this out and even with a little RDT, there is still a LOT of static. I had one a heck of a mess trying to grind directly into the portafilter with no funnel. I ended up putting the flap back to it's normal direction. I was thinking about trimming the flap to be a bit shorter to see if that would help with single dosing and just contacting Baratza to get a spare flap in case it screws it up entirely.
LMWDP #509


#9: Post by mdkmdk »

I started using the big dosing funnel from Orphan Espresso and it killed any issues with static in NYC. It's food for thought...


#10: Post by nismo270r »

Good to know! I've been looking at those and the funnels. On the Tidaka funnel looks like the lip is shorter and doesn't extend down into the basket as much. Anyone have any experience comparing the two side-by-side?
LMWDP #509