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Thread: Looking for something similar to Baratza Preciso or maybe Vario

  1. #1
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    Looking for something similar to Baratza Preciso or maybe Vario

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I'm looking for something similar to Baratza Preciso or (maybe Vario? But its so darn expensive).
    I'm concerned about the longevity and quality issues.
    Any advice?

    Cheers

  2. #2
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Similar?.... like a Breville Smart Grinder?

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    which elements of the vario are you interested in? when you ask for similar on the whole okitoki is right... the smart grinder would tick most boxes. did you want a stepped grinder with many fine tuning adjustments? similar burr set? similar footprint? similar grind quality?
    its hard to point you in any direction with what you've asked. =p a pre-loved vario or smart grinder would be all i can say.

    if you're looking for something cheap though i'd look for something second hand. most grinders below the 300 mark dont have very good reviews on them...
    if you cant wait and want something now i'd suggest looking at the smart grinder or sunbeam em480. they perform pretty well (my 480 has seen 4 years of use now and still running well). i havent used/read much about the preciso or encore so cant say much about them.
    the rocky is another pretty good option though they seem to have many mixed opinions about longevity and performance.
    home barista seems to have pretty good reviews on the macap (going a little over budget here now..) and compak grinders.

    many grinders out there... and they're all different in their own rights. hope this helps.

    just my 2 cents

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    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ritsute View Post
    I'm looking for something similar to Baratza Preciso or (maybe Vario? But its so darn expensive).
    I'm concerned about the longevity and quality issues. Any advice? Cheers
    I have only used a couple of grinders, so can't offer an alternative other than the Sunbeam EM0480 already mentioned above. They are not bad value for the price, but they have fairly big adjustment steps, and tend to retain quite a lot of ground coffee.

    You are right to be concerned about the quality and longevity of the Baratza's. They are a good grinder in some respects, but have some rather flimsy plastic parts.

    But much worse is that the local agent is hopeless. It seems that they don't know much about the product, so when I needed advice on how to set the internal adjustments, I had to find it myself on the manufacturers web site. They didn't know, or couldn't be bothered to tell me.

    When I broke the burr holder in my preciso , I sent them several emails over a two week period, and have not received a single reply. It must now be close to a month since I first tried to contact them.

    I have since ordered the part direct from Baratza USA and it seems likely that I will get it before I hear from the dealer I bought it from.

    It's a real shame, because with a couple of improvements, and a decent importer, the preciso could be a great little grinder.

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    Thanks for all the input. I would say the grind quality of preciso is what i'm after. i am currently using em0480. Doesnt go too well with a VST :x
    How does the Breville Smart Grinder compare to Preciso?

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    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    I guess it depends on the espresso machine you are using on... the SG seems to be well received by some people here, but it just didnt work for me when I had the Silvia.... I did get to borrow a preciso from a fellow member here, and I found that it was grinding well enough for my Silvia to pull good shots....

    You can occasionally find a Rocky grinder for less than $300 second hand...

    or can you consider going slightly bigger like a Mazzer mini, Macaps, or the K3?

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    I'm using a heavily modified Gaggia.
    I was thinking going for K3 but reading around a lil seems to suggest that Preciso is better. They should seriously do something about the quality of it.
    Quite lost at this moment.

    And going off topic, its interesting when people say machine affect the shot. I would think that there's only 3 factors: pressure, temperature consistency and showerhead height
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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    I know FiveSenses were having in issue with on of their mailboxes/web form submissions which has since been rectified.

    To be fair, I don't know how whether it's reasonable to complain about the "contactability" of a place if you haven't followed up with a phone-call...

    As for the Preciso, I'm one of its biggest critics, having had a problematic example which ended up being returned.

    That said, I may end up putting my K-6 (the replacement) up for sale and if it goes I'll be replacing it with another Preciso and just ordering a pack of spare parts. IMO the ergos and grind quality can't be beat for home use (at least, I've only had better coffee at a small handful of specialty cafes).

    I just can't get coffee as good as I could with the Preciso; I suspect it may have to do with grind retention but I'll try it with a big pack of known good commercially-roasted beans in case my roasting's just gone to pot.

    The K3 might be a good option but I've not tasted the coffee from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    I know FiveSenses were having in issue with on of their mailboxes/web form submissions which has since been rectified.

    To be fair, I don't know how whether it's reasonable to complain about the "contactability" of a place if you haven't followed up with a phone-call...

    As for the Preciso, I'm one of its biggest critics, having had a problematic example which ended up being returned.

    That said, I may end up putting my K-6 (the replacement) up for sale and if it goes I'll be replacing it with another Preciso and just ordering a pack of spare parts. IMO the ergos and grind quality can't be beat for home use (at least, I've only had better coffee at a small handful of specialty cafes).

    I just can't get coffee as good as I could with the Preciso; I suspect it may have to do with grind retention but I'll try it with a big pack of known good commercially-roasted beans in case my roasting's just gone to pot.

    The K3 might be a good option but I've not tasted the coffee from it.
    What was the problem you had with your Preciso?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Broken burr collar; no foreign objects. It's a $4 part. A few weeks after it was replaced (FiveSenses sent me a complete upper burr) it suddenly started grinding really coarse. Looked like there was some unusual play in the adjustment ring assembly. I didn't investigate too closely; I figured it was time to date other grinders

    There are many happy Preciso owners and you can bet you'll hear about EVERY bad one out there, but I do think Baratza would be well served to fix the structural integrity of a number of their plastic parts.

    I would be happy to recommend it to someone comfortable able to tinker if required, because besides that it is a simply fantastic grinder. Small footprint, next to no grind retention and excellent grind quality.

    For someone who blanches at the thought of taking the case off I'd suggest another product.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    I would be happy to recommend it to someone comfortable able to tinker if required, because besides that it is a simply fantastic grinder.
    Just what i needed. Where did you get your parts from anyways?

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    Senior Member NakiChap's Avatar
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    " That said, I may end up putting my K-6 (the replacement) up for sale and if it goes I'll be replacing it with another Preciso and just ordering a pack of spare parts".


    Hi Dragunov21,

    I still have both the preciso and a K6 and get excellent coffee from both,
    Is your burr set sharp in the K6 ? I replaced mine and had improvement in grind speed and the cup, aprox $50 from coffeeparts, maybe try that before you give up on it,

  13. #13
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Five senses provided them to me under warranty. The burr collars can be had from baratza for four bucks but shopping is fifteen so I'd suggest getting a handful just in case or trying eBay.

    For anything bigger I'd suggest talking it up with five senses (assuming you purchase from them, I've heard tell of another mob in Perth who sell them too). Phone them, that way there can be no misunderstandings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ritsute View Post
    I'm looking for something similar to Baratza Preciso or (maybe Vario? But its so darn expensive).
    I'm concerned about the longevity and quality issues.
    Any advice?

    Cheers
    Having held both Baratza & Mahlkonig Vario's in my hand, the Mahlkonig is actually around 500g heavier "in the hand", although they appear identical. Minimum grind retention, ceramic burrs which outlast most commercial grinders plus damn near infinite grind adjustment means there is literally no competition for the home user for the Vario (approx $650 - 680 from Sydney). The low burr speed also means the coffee comes out "relatively cool" compared to most other grinders. The Preciso is a comparative toy for two reasons: much lower burr life & a fairly standard amount of grind retention.

    They are officially sold in Australia as Mahlkonig / Mahlkoenig (seen both spellings, same company) who are actually the manufacturers. Interestingly, the Mahlkonig commercial grinder I am most familiar with also has significantly lower grind retention compared to any other commercial grinder I have ever seen / played with. It look like a giant horizontal drill motor and can actually grind directly into a portafilter (p/f). After nearly ten heavy use years and two sets of burrs it still does a perfect espresso grind. Impressive piece of kit.

    Why is grind retention important? What about grind particle consistency?
    1) Grounds oxidise in 15 minutes to the point that I do not drink the results.
    2) Look up the numerous CS posts on guys who do arcane things like weigh the exact amount of beans into the hopper of their freshly cleaned "brand X" grinder and then put the whole batch through to get the exact amount of desired coffee. Two issues: The amount of retention differs radically amongst differing roasts, batches, humidity etc etc etc, so what they get into the cup is unlikely to be consistent in that sense even when using the same grinder. Secondly, most domestic and low end commercial grinders actually use the weight of the beans to load the feeder mechanism. Unless you add a weight above the beans, the feed is massively inconsistent, which leads to more variations in the particle size. Don't take my word for it, try it four times and listen to the sounds & time the process. Then weigh both what came out and what is retained and examine the particle size. Then, for a comparison, fully load the same hopper and run one lot through and see how it compares. Scary.
    3) As a home user, it is desirable to be able to get a good first cup, and at least a reasonable cup no 4. No commercial grinder can do that without a major clean before cup 1 unless you push at least one espresso shot of coffee through the thing first. Then the second grind will be noticeably warmer to the touch, which is another no no.
    4) Grinding in any other way except direct into the p/f increases the amount of time for oxidation to take place. Dosers / trays are therefore another no no for a committed CS home user.

    What about the grind adjustment?
    The macro / micro adjustment idea is nothing short of brilliant. Whilst altering grinds on a stepless is massively time consuming and frustrating, the Vario takes it in it's stride. I find differing humidity and temperatures often need the micro adjustment. FWIW, I now use my old grinder for plunger coffee, as it takes the Vario about 14g (i.e. a double) to fully settle on such a massive change from espresso to plunger (or back). Within the espresso range, it is virtually instant.

    Why do people break Baratza's? The three Precisos I have seen have all damaged / broken the adjusters by trying to alter the grind finer whilst the grinder is not running. RTFM, or at least understand the beast before you use it. FWIW, there is an adjuster shim kit for broken / wandering lever Precisos to fix them, however I have not seen anyone who managed to do the same to a Vario (the manual has exactly the same instructions, so perhaps the higher expense gets people to actually read them).

    Other than that, the Mahlkonig Vario is at least as strong as anything else I have seen on the market.

    Hope this helps.

    TampIt
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    Quote Originally Posted by ritsute View Post
    Thanks for all the input. I would say the grind quality of preciso is what i'm after. i am currently using em0480. Doesnt go too well with a VST :x
    How does the Breville Smart Grinder compare to Preciso?
    There are actually two EM480's (see Journeyman's "my new machine" thread for a lot more details on that). The newer 480 holds it's own to most low end commercial grinders and is reliable (I actually have two of them, although the Vario has relegated one to plunger grinds only). The older 480 needs a shim kit to work properly, and then it is almost (but not quite) as good as the newer ones (four or five friends have done this mod it works). As I do not have an older style 480, no idea how reliable a shimmed one really is.

    From first hand experience the VST baskets work well with a correctly set up 480 / 6910 as long as you know what you are doing. A naked p/f helps a lot...

    The Breville smart grinder I tested was poorer for espresso than my original 480 by a quite a margin, so I bought a second 480. Perhaps it was a dud? Other CS's have had good results. FYI, my other grinder is a Bo-ema RR45 commercial which, like most commercial grinders, is not really suitable for home use (or designed for it for that matter). I would not consider going from a 480 to a Breville smart grinder as an upgrade.

    The Vario massively outperforms the 480 in three areas - lack of grind retention, speed of grind (irrelevant to me) and consistency of particle size for espresso. The Preciso is almost identical to the EM480 for espresso use (I hear the sound of rifle bolts) except for speed. For plungers, the Preciso I played with was actually better than both the "non shimmed" newer EM480 & the Vario for particle size. Shimming my newer 480 put them closer, although the Preciso was a distant memory by then.

    FWIW, I would either shim your 480 or bite the bullet on a Vario, I suspect you would be happy with either of them.

    TampIt

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    There are actually two EM480's (see Journeyman's "my new machine" thread for a lot more details on that). The newer 480 holds it's own to most low end commercial grinders and is reliable (I actually have two of them, although the Vario has relegated one to plunger grinds only). The older 480 needs a shim kit to work properly, and then it is almost (but not quite) as good as the newer ones (four or five friends have done this mod it works). As I do not have an older style 480, no idea how reliable a shimmed one really is.
    TampIt
    i'd venture to say there are more than 2 em480s.... haha. i own two 480s and they are both different and have seen others online which sound and look different to the two i have. i think sunbeam is constantly changing the build. seems that the 1st gen had problems with not grinding fine enough. then there is an edition which grinds well enough, but have paddle vanes which were not robust enough and broke frequently (i had to replace mine - 12bucks from evilbay...). i also noticed this one feels and sounds like it is set at a higher RPM. then another which has the paddle vane issue fixed with the new, more robust ones and lower RPM. it also has a heavier hopper cap (stainless top) and finally my recent trip to the department store found another which just felt different and had a plastic hopper cap yet again.
    it almost seems like every 480 i come across is slightly different from the other.

    agreed with commercial grinders and grind retention. some people (myself included) just dont mind the 'arcane' routines around our coffee. i personally load a weighed amount, grind, brush, run grinder again and repeat last 2 steps 2-3 times. the results in my VST are amazing. moving from the 480 to the mazzer yeilded significant differences in taste. despite same shot time and appearing similar in pour (wish i had a naked pf to compare, but unfortunately, I dont).

    my first time i used a friend's vario I was very impressed with the grind retention - virtually none. i even stuck my finger up the chute (****AFTER UNPLUGGING THE GRINDER) and couldnt really find any clogged up grinds.
    it does seem ideal for home use for the person who just cannot be bothered with stupid arcane routines obsessive personalities like myself enjoy.
    so if you do consider the commercial grinders - keep in mind the arcane routines will be absolutely necessary or you might as well spend your money on something 1/5 the price.
    my major gripes with the vario are:
    1. cleaning it every few weeks might be a little bit of a hassle (if you are like me and want everything completely free of oils... from hopper to burrs to chute). the rubber bits in the exit chute especially.....
    2. i've heard the burrs are ceramic? can anyone correct or confirm this? i always thought they were steel... in which case another caveat with cleaning the burrs. my hario slim mill burrs cant seem to get the colour of brown off them despite thorough cleaning.
    3. stainless is painless. and i see alot of plastic =p.
    4. there is just something about the commercials that give you confidence they're built like tanks and considering the very light use in a domestic setting, dont make you feel like you're going to need to replace them in many, many years to come.

    and just a side note on the comment about machines not making a difference - they sure do a heavily modified gaggia speaks for itself.

    just my 2 cents

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadan View Post
    " That said, I may end up putting my K-6 (the replacement) up for sale and if it goes I'll be replacing it with another Preciso and just ordering a pack of spare parts".


    Hi Dragunov21,

    I still have both the preciso and a K6 and get excellent coffee from both,
    Is your burr set sharp in the K6 ? I replaced mine and had improvement in grind speed and the cup, aprox $50 from coffeeparts, maybe try that before you give up on it,
    Burrs were replaced just before I purchased (refurbished). Grind is very swift (maybe 5 seconds to grind a double with a little left over).

    I really think that my issues are stemming from grind retention; I've checked and the damn thing holds ten grams between the chamber and doser (most of it in the grind chamber and chute).

    I'm considering modding the grind chamber so it sweeps clean but that still leaves the retention in the chute.

    I could just grind through and purge a bunch but I really don't feel like grinding 1.5x the amount of coffee I actually use, you know?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    e.

    The Preciso is almost identical to the EM480 for espresso use (I hear the sound of rifle bolts) except for speed.

    TampIt
    Tell me more about it

    And thanks for all the replies. Its really helpful!

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    Quote Originally Posted by timdimdom View Post
    and just a side note on the comment about machines not making a difference - they sure do a heavily modified gaggia speaks for itself.
    that was the reason for the mod, for temperature consistency. I have a preheating coil and PID on my gaggia

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    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ritsute View Post
    that was the reason for the mod, for temperature consistency. I have a preheating coil and PID on my gaggia
    I found that with the Silvia, I get "punished" if I don't get the grinding right, or tamp right, or have chanelling... with some channelling in my puck, the espresso would taste very sour... while if it is slightly over extracted, I would get really bitter shots... and these still be obvious even as a milk base drink... my GF would always comment how the coffees each morning tasted different to the day before... It has the PID and also does excellent milk

    With the Isomac Tea, and Rocket Giotto... it feels like you can't go wrong.... (unless of course you really stuffed it up) and the taste from it was very consistent all the way through... great espresso, but I still learning to get the same silky creamy milk I had with the Silvia...

    as to getting a commercial grinder... I have to admit that what I do now (weigh the beans, grab a small brush to clean out grinds every time) has become like a routine I have which I find relaxing.... however, I did have issues with the doser before, even after doing a few things to the dosing chamber, I find the process tedious... a manual doserless version of the grinder is a lot more practical for low volume user like me... the electronic/timer version just adds another level of complexity, so it doesnt fit my routine...
    I do have the option of putting my dosing chamber back on should I need to do large volume grinding for special occasion...

    I have considered getting a vario too before, but after using the preciso (which has a similar ergonomic design) I found that I didnt like the way I used it (even though the grinds were great)... I felt clumsy, messy compared to the Macap and Mazzer I had at the time... so, the preciso/Vario option was off my list after that....

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    I don't know. its just a thought i had. since technically its just the water being a certain temperature flowing thru the basket at a certain pressure.

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Oh, protip with the preciso; grind into a cheap 300ml jug, shake it about to even it out then dose from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    The Preciso is almost identical to the EM480 for espresso use (I hear the sound of rifle bolts) except for speed.
    Quote Originally Posted by ritsute View Post
    Tell me more about it

    And thanks for all the replies. Its really helpful!

    You asked, so here it is. Firstly, according to timdimdom there are more than 2 EM480's. Yet another one dropped in "uninvited and unwanted" yesterday, and he is correct - it is /was the "high RPM one" he mentioned. It is now (mostly) in a skip: unfit for any purpose AFAIAC except to give me a couple of unneeded spares. That begs the question of which EM480 you actually have, doesn't it?

    Both my "low RPM EM480's" have always worked really well for espresso. They are the newer burr set, with a stainless steel cap (whatever that really means after timdimdom's correct comments) and are massively heavier than the piece of junk mentioned above: which actually added a darker notch to the roast it ran so hot. Both modded to be "calibrated stepless", although nowhere near the control of the Preciso / Vario.

    In terms of the grind, the Preciso is almost identical to my two EM480's for espresso. A couple of coffee fiend friends & myself could not pick a difference between the grinders in three separate taste tests, actually blind for two of us each time. That was using VST baskets in a naked p/f in one of my 6910's & also in my two group La Pavoni P/TRE (commercial machine requiring "arcane warmup rituals", not really for a casual home user). Same p/f and basket (and La Pav group) used in each case, as the VST's seem to be 100% consistent, but the naked p/f's aren't. One of the 6910's is stainless, the other brass, current WIP is to figure out why they are different after setting the lug height to match (sigh). The two nakeds on my La Pav are also slightly different even though they are from the same batch & measure the exactly the same lug height. Why (looks skyward): who knows? The only other relevant point about the testing is that the grinds came out of the grinders at almost identical temperatures, and had almost identical particle size spreads. The Preciso is massively faster without adding to the temp of the grounds (impressive!), otherwise not worth an upgrade (basically, it would not be an upgrade unless you have a need for speed).

    The Vario has a much tighter particle size spread, noticeably fewer fines and the grounds come out a few degrees cooler. Speed for espresso may be slightly faster than the Preciso, however as they were never together at the same time, that is a subjective thought only. The Vario's taste is massively cleaner and more detailed in every way (literally equal to or better than ANY other grinder I have ever encountered). As for taste, the Mahlkonig's big brother is the only one I have found that is equal, although my Bo-ema RR45 is very close as is a Jolly (both tested after yet more arcane setup rituals). They are the only ones I have directly compared, so those with all manner of other grinders may easily have different thoughts and criteria.

    Cleaning my Vario is actually simpler than the EM480 (and massively easier than the RR45). My method: I "roughly brush out the worst of the grounds" and then hit it with my airline at "twin water trapped" 40psi. Comes up cleaner faster than any other grinder I have done that way, and needs it a lot less often. I expect Mahlkonig are not speaking with forked tongue in terms of the life of the ceramic burrs (roughly triple that of hardened steel), although barely 5Kg's throughput makes that far too early to tell first hand.

    That is why the Mahlkonig Vario gets my clear vote as the best "home use grinder at any price", until something else comes along - probably next week, as the Vario is a few years old now...

    Hope this helps

    TampIt

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    Quote Originally Posted by timdimdom View Post
    i'd venture to say there are more than 2 em480s.... haha. i own two 480s and they are both different and have seen others online which sound and look different to the two i have. i think sunbeam is constantly changing the build. seems that the 1st gen had problems with not grinding fine enough. then there is an edition which grinds well enough, but have paddle vanes which were not robust enough and broke frequently (i had to replace mine - 12bucks from evilbay...). i also noticed this one feels and sounds like it is set at a higher RPM. then another which has the paddle vane issue fixed with the new, more robust ones and lower RPM. it also has a heavier hopper cap (stainless top) and finally my recent trip to the department store found another which just felt different and had a plastic hopper cap yet again.
    it almost seems like every 480 i come across is slightly different from the other.

    agreed with commercial grinders and grind retention. some people (myself included) just dont mind the 'arcane' routines around our coffee. i personally load a weighed amount, grind, brush, run grinder again and repeat last 2 steps 2-3 times. the results in my VST are amazing. moving from the 480 to the mazzer yeilded significant differences in taste. despite same shot time and appearing similar in pour (wish i had a naked pf to compare, but unfortunately, I dont).

    my first time i used a friend's vario I was very impressed with the grind retention - virtually none. i even stuck my finger up the chute (****AFTER UNPLUGGING THE GRINDER) and couldnt really find any clogged up grinds.
    it does seem ideal for home use for the person who just cannot be bothered with stupid arcane routines obsessive personalities like myself enjoy.
    so if you do consider the commercial grinders - keep in mind the arcane routines will be absolutely necessary or you might as well spend your money on something 1/5 the price.
    my major gripes with the vario are:
    1. cleaning it every few weeks might be a little bit of a hassle (if you are like me and want everything completely free of oils... from hopper to burrs to chute). the rubber bits in the exit chute especially.....
    2. i've heard the burrs are ceramic? can anyone correct or confirm this? i always thought they were steel... in which case another caveat with cleaning the burrs. my hario slim mill burrs cant seem to get the colour of brown off them despite thorough cleaning.
    3. stainless is painless. and i see alot of plastic =p.
    4. there is just something about the commercials that give you confidence they're built like tanks and considering the very light use in a domestic setting, dont make you feel like you're going to need to replace them in many, many years to come.

    and just a side note on the comment about machines not making a difference - they sure do a heavily modified gaggia speaks for itself.

    just my 2 cents
    Hi timdimdom

    See my last post - I stand corrected, there are more than two 480's. The high revving 480 actually slightly scorched my Light Colombian. Worthless piece of coffee grinding excreta...

    Arcane rituals: If the only way I could get a top quality cup of coffee was to do them, I wouldn't hesitate. Quality rules! Mercifully, there are some really good alternatives if you know what you are doing. In my case, after first using a 6 group La Cimbali in 1970, I am totally over the tinkering, perennial setup and waste involved in commercial machines when I am at home and just after one or two decent cups. If I ever (perish the thought) go back to the barista side of the counter, I would be the first to tinker as "pumping them out" makes the setup work both worthwhile and rewarding. Most home users literally cannot be bothered with the fuss, so I feel it is only fair to warn them in advance. Apart from testing, I only use the RR45 / La Pavoni 2 group when visited by the ravening hordes these days, as the Vario / 6910 equals them until I have the "big guns" fully dialed in - which takes at least 4 cups, and occasionally a lot more than that if the roast is either "iffy or tricky".

    VST baskets: Fully agree, my tied vote (with naked p/f's) for the best advance in espresso since the GS3.

    Ceramic burrs: I think the earlier Vario had steel burrs, the new ones are definitely ceramic. My Vario has ceramic ones, so far they are unmarked. They are not porous like the earlier variants I have seen (including a very ingrained / stained Hario of a friends), so I doubt that the Vario will ever mark up or discolour. Ask me in another year or so. FWIW, I regard them as an advantage due to the much longer life. Having changed at least a few dozen burrs over the years, the less often the better. For light home use, hopefully never would be good. Being able to calibrate the burr clearance without special facilities is also a pleasant change to the status quo (ever done an old Robur?).

    Cleaning: Vario is one of the quickest I have ever encountered. See earlier post, my professional life involved some electronic and heavy construction work, so I have used a "medium workshop sized (i.e. 500 psi sustained)" compressor with two water traps regulated down to 40psi for years on all my electronics and "because it was there" on all my coffee grinders. Fast and effective. FWIW, most people who arrive with their "just cleaned grinders" are stunned to see a roomful of grounds appear in a few seconds... and every last oxidised grain of that is destroying their cuppa. I have yet to see ANY doser that does not do this in spades, to the point that I will never, ever, ever own another doser if my RR45 dies. Significantly, the big brother Mahlkonig (note to self: get the model number) is doserless, and I would probably get one if I ever needed another commercial grinder. It retains about two grams and only needs a quick puff of air to fully clean it out.

    Considering a burr replacement on most commercial machines is close to the price of a Vario, throwing the whole thing out every three years or so would still make it cheaper to run than any of the "big beasts". Knowing several lots of previous Mahlkonig gear, I suspect it will not be necessary. As long as the mechanism is solid, I am totally over the stainless vs plastic debate. Disclosure: Using my 316 Pullman Baristas with a Jarrah, Wenge or Australian Oak handle because I do not like the feel of either stainless or acetal handles may make me a hypocrite on this one.

    The lack of bench spread is also welcomed by me, as is the fact that it easily fits under things like kitchen cupboards. Having a special coffee table located somewhere inconvenient for commercial grinder and machine and other gear is also something I do not miss these days, not to mention the need to power (15amp for La Pav, at least it is not three phase) and directly plumb the beasties. Needing two or more people to move it (La Pav) is also a pain in the rear.

    Oh yes, all four "M's" all make a huge difference, although I have found over the last few years that a poor grinder is the one thing I cannot really work around. Machines make a huge difference, however I still feel the "other end of the p/f" makes an even bigger one.

    Cheers

    TampIt
    timdimdom likes this.

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    really enjoyed reading that post tampit.

    pleased to hear about the ceramic burrs being nothing like my hario ones (didnt occur to me they're not all the same.... of course they're not!). would be interested to hear from other vario owners who might have had theirs for longer...
    cleaning-wise a vacuum will have to suffice for me... though it really does make me appreciate the value of a compressor lying around...
    fair enough on the plastic comment - just because its a hunk of metal doesn't mean its built solid, and vice versa - some of the unlucky k3 owners might agree...

    i feel somewhat justified with your comment on the high rev em480s. gave it to my brother and for the life of me couldnt figure out why it just wasn't doing as good a job as my low rpm one (grind size was fine, flow was ok, was blonding early and taste was so far off!) and have been feeling unsettled about not being able to pin point what it was.

    virtual high-five for coffee rituals! but i guess thats where most domestic machines shine. I think a fair amount of the bells and whistles on the more expensive machines help you to regulate variables and remove the need for more arcane routines in the various steps of the process.

    after all this I think im convinced the vario has it place in more settings than i initially thought.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by timdimdom View Post
    really enjoyed reading that post tampit.

    pleased to hear about the ceramic burrs being nothing like my hario ones (didnt occur to me they're not all the same.... of course they're not!). would be interested to hear from other vario owners who might have had theirs for longer...
    cleaning-wise a vacuum will have to suffice for me... though it really does make me appreciate the value of a compressor lying around...
    fair enough on the plastic comment - just because its a hunk of metal doesn't mean its built solid, and vice versa - some of the unlucky k3 owners might agree...

    i feel somewhat justified with your comment on the high rev em480s. gave it to my brother and for the life of me couldnt figure out why it just wasn't doing as good a job as my low rpm one (grind size was fine, flow was ok, was blonding early and taste was so far off!) and have been feeling unsettled about not being able to pin point what it was.

    virtual high-five for coffee rituals! but i guess thats where most domestic machines shine. I think a fair amount of the bells and whistles on the more expensive machines help you to regulate variables and remove the need for more arcane routines in the various steps of the process.

    after all this I think im convinced the vario has it place in more settings than i initially thought.
    I really enjoyed reading your post this morning as well and it got me thinking.

    "high rev em480s" highly sanitised version: The (lack of) weight and the high pitched whine was a giveaway. Why do they do things like this? I could not believe my eyes when the coffee actually came out noticeably darker & hotter as the grind progressed. Never had that before with such a small grind quantity. It was only the first double for goodness sake... I actually put it through one of the 6910's out of morbid curiosity: From fresh to bin instantly without the need for a coffee drinking middleman. Shudder. I owe you a thanks as I probably picked it earlier due to your post, being forewarned that such a monstrosity actually existed.

    K3: mine is a distant, very bitter memory. As more than a few CS'ers love them, I guess I got a dud. I could never get even a mediocre grind out of mine, whilst a couple of friends get good results out of theirs. Makes me cautious about generalisations using a sample of one.

    A stray thought: If I ever went back to the front line, I could buy 5 or 6 Varios for the price of 2 low end commercial grinders: basic essential requirement, one for decaf, one for "house espresso". Most places have at least a third grinder for SO / samples / backup, which adds to the setup cost.
    That would mean I could also offer a range of quality SO's (my long term favourite courtesy of Perth's best roaster from 1977ish) to customers and have the true joy of a personal choice as a bonus. Highly appealing thought as I really miss the variety, even if it sometimes took most of my break to dial the coffee I was in the mood for in the third "inhouse sample grinder" (which had a large supply of cantankerous bitch pills).


    FYI, the Mahlkonig Forte is a beefed up (more solid body & adjusters) low end commercial version of the Vario at about twice the price, however it retains noticeably more grinds. As usual, the best grinder is still out there somewhere.
    ritsute : If you have the high revving EM480 mentioned above, don't bother to shim it. AFAIAC, it is beyond all hope. Really makes me feel that Sunbeam are being highly irresponsible by not changing the model no when they alter things like that. Also gives added weight to a lot of unhappy owners / CS "flak" comments.

    Happy hunting.

    TampIt

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    Wow! Thanks! That's a truckload of information i never knew existed.

    on the high revving 480, how would i know if its high revving or low revving? I've only got one 480 :x cant compare

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    Quote Originally Posted by ritsute View Post
    Wow! Thanks! That's a truckload of information i never knew existed.

    on the high revving 480, how would i know if its high revving or low revving? I've only got one 480 :x cant compare
    Don't know for sure, but check if against a friend's / stores new one / old one etc and compare the pitch?
    Run a large double through it as an espresso grind or even a couple of notches finer and see if the colour changes?
    Check the temp of the grind? If it feels uncomfortably warm it must be 50 degrees + and is probably not salvagable* even with shimming. *Although I think I do recall an older style burr one that ran hot grinds before shimming and cooled off (i.e. back to normal 480 heat levels) after shimming.

    Poor attempt to describe difference in sound: using a fairly standard roast and with a full hopper (all my previously encountered 480's feed by the weight of the beans) it should make noises from bassy through to a mid midrange growl. Ignore the odd crunching / popping noise as that is the beans breaking / exploding apart and both of them had better do that! From memory (not in the manual, I just checked) it runs at 400rpm (which sounds about right in pitch i.e. very slow for a domestic grinder). The high revving one is more than an octave higher, so it must run at 800+ revs if the 400 is correct. It has an upper midrange growl accompanied by a noticeable (highly annoying to me personally) highpitched whine.

    Mind you, I admit that I am rattled by this EM480 "population explosion". Until a few days ago (thanks timdimdom), I did not realise there were so many 480's. There may be even more "evil sub models" out there.

    Hope this clarifies more than confuses.

    Cheers

    TampIt

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    Quote Originally Posted by deegee View Post
    I have only used a couple of grinders, so can't offer an alternative other than the Sunbeam EM0480 already mentioned above. They are not bad value for the price, but they have fairly big adjustment steps, and tend to retain quite a lot of ground coffee.

    You are right to be concerned about the quality and longevity of the Baratza's. They are a good grinder in some respects, but have some rather flimsy plastic parts.

    But much worse is that the local agent is hopeless. It seems that they don't know much about the product, so when I needed advice on how to set the internal adjustments, I had to find it myself on the manufacturers web site. They didn't know, or couldn't be bothered to tell me.

    When I broke the burr holder in my preciso , I sent them several emails over a two week period, and have not received a single reply. It must now be close to a month since I first tried to contact them.

    I have since ordered the part direct from Baratza USA and it seems likely that I will get it before I hear from the dealer I bought it from.

    It's a real shame, because with a couple of improvements, and a decent importer, the preciso could be a great little grinder.
    Was this 5 Senses?

    Well my burr holder broker yesterday, emailed 5 senses a RA at 1pm and the part arrived to me in Sydney this morning, from Perth. I'm back using the grinder within a day.

    By the way the burr holder is a $4 sacrificial part purposely designed flimsy to split to save the burrs from stones. Maybe it's too sensitive, but I think that's a good side to err on. I got 9 months out of mine 3-4 grinds every day, beans from lots of different roasters. I didn't expect them to replace it under warranty, but they did.

    It's made me decide to sell my backup $650 semi-commercial grinder.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Oh, protip with the preciso; grind into a cheap 300ml jug, shake it about to even it out then dose from it.
    Sorry, why wouldn't you just grind into the bin?

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonko View Post
    Was this 5 Senses? .
    Yes it was.

    They finally got back to me, about three weeks ago, with an apology, saying that they had been having issues with email correspondence.

    The sender said that he was about to go on two weeks leave, but that he would further address my issues when he was back at work

    Meanwhile, he offered to replace the grinder, but by then ( 4 weeks post breakage ) the new part had arrived from the USA and I had fitted it, re-calibrated the grinder and had it working again. I told him that under the circumstances, I didn't want to replace the unit, because I would just have to dial in again, and would probably have to re-calibrate the new one too.

    All he did then was repeat their offer to replace the unit.

    By my calculations, he was back at work this week, so I'm waiting to see if anything further happens or not.

    Since you got a prompt reply, it would seem that their email problems must have been resolved, but that is of little consolation to me.

    Now that my grinder is up and running again, and since I don't want to replace it, there is not much they can do anyway, but I will be interested to see whether there is any further response either by email, or via the Baratza thread here on CS.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonko View Post
    Sorry, why wouldn't you just grind into the bin?
    I find it more comfortable/accurate to distribute from and I find the plastic bin gets a bit of static and sometimes holds grinds behind. I've also had it rattle loose occasionally, which results in a bit of mess.

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    yup i have a vario and the bin isn't exactly dose friendly. you tend to knock all the grinds into a corner so you can pour it out easily into your basket, but doing so creates clumps...

    the 300ml milk jug with no corners is a better way to distribute grinds and dose from...

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avex View Post
    yup i have a vario and the bin isn't exactly dose friendly. you tend to knock all the grinds into a corner so you can pour it out easily into your basket, but doing so creates clumps...

    the 300ml milk jug with no corners is a better way to distribute grinds and dose from...
    Hi Avex

    A quick Qn: why not straight into the p/f?

    Always fresh & no waste (unless it sprays, mine doesn't). Surely Any bin / jug / whatever must also trap / lose a little coffee grounds in the transfer process?

    That is why I cannot see why the vario-w even exists: by the time you go through the rigmarole of transferring grounds, most CS'rs would have the first two shots sitting on the bench while the ground coffee in the bin is oxidising as you wait. Now, IF they make one somehow that weighs the p/f in real time ... where do I sign?

    TampIt

  35. #35
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    Well the vario w is suppose to be used for other forms of coffee making like pour overs or French press.

    I'm sure you can rig up something using the plastic container to hold your filter basket for weigh dosing

    Now if only I can save up the $$$ to try that

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi Avex

    A quick Qn: why not straight into the p/f?
    My go to beans are oily and very dark so lotsa wastage and mess. I prefer straight to p/f, I often do this with 5 senses, they are by far the most grinder friendly beans

  37. #37
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    did a search around last night when I read about the Baratza forte, and came across a picture for a Vario W set up... seem like an obvious but pretty effective solution to use the Vario W weighing feature, and to help grinding and dosing in to a PF easier and less mess free




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