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Thread: Vario Unboxing

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    Vario Unboxing

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys,

    I received my Vario over the weekend and so far first impressions seem good. Nice fluffy grinds, no clumps and much quieter / quicker than my Smart Grinder.

    After seeing unboxing videos of the Baratza Vario I see it comes with tools for removing the burr and adjusting (branded as Baratza).

    My machine is a Mahlkonig branded Vario and didn't have these in the box - is this normal or should they be included in the box ?

    I have gone back to the seller also to ask.

    Thanks, Theo

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    Quote Originally Posted by theosouris View Post
    Hi guys,

    I received my Vario over the weekend and so far first impressions seem good. Nice fluffy grinds, no clumps and much quieter / quicker than my Smart Grinder.

    After seeing unboxing videos of the Baratza Vario I see it comes with tools for removing the burr and adjusting (branded as Baratza).

    My machine is a Mahlkonig branded Vario and didn't have these in the box - is this normal or should they be included in the box ?

    I have gone back to the seller also to ask.

    Thanks, Theo
    No they shouldn't come with it.

    I calibrated my three Mahlkoenig Varios (1 * gen3, 2 * gen2s) once at about the three year point - waste of time as they hadn't moved more than one micro notch. A friend's Baratza needs a recal every few weeks. Probably why they include a 1.5mm(?) allen key. Unless abused (like my "rescue gen3") any change in the Mahlkoenig Vario is minimal.

    The "burr removal tool" - when a Vario is new the burrs are hard to remove with fingers (and even trickier to replace until you get the hang of it). Having said that, I always managed fairly easily until my own gen3 arrived. Grabbing a short length of (40mm? - matching burr size by eye anyway) retic pipe I cut three matching notches with a points file (two or three stokes for each notch) and removed it that way. I was going to add a cross piece for extra leverage, however it wasn't needed. On the third or fourth removal it came off like the gen2s always did from new. When I sold the 4th "rescue gen3 Vario" I gave the length of pipe away with it - and haven't bothered to make another one.

    Gotchas:

    Presumably yours is a gen3. Be careful with the p/f holder - it weighs a ton and has clear homicidal tendencies. By which I mean it seems to try to throw itself off the counter and aims itself at your foot at will. I use the lighter gen2 p/f holder in the gen3 after one too many near misses (plus two deep dents in the kitchen floor). I considered screwing the thing in, as the slightest movement from vertical towards the front of the bench and out it comes... straight at you.

    Two essentials from the manual:-

    Always ensure the motor is running before adjusting the grind. In an extreme it will pop the adjusters out and you will have a 5 minute job (needle nosed pliers and a PH#2 screwdriver) removing the front panel and reseating them. At the very least the grinder will ignore some of the grinding change, so "chasing the roast" becomes "chasing one's own tail". I must have done a dozen for various friends as they hadn't bothered to RTFM. One even told me the adjusters didn't work - he was right - they weren't connecting.

    Always put the levers onto the finest setting before tipping the machine upside down. The only way they made the Vario so small was to fit undersized adjusters. Used properly they are fine, however treating them roughly will be problematic. Same 5 minute fix as above.


    Enjoy your new toy - one of mine has done over 200Kgs and the ceramic burrs look identical to the other two.

    TampIt

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    Hi Tampit and thanks for the massive detail.

    I am a little bummed with this one as I suspect the guys sold me a demo unit (despite advertising as new) as it was full of coffee grounds and definitely needs a recal (even at 1A the burrs are a long way from touching. Also the burr is so tight it is impossible to loosen by hand.

    You can see the warranty sticker over the adjustment hole is also showing some wear.

    Will keep you updated.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quick update guys - I have been in touch with the seller and they will send me over a replacement (Baratza branded) so all good in the end and great service from the seller. Will keep you posted when the new one arrives.
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    Quote Originally Posted by theosouris View Post
    Quick update guys - I have been in touch with the seller and they will send me over a replacement (Baratza branded) so all good in the end and great service from the seller. Will keep you posted when the new one arrives.
    Looking at the photos, no way that is new. FWIW, that is a gen3 (heavy p/f).

    I would probably insist on a Mahlkoenig for two reasons -
    1) the Baratza is a parallel import which may have warranty implications down the track
    2) the three or four Baratza Varios I know all appear to be earlier versions of the Mahlkoenig (a one year old one is a gen1 - no even close to the gen2 or gen3 in terms of performance) and they actually need the optional parts which the Mahlkoenig doesn't.

    Your call


    TampIt

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    Glad you agree it's not new I had a laugh

    I'm based in UAE and the goods are coming from KSA where it's all Baratza for home use and Malkonig for commercial so should be ok warranty-wis. The baratza is actually dearer but they are sending for no extra cost so I'm happy with that.

    Agreed the portafilter is heavy too !!

    If you're interested the place is ekeup.com out of KSA (don't worry not looking to advertise I had a laugh) - the same guys I got my appartamento through.

    Thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by theosouris View Post
    Glad you agree it's not new I had a laugh

    I'm based in UAE and the goods are coming from KSA where it's all Baratza for home use and Malkonig for commercial so should be ok warranty-wis. The baratza is actually dearer but they are sending for no extra cost so I'm happy with that.

    Agreed the portafilter is heavy too !!

    If you're interested the place is ekeup.com out of KSA (don't worry not looking to advertise I had a laugh) - the same guys I got my appartamento through.

    Thanks again
    Now I had a laugh.

    FWIW, in theory Baratza is USA and Canada and Mahlkoenig is "rest of world". Mind you, I recently found out that Singapore is now in the USA or Canada as well (picturing Lee Kuan Yew's reaction to that!).

    The latest Baratza I know is actually a 6 month old gen3 (they missed the gen2 completely in Oz I suspect) and the grind drifted around aimlessly for about a couple of weeks, needed one recal (badly) and then settled down nicely. Hopefully yours settles down without the drifting.


    I hope Rwanda is more stable than 2007 when I was involved in the AVU (African virtual university) project there - and in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia as well. The "nice" governmant people at one of the 4 virtual sites (I think it may have been Rweanda or Ethiopia) were waiting for some students to rock up to their "physical final exam" so they could arrest them. About 1/2 of those arrested have never been heard from since.

    Enjoy your cuppa.


    TampIt

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    Question for Tampit:

    What's the normal range for an espresso grind on a Vario?

    I replaced my prematurely dead Sette 270W with a Vario which came today, I'm getting a reasonable pour at Macro 2 Micro C on BeanBay Limmu roasted last Sunday*. As I would expect to go finer with older beans**, I feel like this is a bit close to the end of the range for comfort.


    EDIT: corrected typo in grind setting. When I type 2 followed by C in the body of the message, the forum software translates it to "second crack".


    * By me, not Andy, just to be clear.

    ** not that beans last that long around this joint.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 25th January 2019 at 12:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    Question for Tampit:

    What's the normal range for an espresso grind on a Vario?

    I replaced my prematurely dead Sette 270W with a Vario which came today, I'm getting a reasonable pour at C6 on BeanBay Limmu roasted last Sunday*. As I would expect to go finer with older beans, I feel like this is a bit close to the end of the range for comfort.



    * By me, not Andy, just to be clear.
    G'day Lyrebird

    A good question. I decided to answer it in a more complete way so other CS'r's can see what is going on.

    All three of my Mahlkoenig Varios came set to Macro 2 Micro Q when the burrs were just touching (i.e. when spinning under no load - no beans). That is exactly in line with what the Baratza website (video - check it out for more calibration info) says they should be set to. So presumably that is how all Varios leave the factory. When you place a grinder under load, dynamic play comes into the picture which is why the usual grinding settings are actually below the burr touching points - which seems initially counter-intuitive to most non-engineering types.

    Assuming your Vario is already set that way, the next bit depends upon which baskets you are using, the age and type of roast and (to a limited extent) how much grunt your machine has. I have included settings for Turkish because it shows that all Varios are not equal in terms of dynamic play "out of the box" - and Turkish is not a pressure driven process so it is "ibrik dependant" instead. Oh, I also assume that dosing is within the stated range for the baskets... and probably a dozen or so other factors that I regard as a given which are "user tinkerable" (yeah, I know - but it should be a word).

    Macro1 Micro A to C - Turkish Grind. That range seems to apply to all correctly calibrated Varios with the standard ceramic burrs (the "optional for coarser grinds" steel burrs don't do espresso well, let alone Turkish).
    Note: Considering my traditional Turkish is pretty intolerant to grinding texture that means all the Varios must vary a little under load (normal even for high precision gear). My oldest gen2 started out at Macro1 Micro A for Turkish and now (200+ Kg's later) is on Macro1 Micro C. That implies its dynamic play has actually reduced over time (yep - bit weird) or the steps have somehow reduced in size (also a bit weird). My newer gen2 started out at Macro1 Micro C and, after a mere 20Kg or so, hasn't shifted at all. A few friends Varios are all within the same range (mostly micro B - I must get the outliers I guess).

    Over to espresso. I mostly do light to medium roasted SO's, so if you roast "Starbucks charcoal" style this may vary. I refuse to go beyond CS8 in my gear as I hate any hint of burnt.

    Macro 1 Micro G to L: Espresso using VST and LM baskets (and perhaps some equivalents, although EQ / HQ "precision" are not included here). The difference in range is mainly because the Vario is clearly a precision instrument and is very sensitive to roast types and roast aging. Rarely, some light roasts even go outside this range (usually finer).

    Macro 1 micro O to T: Espresso using most standard baskets in most standard machines.

    Note about espresso machines: A couple of friends have a particular brand of commercial machine which, IMO, is pretty gutless - add three or four micro steps coarser if that applies. That caught me out when I set up their cafe as my "quick and dirty method" is to calibrate one of my grinders at home (using their batch of beans) and then use that as a starting point. Those two setups are the only time I had to radically alter the grind to get their machine to play - which it eventually did, quite poorly. Mostly I encounter LM Lineas and their siblings - they, and damn near every other commercial machine on the market I know, use within a micro step of my home gear.

    Enjoy your new toy and the coffee it will produce for you.


    TampIt

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    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    OK thanks. I now feel OK about going into the 1s if needed.

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    OK we seem to have settled on 1P for espresso, any finer and the pour slows down too much.

    This morning: 20.0g into a 20g VST basket, 35.5 g pour giving 13.5 Brix for 23.8% extraction. Lovely cup: intense, sweet and minutes long so no evidence of overextraction. I used to get high 21s with the Sette so if this continues the Vario is measurably better.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 28th January 2019 at 08:50 AM. Reason: changed sentence structure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    OK we seem to have settled on 1P for espresso, any finer and the pour slows down too much.

    20.0g into a 20g VST basket this morning, 35.5 g pour at 13.5 Brix giving 23.8% extraction. Lovely cup: intense, sweet and minutes long so no evidence of overextraction. I used to get high 21s with the Sette so if this continues the Vario is measurably better.
    G'day Lyrebird

    In terms of espresso, the Sette is not in the hunt - its advantage is that it is pretty good over a wide range of textures. The ceramic burr Vario is really a Turkish to espresso grinder (unless you use the optional steel burrs, lose the espresso quality and gain a lot in the Dripolator / pourover / moka pot textures).

    The taste is exactly why I use the Vario / VST / Naked p/f combo - after a month you become so spoilt that anything else does not rate very well.

    Enjoy your cuppa - it sounds like that is a given now.

    TampIt

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    G'day TampIt. I recently picked up a Baratza Forte, which is more or less a Vario with supposedly sturdier construction.

    If I read you correctly, you're grinding with the grind setting at macro 1 x, where as the burrs were set to touch at 2Q (mine is set the same way too). Does that mean your burrs are technically rubbing (meshing against each other) when grinding for espresso? Is that normal/expected?

    Reason being if I try to grind without the burrs rubbing (coarser than 2Q), the grind size is closer to moka pot and it wasn't possible to get a proper espresso flow rate. I wasn't sure if this is how these ceramic burrs are supposed to work or did I get a lemon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by samuellaw178 View Post
    G'day TampIt. I recently picked up a Baratza Forte, which is more or less a Vario with supposedly sturdier construction.

    If I read you correctly, you're grinding with the grind setting at macro 1 x, where as the burrs were set to touch at 2Q (mine is set the same way too). Does that mean your burrs are technically rubbing (meshing against each other) when grinding for espresso? Is that normal/expected?

    Reason being if I try to grind without the burrs rubbing (coarser than 2Q), the grind size is closer to moka pot and it wasn't possible to get a proper espresso flow rate. I wasn't sure if this is how these ceramic burrs are supposed to work or did I get a lemon.
    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/grinders/...tml#post644780 answers this already.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi TampIt,

    Many thanks. I did read that post but it sounded like you're grinding with the burrs meshing against each other (and quite significantly at that). It didn't seem right so I just want to check if my understanding is correct.

    I also didn't get the part about 'dynamic play'. The burr carrier and housing on the Forte look rigid, so it doesn't seem like the mechanism would give under load. Is the Vario that different in this regard?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Now I had a laugh.

    FWIW, in theory Baratza is USA and Canada and Mahlkoenig is "rest of world". Mind you, I recently found out that Singapore is now in the USA or Canada as well (picturing Lee Kuan Yew's reaction to that!).

    The latest Baratza I know is actually a 6 month old gen3 (they missed the gen2 completely in Oz I suspect) and the grind drifted around aimlessly for about a couple of weeks, needed one recal (badly) and then settled down nicely. Hopefully yours settles down without the drifting.


    I hope Rwanda is more stable than 2007 when I was involved in the AVU (African virtual university) project there - and in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia as well. The "nice" governmant people at one of the 4 virtual sites (I think it may have been Rweanda or Ethiopia) were waiting for some students to rock up to their "physical final exam" so they could arrest them. About 1/2 of those arrested have never been heard from since.

    Enjoy your cuppa.


    TampIt
    Haha Rwanda - nice and yes very different now than 10 years go

    The new Vario arrived on the weekend so I wasted no time getting it dialled in and what a difference to my old grinder !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by samuellaw178 View Post
    Hi TampIt,

    Many thanks. I did read that post but it sounded like you're grinding with the burrs meshing against each other (and quite significantly at that). It didn't seem right so I just want to check if my understanding is correct.

    I also didn't get the part about 'dynamic play'. The burr carrier and housing on the Forte look rigid, so it doesn't seem like the mechanism would give under load. Is the Vario that different in this regard?
    G'day samuellaw178

    Very short version: Any moving mechanism has more play under dynamic load than static settings - or else (for example) modern engines would not turn over. The tyres on your car need to be dynamically balanced for the same reason. When tolerances get really fine, dynamic play becomes more and more of an issue whilst the gap between dynamic and static play widens (a lot!).

    If it didn't have dynamic play in the real world we would call a grinder "seized" at finer than "macro 2 micro Q". The dynamic play of a Forte - I do not know, they are about a "gen1.5 Vario" with a bigger stronger frame - however the Vario burrs do not touch under load until finer than macro 1 micro A at standard calibration. FWIW, I tried calibrating one of mine to macro 3 micro W instead of macro 2 micro Q as an experiment and the burrs touched under load at would have been just finer than the finest setting. The fine tolerances of a Vario is why it is one of a handful of electric grinders than can actually grind fine enough to make a Turkish coffee (most electric grinders cannot even come close to the "fine talcum powder texture" required for Turkish - which is why I had an antique Turkish hand grinder strictly for use with my ibrik). If the burrs touch under load, then they will either not turn at all, or not without major protest - let your ears be the guide.

    I guess there are two differences between a Vario and a Forte which I know of:-

    1) The Forte I tried had steel burrs - the owner wanted it for pourover, so they may have changed the burrs as an option. The steel burrs cannot make the same espresso quality as the ceramic burrs, they are meant for much coarser grinds - and are a lot better at that than the ceramic burrs. Hopefully yours has ceramic burrs if you are trying for espresso (which, BTW, are pretty hopeless at "coarser than espresso" - hence the steel burr options).

    2) The gen1 Vario (I had one for about 3 weeks) is closer to the Sette in terms of fairly good particle spread over a fairly wide range of grinding textures. The Forte is a slight variant on the gen1. The gen2 Vario has a totally different Ditting commercial module "under the bonnet" (i.e. like the two older Varios I have, or the gen3 for that matter) and is brilliant at Turkish to "medium - coarse" espresso grinds only. FWIW, the gen2 and gen3 are virtually identical other the the gen3's homicidal portafilter holder...

    Where your Forte fits into that, I know not.

    I would suggest that you slowly adjust the grind finer and listen for protests - which may not occur anyway as the Vario's burrs do not touch until they are finer than the finest setting - that is how Mahlkoenig sets them up at the factory at any rate for obvious "lets not create warranty problems" reasoning.

    As long as you are enjoying your cuppa, who cares?

    TampIt
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