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  1. #1
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    baratza or mazzer?

    I'm having a tough time deciding on the Baratza Vario-W or a used Mazzer grinder. I would primarily be using it at home for pour overs, with an eye to get to the farmers market for doing pour overs in the future. I am considering getting a home espresso machine like the Gaggia Baby, so it might be used for that too down the road.

    I love the idea of the Mazzers build quality...tank style. But it seems like you have to spend quite a bit more for the doserless versions...would I hate a doser if I am not doing espresso regularly? Eyeing an older doserless Mini on ebay right now for $550.
    I like the footprint/features of the Vario-W, and it seems like a good choice for lower volume (quantity) pour overs. I am concerned with how long it will last and how fast it grinds compared to a Mazzer like grinder.

    Thoughts? What would you choose? Different suggestions?

  2. #2
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    I currently use a Vario daily for espresso and can vouch for the superb grind quality, nearly zero retention of ground coffee, versatility, etc. It is a fantastic grinder that does well across the board (coarse to fine) for home use and I would go as far as using it in a low volume commercial setting. *I say this based on a few years of being involved in a commercial setting and having used some really good equipment. Of course it isn't built to commercial grade standards, but neither is it priced or sized accordingly. For your stated use I believe it will suit you well.

    Honestly unless you are doing lots of espresso you will probably hate a doser. If used efficiently there is little waste, etc., but again for your described needs something doserless is the way to go. If you were doing strictly pourovers (coarse grinding) I would recommend something simple like a BUNN LPG, which is a small footprint bulk grinder with superb grind quality, speed and build construction for a fair price. Not really useful for even the occasional espresso although the burrs are very capable, the adjustment mechanism to fine tune isn't.

    I've used a Mazzer Super Jolly and if I recall it was a bit slower than the Nuova Simonelli MDX I owned/used. Both have 64mm burrs, etc. Grind time for 16 grams with the MDX was around 7-8 seconds. Grind time for 16 grams with my Vario averages about 13 seconds and based on what I've read the standard Mazzer Mini is slower. Having said that, the doserless Mini you're looking at probably has 64mm burrs (standard doser version has 58mm burrs) and would probably be along the same speed as the Super Jolly, etc.

    Even though it may be out of your price range take a look at the Baratza Forte. Similar form/function as the Vario, but more robust with some new/useful features.

    https://www.baratza.com/new-products...ovable-hopper/
    Last edited by shadow745; 03-31-2014 at 04:21 AM.

  3. #3
    MSM
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    I can speak from my experience with both Super Jolly and Mini Mazzers. I have used primarily Mazzers in the past 10 years in shop settings. I've also used different models at home. I love them, and they are certainly built with a tough, rugged design that will last, but they are not my favorite grinders. The dosing style on a Mazzers tends to be a bit more sloppy, spraying grounds or throwing off to one side. That said, you get a feel for it and can accommodate without much waste. The doserless funnels tend to build up static and retain grounds. I've even witnessed on a few occasions the bottom becoming clogged during grinding. Again, you learn to anticipate and gently knock any loose particles from the funnel. I used the Mini as a home manual brew grinder for a long time. Works very well. You have to find what settings work well for your technique and mark them according to brewing device, so they can be a little less user friendly in that sense. In regards to the Vario, I've used the Precisio a bit, and it's quite an awesome grinder. I know of several shops that have put these in place of bulk grinders for more flexibility in single serve use. I can't really speak too much of any operating quirks, as I don't have extensive experience with them. However, I can say that I've seen a decent amount of used and not so used Vario grinders sent in for repairs. Bottom line, they are both excellent grinders. There will be a bigger learning curve on a Mazzer, but even if you abuse it, you will likely never need to replace it. The Vario seems to be much more sensitive to over use.

  4. #4
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    The Mazzer is an espresso grinder. Mazzer burrs are designed for espresso. If you are brewing coffee, then the Vario is a better choice. Even though the burrs are the same size, they are designed/cut differently and the particle distribution of the Vario is more suited for coffee and works better for espresso than the Mazzer works for coffee.
    John Piquet
    caffe d'bolla
    Salt Lake City, UT
    caffedbolla.com

  5. #5
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    Much appreciated. Thanks guys.

    MSM, would you get the Precisio over the Vario-w?

  6. #6
    MSM
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    I would personally go for the Vario-w over the preciso. Just having the extra micro adjustment options is really a valuable tool. And maybe try to score a good deal on something similar to a used Super Jolly later. I have bought and sold a few super jolly for less than 500. I feel like the Vario would offer more flexibility in the immediate, as a dual purpose espresso and manual brew grinder. I agree with John P in that the Vario makes a better espresso grinder than any Mazzer makes a drip grinder. Even in my own home use, I was never able to get a usable grind outside the range of an aeropress or a 01 v60. Beyond a certain coarseness, the particle sizes are just not consistent enough on a Mazzer. So that's my opinion.

  7. #7
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    The ideal situation would be to have two grinders, maybe three in the long run. For now, you could buy a Baratza Encore for your pourovers. Even when you decide to delve into espresso, having a dedicated grinder for espresso and one for everything non-espresso will make life lots easier. And if you need something hi-volume for the market, a Bunn or something similar will work well. Having one grinder and asking it to do everything is not fun.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterjschmidt View Post
    The ideal situation would be to have two grinders, maybe three in the long run. For now, you could buy a Baratza Encore for your pourovers. Even when you decide to delve into espresso, having a dedicated grinder for espresso and one for everything non-espresso will make life lots easier. And if you need something hi-volume for the market, a Bunn or something similar will work well. Having one grinder and asking it to do everything is not fun.
    IMBHO the Vario is a very capable all-in-one grinder for somebody needing to go that route. I've used it for French press to espresso and the grind quality is easily on par with commercial grinders I've owned/used. My favorite attribute is the super low retention, averaging .2/gram for espresso range grinding and virtually 0 for coarser ranges. For years I personally was never impressed with the build quality of Baratza grinders, but they have came a long way with product refinement and of course have phenomenal customer service. The brand will probably be the only one I will consider down the road if I ever wear my Vario out. More companies could learn from Baratza instead of simply being satisfied with what gets them by.

  9. #9
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    The reports I've heard from some local people, as well as what I've read about the Vario, is that while they like the customer service they are not entirely happy with the grinder's ability to be consistent for espresso - might be the abundance of plastic in the adjustment mechanism. You obviously have a good unit, they most likely did not, and I realize that's the 'wonderful' thing about the internet; it makes it too easy to squawk about a problematic grinder or whatever.

    My thinking for the OP is leaning toward the Mazzer, since he may be hammering his equipment pretty hard for the farmer's market. I'd put my money on the Mazzer outlasting the Vario in more of a commercial setting. But I'd suggest thinking about a commercial grinder such as the Bunn or a Grindmaster for that venue.

    I still say the ideal situation, if space and money allow, is to have a grinder dedicated to espresso and leaving it set. I lived w/ my Compak K10 for a while and used it for everything, but having a Virtuoso for brewed coffee made things a lot more simple.

  10. #10
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    Yeah there will always be complaints regarding any product as people in general are never 100% satisfied. Of course anything similar to a Mazzer will surely outlast a Vario, probably several times over. Even though the Vario is far from all-metal construction, the nylon/injection molded/whatever parts Baratza uses is quite robust from what I've seen inside and out. The only explanation I have for the espresso inconsistency may be how the cam/lever system is setup. When you move a cam lever down for a more coarse setting the burr may not move downward as it usually requires the burrs to be loaded to maintain pressure to lock in place at that adjustment. I've used quite a few different coffees for espresso tinkering and have had very good consistency/range when dialing them in.

    I used a BUNN LPG for bulk/drip grinding and it is a compact beast. Would grind 3.5-4 oz in 35-40 seconds. Only downfall with it is the adjustment mechanism is a bit more difficult to reach compared to a simple knob, but adjustments are simple and the end result is superb.
    Last edited by shadow745; 04-01-2014 at 06:45 PM.

 

 
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