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Rocky vs Mini vs Vario....what's best for everything from espresso--french press
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Rocky vs Mini vs...  
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itch808
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2009
Posts: 105
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Bodum Chambord French Press
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Mon Sep 21, 2009, 2:27pm
Subject: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario....what's best for everything from espresso--french press
 

Initially I was going to go the hand grinder route for espresso and use my Infinity as a backup for french press and drip.  But I'm getting annoyed at the amount of fines at the coarse settings of the Infinity.  Sifting all the fines out before I make a cup of FP is just getting too time consuming.  I'm finally at the breaking point where I'm ready to dump a reasonable amount of cash for it all.  My imposed budget is ~$400.  Ideally the grinder shouldn't be too much of a behemoth with a reasonable size.  Minimal ground retention is a huge bonus since this will be for at home use.

First up is the vario, just pushing the budget but is probably my leading candidate.  It seems like it can do it all but from everything I've read here and at HB there seems to be a question about initial quality.  The main thing of concern to me though is the upper burr carrier.  I haven't seen it in person but someone described it as aluminum attached to plastic, this doesn't sound reassuring.  I know it will be sometime before the longevity of this grinder will be known, but the extreme adjustability and digital timer sound very appealing.

Next is the Mini, but in my case it would need to be used.  And while I know quality and longevity are assured, I'm not certain about how well it can do drip and french press?  I see it advertised as stepless micrometric but I'm not sure if this a worm type knob adjustment that would make it impossible to do french press.  I've also heard issues regarding the evenness of its coarse grind.  I'm not sure what truth there is to this.  Also the doser would be a definite negative to me.  I've had a doser Cunil Columbia in the past that left a lot grounds that didn't get swept out.

Lastly there's the familiar Rocky.  While it's pretty popular here, the other guys @ HB seem to look down at it as if it's the bare bones of grinders.  Yet in the giant thread that stacked up grinders against the mighty Robur @ HB, it scored a 2-2 tie, placing it higher than the Mazzer Mini.  I know on paper its smaller burrs should be no match against the Mini, but the real life taste tests that matter show otherwise.  My next question is how even its grind is in the drip/presspot range?  I haven't found much discussion about this since most who opt for the Rocky are using it exclusively for espresso.

Thoughts?  Other suggestions?  Any input would be appreciated since $400 is quite a bit of cash to drop on a grinder.  Ideally I hope at this price range I can finally get everything I need in a grinder that will last me many years.
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mybs
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 479
Location: Northern CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QuickMill Anita
Grinder: Macap M4, La Cimbali Jr.
Drip: KitchenAid, Clever Coffee...
Roaster: FreshRoast+8, SC/CO
Posted Mon Sep 21, 2009, 2:46pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Well, here's an older thread with opinions comparing the Vario with the Mazzer Mini.  Based on your objections towards a doser and the potential grind retention, the Vario likely fits the bill better as the Mini E is prohibitively expensive.  The Vario is reputed to do a good job for both espresso and press so it should match the usage pattern you have.

Though the Rocky was considered good a couple years ago, I believe that it is really overrated at its current price point and you would certainly do better with the Vario.  Despite the Titan project scores, I doubt you'll find many people who would argue that the Rocky is better than a Mini for espresso, due to its obvious limitations (eg. stepped grinder, smaller burrs, and lower build quality than the Mini).  From the posts that I have read in the past, most people that have owned both grinders indicated that there was a significant jump in quality when upgrading from the Rocky to the Mazzer Mini.

As far as I know, Chris Coffee is the only vendor offering any discounts on the Vario (linked here).  If you're interested, you'll need to call and find out what they're offering currently.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Mon Sep 21, 2009, 3:40pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Get the Vario.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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itch808
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2009
Posts: 105
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Bodum Chambord French Press
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Mon Sep 21, 2009, 3:41pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Thanks for links!

Can anyone comment on these statements:

TimEggers Said:

my SJ sucks at grinding for press or drip, the Vario would excel in this regard (judging by other user accounts).  Mazzers really are espresso only grinders.

Posted July 31, 2009 link

Is the Sj really THAT bad at grinding for drip/FP?  I've always considered Mazzers the epitome of a quality commercial grinder.  However, I certainly never thought they were espresso ONLY grinders.  Is their grind that inconsistent as it gets coarser or is just that they doesn't grind very coarse to begin with?  Assuming grind quality was equal, and the only question was if I wanted a more reliable grinder or one without a doser, I would opt for a reliable grinder.  I want something that will LAST a long time.  At this price point, I don't think this is an unreasonable expectation.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Mon Sep 21, 2009, 3:57pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Mitch,

The Boeing 777 is considered by many to be the ultimate in commercial airliners . . . yet it is not perfect for ALL types of travel.

The Porsche 911 GT2 is considered by many to be the ultimate in sports cars . . . yet it sucks at taking the soccer team for pizza after practice.

The Mazzer Super Jolly is considered by many to be the minimum acceptable grinder for use in the preparation of espresso . . . yet it sucks at grinding for press pot.

/ / / / /

Mazzers are "the epitome of a quality commercial grinder" . . . for espresso.   But they suck at grinding a pound of beans at a time for commercial sale.  They suck at grinding beans for making press pot coffee.  They suck at doing things that they were not designed to do!  (In other words, they suck at taking the soccer team for pizza, too!)

Cheers,
Jason

P.S.  Mazzer is the "Cadillac" of espresso grinders.  Some people may prefer other grinders, but no one is going to question the quality of a Mazzer . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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itch808
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2009
Posts: 105
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Bodum Chambord French Press
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Tue Sep 22, 2009, 1:14pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Zin,

Nice analogy, but it seems ridiculous that at their price point they can't even do drip or FP comparable to other grinders in its price range.  I mean really!!  Going back to your car example there are cars like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution that can do it all for a reasonable price.  Faster than most cars including the 911 GT2 on the Nurburgring, 4-doors, carries kids and groceries, etc.

Back to the grinders, I found this review somewhat discouraging for the Vario:

Click Here (theotherblackstuff.ie)

They static, uneven espresso AND french press grind has me puzzled.  Did this guy just get a lemon?  Because the proof is in his pictures, and it looks bad for the Vario.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Tue Sep 22, 2009, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Mitch,

First of all, keep in mind that a 911 GT2 is not designed to carry kids and groceries.  A Mazzer -- and most other discussed in the Espresso: Grinders-Espresso forum -- are designed for espresso, not for drip or press or any other style of coffee.  Compare this to, for example, a Mahlkönig VTA 6S, which is designed to grind everything from press and percolator all the way down to espresso and Turkish . . . but it grinds pound(s)/kilogram(s) at a time, not shot-by-shot, as a Mahlkonig K30*, an Ekeltra Nino, or a Mazzer Robur E -- let alone other grinders which are equipped with dosers.

Secondly, to the best of my knowledge -- and you would have to speak directly with the folks at Baratza -- the Vario is not yet (or has just been) released in Europe.  The earliest release here in the US had a static problem, but it appears (from my reading) that subsequent versions of the grinder have not had this problem.  If you haven't already, you may want to look through:
Cheers,
Jason

* Note: the Mahlkönig K30 Vario is not shown.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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itch808
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jun 2009
Posts: 105
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Bodum Chambord French Press
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Tue Sep 22, 2009, 8:15pm
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

Just order my Vario through Chris Coffee!! :)
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johnnyboy5
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Jul 2009
Posts: 61
Location: Toronto, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Wed Sep 23, 2009, 5:24am
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

You'll be very happy with the Vario.  I've had mine now for just over a month and its great: no static problems and certainly no clumping.  Couldn't be happier.  Enjoy!
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TimEggers
Moderator
TimEggers
Joined: 3 Oct 2004
Posts: 2,946
Location: Tiskilwa, Illinois
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Anita, Cappuccino Amore
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Mazzer SJ
Vac Pot: Antique McKee, Santos
Drip: Pour Over, Bodum Presses
Roaster: RK Drum
Posted Wed Sep 23, 2009, 8:21am
Subject: Re: Rocky vs Mini vs Vario
 

itch808 Said:

Thanks for links!

Can anyone comment on these statements:



Is the Sj really THAT bad at grinding for drip/FP?  I've always considered Mazzers the epitome of a quality commercial grinder.  However, I certainly never thought they were espresso ONLY grinders.  Is their grind that inconsistent as it gets coarser or is just that they doesn't grind very coarse to begin with?  Assuming grind quality was equal, and the only question was if I wanted a more reliable grinder or one without a doser, I would opt for a reliable grinder.  I want something that will LAST a long time.  At this price point, I don't think this is an unreasonable expectation.

Posted September 21, 2009 link

I can! ;-)

My SJ is an amazing espresso grinder, producing shot that is great due to a good espresso grind.  Espresso requires a consistent grind with the proper amount of "fines" produced as well.  With press or drip, one wants ZERO fines (ideally).  When grinding for press the SJ just makes a grind that still leaves silt in the cup.  There are grinders designed for large grinding that do not produce many fines, mainly cupping grinders.  In many regards grinding for press is "more difficult" for a grinder than for espresso.  Its a shame that folks don't realize that, in many ways grind is more important for press than for espresso.  There I said it!

Seriously though, the Vario should be a great choice.  I can't wait to get mine.

 
Tim Eggers
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