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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Vario Won't...  
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 6:43pm
Subject: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

My Vario seems to be stuck in the "espresso" setting.

While running I moved the macro lever all the way to the bottom for french press but I still get espresso. I took off the top burr and cleaned everything (as I do every month or so) and still no change.

Is there anything else I can do before calling Baratza? Should I try removing the lower burr? I see nothing inside when I remove the upper burr and slide the macro from top to bottom. Shouldn't something move up or down?

I'm trying to avoid getting another Vario replacement (which would be my 2nd replacement grinder in 1 year), since the post office is on strike in Canada.

At least I still have my Mazzer SJ for espresso and the PeDe for pourover. I thought I'd hold on to them for a year in case the Vario turned out to be unreliable. BOY.....am I ever glad I did!
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CraigA
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CraigA
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Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 6:51pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

Endo Said:

My Vario seems to be stuck in the "espresso" setting.
Is there anything else I can do before calling Baratza? Should I try removing the lower burr? I see nothing inside when I remove the upper burr and slide the macro from top to bottom. Shouldn't something move up or down?

Posted June 22, 2011 link

Yes the inside bottom burr carrier should move down when the macro lever is slid down to the bottom. Try this: Take the hopper off, & with the grinder running, slide both macro & micro to the bottom. Then with the grinder not running!, take your thumb & push down firmly in the center of the lower burr carrier. The carrier should move down & you'll feel & hear it 'click' down if it's stuck upwards in an espresso setting.

Second Vario in a year?, please don't take this the wrong way., but what are you doing wrong that's necessitating this..? Did your 1st & 2nd Vario have a motor drive gear/s &/or belt drive replacement/s?

 
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 7:35pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

CraigA Said:

Take the hopper off, & with the grinder running, slide both macro & micro to the bottom.

Posted June 22, 2011 link

As you know the grinder won't run with the hopper off. I assume you mean "take the top burr off"?

Well, I did just that and ran the grinder with the top burr removed. The lower burr didn't budge. I ran it 3 more times, pushing down on the lower burr afterward each time, and finally it moved down.... with a "clunk". It seems it was stuck but now appears to be free. (Although I still need to push it down manually for it to move to the coarse grind position). I re-installed the top burr and it now grinds coarse. I assume the grinding pressure will now allow the burr to move down when I use the macro lever, but I haven't run the espresso position yet, so I can't say if it works going back to coarse using the macro lever alone.

CraigA Said:

Second Vario in a year?, please don't take this the wrong way., but what are you doing wrong that's necessitating this..? Did your 1st & 2nd Vario have a motor drive gear/s &/or belt drive replacement/s?

Posted June 22, 2011 link

I returned my first grinder after a stripped gear drive (I assume that it was a rock, although none was found).

I have several grinders and none have issues except the Vario. So I suspect my issues are either common, or I am just unlucky.

After further reflection, I assume my latest issue has to do with the fact I used the Vario exclusively for espresso (this was my first coarse grind attempt in 4 months). I suspect the coffee oils and lack of macro movement caused it to get stuck in place. From now on I'll excercise the macro lever more to prevent sticking.
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CraigA
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CraigA
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Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 8:03pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

Endo Said:

As you know the grinder won't run with the hopper off. I assume you mean "take the top burr off"?

Posted June 22, 2011 link

No, sorry Endo., I didn't mean with the hopper off.. It's been a looong day & I'm beat.

Well you can push the micro switch in with your left index finger, hit the manual button with your right index finger, then start button., to run the grinder without the hopper.
In any event, espresso grind coffee can & will get impacted under the lower burr carrier, & its concentric female groove underneath that mates up with the corresponding concentric male ring on the bottom of the grinds chamber.

Well, I did just that and ran the grinder with the top burr removed. The lower burr didn't budge. I ran it 3 more times, pushing down on the lower burr afterward each time, and finally it moved down.... with a "clunk". It seems it was stuck but now appears to be free. (Although I still need to push it down manually for it to move to the coarse grind position). I re-installed the top burr and it now grinds coarse. I assume the grinding pressure will now allow the burr to move down when I use the macro lever, but I haven't run the espresso position yet, so I can't say if it works going back to coarse using the macro lever alone.

Ok, that's good.

I returned my first grinder after a stripped gear drive (I assume that it was a rock, although none was found).

If it was a rock, you'd know it with a chipped or scored burr at the least. The gear can strip if & when espresso fineness coffee can impact under the area I mentioned, & also the grinds chamber area. This can happen if coffee backs up do to someone manually holding the portafilter directly up too close to the bottom discharge area of the Vario's chute. The horizontal chute/tunnel/wall area between the circumferential swept area of the grinds chamber & the black discharge "elephant" snout can & does get plugged solid also.

This could also happen if the grinds bin is filled right up to the top. Before it reaches there though, there will be a pyramidal cone that would effectively stopper up the discharge chute., & the coffee would continue to back up into the discharge snout, horizontal tunnel., & finally into the grinds chamber area & under the lower burr carrier & impacting under there as well.


Also I believe IMO that this always happens with a Vario that's used exclusively for espresso. If one just varies the grind every once in a while there's no issues with a stripped/burned out drive gear & belt.

After further reflection, I assume my latest issue has to do with the fact I used the Vario exclusively for espresso (this was my first coarse grind attempt in 4 months). I suspect the coffee oils and lack of macro movement caused it to get stuck in place. From now on I'll excercise the macro lever more to prevent sticking.

Yes, I believe this to be the case as I explained earlier.

Maybe they should rewrite the Vario manual stating this & I've seen this issue discussed here over several months, & I've seen it basically everytime that I'm servicing the Vario.

 
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 8:35pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

OK Craig. Thanks for the help.

I'll make sure I exercise the macro lever more (though my first grinder had problems with a slipping macro lever, so I figured it was a good idea not too move it too much).

Can't say I'm too happy with all the sliding plastic fits and bits on this grinder. I just hope nothing else pops up....especially now that my 1 year warranty is over. The again, I imagine everything is fixable at a reasonable price, and the turnaround time for repairs does appear to be pretty good.
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CraigA
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CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
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Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 8:40pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

Endo Said:

OK Craig. Thanks for the help.

Posted June 22, 2011 link

You're welcome!, that's what I'm here for.{;-)

I'll make sure I exercise the macro lever more (though my first grinder had problems with a slipping macro lever, so I figured it was a good idea not too move it too much).

Did you get the tiny shims to do the easy fix for that? Maybe not if this was the 1st grinder & you just got a refurb then.

Can't say I'm too happy with all the sliding plastic fits and bits on this grinder. I just hope nothing else pops up....especially now that my 1 year warranty is over. The again, I imagine everything is fixable at a reasonable price, and the turnaround time for repairs does appear to be pretty good.

Where roughly are you located please? Don't worry, Baratza has exemplary customer service & will take care of you!

If you're in Canada, I'll take care of you! {;-)

See this please: "Re: Baratza Virtuoso- durability problems?"

In short: "Even though the products carry a 1 year warranty (I have to check that), I've had direct confirmation of Baratza supporting five, seven year old grinders in some fashion. At most, people have to pay shipping postage on some issues."

 
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 8:45pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

CraigA Said:

Where roughly are you located please? Don't worry, Baratza has exemplary customer service & will take care of you!

If you're in Canada, I'll take care of you! {;-)

Posted June 22, 2011 link

That's good to hear :-)  (Yes I'm in Canada).

By the way, I forgot to ask, do you think I should remove the lower burr and try to clean the concentric goove area to prevent sticking?
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CraigA
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CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,245
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Jun 22, 2011, 8:58pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

Endo Said:

By the way, I forgot to ask, do you think I should remove the lower burr and try to clean the concentric goove area to prevent sticking?

Posted June 22, 2011 link

It's not under the burr that's the problem area, it's underneath the aluminum burr carrier itself.
I'll post a link fron Baratza that makes the procedure a lot easier:
Vario Gear and Belt.pdf.
Vario Faceplate Replacement and Lever Shimming.pdf.
Vario Troubleshooting Guide.

Mark Prince's Baratza Technical (White) Paper pdf.


There's a 'starburst' area too. These areas are to prevent/keep out the migration of coffee fines into the lower burr carrier shaft & its support bushing.

It should be cleaned out/away, but you may get away with this procedure: With the grinder running & the Macro & Micro levers opened up all the way, rap the metal sides of the grinder directly behind the lever knobs. That should dislodge any impacted or sticking grinds. I'd then tilt the grinder forward to assist in the grinds being evacuated out of the grinder. It can't be sweept out because the burr carrier is raised up into a very coarse position.

Then use your thumb to push down on the center on the lower burr carrier to see if it seats any lower.

CraigA: php80oNBePM.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Fri Jun 24, 2011, 6:50pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

Thanks for the info.

Unfortunately, now I seem to have the opposite problem...... I'm not able to grind fine enough. DOH!

I brought the lever back up while running (with no beans) until it hit the zero point I had before (which is at zero macro and mid micro). It seems the zero hasn't changed but still I can't get grinds fine enough for espresso, even at only 3 micro notches below the zero. It gives me a 20 second shot max, and with spritzers.

I opened it up again, cleaned and vacuumed everything out. I pushed the lower burr down with my thumb and up with the lever a few times to unstick it. But still the same result when I reassembled. Not fine enough.

Although I don't see any grinds on any of the datum surfaces, I must assume the top burr is somehow not seating properly. I'll have a closer look tomorrow during daylight.

My next step will be to take the grinder apart and see if I can't clean under the lower burr. I assume I use the "gear and belt" removal procedure you linked, and the lower burr drops out when the grinder is turned upside down?

I haven't given up yet, but I'm getting close.
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alnica
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Posted Sat Jun 25, 2011, 4:15pm
Subject: Re: Vario Won't Grind Coarse
 

Endo - You do seem to have had quite a few issues with your Vario(s). Just as a matter of interest, about how many pounds of coffee have you put through your current one?

As to the coarseness issue, I'm not really sure about this, but I do wonder if after all the fiddling around, you might need to calibrate your Vario with the special allen key that comes with to get it to grind coarse enough for espresso..

It's good to know the recommendation to occasionally adjust the micro lever on the Vario. I don't generally move the macro lever much, partly becasause I use my Vario almost exclusively for espresso, but also because after moving the macro level down, it tends to take a while for the Vario to reconfigure itself again and grind coarse enough for espresso.
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