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Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Mazzer or Vario...  
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Bman
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jan 2004
Posts: 259
Location: Johnstown, PA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Anita
Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly
Vac Pot: Nope, Bodum Press
Drip: Not any more
Roaster: I-Roast, Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 2:51am
Subject: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

Hi all, I am looking to get a new espresso grinder, maybe.  I have a Super Jolly now, which is pretty good, though I have never had any other grinder before.  I have been researching the Baratza Vario, which does seem cool.  I have no experience with this.  My goal is to get the best grinder for espresso quality in the cup.  The size of the SJ is not an issue for me.  Will I see better quality in the Vario?  It looks so plastiky, and I am afraid that it will shatter if I drop it.  My inclinations are to stick with the Mazzer which is a tank and willable to my grandchildren, but I am intrigued by the Vario.

Any help from those with experience with this is greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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moosepucky
Senior Member
moosepucky
Joined: 6 Jun 2009
Posts: 155
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Grinder: Super Jolly - Forte BG -...
Vac Pot: Cona - Santos
Drip: Bodum - Chemex - Hario -...
Roaster: Hottop KN-8828-B
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 4:41am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

For a long time I had both a Vario-W and a Super Jolly manual doser.

I preferred the Vario-W over the SJ because the SJ made such a mess when I used it and the Vario-W never spilled a single grain of coffee on the counter as I weight dosed into the hopper, then poured the shot into the portafilter using a OE funnel to make it easier to "hit the hole" in the portafilter.

This preference went along for several months and I used both the SJ and Vario-W grinders equally, cleaning up the counter after each pull with the SJ, and no counter clean up necessary with the Vario-W.

Then I modified the SJ to be a time based doserless grinder.  Details of this switch over can be read here: HB post about my SJ doserless odyssey

Slowly the Vario-W got used less and less.  Then only for "test espresso blends"

Eventually I "tried" to switch the Vario-W over to steel burrs to make it a brew grinder.  This was not successful so I ended up with a Forte-BG in its place.

Now I only have 1 espresso grinder, the SJ, and 2 brew grinders.  Been very happy with this for about 6 months now and no interest in acquiring a second espresso grinder as I have a Hario mini to grind my test espresso blends.

So after reading all of the above drivel......

The Vario-W (and the Vario as they are the same basic underlying grinder) was a very capable espresso grinder for home use.

I could not "taste" any difference in the quality of the coffee "in the cup" from either grinder (Mazzer or Baratza).

Moving to a Vario (or Vario-W), in my estimation anyway, would be moving sideways.  No improvement other than you would have 2 electric espresso grinders.

Photo of my previous grinder line up should give you an idea of size difference between SJ and Vario.  SJ in the pic has the short mini hopper so keep this in mind if you have the standard (larger) hopper

moosepucky: 10-8-2013_grinders.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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uscfroadie
Senior Member
uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 443
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP; owned BDB,...
Grinder: K30 Vario, Zass and PeDe...
Vac Pot: Nope
Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 4:44am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

I've owned both.  If you are solely basing your decision on quality in the cup, stick with the SJ, as the Vario can only equal it in the cup.  The benefits of the Vario come from ease of use, much lower grinds retention, smaller, etc.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,510
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 5:04am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

Having used both side by side, the Vario is completely equal to the SJ for taste in cup, the Vario will outperform it's "class" of grinders like the k3/m4/Mini and go toe to tow with the SJ and K6 etc, I'm not sure how Baratza does that with a 54mm flat burr set but I could tell a difference with it over a Mini. Since you already own the SJ stick with that. What the Vario offers if bought new is incredible performance for the price and ease of use and footprint is fairly small, almost no clumping, no/tiny amount of retention making it great for single dosing. Like above it'd be a move sideways, same performance just in a difference package. Yeh their plastic but it's a sturdy plastic, but far from the tank like metal build of the SJ and similar grinders.
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joco
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Jan 2013
Posts: 5
Location: VA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 8:37am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

Unlike the rest of the responders here.  I wasn't at all happy with my Vario.  The Vario uses a plastic carrier that tends to flex while grinding, thus slight changes to grind setting didn't make any difference.  And then I would wind up going to fine or too coarse to get everything dialed-in.  Also keep in mind that Baratza makes frequent updates (at least that what various retailers told me) to the internals (like the burr carrier) and some Vario's perform better than others.

As someone that has gone from Vario to SJ to SJE and back to the SJ. Stick with the Super Jolly... its a great mess.  But if you want to eliminate the Mazzer mess (and get better shots) it seems you will have to go up in price.  Which is the mission Im on right now.
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,466
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 9:22am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

joco Said:

Unlike the rest of the responders here.  I wasn't at all happy with my Vario.  The Vario uses a plastic carrier that tends to flex while grinding, thus slight changes to grind setting didn't make any difference.  And then I would wind up going to fine or too coarse to get everything dialed-in.  Also keep in mind that Baratza makes frequent updates (at least that what various retailers told me) to the internals (like the burr carrier) and some Vario's perform better than others.

As someone that has gone from Vario to SJ to SJE and back to the SJ. Stick with the Super Jolly... its a great mess.  But if you want to eliminate the Mazzer mess (and get better shots) it seems you will have to go up in price.  Which is the mission Im on right now.

Posted March 21, 2014 link

I totally agree.

Also in the Vario I tested,  I did not find cup quality was the equal of the Mazzer when they were compared. Stick with the Mazzer and if your looking for something better, I don't think the Vario is it.
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SpaceTime
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Dec 2013
Posts: 271
Location: Virgo Cluster
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
Grinder: HG One, Pharos, LIDO
Drip: Freiling 33 & 44oz FP,...
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 9:27am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

moosepucky Said:

Photo of my previous grinder line up should give you an idea of size difference between SJ and Vario.  SJ in the pic has the short mini hopper so keep this in mind if you have the standard (larger) hopper

Posted March 21, 2014 link

Mick - OT - who makes those stainless cabinets you have underneath you grinders - I saw them on a website a couple weeks back but did not bookmark....

Sorry OP.
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uscfroadie
Senior Member
uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 443
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP; owned BDB,...
Grinder: K30 Vario, Zass and PeDe...
Vac Pot: Nope
Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 9:51am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

SpaceTime Said:

Mick - OT - who makes those stainless cabinets you have underneath you grinders - I saw them on a website a couple weeks back but did not bookmark....

Sorry OP.

Posted March 21, 2014 link

Tim,

Pasquini.  Here's a link to the newer version.  Many others on Jim's site.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,510
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 9:52am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

If you want something noticeably better, have to go to the Titan Class, if you like single dosing and don't mind hand grinding, the HG-One is killer.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 1,016
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Fri Mar 21, 2014, 10:56am
Subject: Re: Mazzer or Vario for espresso--best quality?
 

Bman Said:

My goal is to get the best grinder for espresso quality in the cup.

Posted March 21, 2014 link

+1 to looking at titans or the HG One.
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