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Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Sell Macap M4...  
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forgetcolor
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Joined: 1 Jan 2007
Posts: 14
Location: usa
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Apr 11, 2014, 11:29pm
Subject: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

I have a Macap M4 stepless doserless I've used for several years. As many know, it's a great grinder. However, there are a couple things I've never liked about it and I'm wondering if I can do better (for a reasonable price). Things I don't like are:

-terrible grind retention requiring fiddling every time to get them all out
-clump grinds, requiring WDT every time
-slow (not sure what to compare it to but it feels slow---partially because of the first point)

I'm someone who only makes espresso, and I make about 2-4 shots/day. I don't use the hopper for my M4; I just put one shot's worth of beans in the grinder and cover it with an old single basket to keep beans from popping out.

So as I look around at other grinders I'm drawn to the Vario. The portafilter holder would be great. It looks like the grinds might not require WDT. The timer would simplify life. And I don't even see where there'd be any grind retention at all. It may not be any faster than my M4, but looks to solve the rest of the problems.

ANyone who's used both out there who can comment on a direct comparison? Is it worth it to swap the M4 for the Vario?
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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,412
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Apr 12, 2014, 3:10am
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

No
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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sat Apr 12, 2014, 5:13am
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

I'll say yes, the Various outperforms the Mini/M4/K3 etc class, I've had the Vario and Mini next to each other and Vario was much better. No clumping, easy single dosing, taste in cup etc. Had it next to SJ same time and same S.O. beans and blends and it was on part with the SJ no doubt.

It's not built like a tank. You could sell and find a used SJ as well or other grinder in that class.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,220
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Apr 12, 2014, 7:01am
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

-terrible grind retention requiring fiddling every time to get them all out
-clump grinds, requiring WDT every time
-slow

The Vario has very little grind retention.  

The Vario delivers fairly fluffy grinds with very little clumping squarely into the center of the pf basket.  However, clumps aren't important unless they cause channeling.  If you're not getting channeling away from the sides of the bottom of a naked pf, you don't need to WDT.

Notes: Side channeling is not caused by clumps, but by bad seal; and "clump free" and "fluffy" aren't the same things.  If you don't already know the difference but want to, ask.  I don't know what you know.

Speed of the Vario and Macap M4/M5 are about the same -- roughly 1.5g a minute.

Also Under the Heading of I Don't Know What You Know:
When's the last time you thoroughly cleaned the Macap?  When's the last time you changed the burrs?  

But for the sizes of their standard hoppers, the Macap M5 and M4 are the same grinder.  If you're tempted by the offer of the M5, don't be.  

How Good Is The Vario?
I've never done much in the way of a disciplined comparison of grinders in the class, but am not unfamiliar with the Vario and M4, as well as a few other grinders in the M4 class; and my opinion is that the Vario isn't any better in the cup than grinders turning flat burrs of the same size at similar speeds using similar motors.

On the other hand, the Vario gets the grinds into the basket with such little fuss, overall it's a lot easier to live with.  But... Varios break more often.  While... Vario burrs stay sharper longer.  And...

Should you replace your M4 with a Vario?  That's one tough question; and it's really a lot more about money and where you place your own grinder priorities than it is about grinders.  If the Vario is a step up in the cup -- and I don't think it is -- it's a very small one.  But if the various use factors figure highly in your calculations, than the differences between the two grinders become palpable.  

"Sell Macap M4 for an uber conical?" is an easier question because their performance levels are so easily distinguished.    

Not to be confusing, I began my search for an uber conical to replace my Cimbali Junior Max more because of use than in the cup.  It wasn't until I had my new grinder in my house, with the burrs broken in, that I could appreciate how vastly in the cup performance differed; and maybe a month before my "impression" became a "conviction."  

The Max (Junior Max has the same internals in a different case) was one of the few grinders which Jim Schulman scored as actually "Beat(ing) the Robur.  Moral of the story:  Either you have to take anyone else's opinion with a grain of salt; grinder comparisons of grinders which perform at a similar level are inherently unreliable; circumstances vary; or all of the above.  

The first thing I'd do is take the M4 apart, clean it, and change the burrs (if they hadn't been cleaned recently) and live it with for a few more months while ruminating over the question.  

Then, if you still want a new grinder, get the Vario if and only if you can't afford something better.  

Finally, coffee is a daily activity and life is too short to live with something which irritates the hell out of you three times every morning.  If you've already made up your mind, ignore everything I've written, quit torturing yourself, buy the Vario, and be happy.  

Rich
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forgetcolor
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Joined: 1 Jan 2007
Posts: 14
Location: usa
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sat Apr 12, 2014, 4:46pm
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

Thanks for the consideration and thoughts.

I haven't ever used a naked PF, but feel I can spot bad channeling based on how it comes out of the PF as well as taste. I'm doing fine there. Seems I do less fine when I don't WDT, which is why I do it. Might be worth some more experimenting, though.

I've never changed the burrs on my M4. Maybe it's time. I'm only recently back into coffee as a daily ritual. Overall I'd guess I've run no more than 100 lbs through this set of burrs. But I do have another set (new, but with a  few very slight nicks), so could try it.

I clean the M4 with Grindz about once/month. I haven't taken the top burr off to really get in there. Probably time. I'll follow your advice and start there.

As for going to a conical, or something else higher end, I'm willing to consider it and do ogle them, though would prefer to keep my grinder cash to below $500 if possible (in addition to whatever I'd get for my M4 - $300 maybe?).
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,068
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sun Apr 13, 2014, 8:48am
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

honestly, if you've only put 100# through your M4, you don't need to change the burrs. They should last you 400kg, according to Macap. Dosers help reduce clumps, so part of your need to WDT is related to not having one. Having said that, I completely sympathize with you. The M4 doesn't have the power to clear the chute without brushing and bumping it. get yourself a small brush that you can use to clear the chute with, then bump the grinder (run it for a second to clear the burr chamber), then brush, bump repeat until no more grounds come out when you bump. Just be sure the burrs have stopped spinning before you brush, so your brush doesn't get trapped. The burrs are ultra-quiet when spinning down, so you'll think they've stopped before they really have. My M4 takes about three or 4 cycles to not have significant retention. For comparison, my Mazzer Major takes a single brush and bump.

As Rich said, going to a SJ may be more convenient, but its probably not going to be all that much better in the cup...and its not built nearly as well. Now, he also suggested you might want go big conical...and as good advice as that is, there's nothing wrong with going big flat.

Definitely get into the burr chamber and clean it well. Unplug the grinder before you start. FYI, the adjustment ring can be removed without messing with the worm screw. Once you get the upper burr carrier out, you'll want to remove the nut from the drive shaft and then pry the lower burr carrier up via the chute, using a flat head screwdriver. This may take bit of force, since you've never done it. Spin the burrs a little at a time with your hand, prying with moderate force between spins until it pops loose. While the burr carriers are out, remove the burrs and clean everywhere. If you need any help pm me.  I get my mail on my phone.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,220
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sun Apr 13, 2014, 3:51pm
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

+1 to everything Ron said.  

And I apologize if what I said about big conicals was unclear.  I didn't mean to say or imply that it's a step you need to make; only that the difference between an M4 and a big conical would be immediately apparent.  

Big burrs, big motor = big difference (usually).  Big differences are easy to spot.

Unless your burrs were damaged in some way, they shouldn't need replacement considering how little work they've done.  But do take the grinder apart and clean everything.  You can solve and spot a lot of problems that way.

Rich
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brianl
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Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 449
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic (w/PID)
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Posted Mon Apr 14, 2014, 7:25am
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

emradguy Said:

Having said that, I completely sympathize with you. The M4 doesn't have the power to clear the chute without brushing and bumping it. get yourself a small brush that you can use to clear the chute with, then bump the grinder (run it for a second to clear the burr chamber), then brush, bump repeat until no more grounds come out when you bump. Just be sure the burrs have stopped spinning before you brush, so your brush doesn't get trapped. The burrs are ultra-quiet when spinning down, so you'll think they've stopped before they really have. My M4 takes about three or 4 cycles to not have significant retention. For comparison, my Mazzer Major takes a single brush and bump.

Posted April 13, 2014 link

I think this process is what the original poster is trying to avoid. I had a gaggia MDF (I know, not comparable) but it required a routine like that and it made me loathe the grinder. Vario literally just turn on and press a button after putting coffee in.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,068
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Apr 14, 2014, 7:36am
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

Yeah, I think you're right. My comments on how to overcome the retention problem were really meant for the interim between now and the time he/she has a better/easier to use grinder.

Also, in my opinion, it's not worth buying a grinder that's only marginally better in the cup merely for convenience. Of course, maybe it is to OP?...and certainly there are others who think it is. I think if you're going to "upgrade" then do a real upgrade and get both convenience and grind quality improvements - and make sure they're both significant...but, well, that's me...and the OP should do what's best for him/her.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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walkinghispath
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Joined: 18 May 2014
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Location: Worldwide
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: Kitchenaid Pro Line (PID'd),...
Grinder: Kitchenaid Pro Line (Mazzer...
Drip: Krups grind and brew for the...
Roaster: Dog bowl and a heat gun
Posted Sun May 18, 2014, 4:37pm
Subject: Re: Sell Macap M4 for a Baratza Vario?
 

Before you dump the M4 consider taking a dremel and polishing the port in the body where the grinds come out.  The factory casting tends to grab the grinds and hold them till they clump.  Another thing to consider is the PF basket you place over the bean inlet.  Grinders with their burrs parallel to the ground rely on airflow to blow the grinds out.  Allowing for more air to be drawn into the inlet could help alleviate your problem as well.
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