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Baratza Vario - Donald Varona's Review
Posted: May 29, 2012, 12:00pm
review rating: 8.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Baratza Vario Grinder
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More About This Product
Arrow The Baratza Vario has 25 Reviews
Arrow The Baratza Vario has been rated 8.40 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 23, 2009.
Arrow Baratza Vario reviews have been viewed 156,822 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Peter Russell 9.23
Mark Carter-Piff 8.67
Barry Stolzman 8.60
David Kugler 8.50
Evan Patton 8.40

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 7.8
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 7
Average Price: $450.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $449.00 Cost vs. Value 6
Where Bought: Invalsa Coffee Online Store Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 1 year Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Not an excellent experience for me; I switched to a Preciso.  YMMV.
Positive Product Points
  • Fine-adjust stepped grind settings
  • Espresso-friendly features: timer, consistency, memory settings
  • Wide range of grind, from espresso to near-french
  • Excellent manufacturer support
Negative Product Points
  • Resulting grind is somewhat dusty
  • Initial product quality problems (for me)
Detailed Commentary

My initial attraction to the Vario was the wide grind range and the reported upgrade in grind quality from my Baratza Virtuoso.  However, my personal experience was not satisfactory, and I am reporting here only on my specific experience and not able to do a complete review of the grinder itself.

I brew a wide range of non-espresso coffee.  I had been using a Virtuoso (also from Baratza) and had stripped the drive train of that grinder.  I needed a new one, and the Vario seemed to fit the bill, even allowing me to explore espresso at some point if I so desired.

Once I got the grinder, what it produced seemed to be much worse than the Virtuoso.  No matter how coarsely I ground the coffee, I would still wind up with a very slow drip from a paper filter, an astringent brew, and what looked like mud in my filter.  How could this happen, this was the star child Vario grinder!  It all Should Have Been Perfect.

I contacted Baratza support.  Kyle was very responsive and helpful.  We went through the standard causes of this problem, which seemed was a very dusty grind.  Usually this was from a slightly misaligned top burr, which might be caused by coffee grains underneath the burr seat.  However, a very close inspection showed no foreign material between the two.  The only thing I noticed was that a tiny hard bump of jutting plastic from the top of the burr seat.  This could be something to misalign the burrs.  Scraping it off improved the result, but still gave a somewhat muddy filter and slow drip.  After conferring with Kyle, I sent the unit back for a replacement.

The new unit was improved, but still not to my liking.  Any drip brew produced with it had a strong astringency component, and it seemed I had to grind rather coarse in order to get a non-slowed drip.  I have since bought a Baratza Preciso (see my other review on this) and am very happy with it.

In general, I haven't needed the Vario's espresso-geared features of timers and saved settings, so it is hard for me to comment much on those.  I can't speak to its grind quality for espresso.  But I can say that the Vario's construction is sturdier and of higher quality than the Maestro/Virtuoso/Preciso line of products, and looks beefier.  Too bad it didn't work for me, but at least I can sell the Vario.

Buying Experience

Invalsa shipped quickly, but without requiring a signature.  Package was missing from my apartment door!  I arrived late that day after a night class, and the package was taken in by a neighbor who brought it to me the next day, but having a $450 package not be at my door after delivery and not having an option to make it signature-only irked me.

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review rating: 8.0
Posted: May 29, 2012, 12:00pm
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