Baratza Vario Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder [REVIEW]
In this review, I will go through everything you need to know about the Baratza Vario Ceramic Burr Grinder; it’s main features, what we liked, what we hated, and whether it’s a worthy investment or not. Let’s get started:
The Baratza Vario is a professional-grade coffee grinder that comes with many features. For starters, it’s highly customizable and very easy to use; the machine comes with 230 adjustable settings and 3 pre-programmed (editable) buttons.
This Baratza Coffee Grinder uses 54mm ceramic flat burrs and produces a wide-range of excellent grinds. The machine produces high-quality, consistent grinds that are suitable for most brewing methods; such as espresso, French press, and especially manual drip filter methods.
As for the appearance, the Vario has a small footprint, it measures 7.2 x 4.5 x 14.5’ (18.3 x 4.5 x 36.8cm) and weighs 13.7lbs (6.2kg). The machine’s exterior is mostly made from plastic, but the front part is covered in a metal plate.
Is This Grinder Right For Me?
I think the Baratza Vario would be a good choice for anyone who has the budget and appreciates coffee. The machine produces excellent results throughout the entire grind range; anything from fine to coarse. So whether you’re brewing an espresso, pour-over, drip filter, or French press, this coffee grinder will perform.
The Vario is also suitable for beginners and slightly more advanced users. The 3 pre-programmed settings make it easy for complete beginners to get started. The machine also caters for intermediate users by being highly customizable; you can control the grind size and dosage with its on-board timer (I’ll go into this in more detail below).
Overall, this coffee grinder will be a great choice for beginners and intermediate users alike, and it’ll excel for people who user different brew methods all the time.
- Takes up very little space, it has a small footprint
- Low volume of coffee trapped inside the system - it won't go stale and ruin your next batch!
- Comes with an adjustable portafilter holder (on top of the ground bin)
- Easy initial setup - simply attach the hopper on top and choose your burr settings
- Adjustable portafilter holder that helps you reduce mess
What I like about the Vario is the initial setup process, it’s very straight forward. All you have to do is attach the hopper on the machine and adjust the grind size, so the burrs aren’t touching.
Other than the excellent grinds and easy setup process, the Baratza Vario is very easy to use. You control the grind size by simply changing the settings on the side; the 20 micro-adjustments on the left, and 10 macro-adjustments on the right.
The burr grinder is also very easy to operate. All you have to do is press start to begin the process, and press the same button again when you’re done. You can also automate the operation by using the on-board timer that’s precise to 1/10th second; this allows you to control the dosing. Lastly, there’re the 3 pre-programmed buttons; just pick a choice and press start. Alternatively, if you’re into fine-tuning, you can also save your settings (grind size and time) to one of those buttons, it’ll make your life easier.
- The ground container is VERY messy to use
- In finer settings, the adjustment lever slips, which creates inconsistency
- There's too much plastic on the outside for a grinder of this price range
Like every other coffee grinder in the world, the Baratza Vario is not perfect. For starters, the ground container causes a lot of mess. When you pull the container out, the coffee powder stuck on the top part of the edges will fall and land all over your counter. There’s a simple solution though – don’t use the ground bin! It’s not like you’re making several cups of coffee anyway, so just use a portafilter (already included) instead.
Another thing I don’t like about the Vario is that the adjustment lever sometimes slips, especially in the finer settings. When the slippage happens, it’s quite problematic because it creates inconsistency, which affects the taste. The good thing is it doesn’t happen all the time, and it’s probably less likely to happen if you use the softer, Robusta beans. The good thing is, according to other users, customer services deals with this swiftly, and replaces the necessary parts in no time.
Alternative & Similar Products
There are three similar burr grinders that I’ll like to recommend. The first two is for people who are more concerned in the automation process than grind performance. They’re the Breville Smart Grinder and the OXO On Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder. Both machines let you control the grind size, dosage, and the number of cups. Once you set everything up, it’ll leave you with the simple option of just pressing the button.
The third and last one I’ll like to recommend is the Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder. As the name suggest, it’s catered more towards people who prefer espresso. The Mazzer Mini is a stepped coffee grinder, so it’s harder to use. However, the Mini performs significantly better than the Vario but comes at a heftier price and larger footprint.
The Coffee Barrister's Verdict
Overall, I really like the Baratza Vario Ceramic Burr Grinder. I like the grinder’s simplicity and performance. There are people who had problems with the adjustment lever slipping, but they’re a small minority, and most of them said customer service dealt with it swiftly.
As such, I think this will be an excellent grinder for beginners and intermediate users who want to be able to brew exceptional coffee quickly, but at the same time not want to deal with the hassle that comes with a stepless coffee grinder.