Baratza Vario-W Flat Ceramic Coffee Grinder [REVIEW]
The Baratza Vario-W Coffee Grinder is very similar to the Vario that we reviewed a few days ago. The main difference is that the Baratza Vario-W controls the dosages using its integrated scales.
In the review, you’ll learn how it’s similar to the Vario, how’s it different, and more importantly, whether it’s better or not. Let’s get started:
Similar to the Baratza Vario, the Vario-W is very easy to use; it comes with 230 adjustable grind settings (micro on the left, macro on the right) and 3 pre-programmed buttons (editable), with factor settings set at 15, 30, and 60g. The main difference is how dosage is controlled, the former is time-based, and the latter is weight-based. The Baratza Vario-W measures the dosage based on weight (+/- 0.1g).
This Baratza Vario-W uses 54mm ceramic flat burrs, and produces a variety of quality grinds that’s suitable for drip-filter, pour-over, and French press.
As for the appearance, this Baratza grinder is larger than the original version, measuring 15.3 x 13.1 x 7.4’ (38.9 x 33.3 x 18.8cm), and weighing only 12.4lbs (5.7kg). The exterior does look sturdier because of its larger size and the thicker base to hold the scales.
Is This Coffee Grinder Right For Me?
In a way, the Baratza Vario-W is easier to use than many other coffee grinders. The reason is simple, when we look at recipes, they don’t measure the dosage in seconds, they do it in grams. This machine can grind the precise amount that you need.
As such, this burr grinder is an excellent choice for anyone who plans to follow a recipe, and with its 3 pre-set buttons, the burr mill is suitable for beginners and intermediate users alike; particularly those who just want to keep things simple.
- Takes up very little space, it has a small footprint
- Minimal coffee retention inside the system - it won't go stale and ruin your next batch!
- Easy initial setup - just attach the hopper on top and choose your burr settings
- Super accurate weight-based dosing system
Again similar to the Vario, the Baratza Vario-W Coffee Grinder has a small footprint, and it’s intuitive to use. There’s also very little coffee retained inside the burr mill, meaning that it won’t ruin your coffee experience next time you use it.
However, what makes this machine stand out is it uses weight-based measurement system. It’s more precise than time-based because the amount of coffee produced deviates slightly depending on each and every single bean’s angle when they enter the burrs.
With a more precise grind, the burr mill is perfect for the growing number of pour-over audiences; it reproduces consistent grinds easier and faster. All you have to do is press a button, and knowing that the weight is the same every time, simply pour it out to brew.
- Messy - when you remove the ground container, it creates a trial of messy grinds
- Static - when you make fine to medium-fine grinds, a lot of it gets stuck
- Disassembling difficulty - it takes more effort removing individual components than usual, making it more difficult to access inside
What I don’t like about this coffee grinder is it creates a HUGE amount of static. When you try to make fine grinds for espresso, there will be grinds stuck everywhere. If you’re making fine grinds, be sure to add a couple more grams because you’ll lose a few due to static; when you pour them out, a lot of them will stay stuck inside the container.
Wait there’s more! The Baratza Vario-W is also messy. When you move the ground container, grinds that accumulated at the top will fall onto the counter top, which creates a mess. The Vario also has the same problem, but unlike it, the Vario-W doesn’t come with the portafilter option, since it’s not designed for espresso.
The messiness issue is compounded by the fact that it’s difficult to clean! The joints on this Baratza coffee grinder is stiff. It takes quite a bit of force to remove the hopper to access the burrs, and even more to remove the outer burrs to access the inner burrs. I’m not saying its super complicated; it just takes a bit more effort than usual when you try to remove the parts that’re in the way.
Alternative & Similar Products
I personally prefer the Baratza Vario because it produces a wider range of excellent grinds and at a lower price. If you like the scales a lot, then you’ll probably be better off buying the normal Vario together with a decent set of kitchen scales; it’s a lot cheaper.
If the Vario-W is out of your budget, but you really want a coffee grinder with integrated scales, then you should check out the OXO On Barista Brain Burr Grinder. The OXO On Barista Brain comes with an intelligent scale, produces consistent grinds across most ranges, and looks better than the Vario-W.
The last alternative is the Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder; this machine is only for those who has the budget and want to the ultimate coffee experience. As the name suggest, this device produces exceptionally high-quality espresso grinds, and probably the best within its price range. You can read our detailed review here.
The Coffee Barrister's Verdict
Overall, the Baratza Vario-W Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder has its ups and downs. On one hand, it provides a superior dosing solution; it’s weight-based, which gives it more precision and is easier for people to follow. But on the other hand, it creates more mess and doesn’t come with a portafilter option.
Despite the balanced pros and cons, I personally prefer the normal Baratza Vario more because it’s cheaper, more versatile, and you can get an additional scales if you want that extra level of precision.