A few weeks ago, in anticipation of the arrival of Kona beans and my desire to brew it as espresso, drip and French press, I decided that it would be a great time to put a Baratza Vario to the test. Given its programmable features and ability to alternate among different grind settings, I figured that it would be the perfect grinder for the job.
The Vario is amazingly well designed with a small footprint. It is the patriarch of the Baratza line which includes the Virtuoso, Maestro Plus and Maestro. It measures 14.5" high by 4.5" wide by 7.25" deep and weighs in at 10 pounds. One of the nicest features is that all of the controls and functions are on the front of the grinder.
The Vario delivers an incredibly wide range of grinds with 230 possible settings to choose from ranging from 250 micrometers to 1200 micrometers. It uses macro and micro adjustments, where one macro setting is equal to a full range of the micro settings. This makes it easy to fine tune and dial in the right grind, and, makes it simple to duplicate previous settings.
Ceramic 54mm burrs, developed in collaboration with Mahlkonig, help to reduce friction during the grind process, keeping the beans cooler helping to retain the intended flavor characteristics from roasting. One of the advantages to having ceramic burrs is that they are resistant to having coffee oils stick to them, keeping them cleaner. Another key benefit to ceramic burrs is that they have twice the lifespan of stainless steel burrs.
The Vario has simple and easy programmability. There are separate programmable buttons for espresso, drip and press, so you simply press your preset button and push the start button. The timers can adjust down to 1/10th of a second for precise grind amounts. This latest version of the Vario features a battery back-up in case power fails so that you will not lose any of your programmed settings.
There are two dosing options on this feature filled grinder. For drip, press or cold brew it uses a simple, removable bin to catch your grounds. Baratza has included their PortaHolder accessory for grinding directly into your portafilter if that is what you prefer. It can be adjusted to accommodate different sized portafilters. This is a very convenient feature, but, as with most doserless grinders, it does require more clean up afterwards.
The Baratza Vario made it very simple to enjoy my Kona beans in all three styles of brewing, with very little time between adjustments. The programmed buttons made the dosing easy with very little waste of quality beans. Overall, the Vario is a great little grinder, with all of the bells and whistles of the expensive commercial coffee grinders at a fraction of the price.
How many different brewing styles do you use to make coffee?
What do you think of having all of these features in one grinder?