(This was originally posted over at barista exchange, and lost in post land.)
Well, I sold my Mini Jolly, and bought myself one of those shnazzy Varios. These are my initial thoughts. I really like how small it is. Having used the Maestro and Virtuoso, I was familiar with the line, and loved the size. That was one of the problems I had with the Mini Jolly. As small as it was, it still didn't fit on my counter well under my cabinets. I had to tilt the hopper down and pull it out to load beans every time. This could have been remedied I know with the newer shorter hopper, but I never got around to getting it.
When the chance to get a Vario at a slight discount came up for me, it seemed like a no-brainer. No brainer, because I have a Rancilio Silvia, and brew using AeroPress and Chemex at home, and needed a grinder that would do both, which the Vario will do, and the Mini Jolly would do, but not without adjusting the grind a little tougher. Plus, I liked the programming features of the Vario. So, I ordered one, have had it a few weeks.
I am surprised at how nice and consistent the grinds are. The ceramic burrs do a great job, for sure, and don't get that hot at all. I like that it's so quiet. I like that the grinds that go in the hopper don't seem as staticky and sticky to the walls of the lower hopper like the other two grinders from Baratza. I like it that it can grind fine enough for espresso, and includes a great portafilter hopper for grinding directly into the portafilter, and with a programmed dose, eliminates waste. Really, I like it all, the size, the build quality, the low noise, the consistency of grind, and the ceramic burrs.
The only thing I don't like, and maybe I am missing something, but I usually grind for Chemex at the coursest setting on a Bunn bulk grinder, and the Vario won't go that course. I am looking for a four minute brew time on the Chemex, and the Vario is more like four and a half to five minutes, which lends an overextracted taste to me. I am setting it on the coursest settings on the Vario, with both sides all the way down, but it just won't go course enough, which is weird considering the problem I had with the other two Baratza grinders were that they went plenty course, but not really fine enough to do espresso consistently. I could get the Virtuoso to do espresso on the finest setting, but if it needed to go more fine, I was screwed.
So, as I brew at home using the AeroPress, too, which uses a finer grind, I can still brew coffee at home, I'm not totally without coffee, just can't Chemex right now. Does anyone else have experience with this? Overall, besides that one thing that I may be missing, I am extremely pleased with the package the Vario offers. So far, it's been a great grinder, handling both manual brewing and espresso, and that in itself makes this a great grinder. Factor in the programming of time, the many setting adjustments that can be made, and the overall versatility of it, the Vario's a must have for serious coffeegeeks for their home setup. If I can just figure this Chemex grind thing out on it....
Batdorf & Bronson Coffee, Atlanta.
BGA Incoming Chair.
SCAA Prof. Dev. Espresso.