When it comes to affordable commercial-level grinders for home users, Baratza might be one of the forefront manufacturers. They make numerous models used by home and professional baristas around the world.
The Forte and Vario are just two examples of their budget grinders. Want to know what the differences are between them? Keep reading this Baratza Forte vs Vario comparison to learn the following:
- Features both the Forte and Vario have.
- What makes them different from each other.
- Pricing information for both grinders.
- How you can decide which one is a better fit for you.
Let’s take a closer look at these grinders.
With the Baratza Forte, you get a surprising degree of flexibility at your disposal, and for a very reasonable price. It uses an ingenious macro and micro adjustment system that shows just how precise a stepped grinder can get, as well as a beautiful touchscreen. This is a solid choice for small coffee shops with a low volume of espresso orders and home baristas.
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If you like the look of the Baratza Forte but want something even more budget-friendly, consider the Baratza Vario. It has the same macro and micro grind adjustment system and on-demand or bin grinding flexibility as the Forte for a reduced cost. Get this grinder if you’re an espresso enthusiast looking for an affordable commercial-level grinder to use at home.
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One of the first key similarities shared by the Forte and Vario is the shape of their burrs. They both use flat burrs, which are often the burrs of choice in coffee shops.
Flat burrs will provide you with perfectly uniform coffee grounds. The result is a subtle sweetness in flavor and unprecedented degree of consistency.
While flat burrs certainly have their perks, they also have their share of flaws. One example of such a flaw is the fact that they’re prone to getting hot during extended grinding sessions.
If you’re searching for a grinder for a coffee shop, one that can’t grind continuously won’t be as useful to you. This is where the material of the burr can come into play.
The Forte and Vario have ceramic burrs. On top of being especially long-lasting, ceramic burrs will not transfer as much heat to your coffee beans. This means they’re less likely to burn your grinds than steel flat burrs.
Read Also: Mahlkonig vs Baratza
Their size is another critical part of grinding burrs. There are two reasons why this important: large burrs can grind more quickly and they don’t need to turn as much to do so, which means reduced heat from friction.
The burrs in these Baratza grinders are a modest 54mm. While far from the biggest burrs you could find on the market today, it’s a decent size that would still be suitable in a home kitchen or business with a lower volume of espresso orders.
Heavy-Duty Portafilter Holder
You’ll find a hands-free grinding design on both the Forte and Vario. This is just another way of saying they have a portafilter fork on the front, which will hold your portafilter basket in place while grinding.
The benefit to this design is obvious: it frees up your hands so you can do other tasks while the grinder works for you.
There’s also the heavy-duty construction of the portafilter forks to consider. Both have been designed to be adjustable and long-lived, allowing you to grind into portafilters of numerous sizes for years to come.
Further Reading: Best Espresso Grinders Under $1,000
Grounds Container or Portafilter Compatibility
These Baratza grinders have a feature that’s truly unique: a portafilter and a grounds container. You can grind directly into your portafilter basket for freshly made espresso, or you can grind into the grounds container if you need more for another method of brewing, such as drip coffee.
This flexibility means the grinders have increased functions. Being able to use them for a variety of brewing methods means you’ll be able to get your money’s worth out of either one.
Macro and Micro Grind Adjustment
Another feature that sets these grinders apart from numerous competitors is their grind adjustment system. Any knowledgeable barista would inform you that you can’t just grind the same degree of fineness for all types of coffee.
French press coffee, for instance, should be coarse. On the other hand, espresso must be fine.
It’s not surprising that these Baratza grinders allow you to adjust your fineness. However, the way in which they let you make the adjustments is innovative and totally different from other stepped grinders.
You’ll first choose from fine to coarse on one side of the panel. Then, on the other side, you can further adjust your fineness within your chosen setting. It grants you far more flexibility than other stepped grinders.
If your counters are already packed with other appliances, you’ll be concerned about the size of any appliance you’re planning to put on them in the future. You’ll have to make sure everything you purchase fits in where you need it to.
When it comes to size, the Forte and Vario are virtually identical. The only real difference here is that the Vario is a quarter of an inch wider, but that isn’t likely to influence your decision.
Related Article: Best Espresso Grinders Under $1,500
Are you a beginner when it comes to grinding your own espresso or coffee? Then you may not understand the proper timings for each dose, grinding too much or too little each time.
There’s one user-friendly feature in both these grinders that will help you ensure you get the proper dose: programmable buttons. You can research the proper dose for either grinder in advance, then program it into the grinders’ buttons.
In the future, then, getting a fresh shot of espresso will be as easy as just choosing the correct setting.
Baratza Forte LCD Touchscreen
We wouldn’t be surprised if you were to look at these grinders quickly and not be able to tell them apart at first. They look extremely similar.
However, the Forte makes one improvement to the design that you’ll notice with a closer look: an LCD touchscreen. It gets rid of the Vario’s button panel entirely.
The result is a much sleeker and modern design that will call to mind using a smartphone or tablet.
Baratza Vario Quiet Operation
The Baratza Vario is known for its ability to keep quiet. This is refreshing in the world of espresso grinders, which is often full of noise.
Its reduced volume comes from two factors: its belt drive and DC motor. As a result of their low-volume operation, you can feel comfortable using this grinder in your home without as much of a worry about it completely disrupting your atmosphere.
Baratza Forte All-Metal Grinding Chamber
Although it may make your appliances more affordable, plastic isn’t as trustworthy a material as the alternatives. Furthermore, many people have health concerns about their food and drink coming into prolonged contact with it.
These are not worries you need to have with the Forte. Its grinding chamber is made completely from metal, increasing its durability and consequently limiting your espresso’s contact with plastic.
You can find the best prices online for the some of the best espresso grinders in the Majesty Coffee store. These Baratza grinders are an excellent example of that.
The Baratza Forte is in our store for $899 and the Baratza Vario for $479.
So, Which is Better?
At a glance, the Baratza Forte and Vario are seemingly identical. When you have two choices that seem so similar, it can be difficult to pick one or the other.
There are a couple subtle differences between them that will be the crux of your decision. The first one to consider is the cost, of course.
If you want the most affordable grinder possible, the Baratza Vario should be more manageable for you. It’s a little over half the cost of the Forte.
On the flipside, consider your own skill level. If you’re a beginner, the Forte’s touchscreen may be appealing for you, because it will feel like using a tablet.
There’s also durability to factor in. The Forte’s all-metal grinding chamber could be a factor for you if you want a grinder that will last even longer.
Here is the bottom line:
Those in small coffee shops or home enthusiasts looking for something longer-lasting and more modern should opt for the Baratza Forte.
But anyone with a stricter budget will likely want the much more affordable Baratza Vario.
Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team
Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.