In the world of espresso and coffee, Baratza and Rancilio are well-known for making grinders that are manageable for people on a budget. The Vario and Rocky both exemplify this quality.
Wondering which of these grinders to pick? That’s a question we’ll be happy to answer for you. By comparing the Baratza Vario vs Rancilio Rocky, we’ll help you choose the right one.
Here is what you’ll learn about the grinders:
- Key similarities between the Vario and Rocky.
- Which features are different between the grinders.
- Information on the cost.
- Advice on how to pick the grinder that’s best for you.
What makes the Vario a cut above the rest in the category of budget grinders is the fact that it manages to combine user-friendliness with flexibility. Its macro and macro grind adjustment system gives you versatility akin to what you’d normally only find on stepless grinders. This is an excellent choice for beginning home baristas who want more control over the grind.
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Affordability and durability are two things you can expect from the Rancilio Rocky. It may not be as versatile as the Vario when it comes to fineness settings, but its die-cast frame will ensure that it lasts you for years to come. We’d recommend the Rocky for baristas on a budget who want a grinder they won’t need to replace anytime soon.
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We’re going to start the comparison by looking at the grinders’ burrs. Since burrs are the part of the grinder that crush your coffee beans for you, they’re one of the most important parts and a great starting point.
The Vario and Rocky each have flat burrs. Flat burrs produce coffee particles that are perfectly uniform, which creates a balanced and rich taste in your cup.
There are, of course, some downsides to flat burrs. Some feel that they are louder than the alternative, conical burrs. They are also prone to grind retention, which is when old grounds remain in your grinder after each use.
Beyond their basic type, the size of your grinder’s burrs is vital. In a nutshell, bigger burrs make a faster grinder. They’re not the only factor that affects your grinder’s speed, but they’re certainly a crucial part of the equation.
Truthfully, the burrs in the Vario and Rocky aren’t the exact same size. However, they’re only four total millimeters apart; the Vario’s burrs are 54mm and the Rocky’s are 50mm. It’s not a difference you’re likely to notice easily.
As far as burr size goes, they’re quite moderate. They’re neither exceedingly large nor small and should be suitable for a home environment.
The hopper is another crucial component to your grinder. As the part that holds your coffee beans, its size directly affects how long you can use your grinder for in one sitting.
Both grinders have an 8-ounce capacity. Like with the burrs, this isn’t a large size, but it’s also not a small one, either. It is approximately half a pound, which is more than enough to grind multiple servings.
Read Also: Baratza Vario vs Eureka Mignon Specialita
Part of the reason you’re looking at a grinder in the first place is that you want coffee that’s as fresh as it can be. If that weren’t one of your concerns, you’d just keep buying pre-ground coffee, after all.
You might be shocked to know that there are some grinders that potentially don’t guarantee fresh coffee every time. This can occur in doser grinders, which have you grind into a container in advance and then dispense the grounds as you need them.
Doser grinders work great when your demand for coffee is high enough that you’ll use the pre-ground amounts extremely quickly. However, in a home setting, you probably won’t go through that much that fast.
That’s why the Vario and Rocky in our store are both doserless grinders. You’ll grind each serving to-order as you need it, guaranteeing the utmost freshness.
The Vario and Rocky are hands-free grinders, which is just another way of saying they’ll hold your portafilter underneath the dispenser for you while they grind. It’s a small detail, but one you’d definitely miss if it weren’t there.
Because the grinders will hold your grinding vessel in place for you the entire time, you’re freed up to work on other things. No more having to stand in front of your grinder constantly while it’s on.
Some grinders are so loud, you can’t help but cringe every time you hear them. Given how loud a grinder can get, you can be forgiven for being reluctant to put one in your kitchen.
One of the best things about the Baratza and Rancilio in this comparison is how quiet they are. Neither one of these grinders will disrupt the atmosphere in your home, making them excellent additions to your coffee routine.
Stepped Grind Adjustment
Adjusting the fineness of your grind is simply a part of using an espresso or coffee grinder. Depending on the brewing method, you’ll need coffee grounds that range anywhere from espresso-fine to French press coarse.
With the Vario and Rocky, tweaking the grind texture is simple. They both have a stepped grind adjustment system, which means that they have a selection of levels to choose from that were created by the manufacturer.
Normally, a stepped grind adjustment system is kind of limiting, because there are only so many fineness levels you can choose. However, the Rancilio Rocky will give you an impressive 55 levels to cover your needs.
The Vario has a unique macro and micro grind adjustment system which comes with a second dial that allows you to make more precise adjustments within a specific fineness level. Combined with its macro adjustment dial, there are 230 different fineness combinations for you to experiment with.
Additional Resource: Baratza Forte vs Vario
We couldn’t neglect to mention the material of the burrs in these grinders, especially since it varies. Burrs are commonly made from either ceramic or metal, and we have one of each type in this comparison.
The Baratza Vario’s burrs are made from ceramic. You may notice that, as a result, it is quieter than metallic alternatives. Ceramic burrs also don’t wear down as quickly, nor do they transfer as much heat to your beans as metal ones do.
You’ll find steel burrs in the Rancilio Rocky. These burrs are razor sharp, allowing them to effortlessly crush your coffee beans. They also aren’t as prone to chipping or cracking, like ceramic burrs can be if they’re hit by any sort of impact.
Keeping your home tidy or rearranging furniture are just parts of maintaining a household. Imagine if you wanted to clean your counters off, and every single appliance on your counter was incredibly heavy. Cleaning would be a chore you’d find yourself dreading.
This is exactly why the weight of your espresso grinders matters. In this regard, the Baratza Vario is likely preferable since it is a mere ten pounds. The Rancilio Rocky, however, is almost twice as heavy, weighing eighteen pounds.
Moving the Vario around will therefore be much easier. This could be important when it comes to cleaning or making rearrangements in your kitchen’s layout.
Rancilio Rocky Tinted Hopper
If you look at the top of the Rancilio Rocky, you’ll see that it has a blue hopper. This isn’t purely for aesthetic reasons – there’s a legitimate purpose for the color.
The blue tinting is designed to help keep out UV light. If your grinder is located somewhere the sunlight naturally falls on it, any beans in your grinder won’t be tarnished by being exposed to sunlight too long.
Further Reading: Baratza Vario vs Vario W
Baratza Vario Digital Control Panel
All the settings you’ll need to use the Vario are located right in one easy digital panel on the front. The design is much simpler than some other grinders, which have a number of buttons and switches all over the machine’s surface.
Aside from putting everything in one convenient location, the panel is designed for efficient repairs. Should anything in the panel break, you can pop it off and replace it with a new one.
Rancilio Rocky Die-Cast Housing
Many Rancilio Rocky owners love the grinder for its durability. Its housing is die-cast with a stainless steel finish that’s almost like a suit of armor.
Basically, this is one tough grinder. Its internal parts are safely sheathed in the housing, ensuring that they will be protected for years to come.
An additional bonus to this feature is how sleek it looks. The stainless steel works well in conjunction with the look of other modern appliances.
Baratza Vario Grounds Bin or Portafilter Compatibility
You may not always want to brew shots of espresso. There could be times when you’d rather have a carafe of drip coffee or a pot of French press, for instance. In those cases, you’ll need a larger batch of fresh coffee grounds.
The Vario excels at preparing such batches. It includes a grounds bin that holds much more coffee than your average portafilter, allowing you to grind exactly as much as you need.
Baratza Vario Programmable Dosing
Is there a particular brewing method you’re going to be using more often, such as espresso or French press? You’ll need to know exactly how much coffee you need for any of your favorite types of brew.
In the past, you might be forced to memorize the correct doses for multiple brewing methods. With the Vario, however, you won’t need to go to such extremes. You can program three different doses into its buttons in advance. Later on, you can just tap the button for the correct dose rather than timing it yourself.
Read Also: Baratza Vario vs Niche Zero
Price is one of the first questions anyone has about a product before they buy it. That includes coffee and espresso grinders.
We’re proud to say that Majesty Coffee has the most competitive prices online, even for our Baratza and Rancilio options.
We have the Baratza Vario for $479 and the Rancilio Rocky for $370.
Which Grinder Should You Pick?
Now to answer the most important question: which grinder should you pick?
The answer isn’t a simple one. There’s no such thing as a grinder that’s perfect for everyone, so there are ample reasons to choose either grinder in this comparison.
If price is your bottom line, then you’re looking for the most inexpensive option. In that case, the Rancilio Rocky is the winner, because it’s around $100 less than the Vario.
However, price shouldn’t be your only consideration. If you’re a more experienced barista or want to be able to make more precise grind adjustments, for instance, you’ll want the Vario. It has 230 different macro and micro adjustment combinations that give you the power to truly fine-tune your grind.
The Vario is also an excellent option for those who will be brewing pots of coffee. Its grounds bin is perfect for grinding larger batches of coffee.
Want a grinder that will match with stainless steel appliances in your kitchen? Then the Rancilio Rocky is the choice, thanks to its stainless steel finish.
Here is the bottom line:
Pick the Baratza Vario if you want to make the most precise grind adjustments or you’ll need to grind larger servings of coffee.
Buy the Rancilio Rocky if you want the more affordable grinder or you want one that will fit in with stainless steel appliances.
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.