Baratza has produced a great number of home coffee and espresso grinders over the years. One of their most popular models, however, has been the Baratza Vario.
You might have noticed that there appear to be two versions of the Vario: the Baratza Vario and Vario W. What’s the difference between them, and which one is better?
We’ll be answering that question by comparing them here. These are the subjects we’ll discuss:
- Which features are the same in the Vario and Vario W.
- What makes the Vario W different from the Vario.
- Pricing information for both grinders.
- Our advice on which one is better for you.
Let’s jump right in.
When it was released, it was little wonder that the Baratza Vario was popular. Its intuitive macro/micro grind adjustment system gives it all the ability it needs to make either coffee or espresso. Plus, at a remarkably low price point, this grinder is perfect for novice home baristas on a budget.
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In a nutshell, the Vario W makes one major improvement to the Vario’s design: a weight-based grinding system. Because it weighs your grounds down to a precise .2 grams, you can rest assured you’re getting precise doses every time. This is the grinder for home coffee lovers who want precision and affordability in one model.
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When it comes their burrs, Baratza very clearly decided not to fix what wasn’t broken with the Varios. Both use flat-style burrs.
Flat burrs are shaped like two discs that sit on top one another. Beans drop into them from above, and the burrs turn to crush the beans between each other.
The major benefit to this design is that flat burrs are amazingly consistent. All the coffee particles will be uniform, which ends in a rich, chocolatey flavor in your cup.
Read Also: Baratza Vario vs Virtuoso
The material from which the burrs are made is also unchanging. Both Varios use burrs made from ceramic, which is one of two burr materials on the market. The alternative is steel burrs.
Why choose ceramic? Well, ceramic burrs have a few key benefits to lure you to their side. For one thing, some baristas feel they’re not as noisy as steel burrs.
Ceramic burrs also don’t heat up to the same degree that metal ones do. Because of this, your coffee beans are likely to stay cooler in a grinder with ceramic burrs.
Finally, ceramic burrs don’t wear down as quickly. Sometimes, they can last up to twice as long as the alternatives.
Shape, material, and even size are all things the Baratza Vario’s and Baratza Vario W’s burrs have in common. Let’s take a moment to discuss why burr size is important.
A larger burr has more surface area than a smaller one. With an increased surface area, a burr can grind more beans, allowing the grinder to produce coffee grounds even faster.
Both these grinders use 54mm burrs. These are fairly modest in terms of size, but they’re certainly large enough to meet the demands of your household.
The Vario and Vario W each have a hopper that holds up to eight ounces of coffee. This allows them to keep grinding for a period of time.
Truthfully, this may not matter to you as much if you won’t be preparing multiple drinks often. If you’re going to be making a lot of drinks at once, though, you’ll be thankful to have a grinder that won’t need to have its hopper refilled constantly.
Related Article: Baratza Sette 270Wi vs Vario W
You’d find your espresso grinder more annoying than useful if you had to hold a portafilter or grounds bin under the dispenser every time you wanted coffee. If your arm didn’t get tired first, you’d likely be irritated that you were essentially stuck to your grinder when there are other things you could have been doing.
Thankfully, neither Vario in this comparison will make you do such a thing. Because they have holders attached to their front panels, your hands are free to work on whatever you need while the grinder handily takes care of your coffee beans.
Digital Control Panel
Both the Vario and Vario W have a digital control panel on their fronts. This puts all the settings you need to operate them in one easy-to-reach place.
Another positive effect to this feature is how simple it is to fix. Any time there’s a problem with the panel, it can be quickly removed and replaced with a new one with minimal effort.
You’d be amazed at how precise grinding coffee and espresso can be. Baristas must have the exact doses memorized for each brewing method, otherwise they risk grinding too much or too little.
If you don’t want to have to worry about memorizing doses, you won’t need to be. Either one of these grinders has three programmable buttons on the panel. Once you determine the proper dose for a particular brewing method, you can just program it into the buttons.
Going forward, then, getting a shot of espresso or a batch of coffee freshly ground will be as effortless as pushing a single button.
Macro/Micro Grind Adjustment
Perhaps one of Baratza’s most imaginative innovations was the macro/micro grind adjustment system that’s used by the Vario and Vario W. You can imagine it as a concentric circle of adjustments.
Start by selecting an overall fineness level from the first dial. You’ll have a range of options to choose, from coarse to fine.
After choosing this overall setting, you’ll be able to adjust the fineness even further with a second dial. This gives you much more flexibility than what you could normally expect from a stepped grinder.
Additional Resource: Baratza Vario vs Niche Zero
Baratza Vario W Weight-Based Grinding
At the beginning of this post, we posed the question: what is the difference between the Vario and Vario W? Here is their greatest difference by far: the Vario W’s weight-based grinding design.
To demonstrate what it means, let’s look at the Vario. As you know, you’ll need different amounts of coffee grounds for different brewing methods. Because of this, the Vario will either require you to time the duration of the grind yourself or program durations into its buttons.
Time-based dosing is acceptable, and baristas all over the world use this method. Unfortunately, not all grinders can grind the same amount of coffee in a specific time frame, so it’s not the most accurate method out there.
That’s why the Vario W’s weight-based dosing is innovative. A scale built beneath the grounds bin will precisely measure the weight of the coffee grounds, which allows you to be 100% sure you’re getting exactly as much as you need.
Baratza Vario Portafilter Holder
Because of the scale built onto the front of the Vario W, it’s not compatible with a portafilter holder. Many baristas preparing shots of espresso prefer to grind into a portafilter directly because it helps evenly disperse the grounds in the brewing basket.
If you want to grind directly into a portafilter, then you’ll want the basic Vario. It comes with a portafilter holder that will keep your portafilter securely in place during use.
At Majesty Coffee, our aim is to bring high-quality coffee and espresso gear to businesses and enthusiasts alike for a great price.
We have the Baratza Vario for $479 and the Baratza Vario W for $559.
Which is Better?
Even after learning all these features for the Vario and Vario W, you may still be uncertain about which one to get. After all, these grinders have much more in common than they do different – if one would work for you, the other likely would, as well.
There’s really only one major difference to focus on in order to make your decision: the Vario W’s weight-based grinding system. This makes it ideal for skilled home baristas who want to be as precise as possible.
The drawback to the weight-based system is that you’re sacrificing the portafilter holder. If you’re planning on making a lot of espresso, you might prefer the Vario simply because it has a portafilter fork on it.
Additionally, the Vario W is slightly more costly than the Vario as a result of its scale. You may want the basic Vario if you’re looking for the more affordable of the two grinders.
You can learn more about either grinder by clicking on the links below:
Baratza Vario W