Description and Review
Baratza Vario 886 Review
Considered as an entry point to high end espresso grinding, the Baratza Vario 886 can deliver a grind even for prosumer level machines. With features such as macro and micro grind adjustments you can have precise control of output for virtually any kind of ground. As a commercial grade grinder it makes use of 54mm flat ceramic burrs which are capable of a much more accurate grinding. On top of that they will last twice as long as a typical set of steel burrs. A powerful 180 watt but low turning DC motor gives motion to the burrs, offering low noise operation.
But power is useless without control and the Vario handles this very well. An innovative LED panel on front with three programmable buttons allows for grind accuracy stepped from 0.1 sec. All of the time adjustments are shown on a clear LCD panel. The basic grind adjustment is performed by a 10 step macro slider on the right. But each of the macro setting can be fine tuned in 20 more steps by the micro slider on the left. That makes for a whopping 200 steps in total which is more than enough.
On top there is an adequate 8 oz. conical semi transparent bean hopper. For ground collection you have the option of using the portafilter holder or the supplied 6.3 oz coffee bin. The grinder case is comprised mainly of plastic with an emphasis of metal on crucial parts such as the portafilter holder.
Operation can be done automatically or manually. Pressing each of the three buttons you can set the grinding time within 10 sec intervals. The default settings are 10 sec. for first button, 20 sec. for second and 30 sec. for the third one. However all of them can be reprogrammed down to a tenth of a second and stored in memory. Utilizing its programmable function we set the time at 12 seconds and selected an espresso grind.
After pressing the start button the grinder produced a fine espresso ground with uniform texture. The ground was consistent for any kind of setting ranging from espresso, drip coffee or French press. In addition its ceramic burrs stayed cool during operation and provided a ground full of aroma preserving its crucial oils. Notably its coffee retention remained very low, leaving very few residue in the machine. So you can be assured that you will get the most of your beans in your coffee bin.
Reaching the burrs for cleaning is a piece of cake, after removing the bean hopper. Using the supplied tool and turning slightly the top burr, until it unlocks, you can clearly see the internals. An additional trimming tool allows for calibration of burrs from below as well.
Some things to consider. Even though the portafilter is not adjustable it holds most of the portafilters well but some will require holding them. Regarding the adjustment sliders, although very functional, they are not so stable and have been reported slipping after long use. Nevertheless the company is aware of this issue and supports with an exclusive kit for this. Regarding its noise level it was not the most quiet grinder we have seen. Its mainly plastic body couldn’t hold the noise at the low levels that are capable of some other fully metal grinders.
If you need a grinder suitable for numerous brew types at a prosumer level, we highly recommend the Baratza Vario. Its multiple grind settings are more than adequate for even the most demanding situation. Very easy to adjust and program will supply ground from espresso to French press with repeatability and precision. However at this price range we would expect a more durable case, made out of stainless steel, that would keep that noise at more comfortable levels like the Mazzer Mini.
- Ease of Use
- Ease of Maintenance
- Slider Slipping