The main differences between Baratza Preciso and Vario are:
- Grind speed–Vario has nearly double rotations per minute of the Preciso
- Price– Vario costs more than Preciso
- Grind Settings– Vario has more micro-control settings, while Preciso has more macro settings
- Burr type– Vario has flat burrs, while Preciso operates with conical burrs
South Korea is making big waves in the United States in the Spring with the debut of a new product. And it’s not a car or smartphone: it’s an espresso coffee grinder. The Wootz 7 is a powerful, high-tech grinder that has already captured the attention of countless coffee fanatics and features a three-phase motor, digital grind memory, and a system that self-calibrates.
The design also allows baristas to adjust the speed with as wide of a span of four hundred and fifty to over twelve hundred rotations per minute.
The first of the Wootz line, it’s certainly a stunning debut that shows coffee grinders can be highly sophisticated and complex. There’s just one problem: at a price tag hovering around two thousand dollars, it’s not exactly the most practical option for anyone brewing coffee at home.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up on high-quality design, though. With fewer bells and whistles but still some very attractive features, both Baratza Preciso and Vario offer coffee grinders that make at-home brewing easier and more efficient.
But which one is better, and for what purpose? In this comparison, we’ll give you some insight as to what to look for in a quality coffee grinder, as well as if Baratza Preciso or Vario is a better option for you and which will lead to your best cup of coffee.
Do I need a coffee grinder?
As you probably know, there are several different ways you can purchase coffee, including pods, whole beans, and ground. Automated brewers like Keurig and Nespresso use pods to operate and you would have no need for a grinder in this case unless you want to brew a special coffee.
If you have a traditional coffee maker or even something like a Chemex, you’ll have to make the decision as to whether to purchase whole bean or ground coffee. If you purchase coffee already ground, of course, once again there’s no need for a coffee grinder. Certainly, from a convenience standpoint, it’s easy to see why many customers might opt for coffee that’s already ground.
But there’s a reason you should think twice about that.
Buy whole bean coffee overall has produced a richer cup. Whole bean coffee tends to stay fresher for longer and has more flavor than already pre-ground coffee, in part because the bean’s oils tend to evaporate after being ground, which produces much of the coffee’s flavor.
In addition, ground coffee may oxidize quicker, leaving it to taste staler. If you want to brew the best cup of coffee possible, especially for richer dark roast, buying the whole bean and grinding just before you roast is your best bet.
Are there any downsides to using a coffee grinder?
There are just a few downsides to using a coffee grinder. For one, if you don’t know how to find the best coffee grinder possible, or more importantly, if you don’t use it properly, you risk an uneven or even scalded brew. Less precise coffee grinders lead to more problems in general; with an already ground coffee, you pretty much are guaranteed consistency.
Are there different types of coffee grinders?
Yes; there are actually three main categories when it comes to coffee grinders. Different types of coffee grinders not only affect the way the grinders work but the overall result.
- Blade grinders are among the least expensive types of coffee grinders and are essential simple blades that have the ability to grind and slice, not unlike a simple food processor. While certainly affordable, purely blade coffee grinders have countless downsides, most of which have to do with quality control and overall consistency. They are known for their uneven grinding size, even when it comes to coarse grinds. There’s a risk for residue powder no matter what type of grind you’re trying to achieve, and each blade grinder requires some trial and error. You may also run into problems related to burning your coffee. Because blade grinders tend to rotate at high speeds, there is more likely it will mar the coffee. Put simply, blade grinders require meticulous work and even then, there is ample room for error.
- Burr grinders are known as old-fashioned coffee grinders, are considered a great value because they don’t cost significantly more than blade grinders but tend to produce more reliable results. They actually typically are pretty simple even today and tend to be a bit on the slow side but also produce very consistent results and do not risk ruining the coffee the way the inconsistent results do with a blade grinder. There are both manual and quicker electric burr grinders.
- Disc/ Conical grinders are going to be your most expensive, consistent, and exact coffee grinders, ones which frequent coffee shops and are most likely to provide your best possible results. Grooves or serrations are used in combinations with either discs or cones. They are used for high-quality coffee and are most capable of producing finely ground coffee time after time.
Is there anything I should know about using a coffee grinder?
Even if you have the best coffee grinder, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. For one, flavored coffee should always be used in a separate grinder. You may think you’ll be able to wash off the flavor, but the oils from the coffee beans make this an arduous, if not impossible process.
Other things to keep in mind include:
- Always grind your coffee as close to brewing time as possible
- Grind in short intervals. Trying to grind your coffee all at once can risk burning it.
- Make sure you mix the coffee between each grinding interval, both to prevent burning and an uneven grind.
When in doubt, take your time: when you grind the coffee, it should be done carefully, especially if you’re not used to working with a coffee grinder.
What should I look for in a coffee grinder?
In order to compare Baratza Preciso vs Vario, we’ll have to see how the coffee grinders work, as well as how they’re constructed. When comparing coffee grinders, it’s important to keep the following in mind. These pertain specifically to these two models, but make sure you also check out our comprehensive guide.
- Price range. The highest quality grinders may cost up to one hundred to four hundred dollars, but there are many options that fall well below that range. Do note that the cheapest grinders are likely blade grinders. While the most expensive is not necessarily the best coffee grinder, it’s best to think of a proper price range the way you would for a regular kitchen appliance–for example, a ten-dollar blender would be a red flag.
- How easy is it to clean? It may seem like a small thing, but as with practically any appliance, the easier to clean, the better. See if there are compartments that can easily twist off so you can clean each part individually.
- How durable is it? Durability is also something you want to look at–but it’s a little harder to tell. One key is looking at what materials the coffee grinder is made out of. In general, you’re going to want to purchase a coffee grinder that is either made out of stainless steel or a ceramic; steer clear of any plastic or other cheap synthetic. Stainless steel is more popular and does not chip or crack the way ceramic can, but can be less durable than ceramic. Either is a decent option.
- Size in terms of surface area it takes up on your counter but also the internal capacity are both important factors to consider when trying to select the best coffee grinder possible. These, however, are more subjective–you’re looking for the best coffee grinder for you, and what that means in terms of both capacity and size is dependent upon how much space you have and how much coffee you grind at once. In other words, when it comes to capacity, larger does not mean better, and if you don’t need to brew much coffee at once, a coffee grinder of slightly lower capacity may save you money.
- Speed. How quickly the coffee grinder operates is also something to consider, but not in the way you might imagine. While most of the time you might think higher speeds mean greater quality, too fast risks ruining the coffee beans; beans are the best ground at a measured, steady speed. Direct drive grinders are actually lower-speed grinders and are preferable to high-speed grinders. Direct drive grinders allow you to grind your coffee for longer intervals; high-speed grinders force you to grind coffee in very short intervals or risk producing too much heat.
- How fine does it grind? Or more specifically, how many different settings are there, and how much control do you have over the coffee grind? With some grinders, you have numbered settings that adjust how finely you can grind the coffee, the lowest normal indicating a very coarse grind and the highest a fine grind. The more range, the more control you’ll have. Also, look into consistency–this is especially important if you want a nice espresso, which requires a very fine grind.
Baratza Preciso vs Baratza Vario: How do they compare?
Both the Preciso and Vario models by Baratza are coffee grinders that might catch your eye–but when it comes to discerning which coffee grinder is better for you and your purposes, it can require looking at the details.
The Preciso model is a beautiful appliance weighing eight pounds with dimensions of twelve by thirty-five by sixteen centimeters. The Vario is marketed as a small space saver with a small footprint–but you may be surprised to learn it’s actually larger; the Vario weighs nine pounds with dimensions of thirteen by thirty-six by eighteen centimeters. Winner for saving space: Preciso.
Both the Preciso and Vario operate by using burrs; the Preciso uses forty-millimeter conical burrs, while the Vario uses fifty-five-millimeter ceramic burrs. Larger burr size is not necessarily always better–larger burrs tend to be a bit flatter. Many experts prefer slightly smaller, conical burrs, so in this category, we’ll award Preciso the winner.
As we mentioned, speed, which is measured in rotations per minute, does not mean that the quicker the better. Preciso runs at five hundred and fifty rotations per minute, in comparison with Vario, which runs over double that speed. We prefer the slower speed to make it less likely you’ll burn the coffee, and have to also award this category to Preciso. In fact, if you look at the estimated time it takes to grind, you’ll find that it actually takes just barely longer with the Vario.
Just how much control do you have over your coffee grind? With the Preciso, you have forty settings to make your grind as precise as possible, but also eleven micro-adjustments within those forty macro settings. The grind range is from two hundred and fifty to one thousand one hundred and seventy microns. With the Vario, you’ll also get both macro and micro grind adjustments, but in this case, you’re given just ten macro settings but twenty micro settings. The grind range for the Vario is two hundred and thirty to one thousand and one hundred and fifty microns. In this category, with more settings and a larger range, Preciso provides greater grind control.
The Preciso has an eight-ounce bean hopper capacity and a five-ounce grounds bin capacity, while the Vario has an eight-ounce beans capacity and just over six-ounce grounds bin capacity, making them nearly equal in terms of capacity.
Both the Preciso and the Vario are suitable for espresso and manual brew methods.
is easy for both machines, as you can remove parts without any tools required. Both feature a PortaHolder, for easy grinding, but that’s also coupled with a Portafilter that is easy to set up and clean without much fuss.
Preciso retails for about two hundred dollars on Amazon, while Vario retails for costs around four hundred and eighty dollars on Amazon. If you’re looking to save money, Preciso is much more affordable.
Which we’ve taken directly from Amazon, reveals that the two models are on nearly even footing. Based upon one hundred and thirty customer reviews, the Preciso holds an average of three and a half out of five stars, while the Vario holds three and a half out of five stars based upon one hundred and twenty-five customer reviews. In this category, they are nearly even.
Overall, we recommend Preciso over Vario. Preciso is a better investment in a number of ways. The Preciso and Vario models are about equal when it comes to customer ratings, brew capacity, cleaning, and brew types. With the Preciso, however, you have greater control over the coffee grind. The lower speed setting on Preciso also helps ensure grinding is more consistent and the coffee is less apt to burn. Finally, if you have limited counter or storage space, there isn’t a big difference between the two, though Preciso is slightly smaller and lighter. Even better, you’ll save money if you buy the Preciso over the Vario.
What about the company itself?
While we can recommend Preciso over Vario with confidence let’s also take a quick look at Baratza itself. The company, which is headquartered in Washington, was founded in 1999 and offers an entire series of coffee grinders. Unlike some mass-market companies that sell all kinds of products, it’s a good sign that they specifically specialize in coffee grinders. They have also pledge ‘social responsibility practices by eliminating all styrofoam packaging back in 2005, offering refurbished machines for purchase to cut back on waste, and supporting non-profit organizations such as the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and Coffee Kids.
Baratza is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but it does hold an unofficial A-plus rating, with zero complaints but also no reviews.
Overall, the company seems to be a decent choice, though we’d love to see a little more information.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other articles, from coffee types to all the tools you need to enjoy your very best cup possible.
Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in After the Pause, Into the Void, Flash Frontier, and Foliate Oak Literary, among others, and her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Erin has been a coffee lover for many years, and there’s nothing she likes better than high-quality coffee with a layer of crema. She loves helping others find their very best cup.