Congratulations on your new Baratza Vario All-Purpose Coffee Grinder. Dialing in your grinder isn't always easy. We discuss the steps to fine-tune your burr grinder for the best possible extraction.
Join Ben as he demonstrates how to set up and dial-in the Baratza Vario All-Purpose Coffee Grinder. Please note that Clive Coffee also offers a grinder dial-in service if you prefer to have someone else do the hard work for you!
Step one: Out of the box and onto the counter
- Remove the grinder from its box and place it on a solid level surface.
- Inspect the grinder for any damage, if you notice any contact us immediately
- Insert the hopper by aligning the two pegs at the hoppers base with the two notches on the Vario’s collar. Insert the hopper accordingly, and give it a quarter turn to lock in.
- Plug the grinder in and turn it on
Step two: Feeling the coffee
- Put some beans in the hopper and grind them into your hand
- Feel the grounds. For espresso, they should feel similar to table salt. Not as fine as powdered sugar, and not as coarse as sand. For drip coffee or pour over, they should feel similar to table or kosher salt.
- If too fine, adjust coarser. Too Coarse, adjust finer.
- If you’re grinding for espresso 2E is a good starting place. For drip or pour over, try 7M.
- A word of caution: While switching between vastly different settings, be sure to run the grinder.
Step three: Nailing the dose
- Now that the grind is in the ballpark, it’s time to start pulling shots
- First, grab a scale and tare the weight of the portafilter
- It’s worth noting that the Baratza Vario is an excellent single dosing grinder. Its short grind path and neck design make for fast grind times and low retention. If you’re only making a couple cups a day, single dosing is ideal for keeping your coffee fresh. If you plan to single dose, simply weigh out your beans ahead of time and grind them through. If not, now would be the time to fill your hopper.
- With the portafilter in the portafilter holder, press the start button to begin grinding. Once the portafilter basket is about full, press it again to stop grinding.
- Now weigh the portafilter. Add or remove grounds as necessary to get to 18g.
Step four: Adjustments - drop time
- Now you can compress the coffee with your tamper. Remember, tamping pressure is less important than making sure your tamp is level.
- Insert your portafilter and start the shot. We’re going to be watching for the time of the first drops of espresso.
- We’re looking for those first drops of espresso to fall between 6 and 10 seconds. If they fall outside the window, you’ll have to adjust the grind setting: under six seconds will be thin and sour; over 10 seconds will be bitter.
- Make small adjustments. This will be easier than making big changes and overcorrecting.
Step five: Total shot time
- Grind a fresh full dose, tamp, and pull your shot.
- This time we’ll be looking at the full shot time
- We’ll be looking for a target output of: 1.5oz (or 30g) espresso in 25 - 30 seconds.
- If it falls under 25 seconds, adjust your grind finer. If it falls over 30 seconds, adjust coarser.
Step 6: Time dosing
- Now that we have our grind dialed, we can set up the grind timer for consistent and repeatable dosing.
- With the hopper filled and the manual button light on, press the start button until your basket is full with what looks to be your desired dose. Check the time on the Vario’s display. Now press the grind-time adjustment arrow buttons to input that time, then press and hold the desired grind time button (1, 2, or 3)
- Place your portafilter in the holder, press start, and wait until the grinder stops.
- Weigh the portafilter again. If the dose is too small, increase timed setting. If it is too much, decrease it.
- Now you will be able to get a repeatable target dose: 1.5oz / 30g espresso in 25 - 30 seconds.
Once you've dialed in your grind, it's time to start pulling shots! Check out our Espresso 101 section to learn about steaming milk, latte art, our suggested starter espresso recipe and much more!