Clicky

Baratza Vario vs. Mazzer Mini | What's Best for you?

Baratza Vario vs. Mazzer Mini, What’s Best for you?

Baratza Vario vs. Mazzer Mini

Once upon a time, the general consensus was that Italian-made espresso machines and grinders were the only ones on the market worth buying. This may have been the case for a while, but the old guard has some pretty stiff competition these days.

This may have been the case for a while, but the old guard has some pretty stiff competition these days.

Mazzer is one of the Italian old guard. This company was founded in the late 1920’s by Luigi Mazzer. Mazzer soon perfected a coffee grinder capable of producing grounds fine enough for espresso. The company introduced a whole range of machines for commercial use that are still very popular.

Baratza is one of the young guns, sprouting up out of Seattle in 1999. Founders Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy put the focus on innovation and blending technologies, incorporating European-made burrs into their American grinders.

shot

The Final Shot: Overall, the quality of the construction, and overall durability of the Mazzer can’t be beat. It wins for true espresso connoisseurs. But it does have a few quirks that don’t make it the ideal option for single shot home brewers. If that’s you, looking for extra convenience, the Baratza is a better fit.

This comparison will put the tried and true Mazzer up against the maverick Baratza. I’ll include a breakdown of the different features offered and specs on each machine.

Pitting these two in a head to head will highlight and explain the differences between them, and help you decide which one best suits your needs.

Mazzer Mini vs Baratza Vario Head to Head

 
NameBaratza Mazzer MiniBaratza Vario

Dimension
6.25" x 13.25" x 16.5"4.5 x 7.2 x 14.5 in

Item Weight
22 pounds13.5 pounds

Multiple Grind Settings
YesYes

Automation
Auto-offAuto-dosing

Hopper Size
20.8 oz8 oz

Grinder Type
Flat BurrFlat Burr

Hands Free
YesYes

Similarities

As you can see from the quick comparison chart, the Mazzer and Baratza models are similar in their top-loading design and general grinding technology. The grinding technology is the main reason that these two are so competitive.

Burr grinders yield a higher quality product, so we’re already off to a good start with either of these machines.   

Grounds produced by burr grinders have a superior flavor and aroma because of the precise processing that is possible. Burrs in both the Baratza and Mazzer models slow down the gears, eliminating a lot of the heat and friction that occurs during grinding, preserving the integrity of the bean.

The top-loading design is pretty standard for most grinders, and both of these machines are easy to operate. Maintenance and cleaning are also easy, as the burrs lift out easily. A quick brushing after the hopper is empty is really all that’s needed.  

One of my favorite features for any grinder is hands-free operation. Both models offer a holder for your porta-filter, so you have the option to grind directly into the filter basket. This really streamlines the process and cuts down on spillage.

Both designs work for smaller spaces, although the Mazzer is slightly taller than the Baratza. This can be solved by taking the hopper off of the Mazzer. This way, both machines can fit pretty easily onto counters and tabletops, or can be stowed away for space saving.

If you do want to keep the grinders out for convenience, both of these designs are sleek and stylish, particularly the Mazzer. Either machine will look pretty impressive in the kitchen.

sharedfeatures

Shared Features:
  • Both models have multiple settings for customized coffee grounds
  • Micro-adjustments available for espresso
  • Easy to clean flatt burrs that lift out
  • Portaholders for easily loading portafilters
  • Sleek designs

Differences

What distinguishes these two grinders are the controls, the display, and the convenience factor.

They both produce high quality, consistent coffee grounds, particularly for espresso. So, the quality of both these machines is evenly matched and the difference comes down to how involved you want to be in the process.  

Both machines are consistent in their processing, so long as you are looking for a finer coffee grind. Neither of these machines are ideal for the especially coarse grinds that a lot of the trendy manual brewing methods require, like Aeropress, Chemex and various pour over set-ups.

Below is a detailed explanation of how the Baratza and Mazzer diverge. Some of these differences are so finite that they aren’t really noticeable until you start using them.

With this comparison, you don’t have to find out the hard way, you can use this information to select the grinder that’s best for you.

settingsControls

When it comes to sophistication, the controls on the Baratza take the cake. The Vario offers programmable settings for easily selectable and precise dosing, which is great for those who need to multi-task in the kitchen or just want some added convenience.

The LED display on the control panel is impressive and allows for automatic dosing, according to precise timing that you program into the machine.

The Mazzer is available with a more basic timer switch, but not with any programmable settings when it comes to dosing. This does make for a simpler control panel, which some users prefer, offering a more intuitive, hands-on experience.

What this boils down to is the convenience factor. Of course, everyone has a different definition of what is convenient to them. Some enjoy innovative programming technology that lets them enter the settings and go, while others just want to adjust manually without the electronic component.

MaterialsDurability

One advantage that seasoned manufacturers have over the younger companies is that they have figured out what makes their products last. With some 90 years of experience, Mazzer has definitely engineered a grinder that will hold up to a lot of use.

This high quality engineering explains the price point, and may have something to do with the weight of the machine. Mazzer’s Mini weighs a whopping 22 pounds compared to Baratza’s 13 pound grinder.

That’s not to say that the Baratza machine isn’t of a decent quality, but it may not be quite as sturdy as the Mazzer.

Durability is also affected by all of the high-tech features. The more bells and whistles something has, the more likely it is that something will break. The Baratza has a lot of electronic programming.

This difference comes down to how much you are willing to invest in a machine. You can save quite a bit of money with the Baratza machine, but you do take the chance of running into maintenance issues faster than you would with the Mazzer.

Hopper Capacity

Both of these machines are designed for home use, but the Mazzer has a much bigger capacity. The hopper can hold 1.3 pounds of coffee beans for processing, compared to the 8 ounces that the Baratza can handle. This creates an issue with space, as naturally the hopper for the Mazzer is much bigger than the one for the Baratza.

For espresso, you really want to grind on the spot for immediate use. Pre-grinding is going to kill the flavors and aroma, which is the whole point of investing in a nice grinder. The Mazzer does require you to grind more beans to fill up the doser for any given use, if you’re using it for yourself, for a single shot a day, you’re going to have a lot of waste.

The Vario works a bit different;y and doesn’t have this issue. If you’re grinding for one, this may be a better fit when it comes to dose.

The bean load in the hopper is also a factor when it comes to speed and timing of the dosing. The larger the load of beans in the hopper, the faster the beans will feed.

This means, more grinds than you may need and a finer grind, generally. Less beans in the hopper, the grind will be coarser and other settings will need to be readjusted.

For single dosing, you won’t have many beans in the hopper, but if you do want to fill your hopper, you’ll need to take into account that this will change the dose timing.

Some users have been able to manipulate the lever on the Mazzer during the grinding process to limit how much is processed, but this is a bit of a hassle and the stop-and-go action may not be good for the internal mechanisms.

Overall, I’d call it a draw on this point.

Grind Retention

This is more anecdotal than purely factual, but I’ve done a lot of research on other user experiences to understand the general consensus on grind retention.

Grind retention is how much ground beans get stuck in the chute and need to be cleaned out from the machine or purged. There aren’t exact measurements for this, but overall, based on user experience, the Mazzer tends to retain more grinds while the Vario is better with having low retention (you want low retention!).

Summary

As you can see, these differences seem to be minor on the surface, but once you start looking closer and really analyzing how the differences impact the way you use the machine, it’s pretty easy to see how grinders really are not a one-size-fits-all deal.

While both of these models produce grounds of a superior quality, it’s the features that can make or break the experience.

If you’re willing to make a bigger investment in a machine that will last a long time, the Mazzer is going to be your best bet. The quality of the design, durability and overall

commentbox

Questions? Leave a comment below!

Chatting about coffee is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better.

4-Week Free Espresso E-mail Course!

Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines

Week 2 - Coffee Beans

Week 3 - Types of Drinks

Week 4 - Advanced Brewing

Join Mike (me) and learn all the basics of making great tasting espresso!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

4-Week Free Espresso E-mail Course!

Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines

Week 2 - Coffee Beans

Week 3 - Types of Drinks

Week 4 - Advanced Brewing

Join Mike (me) and learn all the basics of making great tasting espresso!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

About the Author Michael York

I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Add Your Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares

FREE 4-Week Espresso E-mail Course (learn everything you need to know!)

x