Baratza Vario W+ Review: Can This Grinder Do It All?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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I’ve been itching to write this Baratza Vario W+ review ever since it came out. As it happens, the Baratza Vario W+ is a relative newcomer to the manufacturer's line of home coffee grinders. Personally, I love Baratza grinders for their ease of use and great grind quality, so any time they release a new one I’m tempted!

I’ve been itching to write this Baratza Vario W+ review ever since it came out. As it happens, the Baratza Vario W+ is a relative newcomer to the manufacturer’s line of home coffee grinders. Personally, I love Baratza grinders for their ease of use and great grind quality, so any time they release a new one I’m tempted!

Technically I don’t need a new burr coffee grinder, but who’s keeping track?

Baratza promises that the Vario W+ is an all-rounder, capable of grinding coffee beans for everything from espresso to cold brew. Normally, I’d say that one grinder can’t do it all. But what about this new Vario grinder? Let’s find out!

Extremely Versatile

Baratza Vario W+

Packed with cool features

stainless steel flat burrs

Built-in scale

Solid construction

Programmable settings

220 grind settings

No portafilter cradle

Baratza Vario W+ Review Overview

At this point Baratza should require little introduction, but I’ll give you a brief rundown anyway. The Seattle-based coffee grinder manufacturer is beloved for its easy to use and generally affordable home coffee grinders.

Baratza is unique among coffee grinder manufacturers for encouraging its customers to fix up their grinders on their own. You can even buy replacement parts off their website.

Admittedly, not everyone is up to this task. Those who aren’t super handy can instead take advantage of Baratza’s repair service and send their grinders back for a tune-up. This initiative shows that Baratza is serious about producing good grinders that can stay in use for years.

Now that I’ve given you that spiel, I can get back to the Baratza Vario W+. This is a beautiful coffee grinder, with a sizable hopper and several programming options.

The Vario W+ is not intended as a single dose grinder, which may decrease its customer base. But there’s a good reason for this – more on that later in my Baratza Vario W+ review.

I will say, with a $599.95 price tag, the Vario W+ is more expensive than most of Baratza’s lineup. Still, you definitely get what you pay for in this case.

Two big features make the Vario W+ special: its built-in scale and a set of 54-millimeter stainless steel flat burrs. In fact, for these features alone, I’d argue that the grinder’s value matches its cost.

Still, if you’re looking for a more affordable and equally versatile single dose grinder, I’d recommend the Fellow Opus.

Then again, if you’re looking for a hopper-fed grinder that excels for a range of brewing methods? Well, keep reading to discover why the Baratza Vario W+ could be the best grinder for you.

Baratza Vario W+ Features

Buckle up, because there’s a lot to talk about here. The Vario W+ is the newest of the Vario grinders, and it has several cool features built into it. Let’s take an in-depth look.

Size and Design

Baratza Vario W Plus Interface

Like many of Baratza’s home coffee grinders, the Vario W+ has the ideal design for a kitchen counter. It’s compact and comes in Baratza’s classic color options: Matte White or Matte Black with polished silver accents.

Though it’s compact, I wouldn’t call it slim; the Vario W+ looks a little like a Baratza Encore ESP that went to the gym.

This is thanks to the Vario’s 54mm stainless steel flat burrs, compared to the Encore ESP’s 40mm conical burrs. Like I’ve said before: bigger burrs require a bigger grinder, and thus a higher price tag. Anyway, I’ll talk more about the burrs later.

You don’t have to be super observant to notice that there is no portafilter holder on this grinder. This could turn off some espresso fanatics, but I promise there’s a good reason for its absence.

Still, if you‘d prefer an espresso-oriented design and impeccable grind quality, I’d recommend checking out the versatile Baratza Sette 270Wi.

Finally, the sturdy plastic panels making up the body of the Vario W+ will be familiar to any Baratza fan. Maybe one day Baratza will transition away from plastic, but I suspect it helps keep the cost within reason.

User Interface

The coffee world celebrates Baratza for its user-friendly controls, and this Vario grinder is no different. It’s got a simple panel that is easy to read thanks to the black screen and white LED letters. So, even in the dimmest rooms (think: your kitchen at 5am) you’ll be able to read the display.

The new version of the Vario W+ does away with English words on the front panel to appeal to a wider international audience. Instead, a series of symbols and buttons invite you to adjust your dose, start or stop grinding, tare the scale or choose a pre-set dose.

Speaking of pre-sets, you can program three different doses so each button will correspond with a different brewing method. This is convenient if you like to switch between making coffee with your drip coffee maker, home espresso machine and French press.

However, is it just as convenient to change your grind for these brewing methods? We’ll see.

Bean Hopper

The bean hopper has a 10.6-ounce (300-gram) capacity, which will hold the contents of your standard specialty coffee bag.

You know that I’m typically a fan of using a coffee canister to store my coffee. However, one of the quirks of this grinder is that you have to keep the hopper somewhat full at all times. Otherwise, the built-in scale won’t work. More on that later.

While this quirk prevents you from using the Vario W+ for single dosing, it does make it easier to make several brews of the same coffee. When you’re ready to switch to a different coffee, Baratza makes that pretty easy, too.

The included hopper gate allows you to cut off the flow of coffee beans into the grind chamber and simply remove the hopper to empty it out.

Just don’t forget to purge any coffee beans that are left in the chamber before grinding again. I do love a good espresso blend, but only when it’s that way on purpose!

Stainless Steel Flat Burrs

We’ve all come to recognize stainless steel burrs as pretty standard in the home grinder market. After all, they are more durable than ceramic burrs, which means they’re easier for the home barista to maintain.

But did I hear stainless steel flat burrs? Now that is something to get excited about! 

I don’t take a stance on the conical vs flat burr debate; I’m more interested in the grind quality and grind consistency than the burrs themselves. Still, there aren’t a whole lot of flat burrs in the home coffee grinder market, so I do get a little grin anytime I come across them.

As I already mentioned, the Baratza Vario W+ has 54mm stainless steel flat burrs. These replace the ceramic burrs from the original Vario model. And I’m telling you, these burrs are stellar – super sharp, super precise.

Incidentally, the Vario W+ has an all-metal grind chamber, which is an upgrade from previous models. This means that it’s more durable and offers superior grind quality and consistency.

Grind Settings

This is one of the coolest features in the Vario W+, so stay with me. The Vario W+ has – wait for it – 220 possible grind settings. But that’s not all.

Two different levers help you dial in your grind. The numerical 1-10 settings are for macro adjustments, and within each macro setting are 22 micro adjustments. These are distinguished with A – Z markings.

Are you confused yet? I’ll admit, this could be a little much for a casual coffee lover. So, if you’d rather have a tad more simplicity with your morning brew, the Encore ESP could be a better fit.

However, coffee nerds who love to tinker with their brews will appreciate the ability to make micro-adjustments when dialing in for both espresso and pour over.

That said, I can imagine it being difficult to remember where your preferred grind setting is if you’re switching between brew methods. A coffee notebook could come in handy to keep track of the grind, but this level of fuss isn’t for everyone.

Some users criticize the Vario W+ factory settings for not being quite fine enough for espresso. Fortunately, Baratza solves this issue by including a burr calibration tool. This tool invites you to customize the grind range to your preferred brewing styles.

Needless to say, if you’re a coffee nerd looking for a brew grinder that can also pair with your espresso machine, look no further than the Vario W+. That is, as long as you’re open to some tinkering and trial-and-error.

Motor

I don’t have loads to discuss on this subject, but I’ll say this: the motor on this baby is powerful. In fact, the motor in the Vario W+ is the same one that’s featured in Baratza’s Forte line. It’s plenty fast for a home coffee grinder, and has a durable construction we’re used to seeing in prosumer machines.

Incidentally, a shroud of glass reinforced plastic surrounds the motor. Though this doesn’t lead to the quietest operation, it is lightweight and quite durable.

Most importantly, it does the job; it makes the burrs spin around and grind beans into precious coffee dust. Really, what more can you ask?

Integrated Scale

This is a good one, so get ready! The built-in scale allows you to choose your dose before you grind. No need to weigh your coffee beans first! However, I’d still recommend an external coffee scale to weigh your espresso shot or pour over.

Mounted below the grounds bin, the scale weighs the output and stops grinding within 0.1 grams of the desired dose. Talk about precision!

The placement of the scale explains why this machine doesn’t have a portafilter cradle. Turns out, the scale doesn’t work if the grinds don’t fall directly into the grounds bin. If this is annoying for you, opt for the Baratza Vario+ instead, which doesn’t include the scale.

You can program in three different weights to quickly make your go-to brews. Alternatively, you can manually choose a dose using the up and down arrows.

Now here’s the kicker: single dosing doesn’t work, because the grinder will automatically turn off if it senses that the hopper has less than 0.5 grams left. Again, I could see this being annoying for some home baristas.

However, Baratza was aiming for a high quality hopper-fed coffee grinder with this machine, and they succeeded. In fact, the integrated scale really sets this grinder apart from most of the competition.

Grounds Bin

Finally, we’ve reached the simplest part of the Vario W+: its grounds bin. The container is made out of high-quality plastic that doesn’t hold on to too many grinds. This is a small detail, but the corners are nicely angled so you can dump your coffee grinds into your filter basket or portafilter without making a mess.

Like I said, the bin rests on top of the scale. Though it’s not the most exciting part of the Vario W+, it’s a necessary part of the grinder’s functionality. Oh, and it’s backlit for classy ambient vibes. Every little bit counts!

How to Use the Baratza Vario W+ Grinder

Baratza Vario W Plus In Use

I won’t go too into detail here – that’s what the user manual is for! Still, I’ll give you a quick guide. First, wash and dry the removable parts of the grinder, like the hopper and grounds bin. Then install the hopper and bin according to the user manual, making sure the hopper is locked in place.

Now the fun part: load your favorite coffee beans into the hopper. Next, use the up and down arrows next to the scale to choose your dose. You can program this weight into one of the three dose buttons if you like.

Finally, press the start button, and voilà! In thirty seconds or less, your coffee will be waiting for you to turn it into some delicious bean juice. Yum!

Baratza Vario Cleaning

Cleaning a coffee grinder is pretty straightforward. Your basic tools are as follows: a small paintbrush, a microfiber towel and a vacuum with a small hose attachment.

How often you should clean your grinder depends on usage. For most homes, I’d say once a month is a good bet. However, if you notice some residue or an inconsistent grind, do it sooner.

As a general rule, the more oily your beans are, the more residue will build up in your grinder. Darker roasts have more surface oils than lighter roasts because coffee oils migrate to the surface as the coffee roasts. This is especially true if your beans are still tumbling around in the roaster after second crack.

I don’t love super dark roasts, but if that’s your preference, you may want to invest in some Urnex Grindz to clean your grinder. Just purge some beans through afterwards so you don’t end up with Grindz residue in your next cup of joe.

Otherwise, you can clean your grinder manually. Here’s an important note: always unplug your grinder before manually cleaning it so you don’t hurt yourself (or the grinder!). 

Using your small paintbrush, clear out any clinging coffee grinds or chaff from the chute. Then take the hopper off – using the user manual as a guide – to access the burrs. You’ll need the included burr removal tool for this. You can then brush and gently vacuum away any coffee grinds sticking to the burrs.

While you’re at it, be sure to admire the burrs and thank them for all their good work!

Baratza Vario W+ Technical Specifications

Baratza Vario W+
ManufacturerBaratza
NameVario W+
TypeElectric coffee grinder
Grinder54mm stainless steel flat burrs
Grind levels220
Power180 watt
Voltage120 volt
Weight9.0 lb / 4.0 kg
Dimensions14.3 x 5.3 x 7.0 in / 36.3 x 13.5 x 17.8 cm
Suitable forEspresso, moka pot, AeroPress, pour over, drip machines, French press
AccessoriesUser manual, burr calibration and removal tools
Current price on Amazon$599.95

Verdict: Baratza Vario W+

Extremely Versatile

Baratza Vario W+

Packed with cool features

stainless steel flat burrs

Built-in scale

Solid construction

Programmable settings

220 grind settings

No portafilter cradle

Now that we’ve reached the end of my Baratza Vario W+ review, I hope you’ve gained some insight into whether this coffee grinder is for you. While I’d still prefer to have a dedicated grinder for each brewing method, I could get behind the Vario W+ as an all-rounder.

Being able to make both macro and micro adjustments is a key part of its versatility. Plus, the included calibration tool is a nice touch, especially for techy coffee people who feel confident enough to fuss with the burrs. Oh, and the integrated scale really streamlines the process of making your morning brew.

The Vario W+ perfectly blends Baratza’s user-friendly style with high-end features. Still, the plastic body doesn’t quite match the premium feel of the grinder. Fingers crossed that they’ll upgrade the housing in their next Vario model.

Would you choose the Vario W+ as your daily coffee grinder? Have you used any of the older Vario models? Let me know in the comments!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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