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Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder

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Product Description

Named one of the best new products of 2011, the Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder gives you the ability to create a precise grind for ideal shots. Using real-time weight-based grinding with a built-in electronic scale, all you need to do is set your weight preference and the Vario-W will do the rest. This gem of a grinder weighs the ground coffee and will stop grinding automatically when it has reached your desired weight.

Please Note: Our video features the previous version (model # 985) that does not include the shut-off hopper.

Features & Functionality of the Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder

  • Shut-Off Hopper: The newest version of the Vario-W (model # 986) now includes a shut-off hopper for convenient coffee bean switching.
  • 54mm Ceramic Flat Burrs: These burrs stay sharper longer. Ceramic has a longer life than steel burrs and helps to keep the coffee cool by limiting the amount of heat transferred from the burrs to the grinds.
  • Weight-Based: Set the weight of your desired ground coffee to more or less than 0.2g and the Vario-W will weigh the ground coffee while grinding, then stop automatically when it reaches your desired weight.
  • Easy-to-Read: Digital LCD window shows the weight value that is being ground, so you won't need to worry about pre-weighing your beans any longer.

  • Grind on Demand with Electronic Dosing: Grinds only the coffee you require for each shot. Eliminates the risk of stale ground coffee common in mechanical dosing units.
  • Programming: Features three, user-programmable grind weight buttons.
  • Innovative Dual Cam Grind Adjustment: The right-hand lever lets you choose what type of grind. The lever on the left lets you fine tune the grind within the range selected. More than 230 grind settings available.
  • Super Quiet: Powerful DC motor turns slowly resulting in cool, quiet operation and permits extended grinding time. The circuitry is equipped with an automatic reset thermal switch.
  • Commercial-Grade - With 230 settings, you may expect the Vario-W to be more of a beginner's machine. Not so. This grinder has the same high-quality design features as professional grinders.
  • Precision Grind Adjustment - You'll get a precise grind with the Baratza Vario-W.
  • Digital Display - The clear, easy-to-read display tells you the weight value that you're grinding.
  • Too Much Goodness - A score of grinding options can equal frustration when changing grinds for a new batch of beans.
Ease of Care and Maintenance 3
Ease of Use 2
Overall Value for the Money 4
How Does it Compare?

The Vario-W is accurate, consistent and has 230 grind options versus other models. The grind is from 230-1150 microns.

Tips and Tricks

Accessory 54mm flat steel burrs are available for the Vario-W. These are for use in a Vario-W dedicated to grinding for drip brewing using a medium to coarse grind. To be clear, these will NOT grind fine enough for espresso. They are solely for a coarser grind used in drip brewing.

Suitable Applications Coffee Press, Drip Coffee, Espresso, Fine Drip / Pour Over
Minimum Time to Grind Double Shot 17.2 seconds | 1.6-2.2 g/sec

Additional Information

Model Number 986
Manufacturer Baratza
Width 5.5 inches
Depth 5.0 inches
Height 14.0 inches with hopper | 9.5 inches without hopper
Product Weight (lbs.) 9.0000
Watts 160W
Volts 110V
Case Material Plastic
NSF Certified No
Bean Hopper Capacity 8 oz
Dosing Options Programmable Dosing Functionality
Grinder Style Burr - Flat Ceramic
Material Plastic

Ask a Question

Browse 12 questions and 36 answers
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Hi there!

I have a few questions about the Vario, mainly concerning reliability. Last week I've been doing some research on grinders. I'm looking for a grinder for my different ways of making coffee; V60, Kalita, Aeropress and mokka pot. So far I'm most fond of the Vario (still haven't decided whether I should take the W or Home version). I read about a few nasty cons though and I wonder how you experience these things:

1. I read a few times that the Vario stops functioning and its reliability therefore is a lot less than for example a Mazzer Mini. (However the Mazzer Mini's quality of the grind appears to be a little less good, which is the reason I don't want to go for that grinder.)
2. Is it true that calibration is lost quickly? I read it very often.
3. Slipping levers?

I'm looking for a trustworthy grinder that can deliver a good quality grind for the coffee making methods I use. If anyone has a better idea of a grinder I should buy, please tell me! :D If the grinder is good I'm willing to pay a bit more money. I'm looking for a great cup of coffee! :)
A shopper on Dec 9, 2013
Best Answer: I purchased my Vario W Grinder in November of 2012. It worked fine until October of 2013 when it began "self powering" (Baratza's term) meaning that it would just start grinding on its own if left plugged in. I contacted Baratza and learned that they had had a few complaints of this nature. They said they would send me a replacement immediately (which they did) and upon receipt I should return my defective one. After unpacking the replacement and packing up the defective grinder I noticed a green card thanking me for "choosing a Baratza refurbished coffee grinder". Needless to say I was surprised and disappointed that my new grinder, which failed within the one-year warranty period, was not replaced with a new one. When I contacted Baratza I was informed that the warranty indicates that after 6 months of use a unit is no longer comparable to a new machine and will be replaced with an updated refurbished model. They also offered that if I was unhappy with the refurbished model they would repair my original unit. I never found this language in the warranty information I received with my original grinder so it did not set well with me.

The refurbished grinder works very differently. The grind settings I have to use are not even close to those I used on the old one. Same for the weight. Where I used 17 g for a double shot of espresso with the old one, I have to use 19 on this one so the calibration may well be off and I should check it. I have had it for 7 weeks only use it once a day I had another Vario before I upgraded to this one, but I am not all that knowledgeable about the finer points of grinders. I considered the Mazzer mini, but it is too tall and too large for my work
Reply · Report · Susanne M on Dec 9, 2013
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I am getting rather tired of hand grinding... I have done so for the last many, many years... I am brewing with a V60 and a Chemex, maybe a woodneck will show-up as well, so, which grinder ?? I love the idea of the Baratza Vario-W, although I have heard that for pour-over, the Preciso is better, what do you think ??
A shopper on Jan 31, 2012
Best Answer: Hey this might be a bit late, but I just got back from a vacation!

I love the Vario-W. So far it is amazingly consistent and the weight feature is pretty amazing. If you are doing drip mostly, you probably don't need as precise of a grinder, this machine can choke my Rancilio Silvia with an ultra fine grind (I am sure it would make a great Turkish Coffee). It is a true pleasure having weight incorporated and not having to use a separate scale.

The two slight downfalls are these:
- The grinder will not go to a real coarse grind
- The hopper get a bit of static, especially when grinding coarser.

Hope this helps!
Reply · Report · Mark August M on Feb 7, 2012
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How often does the ceramic burr need to be replaced?
vidwfinder on Dec 31, 2013
Best Answer: The burrs in these grinders generally last for a few years, and so I would imagine you would not need to change them out on the Baratza Vario-W for at least a few years of normal use.
Reply · Report · Teri KStaff on Jan 2, 2014
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Can this grinder be used with a portafilter?
Nun Z on Oct 3, 2015
Best Answer: No, unfortunately since it has a weight based sensor, you cannot insert a portaholder into the machine. It would not be able to tare the weight appropriately, as you would be holding the handle portion, and human error/movement would not allow for the sensor to be as accurate or read properly. Sorry!
Reply · Report · Miranda GStaff on Oct 5, 2015
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Baratza brochure says it could be use on 230V walll socket as well. Can you confirm that?
Oleksandr D on Aug 23, 2014
Best Answer: We only stock the Baratza Vario-W in 110V, so you may need to contact Baratza directly at for a 230V version.
Reply · Report · Teri KStaff on Aug 25, 2014
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Can I use my own ground bin like stainless steel glass?
Peera Y on Aug 8, 2014
Best Answer: While you can use your own grounds bin for this Vario W, it is not ideal, as the weight base is a small square in the center of a platform and the Vario container is the best fit. I tried using a smaller container and found that it moved around a fair amount as the Vario ground and wanted to fall forward off of the unit. This made the weight function inaccurate since I had to keep a hand on the bin. Hope this info helps you!
Reply · Report · Teri KStaff on Aug 8, 2014
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My grinder has not arrived yet, but I am wondering what initial setting I should try for a drip brewer (specifically a Technivorm)? I am just looking for a starting point for the sliders. Thanks.
Hunter S on Mar 2, 2014
Best Answer: Baratza has lots of recommendations on their site for starting points on their various grinders. The complete chart is below, and for your Technivorm using a Vario-W, the recommended starting point is 6M.
Reply (1) · Report · Teri KStaff on Mar 3, 2014
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What are the differences between the Vario + H2 and the Vario-W?
riddler on Aug 10, 2013
Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder
Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder
Baratza Vario Burr Grinder
Baratza Vario Burr Grinder
Best Answer: The difference between the Vario and the Vario-W is that the regular Vario uses a timer and allows for three programmable lengths of time that you can adjust and have the unit grind down for, while the Vario-W uses a weight base to measure the weight of three programmable presets. Basically the Vario allows programming in seconds, while the Vario-W allows programming by weight in grams. The only other big difference is that the regular Vario includes a portafilter holder while the Vario-W does not (as the weight base would mean you need to tare out your portafilter on the W model).
Reply · Report · Teri KStaff on Aug 13, 2013
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I'm about to open a small coffee shop and am trying to decide between the Vario W and Rocky grinders to be primarily used for drip coffee. Nearly every comparison I've seen says the Vario is much better, often compared to the Super Jolly, (which I'll be getting for espresso,) but it seems like this comparison is made mostly for espresso. Is there a noticeable difference in the performance of these two machines when it comes to non-espresso brewing methods? (Primarily auto-drip, but will also offer pour-over and press options.)
A shopper on Jun 11, 2013
Best Answer: The Rocky does not have an auto on, requiring the user to press and hold the On button to grind. For this reason, the Vario is a bit more user friendly-- but neither the Vario or the Rocky is commercially rated, so neither are really meant to do a high volume and using them in a commercial setting will void your warranty. I would suggest looking at the Cafe tab on our site for commercial grinders. Check out the Bunn at the link below- it's much faster and really meant for bulk drip grinding!
Reply (1) · Report · Teri KStaff on Jun 13, 2013
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Can someone let me know what comes in the package? Does it include portafilter holder or that's something else extra that I have to buy separately?
e l on Apr 26, 2013
Best Answer: Unfortunately the Vario-W does not include a portafilter holder, as the portafilter would need to be tared out to account for it's weight before grinding. I don't believe there is one available that is shorter, accounting for the weight base of the grounds bin. The Vario-W comes with all the items you see in the photo- the hopper, hopper lid and the grounds bin, as well as accessories like the calibration adjustment tool and the burr removal tool.
Reply · Report · Teri KStaff on Apr 26, 2013
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Is there a manual option to grind on the Vario W?
A shopper on Apr 20, 2013
Best Answer: No, there is not an option to grind manually for a short length of time with the Vario-W, however you can alter presets up or down for more or less coffee ground. You can also stop grinding at any time once you reach the amount you'd like by pressing the start/stop button.
Reply · Report · Teri KStaff on Apr 20, 2013
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Warranty Information for the Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder

What it Covers:


Length: 1 Year
Who Supports the Warranty: Baratza
Warranty Contact Information: 877-701-2021
Notes: Baratza has excellent troubleshooting resources on their website. If you're experiencing an issue with your grinder, definitely look here first.
Eligible for SCG Extended Warranty? No
Can SCG Repair? Yes. Read more about our out-of-warranty repair services.

Caring for the Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder

Clean burrs on a weekly to bi-weekly basis either with a cleaning brush or a burr grinder-specific cleaning product such as Grindz.

Remove and hand wash the bean hopper and lid with warm water and soap as needed.

User Manuals for your Baratza Vario W Grinder

Videos Featuring the Bratza Vario W Grinder

Compare: Baratza Grinders

Compare: Grinder Noise Levels

Baratza Grinder Cleaning and Maintenance

Compare: Baratza Grinders Redux

Baratza Vario Burr Adjustment

How to Program the Baratza Vario for Sleep Mode


Great grinderReview by Carol
My Vario grinder has been working well for the last several years. It gets used every morning! Great grinder. (Posted on 9/29/2014)
Good Machine, but, not perfectReview by R Squared
I've owned my Vario-W for about a year and a half. I bought mine when the price was $549. The price today is somewhat more reasonable. I use it with an Expobar Office Lever for espresso and occasionally with a Hamilton Beach coffee maker for drip coffee. This is what I discovered:
1. Despite being solidly built and "weighty," when the machine arrived, it needed calibration out-of-the-box. I called Baraza tech support who apologetically, but cheerfully, talked me through the process - quite simple and effective.
2. Over time, I encounter "gremlins" in the LCD display that make it flicker and fade for no apparent reason. Tech support - NO HELP. The LCD issues do not affect the mechanical operation, however!
3. The dosing by weight mechanism seems to operate on the "close-enough" theory. The grinder stops usually .2 to .7 grams below the set weight, requiring pulsing the grinder to get closer to the set weight. Having said that, the grinder does, indeed, deliver the desired weight within -3%. So, I guess that's "close-enough."
4. Increasing the coarseness of the grind is a snap. However, retuning it to a finer grind requires running the machine while moving the Numbered Slide up - the Alphabet Side, not so much. BE CAREFUL on this one.
5. The "non-static" bin proved somewhat more wish than reality (especially in winter), but tapping the bin while pouring the ground coffee into the portafilter empties most of the coffee. A slightly firmer rap against the sink side empties it completely.
6. The Baraza Vario-W grinds consistently and quietly every time I use it. I upgraded from a Rocky and very glad I did. I recommend the grinder to any serious coffee geek (who has the spare $500 to buy it)! (Posted on 8/4/2014)
Best Espresso Grinder EverReview by Peter
I have had many burr grinders: Breville, Starbucks, Saeco, Solis, Hario, La Cimballi, Mazzer and Nuova Simonelli. The Mazzer and La Cimballi had built-in dosers which were messy, wasteful, not so accurate and retained stale grounds. The $200 Breville and $3000+ Mythos had electronic timers that with much trial and error could achieve the exact right dose with a particular coffee only to repeat again with another coffee. I ended up pre-weighing all my coffee beans before grinding with any of the grinders to achieve consistent results and shot extractions. With the Vario-W i no longer have to weigh out my beans before grinding as the Vario-W has a built-in scale that grinds within a tenth of a gram (I tested) with no waste and no retained grounds. The grounds are nice and fluffy and I get perfect extractions without any channeling and they taste great. The anti-static container works well for me and I like that I can instantly change the grind from fine to coarse, which I couldn't do with the Mazzer, La Cimballi or Simonelli which have a infinite adjustment. The Vario-W can grind extremely fine, all the way to very coarse. You can adjust the grinder simply to even grind coffee like flour if that's what you want. The 54mm ceramic burrs are a dream grinding quickly and a nice even distribution of particle size. I have had no problems whatsoever with the electronics or motor using the grinder daily this past year. For me it's the perfect, ultimate grinder! (Posted on 8/2/2014)
Don't buy this grinder !!Review by David Schnee
Ongoing problems that are not fixed by customer support...even if you spend the money to ship it to them. Even after it is serviced, the grind is still not fine enough and the micro arm continues to slide by itself when grinding. (Posted on 7/13/2014)
Better than I had hopedReview by rickdm
This is my first nice grinder which I bought along with a Quick Mill dual boiler espresso machine. I have been really impressed with the consistency of the grinds and the ability to change settings. Every morning I move the macro setting to a coarse grind for drip coffee, then back to a fine setting for expresso. Most of the time I don't even need to make an adjustment to get a dialed-in shot.

It has a small footprint, is quiet, easy to single dose, retains very few grounds, and produces a really nice cup of coffee. Not much more I would ask from a home grinder. At some point I may get a dedicated espresso grinder but i would just put the steel burrs on this one and have a great drip and french press grinder. (Posted on 9/15/2013)
Not as Expected pt3Review by kp3
SInce Baratza is in within 20 miles, I went over there today. I met several of the staff and they bent over backwards to make sure I was satisfied. These are young, energetic and knowledgable people, eager to make everything right, whatever it takes. I was a bit quick to judge in the prior days reviews, although it would leave me much more confident if all had gone well without the need for service at all. Many reviews elsewhere state they've had zero problems with this machine so I may have just gotten unlucky.
Never the less, over the phone, repeated shipping, or stopping in, these folks will certainly provide ultimate service until you're happy. Guaranteed. Unusual in todays business climate.
TIme will tell if the machine holds up. I am optimistic, but also certain these folks will take care of any problems. Likely, even after the warranty is up. (Posted on 8/8/2013)
Not as Expected pt2Review by kp3
Baratza called me back on Monday AM. He knew what the problem was immediately by my description and offered to work with me over the phone to fix or get a replacement. My choice. I chose replacement due to the burnt smell inside. Unit arrived Wednesday. Looks brand new. So customer service is very good.
Unfortunately, it ground to a halt after 12 grams. Buzzing loudly with no burr movement.
More to follow I'm certain. (Posted on 8/7/2013)
Less than expectedReview by kp3
Product worked quite well... for just over three months. Then one morning, ground a shot, good. Ground another, horrible screeching noise mid grind. Took out the beans, burrs, cleaned, nothing jammed in there. put it all back together, tried again. Screech. Started smoking this time. Smells like burnt oil in there now.
I really don't care if their warranty policy replaces this. I am out a grinder for at least a week probably longer. I just don't trust this company's products now. You get what you pay for, but I expected a lot more for almost 6 bills.
I'm not happy. I have since read bad reviews about gear box issues with other models. I'm not recommending Baratza from here on out. (Posted on 8/3/2013)
It's possessed! Call Ghost Adventures!Review by KD
My lovely wife bought this for me as a Christmas present this past year. After 7 months of use, the grinder became possessed by some alternative force. It would sporadically turn on and start grinding with nobody even close to it. Very odd indeed. Before calling Zak Bagans and the boys from Ghost Adventures to conduct a full investigation at my house, I did a bit of research on the interweb. Although I couldn't find much information on forums regarding my specific issue, this is something that Baratza is aware of. It appears the circuit board isn't properly shielded. As the machine builds up with static electricity (common with coffee grinding), energy "jumps" the circuit and causes the problem. In fact, Baratza has a "jump wire" that they sent me to install on my unit, but unfortunately the fix they provided didn't work. After a number of e-mails and phone conversations with the support team at Baratza, they are sending me a replacement unit. I commend them for that, but it's frustrating as I will have been without a working grinder for over 2 weeks dealing with this. (Posted on 7/29/2013)
Just what I was looking forReview by Lisianski
I was very impressed with the complete details on this grinder, including a video on operating it, that Seattle Coffee Gear provided on their website, so went ahead and ordered this grinder. It works just fine; the weighing feature is particularly good and the grind is consistent. I am entirely satisfied with it, and with the service offered by Seattle Coffee Gear. They were very helpful when I had a problem with another grinder I now use for decaf. A customer service rep walked me through taking it apart, fixing the problem, and getting it back together. I am used to getting such good customer service from Apple - but not from many other retailers. I will certainly do business with Seattle Coffee Gear in future. (Posted on 5/1/2013)
grind by weight, not by time, duh!Review by JF
I use my Vario-W one or two times a day for french press coffee. I had no idea how much difference a good grinder could make! Totally worth the money.

I've had a Vario-W from SCG for about 3 months. Before this I had a KitchenAid grinder, which at the time I thought was expensive, because it was an upgrade from a cheap blade grinder.

I'm also very very glad that I bought the "Vario-W" version, instead of the "Vario", since the "-W" portions the coffee out by weight. I mean really, you want to grind a certain _amount_ of coffee, right? All the other grinders, which grind by _time_, are just using time as a poor proxy for weight.

I keep different coffees in the house, so I usually put just enough into the grinder for whatever I'm drinking at the time. Grinding by weight helps with this: if I put in too little then the Vario-W just keep spinning because I haven't hit my goal weight. So I add a bit more. Then a bit more. Etc. Once you've used this grinder you'll be asking "why don't all grinders work this way?"

There's much less static buildup on the grinds than my previous grinders, but occasionally there is a wee bit of static.

And there's no "dust" from there grinder. Just consistently the size of grinds you set it for.

The weird thing with the grinder is grinding into the included bin. The bin seems to teeter precariously on top of the scale. Once you're used to it, it's no big deal. And, frankly, I'm not sure how else to design this thing: it measuring tenths of a gram, so it's not really possible to have the bin in contact with something else.

If you're interested in grinding straight into a portafilter you will have to hold the portafilter yourself. There aren't any forks for supporting your portafilter.

And finally, when I was trying to decide on grinders I sent a couple of questions off to the Baratza folks as well. They replied promptly, were very friendly, etc. Great people to deal with.

So, to sum it up, it's 11X more expensive than my previous grinder, what I would have used to considered insane to pay for a grinder, and TOTALLY WORTH IT. Hands down the single best thing I've done to improve my coffee.

Easy To Use, Great Taste

(Posted on 3/3/2012)

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