Last Updated: August 2017
Rancilio and Baratza are two of the largest names in the coffee industry, so it comes as no surprise that many consumers find themselves torn when trying to decide between grinders. The following side-by-side comparison of the Baratza Vario and the Rancilio Rocky will help you make the best decision for your unique tastes.
Table of contents
Baratza Vario Features
There are several models in the Baratza Vario line, and for the sake of comparison, we will consider the newest model – the Baratza Vario 886. It boasts several high-tech and mechanical features designed to improve your grinding experience.
- It offers 54mm ceramic burrs that stay sharp twice as long as comparable steel burrs.
- The Baratza Vario comes with more than 250 grind settings to suit your preferences, whether you want a cup of espresso or Turkish coffee – or even both.
- The hopper holds about three-quarters of a pound of coffee beans.
- You can use either the porta-holder or the grind bin to collect grinds.
- A built-in display shows you how long you’ve been grinding, and there are several pre-timed modes from which to choose.
Rancilio Rocky Features
The Rancilio company has been around since 1927, and this means that they have had decades to perfect their technology. Some of the main features associated with the Rancilio Rocky include:
- 50mm commercial-grade stainless steel burrs.
- Up to 50 different grind settings.
- A solid metal outer casing for incredible durability.
- A hopper that holds about three-quarters of a pound of beans.
- A detachable porta-holder for capturing grinds (use is optional).
The term design relates to the way a particular coffee grinder looks and feels during use. There are many notable differences between the Baratza Vario and the Rancilio Rocky, and these could affect your purchasing decision.
- The Baratza Vario is made of both plastic and metal components, and the knobs for choosing your specific grind are plastic, as well. However, the updated Baratza Vario 886 does incorporate a metal porta-holder for improved durability and stability. This machine comes with a timer that allows users to set their grind and walk away, which is fantastic for those who find themselves multitasking as they prepare their morning coffee.
- Conversely, the Rancilio Rocky is made almost entirely of metal, and many reviewers use the phrase “built like a tank” to describe it. The hopper and porta-holder are very convenient, but this particular grinder does not come with a collection bin. Users simply grind into containers of their choosing. What’s more, the Rocky does not feature a timer. Users must manually hold down the button to complete their grinds.
In terms of overall performance, these two machines have very few differences. They both produce grinds that work well with a variety of coffee types.
- The Baratza Vario has more than 250 different grind settings, so users can completely customize each and every cup of coffee they brew. The Vario also has three preset timers for espresso, filter, or pressed coffee to take out some of the guesswork.
- The Rancilio Rocky only has about 50 settings, but most reviewers claim that this is more than enough to produce a great cup of coffee. Reviewers note that the grind settings are consistent from use to use over time.
In the durability category, each of these grinders has its own unique feature that makes it the better choice. Durability simply describes the overall quality of the materials and the longevity of the grinder.
- The Baratza Vario contains 54mm ceramic burrs, and while this may not seem like a big deal, it truly is. Ceramic does not get nearly as hot as stainless steel, and it produces far less static during the grinding process. What’s more, ceramic will stay sharp for twice as long as steel, thereby improving the lifespan of the grinder. However, many of the Vario’s other components – including the casing and knobs – are made of everyday plastic which some users claim feels flimsy and fragile.
- On the other hand, the Rancilio Rocky uses 50mm stainless steel burrs, which get hotter over time and dull much faster than ceramic. Where the Vario is constructed of plastic with a few metal components, though, the Rocky is made almost entirely of metal, which makes it more durable in the long run.
The Baratza Vario and Rancilio Rocky are considered luxury grinders thanks to their unique features and variety of grind settings. The Baratza Vario line costs between $400 and $500, whereas the Rancilio Rocky models start at around $350 and climb based on the included features. Overall, consumers feel that both machines are an excellent value for the money.
- Design – In terms of design, consumers actually prefer the Vario. It has a smaller footprint than the Rancilio Rocky, and there are more options from which users can choose.
- Performance – These machines tie in the performance category. Although the Baratza Vario offers far more grind settings than the Rancilio Rocky, the Rocky is capable of producing much courser grounds than the Vario, which makes it a better choice for those who prefer pressed coffee. If you prefer espresso or Turkish coffee, the Vario will produce a much finer product than the Rocky.
- Durability – Overall, the Rancilio Rocky wins this category with its metal casing and components. However, if you are more concerned about the longevity and durability of the burrs, then the Baratza Vario may be the best option for you.
- Price – Of the two grinders, the Baratza Vario is the more expensive of the two. It does offer more settings than the Rocky, and it uses long-life ceramic burrs, but in the long run, the Rocky is just as capable of producing a great-tasting cup of coffee. Thus, there is no clear winner here; only the end user can determine the overall value.
Which is Best?
If you have narrowed your selection down to these two grinders and you are struggling to make a decision, remember that while both machines offer some features and components that make them practical, durable, and easy to use, there is a clear difference. The Rancilio Rocky is capable of producing a much coarser grind than the Baratza Vario, so if you prefer pressed coffees over espressos and Turkish coffees, you should choose the Rocky. On the other hand, the Vario produces much finer grinds than the Rocky, so if you prefer espressos and Turkish coffee, the Vario is the right choice.
If your budget plays a large role in your decision, bear in mind that the Rancilio Rocky costs about $50 to $100 less than the Baratza Vario, and it offers up superb durability over time. If you want a machine that is capable of producing a great tasting cup of coffee for a great price, then the Rancilio Rocky is a great choice.