Varia VS3 Grinder Review – Generation 2

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The Varia VS3 coffee grinder is yet another offering to the single-dosing, low-retention crowd out there. 

The Varia grinder is aesthetically minimalistic, ergonomically simple, and aims to challenge the big names in terms of performance. 

By all accounts, it is a highly appealing premium grinder at a very affordable price. Not only so, but the generation 2 model fixes many of the concerns raised over the original Varia grinder. This grinder sits on the lower end of the prosumer coffee grinders range. In this article, we will do a deep dive into this conical burr grinder and see if it lives up to its claims. 

Varia VS3 Grinder-Gen 2 

Varia VS3 Grinder

The Varia grinder is a streamlined grinder that can be paired with five distinct sets of 38mm conical burrs. It has a small footprint, minimalist design, and easy operation. The whole coffee grinder feels premium and designed for the prosumer market. It also offers an excellent price-to-quality ratio and is significantly cheaper than many of its nearest competitors.

Varia VS3 Grinder Review


Varia Grinder

Specs:

  • Hopper Capacity: 30 grams
  • Grind Adjustment: Stepless, each notch is 10µ
  • Burrs: 38mm Conical burrs
  • Load Speed: 190 RPM
  • Burr Life: 150kg
  • Motor: 100W DC Motor
  • Power: 100W/ 100-240V
  • Dimensions: (H) 310mm x (W) 90mm x (L) 147mm
  • Weight: 3.2kg

Design of the Varia Coffee Grinder

The Varia VS3 Grinder is highly aesthetically pleasing. It is minimalistic, elegant, and similar to many newer prosumer grinders, feels less industrial than a traditional grinder. The small footprint means that this grinder will fit easily on most countertops. The lack of a traditional hopper also makes it less tall than your typical grinder (unless you plan to use the included bellows) and so far more comfortable in smaller spaces. 

The Varia comes in matte black or white both of which look elegant and premium. 

There is really only one downside to the design and aesthetics of the Varia grinder. This will be a minor inconvenience for some and a deal breaker for others. And that is that the Varia VS3 coffee grinder has a sizable black power brick exterior to the machine

This power brick is the reason that Varia can keep the machine so streamlined. However, it is an eyesore if you don’t have a space to hide it. It is too big to be hidden behind the grinder itself but can often be placed behind the espresso machine if they are side by side.

The exterior matte finish is made from a high-grade scratch-resistant spray powder. This finish is highly durable and easy to keep clean.  

Design of the varia VS3 grinder

Build Quality of the Varia VS3

Put simply the build quality of the Varia VS3 is impressive. The entire machine is made from die-cast, space-grade aluminum alloy. All of the critical parts of the machine are CNC machined (Computer numerical control machined) to 0.02mm precision. I don’t really know what that means, but I’m pretty sure it means quality and careful precision. And the machine feels it. Because of all the metal in the construction, this coffee grinder is heavier than it looks (always a positive for a grinder).

The entire gearbox is now made exclusively of metal for durability. In fact, from the point the coffee beans are placed in the hopper to the point they come out of the chute, they touch only metal that has been treated for anti-static. 

As is becoming the trend among prosumer grinders, the burrs are easily accessible for cleaning and maintenance. In fact, with the Varia grinder, no screws need to be undone to access the outer burr. 

As is also becoming more popular, the Varia coffee grinder utilizes magnets in both the hopper lid and for the placement of the dosing cup. In earlier models, these magnets were thought by some to be too strong (a fairly uncommon problem!), but this has been resolved in the generation two VS3. But this is a nice touch that isn’t strictly needed but does help the coffee grinder feel a little bit more premium. 

The Varia VS3 grinder also comes with spare burr springs, an Allen key, silicone bellows, an RDT bottle, and a cleaning brush. Again the addition of these things like the bellows is a nice touch as previously they would have to be bought or 3D printed independently.  

Varia Grinder hopper
Varia Grinder Burrs

The Varia VS3 utilizes 38mm conical burrs. These burrs are 6-cored and excellently made from high nitrogen 420 stainless steel. Another interesting design choice is the option to swap out/upgrade the burrs depending on your brewing needs. There are five different burrs available for either the Gen 1 or Gen 2 model. Gen 1 burrs are only compatible with Gen 1 models while Gen 2 burrs are compatible with either model. 

  • Supernova- designed primarily for espresso, titanium coated for extra hardness, available in either gold or black titanium.
  • Hypernova- good for both filter and espresso, also titanium coated, harder than the Supernova burrs.
  • Replacement Supernova Stainless Steel- replacement for the standard set, good for both filter and espresso
  • Hypernova Ultra- designed for the best espresso, hardest burrs, and special polishing, dual coating of titanium and thermal plasma. 

Comparison with Generation One Varia Grinder 

The Varia VS3 grinder is the new and improved model of the originally released Varia coffee grinder. While the original model was well received, there were several recurring complaints including motor components made of plastic, the possibility of stalling with light roasts, and the outer burr carrier. Each of these and more have been fixed in the Generation Two model showing positively that Varia does listen to the feedback they receive.

Improvements in the Generation Two model include:

  • A stronger motor with a 190 RPM grind speed (the generation one model was only 160 RPM)
  • The motor is now exclusively made of stainless steel components
  • The feeding channel is now polished
  • The outer burr and outer burr carrier are now made of a single piece of metal
  • The issue with shifting the grind collar is now fixed

Using the Varia Grinder

The Varia grinder is a pleasure to use. It is both intuitive and easy to operate. To use, simply place beans into the hopper, place the lid on, and press the button on the side of the machine until the noise changes indicating all beans have finished grinding into the dosing cup. Simply press the button again and the grinder will stop. 

Despite the anti-static spray utilized on the metal, there is still static when using the Varia which can make things messy. However, a quick spray with the RDT bottle on the beans before placing them into the hopper reduces this dramatically. 

To achieve the zero retention goal of the grinder, there are also silicone bellows included with the grinder. These can be placed on top of the hopper and the lid placed on top of them. They do work well if bellows are your things but definitely ruin the elegant aesthetic. The bellows are a bit of an eyesore.  

The noise of the coffee grinder is relatively quiet depending on what you are comparing it to.  

The grind size is easily adjusted via the grind collar. This is intuitive to use and due to the thread utilized can make the micro-adjustments required for espresso. It is stepless meaning that there are theoretically endless grind adjustments possible. 

The Varia is a multi-purpose grinder that can be used for both filter and espresso. Part of the appeal of the single-dosing, low retention is that it means that you don’t need to purge between different beans or different grind sizes as you do in a traditional grinder. The grinder does well for both brewing methods depending in part on the burrs utilized. It probably excels at espresso but still does a very good job at pour-over and other soft brewing options. 

The grinds come out fluffy which is always a good sign and with minimal fines. As such it can make excellent espresso coffee and filter coffee. Some have compared it to the Niche Zero for taste especially as they are both conical burrs.

Pros:

  • Excellent price-to-quality ratio
  • Elegant design
  • Single-dosing and zero-retention
  • Option to upgrade burrs

Cons:

  • Power brick is an eyesore
  • Fairly small hopper (30 grams) for larger brews
  • Some people prefer flat burrs for espresso

Who is the Varia Grinder for? 

The Varia VS3 Generation 2 coffee grinder is for those looking for a prosumer grinder but are limited by budget. There is no doubt that this grinder is not an entry-level grinder like the Baratza Encore or Breville Smart Grinder. No, it is a prosumer grinder like the Niche Zero, Eureka Mignon, or DF64 aimed at those looking to elevate the coffee experience to the next level.  

However, the competitive advantage of this grinder is its affordable price (almost half the price of the Niche Zero!). You get all the advantages of the prosumer grinder (in this case quality burrs, stepless grind settings, zero-retention, and single-dosing) without needing to sell your car to pay for it. 

The other strong appeal of this grinder is its aesthetic appeal. Simply put it is an elegant coffee grinder that looks like a statement piece in its own right. It doesn’t destroy the decor of a kitchen but rather gives its own taste of beauty. 

Varia Grinder- The Verdict

In conclusion, the Varia coffee grinder is a strong competitor for those looking for an affordable, high-quality coffee grinder. It has excellent build quality and burrs, good workflow, a minimalistic design, and can make excellent espresso or filter coffee. 

So if you are either just starting out or already in the coffee game but want to go to the next level, then the Varia VS3 grinder is an excellent and affordable option that you ought to strongly consider.