A week and three days ago I sold my grinder expecting to receive its replacement shortly thereafter. Around the same time, unbeknownst to me, Baratza was in the middle of a shortage on the Vario I ordered two weeks prior. The vendor I ordered from has been great, but has had trouble getting an ETA from Baratza. He even let me borrow a grinder because he is so frustrated about the situation. The grinder he let me borrow, a Baratza Maestro Plus, is good, but is not capable of brewing espresso. Serendipitously, I ordered a Hario Skerton right before borrowing the Maestro, which worked out well because I currently don't have access to any brew methods besides espresso. I picked the Skerton because I read it was capable of grinding reasonably well for espresso and it was relatively cheap.
Last night the Skerton arrived to my glee. I quickly opened the box and cleaned the grinder then got ready to pull a shot. Having read up a bit on the Skereton, I also fashioned a top to prevent beans from flying all over the place during grinding. I guessed on a grind setting, measured out my dose of 18.3 grams and got to it. A few minutes later and the coffee was ground. It looked decent enough so I pulled the shot. Far too coarse. I tightened the grind, barely an adjustment and a few minutes later I was pulling another shot. Too fine, the machine choked. Try three, I barely adjust the grind to a more coarse setting. With a tired arm I cranked out another shot. Success, kind of. The shot ran a little fast, tasted mediocre, but it felt great to be back at it. I pulled another shot and my wife and I enjoyed drinking our coffee together, a ritual we had missed for what felt like far longer than a week and a half.
Regarding the Skerton, the grinder seems like a good low cost solution, but it has some serious design flaws. Searching online most of these problems are covered. The lack of a top allows grinds to fly over the place. The shaft the top burr is mounted to has a bit of play which extends into the handle. This play in the burrs results in some unevenness in the grind. For me, the biggest problem is adjusting the grind. Besides being a pain to do, it is hard to do accurately and I expect it would be near impossible to find a grind setting once used. Despite these issues, for forty dollars it is an impressive grinder especially if you have been grinderless for a long while.
I also just found out I should get my Vario on Monday. More good news.
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