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Discussions > Espresso > General > Need buying...  
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,383
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 7:14pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

Can't beat Precision Tampers for the $, top notch quality and accurate specs.
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member
CoffeeRon
Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 749
Location: Tacoma Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 7:54pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

boar_d_laze Said:

There are many grinders, priced between $750 and $1500, which do represent a palpable step:  Compak K-8, Compak K-10 PB, Fiorenzato Doge, La Cimbali Jr. Max Hybrid (had one for years); Macap M7A, Mazzer Kony, Mazzer Major; and Quamar T48 to name eight.  Note that these are big deal burr sets, bodies and mechanicals, but aren't the pricier walk-up (electronic), doserless variants.  Note also, that I'm only talking about "in the cup" qualities, without regard to ergonomics, grinds retention, or ease of use.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on this. Seems there's so much talk comparing everything to the SJ and not much more really until you get into the high end grinders, it's easy to start thinking the mid range ones maybe just grind faster for their bigger burrs. Nice to hear the voice of experience clarify this a bit.

I almost picked up the predecesor to the Max Hybrid off of ebay last summer. By the time I researched what it was I REALLY wanted it- sounded like the original was a bit better grinder than the La Cimbali. Unfortunately someone else was quicker on the draw those last few seconds :(

Ron
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,031
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Feb 22, 2014, 10:13am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

I like my tamper base from Precision Coffee Tampers.  But it is so high the top sticks above the basket when it has grinds in it.  My smaller tamper the top surface edge was even with or just below the lip of the basket so it was easy to feel when I was off level.  I am considering taking it to a machine shop and having them bevel the rim top edge so it is in line with the basket with grinds in it.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,277
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Feb 22, 2014, 10:57am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

CoffeeRon Said:

I almost picked up the predecesor to the Max Hybrid off of ebay last summer. By the time I researched what it was I REALLY wanted it- sounded like the original was a bit better grinder than the La Cimbali. Unfortunately someone else was quicker on the draw those last few seconds :(

Posted February 21, 2014 link

The predecessor to the Max Hybrid wasn't any better, just more inconvenient, with a less advanced doser.  

The successor to the Max Hybrid, the Junior Max Hybrid (which is still sold, sometimes as the Jr., and sometimes as the Jr. Max), is the exact same mechanicals and doser as the Max, but in a better box.  

A few months ago I would have agreed with Ken Fox's evaluation of the hybrids in his remarks in the H-B "Titan Grinder Project," and "Beat the Robur" threads, and called the Jr. Max a "Titan." I'm not an expert of any sort on grinders of any type or make, but have spent a lot of time recently fooling around with a few and got some context.    

Part of learning is honesty and vice versa.  It pains me to admit that the La Cimbali is not as good as I thought and that at least some part of the over-evaluation was owner enthusiasm.  A month with a Ceado E92, along with a few additional hours with a Robur E, a Compak K-10 Fresh and a Mahlkonig K30 Vario, led me to revise my opinions of the La Cimbali  down (and of the Compak K-10 and Mahlkonig K30) as well.  Where before I saw Titan, I know see near-Titan, Titan, and uber-Titan.

By way of specific example (you're hanging on every word, right?), the Jr. Max as well as the other two La Cimbali grinders with the same 64mm hybrid burr set grind at the near-Titan level, all the way across the spectrum of grinder characteristics (as I see them) of mouth feel, bottom end "comfort," top-end "sparkle," forgiveness, separation and nuance.  

"Across the board," is a good way of thinking about the La Cimbalis' quality in the cup.  There's nothing merely good, nor is there anything you'd peg at spectacular.  They do everything "very well."  Period.  Full stop.

If you want to get a very good idea of what they're like in the cup, the closest things -- damn close -- are DRMs (as used at Vivace) and Versalabs.    

Beyond quality in the cup, the best things about the Jr. Max are its ease and precision for dialing in, quality of its doser, and overall build quality.  The two largest downsides to the La Cimbali are "pop-corning" (not a good choice for single dosing) and its need for frequent and inconvenient cleaning.  The last thing was the straw which broke this camel's back.  However when I got the Ceado and was able to do face to face comparisons, and arranged for some time with a friend's suite of Robur E and K30 and another friend's Compak K-10 Fresh (for non face to face comparison) the Cimbali's in the cup limitations came into focus.

If you're interested in a Jr. Max, I've got one, along with a Gralab timer, everything in great shape, I don't want anymore. The thought of shipping it isn't thrilling, but we could probably work something out if you want yet another grinder.

Rich
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member
CoffeeRon
Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 749
Location: Tacoma Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sat Feb 22, 2014, 1:14pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

I wouldn't say "hanging on every word", just honestly trying to get a better feel for the difference in some of these grinders! Recently I was considering getting a Vario-W (which I did), a Forte (which I'm now glad I didn't) or possibly a K-10 Fresh ( which I would have loved but would have been down right stupid considering my current budget).

I've been checking in with OE every day to order a Pharos. I really am loving the Vario, the features as well as the grind, which I feel is right up there with my K-6.

I've wondered before how much difference in the cup there would be with grinders like the K-10 WBC or the Mazzer Major, for example. And gotten the impression it wouldn't be much- that's where this conversation came from I guess and has been informative.

It was in fact an old DRM I was looking at last summer. I believe I've got my grinder situation under control now though (or will at least when I get a Pharos). The Vario-W for general duty, and the Pharos when I want to take that extra bit of time and really enjoy the moment. And beyond that no I really don't want another grinder right now- (emphasis on right now, although I'm watching a zassenhaus on ebay right now but thats a different subject). Thanks though :)

Now to keep things more on topic, although the grinder talk was I believe at least educational to someone putting together a setup-

I personally love my Bumper Tamper with bulb handle. Not over the top expensive and comes with a holder it sets in. Really like the way it feels in my hand. When it comes to tampers it's really about that- looks and feel for the individual.

Edit to add- I sometimes feel I might gain from having one of the slightly larger tampers to fill that little bit of gap- seems there's mixed feelings on this just like just about everything coffee related...
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pstam
Senior Member
pstam
Joined: 27 Jan 2004
Posts: 2,348
Location: Beijing
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: ECM, SAN MARCO, EURO 2000
Grinder: MAZZER
Vac Pot: YES
Drip: YES
Roaster: YES, HOME STYLE
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 12:11am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

In your case, I think, the grinder is good enough.  It doesn't have to be updated.

For the espresso, the Oscar is a good choice without comparing the prices, because I have no idea of the prices for your area.  Generally speaking, it is good enough for espresso brewing, at least for home use.

 
Peter in Beijing
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I am looking for the way and the place to extend our trainning courses.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,277
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 6:25pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

pstam Said:

In your case, I think, the grinder is good enough.  It doesn't have to be updated.

Posted February 26, 2014 link

This is ambiguous.  It's also very conclusory without any analysis.  In my opinion, the bases for someone's opinion are more helpful than the opinion itself.  So, I have some questions which might help.
  1. Which grinder?  
  2. Do you mean his current Rocky is "good enough?"
  3. Good enough for what?  
  4. What criteria do you use to determine "good enough?" and,
  5. Good enough for whom?  That is, why "good enough in (his) case," as opposed to say, "an excellent match for his machine?"

For the espresso, the Oscar is a good choice without comparing the prices, because I have no idea of the prices for your area.  Generally speaking, it is good enough for espresso brewing, at least for home use.

Same problems.  
  1. Are you comparing the Oscar to the BDB and Expobar Lever?  
  2. If price isn't one of them, which criteria are you using?  
  3. Aren't you troubled by the Oscar's lack of a water tap, lack of an OPV valve, lack of a vacuum breaker valve, and the fact that it overheats and needs to be re-temped after even a brief idle?
  4. Are you at all familiar with the Breville 920 or the Expobar Lever? if so,
  5. How would you compare and contrast either or both to the Oscar?

Let me give you the US prices so you can use them to make whatever comparison you'd like with full knowledge of the facts.
  1. Breville 920  -- $1200USD "estimated street price" at Seattle Coffee Gear.  SCG lists it online for $1300.  While I'm not sure if SCG negotiates on this machine, they're aggressive about negotiating and offering discounts on so many other big-ticket items, and since idrinkcoffee is offering the 920 for $1200CDN, I'd be surprised if they wouldn't take 10% off, especially if you bought the grinder from them as well.  
  2. Expobar Lever -- $1200USD at WLL.  WLL is an aggressive discounter as well, it might be possible to get it for less; and
  3. Nuova Simonelli Oscar -- $1050USD at SCG.  The $1050 "street price" is so well established at so many different retailers, I'd be surprised if you could get it for under $1000, and then only as part of a package or promo.  

Now that you know the prices, how would you compare the machines?  What criteria would you use to match any one of them to any given person?  

You're a knowledgeable man with interesting opinions, so be specific and let us know why you think what you do.

Rich
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coffee_brian
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Feb 2014
Posts: 10
Location: San Diego
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: BES920XL
Grinder: Vario, Rocky
Roaster: local
Posted Thu Feb 27, 2014, 10:43pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

Here's an update on my situation. My new espresso machine, grinder and other accessories have all arrived. This is what I now have:

Machine
BES920XL, w/ additional bottomless portafilter

Grinder
Vario, w/ Forte Portaholder

Baskets
VST Ridgeless 15g and 20g

Tamper
Brass Handle 58.35MM flat serrated from Coffee Compliments

Other Accessories
Motta 17oz milk pitcher
Knock box
Tamp pad
shot glasses w/ measuring lines

Beans
12oz of Equator Espresso beans (got these free w/ my purchase from SCG)
16oz of Klatch House Espresso (definitely like this one a lot)

If anyone has some suggestions on other accessories that I should have or may find useful I'd love to know. Thanks for all your suggestions Rich, as you can see I took your advice on pretty much everything. Also, suggestions on good espresso beans would be welcome.

When I tried my first shot of espresso earlier today I realized that I've never actually had real espresso, which I suspected weeks ago when I started researching all this. I've always loved coffee, but I've always found espresso to be too strong and bitter, so I would always have it mixed with milk in some way shape or form. This is obviously because Starbucks and most coffee shops simply produce a strong, burnt coffee concentrate that 99% of their customers mix with tons of milk, sugar and flavorings and would never dream of drinking straight. Now I realize that many of these people might actually like "it" straight if they actually had real espresso. I'm glad that I'm finally able to enjoy coffee to its fullest and look forward to experimenting with espresso.

The funny thing is that the first shot I pulled rushed out way fast at about 4 bars. However, it still tasted better than anything I'd ever had and had a ton of crema. I'm still having some difficulty pulling shots because they seem to always run out fast, as if the grind is too coarse because the dose is always generous and the tamp is always hard. I keep on adjusting the grind finer, but it doesn't help much. The last shot I did was a 20g shot that I packed really full and tamped extremely hard and it still came out pretty fast, but was at about 7 bars. I was using the bottomless and didn't notice any channeling.

I obviously need to do some more experimenting and I'm guessing that it has to be the grind. However, currently my vario is set at the absolute finest setting. I read the manual and went through the Burr Calibration process and completed it successfully. I think I will try this again tomorrow because if my grinder is truly at the finest setting and I ground 20g and packed it really tight, the shot should barely come out or not come out at all, as opposed to coming out fast. Am I thinking through this correct and are there some other things I should be looking into?

Thanks in advance,

Brian
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coffee_brian
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Feb 2014
Posts: 10
Location: San Diego
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: BES920XL
Grinder: Vario, Rocky
Roaster: local
Posted Fri Feb 28, 2014, 10:54am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

I figured it out. My vario was set to grind way too coarse out of the factory. I went through the calibration process again and needed to turn the allen wrench a lot until the machine started making the stressing sound. I then set it to the coarsest micro setting of macro setting 1. Then I prepared a shot with a normal size dose and a more moderate tamp and it came out very nice at 9 bars.
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