Our Valued Sponsor
OpinionsConsumer ReviewsGuides and How TosCoffeeGeek ReviewsResourcesForums
Espresso: General Discussion
Need buying advice
Great Espresso at Home
Curated selection of the best machines from La Spaziale, Izzo, Quick Mill, La Marzocco & more.
www.clivecoffee.com
 
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered  
Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Discussions > Espresso > General > Need buying...  
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
showing page 1 of 3 last page next page
Author Messages
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 Tue Feb 18, 2014, 12:13pm
Subject: Need buying advice
 

Hello fellow coffee lovers. I'm typically not one to ask for buying advice, but in the case of finding the ideal espresso machine, all the information and options are a bit overwhelming and I don't want to spend a ton of money until I'm very confident in what I'm buying.

Currently I have an old school Starbucks barista espresso machine (with a de-pressurized portafilter), and a Rancilio Rocky doserless grinder, which for a grand total of $450 makes ok entry level espresso. I now have money to upgrade and am not sure what to get. Money is not a constraint, but I don't want to waste money either.

I definitely want a machine that can brew and steam at the same time. Also, since I drink mostly cappuccinos, I want a machine that is excellent at steaming and creating microfoam. The 3 machines I'm currently considering are:


Nuova Simonelli Oscar

I like this one a lot, however I wish it had a hot water dispenser

Breville Dual Boiler (BES920XL, newest version)

Since the newest version allows descaling, I can't really find anything I don't like about this one. The fact that it may not last as long as the metal italian builds doesn't really bother me and I hear the temperature stability and control on this one is very nice for a machine that costs $1200. I guess I'm leaning towards getting this one unless someone can talk me out of it. Opinions seem a bit polarized when it comes to the BDB.

Expobar Office Lever

I like the fact that this one has the E61, but I've also heard that steaming is not very good on this one.


These 3 are in the $1000 - $1200 range, which seems to be about right for me, however I would be willing to spend more, maybe upwards of $2000, but there are so many options in that range that I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'm planning on getting a Baratza Vario for my grinder, unless I end up getting a machine that demands a better grinder.

So my two main questions are:

1) Are there other machines I should be considering in the $1200 range?

2) Are there other machines with significant advantages over the three I mentioned that are just a few hundred dollars more?

I feel like in order to get a machine significantly better than those three, I would need to spend like $2500 on a Rocket or Elecktra dual boiler, and that's probably more than I want to spend. Perhaps there is some middle ground?

Thanks for the help,
Brian
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
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 Tue Feb 18, 2014, 5:42pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

In the several hours of reading I did after posting this I'm realizing that I might want to use some of the money that I'm willing to spend on getting an even better machine on getting a nicer grinder. What would be my choices for the next step up from the vario?
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 8:31am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

pick the machine you are happy with. DB is not an improvement over HX, rather it is an operational preference and your style is more a determining factor of which may be better for you.

You understand about Breville, the choice is yours.

Oscar is not a perfect machine, it really should have an OPV and a vacuum breaker added to it but when purchased used at around the $500 mark, it is a very good value even with the needed mods. New, well perhaps not so much.

From the less than sterling rep, I am not a huge fan of Expobar but I do not have any hands on with any of their machines other than the thermoblock I bought new but cheep at auction. I do not advise that machine for use as an espresso device. As a source for parts to rebuild other machines sure if you get it cheep enough. I bought two at about $75 each and I have totally scavenged one for parts so it was worth the purchase of both.

We often get nice machines in your price range in our BST forum, well loved but used machines from forum members looking to upgrade or try something else. Good grinders show up there too.
"Buy, Sell and Trade"


As to a grinder upgrade, my PERSONAL preferences is to the commercial grinders and that is the way I would advise you to go with a grinder. A minimum of a SJ or better yet, a Major or equal in other brands.

Either a HX or DB will do as you ask and more so keep an open mind, watch the BST board or shop at a retailer for new.

Welcome to the board :D

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,318
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 19, 2014, 10:11am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

In your price range, the BDB is the stand out for "in the cup" superiority, ergonomics, features, and ease of use.  This isn't because it's a double boiler, but because of things like pre-infusion, an independently heated and stable group, and a bunch of other stuff that adds up to make a big difference.  I think it's an outstanding machine and something of a no-brainer for most people.

However, if you want commercial build quality, no Asian connection, and a machine you'll list in your will, the BDB ain't it.  For those, you'll either have to give up a lot of steaming power and go with a hybrid like the Silvano ($1,000), or spend more and buy a mid-level, mid-sized, prosumer HX (lots of choices from about $1400 and up).  

To a large extent, an espresso machine's main purpose is not to add anything, but to stay out of the grinder's way.  The BDB is certainly good enough to showcase the qualities of a really good grinder.

coffee_brian Said:

I'm willing to spend on getting an even better machine on getting a nicer grinder. What would be my choices for the next step up from the vario?

Posted February 18, 2014 link

How much are you willing to spend?  

Used or new only?

Single dose or hopper fed?

Conical, flat, or either?

Doser or electronic, walk-up doserless?  I'm not sure there are any "better than a Vario" mechanical (i.e., non-electronic) dosereless grinders still on the market.  

I agree with Wayne (Calblacksmith) that the Super Jolly and other grinders in the same class (commercial quality, $600 - $1000, 64mm flat burrs) are a step up from the Vario for a few "in the cup" qualities, but you'll get passionate disagreement about that from Vario owners.  

Rather than arguing, let's just say that if the commercial 64s are better in the cup, it's not by much.  It's also fair to say they're bigger, more expensive, significantly more durable, less versatile, usually messier, don't adjust as easily, and retain more grounds; and that the stepless ones can be tweaked finer than a Vario, while the dosered versions are considerably less convenient.

Figure on spending $850 minimum for an "in your face" difference (Quamar T48, Fiorenzato Doge Conico); and $1000 or more for the same in the cup abilities plus reasonable ergonomics.  

Because it's (a) a false economy to save money by giving up things you really want; and (b) a waste to buy features you don't care about, we need some help from you to narrow things down a bit for us.

Rich
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
steamer
Senior Member
steamer
Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 900
Location: socal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV R
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-B Baratza...
Vac Pot: Krubs Moka Brew, vacPot
Drip: TechV, and many more
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 10:55am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

quoted"From the less than sterling rep, I am not a huge fan of Expobar but I do not have any hands on with any of their machines other than the thermoblock I bought new but cheep at auction. I do not advise that machine for use as an espresso device. As a source for parts to rebuild other machines sure if you get it cheep enough. I bought two at about $75 each and I have totally scavenged one for parts so it was worth the purchase of both.
"
The currecnt Expobar Lever is not a thermo block unit, it is a HX unit. No thermo blocks.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 989
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 12:26pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

coffee_brian Said:

In the several hours of reading I did after posting this I'm realizing that I might want to use some of the money that I'm willing to spend on getting an even better machine on getting a nicer grinder.

Posted February 18, 2014 link

Not might.  Definitely upgrade the grinder.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
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 Wed Feb 19, 2014, 3:21pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

boar_d_laze Said:

How much are you willing to spend?

Posted February 19, 2014 link

 

Up to $1000

boar_d_laze Said:

Used or new only?

Posted February 19, 2014 link



either, depends if the used grinder is a great deal and durable

boar_d_laze Said:

Single dose or hopper fed?

Posted February 19, 2014 link

hopper

boar_d_laze Said:

Conical, flat, or either?

Posted February 19, 2014 link

either, not sure what the major difference is

boar_d_laze Said:

Doser or electronic, walk-up doserless?  I'm not sure there are any "better than a Vario" mechanical (i.e., non-electronic) dosereless grinders still on the market.

Posted February 19, 2014 link

 

I would like walk-up doserless, but I would be content with any style.


---------------------------------------------


I'm definitely planning on getting a minimum of a vario for a grinder. I'm thinking I will probably just settle for the vario unless a good used grinder shows up in BST, and then plan on getting a really nice grinder, like a K10, down the road. I'm assuming that I should get the vario-w, since weighing one's doses is important, correct?

As for the machine I think I will get the BDB, which should deliver excellent espresso paired with the vario, at least for the near future, and then start planning and saving for a top of the line machine. Based on what I've read, it would be best to buy a top of the line grinder before buying a top of the line machine, correct?
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
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 Wed Feb 19, 2014, 10:56pm
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy the BDB (BES920 model) and a Vario-W, but I'll take some time to think about it and read any more replies that may be posted, and keep an eye on the BST forum.  I have a few more questions:

-If I were to buy a BDB and a Vario, do you guys have any suggestions on where a good place to buy it would be? Ideally were I could get a good discount since I'm spending so much money.

-Does anyone know where I could get good locally roasted beans in the San Diego area, or would any reputable roaster be able to supply me with good beans for espresso?

-Can anyone suggest a particular milk frothing pitcher that would be great for making microfoam, or does the type of pitcher not really make a big difference?


Thank you to everyone who took time to give me advice, and in such detail, it is much appreciated.

Brian
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
CoffeeRon
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 753
Location: Eatonville, 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 Thu Feb 20, 2014, 3:13am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

For the Vario-W your best bet is a refurb direct from Baratza. They come with full warranty and are sometimes considered better than new as they've been given that little bit of extra attention from the guys at Baratza.

If I were looking for a new machine in your price range I would be torn between a low end HX or a Silvano. The Silvano has the benefit of the PID and with the thermoblock steaming there's no waiting like with standard SBDUs. So you have the same advantage as the BDB (without as many bells and whistles I know) but the build quality of a prosumer. I'd take a Silvano over a BDB any day- JMHO.

You can check it out at Chris' coffee here-

Click Here (www.chriscoffee.com)

They have a good video demo of it on their site as well.

Just my 2 cents- enjoy whatever decision you make- they are all capable of making good espresso!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,318
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 Thu Feb 20, 2014, 7:40am
Subject: Re: Need buying advice
 

coffee_brian Said:

If I were to buy a BDB and a Vario, do you guys have any suggestions on where a good place to buy it would be? Ideally were I could get a good discount since I'm spending so much money.

Posted February 19, 2014 link

As of this posting, the BES920 is not yet widely distributed.  As far as I know, the only North American retailers are Breville itself, Seattle Coffee Gear and idrinkcoffee (in Canada).  

idrinkcoffee's price for the 920 is $100 less than SCG's.  And, FWIW, idrinkcoffee is an excellent retailer from whom I've bought quite a bit of stuff over the years.  I don't know what's involved in buying an espresso machine from Canada and having it shipped to the US.  There may or may not be duties under NAFTA, long delays, big shipping charges, etc.  People on the coffee boards who clearly know nothing about it assure me that it's a big, expensive, and complicated deal; which has me guessing that it isn't.  If you're interested, I'd call Slawa (who owns idrinkcoffee) and... y'know... ask.  

SCG is also an excellent retailer -- none better really.  They always have some sort of discount going on, and since you're buying a package and there is another price out there you have at least a little negotiating leverage.  Call.

The Vario is a good grinder.  It is not a very good grinder.  It is not an excellent grinder.  It is, though, an excellent value.  

It is good enough to match with the BDB.  But a better way of looking at it may be that the BDB is good enough to match with a much better grinder.  The decision between Vario and "better," comes down to money, not taste.  I mention this to illuminate the lay of the land, and not to suggest the Vairo isn't a good choice, or that you should spend an uncomfortable amount.

If you're grinding for espresso only, I'm not sure that the "W" weighing feature of the Vario W is much of a convenience.  What you gain from grinding into a scale -- as opposed to the inconvenience of single dosing, or the minor inaccuracies of time dosing -- you lose in the inconvenience and degradation of texture (i.e., more lumps) of not grinding directly into a pf supported by the pf holder.

BTW, if you do decide to buy a Vario and use the holder, you'll want to upgrade from the stock Vario piece to a Forte pf holder.    

Does anyone know where I could get good locally roasted beans in the San Diego area, or would any reputable roaster be able to supply me with good beans for espresso?

I know there are some good roasters in San Diego, but can't tell you which.   has brick and mortars in the SGV and Inland Empire, but that's too far to call "local."  The drive would cost more than shipping.    

This is a question which comes up all the time.  The best advice I can give you is to buy online from any one of a number of excellent roasters around the country.  There's a list -- which isn't updated anywhere near frequently enough -- at H-B.  Some people posting here at CG are trying put together a better and more complete list.

I buy very little coffee roasted by other people, but when I do, it's nearly always Klatch.      

Can anyone suggest a particular milk frothing pitcher that would be great for making microfoam, or does the type of pitcher not really make a big difference?

Cheap, stainless steel pitchers from SLT, Amazon, or wherever, work just fine.  If you're interested in pouring "latte art," you'll want a fairly sharp spout with some extension.

The Espro Toroid (well made pitchers, by the way) is probably the most helpful for beginners.  

Rocket and Motta are the best made, but expensive.  I recently switched fro an SLT cheapo to a Motta and wouldn't switch back because the Motta pours art better.  That doesn't mean I'm convinced the Motta is worth its money.  

Teflon pitchers are the easiest to keep clean without a lot of water, soap, and a brush, and are a good for catering.  Plus, they come in colors.  Otherwise, they're too expensive.

Rattleware pitchers are excellent value for the money.  Rattleware anything is excellent value for the money.  

Surprisingly, you haven't asked about tampers.  There's a minimum level of quality for making life easy, and once you've achieved that you're just fooling around.  Nothing wrong with fooling around, though.  It's fun.

Rattleware is as little as you can spend and jump the quality hurdle.  Good weight, good fit in the hand, good fit in most baskets, comfort, quality build.  The one thing it lacks, is coolness.

VST (and La Marzocco Strada) baskets work best with tampers specifically sized for them.  If you use VST baskets -- and you probably should --  the universe of good tampers contracts significantly.  I like the tampers from Coffee Complements for their usability, price and coolness; and want to give them a shoutout because the owner and tamper maker, Hai Pham, recently did me a huge solid when USPS screwed up.

Right now though, I'm using a Butterfly Tamper from Clive because -- and never forget it -- Coolness = Mojo.

Rich

boar_d_laze: butterfly-tamper-1.jpg
(Click for larger image)
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
showing page 1 of 3 last page next page
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
Discussions > Espresso > General > Need buying...  
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered     Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
Discussions Quick Jump:
Symbols: New Posts= New Posts since your last visit      No New Posts= No New Posts since last visit     Go to most recent post= Newest post
Forum Rules:
No profanity, illegal acts or personal attacks will be tolerated in these discussion boards.
No commercial posting of any nature will be tolerated; only private sales by private individuals, in the "Buy and Sell" forum.
No SEO style postings will be tolerated. SEO related posts will result in immediate ban from CoffeeGeek.
No cross posting allowed - do not post your topic to more than one forum, nor repost a topic to the same forum.
Who Can Read The Forum? Anyone can read posts in these discussion boards.
Who Can Post New Topics? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post new topics.
Who Can Post Replies? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post replies.
Can Photos be posted? Anyone can post photos in their new topics or replies.
Who can change or delete posts? Any CoffeeGeek member can edit their own posts. Only moderators can delete posts.
Probationary Period: If you are a new signup for CoffeeGeek, you cannot promote, endorse, criticise or otherwise post an unsolicited endorsement for any company, product or service in your first five postings.
Stefano's Espresso Care
Repair - Parts - Sales
Factory Authorized &
Trained Technician
www.espressocare.com
Home | Opinions | Consumer Reviews | Guides & How Tos | CoffeeGeek Reviews | Resources | Forums | Contact Us
CoffeeGeek.com, CoffeeGeek, and Coffee Geek, along with all associated content & images are copyright ©2000-2014 by Mark Prince, all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Content, code, and images may not be reused without permission. Usage of this website signifies agreement with our Terms and Conditions. (0.412093162537)
Privacy Policy | Copyright Info | Terms and Conditions | CoffeeGeek Advertisers | RSS | Find us on Google+