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Advice on a new espresso machine
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GreatCanada
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Jul 2006
Posts: 3
Location: Ottawa
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Ascaso Arc
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Wed Jul 12, 2006, 6:51am
Subject: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

My wife's 7 year old Starbucks Barista Zia appears to be finished so I'm looking to replace it.  It's used almost exclusively for lattes with about 4 to 12 drinks made on it per week.  Maybe with a better machine I'd get interested in plain espresso but I doubt my wife will so anything purchased will probably be used just to make milk-based drinks.  

I don't have a grinder but I don't know if it's necessary for us since we're satisified with the taste of the lattes from the Zia.  Maybe down the road it would make a good present but not at the present.

My options are:

Solis SL 70 ($400 CDN)
I can get this mail ordered at that price with free shipping in Canada.  I'm assuming it can be serviced in Canada without problems if I purchase it here.

Ascaso Arc ($459 CDN)
I can pick this up in person at Morala Trading and I assume it can be serviced there as well if there are problems.

Bezzera BZ02S ($695 US @ Vaneli's, although if there's someone reputable that's cheaper I'd be happy to hear about it)
I can order this from the US and I assume it would be a superior machine that would produce lattes quicker, which is a factor when you've got limited time getting ready for work in the morning.  My concern would be service if there is a problem with the machine.  If I've got to cover shipping for a 40 lb machine, it can get expensive even if the repairs are covered under warranty.  But this machine seems like an amazing deal at this pricepoint, although my wife isn't sure if we need to spend that kind of money on a machine.
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,272
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Jul 12, 2006, 7:36am
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

Hi James,

Welcome to the Coffeegeek forums! {:-)

Whatever machine that you do choose, the grinder is of paramount importance & comes/should come first!

Remember Mark's mantra!
"Re: THANK YOU MARK!!!  Bought a Burr Grinder and LOVE IT!"

Mark's mantra is & always was, "It's better to have a great grinder & a lesser espresso machine, than a great espresso machine & a lesser grinder"., or words to that effect. {:-D




.

 
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Dooglas
Senior Member
Dooglas
Joined: 12 Mar 2005
Posts: 755
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vibiemme Junior
Grinder: Vario, Virtuoso
Drip: Bonavita, Bodum press
Roaster: GeneCafe, Behmor
Posted Wed Jul 12, 2006, 8:27am
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

I second Craig's comment about the importance of the grinder. Nothing takes the place of fresh (now) ground coffee and the ability to dial in the grind to your machine and the particular roast. Having said that, the SL 70 is a good machine in its class as you can see from the Coffeegeek reviews. Before you decide though, look hard at the next level of machines such as the Bezzera or the Expobar Pulsar which are available at about the $700 (US) price point. These machines provide a whole new level of performance over any of the small single boiler machines. As you routinely make lattes or caps, you would see a big difference.
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mybs
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 479
Location: Northern CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QuickMill Anita
Grinder: Macap M4, La Cimbali Jr.
Drip: KitchenAid, Clever Coffee...
Roaster: FreshRoast+8, SC/CO
Posted Wed Jul 12, 2006, 8:30am
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

CraigA Said:

Hi James,

Welcome to the Coffeegeek forums! {:-)

Whatever machine that you do choose, the grinder is of paramount importance & comes/should come first!

Posted July 12, 2006 link

I agree.  Purchasing a good burr grinder with the new espresso machine is essential for getting good results.  The necessity of a grinder is somewhat reduced with a pressurized portafilter, but the espresso quality and flavor coming from pressurized filters are also not that great.  There are many grinders to choose from depending upon your budget.  At the $200 (USD) range, the Cunill Tranquilo has been highly recommended.  Once you get near $300, there is the Rancilio Rocky.  At around $450, there are the Mazzer Mini and Macap M4, and also the La Cimbali Jr. (at $500).  Despite your trepidation now in spending money on a grinder, I would highly recommend not skimping on it.  I noticed a greater difference in espresso flavor by upgrading my grinder than by upgrading my espresso machine.

That being said, there is still a huge advantage in purchasing a HX over any single boiler machine for milk drinks.  The time savings is significant and the microfoam produced is far superior (at least from my experience of going from a Gaggia to an Anita).  At $695, the Bezzera certainly sounds like a great deal, and it is a machine that has also been getting a lot of positive feedback from owners that visit this forum (in fact, some prefer it over the E61-type HX, which is reputed to be more forgiving).

Nonetheless, if your budget is limited, I'd recommend going with the single boiler and spending the extra money on a grinder over getting the HX at this moment.
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,272
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Jul 12, 2006, 8:32am
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

Dooglas Said:

Before you decide though, look hard at the next level of machines such as the Bezzera or the Expobar Pulsar which are available at about the $700 (US) price point. These machines provide a whole new level of performance over any of the small single boiler machines. As you routinely make lattes or caps, you would see a big difference.

Posted July 12, 2006 link

Yes, Bezzera BZ02S for $695 US @ Vaneli's or Amazon for the same price looks like an excellent choice at that price point, seeing as it listed @ $1,290.00.







.

 
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Kristi
Senior Member
Kristi
Joined: 6 Oct 2005
Posts: 2,286
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Evo w silvia wand
Grinder: Macap M4 mod to d&s-less
Roaster: (Jeff at Redbirdcoffee)
Posted Wed Jul 12, 2006, 9:25am
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

Welcome!!!

The Bezerra should be excellent, but if you're on a budget I'd suggest a Solis with an optional non-pressurized basket, and a grinder, say a Rocky doser.  Jim at 1st line, I think, still has demo Rocky/doser for $210 (Dianne would know)(CALL), and there is a used Solis on the cg buy/sell forum for $250.

Hope that helps!

 
#--> I recommend Eric Svendson's adapter and thermometer for E61s (also Silvia) : easy surfing!
# My photo albums have moved to     http://picasaweb.google.com/krislema2
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Abouna
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Dec 2001
Posts: 258
Location: Iowa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vetrano, Solis SL70
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, MACAP M4 Stepless
Drip: Press
Posted Thu Jul 13, 2006, 3:21am
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

Kristi Said:

Welcome!!!

The Bezerra should be excellent, but if you're on a budget I'd suggest a Solis with an optional non-pressurized basket, and a grinder, say a Rocky doser.  Jim at 1st line, I think, still has demo Rocky/doser for $210 (Dianne would know)(CALL), and there is a used Solis on the cg buy/sell forum for $250.

Hope that helps!

Posted July 12, 2006 link

At your price point you would be best served by Kristi's advice re: the used SL 70 and refurb Rocky,  This combination will beat the Bazerra sans a grinder any day.  Plus, though not in quite the same class as the Bazerra, the Solis is a fantastic steamer and solid Swiss made machine.  I should know, I just sold mine to Kristi who has enough experience to know what she is talking about.

 
FJ
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mrgnomer
Senior Member
mrgnomer
Joined: 16 Oct 2005
Posts: 2,286
Location: NA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano, Silvia, Olympia...
Grinder: Zass., Macap M4 stepless,...
Vac Pot: Yama, Bodum E Santos
Drip: French Press, ibrik, Moka...
Roaster: Hottop programmable, IRoast2
Posted Fri Jul 14, 2006, 5:10pm
Subject: Re: Advice on a new espresso machine
 

How's it goin', eh?

Sounds like you've got some experience with not bad espresso already.   I got into espresso not knowing if I'd even like it.

A door seems to open when you find forums like this one, do a lot of reading and apply the excellent advice and when you pull the trigger and go for a set up you'd have considered crazy cost wise just a short time ago you cross the threshold into a bigger coffee geek world.  If geekdom gets a hold of you it might not be long before you're looking to upgrade from a starter machine.  If that becomes the case, I can say from experience that going with the best grinder off the bat will not only help you get better espresso out of an entry level machiine but you'll have a good grinder to take with you if you decide to upgrade which, from what I've seen and am personally experiencing, commonly happens within the first year of really getting into espresso.

If you've got a taste for espresso already,  a very good grinder would be a worthwhile investment
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