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Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Machine to do...  
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CupCak3
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jan 2010
Posts: 47
Location: OH
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Isomac Relax
Grinder: Vario
Posted Thu Jan 21, 2010, 9:49pm
Subject: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

I'm looking to upgrade my POS Mr Coffee "espresso" machine  (I'm almost embarrassed to admit here I have one).  After doing a lot of reading, I almost had myself convinced to get a decent, used HX unit to skip all the upgrade steps and save myself some money.  I started to think more about how I use my machine which is really only do to a double or 3 shots in the morning and froth milk for a drink. I'm mainly concerned with a machine that can do those two things well, in a short amount of time.  I don't want long heatup times and nor does the manchine need to be able to make lattes for a briggade.  I know I'm not going to pull great shots for a while but I really don't mind taking the time to learn to do so.  Having many replacement parts readily available is a great plus.

I'm now thinking on waiting for a decent used Coffee Gaggia to pop up.  There are lots of upgrades out there to help with consistency and plenty of spare parts when things break.

What do you think of my choice?  Would any others fit my needs better?    I'm willing to spend the money for a more expensive unit if needed (say up to $500 new or used) and am not against learning how to really make a good shot myself (developing skill) as opposed to pushing a button or two and calling it good.

Thanks!
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ryguy
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Aug 2009
Posts: 288
Location: Indiana
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ02S
Grinder: Pharos, B. Vario
Posted Thu Jan 21, 2010, 10:25pm
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

HX machines take the cake when it comes to frothing and brewing quickly/simultaneously. For most all single boiler machines, you will have some wait time before it heats up for steaming (or for it to cool down after steaming for brewing your shots). The Gaggia machines all have small boilers and powerful heating elements, which heat up quickly.

Some SB machines have some sort of "rapid steam" technology, where brew temperature water is pumped through a thermoblock, which quickly heats it to steam, meaning effectively no wait time...theoretically. But I think the quality of the steam isn't always very good. My Dad's superauto has a thermoblock steamer, and the steaming power can be a little erratic at times.

No matter what kind of machine you get, you won't make good coffee without a good grinder. The grinder contributes to the quality of the coffee much more than the machine - the machine just delivers properly heated water at the right pressure to the coffee; the grinder shapes the grinds and determines how the water interacts with the coffee, which is where the magic happens. If you are on a tight budget, the best bang for your buck in a grinder may be in a hand grinder from Orphan Espresso.

And the machines with slow warm-up times are often a non-issue as you can get a timer from your hardware store to have the machine come on an hour before you wake up and turn off after you go to bed. You see them used for outside lighting a lot. Problem solved, unless you get midnight cravings for cappas ;)

Check out the buying guide if you haven't already, and welcome to CoffeeGeek!

 
Ryan D
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CupCak3
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jan 2010
Posts: 47
Location: OH
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Isomac Relax
Grinder: Vario
Posted Thu Jan 21, 2010, 10:41pm
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

Thanks for the quick reply and the tips Ryan.  As far as the time, I'd rather save 10 min or so on the warmup than take an extra 30 or so seconds b/t extraction and steaming.  Though to be honest, doing them both at once would be very nice!

I should have mentioned my choice of grinder in my first post as it it always seems to be brought up (though rightly so to newbies like me :) )  I'm b/t the Le'Lit PL53 and the Vario right now.  I'll be sticking w/ grinds from the local coffee shop until I can buy a nice one of my own.  While I'd like fresh grounds right now, I'd rather do proper research and save the $$$ for a unit which should last me 10-20 years.

I just read through the PL041 thread; not sure how I've been skipping over that one the past couple week while lurking around... that unit just went on the list.
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,864
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Thu Jan 21, 2010, 10:59pm
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

Ryan (rhuy), EXCELLENT response to the OP.
Around here, the mantra is GRINDER FIRST!

there are, of course more expense ways to go for a good espresso grinder. LOL
Electric being the point, of course. I LOVE my 2 manual grinders. (purchased from OE) They can hold their own with electric grinders costing 4-5 times as much.
There are many fine grinders in the $275-$450 price range, new. Some can be purchased used, and in fine shape for less, as folks "upgrade' constantly.
Some folks hold on to their $300 grinders for 5 years or more.
The Vario or Lelit would be excellent choices. I own a Vario, but Lelit owners seem quite pleased as well.

ON TO THE MACHINES!

Most espresso machines are ready to go in 30 minutes, and often can be "coaxed' to get there faster.
A Gaggia would be a fine choice, especially if you could get a refurb. A feature you'd want is the 3 way relief valve, so you could remove your PF after you pull the shot, with no coffee spraying all over. Some Gaggia's have this, though it adds to the cost a bit.
As Ryan mentioned, bang for the buck, HX machines are the ticket.
Then  there are the manual lever types, like me!

I do URGE YOU, do not purchase a machine without a proper grinder to accompany it.
Even 30 minutes after grinding, 1/2 the essence of the coffee will be gone.
2 days later, you'll be wondering where the crema and flavor went.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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CupCak3
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jan 2010
Posts: 47
Location: OH
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Isomac Relax
Grinder: Vario
Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010, 8:45am
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

So with  HX unit if I'm able to cut some time by frothing and making shots at the same time, are there any decent HX units that can get to proper temperature in 10 min or so w/o having to spend that time at the unit pulling h2o?  I have not found a HX unit yet which can do this :(
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jammin
Senior Member
jammin
Joined: 25 Nov 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Boise
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario
Drip: manual
Roaster: quest m3
Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010, 8:57am
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

CupCak3 Said:

So with  HX unit if I'm able to cut some time by frothing and making shots at the same time, are there any decent HX units that can get to proper temperature in 10 min or so w/o having to spend that time at the unit pulling h2o?  I have not found a HX unit yet which can do this :(

Posted January 22, 2010 link

I have mine on a timer much like many others.  It is warmed up and ready to go in the am.  I can make a latte so fast that even if I am running late, I still have time to knock out a double latte of great quality.

but yes, most HX machines will be up to brewing temps in about 10-15 minutes.


my quick 2cents - if you are interested in making quick latte's, an HX machine is the answer.  A single boiler simply WILL NOT accomplish the task you are setting out to accomplish.  In the end, you will be happy with an HX.  Check the BST forum for a couple killer deals available right now.  Members here treat their machines with the upmost care and you are sure to get well cared for setup.


Cheers,
Jackson.

 
roast your own
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010, 9:42am
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

jammin Said:

but yes, most HX machines will be up to brewing temps in about 10-15 minutes.

Posted January 22, 2010 link

Disagree.  It takes 10-15minutes just for the boiler to come up to temperature, then I'd wait a minimum of another 15minutes to get the group and PF to temp; certainly with an E61 group this is the case which is on most home HX machines.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,383
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010, 11:14am
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

Drew, welcome to CG!

CupCak3 Said:

I'm now thinking on waiting for a decent used Coffee Gaggia to pop up.

Posted January 21, 2010 link

I used a Gaggia Coffee for 25+ years.  It is a discontinued model.  Are you sure you don't mean a Gaggia Classic?

Let me reiterate what's already been said for a moment:  grinder first!

OK, now, about warm-up times . . . Joel is quite right:

Joel_B Said:

It takes 10-15minutes just for the boiler to come up to temperature, then I'd wait a minimum of another 15minutes to get the group and PF to temp; certainly with an E61 group this is the case which is on most home HX machines.

Posted January 22, 2010 link

There is a significant difference between having a boiler at temperature and having the entire HX machine thermally stable.  This is very important with an HX machine, and I have mine on a timer to switch on one hour before I wake up, and again one hour before I typically get home from work, for that very reason.

A half-hour is the minimum an HX model needs to be thermally stable, 45-60 minutes is ideal.  How long it actually takes depends upon the size of the boiler but also on the mass of the grouphead, etc., etc.

In contrast, an SBDU machine (like both the Gaggia Coffee mentioned in your original post and the Gaggia Classic) can be warmed up and ready to go in as little as 15 minutes, sometimes less.  Exactly how long it takes depends upon the size of the boiler (Gaggia uses a small boiler, so it's faster).  BUT, with an SBDU machine you:
  • turn it on in "brew" mode and wait for the boiler to come up to brew temperature;
  • build your shot, "lock 'n load" your portafilter, pull your shot;
  • switch the boiler into "steam" mode and wait for the boiler to come up to steam temperature as your espresso cools;
  • once ready, froth your milk . . .

With an HX machine, you can pull your shots and steam you milk at the same time -- no waiting.

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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CupCak3
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jan 2010
Posts: 47
Location: OH
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Isomac Relax
Grinder: Vario
Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010, 2:42pm
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Drew, welcome to CG!


I used a Gaggia Coffee for 25+ years.  It is a discontinued model.  Are you sure you don't mean a Gaggia Classic?

Posted January 22, 2010 link

Thanks for the welcome :)

Yes, I did mean Coffee but the Classic is also on my list.  Seems like there is a decent about of used Coffees available which is why I mentioned it (along with people saying Gaggia uses lots of the same parts across models)

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Let me reiterate what's already been said for a moment:  grinder first!

Posted January 22, 2010 link

Well the grinder was a pretty easy choice which is why I haven't focused on it; I'm just waiting for find a good price for one of the models I want... I'm trying to minimize sticker shock for the boss ;)


JasonBrandtLewis Said:

In contrast, an SBDU machine (like both the Gaggia Coffee mentioned in your original post and the Gaggia Classic) can be warmed up and ready to go in as little as 15 minutes, sometimes less.  Exactly how long it takes depends upon the size of the boiler (Gaggia uses a small boiler, so it's faster).  BUT, with an SBDU machine you:
turn it on in "brew" mode and wait for the boiler to come up to brew temperature;
build your shot, "lock 'n load" your portafilter, pull your shot;
switch the boiler into "steam" mode and wait for the boiler to come up to steam temperature as your espresso cools;
once ready, froth your milk . . .

With an HX machine, you can pull your shots and steam you milk at the same time -- no waiting.

Posted January 22, 2010 link

For a SBDU machine, is there a gen rule of thumb for how long to build the steam?  If not, how long was your coffee?  With the water already being ~200F from making a shot, I'd expect it to boil pretty quickly.  

With everyone's feedback, looks like I may have to give the HX units more thought... and here I thought I was going to be able to save some dough :(  Even with a 15 min warmup time, I'd prob want to buy a timer for a SBDU machine.
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geoffbeier
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jul 2008
Posts: 339
Location: Arlington, VA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II, Gaggia...
Grinder: Macap M4 Stepless, Faema MPN
Posted Fri Jan 22, 2010, 3:04pm
Subject: Re: Machine to do Quick Double and Froth
 

FWIW, for my classic I have to cheat a little to have the metal in the group and PF up to a stable temperature within 15m. If I watch it like a hawk for the boiler to come up to temperature, flush, and repeat, I can get it going in a less than that, though. Just pulling a shot once the boiler comes up to temperature results in a sour tasting shot for me.

My preferred workflow is to turn it on as soon as I get out of bed, run a little water to make sure the boiler's full, go about my other morning activities for 20-25 minutes, then start making espresso.

I've also got the PID controlling the steam. After running the shot, it generally takes a 45-75 seconds to build up steam. I'm not sure if the PID helps speed that up; my sense is that it might.
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