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Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,869
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:07pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

justpete Said:

Wow. I'm going to buy a grinder after. Can you guys just recommend an espresso machine and save he lectures for another time?

Posted February 27, 2011 link

You should get one of those Breville expresso coffee makers - they make great expresso!

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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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 Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:08pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

If you're intending on buying a grinder (on a separate budget) later, you could go for a Le'Lit PL41 for $700-750 CAN. Its "pair" for a grinder is $300.

If you think it will be quite a while before getting a grinder, you'd probably be better off with a machine with a pressurized portafilter (ppf). These machines perform worse than non-ppf machines when you have a good grinder. But if you have no grinder, they help to make up for the lack of good grind. However they're a far cry from a decent machine and a good grinder. The Saeco Aroma has a ppf. So do some Brevilles, but I think you learned all you need to about those! The problem with that is if you get a good grinder some day, that machine will be holding you back.

Until you get a grinder, you'll unfortunately only get so-so espresso, no matter what kind of machine you get. But a ppf machine will probably be a bit better w/o the grinder.

 
Ryan D
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justpete
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:12pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

EricBNC Said:

You should get one of those Breville expresso coffee makers - they make great expresso!

Posted February 27, 2011 link

Another great post.  Thanks so much for your incredible and informative contribution.  You're a credit to this site, and at only 360 posts.  Congratulations on reaching such great heights in a seemingly short period of time.  Kudos are in order.  You probably make the world a better place too, both locally in your community and on a global stage.  How I envy you.  Sincerely.

 
One thing I've learned after being on the internet for so long - if you ignore the trolls, they'll go away.
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,869
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:16pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

justpete Said:

Another great post.  Thanks so much for your incredible and informative contribution.  You're a credit to this site, and at only 360 posts.  Congratulations on reaching such great heights in a seemingly short period of time.  Kudos to you.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

Oops! my bad - I see you already have a shiny Coup Bre' Ville on the counter...

Get a decent grinder then.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,427
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:17pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

If only your knowledge was directly proportionate to your attitude. You want a canned response but if you had learned anything about making espresso when you were a "barista" then you should know that espresso is not that simple. Why not tell us what sort of grinder you WILL be buying SOMETIME in the future or what grinder budget you WILL have so we can recommend an appropriate machine. In the meantime I recommend a Mypressi Twist.

If all you want to do is to be able to say you are making espresso at home, but anything. If you want assistance in getting the best espresso you can for the amount of money you can afford, stick around, but drop the attitude. It's not like you are paying for responses here, and we certainly do not get paid for giving them. Why not take a look at all the machines in your price range, delete the ones that do not satisfy your aesthetic sensibilities, give us the short list and we can recommend from there. Otherwise, just mail someone your money and let them go shopping for you.

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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justpete
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:19pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

ryguy Said:

If you're intending on buying a grinder (on a separate budget) later, you could go for a Le'Lit PL41 for $700-750 CAN. Its "pair" for a grinder is $300.

If you think it will be quite a while before getting a grinder, you'd probably be better off with a machine with a pressurized portafilter (ppf). These machines perform worse than non-ppf machines when you have a good grinder. But if you have no grinder, they help to make up for the lack of good grind. However they're a far cry from a decent machine and a good grinder. The Saeco Aroma has a ppf. So do some Brevilles, but I think you learned all you need to about those! The problem with that is if you get a good grinder some day, that machine will be holding you back.

Until you get a grinder, you'll unfortunately only get so-so espresso, no matter what kind of machine you get. But a ppf machine will probably be a bit better w/o the grinder.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

I was thinking about getting this combo, if I were to get a grinder - but again, the real-estate is very limited.

Click Here (www.idrinkcoffee.com)

A pretty good deal, I take it?

 
One thing I've learned after being on the internet for so long - if you ignore the trolls, they'll go away.
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chasemonster
Senior Member
chasemonster
Joined: 3 Jun 2010
Posts: 364
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Audrey
Grinder: Hario Mini Mill
Drip: V60
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:19pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

1. This
2. works
3. well
4. for
5. me.
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justpete
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:27pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

frcn Said:

If only your knowledge was directly proportionate to your attitude.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

My 'attitude' is in direct response to the ludicrous nature of some of  the previous posts in this thread.   And no, you don't get paid for your responses, but nor do I in other forums where you might one day come and ask for help on a different topic.  I would never consider responding to anyone in the manner that has been expressed here.  I thought I was bad as a food snob - but this is completely and totally absurd - thankfully there are a few in this thread who have added value instead of electing to mock and lecture without knowing all of the circumstances and refusing to inquire instead.

 
One thing I've learned after being on the internet for so long - if you ignore the trolls, they'll go away.
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daschlag
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Cuisinart programmable...
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:28pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

Deja vu...

I posted a very similar request to this forum just a few weeks back.  The advice I got was the same - don't focus too much on the machine, and make sure you get a grinder.  I too was initially annoyed, because it wasn't the advice I came here for.  But after realizing that I was a victim of product marketing, and that this was actually the best advice I had ever received on the topic of home espresso brewing, I went out and bought a $450 grinder and a workhorse espresso machine (Silvia).  Here's what I learned:

The most important difference between your Breville (I owned the 800ESXL for 5 years) and your new machine is the pressurized portafilter.  The Breville (and many other simple home espresso machines) use a portafilter which controls the water pressure, rather than using the grind and tamp of the coffee to control the pressure.  The net result is that the poor will be relatively consistent regardless of the grind and tamp (unless you're WAY overtamping or WAY under/overgrinding).  Basically, it makes the process practically fool-proof.  The downside is that there is little you can do as the barista to make subtle improvements to the poor, meaning that the machine will produce consistently mediocre espresso.

When you get your new machine (sans pressurized portafilter) you will very quickly realize that the grind and tamp are extremely important, because the new machine will be infinitely more fussy than your Breville.  You may not even be able to get a poor at all unless you get really lucky with your store-bought grind.  A home grinder will have something in the neighborhood of 40+ grind settings.  My Vario has over 400.  I've had to carefully dial-in the grind (and continue to do so) just to get a somewhat decent shot from the Silvia.  Many times it won't poor at all, and other times it blasts out a watery mess.  Imagine trying to dial this in without a grinder on your counter top - you would be relying upon the tamp alone to calibrate the shot, and most likely resulting in a watery pull.  You'd be setting yourself up for costly frustration.

I, too, was a professional barista years ago.  However you will learn a lot more about pulling espresso when you drink every single shot you poor, than when you give them to a customer who probably couldn't tell the difference between a good shot or bad shot anyway.  Looking back, I've sold a LOT of very crappy espresso.

In summary, I know exactly how you feel because I was there just a few weeks ago.  I thought I didn't care about a grinder.  I just wanted a better Breville.  But if you don't care about the grinder, stick with a pressurized portafilter, or buy an automatic such as the Nespresso, or a Jura, or something similar.  But if you want a semi-automatic and want to improve your espresso shots, do yourself a favor and take the very good advice that's been offered you here.  Many shops will give great discounts on grinder/machine packages.  1st-line.com has a Ascaso Steel Duo (with a brass boiler for shots and a thermoblock for steaming, separate pumps),  and grinder package for $899 including tax and shipping.  The Le'lit package mentioned above is a decent choice, too.  I think you'd be happier with the Duo though, considering your preference for milk drinks.  With its dedicated heating sources and pumps you can pull shots and steam at the same time.  The package from 1st-line includes some great extras, like a nice stainless tamper and various steam nozzles.  Best of luck, hang in there!
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justpete
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 9:34pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

daschlag Said:

Deja vu...

I posted a very similar request to this forum just a few weeks back.  The advice I got was the same - don't focus too much on the machine, and make sure you get a grinder.  I too was initially annoyed, because it wasn't the advice I came here for.  But after realizing that I was a victim of product marketing, and that this was actually the best advice I had ever received on the topic of home espresso brewing, I went out and bought a $450 grinder and a workhorse espresso machine (Silvia).  Here's what I learned:

The most important difference between your Breville (I owned the 800ESXL for 5 years) and your new machine is the pressurized portafilter.  The Breville (and many other simple home espresso machines) use a portafilter which controls the water pressure, rather than using the grind and tamp of the coffee to control the pressure.  The net result is that the poor will be relatively consistent regardless of the grind and tamp (unless you're WAY overtamping or WAY under/overgrinding).  Basically, it makes the process practically fool-proof.  The downside is that there is little you can do as the barista to make subtle improvements to the poor, meaning that the machine will produce consistently mediocre espresso.

When you get your new machine (sans pressurized portafilter) you will very quickly realize that the grind and tamp are extremely important, because the new machine will be infinitely more fussy than your Breville.  You may not even be able to get a poor at all unless you get really lucky with your store-bought grind.  A home grinder will have something in the neighborhood of 40+ grind settings.  My Vario has over 400.  I've had to carefully dial-in the grind (and continue to do so) just to get a somewhat decent shot from the Silvia.  Many times it won't poor at all, and other times it blasts out a watery mess.  Imagine trying to dial this in without a grinder on your counter top - you would be relying upon the tamp alone to calibrate the shot, and most likely resulting in a watery pull.  You'd be setting yourself up for costly frustration.

I, too, was a professional barista years ago.  However you will learn a lot more about pulling espresso when you drink every single shot you poor, than when you give them to a customer who probably couldn't tell the difference between a good shot or bad shot anyway.  Looking back, I've sold a LOT of very crappy espresso.

In summary, I know exactly how you feel because I was there just a few weeks ago.  I thought I didn't care about a grinder.  I just wanted a better Breville.  But if you don't care about the grinder, stick with a pressurized portafilter, or buy an automatic such as the Nespresso, or a Jura, or something similar.  But if you want a semi-automatic and want to improve your espresso shots, do yourself a favor and take the very good advice that's been offered you here.  Many shops will give great discounts on grinder/machine packages.  1st-line.com has a Ascaso Steel Duo (with a brass boiler for shots and a thermoblock for steaming, separate pumps),  and grinder package for $899 including tax and shipping.  The Le'lit package mentioned above is a decent choice, too.  I think you'd be happier with the Duo though, considering your preference for milk drinks.  With its dedicated heating sources and pumps you can pull shots and steam at the same time.  The package from 1st-line includes some great extras, like a nice stainless tamper and various steam nozzles.  Best of luck, hang in there!

Posted February 27, 2011 link

What an excellent and informative post.  Thanks so much for this.


daschlag Said:

I, too, was a professional barista years ago.  However you will learn a lot more about pulling espresso when you drink every single shot you poor, than when you give them to a customer who probably couldn't tell the difference between a good shot or bad shot anyway.  Looking back, I've sold a LOT of very crappy espresso.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

This is also a very pertinent point that many fail to consider.

 
One thing I've learned after being on the internet for so long - if you ignore the trolls, they'll go away.
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