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Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Help me buy a...  
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justpete
Senior Member


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

Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 1:54pm
Subject: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

so, I've been browsing the forums for a couple of weeks now, but unfortunately, I'm more confused than ever.  Seems like there's so many choices that it's next to impossible to narrow it down myself.  Then, I see all these names thrown around, and I look in the review list, and they're not at the top of the list - which, also confuses me.  So, here's my deal.

I am looking for an espresso machine only right now.  My budget is around $500-800.  I do not want to consider a grinder atm, I'm happy buying store-bought for now (illy, etc.).  

I do not want to use pods, but prefer to use a tamper et. al.  I was a barista for about 2 years when I was much younger, and I'm interested in a good steamer as a product feature for my espresso machine.

I live in Toronto, Canada.  Aesthetics are fairly important as well.

I will primarily be making Cappucino and Lattes, as opposed to espressos.  I currently have a Breville, but I'm not happy with it.  

I am happy with buying locally or ordering online.

I would prefer a semi-automatic machine.

To sum up:

Location: Toronto, Ontario
Budget: $500-800
Features:  better espresso, good steamer
Brandname: Unimportant
Aesthetics: fairly Important
Type: Semi-automatic

Any assistance as to which Espresso maker I should buy would be greatly appreciated.

I hope I've provided all the relevant info.  Please let me know if not.

 
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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JtothaR
Senior Member
JtothaR
Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 683
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Faema D92/A1 Smart
Grinder: B VARIO, Krups Conic
Drip: Manual Pour-Over, Bodum...
Roaster: Redbird, Metropolis
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: Another "help me buy an espresso machine" thread
 

justpete Said:

so, I've been browsing the forums for a couple of weeks now, but unfortunately, I'm more confused than ever.  Seems like there's so many choices that it's next to impossible to narrow it down myself.  Then, I see all these names thrown around, and I look in the review list, and they're not at the top of the list - which, also confuses me.  So, here's my deal.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

There are so many quality machine options out there that suit different purposes, budgets, and even aesthetic preferences, that you will never find everyone shouting out that "Machine X, is the one we've all been waiting for and it's the one and only for everyone". And i'm sure if there ever was, it wouldn't be under $1000.

You have to decide what's right for you, no one else can do that.

justpete Said:

I am looking for an espresso machine only right now.  My budget is around $500-800.  I do not want to consider a grinder atm, I'm happy buying store-bought for now (illy, etc.).  

Posted February 27, 2011 link

This is the biggest problem with what you've said so far. It doesn't seem like you've done much reading or searching here yet.  Focusing on the machine is never going to get you a decent espresso. The first two things you need to make good coffee are good beans from a local roaster and a quality grinder.

Having a $6,000 machine and no grinder is frankly useless.

For espresso, that means spending at least $250-275+ on grinder alone.

justpete Said:

I do not want to use pods, but prefer to use a tamper et. al.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

Using store bought pre-ground coffee is going to net you the same results in in the cup as using pods, but more effort and a messier kitchen. The only way to make the "great" coffee you are asking for is by grinding fresh beans yourself, at home on a good grinder.

If you really want to buy pre-ground, pre-packaged coffee, I've heard from several people that a Nespresso can provide consistent, drinkable(not amazing), but convenient coffee. And you can save a few hundred too.


justpete Said:

I was a barista for about 2 years when I was much younger, and I'm interested in a good steamer as a product feature for my espresso machine.

I live in Toronto, Canada.  Aesthetics are fairly important as well.

I will primarily be making Cappucino and Lattes, as opposed to espressos.

Posted February 27, 2011 link

The best machines for making lots of milk drinks and steaming lots of milk are going to be entry level Heat Exchanger machines. These machines start at around $1000 (Bezzera BZ07, for example) and are still useless without a high quality grinder and freshly roasted(not purchased) beans.


justpete Said:

I currently have a Breville, but I'm not happy with it.  

Posted February 27, 2011 link

Frankly, you would be able to make better coffee by spending your money on a good grinder and brewing with the breville, than by buying yet another machine and no grinder, no matter how much money you have to spend on said machine. Hint Hint.

To sum up:
If you refuse to grind the beans yourself, then save your money and buy a Nespresso with coffee capsules. Its extremely convenient and can even provide a decent, not great, cup of coffee with extreme repeatabilty and almost no effort. And the machines aren't bad looking either. They also offer an auto-frother unit that does the milk frothing for you too. My girlfriend has one of these machines and loves it, btw.

If you want a "great" espresso, then buy a good grinder and locally-roasted fresh beans, and use the Breville until you can afford to purchase a better machine at a later time.

Hope this helps,
James

 
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,287
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, 3:58pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

justpete Said:

so, I've been browsing the forums for a couple of weeks now... I am looking for an espresso machine only right now.  My budget is around $500-800.  I do not want to consider a grinder atm, I'm happy buying store-bought for now

Posted February 27, 2011 link

IMO:   That's all the info I needed to hear. My answer is, DON'T.
Buy a great grinder for now and use something like the Espro Press (a Canadian company) and save for an espresso machine. Having an espresso machine and no grinder is just an expensive way to get rid of a lot of coffee.

If you have browsed the forums sufficiently you would have read many times: "The grinder is more important than the espresso machine. The espresso machine is an accessory to the grinder."

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,278
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 Sun Feb 27, 2011, 4:57pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

The Four M's of Espresso:
1) the Macinazione is the grinder, and with it, the correct grinding of the coffee beans;
2) the Miscela is the coffee beans/blend itself;
3) the Macchina is the espresso machine; and
4) the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.  

All four are important.  Nothing is more important than the grinder.

/ / / / /

Babbie's Rule* of Fifteens:
-- Green (unroasted) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale.
-- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale.
-- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.

Your choice.

Cheers,
Jason

* OK, so there are very few hard-and-fast "rules" -- more like "rules-of-thumb."

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


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

Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 5:06pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

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

 
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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steven_meyer
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 503
Location: San Bruno, ca
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0, ECM  Giotto...
Grinder: HG-One, Mahlkonig K-30 vario
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 5:13pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

You can  lead a horse to water...................................................
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,278
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 Sun Feb 27, 2011, 5:57pm
Subject: Re: Help me buy a decent espresso machine, please!
 

....... but you can't make him produce a decent espresso?

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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BigStormGirl
Senior Member
BigStormGirl
Joined: 15 Jan 2011
Posts: 122
Location: Indiana
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario/Peugeot Bresil
Drip: CCD
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 6:16pm
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

Do you think that a different machine will make a better espresso if you are using the same grinder?  The grinder is more important.  They guys here aren't lecturing you, just telling it like it is.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,278
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 Sun Feb 27, 2011, 6:20pm
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

James, you are the one who asked for our advice . . . you are equally free to take it or ignore it, as you please.  Just realize we say what we say, offer what we offer, for a reason.

But since you define aesthetics as being "fairly Important" (sic), I'm curious:  who are we to tell you what you find aesthetically pleasing?

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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rotwang
Senior Member
rotwang
Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 150
Location: New Mexico USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Pure
Grinder: Pharos, KyM,  Sözen, PeDe
Vac Pot: nope
Drip: No..Cezve
Roaster: nope
Posted Sun Feb 27, 2011, 6:38pm
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

It's a lecture worth listening to.  It really is.  Here's a link for you- you can choose the combo deal with the Lelit PL43 grinder and still be about 75 under budget.  Looks like they include a tamper, cups, spoons, etc in the deal.  Lelit PL41EM Espresso Machine
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