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renverse
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Joined: 7 Feb 2008
Posts: 18
Location: VA, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: Saeco Titan
Drip: Technivorm KBTS; Bodum...
Posted Mon Oct 24, 2011, 10:13pm
Subject: Best affordable super-automatic
 

I am considering to buy a super-auto machine. I have been happy using my Saeco Aroma for years. However, it will not do all the work with a push of a button, and that's what I need to get something quickly in the morning. Also, it would be much easier for my wife who does not dare to mess with the Aroma. My brother recently bought a Saeco Vienna Plus at Costco and is reasonably happy with it. I would not mind to spend perhaps a bit more, but not too much more - say $600 - $700. Costco has Saeco Odea and Talea in that range.  Are there any better choices in that price range? I would appreciate any helpful suggestions.
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CoffeeRoastersClub
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CoffeeRoastersClub
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Posted Thu Oct 27, 2011, 8:23pm
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

renverse Said:

I am considering to buy a super-auto machine. I have been happy using my Saeco Aroma for years. However, it will not do all the work with a push of a button, and that's what I need to get something quickly in the morning. Also, it would be much easier for my wife who does not dare to mess with the Aroma. My brother recently bought a Saeco Vienna Plus at Costco and is reasonably happy with it. I would not mind to spend perhaps a bit more, but not too much more - say $600 - $700. Costco has Saeco Odea and Talea in that range.  Are there any better choices in that price range? I would appreciate any helpful suggestions.

Posted October 24, 2011 link

WHen you say it will not do all the work at the push of a button, what exactly are you looking for it to do?

Len

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

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renverse
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Feb 2008
Posts: 18
Location: VA, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: Saeco Titan
Drip: Technivorm KBTS; Bodum...
Posted Fri Oct 28, 2011, 6:30pm
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

CoffeeRoastersClub Said:

WHen you say it will not do all the work at the push of a button, what exactly are you looking for it to do?

Len

Posted October 27, 2011 link

I expect it to grind the beans, tamp, deliver a shot, dump grinds and be ready for the next shot.  With the Aroma and my separate grinder it takes considerably longer to brew two shots in succession - I don't brew two shots from one dose.  It is a pain to brew espresso in sequence for a number of people when we have guests. I realize that I will have to empty the grinds, clean the machine, descale & such, but I need the convenience of less effort and time per shot when it is needed.
The Aroma works just fine for me during lunch break, evening or weekend when I am not in a rush. Knowing that Aroma is one of the simplest and cheapest espresso machines, I expect that the actual brewing process in an affordable super-auto will yield comparable quality.  My grinder is Saeco Titan, modified to allow finer grind - I think a super auto would include a grinder of equal or better quality.


A side note: After a few years with my Aroma, having played with non-presurized porta-filter and tried espresso from more sophisticated/expensive machines, I am a bit skeptical about the merits of spending over $1000 for a semi-automatic or manual. Quality coffee, properly ground, is much more important. After learning to get reproducible temperature I get better espresso at home from quality coffee than any coffee shop in my area (sad to say).  I trust that a super-auto, operating within well reproducible conditions, will do just fine.
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Fri Oct 28, 2011, 6:55pm
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

Wow. That may be the first triple oxymoron ever posted here.
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Fred1
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Posted Sat Oct 29, 2011, 10:25am
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

Since you must get a super auto, I would recommend you buy a refurb from one of the vendors who advertise here.  Please understand this will not improve on the process of producing multiple milk drinks when you entertain.  If you use fresh beans you should be able to produce milk and flavored syrup drinks at least as good as Starbucks.  There is really no point in spending more than the minimum since, with the exception of the Quick Mill Monza, the machines are basicly poor quality.  The brew groups are plastic, grinders of poor quality with only a few settings...  You get the idea.

Good luck,

Fred
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renverse
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Feb 2008
Posts: 18
Location: VA, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: Saeco Titan
Drip: Technivorm KBTS; Bodum...
Posted Sun Oct 30, 2011, 9:01pm
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

Fred1 Said:

Since you must get a super auto, I would recommend you buy a refurb from one of the vendors who advertise here.  Please understand this will not improve on the process of producing multiple milk drinks when you entertain.  If you use fresh beans you should be able to produce milk and flavored syrup drinks at least as good as Starbucks.  There is really no point in spending more than the minimum since, with the exception of the Quick Mill Monza, the machines are basicly poor quality.  The brew groups are plastic, grinders of poor quality with only a few settings...  You get the idea.

Good luck,

Fred

Posted October 29, 2011 link

Thanks for the refurb suggestion - after reading user reviews here, on Amazon and few other places, I have been tilting towards this option.  I do think, based on the user reivews I read, that there is some correlation between price and quality (there better be one!).  I am unlikely to find a refurb Monza below $1k, but I saw a number of machines in the $1200 - $1700 available around $800 as refurbs. My planned budget creeped up a bit, but that's OK.
I have been clear on the issue of milk drinks from the start, we don't make many of those.  I have no use for flavored sirups either.
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donnydregs
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donnydregs
Joined: 6 Dec 2009
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Espresso: Elektra A3 / MCAL / E61 Two...
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Posted Mon Oct 31, 2011, 12:53am
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

renverse Said:

I expect it to grind the beans, tamp, deliver a shot, dump grinds and be ready for the next shot.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

I had one of those once. It also did the vacuuming. Then she left me for a younger man:-(
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
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Posted Mon Oct 31, 2011, 2:01am
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

renverse Said:

Quality coffee, properly ground, is much more important. After learning to get reproducible temperature I get better espresso at home from quality coffee than any coffee shop in my area (sad to say).  I trust that a super-auto, operating within well reproducible conditions, will do just fine.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Having worked with a portafilter machine and a non-pressurized PF, you'll find that using a superautomatic will probably be a change for the worse as far as quality coffee is concerned.

The integrated grinder of such a coffee maker can lead to warming of the stored coffee beans due to the heat of the boiler. Also, those grinders are often inferior. Most non-commercial superautomatics are technically not up to brewing real espresso. They have a so-called crema valve, a device similar to a pressurized prtafilter, so that they produce foamed coffee instead of crema. Being built mostly from plastic parts, their thermostability is desastrous. They are high maintenance, break down easily and have high cost of repairs.

So maybe you should think twice about what you really want.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,372
Location: Berkeley, CA
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Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
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Posted Mon Oct 31, 2011, 7:48am
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

So, you know that super-autos are generally frowned upon here, don't you?

renverse Said:

I expect it to grind the beans, tamp, deliver a shot, dump grinds and be ready for the next shot.  With the Aroma and my separate grinder it takes considerably longer to brew two shots in succession - I don't brew two shots from one dose.  It is a pain to brew espresso in sequence for a number of people when we have guests. I realize that I will have to empty the grinds, clean the machine, descale & such, but I need the convenience of less effort and time per shot when it is needed.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

As long as you favor convenience over quality, a super-auto will serve you well . . .

renverse Said:

Knowing that Aroma is one of the simplest and cheapest espresso machines, I expect that the actual brewing process in an affordable super-auto will yield comparable quality.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Well, as long as your sights are kept low . . .

renverse Said:

My grinder is Saeco Titan, modified to allow finer grind - I think a super auto would include a grinder of equal or better quality.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

The grinders in HOME-designed super-autos tend to be one of the weakest parts of the machine, so that isn't necessarily an assumption I would make.

renverse Said:

A side note: After a few years with my Aroma, having played with non-presurized porta-filter and tried espresso from more sophisticated/expensive machines, I am a bit skeptical about the merits of spending over $1000 for a semi-automatic or manual.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Well, let's just say that few of us here are that skeptical, but -- admittedly -- you are not completely alone in that point of view.

renverse Said:

Quality coffee, properly ground, is much more important.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Each of the four "M's" is important, with the grinder perhaps being "the most important among equals" (shades of "Animal Farm," I know).

renverse Said:

After learning to get reproducible temperature I get better espresso at home from quality coffee than any coffee shop in my area (sad to say).

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Sad, true, but hardly surprising.

renverse Said:

I trust that a super-auto, operating within well reproducible conditions, will do just fine.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

You have far more trust than many of us here.

Cheers,
Jason

P.S.  In anticipation of breakdowns, I, too, would look at refurbished (as in "don't spend a lot of money") machines with a good warranty (as in "free repairs," though you'll probably have to pay for shipping).

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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takeshi
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takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
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Posted Mon Oct 31, 2011, 7:58am
Subject: Re: Best affordable super-automatic
 

renverse Said:

Knowing that Aroma is one of the simplest and cheapest espresso machines, I expect that the actual brewing process in an affordable super-auto will yield comparable quality.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Not likely though it is certainly possible that you may find the product of a superauto to be acceptable.  Few around here do so this probably isn't the best place to ask for advice on a superauto (see all prior superauto threads).

renverse Said:

My brother recently bought a Saeco Vienna Plus at Costco and is reasonably happy with it.

Posted October 24, 2011 link

That's great but what do you think about what it produces?  I know people that are reasonably happy with their steam toys but that doesn't mean that I'll find what they produce to be acceptable.  How in line are your espresso tastes with your brother's?  I love my brother dearly but I wouldn't trust his taste in espresso.  He's just not as discerning as it's not a priority to him.

It has been a while since I checked but Costco used to have generous return policies.  You may want to consider buying from a vendor that is more accommodating on returns just in case.  No matter how much you read it's ultimately first hand experience that will really give you your definitive answer.

renverse Said:

After a few years with my Aroma, having played with non-presurized porta-filter and tried espresso from more sophisticated/expensive machines, I am a bit skeptical about the merits of spending over $1000 for a semi-automatic or manual. Quality coffee, properly ground, is much more important.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

Which "more sophisticated/expensive" machines have you tried and under what conditions?  In other words, any machine ("high end" or not) paired with a poor grinder and stale beans will not produce decent results.

You mention that grind is more important but have you researched grind adjustability (not only how well you can adjust but how easily) on the superautos you're considering?  How are you determining the grinder quality in the superautos that you're looking at?  You seem to just be assuming that superautos have good grinders in them based on your "I expect" and "I think" statements.

renverse Said:

I do think, based on the user reivews I read, that there is some correlation between price and quality (there better be one!).

Posted October 30, 2011 link

I wouldn't fixate so much on price meaning anything other than what you're paying for the machine.  Low price does not automatically equal high quality when it comes to what you end up with in the cup.  High price does not automatically mean high quality in the cup either.

renverse Said:

After learning to get reproducible temperature I get better espresso at home from quality coffee than any coffee shop in my area (sad to say).  I trust that a super-auto, operating within well reproducible conditions, will do just fine.

Posted October 28, 2011 link

It really depends on your preferences and priorities. If, as stated above, you place convenience above all else then a superauto may be a good fit.

"Better than any coffee shop in my area" is typically a very low bar to set.  It's very easy to exceed what most coffee shops produce even with entry level equipment.  If you're looking for a god shot in the cup it's difficult to achieve with most superautos.  Again, you have to determine where your priorities lie and where you're willing to compromise.  Coffee geeks typically aren't willing to compromise so much or else they wouldn't be coffee geeks.
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