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espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
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grevay
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Joined: 28 Jan 2012
Posts: 5
Location: falmouth
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 11:10am
Subject: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

My husband and I are looking for a machine that does it all and for cheap (500 or less).  Any recommendations?
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,391
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 Sat Jan 28, 2012, 11:37am
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

Not really, Susan.  The problem is that no combination machine is very good -- or, at least, not by the "standards" we at Coffee Geek tend to look for.  

But let's clarify (for the sake of discussion), are you looking for a super automatic "that does it all," or are you looking for an espresso machine with a built-in grinder?  They are actually two different things.

So, let's start at the beginning, OK?

ONE way to classify espresso machines is by their method/mechanism/capabilities for producing the shot.  

-- Manual machines do not have a pump.  They rely on the operator to force the water through the puck by use of a lever.  With some machines, the lever is controlled manually by the operator -- like with the La Pavoni Europicola, or the Olympia Cremina.  The operator lifts the lever up and pulls it down, pushing the water through the puck.  With other machines, the lever may be spring-operated, like with the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva, the Bezzera B2006AL, or the Rancilio Class 6 LE models, in which the lever is controlled by a spring -- the operator pulls the lever down, and then a spring draws the lever back to the "up" position, moving the piston and forcing the water through the puck.

-- Semi-automatic machines have a pump to force the water through the puck, but the operator turns the pump on-and-off.  Examples would include the machines like Gaggia Classic, the Faema Legend (the original E61 machine, or the Izzo Alex Duetto II -- which are, respectively, an SDBU, an HX, and a DB machine -- all in semi-automatic formats.

-- Full-automatic machines, also known as volumetric dosing machines, have a pump to force the water through the puck, like a semi-auto, but after a certain volume of water is dispensed (programed by the operator), the pump will shut itself off automatically.  HOWEVER, the pump can also be shut off manually, just as with a semi-automatic.  Examples would include the Bezzera BZ07sde, the Elektra Sixties T1, and the La Marzocco Linea AV models.  Each of these , by the way, is also produced as a semi-automatic -- the Bezzera BZ07spm, the Elektra Sixties A3 (now discontinued, although plenty of other semi-autos are still made by Elektra), and the La Marzocco Linea EE models.

-- Super-automatic machines do everything for the user, who merely has to push a button, wait, and drink.  These machines will grind the beans, tamp the puck, push the water through the grounds, froth the milk . . . everything.  Examples include everything from a Gaggia Titanium, the Jura-Capresso Impressa S9, and the Faema X3 Prestige.

THEN you can classify machines by their boiler type (and please note, I am ignoring thermoblock units):

-- Open boiler machines are relatively rare, and date back many decades.  These can heat the water for espresso, but cannot build up any pressure to steam milk.  To the best of my knowledge, this are all manual lever machines, and include machines like the Arrarex Caravel and the FE-AR La Peppina.

-- Single Boiler Dual Use (SBDU) machines are the most popular machines for home use.  These have one boiler and two thermostats; the boiler will either heat the water within to brewing temperature or to steaming temperature.  The operator must wait for the boiler to move up/move down before continuing, i.e.: the machine can only brew or it can steam milk -- one or the other -- at a time.  The best known example, at least here in the States, would be the Rancilio Silvia

-- Heat Exchanger (HX) machines also have one boiler, but it is permanently set to steaming temperature.  Cool water, either from a built-in reservoir ("tank") or from a water line ("plumbed-in" or "direct connect"), is then flash heated to brew temp via the use of a heat exchanger.  Examples would include machines like the Izzo Alex II, Quick Mill Anita, or the Vibiemme Domobar Super.

-- Double Boiler (DB) machines have two boilers, one for heating the brewing water, the other for making steam.  Examples would include the Izzo Alex Duetto II, the La Spaziale Vivaldi II, or the Vibiemme Double Domobar v.3.

ALSO, machines can be classified by their components, if you will, and their target market.

-- Consumer machines are just that, designed for home use by the consumer.

-- Professional (or commercial) machines are designed for high-volume use in busy cafés, restaurants, etc.  They use more robust parts than consumer models, able to withstand their heavy, constant usage.

-- "Prosumer" machines fill in the gap; they are actually low-volume commercial machines that can also by used in a home environment.

So you can have a commercial lever machine, or a consumer lever machine; a full-automatic HX prosumer model, as well as a full-auto HX commercial model, and so on and so on and so on . . . .

Now, a super-automatic (as described above) is different than a semi-automatic espresso machine with a built-in grinder like this.

IF you are looking for a semi-auto with a built-in grinder, I would strongly advise against it.  

OTOH, if you are looking for a super-automatic, while I would still advise against it, it is a trade-off of quality in favor of convenience that some people are indeed willing to make.  If it's a compromise you and your husband are willing to make, my advise would be to buy one with a very liberal trade-in/replacement policy.  It will break down, and you will want to be able to return it.

Cheers,
Jason

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


Joined: 28 Jan 2012
Posts: 5
Location: falmouth
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:10pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

I am so appreciative of your reply, however am now totally unable to make a decision that would suit our needs.  I looked at the link to the Espressione Cafe Roma Deluxe and liked the review.  Are you saying that you wouldn't recommend it as it has a built in grinder?
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,391
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 Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:19pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

Personally?  I would never recommend a semi-automatic with a built-in grinder.

OTOH, I'd never recommend a super-automatic, either, but I have come to realize that some people will willingly trade a loss of quality in the cup for convenience.  It's not a trade-off I would willingly make, but that's me; YMMV.  A semi- or full-automatic will (virtually) always provide you with better quality espresso -- all else being equal -- than will a super-automatic, and for me, I'd rather have quality.  Besides, I don't find using a semi- or full-automatic inconvenient in the least, so . . .

But back to a semi- with built-in grinder:  why do you want one?  Is it a question of counter space?  The problem with these sorts of machines is that they compromise on the quality of the grinder in order to a) fit it into the machine, and b) to fit into the price point/budget the manufacturer wants.  It's often -- if not the "worst," then certainly the "least best" -- of all possible worlds.  You would be much better served, for example, with a higher quality grinder and a separate, entry-level semi-auto (IMHO) than with a semi-auto combination machine-and-grinder-in-one.

Cheers,
Jason

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


Joined: 28 Jan 2012
Posts: 5
Location: falmouth
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:26pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

Thank you Jason.  My husband and I are going to go over your expert opinions and reviews.  
If you were asked to recommend a good grinder and separate entry level semi-auto, what would you recommend?
Susan
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:45pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

Depends alot on budget.  You have a range in mind?  More is better, but need at least Baratza precisio for grinder.  

Then depends alot on what you are looking for in terms of number drinks/day, type drinks (milk based or not), are you ok waiting for brew temp and steam temp to switch (or do you want to be able to do both at same time).

Read click here, then reply and you'll get more useful comments.
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jwsnyder919
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jun 2011
Posts: 90
Location: All over
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Andreja Premium
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:50pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

(My search for a machine started at a similar price point and I found I could not get what I want (But I'll also admit I'm looking for high-end and something I'd only have to upgrade FAR into the future).

However, what you'll learn scouring these forums (and almost every other) is that the grinder is more important than the machine, especially at your price point.  Most machines with built in grinders have sub par grinding ability.

So, if you're willing to expand your budget a bit, a combo many people might echo is the Baratza Virtuoso Preciso grinder and the Gaggia Classic machine.  The Preciso can be had on roaste.com for $250.  Here's how: go to restaurant.com and find the roaste coupons (Click Here (www.restaurant.com)).  There's one for $50 on roaste.com if you pay 25.  Then, you can use a restaurant.com coupon code during this purchase (I think the current one is "NEW") and you pay $7.50 instead of 25.  So, in total, you pay 257.49 for the grinder.  Most people seem to agree that this is a fantastic entry level grinder to make good espresso (at least in what I've read, I have not used the grinder and have a Vario, the step up from the preciso, on its way to me).  

Gaggia classics can be had for around $320 new (less if used - check this site's Buy/Sell/Trade forum).  Last I checked roaste had them for around 370 and you could do the same $50 restaurant.com dance that I just described (your husband might have to do it if it's only allowable once - not sure as to the coupon terms from restaurant.com or for the code to get the $25 to $7.50).

While this is over your budget, many might say it's a worthy budget expansion.  

Other machines that have their fans in the starter range include the gaggia new baby and gaggia color (this was Coffee Geek's entry level machine on their holiday buying guide which you can view on the home page).  I haven't used either, but they certainly have their fans.  I think Whole Latte Love has the new baby on sale for 300 and the color for 200.

Some food for thought.  I'm just reporting to you what I've read, as I have no experience with any of the machines listed.  I have done the roaste/restaurant.com dance, though, and it works like a champ.

Whole Latte Love and Seattle Coffee Gear might be vendors to check out, depending on which coast is nearer.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,391
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 Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:55pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

grevay Said:

Thank you Jason.  My husband and I are going to go over your expert opinions and reviews.  
If you were asked to recommend a good grinder and separate entry level semi-auto, what would you recommend?
Susan

Posted January 28, 2012 link

I would never claim to be an expert, but rather a true amateur with a lot of experience making espresso at home.

OK, let's take it from the top . . .

Standard Questions:
1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,404
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 Sat Jan 28, 2012, 1:03pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

Let's take a step back. You are not the first to pose this very same question. My first questions to you would be (and has been to the other such inquirers):
"What is your priority?" [speed, taste, method of prep, space allotment, etc.?]
"What is your budget?"
"Does it HAVE to be espresso?"

From the answers to those we can be of more assistance.

 
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jwsnyder919
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jun 2011
Posts: 90
Location: All over
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Andreja Premium
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sat Jan 28, 2012, 1:18pm
Subject: Re: espresso coffee grinder combination recommendations
 

frcn Said:

Let's take a step back. You are not the first to pose this very same question. My first questions to you would be (and has been to the other such inquirers):
"What is your priority?" [speed, taste, method of prep, space allotment, etc.?]
"What is your budget?"
"Does it HAVE to be espresso?"

From the answers to those we can be of more assistance.

Posted January 28, 2012 link

Quoted for truth.  For the longest time, my answer to the last of these questions was no (hence why I have an eva solo, aeropress, press pot, drip, and pour over).  If the original poster finds their needs don't HAVE to be espresso, you can certainly get a few bang-up brew methods for delicious coffee and can avoid spending as much on a grinder.

good job grounding us back in the basics, which are often glossed over.
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