biochemgawd Senior Member Joined: 26 Mar 2006 Posts: 91 Location: Canada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: BDB Grinder: Vario
Posted Tue Aug 7, 2012, 1:34pm Subject: Re: Trying to find a place to buy Gaggia classic cappuccino maker in Calgary
I don't know of any stores in Alberta that sell Gaggia. I have been to IDrinkCoffee's brick and mortar store in Milton, ON several times, and would recommend buying online from them (http://www.idrinkcoffee.com/). I would also recommend stopping by there if you are ever in the area - they have some great machines on display including a Speedster!
Hithere Senior Member Joined: 5 Aug 2012 Posts: 3 Location: Calgary AB Expertise: Just starting
Posted Thu Aug 9, 2012, 2:06pm Subject: Re: Trying to find a place to buy Gaggia classic cappuccino maker in Calgary
Also, to continue to answer why I didn't want to buy a Rancillo, I've heard it's a little tempermental and I didn't want to have issues with it. I need a sturdy, reliable machine that won't cost me an arm and a leg, makes a great cappuccino and let's me use a reasonable grind. By the way, do I have to use fresh beans? This is how new I am to the whole thing. Can't I just buy a bag of already ground expresso beans?
Well, you can either purchase a used one like I did by trawling Calgary Kijiji (ie. calgary.kijiji.ca) or you can buy new outright. It all depends on the supportability and warranty you want on the machine. I lucked out and found a Silvia which was six months old and lightly used. Since they have a one year warranty, I figured that if anything was going to go wrong with it, it would be in the six months I'll own it! :-)
They pop up from time to time as people use it as a stepping stone towards an HX or a dual boiler machine. The Silvia is a great starter machine. If you look at the reviews on this website, The Rancilio Silvia has the most reviews of any espresso machine on this site, going back over 10 years. I kind of figured that this is a good indicator that this machine is worth buying.
I recommend that you spend some time reading the reviews on this website. This might give you some insight as to what to expect for the kind of money you are willing to spend. As well, if you go to the retailers and see for yourself the quality behind machines in your price range, you'll notice a lot of different things right away from what you'll find at the boutique cappuccino equipment places.
Things to look for:
Does the steam wand articulate or does it just swing back and forth?
What is the diameter of the steam wand? Is it made from plastic or metal? Does it feel like it'll break off with heavy use?
What do the switches feel like? Do they feel cheap?
Plastic plastic plastic.... ugh.
Is the portafilter pressurized? Real espresso is made with a non-pressurized portafilter.
Read the reviews.
How heavy is it? If its light, it's probably a thermoblock machine.
I've heard of the Rancillo but they seem to be twice as much.
Well, I will admit that the Silvia isn't the best value of the dollar, feature wise. Quality wise is a whole other story. You won't find anything else on the market which has so many commercial grade components for that low of a price.
Just as an example, go to a Future Shop or a Bed, Bath and Beyond and remove and replace the portafilters from the espresso machines. You'll notice they're quite light. Now, go to Mr. Capuccino, Capuccino King or Orangeworks and remove/replace the portafilter to a Rancilio Silvia. The difference is astounding. It's the only "Consumer" machine I know of which uses the exact same portafilter that their commercial machines use. (At least, to the best of my knowledge!)
I've heard it's a little tempermental and I didn't want to have issues with it.
Probably my two biggest complaints about my Silvia so far is that I have to temperature surf and I have to wait for it to heat up to go into steaming mode. Other than that, it's been an absolutely rock solid machine. I've been making two drinks a day for the last two months and it hasn't conked out on me yet. Since I only make drinks for myself and I have light company over, it's not a big deal.. It's also quite wife-friendly because it doesn't take up too much counter space.
The problem is that all "Consumer" grade machines have their little quirks. For me, temperature surfing is a quirk I can live with for now until I get upgradeitis and consider upgrading to an HX or Dual Boiler machine.
I need a sturdy, reliable machine that won't cost me an arm and a leg,
Well, my biggest shock when I first got into the world of espresso is that if I want something reliable and sturdy, the last thing to do is approach it like I'm buying a toaster oven or a microwave. I learned quickly that if I want quality, I have to pay for it and that buying a machine should be treated more like buying a stove or a fridge instead. There are LOTS of different types of machines out there, but true espresso starts with a Single Boiler / Dual Use machine. Thermoblock machines just make mokka pot style coffee, which is fine, but having come from a Bialetti Mokka Express, it's like night and day. (A Mokka Express delivers coffee pretty much the same way a thermoblock machine would, through steam pressure rather than through pump pressure.)
makes a great cappuccino and let's me use a reasonable grind.
You'll find time and time again on these forums that people will tell you that you can't make decent coffee drinks with pre-ground coffee. Before I came onto these forums, I used to make the mistake of buying my espresso beans from the supermarket, then using the supermarket coffee grinder to grind espresso, taking it home in a bag and then using it in my Mokka pot. I never realized that as soon as the beans are ground, they'll go stale within 15 minutes.
I always wondered why the coffee coming out of my Mokka pot started tasting downright horrible by the time I'd get down to the bottom of the bag.
When making drip coffee, you can generally get away with bloody murder, but espresso is much more fussy. You should always budget for a grinder too. The start of a decent espresso or espresso based drink is the grinder. Blade-type grinders are fine for drip coffee, but burr-type grinders are much better for espresso.
I have a Rancilio Rocky grinder, it shares a few of the components which Rancilio uses for their more commercial grinders and it can grind coffee so fine that I can make Greek Coffee in a brikka with it. I think it's a great starter grinder. The problem with a lot of the cheaper grinders on the market, even the burr kind, is that they don't grind fine enough for espresso, so all one ends up making are fast, weak shots.
From the time the beans are roasted, they're good for 15 days. I personally found that I can get away with up to 21 days after roasting, but it starts getting harder to dial in the grinder for a good shot after about 15 days and the coffee starts getting weak as well. If you use stale beans, you'll always end up with a really fast shot akin to just strong coffee and the flavors dramatically change. Not to mention, old coffee doesn't produce any crema and that's the best part!
I'll be honest with you... If you want to buy something new, you should budget for at least $800.. That's for both the machine and the grinder. That is, if you want something well built, well engineered and something which makes true espresso. That would get you started with a LeLit machine and grinder and that's assuming that you bought them from idrinkcoffee. That's what I was thinking about starting out with originally before I found a good deal on a Silvia.
Unfortunately, Buying from the Calgary market is considerably more expensive. However, what you get for that extra money is service... I looked at buying a Rancilio Silvia/Rocky package from Cappucino King, they quoted me $1200. It kind of scared me at first. So, I relegated myself to buying used.
Now, if all of this scares the heck out of you, relegate yourself to buying a Tassimo instead. Some friends of mine have one. It's extremely easy to use, no grinder required and it's idiot proof. It makes passable espresso, but to me, the capuccinos it makes taste like !@#$%^... Nespresso machines are better if you are much more fussy about making a cappuccino, but you have to use a wire whisk milk frother, which is slow and time consuming.
The biggest complaint about these machines is the very high cost per cup. Some people are saying that to make a capuccino in a Tassimo costs nearly as much as what you'd pay in a coffee shop. On the upside there isn't any grinding, dosing, tamping, etc.
To put that into perspective from a cost point of view, I just recently picked up a 1 kg bag of espresso blend for $35. That will make me enough coffee for roughly 60 drinks, or roughly about 58 cents for a double shot. In comparison, the McDonalds behind my house charges $2 for a double espresso. Considering that I make 2 drinks a day, I figure it will take me roughly about a year to pay off my machine. :-)
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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