Panisse Senior Member Joined: 23 Apr 2012 Posts: 3 Location: France Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Apr 23, 2012, 10:11am Subject: Re: Advice re: automatic coffee/espresso maker - Am I looking for a Unicorn?
I have not tried to make espresso with another machine; but I have used every other system at home (Bialetti to the VietNamese drip-into-your-cup system), tasted what my friends and relatives have made with fancy machines using beans or capsules (what a waste of resources), and drunk thousands of cups in the US, Europe and Asia. I am by no means an expert barista, but I have observed the pros in action (the best, hands down, was Augusto in Viterbo, Italy) and I know what a good espresso tastes like!
Posted Mon Apr 23, 2012, 10:45am Subject: Re: Advice re: automatic coffee/espresso maker - Am I looking for a Unicorn?
A common comment in regards to super auto machines is, "...and it makes the best espresso we have ever had," or maybe the variation, "...best we have ever made at home." Good, better, best. All relative terms. Bottom line is that YOU, the purchaser, have to decide if the given super auto machine you like/can afford/have access to will suit your needs. Dependability, adjustability, ease of maintenance, functional options, and even visual appearance and more all enter into it, but the bottom line is whether you like the coffee it makes. There is really only one way to find that out, and the answer cannot be supplied by anyone but you.
One factor to consider in terms of quality and dependability of the machine itself (all prices just guesses and off the cuff): BOTTOM END MACHINES: steam powered and low-quality pump machines $100-250 + GRINDER $50-125 ENTRY LEVEL: Single Boiler Dual Use (SBDU) $250-750 + GRINDER $250 and up Upper-end SBDU: $750-900 + GRINDER $350 and up HEAT EXCHANGER: $1000 and up + GRINDER $500 and up ENTRY LEVEL DUAL BOILER: $1200 + GRINDER $1000 and up POINTY END MACHINES: $1500-3000 + GRINDER $1200 and WAY up
While many home machines are easy to repair if something goes wrong, the super auto machines are generally not. If they do have to be serviced, many have to be shipped to a service center which incurs additional costs and time without a machine. So consider where the nearest authorized service center is as well as the length of the warranty. Two breakdowns during the warranty can cost well over $100 in shipping costs alone for service. And hopefully the machine is not further damaged in shipping.
Again, those are VERY general price points, guessed at for comparison only. Now compare the cost of a super auto to those prices, and consider the complexity of getting all that to work automatically. it becomes financially apparent that some corners have to be cut.
But the only thing that matter is: you drink the coffee, you decide if that is a taste you can be happy with over the life of the machine, then you spend the money accordingly.
dsas Senior Member Joined: 22 Apr 2012 Posts: 4 Location: Charleston, SC Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Apr 26, 2012, 4:26am Subject: Re: Advice re: automatic coffee/espresso maker - Am I looking for a Unicorn?
Thank you for the helpful replies. After a few days of reflecting on the posts and further research, here are my conclusions:
For someone who (at least for now) values time > espresso perfection, a super auto is worth a try, knowing there is a not-insignificant risk of mechanical failure. Anticipatory guidance and realistic expectations are the key to avoiding frustration and disappointment!
Based on the proportion of positive vs. negative reviews available online, I will likely go with the Delonghi 3300 Magnifico (thank you, Panisse).
After 10 years of valiant service, my current espresso maker blew up two days ago, providing clear evidence that it has feelings and knows I am looking to replace it.
Posted Thu Apr 26, 2012, 4:46am Subject: Re: Advice re: automatic coffee/espresso maker - Am I looking for a Unicorn?
A friend of mine (lives in England) has a $3300 Miele... it is a beautiful machine, and I do mean beautiful. I could watch the demo video all day long... absolutely breathtaking. However, I have never tasted the pulls she gets from this lovely machine and after seeing some of the repair bills (one was over $600), I think I will pass on this machine. (As if I could afford it in the first place...lol.) My first thought is that if I did have one, I would not be prone to experiment with the brewing process (This would be limited by the machine itself.), and I would lose much of the enjoyment of my "journey in quest of the God shot." You may not be as interested in the process or the journey as much as I am, but if I did not have a lot of variables to "overcome" I doubt the hobby would be as enjoyable and rewarding (when not absolutely frustrating) as it is. Having said that, I really do hope you find your "Nirvana Machine." Click Here (www.youtube.com)
cappuccinoboy Senior Member Joined: 27 Jun 2009 Posts: 798 Location: MILANO Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Milano pod, Milano fully... Grinder: grind on demand
Posted Sat Apr 28, 2012, 8:30am Subject: Re: Advice re: automatic coffee/espresso maker - Am I looking for a Unicorn?
One of the major issues with (most) superautomatics that affects quality in the cup is the lack of temperature stability for brewing. Good espresso must be brewed in a fairly tight temperature window.
I've never seen one of the Quickmill "Monza Deluxe" machines in person, but it has a programmable, heated, metal brew group so I believe there is a good chance that it could make a great espresso. Unfortunately it is also more than twice your stated budget at around $2600
The superauto machines I've seen that sell at or under $1k generally produce poor results, even when using prime time coffee beans. (EDIT) Most of the available superautomatic machines use plastic brewing groups.
Unfortunately the video that is featured in CCS site raises big questions about that "great espresso", and , in my opinion, does no justice to the machine : Chris could very well have been more professional with the quality of espresso brewed Ciao, Pietro
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