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Really confused now....and other stuff
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Really confused...  
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Sep 30, 2012, 11:28am
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

It is up to you, but the fact you have to send it to them for any service and they have to descale it in 5 years is not ideal in my book.  But I buy computers I can go anywhere and buy and replace parts on and phones that you can change the battery on.  Some people don't mind tossing their phone when the battery dies and line up to buy those phones.  

I feel like the company's mind set is more along those lines.... if you like that then put that in the plus column. It is a con for me.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,425
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 Sep 30, 2012, 4:45pm
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

DeanOK Said:

I just joined this site a few days ago and I have read literally hundreds of posts about the pros and cons of every machine and grinder..... and now I am totally confused.

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Yes, well, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

DeanOK Said:

I really do not want to put $3000.00 worth of equipment on my kitchen cabinet, even though I guess I could spend that much if I could ever justify it in my mind (not sure I can). I really do not want a manual machine and a knock box either (kinda messy).

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Unless you get another super-auto, which virtually no one here would recommend, or a Nespresso type of machine, you're going to have to deal with "kinda messy" grinds.

DeanOK Said:

My criteria right now is listed below:
I would like to stay under $1500-1800  for a grinder and espresso machine (this may be low when you read the rest of this list)

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Just so you know, it's my normal habit to take anyone's price range and add 10%.  And for $2K, this is certainly do-able.

DeanOK Said:

I would like a machine that can be repaired so I don't have to chunk it like my old one (it didn't have much wrong with it, but couldn't find the parts).

Posted September 28, 2012 link

ANY machine can be fixed/repaired, but especially prosumer models.  Not to worry . . .

DeanOK Said:

I would like a small as possible footprint. Don't have a big kitchen and do not want to take up a lot of counter space.

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Might be difficult, but I don't know the size of your kitchen.

DeanOK Said:

Would like to have a grinder that can dose out by weight (if possible).

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Baratza Vario-W

DeanOK Said:

I would like to be able to order repair parts and fix the machine myself in the event it was to break. I used to do commercial restaurant service and fixing an espresso machine really wouldn't be much if an issue for me if I have access to the parts.

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Shouldn't be a problem.

DeanOK Said:

I like the chrome look of the lever machines in the 2K price range... not sure I can find a less expensive machine with this kind of look. Just think it would look nice in the kitchen. I don't necessarily want a lever machine... just like the look.

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Well, you said you didn't want a manual machine, so I presumed levers are out of the question.

DeanOK Said:

I don't care about all of the fancy frother and steaming attachments. I had an automatic frother for my old machine and I never used it. Seems to me that cleaning all the extra components is more trouble than just steaming my milk with a wand.

Posted September 28, 2012 link

Prosumer machines rarely if ever come with attachments, although some expensive super-autos do.

DeanOK Said:

I would prefer to buy new, but might be persuaded if I found the right deal to buy used.

Posted September 28, 2012 link

No problem; the B/S/T forum is your friend.

I presume from your initial post that you do steam milk.  That makes an SBDU machine a bit more problematic, and you'd be better served with an HX or DB model.  

If any of these initials are confusing, I would urge you to look at the post,Types of Espresso Machines, as well as so-called "Standard" Questions.

Take a look, too, at the Quick Mill Anita or the Nuova Simonelli Oscar.  

Given your conditions, I'd pass on the Breville . . . .

Cheers,
Jason

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


Joined: 12 Dec 2008
Posts: 214
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Aeropress, Bunn Phase Brew
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Oct 2, 2012, 9:01am
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

I see some contention in your choices.  Interest in the BDB suggests to me that you are looking for a less fussy coffee making experience.  But to get that less fussiness, you are buying electronics that may require a professional to repair.

If you don't mind fussing a little, in general the E61 HX machines follow a common pattern, are fairly simple, and usually built quite well.  You should be able to maintain them and repair them, should the need arise.

The CuadraII at fist line looks like a really good deal

There are also some great deals on used E61 HX machines in the BST forum here...


The Vario grinders are excellent.  I would not opt for the W because it will not dose by weight directly into the portafilter.  Baratza is also a great company.  I would not have any problem trusting their refurbs if you want to save some money on the grinder.
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 693
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Tue Oct 2, 2012, 11:27am
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

MonkeyK Said:

If you don't mind fussing a little, in general the E61 HX machines follow a common pattern.

Posted October 2, 2012 link

I keep look'n. Right now I am interested in a double boiler or HX. I also think I want to go ahead and get something that is E61 and I will probably find something that has a PID. I installed a PID in a smoker I used to have. It allowed me to do some things with the smoker I couldn't do without it.  I also want one that is easy to fill the tank because I doubt I will direct connect, even though I have a path to get a 3/8" line to my double carbon filter under the sink by running the line through the back of the  lower cabinets.

The only thing that keeps me motivated is I know I have found plenty of espresso drinks that I like and I know I used to make espresso drinks at home with a cheapo espresso machine. Albeit that it was a long time ago.
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MonkeyK
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Dec 2008
Posts: 214
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Aeropress, Bunn Phase Brew
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:21pm
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

There are some who disagree but, the consensus is that a PID is not necessary on an HX machine.  

E61 machines count on the large thermal mass of the group to buffer temperature changes.  After going through all that mass, small variations in the boilers temperature from the pressurestat's deadband do not amount to much by the time the water reaches the coffee in the portafilter.

If you go E61 and learn how it reacts (the ericS adapter/thermometer helps with this a lot), you will be able to get very specific with the temperature of your shots.  For a better summary than I could ever hope to write, see this:
http://www.home-barista.com/hx-love.html

For example, getting the temperature profile that I like on my Euro200 Junior would go something like
-flush to 204f (or 9 seconds past the hiss)
-wait 11 seconds, while I put in the portafilter and adjust the cup
-pull the shot
doing this would give me an excellent shot that started at about 200f and ended at about 196f (the thermometer would read a little lower than this)
A more accurate boiler temperature would/could not have given me a better shot temperature
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:57pm
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

Agreed, temp of the group head is more important to know than the boiler temp.  There is an offset to the boiler that you would just have to guess at.  Pid is not needed on an HX but a temp read out of the group head would be nice.  I can make great shots without any read outs at all.  I had to learn to read my water coming out of the group head (water dance) and it is not hard.  Just practice.  I might put some gauges on my machine to dress it up a bit. But after you dial the machine in to how you like it you don't need the gauges really.  

Just like when you first learn to drive a car you have to think about every step, now you just do it on auto pilot and you concentrate the road.  Running your espresso machine is a bit like that, once you get the basics down to auto pilot you don't think about those any more and you concentrate on the pull. Now a group head temp read out would be great but I am ambivalent about drilling into my group head for a probe.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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MonkeyK
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Dec 2008
Posts: 214
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Aeropress, Bunn Phase Brew
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Oct 2, 2012, 1:33pm
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

That's another plus of the E61, it's pre-drilled (as a side effect of the manufacturing process) and an adapter is ready built:
Click Here (www.chriscoffee.com)
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 693
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Fri Oct 5, 2012, 8:10pm
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

Well it has been almost a week since I started this thread. I have read and shopped and looked and scratched my head and I am pretty sure I know less than when I started.

I started out thinking I would spend 1500 bucks total for grinder and a espresso machine, ended up taking my budget (temporarily at least) up to $2300 or $2400 and then tonight, I told myself, I just want something that will make a decent cup of coffee... so I went back down to the 600/700 range for a espresso machine and 350.00 for a grinder.

One thing that drives me to $1800.00 machines is just how cool I think they would look in my kitchen. I put so much milk and flavoring in my coffee, I doubt I would ever know if t was made on a $600.00 machine or a $2000 machine by taste. I do like the machines that will let me steam whenever I want though, something I will miss out on with most of the low end machines.

One thing I have learned for sure is that there is far more espresso machine manufacturers than I ever knew existed. Way too many as matter of fact.

I saw that  Rancilio Silvia V3  reconditioned are $499 and I am pretty sure that is as good or better the the old Delonghi machine I used to have that made perfectly good coffee by my taste buds. Right now, I am having trouble thinking a $1500 or $1800 machine will do much for me other than to make my kitchen look cool. I know if I was more a a true espresso person, I might be able to tell the difference (or at least convince myself I could), but the truth is, I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference.  

I also see a less expensive machine it the Ascaso brand, but I don't find a lot of reviews good or bad about this product. Seems like it has some nice features in its price range. This is the only low end machine I could find that would let you steam and make espresso at the same time, but not sure that would be the right thing to do in this price range.
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,427
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 Fri Oct 5, 2012, 10:27pm
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

We all do that- particularly for our first purchase. With no foundation of knowledge or experience upon which to draw, the first shopping excursion can be frustrating. How much is enough? How much is too much? if you get a capable machine you will find that you may not need or want to put flavorings in the coffee. if you make a lot of milk-based drinks I would heartily recommend getting a HX or Dual Boiler machine. generally speaking, this class of machine will give greater consistency with less effort. Consistency gives you a more scientific control over the variables. If you change something like the dose, is that what made the coffee better (or worse) and how would you know on a machine without temperature stability, for example?

You have already had an economy, starter machine. It's time to move up. If a Silvia looks good, and that price range is where you are stuck, spend less. Look at one of the Gaggias. Very capable machines and available for less. Additionally, reconditioned machines are not covered by credit cards' extended warranty; something to consider.

$350 for a grinder? What did you have in mind? I would say, spend less than the Silvia costs and spend more on the grinder. Look at the Baratza offerings in your price range. From them, a reconditioned unit is a good deal because they stand behind their products. the grinder is more important than the espresso machine. A quality grinder can coax good espresso from an entry-level machine. A great machine will produce bitter muck when fed from a cheap grinder. At least to say, that later combo will be a source of frustration.

Be patient. You went this long without buying a good machine. Take you time. Read the journal side of my website and trace my journey. I started out much like you are. it may help you learn how to get to where you want to go.

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 11:35am
Subject: Re: Really confused now....and other stuff
 

I also liked the "big gulp" milk coffee drinks when I started 10 months ago.  Guess what?  I could still tell a good shot from a bad shot and I don't have a good sense of smell so I think I am handicapped slightly.  And now I use 3oz of milk in my espresso and very little sugar.  I am hoping to get off the sugar totally in the next 10 months or less.   I don't worry about the 3oz of milk but I would like to get off the extra sugar.

I am willing to bet that your palate will advance faster than you think.  I know mine did and that was a surprise to me.  While I researched my purchase, I read all boards are littered with low end starter machines threads that say, "I finally figured out my machine and I want a machine that I don't have to temp surf on what do I upgrade to?"  Search around and you will see them.  

So, I thought, well for my $500 budget, I can get a new machine that I will want to upgrade because it is harder to control or I can get a used but more stable machine that will be easier to learn on so I will be less frustrated and not have buyers remorse.  I knew I might have to fix a few things like when you get a used car but I was ok with that.  I was not ok with spending $500 and having any regrets.

Me being frustrated with my purchase because my kitchen appliance was not giving me consistent results was a huge selling factor with me.  I like working in the kitchen and I get frustrated with cheap kitchen gear.  I have nice kitchen tools and take cooking very seriously.  Since I could not upgrade my budget, I went with the most bang for my buck.  I decided on a used low end, low volume commercial HX machine.

I am not telling you have to get what I got, I am telling you not to buy something you will regret.  If you don't mind buying a new starter machine and taking the chance you will outgrow it, then good.  But if you think you will stick with this hobby get the best grinder and machine you can afford, even if it is used.  I was happier that I did.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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