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which espresso maker to buy without grinder
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > which espresso...  
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skaman
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2012
Posts: 6
Location: b.c. canada
Expertise: Just starting

Grinder: mini mazzer
Posted Mon Oct 15, 2012, 3:37am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

skaman Said:

I'd like to get something of decent quality for under $1500.00 with any luck.

Posted October 14, 2012 link

Thanks to you all for the input. The post Jason had me go to was particularly informative. Looks like I'll have to decide how automatic  I really want the process to be - right now I'm thinking semi-auto.

Service may be an issue as I do have a bit of calcium in our well water, and avoid using the softened water in our current coffee maker to avoid the extra salt.

In answer to qualin - I would rather get a machine I can live with for several years than something that won't last, or suit my needs down the road (been down that road with boats!).

Thanks again to you all for the education.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Oct 15, 2012, 4:48am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

Welcome to the board
At that price point, steam will be part of the machine regardless if you want it or not unless you go to something like a manual lever or something like that. (I think they come without steam, they are NOT my area of interest and I am not up to date with them)

I echo Jason on going automatic. You can ALWAYS take control of the process anytime you want but the volumetric water dosing is very nice to have when setting up and using your machine and it makes the whole process much more consistent, which is the key to this whole game.

The mini is a pretty darn good grinder and many here would love to have one BUT with a machine in this class, eventually you will want to upgrade the grinder too but that can be fairly far down the road depending on your progress and goals in this hobby.

There isn't much to add to the above advice, there are many choices in that price range and if you consider used in good shape, the world opens up even wider but used is not mandatory to getting great coffee in this price range, not at all!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,465
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 Mon Oct 15, 2012, 6:17am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

As Wayne points out, a full-auto (aka "volumetrically dosed") machine is -- for me -- ideal.  It is the same as a semi-auto in every way BUT . . . you can program the buttons for n volume of liquid.  This means the pump will shut off after that volume of water has been dispensed, BUT you can ALWAYS operated the machine exactly like a semi-auto and stop the pump yourself.  There are several advantages to this, I find, and both the machines I use at home and in my office daily are both volumetric HX machines.

If you look at the picture below, you'll see there are seven buttons on the front my my Elektra T1.  There are icons on each button, representing different espresso shots.  They are: single ristretto, single normale, single lungo, double ristretto, double normale, double lungo, and a manual start/stop.  So even if I press, say, the double lungo, I can always hit the manual stop button.  And of course you can program the buttons for any volume you want, not just what the images are.

As you are in Canada, I'd look at the following machines:  

-- Nuova Simonelli Oscar ($1,395 CDN)
-- Bezzera BZ10P ($1,399 CDN)
-- Bezzera BZ07DE ($1,695CDN)
-- Bezzera BZ07PM ($1,495 CDN)

Cheers,
Jason

JasonBrandtLewis: T1 only.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Oct 15, 2012, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

One of the things you should also consider is wether or not you want to buy your machine from a place which can service it. Since you are in BC, there are a few espresso equipment suppliers which can
help you with your selection. Caffetech is based out of Edmonton, AB and idrinkcoffee is in Ontario. Right now, idrinkcoffee has a promo on with their Bezzera machines, might be worth taking a look at.

Espressotec is located in Richmond, BC. They have a wide selection of machines, but the only machine they sell within your price range is the Oscar. If you can afford the extra $300, it might be worth it to consider upgrading to a Rocket Cellini Premium over an Oscar, if only just for the looks and the manometer.

Semi-Auto certainly gives you a lot more control over the coffee making process, but at a sacrifice of convenience.  The only really consider advantage that a volumetric machine has over a semi-auto is
mostly cost and convenience. I'd probably still time my shots even with an auto, but I wouldn't have to worry about when to stop them anymore. (Unless I get a bottomless portafilter and start looking for
blonding.)

Adding volumetric capabilities to a machine adds roughly around $250-$500 to the price of it, comparing semi-auto and auto models. At least, this is my observation. (Bezzera seems to be the exception here. There doesn't appear to be much of a price difference between their semi-auto and auto models. I'm talking more about HX machines here.)

Good luck. :-)

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,465
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 Mon Oct 15, 2012, 4:12pm
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

qualin Said:

Semi-Auto certainly gives you a lot more control over the coffee making process, but at a sacrifice of convenience.  The only really consider advantage that a volumetric machine has over a semi-auto is mostly cost and convenience. I'd probably still time my shots even with an auto, but I wouldn't have to worry about when to stop them anymore. (Unless I get a bottomless portafilter and start looking for blonding.)

Posted October 15, 2012 link

Bud,

First of all, and this cannot be stressed TOO much, EVERY full-auto/volumetric dosing machine can ALWAYS be operated exactly like a semi-auto.  That is, you always start the shot, and you can always STOP it whenever you want . . . exactly like a semi-auto.  In fact, I probably stop 60+ percent of my shots manually, just as if my machines were semi-autos -- even though both the machines I use on a daily basis are volumetrically dosed (aka full-auto) machines.

Secondly, all things being equal, there is NO difference -- zero, none -- between a shot pulled on a semi-auto and a volumetric machine.

So why bother to get a volumetric machine if there's no difference? Especially if I'm stopping 60% or more of my shots manually?  It's simple.  Safety and convenience.  I have kids in the house.  Now I grant you they are no longer small -- my oldest just turned 18 on Friday -- but if one of them gets hurt and cries out, I can run to them without worrying about stopping my machine or getting espresso all over the floor.  Similarly, when my wife broke her pelvis and needed me, or when the dog knocks over that really expensive vase, or the doorbell rings, or there's someone pounding on the door, or . . . or . . . or . . .

One of the great advantages of an HX (or DB) machine over an SDBU is that one can pull shots and steam milk at the same time.  I do this at least 4-6 times per day, sometimes more (and that doesn't include the straight espresso shots).  With a volumetrically dosed machine, I can start my shot, get the milk pitcher from the freezer, and steam the milk.  Now, on my Elektra, most of the time I'll finish with the milk before the shot is done; the Elektra, with its 6.0L boiler and 4-hole steam wand is fast with a capital "F"!  But sometimes, I take too long getting the milk out, or I forgot to pour the milk, or . . . or . . . the result being that I haven't finished the milk before the shot stops.  With a volumetric machine, I'm not worried about the shot being 3 ounces or 4 ounces or more while I'm steaming -- I know it's going to stop right at the spot I programmed it to.  Thus, I can focus all my attention on the milk.

And with my Valentina, its 2-hole tip takes significantly longer and so, when it comes to almost all milk drinks, the machine stops itself.  Straight shots?  I stop most of them on my own (in other words, as if I had a semi).

So now the question is:  if the machine is volumetrically dosed, why stop the shot manually at all?  Well, the simple answer is that this is a full-auto NOT a super-auto.  That is, a) the person operating the machine is still in control, just as with a semi-auto; b) it doesn't matter which portafilter I have locked -- spouted or bottomless -- I always stop the shots on blonding!  Timing your shots is a guideline, NOT gospel!  The precise time a shot takes will vary with the time of day, the humidity, the age of the beans, the type of beans -- the list goes on.  So, just as a grinder needs frequent adjustment, so, too, does the duration of a shot from the time the pump is switched on to the point of blonding.

I find it much more reliable to stop on blonding, rather than go by x number of seconds . . .

I also cannot conceive of ever buying an espresso machine that is not volumetrically dosed (i.e.: full-auto), unless I succumb once again to the world of levers, such as the one below.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

To the OP:  I would definitely buy your machine in Canada.  Customs & Excise is a killer, plus crossing the border often voids the warranty.

Cheers,
Jason

JasonBrandtLewis: mirage-idrocompresso.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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120dBTB
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Oct 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 semi
Grinder: Pasquini K2 Doserless
Posted Tue Oct 16, 2012, 6:40am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

I also second the notion that if you're in an area that has a quality and friendly espresso machine service shop, see if they have any models for sale in your price range, as you'd be likely to get a better machine and one that's been well-serviced and is familiar to them should you need to have them service it. And you can't start that relationship too early! here in Chicago, there's one guy, which is odd given how much espresso flows here, but he has a shop full of machines and has been very helpful in familiarizing me with proper cleaning, maintenance and technique.

Just a little above your price range - $1700 - is the Pasquini Livia 90. I've had the pleasure of owning 2 of the  semi-automatic machines over time and they have been amazing machines for my home and office. After 5 years, they have only needed routine cleaning and changing out of the portafilter gaskets, which is a pretty easy process if you do it regularly.  Maybe you can find an end of year deal or a slightly used one that will fit your price range. I also like that besides the steamer wand is a hot water dispenser spigot which is a help for tea or when you need to do a quick wipe down and need hot water without having to go to the main head for it.

I have a Pasquini doserless grinder with mine as it came as part of a set, but have also had great results with the Rancilio Rocky doserless, which is about $200 less should you want a quality grinder in your arsenal.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,056
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Oct 16, 2012, 6:51am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

120dBTB Said:

..., but have also had great results with the Rancilio Rocky doserless, which is about $200 less should you want a quality grinder in your arsenal.

Posted October 16, 2012 link

Even though the Rocky can work for espresso, being able to grind fine enough, I don't think it's recommendable anymore, because its steps are so wide, that it's sometimes impossible to dial in the grinder. You end up stuck in between two steps and have to compensate by adjusting the dose, which I find undesirable, for a change of 0.2 g can already alter taste.

 
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"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
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,465
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 Tue Oct 16, 2012, 6:58am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

NobbyR Said:

Even though the Rocky can work for espresso, being able to grind fine enough, I don't think it's recommendable any more, because its steps are so wide, that it's sometimes impossible to dial in the grinder. You end up stuck in between two steps and have to compensate by adjusting the dose, which I find undesirable, for a change of 0.2 g can already alter taste.

Posted October 16, 2012 link

+1

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


Joined: 14 Oct 2012
Posts: 6
Location: b.c. canada
Expertise: Just starting

Grinder: mini mazzer
Posted Tue Oct 16, 2012, 11:52am
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

Thanks again Jason. I have been doing some research after getting pointed in the right direction by you and others in this forum. I am leaning toward something in the Bezzara line - but am a bit concerned there is no local vendor. The nearest is in Ontario, about 3000 miles from me!...a bit far for service and maintenance.

I also appreciate your comments re the automatic version - very valid points.
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skaman
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2012
Posts: 6
Location: b.c. canada
Expertise: Just starting

Grinder: mini mazzer
Posted Tue Oct 16, 2012, 1:51pm
Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
 

Thanks for the input, I will be looking into getting something from Bezzara, but now I'm also looking for something that sells somewhat locally as it looks like they are only sold in Ontario (across the country).  I'd prefer getting something in Vancouver (still a four hour drive away) in the event of any issues, and just for maintenance. So it's good to learn about other options that people are happy with.
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