I wouldn't disagree with you on that. I guess I didn't make myself clear enough and I apologize for that.
I guess what I should have mentioned was that with a semi-auto machine, it is either on or it is off. The operator needs to keep their hand on the lever (Figuratively speaking) for the duration of the shot. An automatic affords the luxury of having the machine stop the shot for you, that is the convenience I meant to convey. :-) So yeah, you start the shot, walk to the fridge, go get milk, take too long and suddenly you don't have your drip tray filling up with espresso and a ruined shot. :-)
I probably stop 60+ percent of my shots manually, just as if my machines were semi-autos
Agreed. Especially the latter part. A lot of the times I've seen professional baristas making drinks, they don't even bother looking for blonding, they just push the button, get the volume they want and that's it. Unfortunately, they don't end up making shots which are all that great, but that's for a whole other thread.
To the OP: I would definitely buy your machine in Canada.
Another vendor you could try as well who is based out of BC is ECM Espresso Coffee Machines Co. (Not related to the actual ECM brand.) They sell the Oscar. Their La Scala machines might be a bit outside of your price range.
One of the things that my local espresso equipment vendors love to emphasize to me is that if you buy local, you can get service local, instead of having to ship it back and forth if there are severe issues with the machine that can't be fixed.
What you are not taking into account is that shots should not be timed IF the goal is the very finest espresso shot possible. The timing will change as the beans age. The timing will change with different beans. The timing will change with the weather . . . in other words, for all sorts of reasons.
I find that it is much better to stop the shot on blonding.
It isn't all that difficult to re-program the machine, but when I originally programmed my seven button Elektra T1, I set them as follows:
one ounce espresso normale (single shot);
short cleaning spritz;
moderate cooling flush;
two ounce doppio espresso (double shot);
slightly longer "spritz";
long cooling flush; and,
The "problem," Bud, that you seem to see is one that I do not. First of all, I like a "normal" 2 oz. shot in milk drinks, and both my wife and daughters don't drink straight espresso. I generally have one latte in the morning, and the rest of the time, I drink doppio ristrettos. I could reprogram the "regular" buttons (#1 and #4) to be shorter (i.e.: less volume), but then I'd have to reprogram #2 and #5 to be "normale" and it STILL would not make the very best espresso unless I stop the shot(s) on blonding . . . which I do now anyway!
The whole "nonsense" of x grams for y seconds as gospel is just that: nonsense! It is NOT gospel, but rather a guideline -- a very good one, in fact. It is a place to start. The Italian "ideal" -- as described by the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano is 14 grams (+/- 0.5 grams) of coffee in 25 seconds (+/- 2.5 seconds), yielding 50ml (+/- 2.5ml) of liquid called "espresso." Most North Americans "updose" -- as much as 18 grams. I've found my "sweet spot" is between 15.0-15.5 grams. Where your "sweet spot" may lie is up to you to discover -- after all, you don't have my taste buds in your mouth; you have your own. And what they think is "great" may not agree with what I think is great.
This is precisely why there is more than one coffee roaster in the world, and why each roaster produces more than one offering. Some people here in the States swear by Intelligentsia, but I'm not a great fan. Others love Blue Bottle, or Klatch, or Counter Culture, or . . . hell, some people even love *$! (Go figure!) I prefer Red Bird and Verve, Caffe Fresco, and Vivace. But that's my taste.
At first when I was getting into this hobby, I was always under the impression that you made a shot not by blonding but by volume and time.. Which is why I initially thought that volumetric machines were the begin and end all of convenience. It's very clear that it is a function of very many variables.. and I'll learn all of those eventually as I get more experience. As we've discussed it, I think that's pretty much made up my mind then that volumetric is a "nice to have" but not really necessary, at least from my point of view. That makes choosing my next machine easier. Thanks!
First of all, I like a "normal" 2 oz. shot in milk drinks
Absolutely. It comes in quite handy when you have a busy, hectic life, but is never a necessity . . .
That said, unless I go to a lever -- well, I have a lever machine -- unless I switch to a lever as my primary machine, I cannot imagine getting a machine that isn't volumetric. In other words, it's a convenience that I choose to have.
The one time where I honestly think it IS a necessity is in a café -- especially one either on a college campus or staffed by college students. High rates-of-turnover makes a volumetric (full-auto) machine an attractive "backstop" to overwhelmed employees. The more the employee knows, the better he or she gets, the more likely the barista is to stop shots manually.
Were I to open a café, I'd get a volumetric machine . . . unless I were opening a so-called "third wave" café and/or an artisan roaster-and-café. In that case, I'd probably get multi-lever Mirage Idracompresso (which I posted earlier) or a Bosco Sorrento (pictured below). Thankfully, I'll never have to make that decision.
NobbyR Senior Member Joined: 10 Jul 2011 Posts: 1,661 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, 11:58pm Subject: Re: which espresso maker to buy without grinder
... The whole "nonsense" of x grams for y seconds as gospel is just that: nonsense! It is NOT gospel, but rather a guideline -- a very good one, in fact. It is a place to start. The Italian "ideal" -- as described by the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano is 14 grams (+/- 0.5 grams) of coffee in 25 seconds (+/- 2.5 seconds), yielding 50ml (+/- 2.5ml) of liquid called "espresso." Most North Americans "updose" -- as much as 18 grams. I've found my "sweet spot" is between 15.0-15.5 grams. Where your "sweet spot" may lie is up to you to discover -- after all, you don't have my taste buds in your mouth; you have your own. And what they think is "great" may not agree with what I think is great ...
I do like to quote the rather technical INEI standarts as a starting point, because they can give you a pretty good general idea of what espresso should be like, and you need to start somewhere. I consider those standarts to be something like the minimum requirements. But in the end, as Jason said, what really counts is that you personally like the taste in your cup.
*** "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)
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