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Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Talk me out of...  
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apinstein
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Nov 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville 840XL
Grinder: Breville 800XL
Posted Thu Nov 29, 2012, 6:34pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

Quick update on my situation. First, thanks to all for the advice it's much appreciated.

I ended up buying the Breville 840XL for a few reasons:
  1. I was convinced by the argument that it's a bad idea to couple the grinder & the machine, especially since it isn't too much more expensive to get separates.
  2. There are a bunch of reviews by BDB owners that tried the 840XL and all say it actually produces nearly-indistingiushable shots from the BDB.
  3. It has a 1600W heater so it should be able to deliver more heat, warm up faster, steam better, etc than other similar machines that range from 1100-1450W.
  4. It has a thermocoil (single piece design) vs the old two-piece thermoblock, so it theoretically should be more reliable.
  5. It has a PID and people are reporting good & stable temps throughout the pull.
  6. I got it for $334, free shipping. List is $499. The prices on Amazon float up & down by $130 every few days -- I saw this insanely low price and it motivated me to move.

I ended up being lame and getting the Breville Smart Grinder, too. Had decent reviews (on Amazon), and the similarly-priced Baratza's were not recommended, and the next step up with the PortaHolder add-on is like $340 or something. I'm still open to good ideas on the grinder but opinions seem to be spread very thin!

Beyond that I am a noob at this and don't really want a super-steep learning curve at this time. Being a computer & open-source dude, what I'm really looking forward to is the ZPM Nocturn machine that lets you save shot profiles and share them. That should be really cool!

It is supposed to show up tomorrow, so I'll share what I find though frankly as a noob all I'll be able to say is that it tastes good or not ;)

Alan
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:07am
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

The grinder is the most important thing that affects taste in the cup.  You will probably not be happy with that for long.

 
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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BrookNYC
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 36
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 7:50am
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

I am going to follow this thread. The 840XL is the same machine my husband just bought me also for $334. I do wonder if these newer models will hold up better than older models. So far store reviews have been good.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,672
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 Fri Nov 30, 2012, 8:18am
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

Well, I hope you enjoy your purchase, really!
We will be here to answer any questions you may have, just ask!

As a side note, Amazon reviews are not a good place to get information on the geekier side of any product or topic such as espresso. Most of the "reviewers" have VERY little to base their reviews on or quality gear to compare against. The reviews tend to be along the lines of.

I have had my XXXXXXX product for 3 days now and it is GREAT! The best EVER!!!!

This is not the "in depth" review like you will get from many here who have used other gear and have a reference point other than just buying my first XXXXX product. YMMV!

 
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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biochemgawd
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 82
Location: Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: BDB
Grinder: Vario
Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 9:50am
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

For what it's worth, I have both the Vario and a smart grinder (and two BDBs). While the Vario is a MUCH better grinder as far as consistency, adjustability and grind "fluffiness", the Breville smart grinder is surprisingly good for $195. I have a new version of the smart grinder and it adjusts to an extremely fine setting (with the burrs touching).

If the Breville 840XL with PID and pre-infusion is anywhere near as good as the BDB, I might find myself recommending the 840XL/smartgrinder combo as starter equipment - not bad for $550. You would probably want to upgrade after 3-4 years anyway.

edited to include the cap I am currently enjoying courtesy of Smart Grinder and BDB.

biochemgawd: SG.BDB.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:15pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

I am betting you would not have the resale value from that breville set up so you would have to think of the 550$ and the machine disposable.  Right now I could sell my used machine for what I paid for it and it would move fast and I could probably recover a lot of the grinder cost as well.  

But I would be glad of more starter set ups to pick from. Right now there is a huge market opening there.  I wish the Nocturn guys would get going.

 
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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BrookNYC
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 36
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 1:32pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

I wish the Nocturn guys would get going.

Posted November 30, 2012 link

Explain, explain, explain! Did I miss a new reliable machine coming on the market?
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 1:54pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

Right now it is vaporware meaning that it is still in kickstart development and has been for almost a year.  (vaporware is a software term meaning a game etc. that is still not real - hence vapor.)
Click Here (zpmespresso.myshopify.com)

I think the idea is sound and the price point is right and they got a lot of funding really fast.  However, production has been more of an issue than they thought.  (they were supposed to ship in spring then summer then fall and now next year.....)

 
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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crazy4espresso
Senior Member
crazy4espresso
Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 147
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Pharos
Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 2:10pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

]

calblacksmith Said:

Your choice is clear but may not be easy for you.

You have defined the issue fairly clearly.

You can buy an all in one with poorer quality components on both sides or two, better quality components for the same money. For some people, they like the bling better than quality drinks. Decide what is more important to you then buy accordingly.

Please understand, ALL MACHINES REQUIRE HALF AN HOUR TO WARM UP REGARDLESS OF THE ADVERTISING PROPAGANDA 5 minutes just is not realistic for any machine, not just the boiler needs to warm up but the entire machine. That is just reality.

Only you can decide what you want to look at and what appeals to you but this is where your priority of values comes into play, better looks (to you) or better drinks.

Breville inspires only one primary reaction here (with the exception of the BDB which many people like but is $1K and it is not on the table for consideration here) .......

RUNNNNNN AAWWWWAAAAAYYYYYYYY!

I am still not sold on the quality of the BDB but it is the ONLY possible exception that I have to the above statement.

And as to being finickey, the better your grinder, the better and less fussy the espresso will be, to a point but at this price point, it makes a big difference.

Posted November 27, 2012 link

All machines require 30 minutes to warm up? For the most part yes, but I guess you've never been in the presence of a Quick Mill Omre Monza.  Small machine but heats up like a rocket!!  From a dead cold start you will scald your fingers on the portafilter in 3 mins flat!! I didn't believe it at first either.  I posted a thread on it a while back and to my knowledge only 1 member had a similar machine to mine, his being from the late 70's, mine from the early 80's(I think).  I'm about to sell it tomorrow, funny I came across this post.  Not sure how the more popular 60's models compare but this thing is something else!
Click Here (i155.photobucket.com)
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dyqik
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Fri Nov 30, 2012, 2:18pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of the Breville 860xl as an entry-level setup
 

It's not 30 minutes to get hot, it's 30 minutes to warm up and stabilize, with all parts reaching their long term, stable, idling temperatures.  You can only get consistent shots during an operating session if all the parts have approached thermal equilibrium before you start.  Some parts will be hot long before the rest of the machine has stabilized.
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