OK - I know this is a matter of personal taste but wondered if anyone could recommend a new espresso machine? I am in the UK so may not have the same range of machines as elsewhere - but certainly will have European makes. I drink only espresso - not any milky drink/frothy stuff... I have a burr grinder so don't want a bean to cup. I'd rather not spend a fortune but happy to spend more than the $250 I paid for a Gaggia Classic which is misbehaving - giving burnt and painfully slow coffee one day and beautiful crema the next. I am happy to fiddle with the machine - so have been wondering about a Pavoni level machine - but seen some variable reviews. But am also happy to have a reliable replacement for the Gaggia. Many thanks
Oh, oh. Now you just might have opened a can of worms. Coffeegeek members are the most opinionated on the planet. Just perhaps they are now 'burned out' this Christmas season from debating questions like yours on previous posts. This topic has been recently discussed in detail. go to: http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/questions/602058 Although you live in Britain, coffee and coffee machines are pretty international and recommendations are likely to be valid across borders, with the usual price, tax and shipping differences. Good luck.
I suspect you might have two issues with the coffee from the Gaggia (I still have one, although I'm bringing it back to the UK to pass on to my brother), and a new machine may not be the way to fix either of those. The Classic can be a pretty consistent machine, pulling excellent shots, with the right grinder and technique. It might be that you have the technique down, and the machine is malfunctioning and can easily be fixed, or there might be a tweak to your technique that will make your shots consistent. Most of the technique will be required to get good results from a more expensive machine anyway.
Firstly, I'm not sure which Krups grinder model you have, but as far as I know, none of them are anywhere good enough to get the best from the Gaggia Classic - the burrs are not really designed to grind for espresso, which needs a specific distribution of particle sizes, and the adjustment has wide steps, meaning you can't tune in the right grind for your beans and dose. The mantra round here is that the grinder comes first, and with a machine the price of the Gaggias, you should spend as much or more on the grinder than the machine.
Secondly, how do you prepare and pull the shot - do you weigh the dose of beans to get a consistent amount of coffee (to within 0.1g or so)? Do you temperature surf the machine's brew ready light? How long do you let the machine warm up for? Do you do any flushing of the group?
Sorry if I've assumed too much here, but based on your initial post and listed hardware, I think there might be a better option than a new machine.
in his Gaggia problem thread, he said he uses a scoop to measure beans.
I agree, you probably need to work on your technique before blaming everything on the machine. Although, if the machine is inconsistent without a pf engaged on the group, that would be a real sign of a faulty machine.
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Ah, I hadn't seen that thread. However, I suspect the issue is the grinder not the machine - having played with the cheaper of the Krups burr grinders in stores here, it seem very inconsistent, particularly at finer settings, and the burrs wobble around a whole lot. The burrs are of the knob and sticking out screw type that produce a mixture of powder and lumps, not a consistent grind at all. I've also used a Gaggia with cheaper conical and flat burr grinders (Solis 166 copy, Black and Decker burr grinder with similar burrs to the Krups), and could not get any consistency from the cheap flat burr grinder at all, either in espresso or Moka pot.
I've noticed that my Gaggia Classic requires pretty significant grinder changes from bean to bean. I have not been able to just set the grinder and leave it there, each time I swap beans I need to start fresh and time my pulls to get it dialed in again. I had been drinking a columbian/ethiopian blend for a bit and when I switched to Malabar AA I had to make a really big grinder change- the grind had to be much finder.
I have a pretty solid grinder so I can't imagine this would be easy to dial in on a cheap inconsistent grinder. Id start blaming the grinder before I went after the machine IMHO.
Of course...there's nothing wrong with buying a new machine, just be warned that without changing your grinder your problems may continue or even become worse with a higher end machine.
AND....to actually answer your first question....I'd look at an Oscar as an upgrade from your Classic. It seems the next logical step to me unless you want to take a bigger jump into the Brewtus realm.
On the machine front, the Oscar does seem a sensible upgrade choice in the UK - Amazon has them for £562, which is less than £100 more than the Silvia (and quite a bit under $1000). On the other hand, a new Classic is £180. Just about the cheapest espresso capable grinder I can find in the UK is the Ascaso I-mini at about £145-£195, or the I-1 or Nuova Simonelli Grinta for about £240. The MDF is about £210 and Rocky £240, and neither are really recommended because of the stepped adjustment.
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