I've been a huge fan of espresso for many years, and enjoyed my Nespresso for the past two. My father recently got a Saeco full automatic machine as a replacement for his Nespresso, and this one makes espresso that is much, much better than the Nespresso. The main reason for him getting the Saeco was that he was tired of wasting a LOT of cash on Nespresso capsules. Now he is enjoying Lavazza beans and a great espresso :)
I've recently discovered this forum and I've been reading everything I could get my hands on for the past few days, and I think it's time!
Now, I still have my Nespresso, but after tasting what my father's (mediocre?) machine can do, I am more ready than ever to take the step up to a real espresso.
I have my eyes set on a Gaggia Classic, and I found a deal online over here in Sweden; Click Here (www.italy-outlet.com) which includes the Classic, and MDF Grinder and a base unit.
Do you guys think this is a good combo, for that price (more expensive here than in the US, of course), or would I be better off shopping for another grinder perhaps? Keep in mind that the Baratza is almost impossible to find this side of the pond :/
I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and am thankful for your feedback!
You have seen the light about pod and capsule machines. The Superauto machines are often better than a pod or capsule machine but they do fall far short of what you are able to make with more hands on.
Rather than advising on a specific machine up front, we need to know more, much more about what you expect to get.
How many people are you serving? How many drinks are you making at a session How many types and what are the types of drinks that you are going to make Are you going to entertain a lot or is this just a machine for only you or some place between? What is your budget? You know you need FRESH coffee, (less than two weeks from the day it was roasted, this date should be on the bag, if there is a BEST BY date, keep looking for coffee and do not use that brand/bag.)
How many people are you serving? In short, 2, rarely 3 (trying to get the wife into cappuccinos).
How many drinks are you making at a session? 1 - 2.
How many types and what are the types of drinks that you are going to make? espresso for myself and if the wife will get into cappuccinos, those will be made too.
Are you going to entertain a lot or is this just a machine for only you or some place between? Just for me, and once in a blue moon I would show off my skills (?) to visitors :)
What is your budget? We have been talking about 750 - 1000 USD.
You know you need FRESH coffee, (less than two weeks from the day it was roasted, this date should be on the bag, if there is a BEST BY date, keep looking for coffee and do not use that brand/bag.) Yeah, I never thought about this, but if I start buying beans, I will pay attention to this stuff :)
Again, thanks for the reply and I am already loving this forum!
Hi there so I am a relative newbie on here. I was where you are about 3 months ago. I ended up doing a lot of research and purchased the exact same set up you are looking at. I also would have answered those questions just about the same as you.
I am now a full on coffee geek . Have added 2 more grinders, a vacuum pot and the new Brazen in the last month or so. Now considering my own Roaster.
Here are my 2 cents.
The Gaggia set up has been great for me to get my feet wet. Learning curve was not that steep.I was making very good shots very quickly. At your price point I think it is the set up many would recommend on here unless you have access to good quality used equipment. I think you would be happy with this choice.
Most important for me in terms of shot quality has been the proper grind setting, fresh beans ( found a place close by that throws out beans 5 days after roasting), letting the machine heat up properly, hitting the shot time just right. I seem to enjoy shots that take about 28 - 29 secs . My wife is closer to 23 -24.
In terms of whether you should be looking at a super or semi auto I would ask just one question. What kind of personality do you have? I enjoy the whole science/tinkering of it and the process of making the coffee is very relaxing. If you are like this definatley go with the semi. If you just want a better cup of coffee but want it fast and are willing to sacrifice some quality you might be better off with the superauto.
I will definatley outgrow this set up at some point but for now it's great.
Thanks a lot for your reply. Yeah, I think this sounds like a good setup for me. I am getting more and more sure about it. How do you find the MDF grinder? Is it good for other types of coffees too, or would you say it's just an espresso grinder?
Also, I suppose that I have to get a whole host of accessories such as a tamper, tamping mat and knock box as well? Oh, and I am guessing I will need a ton of beans when I get started...
No problem. I enjoy coming on this site and discussing. My wife's eyes just glaze over when I start talking about coffee now :-).
First off I think the MDF is a very good entry level grinder. ( mind you I'm a newbie too so not a lot of experience with other machines) I do agree with the common knock against it though and that is with the doser. There has to be a way to make it less messy than it is. I have been happy with it overall. I only use mine for espresso. Like I said I quickly bought 2 more grinders. It is just too big of a hassle to dump out beans from the hopper. My wife started drinking decaf espresso and I needed a grinder for my vac pot and drip so I quickly arrived at 3 grinders. My other main grinder is a baratza virtuoso ... (The new one with precisio burrs.) The barzata looks a little nicer on the counter and isn't as messy. I don't really notice a difference in grind quality. Looked at the Vario but the extra cost just didn't make sense for my uses.
Other accessories I bought right away were a good tamper, thermometer and different sized frothing pitchers. I also seem to have accumulated a lot of different sized cups quite quickly. The gaggia base has a knock box in it. I never use it though. Easy to just knock straight out to the garbage.
In terms of the amount of coffee you will need I thought the same thing at the beginning and bought 2 lbs of beans the first day. Took me for every to get through them and the quality stated to drop off at the end. I now only buy in 1/2 lb amounts. That way I'm done with them in no more than a week. Keeps them fresh. Not a big deal for me as I have a good store right around the corner. I have found that storing the beans in mason jars works best.
The other thing I discovered early on was the type of water to use. We drink reverse osmosis water in our house but turns out using it for espresso isnt the best idea. I find filtered water from my fridge works best and apparently will cause less scaling then say using reverse osmosis water.
If I lived in the US I would be more inclined to go the used equipment route. Far more available at much better prices. In Canada though there just isn't that much available and many online places/ private sellers in the States with good prices simply won't ship here. Or if they do the shipping cost and duty significantly add to the price. You mentioned in Sweden you can't even find Baratza grinders? So I think we might be in a similar boat.
I bought my Gaggia set up from a large US online retailer and even with $60 in shipping( free in US) and $150 in duty it was still significantly cheaper than buying in Canada. But don't get me started on why Canadians are forced to pay 25-50% more for everything from espresso makers to gasoline to clothing.
Used Silvias and Gaggia Classics can be very good value if they've been little used or been looked after well - my Classic cost me £25 on eBay (vs. £250 new at the time), and after changing the group gasket and cleaning behind the dispersion screen, has worked perfectly for the last 6 years. The only really expensive problem could be with a damaged boiler, but that's really hard to do in normal use. Parts are easy to get, and the machines are well known and easy to work on, so there's plenty of advice and help out here in internet land.
The MDF has a couple of issues as a grinder - the steps are quite far apart (but it can be modified to be stepless), and you may not like the doser. It may well be the best budget option available to you though (some of the Baratzas are available in Europe, but the prices can be quite high), and it can grind reasonably well for other brewing methods (I've used one for french press and vac pot at a friend's house). A used commercial espresso grinder might also be a cheaper quality secondhand option, if you have space.
I have a Gaggia classic an love it but thought i'd comment on used equipment-
I just found a Gaggia Coffee at a thrift store for $12. It was a little dirty and the cheesy pinarello wand was missing but otherwise appeared solid. I bought it and brought it home. When I opened it up it was spotless inside- appears just the outside needed some cleaning.
It appears to function almost exactly the same as my new Classic which of course cost me full retail. It just isn't as pretty because it lacks all the stainless and is painted a grey color (maybe a red refinish? :))So I'd say you can get lucky and find really good deals on used equipment.
I'd be more likely to buy a used grinder than machine because I just don't know much about fixing machines. Grinders seem to either work, or not work. A good used high quality grinder should last you forever. I've seen some great deals around on used Mazzer Jolly's.
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