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Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Newbie buying...  
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Rob989_69
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Rochester
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 7:08am
Subject: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Ok, here's the deal. Never owned an espresso machine before, never made espresso before. I'm looking to get into it spending less than $500, preferably in the $300 range.

I know if I spend alot more I'll get a much better machine, that's a given with pretty much anything. However, I don't have the budget for that. I know very little about espresso machines but I do know that I would prefer a super auto machine. 1 reason is my burr grinder (cuisenart) doesn't do the super fine espresso grinds very well. 2nd reason, the fewer manual controls right now the better.

So, knowing all this. What would you guys recommend? Please, again, I know spending more will benefit me greatly, it's just not an option right now. However, I am not opposed to buying a used/refurb machine to get a better machine in my price range.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,296
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 7:27am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

read this:

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/605253

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Rob989_69
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Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Rochester
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 9:42am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

great info. I didn't read the entire thread but what I'm understanding is spend more on a grinder than the machine itself. Completely understand. However, I JUST received the grinder I have for xmas. Wouldn't have been my choice but the inlaws knew I was into coffee and the wife mentioned I was talking about a grinder so they got it for me. No way AT ALL I could convince the wife I need a new, new grinder. :) She is on board for an espresso machine though.

So, I guess I'll refine my quest, what would be a good espresso machine for a newbie? Someone who has never pulled a shot. Would likely drink espresso and milk based drinks a total of 4 - 6 times a week. I use my drip in the mornings during the week (I know I know, but one thing at a time here.)

So, what would some recommendations be for a low mess, low fuss, easy to use machine that will get me going and last a few years?
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,475
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 Wed Dec 26, 2012, 11:42am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

"How to Buy an Espresso Machine"
"The Home Barista's Guide to Espresso"
"Diagnosing Espresso Extraction Problems"
"How to Banish Uneven Extractions"
"Babbie's Rule of 15's"
"The Four M's of Espresso"
"The Milk Frothing Guide"

. . . and many, many more.

Rob989_69 Said:

So, what would some recommendations be for a low mess, low fuss, easy to use machine that will get me going and last a few years?

Posted December 26, 2012 link

Low mess?  None.
Low fuss? None.
Easy to use?  None (well, at first, anyway).
Last for a few years?  Hundreds, if not thousands . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:16pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Sniped from the other thread


And a year ago I had never pulled a shot.  This site and youtube videos taught me how.

"How to Buy an Espresso Machine"
"First machine - 300-400$"
"For $200-$300 price range is the Gaggia Espresso Pure the best choice?"
"Decent Espresso Machines for $300"

Grinders:

Hand grinders are the cheapest:
Hario Coffee Hand Grinder
OE LIDO Manual Coffee Grinder
OE PHAROS Hand Coffee Grinder
Baratza:
Prescio
Vario(w)
Used commercial:
Super jolly etc.

 
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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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,296
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 1:43pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Rob989_69 Said:

great info. I didn't read the entire thread...

Posted December 26, 2012 link

so as you see, since you didn't read the whole other thread, people are copying in some of the exact same recommendations given in the other thread.


Rob989_69 Said:

She is on board for an espresso machine though.

Posted December 26, 2012 link

would be nice if you mentioned which grinder you did receive.  any chance you trade in the gift for an upgrade with the same retailer?


Rob989_69 Said:

So, what would some recommendations be for a low mess, low fuss, easy to use machine that will get me going and last a few years?

Posted December 26, 2012 link

I can't think of any low mess machines.  ease of use to me is just about every machine low fuss is a matter of opinion, I personally don't mind taking care of my machine.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Rob989_69
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Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Rochester
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 2:41pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

emradguy Said:

so as you see, since you didn't read the whole other thread, people are copying in some of the exact same recommendations given in the other thread.

Did read that much. LOL


would be nice if you mentioned which grinder you did receive.  any chance you trade in the gift for an upgrade with the same retailer?

This one Click Here (www.bestbuy.com)!pla!!!32362364079!g!!15447879399

Unfortunately my in laws are in Montreal and they bought it at a store there that we don't have here. (Don't remember the name) anyway, no way to return it.


I can't think of any low mess machines.  ease of use to me is just about every machine low fuss is a matter of opinion, I personally don't mind taking care of my machine.

Posted December 26, 2012 link

I guess what I mean by that is machines that are easy to use for a newbie. Some of these look like something a mad scientist would use. I'm sure they're fantastic machines but considering A. I've never used an espresso machine and B. Don't want to sink a ton of money into something I may not like (doubtful I know but there's the possibility) I want something Cheap(ish) and easy(ish)

Again, I know there are much more ideal ways to do this. But basically I want a decent machine, something that will not only serve me well now but won't leave me wanting to upgrade in 6 months to a year.

It seems the general consensus is super auto machines are not the BEST machines. Question is, will they turn out a decent shot?
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 6:11pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

You can have cheap or easy or good.  

You can't have all three at the same time today.  Maybe tomorrow someone will come out with a machine that is cheap, easy and good but at this time it doesn't exist.

  1. Unless you are incredibly lucky on craigslist there is probably no machine below $300 that you can't outgrow in 6 months or less.  There are lots of threads that back this up.  I suggest you take a look at them.  I might post a link or two later.

  2. Unless you find that "lucky" craigslist used machine nothing in that price range will be easy for a newbie to use.  The problem is the cheap machines are less consistent and therefore harder to pull consistently good shots on.  That is the problem that discourages at of people and even when they hang in there and master it, in a few months they begin to lust for a machine that will give them consistency with less work.  Therefore a more expensive machine.

  3. Machines that do it all for you are easy to use but the shots are mediocre at best and they are pricey, prone to break down and very expensive to repair.  The only really cheap ones are capsules machines and the refills are pricey so like cheap printers with expensive ink they get you in the end.

When I was in your shoes last year I read a lot and I was like you, I did not want to spend over $300, then I read more and upped it to $500 .... The more I read the more I was sure I would not like anything I could get new at those prices.  I bit the bullet and bought a used HX machine for under 500 and got a grinder for about the same price so I ended up spending 1k on my starter set up.  However, I am much happier with my first machine than many that started with $300 new machines.  I still have it, it works well and I don't want an upgrade unless I hit the lotto.

You can either go my route to up your budget OR do something along the lines of a 40$ hand grinder and used starbuck barista for 100$ off craigslist.  Play with that for 6 months then toss it if you are not using it or up your budget at that time.  You will have 150 left over for your next machine in 6 months.

 
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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Rob989_69
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Rochester
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 6:25pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Thanks guys, I've read the buying guide posted and a bunch of threads here and elsewhere. I think until I can get a good grinder I'm going to hold off on a machine for now. I'll keep an eye on craigslist and ebay to see if I can get a deal on a nice machine.

Do most of you have a single grinder for everything? Do you drink espresso/or espresso drinks exclusively? I guess where I'm going is do most of you invest in a dedicated espresso grinder but use something else for drip/pourover/whatever other method you may brew?
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flathead1
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Joined: 23 Jul 2005
Posts: 77
Location: Mississippi Coast
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Anita, La Pavoni pro, 67...
Grinder: Macap M4, Lelit 53, Solis...
Drip: Bodium Press
Roaster: I-Roast1, Behmor, RK Drum
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 6:34pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Okay let's try a compromise. I know it isn't espresso and you won't be steaming milk with it but 62 million Italians can't all be wrong. If you want strong "espresso like" coffee pair your Cuisinart burr grinder with a Bialetti Moka Express (I have heard every Italian has one on their stove). It makes super strong coffee with a little practice and you can heat your milk to  150F in the microwave. Your current grinder ought to be able to grind fine enough for the moka pot and you can use some of your savings to source fresh beans.

I am not saying this is an end point, but as has been pointed out your budget won't support anything better and for about $25 more you can prepare a drink that will be just good enough to convince you budget comptroller to loosen the purse to the $1000 - $1500 range.
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