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Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Super-Automated...  
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,354
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:18pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

The Delonghis are entry level cheap machines, pretty much throw always (have one still but never use it obviously lol). Poor temps, stability, cheap internals, pressurized portafilter etc. Kinda same issues with super autos, like I said in another post, they don't get to the right temps for espresso, no stability, no adjusting, poor internal grinders, watered down fast pulling shots vs pulling 1-2oz in 25-35 seconds with a semi machine, and cheap internals also that if fail can dang near cost the price of a new machine to repair b/c of how complicated they are inside. As long as you like the coffee though that's what matters.

Huge huge taste difference from a super-auto or entry level machine, vs a good semi one or levers like you pointed out.  Correct temp range, stable, consistent pulls, real crema, and since you'd be using an espresso capable grinder your grinding finer and consistently giving good flavorfull extractions.
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RapidCoffee
Senior Member
RapidCoffee
Joined: 4 Dec 2004
Posts: 1,930
Location: Rapid City, SD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1
Grinder: Mazzer Robur
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: misc
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:37pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

SteveFreides Said:

One thing I find surprising is that a semi-automatic machine often costs less money than a lever machine - that seems backwards to me, e.g, this one

DeLonghi EC702

seems to be inexpensive and get great reviews - $206.43 on Amazon.com today.  One of the lever machines you mention as consumer grade,

La Pavoni Europicola

costs over $800 - why 4 times the cost?

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Coming from a music teacher, I'm surprised at your question. There is even greater variance in the price of musical instruments than espresso machines. You can purchase a guitar for $100 or $1000 or $10000. This price range includes both acoustic and electric models. Why would anyone pay $1000 or more for a guitar, when they could get a perfectly good working instrument for $100?

The answer is obvious: quality. Any musician would tell you that there are huge differences between entry level student instruments, and performance quality models. Similarly, there are huge differences between high end commercial espresso gear and low end consumer models.

FWIW, I have owned superautos in the past. They are amazing devices, and the convenience factor is outstanding. If you are happy with superauto espresso, that's great. (To my unfortunate palate, they produce undrinkable swill. :-)
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SteveFreides
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Jun 2012
Posts: 21
Location: Ridgewood, NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Syncrony
Drip: No Drip - French Press
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:51pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

"Quality" doesn't address my question, though.  If a lever machine and a semi-auto are of equal quality, which costs more and why?  Or perhaps a better question is, since you're suggesting the lever machine and the semi-auto I gave as examples are of different quality (if I understand you correctly), why isn't there a correspondingly "cheap" lever machine that costs even less than the DeLonghi EC702?

To your point of instrument quality, yes, of course, that's true, but we must say in the same breath that the law of diminishing returns applies to musical instrument quality as, I assume, it does to espresso machines.  I own a variety of musical instruments because I'm a multi-instrumentalist.  But I don't own pro-level instruments for all of them because I don't play them all equally well and because I don't want or need a top-quality instrument all the time.  There exists such a thing as good enough.

My first instruments are guitar and piano, and I've owned hand-built, concert-quality instruments of each.  But I play a $1700 used (about twice that new) French Horn because I'd have to be a better player than I am to make it worth spending $10-15k or more on an instrument like many professional orchestral players do.

You could get all the way into college with a $400 Yamaha factory-made classical guitar.  You wouldn't play it on the stage at Carnegie Hall, and you'd want better by the time you got out of music school, but the player matters more than the instrument.   Great, classic recordings have been made on $100 trumpets.

I'd like to think that, in the same way, the fact that I put fresh-roasted, fresh-ground, high quality coffee in my espresso machine is the most important part of the equation - I don't think that old, lousy coffee going into a pro-level espresso machine is going to taste very good.  Which would you rather have, supermarket coffee that's weeks, if not months, past the date it was ground, run through a pro espresso machine - or my home-roasted beans through my Gaggia Syncrony?  You're welcomed to disagree with me, of course, but I'd choose the better coffee over the better machine every time.

I love my coffee but I don't personally feel the need to have the best espresso machine on the market, just one that's good enough to make me coffee I enjoy drinking.

Sorry for the rant but I am back to my original question - I want to know, quality being equal, if a lever machine is less expensive than a semi-auto and, if not, why, since the semi-auto needs more gadgets than the lever machine does according to my understanding of each.

Thank you for the conversation and I hope I haven't offended.

-S-
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CoffeeRoastersClub
Senior Member
CoffeeRoastersClub
Joined: 6 Jul 2005
Posts: 4,455
Location: Connecticut
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vintage La Pavoni Lever...
Grinder: Breville Smartgrind,...
Vac Pot: Vintage Silex, Nicro...
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: javaPRO-CRC AIR Fluid Bed...
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 1:01pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

SteveFreides Said:

Ok, Super Auto it will be, and I thank you for the clarification.

As I've explained elsewhere, I am a music teacher giving private lessons from our home for most of my living.  I make espresso for many of my adult students and for the parents of many of my younger students.   I do not want to take the time or energy for anything other than what I consider a fully automated process of making espresso and which you are calling super auto, which is fine with me.

I'm sure I will someday own a more manual machine, called manual, semi auto or fully auto in your jargon, but for now, my Gaggia Syncrony is it for me and my wife.  We actually own two of them because we found one on eBay for cheap and bought it.

We home roast and we love the coffee we drink.

Can I call my machine completely automatic?  :)

Thanks very much.

-S-

Posted January 24, 2013 link

"Can I call my machine completely automatic?  :)"

Yes, if you have your wife push the button on it ...

Len

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

www.CoffeeRoastersClub.com     www.javaPRO-CRC.com     www.KaffeeFrisch.com
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

SteveFreides Said:

One thing I find surprising is that a semi-automatic machine often costs less money than a lever machine - that seems backwards to me, e.g, this one -- DeLonghi EC702 -- seems to be inexpensive and get great reviews - $206.43 on Amazon.com today.  One of the lever machines you mention as consumer grade -- La Pavoni Europicola -- costs over $800 - why 4 times the cost?

Posted January 26, 2013 link

And why is a Mazda Miata with manual transmission more expensive than a Yugo with automatic transmission?  Steve, you are comparing a cheap, throw-away piece of $#!+ with a rock-solid lever machine that your grandchildren will be able to use, given proper care and maintenance.

SteveFreides Said:

I'm not doubting - I simply don't know and would appreciate an explanation.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Sure you are, but that's OK.  You just need to realize that -- at least so far -- every preconceived notion you have demonstrated is wrong.  As I said, that's OK.  You just need to do what you're doing:  ask questions!  ;^)

And, by the way . . .

SteveFreides Said:

I'm sure I will someday own a more manual machine, called manual, semi auto or fully auto in your jargon . . . Can I call my machine completely automatic?

Posted January 24, 2013 link

And is it OK with you if I call that violin a cello? how about a saxophone?  Can I call that Steinway grand piano a spinnet? how about a clavichord?  OK if I write a C-sharp as a D-flat?  Or is it better if we all use the commonly accepted definitions of various but specific terms so that we understand each other clearly?

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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RapidCoffee
Senior Member
RapidCoffee
Joined: 4 Dec 2004
Posts: 1,930
Location: Rapid City, SD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1
Grinder: Mazzer Robur
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: misc
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 2:14pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

SteveFreides Said:

"Quality" doesn't address my question, though.  If a lever machine and a semi-auto are of equal quality, which costs more and why?  Or perhaps a better question is, since you're suggesting the lever machine and the semi-auto I gave as examples are of different quality (if I understand you correctly), why isn't there a correspondingly "cheap" lever machine that costs even less than the DeLonghi EC702?
...
I'd like to think that, in the same way, the fact that I put fresh-roasted, fresh-ground, high quality coffee in my espresso machine is the most important part of the equation - I don't think that old, lousy coffee going into a pro-level espresso machine is going to taste very good.  Which would you rather have, supermarket coffee that's weeks, if not months, past the date it was ground, run through a pro espresso machine - or my home-roasted beans through my Gaggia Syncrony?  You're welcomed to disagree with me, of course, but I'd choose the better coffee over the better machine every time.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Market price is determined by many factors. Many people regard coffee as a commodity and caffeine delivery system, and are perfectly happy with preground Folgers and a $12 auto drip brewer. At the other end of the spectrum is the lunatic fringe, hobbyists who are willing to pay much higher prices to feed their obsession passion for coffee. (I am proud to count myself among that lunatic fringe. :-) If you think you can market a home lever espresso machine for $200 or less, then I urge you to do so. But I won't hold my breath waiting for it.

Re crap gear + good coffee vs. good gear + crap coffee: that is a classic strawman argument. Nobody is recommending that you pair cheap coffee with an expensive espresso machine. The point is, regardless of the coffee you use, you will never get pours like this from your superauto. Whereas I get them every time.

RapidCoffee: RedlineCollage.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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SteveFreides
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Jun 2012
Posts: 21
Location: Ridgewood, NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Syncrony
Drip: No Drip - French Press
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 2:41pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

Alright, gentlemen, do I understand correctly that the market for level machines is much smaller than the market for semi-auto and fully-auto machines?  That would explain a lot.

-S-
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CoffeeRoastersClub
Senior Member
CoffeeRoastersClub
Joined: 6 Jul 2005
Posts: 4,455
Location: Connecticut
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vintage La Pavoni Lever...
Grinder: Breville Smartgrind,...
Vac Pot: Vintage Silex, Nicro...
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: javaPRO-CRC AIR Fluid Bed...
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:16pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

SteveFreides Said:

Alright, gentlemen, do I understand correctly that the market for level machines is much smaller than the market for semi-auto and fully-auto machines?  That would explain a lot.

-S-

Posted January 26, 2013 link

I'd consider a better analogy being a comparison of the high cost relation of a good lever to an audiophile purchasing a very expensive esoteric old school turntable and tube amplifier and playing a record seeking to hear every nuance of the recording.  Both the lever and turntable/amp being of quality craftsmanship, and each having numerous manual adjustments and variables to consider to achieve an incredible performance.

Len

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

www.CoffeeRoastersClub.com     www.javaPRO-CRC.com     www.KaffeeFrisch.com
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,841
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:32pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

RapidCoffee Said:

Coming from a music teacher, I'm surprised at your question. There is even greater variance in the price of musical instruments than espresso machines. You can purchase a guitar for $100 or $1000 or $10000. This price range includes both acoustic and electric models. Why would anyone pay $1000 or more for a guitar, when they could get a perfectly good working instrument for $100?

The answer is obvious: quality. Any musician would tell you that there are huge differences between entry level student instruments, and performance quality models. Similarly, there are huge differences between high end commercial espresso gear and low end consumer models.

FWIW, I have owned superautos in the past. They are amazing devices, and the convenience factor is outstanding. If you are happy with superauto espresso, that's great. (To my unfortunate palate, they produce undrinkable swill. :-)

Posted January 26, 2013 link

This is an excellent analogy, as I'm involved deeply in BOTH ends of it!

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,841
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:41pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

OK, I HAVE to weigh in here.
A lever machine...either fully manual or spring assisted is a highly thought out precision machine, regardless it's cost. A simple Caravel...just a boiler and simple group... can pull little sweet shots that rivals $5000 machines...just a lot smaller.
But we are talking apples and oranges, pump machines or lever.

Steve, I believe you need to allow your mind to wrap around the quality of espresso, and not the cost, or you'd be better off just continuing with a Super Auto.
Truth is, the more dependable better built SA cost 2-3x's more than a terrific dedicated espresso grinder and fully stainless steel HX...or double boiler.
Another advantage is we can service our own machines, while in MOST cases, you must send it back to the manufacturer.

I would argue slightly with my friend Jason B that a "low ends" La Pavoni can't make superior coffee. The best lever shot I've ever had came from a La Pavoni...maybe the best ESPRESSO SHOT. Better than my Olympia Cremina, a much more expensive and better built machine. However, the Cremina is yards ahead as regards consistency. For me, the BETTER machine. YMMV.

If I were you, I'd get a good grinder, a well cared for pore owned HX machine, and learn the art. As a musician, you will find the learning curve far less stressful than Czerny, or hours practicing Bach at 1/3 tempo with the incessant clicking of a metronome.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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