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advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
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mschlon
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 3
Location: dayton, ohio
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:09pm
Subject: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

I have been researching machines over the past few weeks and I appreciate the wisdom and insight that this forum provides.  I have a delonghi ec155 and no grinder.  I know that I want to begin to upgrade and I am not quite sure whether I will get just a grinder or grinder + machine.  I've read other threads and found Jason's "standard questions" below which I'll attempt to answer.    

WHEN the time comes to upgrade, you should consider the Standard Questions:

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  
quad shot cafe americano is my current drink of choice.  my wife prefers lattes.  I think with a better machine, I'd enjoy espresso, but currently cannot produce one worthy of drinking solo.
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time?
probably rare to make more than 2 at present.
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?
6-8 shots/day x 7 days + 3-4 lattes per week
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?  No good way to plumb it currently.
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
I have 15, but could add a 20 if needed
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
?$1000ish (grinder +machine) - but I'd accept the opinion that I should use the ec155 and just get a decent grinder for now and save for a machine that meets my needs later.

So, here's the 2 questions/comments that I didn't see addressed in other posts that I'd add to the above information/ wish list:
1) I am really not at the point of searching for the god shot...  I am quite content with a starbucks quad/quin shot caramel americano.  (I know that I have just offended many of you... my apologies :) )  But I cannot produce anything close to this good with starbucks grinding my beans and using my ec155.  I also am aware that I'll probably raise my standards when / if I experience better, but I want to express that I have modest goals.  I also don't have hours to practice/ perfect my technique at this point in my life.  Although I would enjoy improving with time, I'd really like a machine with a small learning curve.

2)  One thing that I have not been able to find info on is the noisiness of different machines.  Many mornings a bit of noise may help wake the kids, since they have become immune to their alarm clocks :)  However, when I have early meetings and want to escape (but not without my drink), are their any machines that are quiet enough to not wake the whole house?

Let me express my appreciation in advance for your time and widsom.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 6:15am
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

For the $1000 budget, I generally recommend the Crossland CC1 and the Baratza Preciso (or better yet, a refurb Vario).
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,953
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 9:13am
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

Heck, you can make better espresso than *$$ just by changing beans.  But, I do agree you would be best served buying a grinder (and still change beans).  The suggestion Markarian made is not a bad one.  Would you consider used or refurbished gear?  If so, you would be able to get a better class of stuff for the same money...but it's not for everyone, and that's cool.  Have you read the buying guide?  If so, have you thought much about what type of machine you want? If not, it would be a good idea.  The 155 is about as low as one can go and still get a decent shot, but going from there to a better SBDU might not be best for you...which is why he recommended the CC1. Given your intended use, it does sound like a solid SBDU might serve your needs, but if you want to entertain and make several drinks to serve yourselves and guests, it will be frustrating.

It's been said many, many times that one can make better espresso with an outstanding grinder and a minimal machine, than one can make with a minimal grinder and an outstanding machine.  I think I would suggest that you get an outstanding grinder for now (Vario, Mini, Macap M4 - I think there's one in the BST forum now) and then see if you want to go up on the machine.  Also, you might find you want something more in the prosumer department and then you wouldn't have wasted money on some package deal.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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mschlon
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 3
Location: dayton, ohio
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 12:34pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

I had been  watching an eBay sale that had a vario grinder in combo with a la spaz mini II.   I just bought it.  It was a bit of a leap as I haven't used anything likd this before, but the price was too good to pass up.  
So I will now be reading and learning how to use it.  I'm truly not sure if it meets my desire for being quiet or simple, but to have 2 quality prices of equipment on my limited budget was worth the risk, I think.
Mark
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fredk01
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 136
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 1:05pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

Well.  That's a wee step up! :-)

Nice machine.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,953
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 1:20pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

nice job!  Having not used either of those, I can't say anything about noise...sorry.

What accessories are included in your purchase?
(tamper, frothing pitcher, pf handles and baskets)

A couple of things you can due to prepare while you wait for your equipment to arrive are...

Read:
-article 12 - Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home - on www.espressomyespresso.com
-Jim Schulman's insanely long water FAQ
-check out the "list of Favorite Roasters" on home-barista.com, check out their websites, read about the flavor profiles and maybe even check some threads on beans/blends here to see peoples' comments

Watch:
-YouTube videos on how to prepare your pf and pull a shot
-YouTube video of Scott Rao's dish soap in water technique for learning how to froth milk

Buy: (I know you just dropped a chunk of change, but these couple of items will help a lot)
-small scale calibrated to 0.1g resolution to weigh your doses (highly recommended by most)
-graduated shot glass (highly recommended by some)
-milk frothing thermometer (highly recommended by some)
-kitchen timer (highly recommended by some - though a wristwatch might be a great substitute)

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,010
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 2:12pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

Sounds like you made a good buy.
Also:
Dollar store digital timer 1$

Check thrift shops for small frothing pitchers often sold with the coffee mugs for a buck or 2.  Much cheaper than new.

I tend to by the scales and the marked shot glasses new but sometimes I guess you can get lucky at the thrift store.

 
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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coffeestig
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 67
Location: Charlotte
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill QM67
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Electronic...
Drip: French Press
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 3:09pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

mschlon Said:

I had been  watching an eBay sale that had a vario grinder in combo with a la spaz mini II.   I just bought it.  It was a bit of a leap as I haven't used anything likd this before, but the price was too good to pass up.  
So I will now be reading and learning how to use it.  I'm truly not sure if it meets my desire for being quiet or simple, but to have 2 quality prices of equipment on my limited budget was worth the risk, I think.
Mark

Posted February 26, 2013 link

You outbid me for that!  haha, congrats and I'm glad someone that will enjoy it won.
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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 Tue Feb 26, 2013, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

emradguy Said:

nice job!  Having not used either of those, I can't say anything about noise...sorry.

What accessories are included in your purchase?
(tamper, frothing pitcher, pf handles and baskets)

A couple of things you can due to prepare while you wait for your equipment to arrive are...

Read:
-article 12 - Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home - on www.espressomyespresso.com
-Jim Schulman's insanely long water FAQ
-check out the "list of Favorite Roasters" on home-barista.com, check out their websites, read about the flavor profiles and maybe even check some threads on beans/blends here to see peoples' comments

Watch:
-YouTube videos on how to prepare your pf and pull a shot
-YouTube video of Scott Rao's dish soap in water technique for learning how to froth milk

Buy: (I know you just dropped a chunk of change, but these couple of items will help a lot)
-small scale calibrated to 0.1g resolution to weigh your doses (highly recommended by most)
-graduated shot glass (highly recommended by some)
-milk frothing thermometer (highly recommended by some)
-kitchen timer (highly recommended by some - though a wristwatch might be a great substitute)

Posted February 26, 2013 link

+1.
There is also a La Spaziale "club" made up of owners. MUCH great information.
Please make sure you thoroughly clean the machine by running lots of low calcium water through her.
Watch for leaks.
Excellent grinder as well.

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


Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 67
Location: Charlotte
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill QM67
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Electronic...
Drip: French Press
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 3:31pm
Subject: Re: advice for a novice looking for equipment upgrade
 

IMAWriter Said:

+1.
There is also a La Spaziale "club" made up of owners. MUCH great information.
Please make sure you thoroughly clean the machine by running lots of low calcium water through her.
Watch for leaks.
Excellent grinder as well.

Posted February 26, 2013 link

I saw the ebay add... the seller just had it cleaned and serviced at Chriscoffee... should be pristine.
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