The Vario-W is a great grinder. That leaves roughly about $1000 for the machine. An Oscar won't be within your budget, but maybe a Bezzera BZ09 would be. The problem with the BZ09 is that it lacks a hot water wand, so making your Americanos would require using the group head to dispense hot water.
I have a 7-stage reverse osmosis water filter I would love to plumb it into. Can the machines in my budget range be modded for plumbing?
OK, I'm going to probably need correction by the experts here... but here goes....
I think any machine can be modified to run off of plumbing with a pressure regulator. The problem is, vibration pump machines don't like having water pressure applied to them. A vibration pump works on the concept of creating a negative pressure differential, so the more initial pressure there is, the less effective the pump becomes. A rotary pump machine just adds to the existing pressure, so it doesn't care what you feed it, it will just add to it. (This means that the machine may require an initial brew pressure adjustment for your water supply.)
Vibratory pump machines can't handle a line pressure higher than 45 PSI and do not take well to water pressure changes or anything which can cause a water hammer. (IE. Like a washing machine solenoid closing shut.), so a pressure regulator is mandatory. As well, most vibratory pump machines use silicone or plastic hoses with compression fittings to keep costs down.
In theory, Some Rotary pump machines can handle line pressures up to 130 PSI, (Read manufacturers specifications for maximum line pressure!) for a few reasons. Rotary pump machines use copper tubing instead of plastic or silicone tubing and use plumbing fittings sealed with teflon tape. If you want to pre-infuse, you still need a pressure regulator because pre-infusing at 130 PSI is kind of pointless. (130 PSI is 9 bar.)
So, if you want to plumb in, I would highly recommend considering buying an espresso machine with a rotary pump and that means you have to consider doubling your machine budget. You also have to keep in mind that this machine is being exposed to water line pressure, so you don't want to cheap out here, otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where you end up with a flooded kitchen. (Unlikely, but not impossible.)
The Quickmill Vetrano is probably the most inexpensive rotary pump machine on the market, (At least to my knowledge) selling for roughly around $2000. The only competitor to the Vetrano in that price range (Again, at least to my knowledge) is the La Spaziale Vivaldi and the Izzo Alex. The advantage about the Alex is that it can be switched between reservoir and plumb-in operation. The Vetrano and the Vivaldi are designed for plumb-in operation only.
What if I held off on a grinder for awhile and bought pre-ground coffee?
That's like saying, "What if I bought a Ferrari and drove with the handbrake on all the time?" :-) I don't recommend doing that. Spend the money on a grinder and you certainly will not regret it. I should know!
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 7:50pm Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
Well, the OP's requirements seemed kind of conservative, but I do certainly agree that one of the biggest pains in the rear about SBDU machines is that they are great when you are making a small amount of drinks, but when you are having company over, forget it. By the time your company finishes their drinks, you'll be starting in on making yours. This is especially true if your company likes to drink lots of milk drinks.
In retrospect, please disregard my suggestion for the Lelit.. your family won't want to "Wait in line" to make their milk drinks.
And this is the primary reason I am upgrading from the Le'Lit. I once made coffee for some house guests who came over for boardgames. My husband became annoyed when I was just finishing my own twenty minutes later. I tried to explain the time it takes to steam the milk for each drink, for the machine to reset between drinks, etc, and he just didn't get it. But you bet I am using that incident as ammunition in my argument for upgrading! :)
caffinatedhacker Senior Member Joined: 24 Feb 2013 Posts: 4 Location: Florida Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 7:57pm Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
I've been doing a ton of reading. I was initially leaning toward the Silvano, but the Oscar sounds like a better fit the more I read. Especially since my main drink (cafe con leche) is cuban coffee with milk.
The Oscar even has a plumbing option, but it is $300. I'm not worried about water pressure. My system is running at 60PSI, but I can add a regulator after the system. They are cheap. I'm not going to worry about that right now though. That can be done later.
As far as budget goes, if I have to spend a bit more, then so be it. I know if I don't get what I want, I won't be happy.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,025 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Feb 27, 2013, 5:37am Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
RO filtered water should never be used in an espresso machine without adding BACK IN, minerals to the water. RO water is too pure and will not make good quality coffee of any kind. Not to mention that in any machine that uses an auto fill boiler system, it will malfunction with RO water as the water, being too pure, does not conduct electric current and thus the autofill system will not work.
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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 Wed Feb 27, 2013, 6:07am Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
The big controversy is that dual boiler machines are generally quite expensive while the BDB isn't. It could be due to volume manufacturing or maybe that it is made in China. Everyone else (usually Italian manufacturers) generally sell a double boiler for roughly around $1000 more than the BDB. To keep costs down, most Sub-$2000 prosumer grade espresso machines are typically heat exchanging machines. Even the Quickmill QM67, considered to be an entry level double boiler machine, is about $2000.
As a new guy; I'd like to comment based on my research.
With regards to the BDB; I've had great experience with many happy guests from my lower end Breville. A huge reason for the lower cost is the materials used. The Italian machines with DB for the most part use Copper Boilers with brass fittings. This alone would put the Breville in the 2K price range.
The Quick mill is an entry level prosumer because it is designed to be run on 15A and with a tank. It could work BETTER than the higher end models on 15A since many of the more expensive models are designed with the intent of 20A but "can" run on 15A. This keeps the cost slightly lower. If it had the rotary pump for plumbing and 20A hardware then it would be in the same price range as the R58 and Duetto 3. Entry level doesn't mean sub par espresso in this context. At this level the user is going to be the biggest variable given equal beans and grinder.
The Quickmill Vetrano is a rotary pump machine which requires a plumb in line. I think you may be thinking about the Quick Mill Andreja Premium, which is a reservoir vibe pump machine. Strangely enough, both models are just around the $2000 mark. Both are Heat Exchanging machines designed to run off of 15 amps.
more expensive models are designed with the intent of 20A but "can" run on 15A.
Realistically, the only difference between a 15 amp and a 20 amp version is that the heaters are rated for a higher wattage... and that on a double boiler machine, only one heater can run at a time as opposed to both of them. That's about it really. I think they may have larger boilers, but only because the heaters can deliver a shorter delivery time with more water.
From the point of view of using the machine for prosumer use, there isn't any difference between a 15 amp and 20 amp operation, excluding faster warm up times.
At this level the user is going to be the biggest variable given equal beans and grinder.
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