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What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What setup would...  
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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 11:39am
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

Great points have been made on the machines in question.  The Oscar is a very underrated machine because, IMO, it LOOKS like a single boiler consumer machine, yet it has internals like any other E61 and the like(though its not an E61).  Plastic case and overall smaller size aside, its a very solid machine.  Comes in a direct connect model as well, so plumbing is easy if you want.  Black, Red, Silver and Cream are the colors it comes in, but most places Ive seen offer Red and Black. (Personally, the Cream is sexy if you ask me)

The Vario and the Oscar will make a great pair.  And as long as you buy FRESHLY ROASTED ARTISAN COFFEE on a weekly basis, you will be enjoying the best coffee of your life.

----

Breville.

Im the last person who would like this machine.  Every other machine they make, is junk IMO.  Their grinders are barely adequate.  They have a reputation for not standing behind their products, and generally making terrible coffee equipment.

And yet.  I like the Breville Dual Boiler.  I think its great.  I dont own one, never used one.  But I would buy it if I was looking for a machine in that price range.  Dual Boiler with PID control as well as variable temp/pressure pre-infusion are features that you pay twice as much for on other machines.  

And the cool thing about every Breville product(Aside from their coffee equipment), is they think of every possible user scenario, and plan for it so its ergonomic, smart, intuitive and neat.  Need to fill the reservoir?  No problem, there is a trap door for filling in the front of the machine, no need to slide it out from the counter.  Need to rotate the machine to get to the rear?  No problem, move a lever and a small wheel engages enabling you to rotate the machine.  Breville is known for those little tweaks and add-ons, and I for one, think its cool.  As a cook, I wont tell you their equipment is top rate, but for the average home user, most of their tools and appliances do very well.  The Breville Dual Boiler seems to fall more in line with the rest of their product line, as opposed to their other espresso machines.

I think Amazon has it for ~1000 right now.  At that price, its AT LEAST worth your consideration.  Every point Jason made about it, IS spot on.  You need to decide if its important to YOU.

-------

Lastly,

La Nuova Era Cuadra Version 2.  Its $995 brand new with warranty.

That is a flippin steal.  An E-61 Heat Exchanger with the features it has, should sell for another $500 at least.  And its backed by 1stLine, one of the best Vendors out there.

As much as I like the Breville at its price point, and as popular as the Oscar has become, AND even though I prefer a Dual Boiler(probably why Ilike the breville...), the Era Caudra is the most machine for the money, without a doubt.  It is a cut above the others discussed here.  Dont discount it, it IS worth your consideration.

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,874
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 Mar 2, 2013, 11:41am
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

I'd prefer we suspend the Breville/anti Breville discussion at this point.
Deus (if i may address a Deity so directly), To make drinks as good or better than 95% of the cafes out there, $1500 for machine and grinder is sufficient.
There are pre-owned HX machines a bit more stylish than the Oscar, but probably not a whole lot better. All that's missing on the Oscar is some stainless steel on the sides, and a hot water wand. It is a workhorse, from all I've read.

I'd go with the Vario W if you want consistency. A used SJ is a fine choice, though there will be some waste, and a much larger footprint. BTW, vendors like Chris Coffee and others often will allow you to bundle grinder and machine and will take a few bucks off.
Don't forget top allow maybe $75-100 for ancillary items like a good tamper, milk pitcher, knock-box, and cleaning supplies.
Again, some vendors will throw in one or more of these items to sweeten the deal.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
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Deus
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2011
Posts: 44
Location: Boston
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 1:13pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

I love the input. I also want to make sure I don't outgrow the machine. Once I get into something I shoot to excel, So I am sure I will be more hopped up on caffeine than usual once I get this lol. I was hoping not to have to buy another machine in 5 years either. Not sure if that is reasonable or not.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 1:40pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

I am on year two of my used Oscar and I don't feel an upgraditius bug.  Nothing is going to temp me less than a 3k machine and that only if I won the lotto.  

I don't feel that I will out grow Oscar and now that I have tweaked it out it is over the top for not much cash out of pocket.  I like Oscar is a commercial rated machine.  I can live without the hot water tap  (I mostly make iced tea in large amounts not small cups of tea so I would not want to pull 4 cups off the boiler anyway) I like I can work on it and it is portable.

If I had bought new I would be temped by the La Nuova Era Cuadra at the 1k mark (+- 200)  I think that it looks like a great deal, but I have never owned one.

500$ more gets you in the Anita QM, Vibiemme Domobar Junior or the Bz07 commercial with Pid.  I am not sure you not better off spending that 500$ on upping the grinder not the machine.  I think that will give you more taste in the cup.  I don't see those machines as 50% better than the ones you can get at 1k.   You have to get a lot closer to 2k to get me to even notice them and I really don't start seeing envy green till you get closer to 3k.  

Right now I am in lust with a simpler machine with less to work on and less trouble to pull great shots.  I just wish the pound would drop against the dollar....
http://londiniumespresso.com/collections/espresso-equipment

I still think finding a clean used Oscar is the way to start reasonably and get a great deal.

 
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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Deus
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2011
Posts: 44
Location: Boston
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 2:09pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

The Era Cuadra is looking great. Bundled with the Vario it comes to $1500. I am a little concerned about it being HX and having to deal with having to cool flush. Like I said, I have read and read but never used an espresso machine so not sure if this will be "hassle". Although the Oscar is...A very beautiful machine for those who love them. My wife has just stated that this will not have a place in her kitchen on her counter. So the Oscar does not seem to be in the running.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 2:26pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

That is fine, Oscar is easier to clean and no burn.... but I understand her objection.  If I was getting new I would probably have ended up with Era Cuadra. The cooling flush is nothing and like I said recently I made mine less by tweaking the thermosyphon and I miss the greater volume to warm the cups.  Watch this and you will see the water dance settle down into a steady stream in like 4 seconds. That is all it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71JoPxbBtLA

 
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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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 3:18pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

How I learned to stop worrying, and enjoy my HX espresso machine

Standard reading for anyone interested in an HX machine.

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,390
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 Mar 2, 2013, 4:06pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

Deus Said:

I am a little concerned about it being HX and having to deal with having to cool flush.

Posted March 2, 2013 link

The hardest thing about a cooling flush is describing how to do it . . . it's a piece of cake in real life, and totally second nature.

Look it this way:   describe each and every single step involved in starting your car and backing out of the driveway.  Go ahead.  We'll wait . . .

Walk up to the driver's door.  Pull keys out of pants pocket.  Insert key in lock and turn counterclockwise to unlock door.  Open door.  Get into car's driver seat.  Close door.  Insert key into ignition . . . And so on and so on and so on . . .

Using an HX is the exact same thing.  There may be some steps involved, but that require very little "conscious" thought.  It's all "automatic."  By all means, read the article linked by Jman -- excellent read . . . and remember, there's no difference in the cup between an HX and DB of comparable quality.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages . . .

Deus Said:

My wife has just stated that this will not have a place in her kitchen on her counter. So the Oscar does not seem to be in the running.

Posted March 2, 2013 link

Yes, well, that's important.  We refer to that as WAF -- wife acceptance factor.

Deus Said:

If I did put the $1500 on the machine ???? Interested. I could always stretch if needed

Posted March 2, 2013 link

It increases your options considerably.

Bezzera BZ07 volumetric
Fiorenzato Bricoletta
Quick Mill Anita

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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MDiddy
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Oct 2012
Posts: 118
Location: PA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP
Drip: Cuisinart DCC-1200
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 4:29pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

That is fine, Oscar is easier to clean and no burn.... but I understand her objection.  If I was getting new I would probably have ended up with Era Cuadra. The cooling flush is nothing and like I said recently I made mine less by tweaking the thermosyphon and I miss the greater volume to warm the cups.  Watch this and you will see the water dance settle down into a steady stream in like 4 seconds. That is all it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71JoPxbBtLA

Posted March 2, 2013 link

Being a Cuadra owner, I can tell you the cooling flush (at least mine) isn't THAT short.  LOL  The water dance stops on mine about 5-7 seconds in, but I flush an ounce or two more to bring the temp down a bit using Eric's thermometer.  Jason is right though.  It just becomes second nature when pulling a shot.

And please don't let my comment about the cooling flush put you off on the machine at all.  I love mine to death!  Honestly, for the money, you will not find a better machine, period.  Top that off with the top notch support you get from Jim and 1st Line and it's a no brainer.

Also, to save yourself a few bucks on the Vario, be sure to check Ebay.  A user on there, zoes stuff, sells them for ridiculously low prices, brand new.   Not really sure how he does it.  

You can actually offer him down a bit on them too.  I got mine for 350.00 shipped to my door.  Here's his auction.

Click Here (www.ebay.com)
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Winnisk
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Jan 2013
Posts: 20
Location: Moonstone Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvano
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sat Mar 2, 2013, 5:25pm
Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
 

Probably the last thing you need is to have me throw another machine into the mix, but based on your described usage needs, experience and original budget, you are in the exact same place as I was a few months ago. I ended up going with a Quick Mill Silvano and Vario. It has worked out very well for me. After spending some time getting a handle on the grind and distribution, I am consistently pulling good shots. I am thrilled with the quality of the espresso as well as the repeatability factor once I find the parameters I like. Milk drinks are easy, but, again, I am only making one or two at a time usually. It did handle everyone at Christmas just fine, as it recovers in about 30 seconds and is ready to go again way before I am. I have no doubt that if I needed to steam larger amounts of milk, the Oscar would be better. For my needs though, the extra steaming power isn't necessary and I like the ease and control that the PID provides.

I love it. It seems to fit my usage needs perfectly. However, I am new and cannot offer the same level of comparative expertise that others can and are here. Right now though, they are in the middle of reviewing the Silvano at Home-Barista - Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

If you have a little time to see how the rest of the review goes, it might be worth checking it out.
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