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Advise on low end equipment
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solinar
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2011
Posts: 4
Location: New Orleans
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 2:21pm
Subject: Advise on low end equipment
 

So, I was a moderate coffee drinker until my boss got a Nespresso machine at work.  After a couple of years of Nespresso and enjoying espressos while out, I have decided to purchase a machine at home.

My first thought was a Nespresso Pixie like we have at work. But to be honest, at $0.70 per shot, and for what it produces, I have started to think about going the traditional route.

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)
    I drink pretty much only cappuccinos

2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at at one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)
    95% of the time, 1 Double Shot cappuccino for myself, rarely a 2nd or third drink for friends when entertaining.

3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)
    20-30 shots 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?
    Reservoir preferred, but I have water nearby.

5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
   15 Amp, could run a 20 amp if it was especially worth it.

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
    $200 for the machine, and less would be better, as I will be looking to buy a grinder later on rather than borrowing a friends Breville burr grinder.

Also, I need a stainless/chrome/nickel finish per the wife.

I'm fine with used/reconditioned. It seems the Gaggia classic seems to be one of this forum's darlings, but the only ones I have seen in that price range are on ebay and are listed as "vintage".
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 845
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 2:35pm
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

Note: this is my opinion only, YMMV, IANAB, etc.

Buy an Aeropress for $30—it's going to make better coffee than any $200 "espresso" machine. Then start saving up for a good espresso-quality grinder, which you'll be able to use to make your Aeropress coffee even better. Then, and only then, start saving for an espresso machine and figure a minimum of $500-600 if buying a new SBDU and $1k if going HX. Used, you can get for less, but either get more educated or find a friend who knows his stuff to hel check out the used stuff.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,753
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 3:00pm
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

Welcome to CG, and thank you for answering the standard questions!!!

Based on what you've said, I'm guessing you'll be making 3-4 cappas for yourself everyday.  If you don't entertain more than you anticipate, you should be fine with a SBDU machine.  As you've seen, the Gaggia Classic is about at low end as me tend to recommend here.  It's not so much that it's loved, but that it meets bare minimum standards for us at the best price in it's class.

Given you aren't going to be able to purchase a grinder, it's hard to recommend anything espresso for you within your budget.  If you can stretch your budget a little, maybe get yourself a G. Classic in decent shape used (might take some ebay or craigslist patience) and buy yourself a Hario Slim or Skerton hand grinder, you can get by until you save up enough money for a refurbished Baratza Preciso.

Or...as George said, get yourself an Aeropress.  It's a good option.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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takeshi
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takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 937
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 4:33pm
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

solinar Said:

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
    $200 for the machine, and less would be better, as I will be looking to buy a grinder later on rather than borrowing a friends Breville burr grinder.

Posted March 11, 2013 link

As always, the grinder matters more.  Don't leave it as an afterthought.
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solinar
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2011
Posts: 4
Location: New Orleans
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 6:59pm
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

takeshi Said:

As always, the grinder matters more.  Don't leave it as an afterthought.

Posted March 11, 2013 link

I have a friends breville burr grinder to play with for now, but its not a permanent solution. I dont have a budget for a grinder now as it wouldnt do me much good without something to brew with, and i do have the loaner for the time being.

I do look forward to doing some research here and getting my own grinder in the future.

Any idea if this a gaggia labeled "vintage"  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Gaggia-Classic-Espresso-Machine-/160988833785?pt=Small_Kitchen_Appliances_US&hash=item257baea7f9 is different enough from current ones to disqualify it from being a good buy?
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,829
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 10:36pm
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

It is made like the new machines - just older production.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 11:12pm
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

Takeshi is right,

Many people think that it is the espresso machine which makes the drink, but it only one part of the equation. The coffee grinder is even more important than the machine.

I would say that a bottom end "Espresso-Capable" grinder starts at somewhere around $300 new. You might be able to find something used, but beware.. Just because a
grinder says "Espresso" on it doesn't mean that it can grind fine enough or consistently enough to make proper espresso.

BTW, I don't know what kind of Breville Espresso grinder you have.. If you borrowed a Breville Smart Grinder, (ie. BCG800XL) then they are espresso capable.
If it is anything else, like the BCG450XL, it isn't good enough to grind properly for real espresso. You will have to be stuck buying a machine with a pressurized portafilter.

IMHO, I don't honestly see the point in spending a good chunk of money on a machine if you don't have a proper grinder to use with it. If you use a pressurized portafilter
to compensate for a poor grinder or a cheap grinder, you're just making strong coffee and not real espresso.

I've always told people before on this forum that if you don't want to play with toys and you want something reliable and dependable which produces a great cup of coffee,
you should budget at least $1000 for both a machine and a grinder as well as any accessories which go with them.

I realize that does sound like a lot of cash, but if you spend it, the reward will be worth it.

Please save your pennies. Good luck.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 652
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 Mar 12, 2013, 2:24am
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

Another of my expensive hobbies is photography. As they've all said, it's the grinder first, the machine second. Just in photography, it's the lens first, the camera second.
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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 Tue Mar 12, 2013, 5:27am
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

its not what you want to hear, but if you don't buy a grinder you're just wasting your money.  Feel free to do as you wish, but you WILL be dissapointed with the drink quality if you don't buy a grinder.  There is a reason many of us own grinders approaching two thousand dollars, and in some cases, over $2k.  You don't need to spend that kind of money for a quality grinder, but you DO NEED a grinder. For an electric grinder, about $250-300 is the bare minimum.  The Hario Skerton hand grinder can be had for about $50.

 
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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solinar
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2011
Posts: 4
Location: New Orleans
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 12, 2013, 6:23am
Subject: Re: Advise on low end equipment
 

Jmanespresso Said:

its not what you want to hear, but if you don't buy a grinder you're just wasting your money.  Feel free to do as you wish, but you WILL be dissapointed with the drink quality if you don't buy a grinder.  There is a reason many of us own grinders approaching two thousand dollars, and in some cases, over $2k.  You don't need to spend that kind of money for a quality grinder, but you DO NEED a grinder. For an electric grinder, about $250-300 is the bare minimum.  The Hario Skerton hand grinder can be had for about $50.

Posted March 12, 2013 link

Would the Hario Skerton be a good jumping off point? I don't mind doing a little extra work to get the ball rolling.

I really appreciate all of the comments.
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