Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013, 3:30pm Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
This type of post is a re-invention of blogging. Everyone still reads those, right?
Sorry to sound harsh, but this brand of Kool-Aid is what turns me off about CG - probably am guilty of some myself, so this is aimed at myself too.
You can get great coffee for a couple bucks with a filter cone and a stove top kettle - you can be a coffee geek for next to nothing and many are. Being an espresso geek is something different though, but thinking spending large cash is the only way to get it done is ridiculous. By the time you dump a shot in huge milk (isn't making huge milk the reason to upgrade according to the experts?). The shot could come from a Delonghi 155 (close enough to the Saeco/Barista that many revere), the Oscar (the latest flavor), or any other machine and the chance of picking the machine by taste would be slim.
I would rather read a hundred posts about someone learning about espresso from a Nespresso or Breville from BB&D than another post response asking the same questions that distill down to the same pat answers. Dogma looks like learning, but unfortunately it kills curiosity and is exactly the opposite...
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?
Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013, 3:49pm Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
Good point, Eric. I started with a Saeco machine with a good grinder and was able to make decent espresso. I upgraded my machines as I learned more about the hobby. We'd be doing new readers a disservice by suggesting that expensive, complex machines were necessary to make good espresso.
In fact, I've seen several recent posts from people jumping into double boiler machines without having a clue to the basics of using a higher end espresso machine. That has created a slew of posts from users who are in over their heads.
We should be counseling people to start simple, stay within budget and focus on the basics. Providing a lot of information up front only creates confusion and will generate a string of "confused newbie" postings.
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 2,830 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013, 4:13pm Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
I did not tell them to spend a fortune but it is not like going to target and getting a 30$ drip coffee maker and that is important to realize. They need a grinder. That is the sum total of what I trying to do that and get them to answer the standard questions. I am not trying to sell them anything.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
Perhaps we should step back a bit and think this through a bit more carefully. Let me use another analogy. It sounds stupid, so don't stop reading, I also hang out on automaticwasher.org and I see similar posts on that forum at times. This isn't really coffee related, but it does pretty much put forth my point when it comes to deciding which machine is right for an individual...
Q: "Hi. I have some dirty clothes and I'd like to get them clean the cheapest way possible. What should I get?" A: "A large bucket, a box of detergent and a large toilet plunger will work fine. You can find those for about $20."
OK, the above sounds crazy, but the above is the truth. The poster is getting what they want done, but they have to make all kinds of compromises in order to get it done to keep the budget low. I'm sure that a lot of us wouldn't want to go back to this way of cleaning clothes, just as much as the individual who is used to using their double boiler machine wouldn't want to go back to using a Thermoblock or an SBDU machine unless they absolutely had to.
Now, let's rephrase that question.
Q: "Washing my clothes with a bucket and a toilet plunger sucks. What is the cheapest washing machine I can buy which will get my clothes clean?" A: "You can find old wringer washers typically for around $100 in the classifieds which will do the trick."
The above is the truth, but the right question isn't being asked. In this case, the poster is still achieving what they want, but we have the figurative "SBDU" here. A compromise to the lower price is that the individual has to wait for steam, but in the example above, wringer washers require that the machine must be cleaned manually and the clothes wrung by hand. Just as much as we have to wait for steam for an SBDU or temperature surf.
Q: "I really hate getting my hands wet and I'm tired of manually wringing my clothes. What is the cheapest automatic washing machine I can buy which will get my clothes clean?" A: "That's easy. It's the Roper RTW4100WQ. This is a $329 machine."
OK.. The above is the truth again.. So at this point in time, budget has jumped by 11x. At this point in time, the poster is buying a machine which will suit their needs, but the machine being recommended above still has some compromises. This is akin to recommending to someone a lower priced HX machine or a certain chinese-made Double Boiler. <Coughs>. Maybe this is a bad example, but it puts forth my point. In this case, the machine does everything they would want it to do, but this machine still has its limitations. Being a top loader, it uses a lot of water and because of its price, it may not have the best reliability, but it will do the job.
Now, let's look it from another angle...
Q: "What is the best automatic washing machine I can buy for my money?" A: "That's easy. It's the Speed Queen AFN50RS. This is a $1749 machine. It is rated for 25,000 cycles."
So now, suddenly, there is a massive budget jump and the OP has had their question asked, but is it really the right machine for them? Well, in this case, I can say without a doubt that the machine I mentioned above really is the best, but I also know this from personal experience.. just as much as I built up to the expensive espresso machine sitting on my counter, I know from experience what sort of compromises that I don't have to put up with now that I've put the money forth.
Just as much as how I couldn't compromise by owning a front-loading washing machine with plastic baffles, I paid extra to ensure that the machine would have stainless steel ones instead. Most other people probably wouldn't and couldn't care less about that. The unfortunate part to all of this is that there is sticker shock. If you had to replace your machine and knew you had to spend $1749 instead of $329 based on the responses, what would you rather do? I've never heard of people "Upgrading" their washing machine, but I did and for a very good reason.
To go through the stages of upgrading sure is beneficial to the economy, but it really isn't beneficial to the wallet. If the OP doesn't want to make compromises in selecting their machine, what are we supposed to say? Do you think this is parallel to what we are seeing on this forum and what I've mentioned here?
I've seen several recent posts from people jumping into double boiler machines without having a clue to the basics of using a higher end espresso machine.
The only benefit I see to starting out cheap is that the OP can decide to back out without making much of an investment. Or they find that a cheaper machine will suit their needs fine and that they can put up with the limitations that the machine presents to them. For some people, the classic SBDU compromise is acceptable. For others, they demand a DB which is plumbed in, because they are fussy and they don't mind spending their hard earned cash.
I think a newbie coming into this hobby has as much to learn from an expensive machine as they would from a cheap machine. The difference is that the cheap machines are just trickier to use and have their own little thing which they do to get better consistency. I felt that if I had started out with a Duetto from the get go, I would have saved $600 and I really don't feel like I would have learned anything more. However, since I didn't know if making espresso was right for me, I wanted to ensure that I wouldn't invest too much if I felt it wasn't right for me, I could always drop my Silvia onto the used market and walk away.
Realistically for example, I could have probably have chosen a cheaper machine and I would have been happy with it.. but I decided what I felt I could and could not live with and for that, I paid for it.
We should be counseling people to start simple, stay within budget and focus on the basics.
Well, I do agree that it is an unwritten rule that says that if someone does mention a budget, we really should be sticking with that as close as possible. The temptation is there to suggest something which is just that little bit more, but I do agree that without even knowing the basics of what makes for good espresso, the whole exercise is completely pointless.
In the examples I've shown above, it makes sense to buy the right tool for the right job which best suits the needs of the individual. I agree that recommending a DB from the get go for a newbie maybe isn't the best course of action, but if a newbie is demanding, fussy and has the budget for it, why not?
Providing a lot of information up front only creates confusion and will generate a string of "confused newbie" postings.
Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013, 8:34pm Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
I would get a OE LIDO or a cheap hario grinder if I wanted a cheap hand grinder. HG1 if I wanted to spend big bucks. No idea what the used market is like in Hawaii but I would see if you can pick up a used one because I know shipping is a problem for you. Used starbucks labeled espresso machine can be picked up for $100 around here on craigslist. Also gaggia classic comes up pretty often. My machine used was $475 but it is a HX and is a stronger class of machine with more thermostability and steam power.
Used often means work and cleaning must be done just like with cars etc.
Thanks very much for your and Markarian's input, which is invaluable to me. There's really no other site like this one and I've learned a lot already. I ordered an OE Lido, Hario kettle & cloth drip pot. It's a start in what has been too long coming - a very special cup of morning coffee.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 6,833 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 3:14am Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
I have stayed out of this until now. Firstly, I think i understand as much as anyone the frustration of getting the same questions over and over again. I also understand where Qualin is coming from. I think he danced around the issue. In simple terms, his, people want a Speed Queen washer on a plunger budget.
There is no easy way to help people get over the sticker shock of quality espresso, esp when they don't want to do the work that is required by hand when the budget is a wall that can not be breached. This helps to explain why super autos are attractive and the single serve machines are so popular.
Each person kind of needs to be brought through the process of discovery on an individual basis, regardless of what the threads say, hope springs eternal that their journey will be different and they can have it all on a budget that those who have been in this hobby know is impossible.
I have been involved, in person, with people who want good to great coffee but would NOT spend what was needed, they would not spend less than $100 for a large SS/moka pot when that is what is hey wanted and needed. To that, they refused to spend more than big box store prices for large volumes of stale beans and yet they "love" good quality coffee.
We mostly spend our time helping people get over sticker shock and, sadly, that can't be done with a stickey. YMMV
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Markarian Senior Member Joined: 27 Jun 2012 Posts: 645 Location: Seattle Area Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, Mazzer SJ Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Melitta 102 Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 4:29am Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
Amen, Cal. It's hard, because a person's budget relies both on their circumstances and their priorities. I see a lot of people in their 40s and 50s with real jobs and mortgages and very shiny cubes with E61 group heads on them. And if it weren't for the profound generosity of someone much older, more successful, and more experienced than I, I would still have a broken HX machine I got used off of Craigslist from someone who abused it. (Fact, ALL used Oscars are broken. The statistics will bear me out, though that's not to say they aren't worth buying). It's all relative, and it's all stratified:
The capsule owners see the Mr. Coffee drinkers and say "Thank goodness I don't have to drink that!"
The Saeco owners see the capsule owners and say "At least I'm drinking real espresso!"
The Gaggia owners see the Saeco owners and say "At least I don't have to deal with a pressurized portafilter!"
The Silvia owners look at the Gaggia owners and say "At least I can use a standard portafilter!"
The CC1 owners look at the Silvia owners and say "Haha, they paid over $1,000 total. That puts the PID in StuPID!"
The Oscar owners look at the CC1 owners and say "Look at how much microfoam I can make! Isn't my machine pretty?"
The Shiny Cube owners look at Oscar owners and say "Look at how my wife thinks it matches the stainless appliances and granite countertops!"
The senior members on this forum look at all of us and say "You've never even HEARD of my vintage machine! It's just that cool!"
And then the Synesso owners drift in and out, muttering to themselves about where they left that bushel of money.
These are hardly accurate caricatures, but the point is, we all think we have it great and that we made the right decision, but there's always a bigger fish (unless you happen to own an Aurelia T3 or Speedster, in which case I think you probably laugh at us all). It all depends on what you're trying to replicate. Want Starbucks? They use Superautos, so just about any machine will do. Want 3rd wave arm-tattoo-hipster-latte-art espresso? Get an HX--temperature surfing is best left to Hawaiians with a fever. Want competition level coffee from the WBC? Buy a commercial machine and quit your job (in that order, of course).
I am going to say this in all caps: THIS IS AN EXPENSIVE HOBBY. Expensive with a capital E. It's expensive. The coffee is outrageously priced, stupidly named, and overpackaged. The machines are all made in Italy because the market is too small for the Chinese to adequately replicate it. The variables are dizzyingly complex. The grinders are expensive. The portafilters are expensive. The tampers are expensive.
Now I speak from the point of view of a Millenial whose total monthly income has a one at the beginning of it. If you're doing considerably better than that a Izzo Alex Duetto is maybe one saved mortgage payment or a tax refund. The thing is, I don't begrudge this hobby being expensive. The machines are well-made, by hand. The portafilters are solid brass. The coffee tastes unlike anything I ever grew up sniffing out of a can. The artform that is making truly good espresso is like any art in requiring good tools and strong technique. As a musician, I can relate. I've played the piano for 20 years, but to someone wanting to start their kid off learning the piano, I wouldn't recommend a spring-key keyboard from Casio, but rather an 88-key weighted model that will actually introduce them to what the experience of playing the real instrument will be.
Every (non-superauto) machine can have great espresso coaxed out of it by a patient and practiced hand. That's the key from Cal's statement. The cheaper a setup you have, the more work and creativity you'll have to put into it. I'm sure there's someone out there who consistently makes beautiful latte art with their DeLonghi, and I tip my hat to them. We're all in this together to have the best coffee we can, and--most importantly--to help each other attain that goal. If you're new, and you're reading this, know that every person on here only wants you to taste the best. There is more than a wealth of dollars represented on this forum. There's a wealth of ideas, a wealth of knowledge, and a wealth of generosity to back it up. Few online groups have this kind of community. This morning, I raise my breve to you, fellow Coffeegeeks. We're all crazy, and I love you all.
DaninMaryland Senior Member Joined: 3 Jan 2013 Posts: 79 Location: US Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: V2 Silvia Grinder: Vario-W
Posted Tue Mar 19, 2013, 8:27am Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
been following along this thread, and figured i would chime in. wasnt too long ago that i was new to espresso and wanted advice on getting a machine.
i dont care for this thread and where it was headed. it was very off putting, and i would have been turned off if i had read it prior to registering on the site and posting. It comes accross as very uninviting to people new to espresso. instead of answering questions it seems the purpose of the thread is for newbies to never post and just read this. i dont like it and i get the feeling others dont as well.
i see the same "what to buy" threads all the time. If you are too busy or just dont want to deal with answering the same questions over and over, then simply skip the thread and dont waste your time. there are a number of helpful people on this forum and i enjoyed the "personallized" service i got when i was looking for a machine.
BOTR Senior Member Joined: 1 Feb 2012 Posts: 46 Location: IL Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Tue Mar 19, 2013, 8:33am Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
Add another one that doesn't like these types of posts in general. The site is here for discussion. 99% of everything coffee related has been discussed in the past. So following that logic, we should no longer be posting here at all, unless there is a new method, or product. I dunno, just doesnt seem to be productive for a discussion forum to turn away discussion.
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