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Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
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 Wed Mar 20, 2013, 4:21pm
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

FWIW this is the friendliest and easiest to navigate speciality coffee forum I've come across, but I have to agree with Helen on most of these points. Rob has summed it up the best. There are many people who come on this forum desperately looking for validation to cost-justify under-funding what is an expensive hobby. If you come onto a photography forum with a little Canon PowerShot, trying to get that dreamy depth of field effect you see in professional photos, you'll be told to ditch it and spend money on a DSLR. I was guilty of this too. I was so disappointed to find out that the Encore couldn't grind precisely enough for espresso. I thought I had found "a deal" when I bought a used Oscar for $540. Turns out, it needed hours and hours of work and over a hundred dollars in parts overall. It was a great machine, but buying it new would have made it better.

My point is that a lot of us now know that the more you spend on equipment, the less will stand in your way toward making excellent espresso. It's a cold, hard, objective fact. If everyone started on an Izzo or a Quickmill (with a name like that, the machine ought to come with a super-fast built-in grinder) and a Mazzer they would immediately be able to start just working on technique. Instead, we get frustrated new users on a budget who are trying to get a silky microfoam out of a Saeco, a steady shot out of a Silvia, etc. These aren't BAD machines, they're just limited and require extensive compensation from the user. New hobbyist baristas need to know that when they buy something cheap, they are going to experience more frustration and find they spend more time working around limitations of their equipment than actually learning how to make espresso. I wish I had known this sooner before going through three Saecos.

The people with cheap machines will decry this thread as elitism and scaring away the newbies. The people with experience and expensive rigs will laud it as a way to weed out repeat questions they're tired of answering, often to assuage the buyer's remorse of someone who thought $350 was WAY too much for just a coffee grinder, while all of us in between have opinions all over the place. The sooner we all get real the better we can help people understand espresso and how they can get the most out of it. Most of the people on this forum are old enough and well-off enough to afford more than what they pay for their rigs without going homeless. If you're a new user who is balancing the fabled $700 budget for a new setup and your next boat payment because it FEELS too expensive, I can't help you. If you're a student like me who really, honestly CAN'T spend any more, then know what you're getting into and that it will eat up more of your time than you are prepared for. When it comes to espresso, money doesn't buy happiness, but it can at least buy you to the point where everything is "on the handle side of the portafilter." A thread like this helps prevent the situation where a newbie is getting less than satisfactory results and constantly asks for help from a weary group of senior users who are going to become more and more likely to blame the newbie's equipment because of its glaring flaws. Can't make microfoam on a Starbucks Barista? It's probably because you're not temperature surfing, which is unreasonably a PITA. Can't get consistent shots on the Silvia? Maybe it's because the machine has a boiler the size of a soda can without any native mechanism for temperature control. I'd rather hear that I'm not rich enough for the hobby than that I just can't get the hang of it. PLEASE, everyone stop pretending this hobby is accessible and affordable. Every time I try and cut corners on cost it bites me in the a-- and I feel so much better when I can finally afford to remedy it.

As for the tone of Helen's post, as someone who spent their life since the age of six on the Internet, you CAN'T know someone's inflections or moods just from the body of their post. It doesn't work like that. Helen is very sweet and contributes more than most on this forum to helping new people out. A lot of people come on here and ask for help without doing any research of their own. I have to admit that I'm annoyed by coming into a new hobby and just having people say "Just Google it, noob." But this isn't what Helen is trying to do. She's presenting an informative primer in HOPES that new users will stumble upon it BEFORE asking their questions. No one is suggesting just throwing this as the response to a new person's question. Some of you do that with the standard list of questions and it irks me (15 amp vs 20 amp, really?). But rarely do I see someone's post go unanswered without a genuine personal response.

Oh, and by the way, it's just coffee. LOL.
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Owl
Senior Member


Joined: 30 May 2011
Posts: 37
Location: US

Posted Wed Mar 20, 2013, 5:51pm
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

Dan, you're new here. Mind what you complain about. This place runs just fine. Always has.

Things aren't going to change just because you think they should. Try to get a handle on the control issue.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
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 Wed Mar 20, 2013, 8:24pm
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

Wow. I'm sorry I couldn't chime in earlier. I've been busy the last few days and I've been seeing a lot of responses to this thread.

Hi Dan & BOTR,

Dan originally said, "The purpose of the thread is for newbies to never post and just read this. I don't like it and I get the feeling others don't as well."

The whole point of Helen's post was to put forth very commonly asked questions into one single post which should eventually be a locked sticky.
Helen's goal was not to put forth a set of guidelines or rules, nor was it to put forth a sticky which would discourage newbies from posting. It is supposed to be there to educate
newbies first. Once the newbie reads the FAQ and the information, then "What kind of machine should I buy?" becomes, "What kind of SBDU and Grinder Combo is the best for me?"
In the example above, it is a perfectly legitimate question because the espresso machine market does change... well, eventually it changes...

Newbies will still post if they want to, there's nothing stopping them from doing so. I don't think a sticky would discourage them. It probably wouldn't have discouraged you either.

I admit that a sticky which is 16 pages long can be discouraging to read. Helen's OP was a great start and contained a lot of useful facts and information, but I still think that there
should be at least be a FAQ which precedes it first which quickly answers some of the most commonly asked questions for the newbie that doesn't want to read through a massive
block of text. There is a lot of knowledge here and at first I found it quite overwhelming myself.

Actually, the first time I walked into a coffee equipment supply store, I spent an hour listening to the salesperson talk about SBDU and lever machines and when I finally got around
to asking about pricing, I nearly ran screaming from the place. If I had a FAQ to read beforehand, I at least would have been better prepared.

Now Dan also said, "If you are too busy or just don't want to deal with answering the same questions over and over, then simply skip the thread and don't waste your time."
BOTR also said, "If you tire of answering the same old questions day after day, then ignore."

The last thing I would want is to discourage the more knowledgeable people from posting.

Perhaps I should put it another way. What the more experienced person on this forum is looking for are newbies who have questions which show that they are genuinely interested
in this hobby or that they just want to do whatever it takes to have a cup of espresso in the morning. What is tedious is responding to the newbie who thinks that they are just buying
another coffee maker and if they have to put any time or effort into it, they'll just walk away from it.

Case in point, my cousin bought one of those Breville Cafe Roma machines hoping to have cafe-grade espresso in his home. His experiences were mired in frustration and hopelessness.
Eventually, he put it on a shelf where it was collecting dust. Once I imbibed some knowledge to him and showed him the basics, he understood what was entailed and realized that it
wasn't for him and sold it. Had he spent 5 minutes asking me some questions about it first before buying a machine, he would have saved himself $200 and a lot of his time.

That is the point I'm trying to make. Helen's post is just right in saying, "If you still want an espresso machine after reading this..." ..

I think it is great to discuss things. If a question is asked, I like to answer it. However, there is a considerable difference between discussing things and doing information dumps. Regardless
of whether or not someone is typing out a response meant for them doing an information dump or if they read it in a sticky or on a webpage, I don't really see a difference.

I think it is reasonable to expect that anyone posting to these forums should at least have a basic amount of knowledge. I don't think that posting links to information is a hostile act.
The friendliness of this forum is only as deep as the people who post within it. It is the right of anyone to say "Click this link" followed by, "Oh yeah, here's some suggestions."

There are a few different kinds of people who post to this forum for the first time. Every forum has them. It is considered standard netiquette to at least read FAQ's and lurk before posting
on any discussion board. These days, not everyone follows the rules of netiquette, so it only makes sense to give the newbie a helping hand whenever possible.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,869
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 Thu Mar 21, 2013, 4:25am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

Markarian Said:

... Instead, we get frustrated new users on a budget who are trying to get a silky microfoam out of a Saeco, a steady shot out of a Silvia, etc. These aren't BAD machines, they're just limited and require extensive compensation from the user. New hobbyist baristas need to know that when they buy something cheap, they are going to experience more frustration and find they spend more time working around limitations of their equipment than actually learning how to make espresso. I wish I had known this sooner before going through three Saecos.

... If you're a new user who is balancing the fabled $700 budget for a new setup and your next boat payment because it FEELS too expensive, I can't help you. If you're a student like me who really, honestly CAN'T spend any more, then know what you're getting into and that it will eat up more of your time than you are prepared for.
Oh, and by the way, it's just coffee.

Posted March 20, 2013 link

It can be done on the cheap though. In less than the last two months I picked up a used Starbucks Proteo Grande (missing drip tray grid, standard non-pressurized porta-filter basket, 6 or 7 ounce brass boiler and standard non-paranello steam wand) as well as a vintage KyM Mocca brass mill for under $30 total. The 53mm "double" portafilter backet holds 12g tops, so one ounce shots are expected and this small amount doesn't create terrible temp variation during the shot. The grinder (which will easily choke my Silvano) produces tasty shots with decent flavor separation.

Here are some photos including a shot made using some city plus home roasted Ethiopian & Brazilian blend:

EricBNC: CG group.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
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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BOTR
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Feb 2012
Posts: 52
Location: IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 5:27am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

Again, let me state that there is ALOT of good information captured in this thread.

However, if read in it's entireity, you cannot deny that it comes off as trying to avoid what some would consider needless new posts. That is my only comment. Read it entirely, and you cannot argue that fact. Great info, and Im sure Helen is a great person, maybe the post I quoted her on was misinterpreted. Although it did seem somewhat aloof. This is not a commentary on my opinion of anyone. It's just that if you read even the first page of this, you cannot deny the lean tward avoiding new posts.

Some people have taken some personal swipes on here, that is not my intent. I just hate to see anyone brushed off on any forum. I dont know how to make it any clearer. Again, GREAT info. Did I mention that there is some really usefull info here?

Chris
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kboom1
Senior Member
kboom1
Joined: 31 Aug 2009
Posts: 310
Location: Northeastern Pennsylvania
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex2HX,Alex Duetto,Rancilio...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky,Vario
Roaster: Behmor x2 / USRC Sample...
Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 5:53am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

EricBNC Said:

It can be done on the cheap though. In less than the last two months I picked up a used Starbucks Proteo Grande (missing drip tray grid, standard non-pressurized porta-filter basket, 6 or 7 ounce brass boiler and standard non-paranello steam wand) as well as a vintage KyM Mocca brass mill for under $30 total. The 53mm "double" portafilter backet holds 12g tops, so one ounce shots are expected and this small amount doesn't create terrible temp variation during the shot. The grinder (which will easily choke my Silvano) produces tasty shots with decent flavor separation.

Here are some photos including a shot made using some city plus home roasted Ethiopian & Brazilian blend:

Posted March 21, 2013 link

+1
one of the problems suggesting cheaper used equipment to newbies is most dont want to do any leg work to achieve working equipment . weather it be searching for deals,post on how to fix,ect. most dont want to put forth/dont realize the time and effort it takes to achieve great coffee. some also take offence when you suggest that they do so.
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,869
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 Thu Mar 21, 2013, 5:58am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

EricBNC Said:

It can be done on the cheap though. In less than the last two months I picked up a used Starbucks Proteo Grande (missing drip tray grid, standard non-pressurized porta-filter basket, 6 or 7 ounce brass boiler and standard non-paranello steam wand) as well as a vintage KyM Mocca brass mill for under $30 total. The 53mm "double" portafilter backet holds 12g tops, so one ounce shots are expected and this small amount doesn't create terrible temp variation during the shot. The grinder (which will easily choke my Silvano) produces tasty shots with decent flavor separation.

Here are some photos including a shot made using some city plus home roasted Ethiopian & Brazilian blend:

Posted March 21, 2013 link

My post shows trying espresso doesn't need to be a huge outlay - spend a few bucks and find out if you even want espresso over coffee. Nothing wrong with that. Learn the basics of pulling a shot then move up if you like it. I did it this way and have no complaints. Started cheap and paid attention to technique first, equipment second. That Proteo will not serve coffee for a dinner party but it will tell you if you like espresso - bet a Saeco will too given some practice.

 
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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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 4:03am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

Dear Helen,

Since germantownrob has informed us that stickies do not exist on the CG forum, I would like to see you cut and paste your initial post and bump it up, perhaps with a new title to distinguish it from this one.  That way the troll pollution can be ignored.  Perhaps you could edit this initial post to direct people to the new post.  If you don't bump it, perhaps I will.

Buckley
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,048
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Mar 25, 2013, 9:04am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

That is wonderful.  That is all I was trying to do, get people started on the right foot.  I am glad you are seeing a change in your pour over.  Now it is easier to see how the grinder is so important to your espresso set up.

 
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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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,048
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Mar 25, 2013, 11:31am
Subject: Re: Please read before you post New Machine buying question.
 

Be sure and keep us updated on your journey in a new thread.  It can help others to read what you did.

 
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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