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Help me choose my first semi automatic
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Help me choose...  
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
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 Mon Apr 1, 2013, 11:53am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

The Oscar may not look like much, but it has one of the largest boilers of any home pour-over (reservoir) machine. Its steam power is absolutely unmatched by anything in your price range. 29 Helens agree that buying a used Oscar is economical. But if you're not a handy, DIY type, then be warned because I don't think there's such a thing as a used Oscar that needs some work. Buying a new Oscar is certainly a worthwhile investment and one I don't think you'll be unhappy with.

Oh, let me mention one more thing about Baratza. They're based in Factoria and getting your grinder fixed is as easy as calling them up, describing the problem, and bringing it in. They do have excellent customer service and I'm pretty happy with mine.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 1:01pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

I believe he has the budget for a new machine so I would not say Oscar is the first one I would get.  Used he is hard to beat.  My Oscar was not as bad off as Markarian but most used equipment of any kind have some issues.

 
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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Fred1
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Sep 2004
Posts: 564
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: LaSpaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini/NS MCF
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Hottop, FR+8
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 7:20am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

Take a trip to Seattle Coffee Gear and try the equipment.  They have the Oscar and a lot of other machines.  

Between the Rocky and Vaio there really is no choice.  The Rocky is an entry level grinder that is barely adequate for espresso.  It has 40 widely spaced settings settings that frequently don't provide the right grind.  The Vario will be a much better choice.

When I went to SCG intending to buy an Alex Duetto, I wound up  with a Mini Vivaldi.  Both great machines, but, the Mini Vivaldi worked best for me.  Buying a machine/grinder package will probably get you a discount on the package.  It's true you will have to pay sales tax, but the chance to select the right machine is worth the extra cost.

Fred
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1stline
Senior Member
1stline
Joined: 24 Jan 2002
Posts: 495
Location: Freehold, NJ USA
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Undisclosed
Grinder: Indisclosed
Vac Pot: Bodum Electric
Drip: None
Roaster: None
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 7:47am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

Markarian Said:

There is a fourth option I'm surprised didn't come up, which is the La Nuova Era Cuadra. While not as heavy duty as the Oscar, it's an E61 HX machine. It pretty much has everything you want, including a vacuum breaker for putting it on a timer, if I'm not mistaken. Anyone want to confirm this for me?

Posted March 31, 2013 link

I would interested to learn your thoughts why the Cuadra is not as heavy duty as the Oscar.

The Cuadra, at this selling price, has a vacuum breaker valve, but I would not put ANY espresso machine on a timer, unless the espresso machine is well protected for the following reason on link.

 
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Jim Piccinich
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1st-line Equipment, LLC
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 968
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 8:40am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

Seacoffee 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?  
I'm trying to limit it to $1,500 including the grinder.
I actually have done some reading and the 3 options I've looked at are the Simonelli Oscar, the Breville dual boiler and the Sylvia. But of course I'm open to other suggestions.

Posted March 31, 2013 link

Sort out the grinder first.  As always, the grinder is most important.

Seacoffee Said:

Yes, my budget includes the grinder and I do plan to get either the Vario or Rancilio Rocky.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

Drop the Silvia and the Rocky.  Both are overpriced.  Between the Vario and the Rocky there's no contest.  For your budget and usage you should skip the SBDU's which is yet another reason to ditch the Silvia.

Seacoffee Said:

Has the PID, but not that important for me as I may just go for blends.

Posted March 31, 2013 link

Seacoffee Said:

Has the PID, in case I ever decide to get fancier beans.

Posted March 31, 2013 link

A PID isn't just for "fancier beans".  Better temperature control is a plus no matter what you're brewing.
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SYinSF
Senior Member
SYinSF
Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Millbrae, CA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: R58
Grinder: Vario
Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:03am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

From what I read, your heart already picked Oscar and believe you found enough support here to convince your brain. Besides you can have both Oscar and vario for 1400 in SCG.  I'll say it's a pretty good deal.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:55am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

Hard to beat the Cuadra for the $ as an E61 H/X. Cuadra II was one of the machines I considered last year except couldn't pass the deal up on my current setup. The only negative thing I could think of was the plastic sides that are chrome plated/painted, but they had to cut a corner there for the price it's offered at. Otherwise it's solid and an awesome looking design. Oscar is a fine machine as well, but trying to find a used one....pry have better luck getting struck by lightening. I set notifications for a craigslist when I was curious last year and nothing for like 6+ months showed up for an Oscar, only once in awhile and was always in a place like Alaska, Washington, or Ohio... basically as far north of FL as possible lol. Oscar is def the ugly duckling of the Espresso world though (no comparison to the Cuadras looks), but no doubt it performs and has a massive boiler (think it's one of if not the largest boiler of home machines), always wished they did a stainless casing version but then price would go up.

Vario - can't beat that grinder for the money, it performs = to grinders costing quite more $$$$ as far as taste in the cup. And sure it's not all big and shiny metal etc, but for the avg home enthusiast it rocks. Plus if your into single dosing like we are, Vario and even the Preciso are awesome since there's very little grind retention and a quick purge/knock get's it out.

Cuadra and Vario would be a really nice setup for the $
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Seacoffee
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2013
Posts: 11
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 12:14pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

It's a coincidence this thread was revived today.
I was waiting for 1st-line to have the Vario back in stock so I could bundle it with the Cuadra. Placed my order this morning. Can't wait!

My decision was based on your comments. It seems the Cuadra is slightly favored over the Oscar. Additionally, it was the hot water wand, which I know I'd miss if I'd gone for the Oscar. I wasn't too keen on buying a machine that's only distributed by a single online retailer, but the following it gets here was enough to put my mind at ease.

Let's see how long it takes me to learn to make an espresso now. Bye bye Seaco Incanto :-)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,039
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 12:23pm
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

1stline Said:

I would interested to learn your thoughts why the Cuadra is not as heavy duty as the Oscar.

The Cuadra, at this selling price, has a vacuum breaker valve, but I would not put ANY espresso machine on a timer, unless the espresso machine is well protected for the following reason on link.

Posted April 8, 2013 link

Panamax makes great stuff!  I've been using their higher end home theater units for many years.  Nice to see someone is carrying the low end stuff for espresso machines too.  I think I may just have to replace the Belkin I've been using to protect my Duetto.  Thanks for the link, Jim!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Redial
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Dec 2012
Posts: 10
Location: Pa, USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu May 2, 2013, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
 

I like the oscar over the other two as well.
The silvia is nice but its so expensive, i have to think you might as well spend a couple hundred bucks more for the HX
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