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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Semi/Super Auto...  
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happy1004
Senior Member


Joined: 3 May 2013
Posts: 4
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri May 3, 2013, 1:23pm
Subject: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

Hi,
Currently, my method of drinking coffee is via French Press. But I think it's time I invested in a semi/super auto machine.
Some background:
  1. I make about 2 cups a day, 7 days a week, so I need something durable.
  2. It is just me drinking, but my husband will occasionally drink (more mild drinks). So if the machine only makes 1 drink at a time, that's perfectly fine.
  3. My favorite drink is latte (and cappuccino, depending on the time of day of course), so I want something that has milk frothing functionality. I heard that the Rancilio Silvia is great and that's within my budget, but I really don't want to froth the milk myself. I was looking into the Jura ENA Micro 9 for this reason, but I can't find reliable reviews on this product!
  4. On the budget note, I want to spend ~$1000 (I'm willing to spend up to $1400 for a "right" machine), including the grinder. I have the Bodum Bistro Electric Burr for the grinder and I'm told that that won't be good enough for the semi/auto machine...
  5. I want a machine that has its own reservoir.
  6. I don't know how many amp circuit I have at home... I assume only the standard circuit.
    If someone could give me some suggestions, I'd really appreciate it! Especially if people can steer towards or away from the Jura, that'd be great too! Thanks!!!
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SStones
Senior Member
SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 452
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Fri May 3, 2013, 5:24pm
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

I'm not going to offer opinions on the Jura Micro 9, but I will strongly suggest you visit a dealer with your husband and try the machine out together.  If you're used to the scalding hot espresso served at take out places, a Jura's product may strike you as not hot enough.  Have a look at the machine.  You stated that you want a machine with a reservoir. Look at the reservoir on the Micro 9. Is that big enough?  The micro's selling feature is how small it is, with extreme smallness comes small reservoir, small driptray and small brew unit.  If you're brewing really long shots, that reservoir will need to be filled often. Do you like a really strong double-shot latte?  If so, you'll want a machine with a brewing chamber big enough to hold more grounds than a micro.  Try it out before laying down your $1000. It is the right machine for many people and for certain situations.  I'd love to have one of these in a camper van, maybe even in my car. But try it out before buying it. If there's nowhere near you to try it out, then there will be no one near you to service it. Don't buy it if there's no one near you to let you try it out.
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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 Sat May 4, 2013, 4:22am
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

happy1004 Said:

I make about 2 cups a day, 7 days a week, so I need something durable.

Posted May 3, 2013 link

From the posts I've read on this forum, a lot of people tend to get about 3-5 years use out of a Super-Auto machine before something goes wrong with it.
Unless they are handy, usually repairs are expensive (In relation to the cost of the machine) and usually result in the disposal of the machine.

I saw a member on here who had a Rancilio Silvia for nearly 20 years before his packed it in. (With inexpensive maintenance, of course.) The majority of
Semi-Auto machines will last a lot longer because all of the parts that touch coffee are external to the machine. (ie. The portafilter and the shower screen)

From my point of view, considering that a lot of super-autos cost just as much, if not more, than a semi-auto, it doesn't make any sense to buy a machine
with such a short lifespan. Well, at least IMHO! Not unless convenience is something which is of an absolute priority to you and you don't mind paying for it.

happy1004 Said:

It is just me drinking, but my husband will occasionally drink (more mild drinks). So if the machine only makes 1 drink at a time, that's perfectly fine.

Posted May 3, 2013 link

A single boiler dual use semi-automatic machine sounds good enough for your needs.

happy1004 Said:

I heard that the Rancilio Silvia is great and that's within my budget, but I really don't want to froth the milk myself.

Posted May 3, 2013 link

Why not? Making cappuccino milk is extremely easy. Making latte milk is a smidgen more difficult. All you need is a steaming pitcher, a milk thermometer, some
cold fresh 2% (Or maybe 3.5%) milk and maybe 5 minutes of practice. I can froth a small 12 oz pitcher of milk in less than a minute with my machine, it isn't as hard as you think it may be.

The Rancilio Silvia is a great machine in its own right, but it has some rather outdated technology. If you can find one on the used market selling for less than $500,
snag one up, otherwise there are other alternatives on the market such as the Ascaso Steel Uno, The Gaggia Classic, The Crossland CC1 and the Bezzera Unica. Those
are just a few, a SBDU will stay within your budget quite nicely.

happy1004 Said:

On the budget note, I want to spend ~$1000 (I'm willing to spend up to $1400 for a "right" machine), including the grinder.

Posted May 3, 2013 link

OK, this is a great budget to work with. Usually a lot of coffee equipment vendors sell a machine/grinder combo which would fit your needs nicely and stay within your budget. If you see
a Rancilio Silvia/Rocky combo, don't buy it. There are better grinders on the market.

There are a lot of great reviews involving the Baratza Vario grinder, which comes in about ~$450. That's a great grinder to start out with and will give you very high quality ground coffee.
That leaves you about $550-$950 for a machine. In which case you could consider any of the SBDU's I've suggested above. (The Unica may be a little outside of your budget.)

Then, make sure you budget at least $100 for extra accessories as you need them.

happy1004 Said:

If someone could give me some suggestions, I'd really appreciate it! Especially if people can steer towards or away from the Jura, that'd be great too! Thanks!!!

Posted May 3, 2013 link

Well, you will always get better quality coffee from a semi-auto than with a super-auto. The main reason is the grinder. In a lot of super-autos, especially the cheaper ones, the coffee
grinder is an afterthought. What a lot of people don't know is that it's not the espresso machine that is the most important part of the espresso making process, it is the grinder!
(Actually, it's also the person, but that's debatable! :-) )

I realize that making espresso manually instead of a "one button push" approach may seem to be a bit harder, but realistically it isn't. I can make my morning cappuccino in about 4 minutes
and I've done it so often now, I can almost do it blindfolded. I think I'd probably find a super-auto way too boring to use and too frustrating because I can't control anything.

Good luck on your journey..

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 935
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon May 6, 2013, 1:51pm
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

happy1004 Said:

I really don't want to froth the milk myself.

Posted May 3, 2013 link

Why not?  As a latte drinker myself I can definitely attest to the fact that the milk is an important part of the drink.  If you leave it up to the machine you'll end up with sub-par milk.  There's a learning curve with steaming milk but most can get the hang of it.

happy1004 Said:

I heard that the Rancilio Silvia is great and that's within my budget, but I really don't want to froth the milk myself. I was looking into the Jura ENA Micro 9 for this reason, but I can't find reliable reviews on this product!

Posted May 3, 2013 link

No CoffeeGeek is going to recommend a superauto.  You can't geek out over coffee with a superauto that produces mediocre coffee.  That said, if you prize convenience above all else then a superauto may be for you.

The Silvia is commonly regarded as overpriced.  If you want to go the semiauto route you really should consider the grinder first, as always.
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happy1004
Senior Member


Joined: 3 May 2013
Posts: 4
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon May 6, 2013, 2:05pm
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

Thanks for your responses, everyone! I think rather than spending what looks like more for the Jura Micro 9, I decided to go with the semi-auto/good grinder route. :)

With that said, what is the best semi-auto/grinder combo for around $1,000-1,100 (without the accessories)? Also, I'm not in a real big hurry to purchase right this second - is there a time you recommend that I buy around (i.e. 4th of July sale, Black Friday) and a place? I live in SF but don't mind buying online.

Thanks so much again!!!
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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 May 6, 2013, 10:17pm
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

happy1004 Said:

what is the best semi-auto/grinder combo for around $1,000-1,100 (without the accessories)?

Posted May 6, 2013 link

Well, it's hard to say what is the best. That's like asking which car is the best. Personally, all I have experience with regarding sub-$1000 machines is the Rancilio Rocky and Rancilio Silvia.

The Silvia is a downright rock solid machine. Built tough and built to last, but overpriced in that you are paying for the Rancilio name. Other SBDU thermostat controlled machines are anywhere
between $50 to $150 cheaper than the Silvia.

I used to own a Silvia, once I got the temperature surfing aspect of making the coffee, I could get some great shots out of it.

The Rancilio Rocky also doesn't really present good value for the money either in that it is a stepped grinder with large steps. Unless you can find one used, consider sticking with other coffee
grinder manufacturers. The reason being is that while wide steps do help in dialing in the grinder, they take away your flexibility to adjust your shot by dose. Think of it
like training wheels on a bicycle that you can't take off. You might as well consider a grinder that doesn't have those "Training Wheels"

So, what is the best machine? Well, let me start out by naming a few machines which are direct competition to the Rancilio Silvia, criteria being is that it has to be an SBDU machine and
the second is that the price has to be somewhat near your budget:  (Keep in mind, I'm Canadian so some of these machines may not be available in your area.)
(This is just a short list, there may be more.)

$429 to $900 range for machine:

- Lelit PL041
- Lelit PL41EM V2 - Thermostat Controlled
- Gaggia Classic
- Lelit PL4TEM V2 - PID Controlled
- Ascaso Steel Uno Professional
- Bezzera BZ09

Grinders which compete directly with the Rocky are:

$249 to $529 range for grinder:

- Lelit PL43 / PL53
- Ascaso I1 and Ascase I1 Imini
- Ascaso iSteel
- Baratza Virtuoso Preciso or Baratza Vario
- Macap MC4
- Ceado E6
- Compak K3 Touch

Please take the time to read the reviews of these machines on this site and see what is recommended by the people who have owned these. I can't recommend any of the above
because I've never owned or used any of the above.

Now, in case you think about pairing a Lelit PL43 with a Bezzera BZ09, your grinder should always usually be at least roughly half the budget of the machine. It is better to spend
more on a grinder than it is on a machine.

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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ianpirro
Senior Member
ianpirro
Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 12
Location: Boston
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Mon May 6, 2013, 10:27pm
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

Great, I think in the long run you'll be happy you decided to go the semi-auto/auto route. One popular combo I have seen on here if you are looking to buy new would be the Crossland CC1 and a Baratza Vario grinder. If you are willing to go the used route, it seems you are in a good area to do it. Here are a few I noticed on the SF craigslist

Isomac $750-
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/hsh/3784425493.html

Quickmill Anita $800-
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/app/3788743290.html

There is also a Silvia $350-
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/app/3788671882.html

Of course their may, or may not, be a little bit of extra work that may be need to be done with a used purchase. Also you will not have a warranty but it often allows you to start out with a bit "better" equipment.  Again at your budget I would probably pair the machine with a Baratza Vario - On Thursday mornings Baratza posts refurbs on their website, I believe they sell the Vario for ~$350 and I have yet to hear anything bad about a refurb purchase from them.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,213
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 4:56am
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

If your buying new,with a 1,000-1,100 budget, can't beat the Crossland CC1 and Baratza Vario combo. You get a nice machine with full PID control built in (let's you set the temp, pre-infusion, dwell/wait time, shot timer etc) and seperate thermoblock for steaming with nice strong controlled power to easily make milk for latte's etc. That setup let's you switch to steam and back to brew or vice versa way way faster then a normal sbdu machine like the Silvia and which doesn't come with PID. And the Vario is a excellent grinder competing in taste in the cup against others costing way more $$, and where it will excel vs those others is the small retention whereas some others can retain grams upon grams of coffee inside.
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happy1004
Senior Member


Joined: 3 May 2013
Posts: 4
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 9:38am
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

Thanks everyone! I don't trust used products, so I will go with the new.

I found this combo on Seattle Coffee Gear:
Click Here (www.seattlecoffeegear.com)

Are these the correct models? Sorry, I'm a total newbie so I don't know if there's different model years or something... :D

Thanks again!!!
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,213
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 9:49am
Subject: Re: Semi/Super Auto Machine
 

happy1004 Said:

Thanks everyone! I don't trust used products, so I will go with the new.

I found this combo on Seattle Coffee Gear:
Click Here (www.seattlecoffeegear.com)

Are these the correct models? Sorry, I'm a total newbie so I don't know if there's different model years or something... :D

Thanks again!!!

Posted May 7, 2013 link

No that's it, awesome combo. I've got the Preciso grinder, but the Vario is much better as far as taste in the cup, wish I went with the Vario instead. Can't beat this package new unless you go used or up the budget a lot more.

Remember to let the machine (like all semi ones) warm up for at least 30 min or so with portafilter locked in, so everything is nice and toasty warm. Boiler heats up to temp in minutes but need the rest of the machine (again like any) to be warmed up too so it's temp stable when you pull a shot. Can setup a timer too to turn it on early in the morning before you get up so it's ready to go. Plenty of vids online on how to steam milk too with any semi machine.

You need some accessories too though, might want to add the bottomless portafilter so you can see your extractions to make sure your doing everything right. But also milk jug for steaming, maybe even a digi scale that measures to .1g if you'd like to single dose (weigh your beans, grind, dose... i bought mine on Amazon for like 10 bucks) vs leaving in the hopper. Some Cafiza which I use for monthly cleaning (I also use the blank basket to do a clean backflush every few days), and some Dezcal to descale like once or twice a year depending on how hard your water is.
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