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Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
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mrbjvb
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Joined: 1 May 2009
Posts: 156
Location: Culpeper Va.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Anita, Rancilio...
Grinder: Compak K3 Touch, Rocky...
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Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed May 15, 2013, 2:40pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

Hey Janice, many venders will offer money off a machine and grinder purchased together. As Wayne said the cooling flush is no big deal.
   I see you are in Virginia, where? I'm in Culpeper. - John
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JaniceAnn
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Joined: 15 May 2013
Posts: 185
Location: Virginia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed May 15, 2013, 4:51pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

Hi neighbor,

We live in Winchester.  Not too far away.
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jchung
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jchung
Joined: 1 Apr 2013
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Location: Northern Virginia
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Espresso: Gaggia Baby Twin, Breville...
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Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 5:37am
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

JaniceAnn Said:

I do have a grinder which is probably barely able to grind fine enough for espresso.  It is the Breville Smart Grinder which I bought to use with my drip coffee maker while I was trying to do research on a semi automatic machine.  I did see a couple of videos from Seattle Coffee Gear which showed it being used to grind beans for the Mini Vivaldi II and one of the Rockets and they said the espresso was really good so the Smart Grinder might just get by.  For the Mini Vivaldi it was set to the finest grind setting and a little lower for the Rocket.

I called QVC and was told that I was still in the 30 day window to return it.  I was thinking of keeping it and buying a better grinder next year after I save up for one.

I know that a good grinder is necessary for the best espresso but I was leaning toward getting a better machine now and delaying the purchase of a better grinder for a while.  

Since neither my husband or I drink espresso, I thought that have a really good grinder might not be as important.

Any input on this is most welcome, of course.

Posted May 15, 2013 link

I have a Breville Smart Grinder and it grinds fine enough for espresso. At least for me. Its paired with the Breville Dual Boiler. I also have a Baratza Encore which was calibrated for espresso grinding which I use for beans other than the primary beans I use. I do find that the Breville Smart Grinder's "smart dosing" will drift a lot depending on the beans and time of day. :D But it will grind fine enough, although depending on its age, it may require a shim kit from Breville.

Joo
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 5:51am
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

Your espresso will only be as good as your grinder, just something to think about. It is not just that it grinds FINE enough, it needs to be CONSISTENT in grind size, that is one of the differences in grinders that MAY grind for espresso and a grinder that was DESIGNED for espresso. There is a big difference in grind QUALITY between a $250 home grinder and a $1000 commercial espresso grinder.  YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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JaniceAnn
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Joined: 15 May 2013
Posts: 185
Location: Virginia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 5:53am
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

I haven't used it yet but the Smart Grinder has two portafilter holders and you can put the portafilter in and press it towards the back of the grinder and it will grind until pressure is released.  I would guess that if I got to where I could eyeball the mounding of the coffee that might work better than the automatic feature.

I have found that grinding for drip coffee, the amount ground is pretty consistent.  I have it set for 7 cups with one tick on the less side and I get pretty darn close to 8 1/2 scoops of coffee every time.

I did take some old beans, just to try, and ground them at the very finest setting and it was like powder.  Seemed really fine but then I don't have anything to compare it to.

The grind consistency seems really good at the drip coffee setting and I did three grinds at finest espresso and that seemed consistent too.

I am looking at other grinders as well but since we don't drink straight espresso, I am not sure the Smart Grinder won't work fine for us.
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JaniceAnn
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Joined: 15 May 2013
Posts: 185
Location: Virginia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 2:46pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

I know that a lot of you buy from Chris' Coffee Service.

I am thinking of buying from him also but I wanted to ask how I would approach asking for a deal on a machine and grinder combo?

I feel a little uneasy trying to negotiate a price and wanted to ask your advice on how to proceed.

Thanks!
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mrbjvb
Senior Member


Joined: 1 May 2009
Posts: 156
Location: Culpeper Va.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Anita, Rancilio...
Grinder: Compak K3 Touch, Rocky...
Vac Pot: Yama 8 cup
Drip: Behmor BraZen, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 2:56pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

Hey Janice, neighbor John here again. I got my gear from Chris Coffee, when I called, I asked them if they were giving any discounts on machine and grinder combos. They told me what they could do. Call and ask advice - they are very helpful.
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JaniceAnn
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Joined: 15 May 2013
Posts: 185
Location: Virginia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 4:29pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

Thanks John!
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germantownrob
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germantownrob
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Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 6:15pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

I have bought all my major purchases from Chris' and I always look there first for every new purchase but there are many recommended vendors that have other manufactures Chris' doesn't that are worth looking at. Really my biggest reason for buying from Chris' has been from the tech support, Jason there has kept me up and running for years now and he has never laid a hand on my machines since they left the door. Every question no matter how dumb, every how to lesson, the times I swear he must have been ignoring every other person to make sure I was getting things fixed proper (except everyone also feels this about their attention, is there more then one Jason?), this is why I but from Chris'. A sale from me takes no more then 15min, it is the next X amount of years of follow up service that really counts to me.
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shawndo
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shawndo
Joined: 5 Jan 2010
Posts: 106
Location: NYC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: LM Shot Brewer
Grinder: VL M3/Compak K10 Pro
Posted Thu May 16, 2013, 6:36pm
Subject: Re: Advice on buying first semi-automatic espresso machine please?
 

I would go with a Breville dual boiler and a Baratza Vario grinder.  The BDB is great for it's price and gets a lot of good reviews.  That leaves enough left over for a decent grinder in the budget.  

Most of what I read about the Smart Grinder that is that it could be adjusted for espresso, but it doesn't really do a good job of it.
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