Our Valued Sponsor
OpinionsConsumer ReviewsGuides and How TosCoffeeGeek ReviewsResourcesForums
Espresso: Espresso Machines
A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
Rancilio Silvia - How to
Step by step guide for easy brewing and steaming with the Rancilio Silvia
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
 
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered  
Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Discussions > Espresso > Machines > A well thought...  
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
showing page 1 of 4 last page next page
Author Messages
Cafeshio
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jun 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville Dual Boiler
Grinder: Cunill El Cafe Tranquilo
Vac Pot: wha..?
Drip: My fawcet
Roaster: Car without a rof?
Posted Fri Jun 7, 2013, 8:06am
Subject: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

.
Hello coffee geeks, gurus and maesters,

I have read the sticky – thanks a lot!!!! It helps orient my question into a more productive discussion, so I appeal to your kindness to endure some light but a bit lengthy read to understand my need and hopefully spill some of your knowledge to this eager espresso amateur.

As I turned 40, and having already owned a convertible in my 30s, my mid-life crisis has taken shape of a strong desire for good espresso, which I cannot obtain reliably out of my home (and at the moment cannot obtain in my home at all, since all I have is a stove pot and a $10 grinder :)

I call from Argentina but live in Seattle since 2001, with a 3 year intermission in Barcelona. In Argentina, as in Barcelona, coffee is typically pucker-up strong and served in single shots with no or at most a tiny drop of milk. We call that a “cortado” (meaning “cut”) – which here is called a macchiatto (meaning “stained”).

As you can see, for Argies, the association with coffee is through Spain rather than Italy. No idea whether the style is that much different that it would warrant a different machine recommendation, but there you have it nonetheless.

So, here’s the deal – I am putting together a 40 birthday party and have asked my friends in as delicate manner as possible to pool in for an espresso machine rather than getting various scotch bottles and the like for presents (I would take another convertible, but my friends are not willing to shell out accordingly it seems, go figure). So the budget is a bit variable – however I expect a floor of $600 and perhaps as much as $2,000. I will gladly complement with my own funds, but those are limited due to the party hehe.

I would very much appreciate your help into creating a short list of machines that would fulfill my craving, give me some room to grow but would hopefully not be outgrown too quickly (Holy Grail anyone?).

My initial lust was for a Breville 870 – single boiler with grinder incorporated. Appeal: relatively compact, has a grinder and sports a high WAF (wife acceptance factor). However after perusing coffee forums, I have to say that rather than lust, it became horniness. Rocket and La Marzocco have taken the place for lust, since they are probably out of my reach and must content myself with pinup versions of them naked hanged in my garage.

So, this is not to say that I would no longer be happy with the Breville if it is a good machine, but I would like to widen my horizon a bit before committing.

Now, after giving you all this context, let’s jump into specifics:

1.What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?
Espresso, machiatto, latte (hopefully artsy).

2.How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time?
I like to entertain, so would love to show my skill for as much as 8 friends at a time but likely no more than 4. Keep in mind this would be a nicety since we can trade this capability for a longer wait time – after all they are merely friends not patrons :P

3.How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?
In terms of plain lattes (breakfast, not art), that would likely be a daily routine in the morning, but only for me and my wife, so let’s say 10-14 a week with some weekend boost when friends come by. Also limited by my ability and free time since I don’t think she would ever touch the monster (she likes coffee a lot but she is not as involved and also seems content with instant coffee in a hurry, whereas I would rather listen to a recording of nails on a chalkboard for 3 days before putting that stuff in my cup).

4.Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir?
Plumbing is an intriguing concept, but at this stage I would say unfathomable. So, reservoir si vous plait.

5.Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
Another interesting question – but while a 20A might be feasible, I would stick to the 15A to be realistic.

6.What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
Since I have a variable, unknown budget at this point, I would ask for a stepped answer. Total budget for both grinder and machine to be $600 (Breville land), $900, $1,500 and maybe $2,000 going all out in a frenzy of friends raining money on me.

7.Does it have to be espresso or just the best cup of coffee possible?
Well, I really enjoy the crema, so I think the answer is both!

Also, what are your favorite places to buy from?

Seattle has a place called Seattle Coffee Gear with nice machine video reviews on YouTube, but when I visited in person, the experience was sub-par. I felt the sales person was not all that interested in helping me – it may have just  been a bad day, but I don’t think I should be second guessing why a sales person does not care to sell. Sure I got a free espresso shot, but I was really after advice. Since I didn’t get it, I’d rather give my business to an out of town vendor where I will save the tax (Amazon? Assuming shipping is not that expensive or unadvisable) – or to a super good local provider if one exists.

Hope this helps you help me. I realize that you do this for the love of coffee and out of the goodness of your heart yet I will try to return the favor somehow.

Thanks in advance!

Cafeshio (aka Flavio)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
Freddo58
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 36
Location: New Zealand
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jun 7, 2013, 5:30pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

Cafeshio Said:

.

My initial lust was for a Breville 870 – single boiler with grinder incorporated. Appeal: relatively compact, has a grinder and sports a high WAF (wife acceptance factor). However after perusing coffee forums, I have to say that rather than lust, it became horniness. Rocket and La Marzocco have taken the place for lust, since they are probably out of my reach and must content myself with pinup versions of them naked hanged in my garage.

Cafeshio (aka Flavio)

Posted June 7, 2013 link

There's a poster here selling a Rocket Cellini Premium Plus V1, looks to be in good condition without much use, plus a few accessories.  Together with a new grinder (Macap M4 , Mazzer Mini , Mahlkonig(Baritza) Vario, Compak K3 are the "usual suspects") you'll come in easily under $2k budget, have something that looks great, and makes great espresso.
"SOLD: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus V1"
There are other e61 HX machines less expensive "spec vs spec" than Rocket brand (Cuadra, Domobar, Quickmill, etc etc) where you might also get a new package with grinder at around that budget.  They will make excellent espresso.
Breville Dual boiler will make excellent espresso.  (model BES900XL).  But long-term, I think it's not what you want.  Forget machines with built-in grinder(BES870 etc) - if either part of the machine fails to meet your needs (likely), then you won't be very happy.  Also, if you leave beans in the hopper, they go off very fast from the warmth from the machine.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jun 8, 2013, 7:51am
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

Thanks for reading the sticky post.

I agree, if you can get used you get more bank for buck.  I started with used so I could start out with an HX machine as I was sure a single boiler would drive me up the wall because of temp surfing and lack of steam power.  That is the best way to get espresso on the cheap, but you need to be handy with a screw driver.

 
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
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
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 Jun 8, 2013, 11:41pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

If you are drinking coffee as your morning routine, you'll want it fast which means that any SBDU machine won't cut it for your uses.

What you want to consider is a Heat Exchanging machine, probably a reservoir vibration pump machine. These machines typically fall
in the $1200-$1600 range new, depending on what you are looking for in a machine.

Then, you can budget for a grinder as well. You should consider budgeting approximately 1/2 the cost of the machine you plan on
buying. Don't forget to budget approximately an extra $100 for accessories.

As part of your morning routine, you should consider buying an espresso machine with a built-in vacuum breaker so that you can put it
on a heavy duty appliance timer. You must allow the machine to warm up for at least 30 minutes before you plan on using it, to provide
for the best temperature stability. Without a vacuum breaker, the machine won't warm up properly. By the time it does, you'll be late for work.

There are a variety of machines out there with different types of groupheads. All of them make great coffee, but if you want one which is
very serviceable and well known, I'd personally recommend looking for a machine with an E61 grouphead. However, please keep in mind that
it does add extra cost to the machine usually.

Having a vendor which will service and support your machine is extremely important, so take a look around and ask lots of questions.

Good luck!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
back to top
 View Profile Contact via ICQ Contact via MSN Messenger Link to this post
emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,305
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013, 7:51am
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

qualin Said:

If you are drinking coffee as your morning routine, you'll want it fast which means that any SBDU machine won't cut it for your uses.

Posted June 8, 2013 link

Well, what I think Bud is trying to say, is that using a SBDU is more time consuming and that there may be some challenges to fit it into your morning routine. While I completely agree with the recommendations he made, I can't agree at all that we can say an SBDU "won't cut it...." I used one for years and made it fit into my routine and was able to have a double cappuccino every day, even when I had to be at work at 7am. Of course, now that I have a machine that has all the bells and whistles (and particularly, the features he mentioned) it's a lot easier

It would sure be a lot easier to help you if you could narrow down your budget...maybe after your big B-Day party. Hope you have a great time, btw!

.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
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 Sun Jun 9, 2013, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

emradguy Said:

Well, what I think Bud is trying to say,

Posted June 9, 2013 link

Heh.. Well, when I wrote that last post, It was quite late, so I probably could have communicated better.

emradguy Said:

is that using a SBDU is more time consuming and that there may be some challenges to fit it into your morning routine.

Posted June 9, 2013 link

That is precisely what I meant to say. What I found by using an SBDU is that I'd have time for ONE coffee in the morning. Making a second coffee
was only an option if I got up a lot earlier and I honestly admit that I'm not a morning person.

With an SBDU, it took me about 10 minutes to make a shot from start to finish. That included set up, grinding, tamping, temperature surfing, brewing,
cleaning,  waiting for steam, steaming, more cleaning and then finally refilling the boiler. Probably about 4 minutes of that is just spent waiting on the machine.

With a HX or DB machine, I can look at the clock, see I have to leave in 10 minutes and decide if I want to make myself another coffee. I can crank
out a milk drink in roughly 4 minutes, including prep and cleaning. I'm nowhere near the speed of a professional barista, but still pretty fast in my mind, IMO!

emradguy Said:

I can't agree at all that we can say an SBDU "won't cut it...."

Posted June 9, 2013 link

I guess I should have clarified this from the get go. I admit that I'm now very spoiled. Going back to an SBDU wouldn't cut it for me. I'm not patient enough
in the mornings and couldn't wait to sell mine when I had the chance. My Rancilio Silvia made fantastic drinks, it really did. For my needs, a single drink in the
morning was perfect for a little machine like that, I just didn't like having to wait for it.

I would only consider a SBDU if budget is a serious limitation, only because it is a compromise. However, from the sounds of the OP, an SBDU won't be able to
keep up with the demand if they are having company over, so I still think it is out of the running.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
back to top
 View Profile Contact via ICQ Contact via MSN Messenger Link to this post
Cafeshio
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jun 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville Dual Boiler
Grinder: Cunill El Cafe Tranquilo
Vac Pot: wha..?
Drip: My fawcet
Roaster: Car without a rof?
Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013, 4:31pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

Hello everyone,

Thanks a lot for the responses - they are very helpful. I really value the feedback around SBDU and HX - however, thinking where I'm coming from I don't see it as a deal breaker. Sure - anyone can get spoiled, but I feel like I can afford 10 minutes in the morning for a good cup of coffee. Heck, people stand in line at Starbucks longer than that for just a latte :)

I understand the comment on volume capacity and perhaps I should have been more clear around my needs - 95% of the time it will be for daily use and only when entertaining I will require that extra push, but my friends can surely wait the extra time.

I am more concerned with learning curve - so something where my variables are more limited will have a lot of value. Temperature consistency, timers, those I think sound appealing. I read a couple reviews about the Breville 900 that seems to make it a very nice contender. It is not as pretty as the Rocket, but it may be an adequate entry point.

I saw the comment that I would likely outgrow that machine relatively rapidly - and that is actually somewhat reassuring, in the sense that I should be able to pull good shots soon.

The 870 with the embedded grinder is now out of the picture for me after reading Freddo's reply - thanks for that feedback. I am also getting more comfortable with the idea of getting a good grinder - but I cannot quite make myself get to $350 just yet. My gut tells me that for $100-$150 a grinder should kick ass already. Perhaps it is because I don't quite grasp the economics of grinder manufacturing, but considering a 50 inch TV can be gotten for $$400, I'm amazed that an appliance whose sole purpose in life is to grind coffee can command such a price. In today's cheap labor world, I can't quite understand what makes these puppies so pricey.

In terms of grinders, the Conill Tranquilo had glowing reviews, but I cannot find a retailer in the US that would carry it. Anyone knows?

Finally, I would love to do a blind testing of a couple machines with a couple grinders - say, pitch a Rocket Cellisimo vs the Breville 900 and a Baratza Master vs Rancilio Rocky. Now that would be 4 shots, but if I'm not able to tell them apart, would it still make sense to go to the higher end? Not sure anyone would be willing to set that up for me though, or how to make sure that the barista prepares the best possible shot with both high and mid range devices to make the shots as comparable as possible. Dunno, maybe I'm overanalyzing it...
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
Freddo58
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 36
Location: New Zealand
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013, 6:12pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

You need to look at spending more than $150 for an electric grinder (unless you buy used - very carefully).  Your gut instinct is wrong - you are on the wrong path.
It's not just for potential "optimum" quality of grind, but cheaply made grinders wont give a consistent result - it will make your "learning curve" much harder.
Save money on the machine - not on the grinder (that said, there are people who suggest that you need a $2k grinder - very false economy IMO for a few cups of espresso per day, but others think it's worth it - and it's not up to me to tell them they're wrong).
Go back to a real equipment store with demo equipment on display, and use a few grinders.  That way you'll get some feeling for why they seem to cost so much.

As for blind-testing, it's not an ideal world.  A good shot on a cheap machine will be better than a bad shot on a good machine, so trust that if the espresso is done properly on a $500 SBDU machine or a $3,000 DB machine - you probably won't taste a difference.  The extra $$$ buys you a combination of something easier to use (possibly allowing the operator to control things more finely), more durable, nicer to look at.
The Breville 900 is probably the machine which offers best "bang for buck" in terms of features for price, but IMO it's going to have about the same lifespan as a $400 TV set.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
BeerCan
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jun 2010
Posts: 37
Location: Tampa Florida
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013, 7:07pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

I was a little overwhelmed at the grinder costs when I started looking also.  My $0.02 is that when these people say do not skimp on the grinder you should believe them.  Realizing that at least in the beginning I was not going to do more than 6 shots a day (max) I decided the take a shortcut and purchased the Pharos from orphanexpresso.  It has a much easier to swallow price and has a pretty strong reputation.  Only downside is that its a hand grinder, but I refuse to let that scare me :)

Now if I could only decide on an espresso machine I might start getting some good coffee in the mornings LOL
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013, 8:02pm
Subject: Re: A well thought out request for help on getting my first machine and grinder
 

The grinder is more important to the taste in the cup than the machine.  It is so hard to grasp but it is 10000000000% true.

 
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
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
showing page 1 of 4 last page next page
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
Discussions > Espresso > Machines > A well thought...  
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered     Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
Discussions Quick Jump:
Symbols: New Posts= New Posts since your last visit      No New Posts= No New Posts since last visit     Go to most recent post= Newest post
Forum Rules:
No profanity, illegal acts or personal attacks will be tolerated in these discussion boards.
No commercial posting of any nature will be tolerated; only private sales by private individuals, in the "Buy and Sell" forum.
No SEO style postings will be tolerated. SEO related posts will result in immediate ban from CoffeeGeek.
No cross posting allowed - do not post your topic to more than one forum, nor repost a topic to the same forum.
Who Can Read The Forum? Anyone can read posts in these discussion boards.
Who Can Post New Topics? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post new topics.
Who Can Post Replies? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post replies.
Can Photos be posted? Anyone can post photos in their new topics or replies.
Who can change or delete posts? Any CoffeeGeek member can edit their own posts. Only moderators can delete posts.
Probationary Period: If you are a new signup for CoffeeGeek, you cannot promote, endorse, criticise or otherwise post an unsolicited endorsement for any company, product or service in your first five postings.
Home Espresso Machines
Watch videos with Gail & Kat, Rocket, Jura Capresso, Saeco, Rancilio, Quick Mill, Nespresso
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
Home | Opinions | Consumer Reviews | Guides & How Tos | CoffeeGeek Reviews | Resources | Forums | Contact Us
CoffeeGeek.com, CoffeeGeek, and Coffee Geek, along with all associated content & images are copyright ©2000-2014 by Mark Prince, all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Content, code, and images may not be reused without permission. Usage of this website signifies agreement with our Terms and Conditions. (0.491823911667)
Privacy Policy | Copyright Info | Terms and Conditions | CoffeeGeek Advertisers | RSS | Find us on Google+