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Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Went to Italy,...  
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aphillipe
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Jun 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 2:11pm
Subject: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

So.. My wife and I just got back from our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy for 20 days and never were into coffee before, but decided... "when in Rome" (which we actually were) to try some Italian coffee.  We became hooked.  It became a ritual the remainder of our trip each and every day.  Upon returning we immediately decided we needed an espresso machine - Can you give us some insight?

Standard Questions:

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  
Cappuccino mainly - will always be mixing in milk.  not a fan of drip coffee, or shots.

2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)
2 every morning - just the two of us.  On rare situations drinks for 4 when we have company over.

3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)
2 drinks a morning 5-7 days a week, 2 drinks in the afternoon potentially 2-3 days a week.

4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir?
Would rather not attempt - slab granite countertops would be a nightmare.

5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
Standard.

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
Somewhat flexible - Would rather get the "right" machine that will last 20+ years than replace every 5.  With grinder, I'd top out at $3,000.

7)  Are you willing to buy used or do you need new equipment? Do you or family member have the skills to repair used equipment?
New.

8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these. .
Will buy these upon machine purchase.

More info:
My parents, my brother, and a good friend all own and swear by the Rancilio Silvia.  I used it over the weekend and was impressed by the shot, but know there's a long list of debatable downsides with this machine.   I'd rather buy the "right" machine for us from the start, than buy this, then want something else down the road with more features and control.  

Could some of you chime in on where you'd guy if we took a step up from this machine price/option wise and why you'd go that route?  Clive Coffee is just 20 minutes from us and they sell a variety of Italian machines - so we have access to some really good stuff in our backyard.  In terms of a budget, anything (machine + grinder) less than $3k would be something we'd consider providing it is user friendly, makes consistently (key word) good shots, and will last many years to come.  I'm having a tough time jumping from a $650 Silvia and $400 grinder to the majority of the other machines that are double and triple that price point.  Sell me on why I should make the jump.

Thanks in advance!!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,110
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 Tue Jun 18, 2013, 7:06pm
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

Your intended use would allow you to use a SBDU machine, but without a PID control, the cinsistency is harder to manage. The CC1 sounds about right for you, though it's relatively new to the market and so I don't know if it'll last 20 years. Given your post, I'd probably recommend a HX machine, perhaps a La Nuova Cuadra Era...but if you want to purchase locally from Clive you should perhaps consider the Quickmill HX reservoir machine. Having said that, a DB machine is great for consistency, and Clive carries the Mini Vivaldi which I think is a great looking machine when one opts for wood panels...though that will spend your entire budget once you select a grinder.

Now, you should read about the different types of machines and figure out which works best for you. The espresso machine buying guide on this site is a great resource for that.

Any machine with a decent amount of metal mass to maintain thermal stability and a decent pump will give you the ability to obtain consistency. The biggest variable is almost assuredly going to be you, the "barista". You need to read, watch videos, take a class or whatever, but at least do something to learn why and how to, so that you perform your part consistently. Consistency is one huge advantage any machine of any sort is likely to have over you.

Last thing (saved till now so it's fresh in you mind when you finish reading this post). Which grinder is a more important decision. Don't skimp on the grinder. Changing classes of grinders will make the biggest improvement in the cup, so you really should get the very best grinder you can afford. You'll have to decide on single dosing vs filling the hopper, doser vs doserless, whether you want time or weight based control or just an on/off switch, etc.

.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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west77
Senior Member
west77
Joined: 18 Aug 2010
Posts: 49
Location: Calgary AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: WEGA 2 group Airy, Rancilio...
Grinder: Carimali M1, Nuova Simonelli...
Vac Pot: Cory gasketless
Drip: What's drip?
Roaster: Fratello ;)
Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 3:02am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

No doubt that you will get the advice to look at the grinder at least once with every reply to your post- and rightfully so as it does have a huge impact on your shot.  I would read the reviews and visit a few of the shops in your town to ask a couple of questions and get a feel for the service and the machines they offer that fit your criteria.  Where I live I know that a few shops offer lessons (or at least brief starter courses) if you purchase a machine- something you cannot get from the net.  On the other hand, read the review section and read about the differences between the various options- possibly the perfect machine for you is not available locally.

What you can get from the net is the information (as mentioned above- why do I feel like I am just regurgitating the good advice already offered?)  Information on what roast of coffee you are likely to prefer, how to steam the milk, how to tamp and how to get a great shot.  Allthough you like the milk based drinks I would still pull the occasional straight espresso shot just as a gauge of how you are doing (is it too bitter, sour, thin.)  The milk can sometimes mask problems to an extent and your best chance of making a great cappuccino starts with a great shot of espresso.

Finally, if the perfect machine requires a 20 amp breaker there is the possibility that an electrician could get a new plug in easily and it might only take a couple of hours (depending on whether it is a finished basement, space in your panel etc...)  Adding it to the budget if it is easy and the perfect machine just needs a little more power may be worth it.

It is hard to sell you on why you need to make the jump to a more expensive machine if you are happy with what you pulled from the silvia.  If you visit Clive ask them to sell you on the more expensive machine- and then go visiting and pull another shot off the Silvia to ground yourself again.  I have never used a Silvia and cannot give you any real downsides.  More expensive, modern machines will have more bells and whistles and may make things a little easier for you- but if you are happy with the shot you pulled it may be the right machine (Does Clive have a few models hooked up that they can demonstrate with?)

Regardless of the machine you chose- upgrade the grinder if you can.  You do not mention what grinder it is- but if you can find something with 64mm burrs and stepless (or almost stepless) settings you will just be able to replace the burrs every now and then and the grinder will last a lifetime...  I hesitate to give a specific recommendation- read the reviews, and look at your options... those two guidelines should net a commercial quality grinder (thought there are other options as well...)

I hope you find the perfect set-up to recreate Rome in your own kitchen...
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OttoMatic
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 78
Location: Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario,...
Drip: Capresso MT500+
Roaster: Cast iron dutch oven
Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 5:12am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

Sounds like you had a good time in Italy.  I'll start with the grinder.  Go as wild as you can.  With you budget, I'd suggest (like I do to anyone that asks) the Mahlönig K30 Vario.  Yeah, it's big and expensive, but you'll never have to worry about performance.  I had the Mazzer Mini-E for a while and was sorely disappointed.  You can search around here and at H-B for my comments on the matter, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that has a serious budge (like you).  I have to run now, but wanted to really start you down the grinder path.  There will be other suggestions, I'm sure.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,110
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 Jun 19, 2013, 7:18am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

I'd like to add one additional comment why you may want to get something more than a SBDU, such as the Silvia. It's kind of slow when you have to make more than a couple of drinks. It used to take me about 20 minutes to produce 4 milk based espresso drinks, and we were splitting doubles. So if you're going to be pulling 4 doubles rather than 2 to make 4 drinks figure on close to a half hour working at the bar. Conversely, a HX or DB machine will cut your work time in half (figure on about 3-4 min per drink).

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


Joined: 18 Jun 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 7:49am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

I completely agree on the grinder and will plan on spending $400-600 on one as part of my purchase.  

I guess the biggest question I'm stuck on is this:  From a long-term standpoint on taste and happiness, if I can manage good shots from the Silvia, could I get BETTER shots from another machine (leaving all other parts of the equation the same- grinder, beans etc) because of the "bells and whistles" those machines have when jumping up in price?  

Lastly - I've read endless information on the single, heat exchange, and double - but no one both on here (or in person) can seem to really nail down for me if it's just the two of us making drinks w/ milk each day, which setup I actually "need"...  Like - will the taste, efficiency, and ease of use go up as rapidly as the price or is the equation somewhat skewed?

Hopefully this all makes sense - I just don't want to buy the Silvia, then a few months down the road wish I would have purchased a machine with a double boiler or heat exchange with more features that ultimately could produce a more consistently good shot...
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,268
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 8:50am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

You did what i one day will do. I want to rent a car and drive around Northern Italy drinking espresso. Congrats. Hey heres the deal,questions like this always tug at the heart strings of
DB and HX owners and we all well meaningly expound on the pluses and minuses. They both are capable of the exact same thing. Do yourself a huge favor and contact
Chris at Chris Coffee or Jim at 1stline and just tell them what you are looking fo
r and that your budget is 3K .You are in the perfect price range for excellent equipment.Then after talking to them
like in anything go with the one you choose. You will save yourself time,get the best info,and join a company who you will have a long term relationship with . There are others but these two come to my mind
that are in it heart and soul. The other two are whole latte love and seattle coffee gear. My first was WLL and they are a great company and my 2nd was Jim at 1stline and he is simply a great guy
with tons of knowledge,he also he had a machine  at the price range I was looking for.But what these well meaning questions here  often lead to is
endless debates over why you should buy my machine rather than just gettin her done. Nothing wrong with the other two I mentioned I just went the way I went. There is no reason why in a few weeks you cant be drinking espresso instead of
debating about machines. The go with a good coffee...Klatch, Intelligentsia,Vivacii and the list goes on.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,110
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 Jun 19, 2013, 9:57am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

aphillipe Said:

I completely agree on the grinder and will plan on spending $400-600 on one as part of my purchase.  

I guess the biggest question I'm stuck on is this:  From a long-term standpoint on taste and happiness, if I can manage good shots from the Silvia, could I get BETTER shots from another machine (leaving all other parts of the equation the same- grinder, beans etc) because of the "bells and whistles" those machines have when jumping up in price?  

Lastly - I've read endless information on the single, heat exchange, and double - but no one both on here (or in person) can seem to really nail down for me if it's just the two of us making drinks w/ milk each day, which setup I actually "need"...  Like - will the taste, efficiency, and ease of use go up as rapidly as the price or is the equation somewhat skewed?

Hopefully this all makes sense - I just don't want to buy the Silvia, then a few months down the road wish I would have purchased a machine with a double boiler or heat exchange with more features that ultimately could produce a more consistently good shot...

Posted June 19, 2013 link

Though you don't seem to agree, I think we actually have answered the questions you asked. Maybe not as directly as you'll like but in answering the simpler ones, the more complex ones were also addressed. You wanted to know if and why you should spend more than a Silvia and you were given not only that it is adequate for your needs, but why you might want something more...which was something you asked for. A lot of what you asked us to tell you is a matter of preference. How can anyone tell you what you prefer? You've read about the differences between HX and DB? Then you ought to know they are both capable of pulling consistently good shots, but function somewhat differently. It's a matter of personal preference which one is suited for each individual. You've been given a couple of reasons why you might want one of those.  To answer, in no uncertain terms, whether the Silvia can produce good shots consistently - yes. I think any machine over about $400 can do that, some easier than others. However, that needs to be qualified. There are 4 components to good espresso, beans, grinder, machine, and "barista". No one here knows how devoted you are to becoming a good consistent barista, whether you will have the patience to develop the skills, how long it will take you to get them, etc. if you buy a Silvia without a PID controller your journey will be harder, but  tthat doesn't mean it can't be done.

I'm not trying to harp on you, but rather point out there's a lot of personal decision making that goes into it. We've tried to answer your questions and direct you to places to read do more research so your decisions can be informed.

...and I'm more than happy to continue the discussion... :)

.

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


Joined: 18 Jun 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 10:21am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

I hear ya - We are signed up to take a home barista class this Saturday at Clive - I think we will walk away with a much better understanding of the different types of machines and that will hopefully make the decision a lot easier.  We just want to make sure we do it right the first time and don't have buyer's remorse either direction given it's a big purchase and all.  Thanks for the input!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 11:00am
Subject: Re: Went to Italy, drank coffee, I'm ready to replicate it at home.
 

I think the class is a great idea.  Just remember they only teach on a few machines.  There are a lot more types of machines out there.

 
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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