wtmcgowin Senior Member Joined: 1 Jul 2013 Posts: 4 Location: Mobile, AL Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Jul 1, 2013, 7:52am Subject: Suggestions for an espresso machine for multiple users
I have been a lurker here for a while, and decided to jump in. I was hoping to get the group's input. Here is my dilemma:
My wife and I are coffee lovers. I have had multiple drip pots, moka pots, french press pots, a cheap espresso machine, a pod machine (yuck) roasted my own beans in a popcorn roaster, etc. etc. However, after recently returning from 2 weeks in Italy I have concluded that a good cappuccino is the closest thing to coffee nirvana that exists. Unfortunately I cannot find a decent one anywhere near my house. So I have decided to buy a good espresso machine for the home. I will spend up to $1,600-1,700 for the total package (and maybe up to $2,000 if it makes sense). The question is what I should look at.
Now, based on the facts above and what I have read I think a good double boiler semi automatic machine and a good grinder would get me there. However, here's my rub. My wife adores coffee as well, and combined we have 2 teenagers who also love cappiccino (and latte), and will want to use the machine while I am at work. I have a feeling the kids may be a bit intimidated by a semi automatic and I don't think their tastes will be as discerning. So a super automatic would likely fit them. However when I make cappuccino/espresso for me, I want more control over the process than a superautomatic will allow (I think). So I think I have two questions:
am I overstating how difficult and messy a semiautomatic can be for my teenagers to use?
if I get a superautomatic, could I take sufficient control over the process to do what I want?
Now, I know superautomatics aren't favorites here, and so I expect some dissing of them. I also know people may think I am spending needless money by getting one. However it's worth it if a semiautomatic will be daunting for a casual user.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,265 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Jul 1, 2013, 9:01am Subject: Re: Suggestions for an espresso machine for multiple users
William, Welcome to the board. You are right about our lower view of SA machines. This is because of several things. They have both grinder and machine in one case so if you have issues with one thing you need to replace both. Next they do not have the adjustability of semi or auro machines and stand alone grinders and third they are more trouble prone than seperates.
Teaching teens to use a semi auto machine should not be an issue if they want to learn, they take to tech very quickly.
As to machine desine. Quality machines be they SBDU, HX or DB. Will all turn out excellent espresso when used properly.
For several drinks at a time a SBDU is not a great choice. Either a HX or DB will serve you better.
One is not better than the other, they are two waus to make great drinks.
A ;¿ allows you to slightly adjust temps between shots while a PID controled DB let's you not. Think about temps. Both work well it is just what you want from the machine.
All 3 can make great shots multiple milk drinks are moew efficently made on a HX. Or DB.
Of course any of them require a good grinder
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!
Posted Mon Jul 1, 2013, 10:13am Subject: Re: Suggestions for an espresso machine for multiple users
I think a semi-automatic or even automatic (not super automatic) would work out fine for wife and teens with the following caveats:
Everyone needs to have the same tamp: Get an Espro calibrated tamper and all your family will be tamping to the same pressure.
You dial in the grind in the morning. That gives everyone a base set point to start with, and if they learn enough they might vary the grind during the day without much trouble.
They don't mind working a bit for their coffee experience. There are people that don't mind the details required for good espresso, and there are other people that would rather not be bothered with the details and just want coffee.
Unfortunately I don't know super-autos enough to give a recommendation one way or the other.
Markarian Senior Member Joined: 27 Jun 2012 Posts: 658 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 Jul 1, 2013, 12:29pm Subject: Re: Suggestions for an espresso machine for multiple users
Another thing you can consider is that if your teens aren't as discerning about taste, they can still use ESE pods in a nicer machine with an adapter, though we should all be setting better examples for the younger generation ;)
Your budget sounds like the Cuadra+Vario+Accessories variety, though there are a couple really nice HXs at 1st line between $1000-1300 that would work as well.
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