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Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
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drewciferpike
Senior Member
drewciferpike
Joined: 13 Jun 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: R. Silvia v3 - stock
Grinder: B. Preciso
Posted Thu Jun 13, 2013, 10:58am
Subject: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

Hello, all, and thanks in advance!

My wife and I will be taking the plunge into first-time espresso machine ownership, and after doing research on machines, and looking at our projected needs and budget, I've tentatively settled on the two machines listed in the topic heading.

About us: We'll usually make 2 shots in the morning (or possibly two doubles... not sure, yet), and may make a few more if we have company. I get whole beans from Costa Rica and grind them daily with a burr grinder for my wife's Muka pot, or my press. Because we're not completely converted (just give all of you time, right?), we're not ready to go the Rocky route, or $1000+ machines.

Though our grinder gives decent consistency, I know it's not at the level of a Rocky, so I figure I need to stay away from machines that are sensitive to grind.

Our budget is currently $500, so the Breville is at the tippy-top of the scale. The Silvia seems interesting, but the mods required to get it to a place where I don't have to babysit it turns me off.

If needed, I will engage in extreme maintenance, but I'd rather not mess with water filters and arcane cleaning techniques. If it's worth it, though, I'll do it (if the extra work required by a specific machine allows that machine to make great espresso while being forgiving of my total noobishness, I'm OK with that).

We'll usually make Americanos (if the shot is good... haha), and maybe capps for guests, and for my wife on the weekends. I guess the Gaggia isn't as good with foam?

Learn me up, as I have no experience with either of these machines, and don't know anyone that owns one, or that's not a cuppa-joe user, or a fully-plumbed-in-the-kitchen power user (who tried to convince me that I should just start with a $5000 machine... haha... NO).

I look forward to your roasted wisdom.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
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 Thu Jun 13, 2013, 1:29pm
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

Hi, welcome.
I only have less than a minute to answer.
Avoid the Breville, the BDB seems to be holding up OK but it is the exception to the lower quality appliances that that company turns out.

Sylvia is easily 4 times the machine of the other ones you are looking at but it is high priced. There are a lot of used machines that turn up on our buy and sell board, from members moving up the ladder. Some excellent deals can be had there from someone who knows how to take care of the machine.

Unless you are going with a PPF, your grinder will not grind for espresso, you need to get a grinder for espresso, you can get a good hand powered one for around a hundred dollars, powered they will be at least three times that.

 
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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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
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 16, 2013, 12:36am
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

drewciferpike Said:

I've tentatively settled on the two machines listed in the topic heading.

Posted June 13, 2013 link

The Gaggia classic is what I would consider a good starter machine for your needs, provided that you understand the limitations of them.
An espresso capable grinder is an absolute must if you want to make quality drinks without using a pressurized portafilter.

drewciferpike Said:

we're not ready to go the Rocky route, or $1000+ machines.

Posted June 13, 2013 link

Well, a good starter espresso grinder is the Baratza Precisio, (Please read the reviews on this site) which comes in around the $300-$350 mark. However, if you can afford
it, consider the slightly more expensive Baratza Vario instead. Most entry level espresso-capable grinders start around $300.

drewciferpike Said:

I figure I need to stay away from machines that are sensitive to grind.

Posted June 13, 2013 link

This is the wrong mentality to get into. You see, espresso machine manufacturers know that a lot of people don't have decent grinders, so they get around this by selling
cheap machines with pressurized portafilters. What it does though is make a poor substitute for proper espresso. A lot of things are lost with a pressurized portafilter. Like the
silky mouthfeel and the intensity of a proper espresso based drink. Keep in mind that it isn't just the machine that makes the espresso, the grinder is a very important part of
that process and in some ways is even more important than the machine!

A proper coffee grinder which can grind the coffee consistently enough for espresso creates the foundation of the espresso drink. Without that foundation, even the most
expensive machine on the planet can't crank out a decent shot. Blend, Grind, Machine, Man.. Every link in the chain is very important.

drewciferpike Said:

Our budget is currently $500,

Posted June 13, 2013 link

I'd say that it is better if you consider doubling that budget, but for both a machine, grinder and accessories. About $500 for the machine, $400 for the grinder and about
$100 for accessories which go with the whole set up, like steaming pitchers and a thermometer, cleaning brushes, cafiza, grindz, cleaning brushes, chamois cloths
and some shot glasses so you can measure your shots. Look for package deals, but stay away from the Rocky. (Great grinder, but not for espresso.)

drewciferpike Said:

The Silvia seems interesting, but the mods required to get it to a place where I don't have to babysit it turns me off.

Posted June 13, 2013 link

What kind of mods? PID control is a great mod for the Silvia, but isn't really required. The Silvia will outperform either machine in your topic line,
temperature surfing or not! It was my first machine and I bought it used with a Rocky for $600. The Silvia is a much better machine to start out with
since it is very forgiving of noobies due to its larger boiler size and better thermal mass.

drewciferpike Said:

I'd rather not mess with water filters and arcane cleaning techniques.

Posted June 13, 2013 link

Well, the only filter I used was a special resin filter to soften the hard water which I put in the tank, that just attached to the intake tube. As for the cleaning techniques,
they're not all that difficult to perform and not all that time consuming. You'd probably spend more time cleaning a toilet than cleaning an espresso machine! :-)

drewciferpike Said:

(who tried to convince me that I should just start with a $5000 machine... haha... NO).

Posted June 13, 2013 link

You can start out with a relatively inexpensive machine and grinder, but you have to keep in mind that a proper espresso machine and grinder should be considered to be
a set of major appliances, like a washer and dryer, instead of a blender or a toaster. When you start out, you will be content for a while, then you'll want to upgrade after a
while, but this comes with time.

Getting into espresso is a bit of a commitment because the equipment can be so expensive, but if you make that small initial investment, it is certainly worth it. If you feel
comfortable buying decently cared for used equipment so you can save some money, do so.

Actually, strangely enough in this hobby, the cheaper the machine and grinder are, the more skill is needed to crank out a good shot. (At least from my experience!)

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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drewciferpike
Senior Member
drewciferpike
Joined: 13 Jun 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: R. Silvia v3 - stock
Grinder: B. Preciso
Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 7:36pm
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

Sorry for the wait! I've been out of town on business...

I appreciate the honest feedback, and after looking at everything with fresh eyes (and a beer) I've decided that the Silvia is the starter for us. I figure it'll last a very long time with proper care, and will serve us well.

Once I actually watched the temp-surfing vids and basic "pull a shot with a Silvia" vids, I saw it was all a lot simpler than the doom-and-gloom reviews make it out to be. I spent 9 years in Alaska at a remote fishing lodge, and had to start old 4K and 8K generators with a hand-crank; after those picky Listers, having to toggle some switches and count seconds after a light goes on or off isn't that big of a deal.

Thanks for steering me right, and I'll definitely check back in when I've (probably) eaten my words! Haha. (We're in the process of moving, so I'll order the machine once we've unpacked...)

 
-Drew
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
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 Tue Jun 18, 2013, 8:31pm
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

drewciferpike Said:

I figure it'll last a very long time with proper care, and will serve us well.

Posted June 18, 2013 link

Good to hear. One list member on here had theirs for 20 years, so they are designed to last. There is a wealth of information about these machines
on this forum and online in general, so if you ever need help with it, there are no shortage of people who know these machines.

drewciferpike Said:

Once I actually watched the temp-surfing vids and basic "pull a shot with a Silvia" vids,

Posted June 18, 2013 link

Heh.. I found it got old after a few months, but that was IMHO. A lot of Silvia owners on here have retrofitted to PID operation, all it really does is
make a great machine completely awesome. Better to do when one is on a budget and you don't want to look at a really stiff up front cost at first.
It seems everyone sells kits to retrofit these machines and there are plenty of shops who are willing to do the modifications for you if doing it
yourself may make you squeamish.

Good luck with your machine and grinder! If you get frustrated, don't hesitate to ask questions. There is also a wealth of information on how to pull
a decent shot on the net. One place to look is here: http://www.frcndigital.com/coffee/Coffee.html

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,452
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 9:05pm
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

Don't forget a good grinder, if you get the Silvia (or any machine without a pressurized portafilter) and use a cheap/low end pno offense) burr grinder your gonna be quite unhappy with the very poor coffee. If budget is tight your far better off getting the Classic which almost half the price of the Silvia, and then you'll have money left over or a tad more to budget in an espresso capable grinder like the Preciso. Other wise with a cheap burr grinder you'll get like a 10 second under extracted and channeling shot that you won't want to take 1 sip of lol.
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drewciferpike
Senior Member
drewciferpike
Joined: 13 Jun 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: R. Silvia v3 - stock
Grinder: B. Preciso
Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 6:35am
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

I think I'll be able to give my FIL our older grinder, and buy a Preciso or Vario... let's see if the wife buys it...

 
-Drew
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Fred1
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Sep 2004
Posts: 564
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: LaSpaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini/NS MCF
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Hottop, FR+8
Posted Sun Jun 30, 2013, 7:56am
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

To save a few bucks on the grinder, go to the Baratza website on thurs AM.  They sell refurb grinders (vario is $360.00 plus shipping).  These are sold on a first come, first served basis.

Fred
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drewciferpike
Senior Member
drewciferpike
Joined: 13 Jun 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: R. Silvia v3 - stock
Grinder: B. Preciso
Posted Mon Jul 22, 2013, 10:05am
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

So  far, I'm really liking the machine. After fiddling with grind and tamp, I'm getting some decent shots. The perfectionist is me, however, isn't happy, so I'm going to get a new grinder, as I feel that most shots are extracting too quickly. Good shots only come when I'm in hard-core coffee-Zen mode, and that's hard to reach in the morning. Haha.

The old grinder will now be used for spices, as it would be _just_ a little too fine on one setting, and _just_ a little too coarse on the next. Tamping can change it up, but that's too hit-or-miss for me.

Once I feel I've earned my stripes, I'll look into a PID so the machine is easier to use for my wife. I don't mind it, as-is, but she gave me "the look".

Thanks for your feedback, everyone! The look of wonder and happiness my wife gave me the first morning with the new machine--as I handed her a perfect capp--was a great payoff, and it came from your help.

 
-Drew
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drewciferpike
Senior Member
drewciferpike
Joined: 13 Jun 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: R. Silvia v3 - stock
Grinder: B. Preciso
Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013, 8:44am
Subject: Re: Help a new member choose - Gaggia 14101 vs. Breville BES840XL
 

Soooooo... yeah. Refurb Preciso came last night. Out of the box, this morning's experience was amazing:

With the grinder at its recommended settings, I pulled two doubles, with two different beans (reg and decaf). Total difference when compared to the older grinder. No fiddling. No crazy tamping ritual. Nice, long extractions, and good espresso. I can't wait to see how I settle in and learn the Silvia, now that I can control the grind!

The Infinity grinder will be cleaned and gifted to the FIL, or used for spices. Haha.

 
-Drew
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