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Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
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canuckcoffeeguy
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canuckcoffeeguy
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Posted Fri Sep 20, 2013, 1:07pm
Subject: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

Hi everyone. This is my first post, but I have been lurking and reading for a while.

I'm ready to take the plunge into home espresso and looking for your advice. I've answered the standard questions below, but here's a quick summary of my needs.

Looking for a semi-automatic with a smallish footprint (not a lot of counter space). Understand the importance of a good grinder, so thinking about the Vario. I would like the ability to grind for espresso, press pot, moka pot, and pour over.

As for a machine, I'm thinking about models like: Crossland CC1 1.5 / Lelit PL41TEM V2 with PID / Gaggia Classic / or save a little more for an entry level Bezzera. Or, open to other suggestions.

I'm picky about shot quality since I drink mostly straight shots.

Please see below for more details on my budget and needs.

Thank you in advance for your collective wisdom. Please let me know if there's something I haven't answered.

Standard Questions:

1) What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)

Overwhelmingly single and double espressos. I mostly drink straight shots, but would like the option of steaming once in a while. I would only steam maybe a few times per month.

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.)

For me, almost always just one drink at a time. There would be the odd time when company comes over, that I might need to make more than one drinkóbut rarely. My wife doesnít drink coffee and my kids are too young. (The kids have enough energy and caffeine would be a bad idea!)

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.)

Not that many. 5 to 10 drinks per weekómostly espresso shots. I would predominantly use it on weekends. I commute into the city for work during the week, and donít have time to pull shots in the morning. So mostly for weekends and maybe some decaf shots for weekday evenings.

4) Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir?

No ability to plumb and not a ton of counter space. So need a pour over and not an overly large footprint.

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

May have a 20-amp circuit, but donít want the trouble. So standard circuit.

6) What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

For the machine and grinder: a budget around $1,100 to $1,400 Canadian dollars, which is almost on par with USD right now.

For a grinder, Iím thinking about the Baratza Vario. I want to be able to make espresso, but also pour over, Moka pot, and press pot. So Iíd like the full spectrum of grind capability. Minus the cost of the Vario, that leaves me with $600 to $900 or so for a machine.

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?

I would prefer new with warranty, since I donít want the hassle of buying used or risking potentially costly repairs.

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

No, I donít have the accessories. But would buy those and not count them as part of my budget.

9) What is your experience?

Iím new to making espresso at home, but not drinking it. Iím pretty picky about shot quality, especially since I mostly drink straight shots. Iím pretty meticulous about things, so I think with time and practice, I can learn how to pull shots.

10) Where are you located?
Just outside Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,775
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Posted Fri Sep 20, 2013, 2:08pm
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

Hi and welcome

I think you are on the right path, Either of the first two should be fine. For mainly shots, you really do want a PID on a SBDU machine.
I do know there has been a lot of positive feedback from CC1 owners since it came out and it is the more advanced of these two.

The grinder is also a good choice so it does show that you have been doing your homework.

Our northern members will be of much more help with advising a company to purchase from.

Join in on the conversation, we don't bite........ very hard! :D

 
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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canuckcoffeeguy
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canuckcoffeeguy
Joined: 22 Aug 2013
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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
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Posted Fri Sep 20, 2013, 2:55pm
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

Hi Wayne. Thanks for the welcome and your reply.

So it looks like I definitely want a PID. Does it still help if I'll mainly be pulling one shot at a time, and rarely back to back?

I heard some early CC1 machines had some issues. But the new 1.5 seems different. Anyone, have some insight into the New CC1? Looks like a lot of bang for the buck. And Bill Crossland answers emails personally, I hear.

Lelit looks like good value, too.

The Bezzera machines also look really nice for the price range, too. Although that's getting higher in price.

I guess it's always easy to keep wanting more, hence, budget creep. Need to know where to draw the line.

Also, I live within driving distance of  I Drink Coffee. So I could go there in person.

Thanks again everyone!
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MJW
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
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Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Sep 20, 2013, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

I think you should consider the Breville BES840XL.  The CC1 is probably overall a better machine, but the 840 fits your usage pattern very well.  You are making one shot at a time, and the 840 warms up 20 times faster than the CC1 or Lelit.  It has electronic control, which like the PIDs, is going to make it significantly more likely as a beginner that you'll be pulling very good shots immediately and consistently.  The steaming on the 840 is slow but excellent, so again, when you use it, it's much more likely you'll get very good / excellent results immediately.

The CC1 and Lelit with PID will allow you to adjust the temperature, which is a feature the 840 does not have.
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canuckcoffeeguy
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canuckcoffeeguy
Joined: 22 Aug 2013
Posts: 207
Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Magica, Mypressi...
Grinder: K10PB, Vario, Hario Slim
Vac Pot: I have a Dyson vacuum, but,...
Drip: Bialetti Brikka, Bodum...
Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013, 5:46am
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

Hi MJW, The Breville Infuser does appear to have good bang for the buck. But any concerns about the thermoblock design and long term reliability of the machine? I've been a bit wary of this.

I tend to get annoyed by poor build quality.

Also, any actual taste difference in the cup between SBDUs like the CC1, Lelit PL41TEM, Silvia, Infuser etc? Or, is it more a difference of consistency and durability?
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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,375
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013, 7:40am
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

canuckcoffeeguy Said:

Hi Wayne. Thanks for the welcome and your reply.

So it looks like I definitely want a PID. Does it still help if I'll mainly be pulling one shot at a time, and rarely back to back?

I heard some early CC1 machines had some issues. But the new 1.5 seems different. Anyone, have some insight into the New CC1? Looks like a lot of bang for the buck. And Bill Crossland answers emails personally, I hear.

Lelit looks like good value, too.

The Bezzera machines also look really nice for the price range, too. Although that's getting higher in price.

I guess it's always easy to keep wanting more, hence, budget creep. Need to know where to draw the line.

Also, I live within driving distance of  I Drink Coffee. So I could go there in person.

Thanks again everyone!

Posted September 20, 2013 link

the CC1 changes for 1.5 I think were only electronic interference filters and the dense plastic group part vs the brass piece before (smart as it doesn't really hold heat and when the group is warmed up lets water go right through with littlr heat loss). The previous brass/metal piece was really dense for its size and could suck heat away. Bill sent me both of those parts to install myself.

Obviously I love the CC1, for its price point just kills it in its class. Largest boiler, seperate thermo for steaming, the PID controls everthing from temp to preinfusion and dwell times.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
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Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013, 7:41am
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

The Breville Infuser is not an SBDU (single boiler - dual use) because it's not a single boiler at all.  On the other hand, it might as well be because it's a single thermocoil, which requires switching between steaming and boiling temps to make milk drinks.  If making more than one or two milk drinks per session is part of your routine, it's not a good choice.  Too clunky, too slow.  For espresso alone, it's significantly more consistent and forgiving than Silvia (and presumably the LeLit); and as a "noob" you want all the forgiveness you can get.  It could be the result of Breville's addition of pre-infusion but who knows.  

If you ever make milk drinks, SBDUs are past their prime.  The only thing Silvia has going for it is it's prior reputation for comparatively good value.  But given the current competition, the reputation is undeserved.  It's a lousy and inconvenient steamer; and an extremely inconsistent and unforgiving as an espresso maker.  The Infuser is a significantly better coffee maker and better steamer, the CC1 is a better coffee maker and significantly better steamer.  Don't buy a Silvia.

I don't know enough about the LeLit, but from what I hear it suffers from the same deficiencies as Silvia, and doesn't compete any better than Silvia with the newer entry-level machines.  

We had a CC1 v1 in here for a couple of weeks and I was impressed with it (I had no problems with the old electronics).  That Chris Coffee has put back in stock is enough evidence for me to be confident that the improvements to "v1.5" have solved the reliability issues and the CC1 should be considered a serious entry-level, bang-for-the-buck contender.  If you can't afford a grand for a Breville Double Boiler, a Silvano or an NS Oscar, the CC1 v1.5 would be my recommendation from your current list.  

It's not a helluva lot different or better than a Breville, but enough better in looks and touch to be worth the extra Benjamin.  

If I were buying a machine for one of my kids it would be the Breville Double Boiler (improved model coming out very soon), which I consider worth the premium over the CC1 because it's so user friendly.  I wouldn't consider the Lelit or Silvia at all.  Nor for that matter would I consider the best of the SBDU bunch -- the Izzo Anita.  

Electronic heat control (e.g., a PID) is significantly better for temping than performing the "water dance" with an SBDU, but overrated compared to flush-temping an HX (like the estimable NS Oscar).  I'm not saying that HXs are better than some form of electronic control, just that you don't have to be afraid of them.  The thing about temping is that the user must first establish the right temperature -- an entirely palate driven process -- and if you've got enough palate to interpret what you're tasting along the Goldilock's spectrum of too hot, too cold, or just right, and enough of an internal sense of time to count to five without looking at your toes, then you can flush-temp an HX without any difficulty.  

Compared to the similarly priced, mass-produced in Asia, BDB and even the Italian made Silvano, the NS Oscar is much better build quality.  If I were buying something for myself in the ~$1,000 price range it would be the Oscar -- but I used a very similar Pasquini Livia 90 for close to twenty years and know all the tricks.  

The Vario is a decent grinder for the money, and an excellent choice to partner with the sort of "better, entry-level" espresso machines you're looking at.  Not to be Debby Downer, because it's not a problem for most, but some people have reported issues with consistency in returning to their espresso settings if they switch away from them for some other brew method.  Just keep an open mind.  

BDL
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
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Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013, 8:14am
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

I believe it is because people are changing grind setting when it was not running.  I believe the vario works best if you only change grind setting while it is running.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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Burner0000
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Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013, 8:18am
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

Defintely the CC1 or Bezzara

I spoke with Bill from Crossland before buying one (ended up finding a deal on a Silvia tho) He is very helpful and let me know that the 1.5 problems have been fixed in the new version. He also sells parts in case you ever need them.  I am located in Cambridge and I have dealt with Idrinkcoffee, GreenBeanery and espressotec.  Only Idrinkcoffee has the CC1 around here, I'd contact them and see if they carry the 2.0 model yet.  

espressotec has a ton more selection of grinders. They are located in BC.  Macaps are the equivalent of a Mazzer but the Virtuoso is good and half the price.   Open to the Silvia?
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DeanOK
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Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013, 8:32am
Subject: Re: Taking the epresso plunge...Help please!
 

canuckcoffeeguy Said:

I heard some early CC1 machines had some issues...

Posted September 20, 2013 link

I keep reading things like this, but I never hear the specifics. Since I own an early version CC1, I would like to know what the issues are. I have had a few things I had to deal with, but I assumed they were just normal issues you deal with when it comes to mass produced parts. If you produce enough units, sooner or later you will have a component that fails or doa. Just wondering.
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