Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 7:40am Subject: Re: Need some coffee sage's advice on a machine.
Good news, bad news.
First, the good news: A single group commercial should suit you well.
I knew you'd like the looks of the Elektra Sixties series. The A3 is alas no more; but used is good if it's good with you. One of the best things about the Elektras and the La Cimbali M21 is that they fit under standard counters. If you have a place for your machine that's not under a counter, that's better still -- because it's nice to have access to the top -- as a warming tray and for access if and when a repair is needed.
If your friend can get you a suitable single-group Astoria (probably Perla or Divina series) or Rio (don't know them) at a good price and you have the space for it -- they're nothing to sneer at either. Same is true for lots of models and makes.
Doesn't sound like there's much hurry, which is good. You want to figure out whether you prefer a conical or flat bur grinder before narrowing down the choices still further. Both types are good, but once you open your palate you'll find that you have a definite preference. In a word, the flat burr signature is "rich," while the conical burr signature is "lively."
The thing to do is start tasting lots of espresso. If you know a good barista or if there's a good coffee bar in your neighborhood, the best thing to do is to buy a tutorial or take a class., You'll learn to taste as part of learning how to dial in temp and grind; and taste is everything. If you thought you liked espresso before...
The bad news: Everything you've said about your espresso journey so far leads me to believe that you'll be roasting your own coffee in the not too distant future -- a couple of years at most. That, my friend, is a rabbit hole if ever there was one.
JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,571 Location: Berkeley, CA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -... Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -... Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup Drip: CCD, Chemex Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 8:26am Subject: Re: Need some coffee sage's advice on a machine.
OK, so along with "grinder first," let me chime in with some random thoughts . . .
I have had an Elektra T1 for nearly five years now, and I still love it as much as I did when I bought it. Aside from routine maintenance, it's been virtually trouble free -- had to replace the pressurestat, and those do wear out eventually.
That said, if you can plumb in the machine to your water supply, you will never regret it. I had a La Valentina prosumer pourover (reservoir) machine that I'd have to fill every day or two, and it quickly became a pain in the neck. That machine is now in my office, and I replaced it with my Elektra.
A lot of people work on their own machines, though this depends upon how mechanically inclined you are . . . having a local guy for repairs is something to consider. Only you know how comfortable you are with DIY. But Astoria is a well-rearded, established brand, so I wouldn't worry about getting one. On the other hand, it seems to me that not many people here have one in their homes, so I'm not sure how much direct experience you can draw upon down the road . . .
Mazzer grinds are built like a tank, and I wouldn't worry about buying one used . . . just get a new set of burrs to go with it.
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