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Buying my first real machine
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Buying my first...  
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valgouin
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 8:55pm
Subject: Buying my first real machine
 

Hi all I'm new here and been seeing links to this forum all evening while browsing for reviews

So in short, I've had a very basic DeLonghi for a while that's just too long to heat up and quite frankly, very cheap. We've had it for years and I probably haven't used it for at least 3 years, and been wasting my money at Starbucks instead.

I have the opportunity to get a machine at a highly discounted price from a wholesaler, so I would like to take that opportunity, as well as a good grinder (as I've been reading, it seems more important than the machine itself)

What I drink: lattés
I don't do espresso shots, it's all in the latté and cappucino (sorry if I'm spelling things wrong)

So I don't think I need high sophistication, just something I can use at home, semi-automatic, with a reservoir.

Budget? Around 300-400 including the grinder. (see note above about the deal)

Not into pre-dosed coffee machines


Any input is welcome, and I'm in no rush to buy it
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Fri Oct 18, 2013, 10:26pm
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

valgouin Said:

just too long to heat up and quite frankly, very cheap.

Posted October 18, 2013 link

Two things. Generally, any Semi-Automatic Espresso machine usually takes between 30-45 minutes to properly warm up and stabilize. I usually get around this limitation by using a heavy duty appliance timer, or I just wait.

valgouin Said:

I have the opportunity to get a machine at a highly discounted price from a wholesaler,

Posted October 18, 2013 link

OK, That sounds like a bit of a red flag, but which machines are they offering to sell to you? There are a lot of websites out there that sell machines and grinders at considerably lower prices than what you'll find in Canada,
but they'll just gladly take your money and ship you nothing back in return. What you want is not a wholesaler who can sell you a discounted machine, but rather a company which can sell you a machine with a warranty and
service that they stand behind. Espresso machines require periodic service, you want someone to call when you are having an issue with it.

Find a local coffee equipment vendor in your area that can sell and service your machine and grinder. Don't make a very expensive mistake just because you'd think you'll save a few bucks.

valgouin Said:

Budget? Around 300-400 including the grinder.

Posted October 18, 2013 link

I don't think you'll find a decent espresso machine or grinder for that price range. Try bumping up your budget by another $500. For example, A good starter combo is a Lelit PL41EM for $500 and Lelit PL53 for $300. Also
take into account that you'll be spending an extra $100 on accessories such as a knockbox, tamper, steaming pitchers, milk thermometers, possibly a scale, cleaning cloths, Cafiza and Grindz. (Note: Please read the reviews
on this site for these items as I don't personally own either one.)

If you want a very high quality machine, but budget is still an issue, perhaps you could consider purchasing used equipment. I'm not sure if that's in the cards though. A Used Rancilio Silvia is a good machine, albeit with some
shortcomings, but with proper care it'll last you decades. You'd want to couple that with a Baratza Vario or at the very least a Precisio.

I'd recommend that you read the sticky at the top of this forum and perhaps elaborate on a few of the common questions which are asked there and reply in this thread.

Realistically, I say that to get started with decent espresso equipment which can make you delicious Lattes or Cappuccinos, you should budget about $1000 for new equipment... that's all in by the way.

Good luck!

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


Joined: 18 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 5:16am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

Alright, so here are the answers to the questions more specifically. I must say though that I am really looking for an entry-level machine, not too sophisticated. And the wholesaler is a friend of the family. Here is the website: www.creativecoffee.ca


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.)
Lattés, sometimes cappucino. Really looking to replace my visits to Second Cup or Starbucks. I also have little counter space so it should be small.

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.)
Rarely more than two at a given time, once or twice a day at most.

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.)
Once a day, sometimes twice, so in a week = 15-20 let's say

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

5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
Probably just 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?
About 400 total. Looking for entry-level and I'm not one to always upgrade my equipment regularly.

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?
No skills to repair. Would prefer new.

8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these.
Not equipped
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valgouin
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 6:00am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

Here is a model of the Delonghi "espresso" machine I have...well it's not exactly the same but similar in price and it looks a lot like it:

Click Here (www.thebay.com)
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LauraH
Senior Member


Joined: 14 May 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Xico, Mexico
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 8:02am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

A good grinder can make even a poor machine taste better where a bad grinder can make the best machine taste poor.  With the budget you have, put the money into a good grinder.  In fact , spend more on the grinder than you do on the machine.  This way when you want to upgrade you will only have to look at one piece of equipment.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,154
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 8:13am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

As Bud said, given your budget, you will be confined to buying what you state you're looking for (entry level machine).  Unfortunately, even at that end of the spectrum, you probably won't be able to afford any decent machine along with a decent electric grinder...unless your friend intends to give you an amazing deal.  The good news is a decent manual grinder can be had for about $50 and it would only take you about 1 minute to grind for the shot. It would be helpful if we had an idea what the retail value would be for a package that he'd be willing to let go to his friend for $400 (ie, what would some regular joe have to pay for the stuff? - is he planning to sell you $800 worth of stuff for $400, or $600 worth, or what?).  If the discount isn't that good, then you're probably going to have to go with a manual powered grinder (as suggested above) to get a decent combo set.

I find your requirement of an entry level budget and your unwillingness to wait for your machine to be conflicting.  There simply are no entry level machines that can make a latte in less than 10 minutes...forget about warm-up time. This is just prep time.  On the other hand, a more sophisticated machine (more expensive too) can allow one to make a latte in about 3 minutes.  So, be forewarned, that even if you were to use a timer to warm up your machine, or get resigned to turning it on first thing when you wake up and allowing it to warm up while you get ready, you're never going to walk up and make a latte or cappa in "just a couple of minutes".

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,154
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 8:15am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

LauraH Said:

A good grinder can make even a poor machine taste better where a bad grinder can make the best machine taste poor.  With the budget you have, put the money into a good grinder.  In fact , spend more on the grinder than you do on the machine.  This way when you want to upgrade you will only have to look at one piece of equipment.

Posted October 19, 2013 link

This is very good advice.  Ask your friend how much he'd charge you for...a Macap M4, a Baratza Vario, a Mazzer Super Jolly, or something along those lines.  Then upgrade your machine later.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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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 Sat Oct 19, 2013, 8:30am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

I looked at the wholesaler website.  For your needs the Saeco Aroma open box for $269.95 should meet your needs.  The aroma has a pressurized portafilter so you can get away with less grinder.  The Baratza Encore at $148.95 would be a bare minimum for the aroma.  A better choice would be the manual grinder at $39.95.  In future, you can upgrade your setup by getting a non-presurized portafilter.  If you do that, the Encore grinder will not be able to grind for espresso.  This setup will certainly beat Starbucks at a fraction of the cost.  Just be sure to get fresh roasted beans.

Good luck,

Fred
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 10:26am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

That suggestion for a machine and grinder will work, but please note that starter machines are not easier, in fact they are much harder to use.  Look for youtubes on temp surfing on a single boiler espresso machine.  Like Giggia or Silvia probably have a lot of videos on using them and the idea is the same on all single boilers.  That will give you good clear picture of what I am talking about.

The "starter machines should be cheap and you should not pay for the extra bells and whistles" mindset doesn't really work on an espresso machines at least until you get over the 3 thousand dollar mark.   All of the machines under 500$ take skill and finesse to work where as at about the 1k mark they get much easier to work consistently.

I am not saying you can't start with the Saeco, many people do.  But I am saying that your statement about never upgrading is probably very unrealistic - unless you never use it.  If you use it and learn how to make espresso on it you will probably will want to upgrade this machine very soon.  

Personally, I agree with the grinder idea above.  Rather than temp surf, I would spend your whole budget on good grinder and use french press or something till I had saved up. Put out a change jar and tip yourself and save the change for the machine. I would want at least 4-500$ and look at getting a used light duty commercial machine (which is what I did) or maybe a used CC1. (700$ new)

But everyone starts somewhere, I started with a 20$ craigslist krupps "steamtoy" espresso maker.  That started me doing my research.  My first "real machine" was Oscar. (used)

 
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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valgouin
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 10:36am
Subject: Re: Buying my first real machine
 

Thank you all for your kind advice!

I will look into investing in a good quality grinder first and see what I can purchase used for now until i am ready to upgrade.
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