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Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
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AndyK
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Oct 2013
Posts: 3
Location: New Zealand
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Oct 21, 2013, 9:32pm
Subject: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Hello everyone,

I realize by saying this I might not be starting off on the right foot, but personally I don't really like coffee.

My wife, however, does like coffee.  Until now, she usually got her daily fix at work, with what looks to be a pretty decent semi-commercial machine they have there (I'm afraid I don't know the brand/type off by heart).  The problem is, she'll soon be moving office, and then new office for some inexplicable reason doesn't have a coffee machine at all.  It also just so happens that her 30th birthday is coming up in a few days, and I know she's long been thinking about getting a 'better' coffee machine for our home.

At the moment at home we have an old Breville Café Roma, which looks pretty and is metal and everything, but she never actually uses it to make coffee - at most, to froth some milk that she has with an instant coffee, but I know she sees this as a poor substitute and she finds even the milk frother very hit and miss on this machine.

He favourite coffees are 'single shot trim lattes'.  She's not a heavy coffee drinker, but I think she does usually like a cup every morning.

Since I wouldn't really know a good coffee from a bad one I'd appreciate any advice you might be able to offer.

Things about us that might be helpful to know:
1) We don't own a grinder as previously she used the one that came with her offices' machine (so please recommend one!)
2) We live in New Zealand (in Auckland) so sourcing some machines may prove difficult.  Please keep this in mind for recommendations, and if you know a good place to buy a machine, by all means let me know.
3) Though a big fan of good coffee, she doesn't drink all that much of it, and I don't drink it at all.  I don't think there's a need to be able to prepare vast quantities at short notice.
4) My wife really likes her coffee to have creamy micro bubbles in the milk, so the machine needs to be able to consistently do this well
5) The 'look' of the machine is important - it needs to look nice on a countertop.
6) We won't be able to plumb it in.
7) I don't really know my budget for sure, since it's a decision we'll end up making together.  However, I personally think NZ$2000 would be my personal upper limit on what I would probably spend.  Still, recommendations of all kinds are welcome.

Thank you all in advance for your advice and recommendations.
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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 381
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 12:15am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Here's what you do:
Go to the local card shop and get her a really nice, blank card.  Inside the card you write or post a note saying it's valid for 1 coffee/espresso setup including machine, grinder and accessories up to NZ$2000.
You let her take the lead on picking the machine, because it's one that hopefully she'll be using for several years.  Since you, and we, don't know her coffee habits, wants or needs any recommendations would likely be off the mark.

If you want to be cute about the card: get a blank one, write NZ$2000 in it, put a coffee cup ring stain over the NZ$2000 and write around the ring: "Good for one great espresso machine!"

When you get her onboard then you can come back here and get some good advice.
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AndyK
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Oct 2013
Posts: 3
Location: New Zealand
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 2:47am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

DanoM Said:

Here's what you do:
Go to the local card shop and get her a really nice, blank card.  Inside the card you write or post a note saying it's valid for 1 coffee/espresso setup including machine, grinder and accessories up to NZ$2000.
You let her take the lead on picking the machine, because it's one that hopefully she'll be using for several years.  Since you, and we, don't know her coffee habits, wants or needs any recommendations would likely be off the mark.

If you want to be cute about the card: get a blank one, write NZ$2000 in it, put a coffee cup ring stain over the NZ$2000 and write around the ring: "Good for one great espresso machine!"

When you get her onboard then you can come back here and get some good advice.

Posted October 22, 2013 link

I appreciate the suggestion, but what I was hoping to do was give her some options to choose from, and possibly stores to look at.  Although she likes coffee, she actually knows little more than me about what machines are worth getting or where to buy a good machine/grinder.  Even a place to start looking would be good.

What I'd hoped was that I could make the process easier for her by doing some research online.  I've been reading a ton of reviews on this site and others but it feels like information overload for me - made worse by the fact that when I finally stumble into something that I look further into, it's sometimes not available here in New Zealand.  I'm really stumped as to where to start, and it's one the reasons we never bought another machine earlier.

I do know my wife's general coffee drinking habits: she drinks single shot trim lattes - she doesn't like very strong coffee.  Getting the milk froth 'just right' is very important to her enjoying it.  She drinks coffee about once a day (give or take one - depends on the day and if she gets time).  She typically drinks it in the morning to early afternoon since coffee keeps her up at night.  She likes to drink a coffee in the weekend in order to relax in the middle of the day.

Even just personal recommendations would be appreciated: things like "I had X machine for many of years and it consistently made good coffee and had an excellent milk steamer".
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,086
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 6:00am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Well considering that she's a Breville fan I'd look into an upgrade like the Breville BES870XL (New Barista Express) or also considering your budget the Breville BES900xl (Dual Boiler).  The Barista Express is an all in one package, built in grinder, option to start simple and move into better coffee, looks pretty and will offer good micro foam.  The Breville Dual boiler would really blow her away if she knows how to prepare espresso and will require a good grinder.  

Even just personal recommendations would be appreciated: things like "I had X machine for many of years and it consistently made good coffee and had an excellent milk steamer".

The Silvia.. :)  I've only seen and read about the Breville's.  I have owned the Silvia for over a year now and it's amazing.  


My recommendations..

  1. Breville Barista Express BES870XL (Ease of use with good results, all in one package)
  2. Rancilio Silvia + Grinder (Great results personally but not has a learning curve from using the cafe roma)
  3. Breville Dual Boiler BES900XL + Grinder  (Bigger and better, cafe quality, Breville's best machine)

Links are Amazon.com. They will ship to you or look into local suppliers for pick up.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,086
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 6:03am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Some local shops to look at possibly.

http://www.espressoworkz.co.nz/espresso-machines
http://www.espresso.co.nz/#
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,271
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 7:32am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Based on what Ive read so far to me it sounds like you want her to get a good machine but she may not be that into it. She doesnt use the one she has.
I would highly suggest contacting a local dealer that sells machines and get the whole picture. Good coffee can be made with a Gaggia Classic and MDF grinder
or great coffee can be made with the same machine, or if you arent willing to learn and be in the journey bad coffee can be made with that same machine.
There are others that are great machines that are good stater machines too. The intangible ingredient though
is the passion that it will take to labor into and down the road of her espresso journey. Someone who can talk to you personally and gauge this
will be a lot better able to meet your needs ( actually her needs since you dont like coffee) .This in the end will better serve you. I could recommend all kinds of machines and places to buy beans.
Yet in order to get to the issue of meeting the need, the issue of what that need is, needs to be clearly determined. A part of that need is the willingness your wife has to soldier on down the road of espresso.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,781
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 Tue Oct 22, 2013, 8:31am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Thank you for really wanting to give her a very nice gift.

The down side is that it is really a pretty personal thing. I suspect that the reason she does not make coffee with the machine at home is that it, how to say this?, ... isn't very good. Nothing you buy in a department store will be much worth considering, not for someone who wants to get into espresso. For a wedding gift yep they work fine but for serious use, you need to step up to the plate, as you have done by your budget.

I know that Breville is a local manufacturer to you but, the quality leave a bit to be desired. Supposedly they are working on it and we have a band of followers but I can not recommend the company, I just can't.

You might want to log onto http://coffeesnobs.com.au/ They are based down under and would be closer in touch with may be available to you and I know that they sell equipment between members there too, so your money can go much further with used equipment in great shape from someone local to you.

Don't get me wrong, we LOVE that you are here, please stay and join our community, we are a friendly bunch .. for the most part LOL!

Welcome to the board and perhaps, once we get your wife into great coffee, you might follow her lead!

 
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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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 381
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 9:54am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Iluvdabean Said:

Based on what Ive read so far to me it sounds like you want her to get a good machine but she may not be that into it. She doesnt use the one she has.

Posted October 22, 2013 link

That's the reason that you need to get her in on the discussion as early as possible.  Coffee, especially espresso, is a highly personalized product.

If you want the quickest heating up espresso machine for a "quick shot" during the day then a lever based machine would be your best shot.  I bought a La Pavoni Professional from 1984 that needed new seals and it was ready to go, but the learning curve on a lever machine can be rather long and trying if you don't have someone to learn from.  The La Pavoni Europiccola/Professional is also a non heat shielded machine so you'll get a few singed fingers until you get used to that - also the reason to keep it out of a household with young kids.  Get a single holed steam tip and you can make great microfoam with this machine too - I do it daily.  I prefer this machine to my NS Oscar, because of the heat up time.  Heat up time is 10+ minutes.
There are other levers like the Olympia Cremina that would be a good candidate, but expensive.
Small spring levers like the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva that run in between for costs, and the spring does much of the work of pulling the shot.

I also have a used Nuova Simonelli Oscar, and find it a great machine to learn on.  It's a low end professional machine.  Semi-automatic, so you just hit a button to start & stop water flow.  Makes great espresso.  Lots of steam power.  Since they aren't the prettiest machine; used they run about US$500 and new US$1000.  It's a great machine, and if you can get it used, even if she ends up not using it later, you can get most of your money back out of it.  Heat up time is 30-40 minutes.

For a grinder I would recommend a Baratza Vario.  It's a very good espresso grinder that can be had for about US$400 (mine was US$360 new).
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,031
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 11:04am
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

Yes the Aussie group is a better place for you to start. They will know the locals brands better than we do.   My first starter machine was an Oscar and a vario.  But I second the idea that she may want to be in on the choosing of the machine.

 
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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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 979
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Tue Oct 22, 2013, 1:44pm
Subject: Re: Please help an infidel pick the right birthday present for his wife!
 

AndyK Said:

I've been reading a ton of reviews on this site and others but it feels like information overload for me - made worse by the fact that when I finally stumble into something that I look further into, it's sometimes not available here in New Zealand.  I'm really stumped as to where to start, and it's one the reasons we never bought another machine earlier.

Posted October 22, 2013 link

Seems like it would make sense to see what's available first and then determine the best suited solution from the available options.
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