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Recommendation for beginner
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Recommendation...  
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jabone
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 4:11pm
Subject: Recommendation for beginner
 

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.)

I mainly drink espresso and americanos. This habit was mainly brought on due to a stint of only having access to poor, burnt lattes and cappuccinos. I would like the option and could start drinking those again in the future.

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 the most part i will only be drinking one or two at a time. But every once in a while would like the opportunity for more.

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.)

i would say 20

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

I am not opposed to buying a floret and using water jugs (only a little concerned about health issues of using plastic bottles).

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

15

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

I plan on buying a used mdx or super jolly so expecting about 450 there (unless anyone has any cheaper recommendations). I tested a rossi RR45 and am thinking i need to find something doserless or perhaps can try to figure something out myself.

Honestly, i prefer buying quality that will last. I know that if I get something cheap i can spend more in the future on upgrades, etc. So i guess my budget is $300 - $2000. My preference would be to sit in the middle of that some where. I want a good machine that is going to last but i don't feel the need to have an elite machine. Basically i would like to find something that can do most everything but is a good value and robust.

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 used but am somewhat cautious of picking up a lemon/money trap.

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

I will need to by but am not really concerned. I guess i could use advice on wehre the best deal is online for this type of miscellaneous stuff. Also, does anyone know anywhere near vancouver to but a flojet pump?

I am a bachelor and have a lot of counter space so am not too concerned there or with respect to connecting to a water bottle although a nice looking machine would be a bonus. Does anyone have experience with the floret. Is it worth the bother or should i just limit myself to reservoir models? I will probably buy my own place in the next 2 years so would like the option to plumb in.



I have seen a few options in the area on craigs list. Some may not be available anymore
There is a simonelli oscar selling on craigs list nearby for $300 but the post says the steam wand is not working properly. This will also be a 3 hour drive
There is a refurbished electra T1 for sale for 1350. Apparently one of the heating elements has been disconnected to allow it to run on 15 amps. Looks beautiful, i am intrigued.
There is a vetrano for 1050
Brewtus II 1200 (3 hour drive to pick up)
Cimbali M30 refurb w/ 6 months warranty 2000
Wega Mininova with Sprint/Obel Junior grinder 1275 (is this grinder adequate or am i going to need to upgrade?)
Cimbali junior M21 s1  refurb w/3 months warranty 2100
Gaggia Classic Refurb 300$

I am also considering the new vetrano on sale right now for 1725 at chriscoffee. Buying local is not an option because i refuse to overpay 30% compared to us prices.

Any feedback would be welcome.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,021
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 5:23pm
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

Steam wand is an easy Oscar fix. In fact I changed mine out to be cooler than standard.  I had less starter budget than you. So used Oscar was hard to beat under $500.  I like my machine but I have modded it a lot.  It being so cheap makes it easy to mod and not worry about hurting it.  They are built solid.  I also travel with it a lot as I am not worried about scratching it or carting it around in the trunk.  If you want to really learn about the machines and work on them at $300 the Oscar would be a good starter.  You could fix and sell it for what you have in it after a year or so and you would know for sure what you want in a higher dollar machine.  You might even make money on the deal or at least break even.

I would probably not be interested in the Gaggia.  Single boilers you have to learn to temp surf and if you can afford better, I would.

Vetrano is probably where I would be interested off your list, it looks solid and the price used could be better if new is 1700.  I don't like spending more than half new price for used.  Any more I would rather have a new one.

Cimbalis are nice but pricey, warranty is nice.  It is something to consider.  Calblacksmith I think just got a nice one and rebuilt it.

However, my dream machine is under 3k.
https://londiniumespresso.com/ espresso-machines#.Un7PYPmkrIc


Talk to Chriscoffee they are very nice and helpful I hear.

I know very little about Wega they get rebranded a lot I think.  Never heard of the grinder sorry.

 
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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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,180
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 9:34am
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

No one who doesn't know the particular machine in question can tell you how much to pay for a used machine.  The fair value will be contingent on a number of different factors like age, hours of use, condition, warranty, and so on.  

At this stage of the game, I wouldn't consider a machine which doesn't plumb in; but we have a dedicated "coffee room" in our house, which makes it easy for me to say.  I'm not sure about living with a watter-bottle/ flojet / slop bucket unless you had room for a cabinet large enough to hide the unsightly "works."  

A nice thing about convertibles, beyond their convertibility is that they're much quicker and easier to descale "on site" than line only machines.  You shouldn't have to descale more than every two or three years (if you use the right kind of water), but still...

A quick review of the machines on your list:

Elektra T1:  The T1 is an outstandingly well made, and beautiful machine.  It is generally user friendly, but the head is very high (you'll need to use a cup "riser" to pull shots), is plumb in only and has a very large (for a home machine) 6L boiler to boot.  New, it stands with the La Cimbali M21 Casa as the least amount of money you can spend to make espresso as well as it can be made.  I'm not sure how the mod would effect warm up and recovery times.  With a 20A circuit and ability to plumb in -- highest recommendation.  Without -- ???

Vetrano:  The Vetrano is a higher-end, prosumer, E-61 HX, much like every other higher-end, prosumer E-61 HX with plumb in/reservoir convertibility.  They're well made, and worth their money.  A Vetrano should last a long time, but I can't promise you that you won't grow out of it and want something better down the line.  On the other hand, I can't promise you that you won't be happy with it for decades.  Worth considering, especially if it's relatively low price compared to some of the other machines on your list allows you to budget more for a grinder.  New, and with Chris standing behind it -- better still.  

NS Oscar:  The Oscar is an entry-level, barely prosumer HX.  Pretty good shot maker for the price, it can be modded to be better.  Good steamer for a small prosumer.  If you're interested in doing the mods, you want to get in touch with a guy who posts here under the name of "plindy."    

Brewtus II:  The least expensive of the good, prosumer HXs.  People like the way the Brewtus makes coffee and steams -- when it works.  My impression -- based only on reading the boards -- is that reliability is problematic.  

La Cimbali M30:  La Cimbali machines are extremely long lasting if you treat them right -- a good thing considering how much they cost.  As a rule, multi-group commercial machines take up a lot of space, use extra energy, and require a LOT of flushing to keep the steam and tap water fresh.  Of course, the same is true for anything with a really large boiler.  For that reason alone, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to run a typical mult-group that wasn't plumbed-in line AND drain.  The good news is that (IIRC) the M30 has a relatively small (for a 2 group) 5L boiler.  Not the easiest machine to draw a good first shot, but if you're pounding them out in a hurry it's awesome.  If you just want something easy for the home and aren't into the romance of owning a high-capacity commercial, I'd look for something smaller.

Wega Mininova:  They come in four flavors -- EVD or EPU, either with vibratory or rotary pump.  They aren't widely distributed in my part of the world; I've never used one, and can't say for sure if I've ever seen one in the flesh.  The Mininova has a generally good reputation as a solidly built HX.  FYI, the "Sprint/Obel" grinder is really a Bregant.  It's stepped, has a difficult to clean doser.  Similar to, but marginally better than a Rocky.  My advice is don't get it.  Is it a deal killer as part of the Mininova package?  Yes.

La Cimbali Junior:  "Junior" in the English speaking world, and "Cadet" elsewhere are the nicknames La Cimbali attaches to any machine made on their M21 frame.  I have an M21 DT/1 Casa (plumb-in, dosatronic, rotary pump, pre-infusion) Junior, which I bought new, three years ago from Chris Coffee.  Great machine.   The S1 is the semi-automatic, reservoir version.  I'm not sure if the S1 comes with a vibratory or rotary pump, that's something you'll want to check.  Without preinfusion (Casa only) the rotary pump versions put a lot of pressure on your barista skills, but the vibratory pump is significantly easier.  How much the machine is worth depends on the condition, but you can find new S1s for just over $2K if you're willing to forgo niceties like a return policy.  Bear in mind that it's hard to give a recommendation which doesn't in some way seek validation of one's own choices.  While I love my M21, your situation is not mine.  

Gaggia Classic:  In my opinion SBDUs are cranky and obsolete; and no matter how successfully modded, I wouldn't consider an SBDU for any situation which involves steaming or entertaining.  That said, the Gaggia Classic can be made to run extremely well with modification (going beyond adding a PID).  You might want to shoot "jonr" an email and ask him.  

Grinders are really a separate topic.  No better how good your machine, you can't make better espresso than your grinder allows.  Because they're less expensive and not as sexy looking, people tend to see them as adjunct of the espresso machine, but that's simply not true.

Used SJ:  Not as easy to find nor as favorably priced as they used to be.  A very good -- but not quite excellent -- flat burr grinder.  If you can find one in good shape at the right price, it's definitely good enough to use until you start wondering about a "Titan."  As with most used grinders, plan on replacing the burrs if you buy used.  Speaking of burr replacement, consider swapping out the burrs in a used Mazzer Mini with an SJ burrs.  About the same performance as an SJ, but in a more residential-friendly package.  

BDL
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,021
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 11:03am
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

I missed the electra T1 on the list, they are pretty.

 
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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jabone
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 1:01pm
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

Wow, thanks so much for the input. You guys really know your stuff.

I am honestly intrigued with the Elektra. I looked at the plate on the add. It is from 1998. I could offer $1000 and see what they say. Is a 15 year old machine too risky? Here is the link:

http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/bnc/bfs/4183082566.html

Thanks again for the help
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,180
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 1:13pm
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

A new Elektra T1 runs just over $3K; and there have been some significant upgrades in the past 15 years.  Interesting to note that in the interval, Elektra stopped making the A3, and the North American price for a T1 actually dropped considerably.  What is $3K now was well over $5K three years ago.  

Worth it to whom?  
If the machine in question has been well maintained, has no rust, was recently descaled, has a reasonably new p-stat, the pump is in good shape, the gasket and seals are also in good shape, and both pfs are present and in good shape -- $1K might be reasonable for a purchaser.  Considering how much the seller paid when he bought it in 1998, $1K might seem unreasonably low to him.  

Compared to what?
What else is available on the market means quite a bit.  

BDL
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 8:36am
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

My posting on this thread is the only way I can 'bookmark' it on my CG account - boar_d_laze, you have offered some very valubale experience here.
B
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,069
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 Mon Nov 11, 2013, 9:24am
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

Looking at the Elektra T1 if as Boar_d_laze says the gaskets and internals are in good shape it might be worth $1K.  Not to mention it's a volumetric model (usually more expensive). When I shop for used equipment if it's old and in good shape I would offer 1/3 of it's new price. Personally if I were in your shoes I'd check out the Electra and if the insides are purdy I'd offer around $1000. Personally I think 15 yrs on a well maintained machine is nothing. They are built to last. Especially Elektra machine.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,722
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 Nov 12, 2013, 7:28am
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

Auction price and retail price are always two different things but at auction, that machine MIGHT fetch $500.

My price scale is jaded as I nearly always shop auction. Craigs list often has good values IF you know what you are doing, I only go by auction prices and could not care less about "new" prices or a percentage of new price. This of course, requires that you spend time at auctions to know what the current value of items are. If you do not have access to or attend auctions, retail price is all you have to work with along with a guess of what the used value is. Auction prices take into account the fact that the buyer will need to put parts and labor into the item then sit on it until it sells at the used retail price most consumers look at and compare to.

Offering auction price to someone who bought new is a shock to them so YMMV.

There are only a few things to go wrong inside a machine, of them all, the electronics are the most expensive. Pumps, valves, tubing ect are all inexpensive in the big picture.

 
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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jabone
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013, 8:55pm
Subject: Re: Recommendation for beginner
 

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I ended up finding a used Oscar on craigs list for $300. It appears to be working well including steam and espresso. The machine is about 7 years old but seems to be pretty good.

I guess this gives me some money to spend on a good grinder now.
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