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Trying to figure out what I should buy
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Trying to figure...  
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TheNick
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Nov 2013
Posts: 1
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 11:29am
Subject: Trying to figure out what I should buy
 

I don't even know if that's the right machines for us (Espresso machines) but I'm going to give it a try.

I was looking at semi-automatic but the fact that they call them Espresso machine confuses me.

Here are the answers to the questions in the sticky.

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  I like good, strong coffee, sometimes espresso, my girlfriend like latte. We have tried a K-Cup and Vue cup machines as well as regular coffee pots. Now we're looking for a better more permanent solution.
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time? 1 drink at a time
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week? No more than 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 can do either but would prefer a machine with it's own reservoir for now
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit? 15 amp only
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder? 1500-2000$ including a grinder
7)  Are you willing to buy used or do you need new equipment? New as much as possible
8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these. don't have anything right now.
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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 Mon Nov 25, 2013, 12:39pm
Subject: Re: Trying to figure out what I should buy
 

For that budget, you can do well with a nice useable setup that is very consistent.

A lot of people find that if they like regular brewed coffee such as drip, they also like an Americano which is really only a double shot of espresso diluted with hot water. I have several coffee brewers and I never use any of them at home anymore now that I have a nice espresso setup. I drink 70% milk based drinks, mostly Caps, the rest is straight shots and Americanos. I find I like the fuller flavor of the Americano over a drip etc.

While your usage pattern does not call for a mid level machine, they are so much more consistent in use that you will be finding yourself using it more and being frustrated less with a nice machine.

I can offer the following as an example of where I think  you will be best served in looking at equipment. The links are for reference to the machines and not advising one vendor over another. Any vendor I do link to though are quality people that we have used and know to be stand up people.

Click Here (www.1st-line.com)
Click Here (www.1st-line.com)
Click Here (www.1st-line.com)
Click Here (www.1st-line.com)
Click Here (www.1st-line.com)
Click Here (www.1st-line.com)
Click Here (www.seattlecoffeegear.com)
Click Here (www.seattlecoffeegear.com)
Click Here (www.seattlecoffeegear.com)

Then add a little for knock box, tamper etc.

While the linked machines are by no means the only ones out there, they are quality. In coffee and esp in espresso, the grinder is as or more important than the machine. I would rather see you with an $800 grinder and a $1100 machine than a $1600 machine and a $300 grinder, the grinder really is that important.

 
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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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,376
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 Mon Nov 25, 2013, 1:06pm
Subject: Re: Trying to figure out what I should buy
 

TheNick Said:

I was looking at semi-automatic but the fact that they call them Espresso machine confuses me.

Posted November 25, 2013 link

What about that is confusing?

ONE way to classify espresso machines is by their method/mechanism/capabilities for producing the shot.  

-- Manual machines do not have a pump.  They rely on the operator to force the water through the puck by use of a lever.  With some machines, the lever is controlled manually by the operator -- like with the La Pavoni Europicola, or the Olympia Cremina.  The operator lifts the lever up and pulls it down, pushing the water through the puck.  With other machines, the lever may be spring-operated, like with the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva, the Bezzera B2006AL, or the Rancilio Class 6 LE models, in which the lever is controlled by a spring -- the operator pulls the lever down, and then a spring draws the lever back to the "up" position, moving the piston and forcing the water through the puck.

-- Semi-automatic machines have a pump to force the water through the puck, but the operator turns the pump on-and-off.  Examples would include the machines like Gaggia Classic, the Faema Legend (the original E61 machine), or the Izzo Alex Duetto II -- which are, respectively, an SDBU, an HX, and a DB machine -- all in semi-automatic formats.

-- Full-automatic machines, also known as volumetric dosing machines, have a pump to force the water through the puck, like a semi-auto, but after a certain volume of water is dispensed (programed by the operator), the pump will shut itself off automatically.  HOWEVER, the pump can also be shut off manually, just as with a semi-automatic.  Examples would include the Bezzera BZ07sde, the Elektra Sixties T1, and the La Marzocco Linea AV models.  Each of these , by the way, is also produced as a semi-automatic -- the Bezzera BZ07spm, the Elektra Sixties A3 (now discontinued, although plenty of other semi-autos are still made by Elektra), and the La Marzocco Linea EE models.

-- Super-automatic machines do everything for the user, who merely has to push a button, wait, and drink.  These machines will grind the beans, tamp the puck, push the water through the grounds, froth the milk . . . everything.  Examples include everything from a Gaggia Titanium, the Jura-Capresso Impressa S9, and the Faema X3 Prestige.

THEN you can classify machines by their boiler type (and please note, I am ignoring thermoblock units):

-- Open boiler machines are relatively rare, and date back many decades.  These can heat the water for espresso, but cannot build up any pressure to steam milk.  To the best of my knowledge, this are all manual lever machines, and include machines like the Arrarex Caravel and the FE-AR La Peppina.

-- Single Boiler Dual Use (SBDU) machines are the most popular machines for home use.  These have one boiler and two thermostats; the boiler will either heat the water within to brewing temperature or to steaming temperature.  The operator must wait for the boiler to move up/move down before continuing, i.e.: the machine can only brew or it can steam milk -- one or the other -- at a time.  The best known example, at least here in the States, would be the Rancilio Silvia

-- Heat Exchanger (HX) machines also have one boiler, but it is permanently set to steaming temperature.  Cool water, either from a built-in reservoir ("tank") or from a water line ("plumbed-in" or "direct connect"), is then flash heated to brew temp via the use of a heat exchanger.  Examples would include machines like the Izzo Alex II, Quick Mill Anita, or the Vibiemme Domobar Super.

-- Double Boiler (DB) machines have two boilers, one for heating the brewing water, the other for making steam.  Examples would include the Izzo Alex Duetto II, the La Spaziale Vivaldi II, or the Vibiemme Double Domobar v.3.

ALSO, machines can be classified by their components, if you will, and their target market.

-- Consumer machines are just that, designed for home use by the consumer.

-- Professional (or commercial) machines are designed for high-volume use in busy cafés, restaurants, etc.  They use more robust parts than consumer models, able to withstand their heavy, constant usage.

-- "Prosumer" machines fill in the gap; they are actually low-volume commercial machines that can also by used in a home environment.

So you can have a commercial lever machine, or a consumer lever machine; a full-automatic HX prosumer model, as well as a full-auto HX commercial model, and so on and so on and so on . . . .

TheNick Said:

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  I like good, strong coffee, sometimes espresso, my girlfriend like latte. We have tried a K-Cup and Vue cup machines as well as regular coffee pots. Now we're looking for a better more permanent solution.

Posted November 25, 2013 link

Espresso machines can make "straight" espresso and, presuming it's not of an "open boiler" design, milk-based espresso drinks.  They cannot make "regular coffee pots."

TheNick Said:

2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time? 1 drink at a time

Posted November 25, 2013 link

So, your girlfriend would not be having a drink when you do?

TheNick Said:

3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week? No more than 20

Posted November 25, 2013 link

You say that now, but having a machine at home has ways of making consumption increase.  ;^)

TheNick Said:

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 can do either but would prefer a machine with it's own reservoir for now

Posted November 25, 2013 link

Logical option when starting out.

TheNick Said:

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

Posted November 25, 2013 link

No problem -- most machines will run on a 15A circuit.

TheNick Said:

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder? 1500-2000$ including a grinder.

Posted November 25, 2013 link

Hmmmm . . . that's workable.  

A couple of suggestions from Canadian vendors:

-- Bezzera BZ07, $1,299.95
-- Nuova Simonelli "New" Oscar, on sale for $1,199.00

I'd look at a used Mazzer Super Jolly finder, and then immediately replacing the burrs with new ones.  Other options would be to buy new something along the lines of:  

-- Compak K3 $529 in assorted colors; $569 in polished aluminium.
-- Mazzer Mini, $649.95.  But you really are better off with a used Mazzer Super Jolly and new burrs.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 968
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 2:25pm
Subject: Re: Trying to figure out what I should buy
 

TheNick Said:

I was looking at semi-automatic but the fact that they call them Espresso machine confuses me.

Posted November 25, 2013 link

What's confusing?  Semiautos are one type of espresso machine (among the others listed in another reply above).

TheNick Said:

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  I like good, strong coffee, sometimes espresso, my girlfriend like latte. We have tried a K-Cup and Vue cup machines as well as regular coffee pots. Now we're looking for a better more permanent solution.

Posted November 25, 2013 link

If you want espresso and lattes then K-cup, Vue and regular coffee machines aren't going to be able to brew espresso.  If you want regular coffee an espresso machine isn't going to be able to brew that though you could make an Americano.
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steamer
Senior Member
steamer
Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 900
Location: socal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV R
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-B Baratza...
Vac Pot: Krubs Moka Brew, vacPot
Drip: TechV, and many more
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Tue Nov 26, 2013, 3:42pm
Subject: Re: Trying to figure out what I should buy
 

Also note the above links to SCG included grinders in the price.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,376
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 Tue Nov 26, 2013, 4:05pm
Subject: Re: Trying to figure out what I should buy
 

steamer Said:

Also note the above links to SCG included grinders in the price.

Posted November 26, 2013 link

Also note the OP is in Canada, and buying equipment in the USA and shipping it to Canada a) involves substantial duty and excise, and b) generally voids the warranty.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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