Our Valued Sponsor
OpinionsConsumer ReviewsGuides and How TosCoffeeGeek ReviewsResourcesForums
Espresso: Espresso Machines
What to save up for?
Rancilio Silvia - How to
Step by step guide for easy brewing and steaming with the Rancilio Silvia
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
 
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered  
Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What to save up...  
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
showing page 1 of 3 last page next page
Author Messages
stovemade14
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Holland, MI
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Dec 23, 2013, 11:32pm
Subject: What to save up for?
 

I'm a bit of a newbie for espresso (just got into it a couple months ago), but I've done quite a bit of research and practice pulling shots. My current setup is a Delonghi ec155 made non-pressurized with an upgraded basket and naked portafilter. Along with that, I use an old Mr. Coffee espresso maker for steaming milk at the same time as I'm pulling a shot. I didn't think I would get good results with this, but I'm actually able to make decent microfoam (at least in my opinion) and latte art.

With all this being said, it's all getting a little annoying to work with. The Delonghi not having a three way solenoid valve gets in the way of making multiple drinks fast, along with the long warm-up time. It also takes forever to steam, and I'm assuming both machines aren't very good at regulating temperature. I'm looking to save up for a machine to buy in a few months, and I'm just looking for some help as to what to save up for. It seems like every time I find a machine that looks good for me, I find another with a better price but no reviews anywhere. Here's my answers to the standard questions:

1)  My favorite drinks are flat whites, but I also make many lattes and cortados for friends.
2)  Honestly, the amount of drinks I make at a time changes quite a bit. At the least, 2-3 drinks throughout the day just for me. But I also like to host group events where I treat people to drinks, so it could be about 10 an hour every once in awhile.
3)  Probably 20-30 drinks per week.
4)  A machine with a built-in reservoir is a must.
5)  Standard 15-amp circuit.
6)  I just bought a Breville Smart Grinder. This seems good enough for me (if not, feel free to rack my brain with reasons to upgrade). As of now, my budget is around $1000. However, I'm mainly posting this to see if, for what I want (see below), I need to save more.
7)  I'm willing to buy used, as long as this is a good option. I've done a fair share of handy electronics projects, but nothing with espresso machines, so I would just need help/guidelines to how to repair a machine.
8)  The budget for accessories will be separate.

So here are my guidelines, or at least things I'm looking for right now, in a machine:
  1. HX or dual boiler. If anyone has opinions as for which would be better for me, please let me know.
  2. I would prefer programmable shots, however this is not a must.
  3. Strong steaming. I've worked a couple times with commercial machines and know that I'm able to handle the stronger steaming capabilities.
  4. Space. I'm in college and don't have too much room to work with. However, having two smaller machines right now is okay, so it doesn't have to be super small.

I don't mean to come off cocky or anything in this post, I'm a newbie and I know it. I trust all members of coffeegeek so please feel free to teach me and let me know if there's anything I should know or am wrong about! Thanks for any help anyone can give!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 341
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:05am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

That Breville Smartgrinder is not going to be good enough for the quality of shots you want either.  It will do but not without problems.  You will definitely want a better grinder after you use it for a while.

As for the machine, your $1000 is too low for what you're looking for.   I suggest you save up a little bit more and get your hands on a used La Spaziale Vivaldi II.

It has everything you're looking for -- volumetric dosing, superb steam performance, large reservoir, easy maintenance.  It's a very robust and reliable machine, thus the popularity and rather large support community.

I recently saw a used one for sale on here for $1200 (although that one was a plumbed in model).

What machines have you looked at?
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,675
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 Dec 24, 2013, 12:22am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

A healthy second on the grinder not being an espresso grinder. For other than espresso, I have heard that they work OK but I have never used one so????

HX are going to be less than a DB cost wise. There are less parts inside.

Either would work just fine, either will let you pull shots and steam at the same time, either will bang out shots as fast as you can prep for the shot. Both steam very strongly.

Programmable shots is called Volumetric dosing. This is found on Automatic espresso machines. Not to be confused with SUPERautomatic espresso machines which grind, dose tamp, pull and cleanup automatically, they are not what you want when quality is your desire.

I think used is the way you want to go, that is where you can get the most for your money and you seem to be able to work on things, espresso machines are not space rockets, you don't need a degree to work on them :D

You MIGHT find something used in your price range with the features you want but I kinda doubt it, not at least without a lot of looking. Do not count out a plumb in machine. Many members here use 5 gal bottles and a small pump to feed plumb in machines without tying into the home water system. This goes for the drain too, while my machine is tied to the house, I drain into a 4 gal water bottle.

Most used commercial single group machines are going to be HX and plumb in but most will work on a 15 amp circuit so a little flexibility on your part will go a long way to helping you out.

I am pretty sure that your town is big enough to have a restaurant supply community of businesses and one of them that you are likely to find is an auction house for used commercial equipment. It is not for the faint of heart though, while you can find exactly what you are asking for (but plumb in) from $400 up, they WILL require work, at the least a full descale, cleaning and group head gasket replacement. Likely other gaskets and seals may need to be changed too. It is a roll of the dice. You might get a machine that requires little work OR it may have a blown electronic brain box, costing hundreds of dollars to replace. See if it works first if you can!

Craigs list is another place to look. Often times people just want to get rid of stuff and will let it go inexpensively. The same used equipment warnings apply. I found a two group, commercial HX machine on Craigs list for "parts" they said it was leaking pressure and they did not want to fool with it. I bought it for $75 and all it took to get working again was the cleaning of the vacuum breaker seal, not even a replacement! I have had it for about 3 years now and though it gets used only about one weekend a year for an annual party I throw, it is still working fine. It is beat to heck and looks UGLY but it works!

 
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!
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
stovemade14
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Holland, MI
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:24am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

So what all will be the problems with the grinder? Is it mostly that the steps aren't small enough to really adjust the grinder as precisely as needed? I know it can grind fine enough, I believe Breville made an adjustment to the newer models. But I definitely do want to hear your opinion on it.

The machines I've looked at so far have been the Breville dual boiler, nuova simonelli oscar, sunbeam em7000. These all seem to be in my price range, but I know people have problems with all of them. The sunbeam is one that I can't find much information about, so that does worry me a little about that one.

Should I be worried about buying used? I always see what seem to be good deals on ebay, but those always scare me a little. What should I be looking for in those listings?
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
stovemade14
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Holland, MI
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:32am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

Also, what about machines like the Quick Mill Silvano?
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 341
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:39am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

The smart grinder doesn't give you enough control for tuning your espresso shots..  Fine adjustment features on a grinder are pretty crucial if you're going to get into espresso, because you'll find that beans will vary from region to regioin, roaster to roaster, roast to roast, and at various stages of their aging.   Until someone can come up with a "set it and forget it" be-all-end-all computerized solution for perfecting grinds, you're going to have to rely on your abilities to tune your grind/shots to get the best espresso from every batch of coffee you have.

Here's an excellent community review of the Breville Smart Grinder.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
stovemade14
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Holland, MI
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:54am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

z0mbie Said:

The smart grinder doesn't give you enough control for tuning your espresso shots..  Fine adjustment features on a grinder are pretty crucial if you're going to get into espresso, because you'll find that beans will vary from region to regioin, roaster to roaster, roast to roast, and at various stages of their aging.   Until someone can come up with a "set it and forget it" be-all-end-all computerized solution for perfecting grinds, you're going to have to rely on your abilities to tune your grind/shots to get the best espresso from every batch of coffee you have.

Here's an excellent review of the Breville Smart Grinder by one most helpful members on this forum :)

Posted December 24, 2013 link

Okay that all makes sense to me. I guess I will eventually need to save up to buy an upgraded grinder as well. I think my best bet for a grinder would be waiting for something to come up on ebay or craigslist.

And as far as the features I want, I am pretty flexible. The volumetric dosing is not a necessity at all, I guess I have to improve eyeing when the shots are done anyways :)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,675
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 Dec 24, 2013, 12:55am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

There have been too many problems with the BDB for me to advise anyone to buy one. Some people have had great luck with them and love them to death and then there are those who are on their 4th one under warranty. There is a  new model rumored to be coming out soon that corrects those and other design issues but they have a lot to prove before I can advise to buy one.

Oscar, is a good entry level HX machine. Some do not care for the plastic body but others do not care about that.

Sunbeam, is a down under product and I do not know of any U.S. importers for it


Used is a good way to go if you can work on the equipment, it is not hard but some people have 10 thumbs, other people do not!
Ebay is the most expensive place to find equipment, a world wide auction going to the highest bidder who then has to pay for shipping ON TOP of the sale price.

Check out Craigs list and the other want add papers where you live, I have found those to be the best prices and you can test before buying AND there are no shipping charges.

Look for a restaurant supply/used equipment and auction houses. The bulk of the buyers are the resale businesses so the prices do not go sky high. Used commercial equipment often changes hands there but again, know what you are doing. It can be a sweet deal OR a nightmare. If the machine is OK inside then a cleanup may be the only thing needed but more advanced machines have more expensive parts inside and sometimes the computer boards can go bad, they are pricy to replace and may be the reason the machine is being sold. That may not be often and I have done OK but I was willing to take the risk and I know what I am doing inside the machine.

 
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!
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,113
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 Tue Dec 24, 2013, 10:13am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

I disagree with Calblacksmith about BDB.  We both know a fair bit about espresso making and espresso equipment in general, but have very little personal experience with BDBs.  Most of what we "know" is second hand.  So... take if for what it's worth.

Although a lot of people had problems with this or that in the BDB's first few months on the US market, Breville fixed those things.  Inasmuch as one can tell from reading coffee forums their reliability has been excellent, and Breville's US support has been above and beyond.  Based on the frequency and type of complaints, if I were going to avoid a particular machine for trouble out of the box and down the line it would be the Expobar Brewtus.  

BDB's are built on a plastic (ballistic nylon?) frame, not metal.  They are skinned in plastic covered with a very thin veneer of stainless.  In short, they are typical Breville.  They are mass produced in Asia, not made by hand in Italy. France or Spain.  They are "consumer" grade, not "prosumer;" and European individually assembled "prosumer is the expectation for good machines.

However, most of the "moving parts" (pump, valve, etc) are sourced from the same bin of common parts that the European.  The electric and electronic parts seem well made, and the overall design is innovative, and nothing short of brilliant.    

For years, Breville built truly horrible espresso machines.  The BDB is the first exception (perhaps the only exception to date), and consequently Breville machines have a lousy reputation here in the US, which -- for some -- carries over to the BDB.

A BDB is far friendlier than a stock Oscar or any other basic HX (I'm an HX guy myself); you'll learn the machine more quickly and be far more consistent with it once you do.  

However, no espresso machine can teach you to use your palate to perform the basic barista task of temping.  You're going to have to train your palate to recognize "bitter," "sour," and their appropriate balance.  

Also, the BDB has no long term track record for reliability.

More, Breville has a new version on the way to market -- should be in Oz very soon -- which addresses most of the BDB's current deficiencies.  It is more powerful, and better suited to user maintenance.

Finally, you might be best served by doing more research on Ozzie oriented forums.

BDL
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
friendlyfoe
Senior Member


Joined: 14 May 2013
Posts: 122
Location: toronto
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 6:00pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

stovemade14 Said:

Okay that all makes sense to me. I guess I will eventually need to save up to buy an upgraded grinder as well.

Posted December 24, 2013 link

If you think you can "make due" with a poor grinder by sinking money into an expensive espresso maker i think you're going to be very disappointed. If you cant grind to the proper fineness, you wont make even acceptable espresso with the best machine on the planet. I have no experience with that grinder specifically, but what i do know is there's nothing worse than a watery black puddle that poured out of your nice fancy machine in 7 seconds.

If your grinder isn't up to the task it wont take more than a few days for you to be beyond frustrated with your setup.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
showing page 1 of 3 last page next page
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What to save up...  
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered     Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
Discussions Quick Jump:
Symbols: New Posts= New Posts since your last visit      No New Posts= No New Posts since last visit     Go to most recent post= Newest post
Forum Rules:
No profanity, illegal acts or personal attacks will be tolerated in these discussion boards.
No commercial posting of any nature will be tolerated; only private sales by private individuals, in the "Buy and Sell" forum.
No SEO style postings will be tolerated. SEO related posts will result in immediate ban from CoffeeGeek.
No cross posting allowed - do not post your topic to more than one forum, nor repost a topic to the same forum.
Who Can Read The Forum? Anyone can read posts in these discussion boards.
Who Can Post New Topics? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post new topics.
Who Can Post Replies? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post replies.
Can Photos be posted? Anyone can post photos in their new topics or replies.
Who can change or delete posts? Any CoffeeGeek member can edit their own posts. Only moderators can delete posts.
Probationary Period: If you are a new signup for CoffeeGeek, you cannot promote, endorse, criticise or otherwise post an unsolicited endorsement for any company, product or service in your first five postings.
Coffee Kids
Help folks who help folks in coffee producing nations.
coffeekids.org
Home | Opinions | Consumer Reviews | Guides & How Tos | CoffeeGeek Reviews | Resources | Forums | Contact Us
CoffeeGeek.com, CoffeeGeek, and Coffee Geek, along with all associated content & images are copyright ©2000-2014 by Mark Prince, all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Content, code, and images may not be reused without permission. Usage of this website signifies agreement with our Terms and Conditions. (0.487673997879)
Privacy Policy | Copyright Info | Terms and Conditions | CoffeeGeek Advertisers | RSS | Find us on Google+