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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What to save up...  
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JerDGold
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Dec 2013
Posts: 82
Location: Chicago, IL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Breville...
Drip: Chemex
Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 8:00pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

friendlyfoe Said:

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.

Posted December 24, 2013 link

+1  
I have a breville smart grinder, and have made this same post a few times since I got my Rancilio Silvia, but here goes once more for your benefit.  It took me about a week to decide that unless I wanted to it on an espresso machine and not use it, I would just have to bite the bullet and get a new grinder.  Breville, in the future, will be used solely for drip/pour over.
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MikeReilly
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 304
Location: Vancouver Island
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Cimbali Junior Gaggia...
Grinder: Pharos CC45 Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cuisinart
Roaster: Behmor, I-Roast 2, Popper
Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 8:26pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

What everyone is saying about grinders is something you should think very carefully about.  The biggest upgrade in espresso quality (other than good beans) will be the grinder.  There are a number of lower cost options for grinders (LeLit and other small conicals, Pharos or other hand grinders).  However, I'm sure you will also want to upgrade your espresso machine to something a bit more temperature stable.  I'd recommend, based on your criteria, something like the Quickmill Anita, which can be had on buyers remorse deals around $1500 or a Bezzera BZ02, which is about as cheap an HX machine as you can find that still is full featured (meaning it has a hot water wand unlike the Oscar) and comes in around $1000.00.  If you can't afford to upgrade both grinder and espresso machine right now, you can always upgrade one (most of us would recommend the grinder first, but hey, it's your life and you can get whichever one makes you happy, right?) and then upgrade the other one when money is available.  I mean, you *could* upgrade the machine now, be unsatisfied with it being limited by the grinder and upgrade it later (or conceivably be able to come up with good results with it and not want to upgrade for some time).

Story time: I started with a steam toy and a blade grinder.  I made horribly burned espresso that still tasted fine with large quantities of foamed milk.  My wife is still nostalgic about these, which causes me no end of emotional distress.  I got a Gaggia Espresso on Ebay for about $100.00 and roasted in a popcorn popper.  I made occasionally good and occasionally awful and occasionally good enough if mixed with milk drinks.  My wife said these were OK, but still liked them best if mixed with obscene amounts of foamed milk.  Then my brother got a deal from an advertiser on the forum who had a buyers remorse deal on a Brewtus II (which he wanted) combined with a Mazzer Mini (which I wanted).  I ended up with it for the price of a used Mini and my espresso quality shifted moderately dramatically toward regularly good shots.  My wife, to my consternation, STILL liked obscene amounts of milk in her drinks.  Next, I got a deal on a Cimbali Junior D1 that needed some fixin up (not as good a deal as I should have held out for, I found out after fixing it up).  I got a very small improvement in shot quality and consistency.  I picked up a Rossi CC45 (like the RR45, but a different shaped body) from a fire at a restaurant.  It had better grind quality due to the 64mm burrs and I got fewer problems like spritzing, but it lacked in fine grind adjustment as it's a 40 step collar.  My wife STILL liked "latte" sized drinks the best.  Next my wife bought me a Pharos for our anniversary.  It was probably the most thoughtful gift she ever bought me.  I very rarely see spritzers, channeling only happens if I do something stupid and my shot quality is now mostly good to excellent.  My wife still likes "latte" sized drinks.

So what's the point of this long story?  Firstly, it's to tell you that if I had to do it all over again, the first thing I would have done is get a Pharos (or, if you are in to the 'convenience' of electric grinders, get a used Super Jolly if you can get it under $350 in good shape).  THEN I would have taken my wife up on the offer back in the day to "just get the one that you will stick with for life".  I wasted so much money by "saving money".  Oh, and if you are confused about HX vs Dual Boiler, don't sweat it, both of them will make great coffee and neither one is rocket science.

ps: when I was a young lad in University, we made do with a stove top 'moka' pot.  I am jealous of you kids these days and your ability to have crazy good coffee gear at such a young age =)
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stovemade14
Senior Member


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

Posted Tue Dec 24, 2013, 8:55pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

Thanks everyone for all the help regarding the grinder! I had a feeling that I would get that sort of advice. I think I'm a bit stubborn since I just spent $120 (poor college student) on a grinder that I know I need to upgrade. But it all makes sense, and I appreciate all the advice!

I'm liking the features of the Bezzera BZ02. Any other recommendations?
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MikeReilly
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 304
Location: Vancouver Island
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Cimbali Junior Gaggia...
Grinder: Pharos CC45 Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cuisinart
Roaster: Behmor, I-Roast 2, Popper
Posted Wed Dec 25, 2013, 10:27am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

stovemade14 Said:

I'm liking the features of the Bezzera BZ02. Any other recommendations?

Posted December 24, 2013 link

Any good used HX or DB machine - troll craigslist and ebay.
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JerDGold
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Dec 2013
Posts: 82
Location: Chicago, IL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Breville...
Drip: Chemex
Posted Wed Dec 25, 2013, 10:32am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

stovemade14 Said:

Thanks everyone for all the help regarding the grinder! I had a feeling that I would get that sort of advice. I think I'm a bit stubborn since I just spent $120 (poor college student) on a grinder that I know I need to upgrade. But it all makes sense, and I appreciate all the advice!

I'm liking the features of the Bezzera BZ02. Any other recommendations?

Posted December 24, 2013 link


I know that feeling, and I'll tell you what the problem is.  Different grinders, different beans, different people and different machines (a rhyme!)  all work differently together I'm finding.  There is a such a wealth of knowledge on these forums that it offers a false sense security.  Questions like "What's the best machine!"  and "What's the best grinder!" yield answers that only raise more questions.  Anyone ever watch Lost?  That's what it's like making coffee.  I just ordered a Baratza Vario for $350 on ebay, and someone is selling a K3 Touch here a bit less here on these forums.  Based on my needs, the Vario will work perfectly well, but the K3 would have been just a bit better for what I needed (something sturdy and stepless).  There will always be something better, and I would venture to guess that EVERYONE on these forums has had a similar experience of wasting money at one point or another.
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fredk01
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 136
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Wed Dec 25, 2013, 10:43am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

MikeReilly Said:

... or a Bezzera BZ02, which is about as cheap an HX machine as you can find that still is full featured (meaning it has a hot water wand unlike the Oscar) and comes in around $1000.00...

Posted December 24, 2013 link

Funny that this machine never gets mentioned.  Looking at the description at 1stline, it is the BZ07 with less stainless steel and a few 'nice to have' features.  I wonder what the temp stability is like with the passively heated group?
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,114
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 Wed Dec 25, 2013, 12:16pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

fredk01 Said:

I wonder what the temp stability is like with the passively heated group?

Posted December 25, 2013 link

Like other Bezerras (not to mention the old Pasquini Livia 90) which draw heat from the group-to-boiler connection, it's a "dragon."  That is, the head gets very hot very quickly, and after even a short idle, will need a new cooling flush.  On the other hand, a dragon is a good thing if you want pulls in quick succession.

One of Bezerra's many claims to fame is value for money, and the BZ-02, 07 and 10 are each very competent machines, reasonably user-friendly, and can be temped accurately and consistently.  

As a "barista" what you're looking for from your machinery is the ability to use grind, dose and temp to manipulate bitters and sours, aggressiveness and blandness to find the best balance for a given bean or blend when "dialing in;" then consistently hit that balance when pulling your daily shots.  

You can "do better than Starbucks" simply by using better beans; and "better than most coffee shops," combining better beans with paying attention to what you're doing.  But that's low hanging fruit.  To make consistently good coffee, you need an espresso machine which can -- at least -- temp accurately enough to dial in, and conveniently enough to consistently return to that temp without jumping through flaming hoops.  

With any machine under $2K (new) there are going to be all sorts of compromises.  Typically and unsurprisingly, the more you spend, the fewer trade-offs.  For $2K you can get a Bezerra Strega, a very high performing lever.  $3K will buy you an ultimate HX like an Elektra T1.  And it's going to run about $6K to get a La Marzocco GS/3 -- about as good a single group DBPID as you can get.  

On the other hand, no SBDU or brew-boiler/thermoblock hybrid can be said to do it all -- at least not very well.  The give-aways for both types include recovery time and steaming  -- with the wait for SBDUs being so long that crema collapses if you pull first, and the milk loses its texture if you steam first; unmodified SBDUs simply can't temp; and even a PID modified Silvia characteristically yields a "flat" tasting cup.  

It all depends what you want, and how much you're willing to spend.  If you've got a grand to throw at a good daily driver for a couple, the Crossland CC1 / Vario Package is still available from seattlecoffeegear (SCG) for $995.  Neither the machine nor grinder is an ultimate -- both are "entry level good."  Taken separately, each is the least expensive way to get to "good."  In the form of the SCG combo, they're "such a deal!"

If you plan on doing a lot of back-to-back mild drinks, say for instance you entertain frequently,  you'll need something with a big steam boiler and quick recovery --probably an HX (especially if you're trying to keep price under control).  Just remember, there's no getting around the fact that extra functionality costs extra money.  

Merry Christmas,
BDL
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,681
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 Wed Dec 25, 2013, 10:29pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

I have a motto I live by, never buy the first year of production of anything. If you do, you are the test bed for all the problems of that item.

I do not need to have Obamacare to know it is a disaster, I did not need to buy a Yugo to know the quality was low, I don't need to own a BDB to know the quality track record has been .... spotty at best. There are a lot of design decisions made by the engineers at the manufacturer, that I do not agree with. I would rather not need to rely on a customer service department bending over backwards to go the extra 10 miles in customer service, I would rather buy a quality item instead.

People are adults here, they can make their own choices but before they do, they do need to know the history of what they are considering. I personally do not care if one buys a BDB or not, it is not my money and it is not on my coffee bar. Taken for what it is, a consumer grade machine with a lot of teething issues, I can not advise anyone that it is a great thing to have.

There is a new model of it due out soon if the rumors are true. They are supposed to address a lot of the issues including the non owner serviceability of the machine, sending it back to the manufacturer for normal preventive service just goes against my grain. Others may not feel the same way and that is perfectly fine. I have what I consider to be pretty good equipment and I have no desire to enter the BDB starter class machine market.

This thread is not the first one that I have bumped opinions on that machine in and I really suspect that it will not be the last either. In the end, all any of us can offer is opinion and you know what opinions are like and every person has one. There is no one poster to take the word over the other, in honesty, very few of us have ever met face to face and REALLY know who any of the rest of us are. Do your research, find your own information, reach your own conclusions, only then can you rest easier that you have done all you can to find what equipment truly is the best for you.

Merry Christmas, may you have a great and happy New Year!

 
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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fredk01
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 136
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Thu Dec 26, 2013, 9:42am
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Like other Bezerras (not to mention the old Pasquini Livia 90) which draw heat from the group-to-boiler connection, it's a "dragon."  That is, the head gets very hot very quickly, and after even a short idle, will need a new cooling flush.  On the other hand, a dragon is a good thing if you want pulls in quick succession.
...

Posted December 25, 2013 link

That makes sense.  I had read about 'dragon' machines before, but had not made the connection with the directly connected group head.
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russel
Senior Member
russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 438
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Conti Princess 2grp, GS/3...
Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,...
Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Thu Dec 26, 2013, 1:22pm
Subject: Re: What to save up for?
 

I'm personally a big fan on the boiler heated group design.  It's not as sexy as a thermo-siphon, really not as sexy as an E61, and doesn't allow more "advanced" temperature manipulation.  It does however greatly simply the internal construction of the machine, and uses brut force (boiler heat) to establish a sort of operational consistency that you have no choice but to accept.  This sounds harsh or limiting, but when starting out less choice can easily mean less variance, which is a good thing.  I've owned a couple of Livia 90s (Bezzera BZ99) and several Olympia Maximatics/Pasquini Liviettas, and have been very happy with their performance; and even happier with their build quality.

Do consider what style of espresso you currently like and whether or not you want do some exploration.  It's not easy to manipulate the shot temp of a boiler heated group quickly and consistently, so if you're looking for a tool to use to explore different beans and roasts you should probably look elsewhere.  If you want to dial in a not-lightly-roasted bean that you know you like and consistently pull the same shot day in and day out for long periods of time, a domestic boiler heated group is a really good option, and usually a good short term and long term value.
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