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What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What's a good...  
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Gallansio
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 33
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 8:19pm
Subject: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Don't say "anything is better than that" :)

I'm curious what I should look for in my next purchase

I've heard the Silvia with PID is a good next step.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,950
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 Thu Jan 30, 2014, 2:34am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Everything depends on budget, new or used and your present grinder and if it may be upgraded too.
Please fill in the blanks. A good idea of what information is needed is in the pinned thread at the top of the page.

Esp when new, a Sylvia and PID is a very costly way to go and in that price range, most would agree that there may be better choices.

 
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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Gallansio
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 33
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 4:35am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Thanks a lot for the response.

I have a Baratza Preciso grinder.

I'm trying to figure out what I should be looking for in an upgrade.  I think the next big thing is consistent temp.



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.)

Cortado for me. Americano for wife.

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.)

2-4

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.)

2-4 day x 7 days

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

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

Don't know.

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

Not sure yet.

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?

Used is fine.

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

yes, Tamper, scale, thermometer
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,950
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 Thu Jan 30, 2014, 6:03am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Well, .....
It still comes down to budget and that is one space still up for grabs.

Your needs are not heavy and neither are your steaming needs, with only two at a time, you still should be OK with a SBDU and if unsure about power availability, take 15 amp for granted though it may be more.

The grinder will work for now but the quality of your drinks will go up with a better grinder, yours is about the bottom of the line that is still able to grind for espresso. Acceptable but you will notice an improvement with a better grinder.

If all you are really looking for is better stability in temp, a PID addition to your current machine will go a long way to that end.

If you need to stay with a small foot print and want a NEW machine, the CC1 is a nice step up from where you are but it (from memory) is about $700, IDK if that is in your budget.

Auber PID kits are complete and easy to install, that may be a choice for you to improve your current machine if that is what will fit in the budget. Their kits are higher than you can buy the parts alone for but you are paying for them to assemble everything for you, and supply well laid out instructions. I added one of their kits to a Sylvia, it was easy and the machine has been vastly improved. The Sylvia was part of a rebuild that I did, oh, about a year and a half ago. I bought it on Craigs list for $75 but the heater element was shot so it got a complete rebuild. With PID and the new pump, heater etc (FULL rebuild) I still had over $500 in it. I feel that is about the upper end of what the Sylvia is worth, most likely, I would not have paid that much for one, even if it had all the work already done, but it was a fun project to do so that counts for something too.

Now, again, depending on budget, If you are staying in the $500 and below zone, the Oscar is most often found in that range, it is a basic HX machine and while new, it lacks features of other machines it competes with such as an OPV and Vacuum breaker, it offers a big step up in abilities VS any SBDU machine regardless of price range. As a HX machine, it offers the ability to change your temp on the fly as all HX machines do. It also has a HUGE boiler VS any SBDU and you do not need to wait for steaming and pulling shots as you can do both at the same time. It lacks a hot water wand but it is not a mandatory feature, you can steam water to temp pretty quickly and you can pull water from the brew system (pulling a shot without coffee) to get nearly all the hot water you want.

 
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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Bogiesan
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Joined: 1 Jan 2002
Posts: 43
Location: boise Idaho, usa
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Salvatore Famosa c.2000
Grinder: Rancilio M40
Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 6:37pm
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Two or four drinks is hardly worth starting up my Salvatore but machines in the Silvia Class (there are many) might fit into your life easily as long as you're interested in also investing in a capable grinder.

Curiously, the Starbie's Verismo actually fits your profile, $150. If you shop carefully, you can find them in the $99 range. Convenience and consistency is offset by cost of the capsules (and the quality of the coffees) of course. It's an expensive closed system but not much of an investment and, in another two or three years, you will be in a far better position to either make a seriously expensive upgrade to a terrific amateur machine or full blown professional unit. You'll know that this relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use system was or was not appropriate. Can't tell yet.

Try to enjoy your research. You can ignore most of our advice: it's not our money.

But if you want mine, and you don't, get a Salvatore. Handmade in Solvang, California, excellent customer service. My first Salvatore lasted more than 14 years and I'd still have it except he offered me a trade-in deal on a new E61 that I simply could not resist. Like a handmade bicycle, she looks like just any other HX/E61 unit but, if you open her up and place her next to a mass-produced Diobomar or Quickymiilstone the differences become suddenly apparent. The cost was only one of many factors.

 
I play go. I use Macintosh,. Of course I ride a recumbent.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,950
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 Fri Jan 31, 2014, 5:54am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

It all really comes down to the one factor that the OP did not specify, the budget. There is no use in pointing to $5000 machines if the budget is $200 and conversely, there is no advantage to advising $100 equipment when they are planning on spending $5K with grinder updates. YMMV!

 
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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Gallansio
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 33
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jan 31, 2014, 6:55am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

  1. I have a Preciso grinder that I'm not upgrading. Just got a couple of weeks ago.
  2. I'm looking for tips on incremental upgrade and what to look for.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,455
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Jan 31, 2014, 7:50am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Gallansio Said:

I have a Preciso grinder that I'm not upgrading. Just got a couple of weeks ago.
I'm looking for tips on incremental upgrade and what to look for.

Posted January 31, 2014 link

Still haven't said what your budget is. But what do you mean by incremental upgrade? I mean the CC1 is the standout in the class of sbdu machines, your getting an 17oz boiler which is quite larger than anything else in this class, full PID control of temps/preinfusion/dwell time etc, separate thermoblock for fast switching to steaming. However that's all useless if your budge is like 400 bucks. If your budget is even higher then you could start looking at entry level h/x machines, or go used and score a killer deal on a great machine. Lot's of choice, but w/o knowing a budget nobody can really recommend anything.

Your other accessories may be useless, like the tamper b/c the Barista is a 53mm basket, majority of machines are 58mm.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,396
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 Fri Jan 31, 2014, 7:50am
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Short Answer:
Crossland CC1.

But Wait!  There's (Considerably) More!
Cal and CMIN are right.  We can't really narrow the choices down to a few good ones without your real budget.  

Bogie is wrong in this case; or maybe he's right and I don't see what he's driving at.  A Verisimo won't make good espresso; and consequently is not an "efficient purchase" (and certainly not a bargain) for someone seeking good espresso.  And in the end, the economic analysis of making coffee at home depends more on aesthetics than "cost effectiveness."  

Also, I'm not sure I get Bogie's considerations behind deciding whether or not it's worth firing up a Salvatore class machine to make two shots. Is he saying it costs an extra nickle in electricity compared to a Silvia or something?  Whatever. In my opinion, and presumably in his, the differences in the experience of using the machine as well as in "quality in the cup" make the Salvatore sufficiently better than the Silvia (or Verisimo) to justify the difference in purchase and operational costs.

Does "Incremental" Mean "Adeqluate?"  And What's Adequate Anyway?
I'm using the term "adequate," to mean that the espresso is recognizably espresso, and "better than Starbucks." That requires equipment which allows the user to control temp, pressure, grind and dose to fair levels of precision and in order to get consistently acceptable extractions from good beans.  
 
A Baratza Preciso is an adequate espresso grinder.  Adequate is not "good," it's adequate.  It's a good buy for the performance level, but the performance level is only... well... adequate.  (You get the point.)  The good news is that a Preciso is a much better than adequate grinder for brew, and well worth keeping if and when you upgrade to a good grinder for "espresso only."    

At the adequate and above levels, as a rule, the grinder means a great deal more than the machine; and the "next step," as you called it, is going to require both a better espresso machine and a better grinder.  

Some machines in the entry-level price range aren't even "adequate" in the senses that they neither provide nor allow sufficient control over pressure and temperature.  A Silvia with PID is adequate and will do a pretty good job of delivering brew water at a controllable and controlled constant temp into the pf.  However, there are other factors which go into a good cup, and other features which go to make a machine consistent and easy to use.  

Considering the prices of new equipment, only:  

Good:
For the same price as a modded Silvia, you can buy a CC1 which is both more consistent and easier to use (almost like I saw it coming when I wrote the last sentence in the previous paragraph).  it's also, in one important sense, a better steamer than the Silvia in that it will get take less time from pulling the shot to getting the milk steamed.  That means that even though the CC1 is underpowered, the coffee won't completely flatten out while it's waiting.  

At $700, the CC1 is an excellent value.  But if you want good, you need more.  For $1000 you can buy a CC1 + Vario package which is not only one of the few best bargains in coffee and will lend you solidly in "good."  

Good has its limits.  Good is not the same thing as "very good."  And, neither machine is "very good."  Not only that, you can buy slightly better machines and slightly better grinders for slightly more money without making the jump into "very good," but slightly better is better than slightly worse.  

Very Good:
If $1000 is the price of entry into good, what does very good cost?  About $2000 for a machine + grinder setup. If that seems like a lot of dough for coffee (and it sure as hell does to me!), don't think for a second you can hit the trifecta of performance, build quality and features for a (cough) measly $2K. Unfortunately and unbelievably you still have to make significant trade-offs.  

You can spend close to $4,000 well to combine performance, features and quality -- while only giving up a tiny bit of one of them -- and remain in the "very good" class; for example, Rocket R58 + Mazzer Mini A with SJ upgrade.    

Excellent:
The price of excellence, a category in which decisions don't necessarily mean trade-offs, begins around $3,500 (Bezerra Strega + Compak K10 PB), and goes up from there; with plenty of excellent stops (those "decisions") along the way.

WHOA there!!!  What the hell does UP mean???  
It means you can spend $14,000 for a single group machine plus grinder (Synesso Hydra or Slayer with a little bit of customization + a Robur E) and still receive value for money.  Mark Prince, "Mr. Coffee Geek" himself, has a Speedster + Compak K-10PB (nee WCB) setup; about $10,000 to feature, buy, ship and install.          

Which kind of takes us back to CMIN's and Cal's point that it depends on how much money you're willing to spend -- to which let me add that it also depends on how you prioritize different features and qualities for the machines and grinders in your price range.

Finally, let me be clear that you don't need to take out a second mortgage to make consistently, damn good espresso.  Good beans, good technique and good equipment ($1K, new) will do it.    

BDL
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takeshi
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takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 1,006
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 12:16pm
Subject: Re: What's a good upgrade from a Starbucks Barista machine?
 

Gallansio Said:

I'm trying to figure out what I should be looking for in an upgrade.

Posted January 30, 2014 link

This is a very generic reply but if you're looking to upgrade I'd suggest a single boiler with steam thermoblock like the CC1 -- or an HX.  Going from SBDU to SBDU isn't really upgrading IMO.

Additionally, if you're looking to upgrade you'll probably want to focus on the grinder as well.  It's commonly overlooked for some reason and its importance cannot be emphasized enough.  As stated above, the Preciso is decent but a better grinder will probably get you more of an improvement in the cup.
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