Wiedhas Senior Member Joined: 24 Mar 2014 Posts: 4 Expertise: Just starting
Posted Mon Mar 24, 2014, 10:43pm Subject: Want to replace my super automatic
My wife got me a Jura Ena Micro 9. We are happy overall but I am afraid this machine will break and be total junk soon. We can still return this unit. We only use the cafe crema button on this machine - I think we've made one cappuccino in 3 months. We use grocery store coffee and, gasp, a dollup of half and half. I would like to venture out into a more sophisticated coffee experience with a more reliable, less plastic machine. I can't stray too far from the one touch machine yet as the learning curve would put me in the dog house. Can anyone recommend a machine that is of higher quality than the jura we own yet allows more control over the experience?
Would a Rancilio Silva be too big a leap from the Jura, i.e. too manual, requiring more expertise than we have currently?
Budget: $1,500. We can plumb it if necessary 15 amp only We are low skilled espresso makers We own none of the tools yet.
CMIN Senior Member Joined: 14 Jun 2012 Posts: 1,627 Location: South FL Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: CC1 Grinder: Baratza
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 6:09am Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
You put a 1500 budget but mentioned Silvia, so assuming that's your budget total for machine and grinder? Your going to need an espresso grinder. Any low end single boiler machine will outperform a superauto. Silvia though is out of date and over priced for what it offers new. If your budget is $1500 total, look into the Crossland CC1 which comes with full PID control and a separate thermoblock for steaming and the Baratza Vario combo from Seattle Coffee Gear, think it's $1k and when you sign up on the site you'll get an extra 10% off I believe. The PID on the CC1 lets you control temps, preinfusion, waiting time, has a built in shot timer, and let's you preprogram settings if switching beans etc, boiler is huge for this class at 17oz... that's 5oz larger then next biggest the Silvia. The separate thermoblock allows it much faster switching to steam and back to brew then a Silvia. Silvia is just s single boiler and no PID so you'll have to learn how to temp surf, and since you make a lot of milk based drinks you have a longer wait time for steaming as the boiler has to come to steam temp and then wait to cool down and temp surf again to brew.
Just remember fresh roasted beans, nothing store bought or with a best by/use by date on it ;)
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 8:38am Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
Get rid of your superauto and spend some money on a proper setup if you truly love espresso. It takes some time - but like all good hobbies, coffee becomes a way of life and you will never ever go back to St@rbucks again for their milky abominations. I suggest something simple like a Vario paired with a Silva or a Crossland CC1 both great machines for a starter and will get you out of the superauto kick.
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 10:27am Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
The Silvia has been around a long time and has a lot of loyal fans, but the only good thing you can say about it any more is that it used to be a good deal. A stock Silvia can't be accurately temped. As such it's obsolete. You can add a PID to it and solve that problem, but it's still an inadequate steamer -- partly because you have to wait so long for the boiler to come up to temperature, and partly because steaming power is inadequate under the best of circumstances. In short, it's your father's Oldsmobile and no amount of expertise can make a Silvia minimally competent or worth its money.
You can buy a Gaggia Classic or Gaggia Baby -- machines with the same major shortcomings as the Silvia -- for a lot less money.
The CC1 isn't world-shatteringly good, and certainly has its issues -- but it's good enough to make consistently good espresso, is an adequate steamer, and -- at its price -- is one of the two or three best values in machines today (the other few are way out of your budget). Similarly the Vario is entry level "good" (that is, better than adequate, but not very good), and the best value in grinders anywhere near your price range.
Together, at a discount combination price, they're unbeatable bang for the buck. If you up the game on either the machine or the grinder enough to make a difference you're going to meet your $1500 limit without getting that much in the way of performance benefits. That's not to say you shouldn't price things like the QM Silvano, Mazzer Mini, and Baratza Forte for yourself.
Worth mentioning that at around $2100, your machine/grinder options really open up. Even if you're not going to spend that kind of money, it's nice to know what it takes to get to the next big step on the ladder.
Don't be shy about asking questions here. You may not get the same consensus on other stuff as the bang for the buck factor of the CC1 + Vario, but you'll get some good information once you sift it a little.
SCG has the best price for the CC1 + Vario combo on the net, and is a seriously good dealer. But if you have a different favorite retailer, at least give them a ring (never negotiate by email) and give them a chance to meet SCG's price.
I'll just chime in and tell you not to be intimidated by the learning curve with more manual machines. People on the forum here consider espresso to be a hobby, thus we spend a lifetime on the minutia of tweaking shots to get the best possible cup we can produce. Moving from a super auto to something more manual requires you learn how to adjust the consistency of grind, dose grinds into a portafilter, tamp, and turn your machine on. It's not rocket-science, but some of us get pretty close to it simply out of choice. It can appear immensely difficult if someone new to this stuff starts reading posts about the details enthusiasts love so much. It's an addicting hobby and if you start doing some of the more manual stuff, you very well might get a lot more into this hobby than you thought you would...it's what happened to me.
Also, keep an open mind to the used market. The stuff in the buy-sell forum here is usually really well cared for and correctly priced. Many prosumer (pro-consumer)machines are built to last 20+ years or longer.
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 3:52pm Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
Just the fact that you looked here and posted a question means you probably have the interest to make good espresso at home with a semi-auto machine and good grinder. If your wife also needs to use the machine then there's a question as to whether she's as interested to figure out a semi-automatic espresso procedure.
Here I'm the house barista, so I make what the wife wants. It's just easier that way, because she doesn't care enough about coffee/espresso to learn the process. If we had a machine on hand like the Breville Oracle I think I could get her trained and working on that fine once I dialed it in. (Not endorsing Breville Oracle, but it's an example of a near super-automatic with more control over the functions that is only a couple button presses to get espresso.)
Wiedhas Senior Member Joined: 24 Mar 2014 Posts: 4 Expertise: Just starting
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 4:41pm Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
Thanks for all of the replies. I've definitely turned the corner and will purchase a semi-auto. I am nonplussed with the CC1 after viewing the Seattle Coffee Gear video review. We would probably prefer a machine that's easier to refill the water container and clean it as well as the aesthetics of the machine in general. Also, isn't Crossland Coffee a relatively new company? Not so sure about warranty if they go belly up - it is their only machine (or I am mistaken).
I have read good reviews of the Quickmill Silvano. I will be the barista and my wife has lovingly given deference to me as to the choice of machine (she has reserved future judgment I am sure!). From my perspective the machine outperforms the CC1 with ease of use and maintenance as well as aesthetics. Is this a viable option given my lack of experience?
I am very handy and can rebuild most things with proper instructions, so if I have overlooked a used machine that, once refurbished, would suit us better, please advise. Many thanks for your help and advice.
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 5:14pm Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
If you can rebuild a machine then you should start studying reviews, craigslist, used equipment here, and as a last resort ebay.
My equipment in order of acqusition: (Nespresso Citiz - started it all, but we won't discuss that here) Baratza Vario new was under $400. An ugly old NS Oscar that is easy to use, easy to clean, and works well. Bought it on craigslist and finished a rebuild for a total of $450. My La Pavoni Professional was $300 after rebuild, a few parts and seals.
Add in a couple tampers and knockbox and you are in business. I learned first on the Oscar, and it's an easy machine to use. The La Pavoni took a little while longer to get used to, but with practice, experience from the Oscar, and help from these forums I was able to deal with that too.
So starting from no espresso experience, not having had any instruction from anyone other than forums and youtube, and learning everything anew is definitely possible.
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2014, 5:44pm Subject: Re: Want to replace my super automatic
The Silvano, like the CC1, is also a hybrid. That is, both have PID controlled brew water "boilers," but use a thermoblock for steaming. The Silvano has a separate pump for steaming which allows simultaneous brewing and steaming -- which is nice, but not critical.
On the other hand, the CC1 has an independently heated group and pre-infusion. Both are very nice features.
Crossland Coffee is owned by Bill Crossland who, also designs the machine. Bill is one of the foremost machine designers in the world, chief designer of the La Marzocco GS3, has been around a long time, and is a peripatetic CG Forum contributor. He's also the leading designer in the move towards low-mass, thermally stabilized groups -- of which the CC1 is a beneficiary. Crossland Coffee looks as though it will be in business for some time, but who knows?
I lived with a friend's CC1 briefly, and was very impressed with it for the entry level machine it is. I've only seen the Silvano and haven't used it. If I were buying a hybrid, I'd certainly consider the Silvano. QM makes nice stuff, and the Silvano has received a LOT of positive reviews for its ease of use and high value performance.
Because the machines are similar in many of the most important ways, quality in the cup is bound to be very close. When that happens (and it happens a lot with espresso machines of a given type and price class), things like looks, touch, comfort with the company, and other aesthetic considerations come into play as determinative. Nothing wrong with that. You'll be living with your decision for years.
A Silvano + Vario will cost you a little under $1500 for the combination. The "street" prices are already so discounted, I doubt you can find anyone who will make you a much better deal. So a Silvano + Vario is a hefty chunk of change more than a CC1 + Vario.
If steaming is a big part of your life -- but not too big -- it might be worth your while to spend a few hundred extra on a "BDB." In my opinion -- and it's just my opinion, mind you -- the real "next step" better than the CC1 is the Breville Double Boiler which is a much better steamer than either of the hybrids. It's also a good enough brewer to match with even the very best grinder.*
If you do a lot of steaming on a regular basis -- four lattes in less than ten minutes, for instance -- you'll not only need an HX, but one with a fairly large boiler.
GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
*It's fun talking about espresso machines; but the choice of grinder is FAR more important. It's a mistake to get a machine as good as a CC1 or QM Silvano and partner it with anything less than a Vario. If budget cause you to compromise on either the machine or the grinder, ALWAYS compromise on the machine.
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