EM1 Senior Member Joined: 30 Apr 2014 Posts: 14 Location: Canada Expertise: Just starting
Posted Wed Apr 30, 2014, 4:15pm Subject: First post - buying advice - and I read the sticky : )
Hello all, I don't have an espresso machine or a grinder. I have never used one. My wife and I purchase caps and lattes almost daily. I don't want a starter machine that I will desire to sell in one year. I have researched quite a bit and would like a dual boiler. 1st choice would be a vetrano 2b with a mazzer mini. However, I'm about 6 months from having the money for that.
Choice number 2 would be a breville dual boiler and a kitchenaid burr grinder with the mazzer burr retrofit. Or, a used mazzer and enjoy my French press for awhile.
Choice number 3 is a used rancillo epoca E1 for a good price, really good. It's bigger than I want, but I figure I could play with it for a while and sell it if it doesn't work. Couldn't find much for details on this machine. Seems set up for commercial use with auto presets and such. Although that might be good for my wife. Can you still use it to learn hands on though? Is it way overkill for 3-4 milk drinks a day and 8-12 when we have friends over. Reliabilty? Known issues?
If I've missed a post on this by all means please forward me the link. Much thanks!
Posted Wed Apr 30, 2014, 5:10pm Subject: Re: First post - buying advice - and I read the sticky : )
You've obviously done a lot of research; your post and your choices cover a lot of ground.
The most difficult question you pose, and one which is integral to the others is whether you should wait and save to afford a "better" setup or buy a "lesser" one now. That's a lifestyle question and one that's beyond the scope of an enthusiasts' forum like this one.
The best buying advice I can give you in terms of buying a setup which you won't want to upgrade in the near future is to buy the best grinder you can afford that will fit within your space. If you have to make compromises based on budget, build your setup around the grinder and not around the machine.
The Mini is a good grinder. It's better than adequate, but is not a very good grinder, and is far from excellent. Any of the machines on your menu can back up a much better grinder. More to the point, you get a much bigger improvement in the cup out of every dollar you spend by getting a better grinder than you do for any dollar you spend on a better machine.
Case very much in point: You'll get a much better shot for $2400 with a BDB and an $1100 Titan flat like a Ceado E37s, Compak K8, or Mazzer Major; or for $2800 with the BDB and a Titan conical like the Compak K10 PB, than from the $3200 combination of a Vetrano 2B and a Mini.
The BDB is one of the few best bang for the buck deals in espresso. The Vetrano is better laid out, offers a little more working room, steams better, looks "richer," feels "richer," and is truly a great deal better built. But it's not as high-featured (losing to the BDB in the important areas of pre-infusion and temperature agility), and is no easier to use.
It won't make "better" espresso either. But hold on for some perspective. That's kind of misleading. Once you've reached a certain level of machine competence "better" is far more a function of grinder and barista skills than machine quality. The most a machine can offer you is production capacity, steam power, recovery time, and ease of use.
The knock on the BDB 920XL, such as it is, is build quality. But hold on for some perspective. The BDB is built on a plastic frame on a Chinese assembly line. It's not heirloom quality in the same way a high-end prosumer is. On the other hand, the preceding model, the 900XL, had a very good record for reliability; Breville support was (and is) incredibly good; and the non-proprietary components like pump and valves are the same components sourced from the same bins used by the European manufacturers.
Don't get me wrong, though. The Vetrano 2B is one of the best E-61, double-boilers on the market, good value for its high money, and a serious chunk of polished stainless presence on your counter.
Epocas are not "prosumer," but true commercial machines. On the one hand, they're well built with comfortable width and ergonomics for rapid production. On the other hand, they're low featured, not particularly user friendly, and too tall to fit under standard kitchen cabinets. There are several models of Epoca. Whether or not any of them would be a good choice depends not only which would fit your needs best; but also on whether you'd suffer from the lack features like pre-infusion.
Even though I use a different single group, true commercial HX, and love it, it's quite a bit more home friendly than the Epoca. While I believe that several true commercial HXs are the least money you can spend for the best machines, not every true commercial is in that select group. Unless the particular Epoca in question fits your situation (including your skills levels), AND you can get it for a great price, I can't recommend any machine which you'll find to be more PITA than fun.
If you've really limited the other machine choices to BDB and Vetrano 2B, I think you'd do much better with the BDB and any one of a number of really good grinders than with the Vetrano 2B and a Mini.
Posted Wed Apr 30, 2014, 5:57pm Subject: Re: First post - buying advice - and I read the sticky : )
The SM 90 is the functional equivalent of the Mini. You might as well get a Vario and trade some build quality for user convenience; in the cup characteristics will be about the same.
Is there anything epic that isn't huge?
Epic? No. The best in the cup, small footprint grinders I know about are the Baratza Forte (Vario with better build quality), and Mazzer Mini E (either A or B) with Super Jolly burrs. Both are very close to equal to an SJ in the cup, and both are considerably smaller.
Both kinda split the border between good and very good. I can't say that one is obviously better than the other; but haven't had much experience with either. FWIW, the Forte is a good visual companion to the BDB and is incredibly user friendly -- a thing which cannot be said of any Mazzer.
Otherwise, the Mahlkonig K30 Vario ($1600), with a mini hopper is short enough to fit under kitchen cabinets; and it's an excellent grinder, but it is quite wide and something of a bear to maintain.
i dunno. i wouldnt compare it to a bear ;) . that's harsh.
i do agree that some, like mazzer, are really simple to work on, but i wouldnt say a k30 is really THAT much more difficult. If you have any mechanical inclination and pay attention to detail, i'd consider it pretty simple. Not much harder than working on a bicycle and easier than most basic automotive work.
also, it may be wide but it's also a circular base. Most other commercial grinders in its class have the same or more depth requirements than the k30.
Posted Thu May 1, 2014, 8:40am Subject: Re: First post - buying advice - and I read the sticky : )
1996 Wega Max M6.4 w/doser.
I Don't know it personally, but hear it's in the same "very good"* class as the Mazzer SJ.
(*In my very personal grinder rating hierarchy, "very good" is better than "good," but not as good as "excellent," "Titan" or "uber-Titan.")
The grinder is the most important piece of equipment in the espresso chain. As a rule of thumb you should buy the best grinder you can afford which will fit in your space. If I were buying a machine + grinder combination for myself, I wouldn't compromise on the grinder as a way of controlling the budget -- presuming I could compromise on the machine. But this is about you.
An older rancillo grinder w/doser, has a big square bean container on top, probably a md50/st
The MD50 is a very fast grinder. Fast is good in a commercial setting, but it's a double edged sword in the home, because running the grinder to do adjustments means going through a lot of beans.
Its "in the cup" qualities are in the same "SJ" class as nearly ever other ~64mm flat burr commercial grinder. (The exception is the Mahlkonig K30, a massive overachiever). The adjustment scheme is better than Mazzer's, but what isn't?
A commercial bunn G3 coffee grinder.
Huge. Great for brew, especially with a swap to Ditting 903/904 series burrs (the hybrid is known as "Bunnzilla"). If you've got the space and you want a brew grinder, you cannot do better at any price than Bunnzilla.
Rancillo epoca e1 espresso machine
Plumb in only. The drip tray might require a direct connection to the drain as well, but I'm not sure. Well built, true commercial. Too tall to fit under kitchen cabinets. Good ergonomics and size for rapid work flow, good recovery time, but not very user friendly. If you've got the space for it, and the price is right it could be an excellent fit -- but without good barista skills it will eat you alive.
EM1 Senior Member Joined: 30 Apr 2014 Posts: 14 Location: Canada Expertise: Just starting
Posted Thu May 1, 2014, 11:03am Subject: Re: First post - buying advice - and I read the sticky : )
Makes sense, thanks for saving me from myself. If I could get all that stuff for around $1000. Would it be a good deal in terms of reselling it or would it be a gamble? I thought maybe I could make a couple bucks toward a decent grinder.
If that seems like a waste of time would it be worth it to get the wega max for $100? It is too big for my long term plans, but if it is a good machine otherwise I can sell it later while I look for something.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,864 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 May 1, 2014, 1:26pm Subject: Re: First post - buying advice - and I read the sticky : )
If you are serious, save your money, buy better quality and be happy for a long time. The disclaimer Rich makes on the BDB most likely is because I really do not think much of the build quality and to limit my warning posts, that is the standard disclaimer on the machine to avoid a novel on my part.
If you don't mind getting a little dirty and if you can change the spark plugs in your car, you most likely can work on an espresso machine. Commercial machines are built to be ABUSED 24/7, the BDB in similar situation likely would not make it a month but that is a guess on my part, two completely different animals.
Don't try to buy, flip and move up. While it is possible to get good deals, flipping machines is against the rules on the forum, it is there only for members who have traded up and may have a piece of gear to pass on, it is not for flipping to make enough to buy what 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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