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Espresso: Questions and Answers
First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > First time...  
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 654
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Jan 26, 2014, 11:21pm
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

homebrewdude Said:

Looks like I will order a OE Pharos

Posted January 26, 2014 link

There have been some great reviews about this grinder on here. I think I'm somewhat tempted to order one for myself for grinding decaf in the evenings.

homebrewdude Said:

Need a plan for the good beans.

Posted January 26, 2014 link

There are a few roasters which can deliver product to you in the mail as long as you don't mind paying for it. It still is ideal if you
buy coffee from a local roaster instead of some roaster who is across the country, but again, that's just IMHO.

homebrewdude Said:

Let me work on the grinder and beans first, then we can talk machines - been reading about the lever manual type.

Posted January 26, 2014 link

Again IMHO, I'm going to get flamed for this... Unless you can find a used manual lever machine, it doesn't make any economic sense to
buy a new lever machine unless you want a handmade piece of art sitting in your kitchen. For example, the Elektra Casa da Leva
Click here for picture is an absolutely beautiful machine.

It has the drawback that you can only make a small number of drinks with it at any given time, which is perfect for your use but
may be a serious limitation when company comes over to visit. If that's not a problem, then no big deal.

Now, can you believe that this beautiful thing is nearly $1600? For that price, you can find a much more forgiving prosumer heat exchanging
pump machine which has more capability and IMHO is easier to use. So why is it so expensive? Well, they build these things by hand and they
are imported. They are also designed to last decades and decades, there isn't much that can break on them, short of the seals going. When
they do go, they are very easy to repair and keep going.

There are also the La Pavoni manual lever machines as well which are a little cheaper than the Casa da Leva, but they require that you put
some elbow grease into making your espresso because they're not a spring lever like the Casa da Leva is. If you don't mind that, then you can
save a few dollars and get yourself a La Pavoni Professional. Click here.

(By the way, I'm not advocating any vendors here, I'm just using Google Image Search to give you an idea as to what the machines look like.)

Even though manual lever machines are cheaper than spring lever machines, they still cost just as much as entry level prosumer pump machines.
I'd only really consider buying a lever machine if counter space was a serious issue or you wanted something to spice the kitchen up. :-)

homebrewdude Said:

Wife drinks dark roast, ground in the Kitchenaid, made in a Bunn

Posted January 26, 2014 link

Believe it or not, lighter roasted coffee has more caffeine in it. I personally recommend that she should try lighter roasted single origin coffees
if she hasn't yet. It's a very different flavor experience over drinking dark roasted columbian or blends.

homebrewdude Said:

I make everything I can at home, and eventually I make it better then can be bought - or as good as the best.

Posted January 26, 2014 link

Well, if you want to take this attitude to coffee making, then I would expect you to start considering a budget of at least $1000 for both the
machine and grinder and maybe about another $100 in accessories. If you want to go with a lever machine, double that budget.

The core to really decent espresso is the grinder and the beans. I keep telling people on the forum that I noticed more of a change in my own espresso
when I went from a $300 grinder to a $1200 grinder than I did from a $600 machine to a $2500 machine. (Keep in mind, this was from a motorized grinder
to another motorized grinder. The OE Pharos doesn't apply to this thinking.)

My own mother thinks I'm nuts for spending that much money on a coffee grinder, but even she, a hardcore coffee drinker, says I make better coffee than
anything she's ever had in a cafe! Besides, the grinder I bought and use daily will most likely outlast me!

homebrewdude Said:

Brought 2 espresso's with small sugar cups = best I ever had
Next few weeks travelling in Italy = Espresso every morning, sometimes had to argue that I didn't want "american"
Again best I ever had...

Posted January 26, 2014 link

The key thing to this:

The beans MUST be fresh. Pick an espresso blend or a single origin. Pick a light, medium or dark roast, but pick a roast level which agrees most with your own
personal preferences. the darker the roast, the more prevalent the roast flavor will be and the more it will "Drown out" the natural flavors in the coffee.

If the beans are oily or shiny, they are over-roasted. They should not leave an oily residue on your hopper or make the bag or your fingers oily. They should have
a "matte" appearance. It is absolutely normal for some beans in a batch to be slightly oily (Especially in a blend!) because they'll roast more than others.

A lot of people don't really realize that it isn't the machine that makes the espresso, its actually the grinder. The grinder allows for the coffee to be ground in
such a way where the coffee itself holds back the pressure of the machine and "regulates" the flow of water through the puck. As a result of all of this pressure
being forced upon the grounds, you end up with a very unique mouthfeel and flavor that you just can't replicate with a pressurized portafilter machine.

Now, I'm going to apologize for the sticker shock, but these are like major appliances you are buying here. How often do you buy a new stove or fridge?
I made the realization that buying an espresso machine is just like buying something like that. It is a fairly complex device you are buying here, even though the
operation seems kind of simple.

I wish you the best of luck in your search!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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homebrewdude
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 17
Location: Chicago
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: DeLonghi EC702
Grinder: Looking
Drip: Bunn
Roaster: NONE
Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014, 8:34pm
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

Going to try to research a local roaster.
Any tips on what I should be looking for?

This is kinda close to me
http://www.maplecityroasters.com/

And I never mentioned the water I am using.
We have well water with a water softener  - water is not good.

I have a RO system plumbed to the kitchen sink.
So that is what we use for Coffee - straight RO water.

Put the order in for the Pharos  - not sure how long it takes to build and ship.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 654
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014, 8:55pm
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

homebrewdude Said:

Going to try to research a local roaster. Any tips on what I should be looking for?

Posted January 27, 2014 link

Well, it looks like they have a few interesting blends. Unfortunately, I think it'll be a bit of trial and error until you find one you like.

Just stay away from flavored coffees. They'll contaminate your grinder and leave flavoring on everything it grinds.

homebrewdude Said:

I have a RO system plumbed to the kitchen sink. So that is what we use for Coffee - straight RO water.

Posted January 27, 2014 link

That's fine, but if you ever decide to use it in an espresso machine, make sure that it has some minerals in it. Espresso machines which
autofill their boiler don't take too kindly to pure RO water because it doesn't conduct electricity. The machine will overfill the boiler.
This isn't really a problem with Single Boiler Dual Use machines, but may be a problem with prosumer heat exchanging machines.

There are inline filters which you can buy which dissolve the right amount of minerals back into the water to give it more taste and to make it conductive.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,113
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014, 8:59pm
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

The only real benefits I see to using local roasters are that you don't pay shipping and that you can run out and get some beans if you run low.  Ordering online gives you a lot more variety.

Congrats on the Pharos. I'm pretty sure that OE only lets you buy it if it's in stock already, and that means they'll get it out to you pretty soon.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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homebrewdude
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 17
Location: Chicago
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: DeLonghi EC702
Grinder: Looking
Drip: Bunn
Roaster: NONE
Posted Wed Feb 19, 2014, 8:16pm
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

Just an update on my progress...

Finally received the OE Pharos in the mail - What a device!
Played with the grind, backed it off a bit from choking out the machine.
Seems to be good now.

Found a "local" roaster.  Ordered 1lb of each online, delivered the next day.
No date on the bags.  $13.00 and $16.00 per lb.

Bonzo's Blend
A blend combining the best of South American Espresso, a Central American and Asian coffee.  This is a very smooth tasting coffee that has become our favorite!

Sumatra Mandheling
Back by popular demand is our dark roasted Sumatra Mandheling. Sumatran coffees capture the wild jungle essence of this tropical Indonesian island. It is an earthy, deep, complex, full-bodied coffee that exhibits low-acidity smoothness. Creamy, sweet, with a touch of butterscotch, spice and grassiness.

Have been reading and playing with the portafilter on my machine.  Took the parts out to de-pressurize it.
Getting better at frothing - drinking more cappuccino then latte.

Been reading and drooling over better machines.  Been focusing on the La Pavoni machines..
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 862
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Thu Feb 20, 2014, 8:28am
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

You'll have to forgive Bud (Qualin) his complete ignorance of lever machines. He's about as wrong as he can possibly be concerning them. Yes, some lever machines can overheat after pulling a few shots. Others, like the Strega, Londinium I, or even the lowly Caravel, Peppina, and Ponte Vecchhio Lusso, can pull shot after shot after shot with excellent thermal stability. The Lusso is quite affordable and most people who have one love them. The Caravel and Peppina are vintage machines, but can still be found on the usual auction sites. The Strega and Londinium are probably more than you want to spend for a first serious espresso machine, but are a lifetime investment. Having just been fortunate enough to pick up a Londinium I, I don't expect to ever have to buy another espresso machine for my home for the rest of my life.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:46am
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

I am in total awe and envy of your L-1.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 862
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Thu Feb 20, 2014, 11:40am
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

I am in total awe and envy of your L-1.

Posted February 20, 2014 link

I'm in total awe of it, myself. But I'm so booked up with stuff that I still won't get a chance for an extended exploratory session with it for another week and a half. Still, the casual shots I'm pulling are pretty spectacular.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 654
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 12:30am
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

GVDub Said:

You'll have to forgive Bud (Qualin) his complete ignorance of lever machines.

Posted February 20, 2014 link

Well, my own personal experience with looking into buying a lever machine is that they all were fairly expensive for what you get. I don't know how new the Lusso is, but it looks very affordable
and looks very competitive to machines like the Silvano and the Crosslands CC1.

When I considered the Elektra Casa da Leva, it seemed like a beautiful machine, but it has the overheating problem you discussed and it costs $1600. For that much, I could get a high end
vibe pump prosumer E61 machine without that problem. :-) (It won't look as beautiful either and it probably won't last as long.)

Moving on, The Londinium is a piece of art and is designed to last a lifetime... but costs nearly $3200-ish in Canada when you factor in shipping, customs, etc. For $700 less, I can buy a
PID controlled double boiler machine with an E61 group which is plumbable and has a rotary pump. It probably won't be as reliable as the Londinium, but it will still make great coffee.

While I'm sure that the Olympia Cremina is a great machine, in my eyes it's a very expensive machine (Last time I checked, they sold for $3600) with very outdated, antiquated technology. (IMHO)

To understand where I'm coming from, imagine for example walking onto a Ford Dealership lot and seeing a brand new car. It doesn't have any airbags, it uses a carburetor and doesn't have any computers in it.
The radio inside is AM/FM/Cassette. The window has stickers on it which say things like "Immune to Electromagnetic Pulses!" and "Y2K Certified!" .. and they want $25k for it. Would you buy it? Some people would.
That's how I see machines like the Cremina and compare them to modern espresso machines. Some people like driving around in their 1969 Chevy Camaro. All the more power to them.

Personally? I would love to use one at least once to see what using a Cremina is like, but I still prefer using pump machines for the time being. Again, IMHO.

The Bezzera Strega is a nice machine, but it's still a fairly expensive machine. It's price point is very competitive to plumb-in heat exchanging machines, but for a newbie it may be overkill.

Now you also have to keep in mind, lever machines are considerably rarer than pump machines in the stores here. I can't exactly go out and buy a brand new Londinium, Cremina or Lusso off the shelf here.
What's the point in spending a bunch of money on a machine if you can't get it serviced and nobody local sells it? Do I really want to deal with expensive customs fees if I don't need to? That's why it seems
like I'm somewhat prejudiced against levers.

GVDub Said:

...even the lowly Caravel, Peppina,

Posted February 20, 2014 link

I don't think that it's fair to even bring used, out of production machines into the discussion, unless the poster is legitimately interested in buying one. I'd like to go back to using the '69 Camaro reference
because I feel the same way about the Caravel and Peppina as I do about the Cremina. They're like driving classic cars and should be thought of as much.

GVDub Said:

can pull shot after shot after shot with excellent thermal stability.

Posted February 20, 2014 link

I just re-read my post and nowhere did I ever say that all lever group machines were thermally unstable. This quotation above implies that I mentioned that.

Now, the reason why I'm replying to this post and getting a little off topic is because I really resent being called ignorant. I've done my research regarding lever machines and found that they just
don't pose great value over pump machines, unless perhaps if you count the Strega and the Lusso, but again.. this is my personal opinion and I have a right to that opinion. Is it technically correct?
Maybe not. Does it mean that I have a thing against lever machines? No.

In fact, my thought is that the next time I consider buying a new espresso machine, I may consider buying a spring lever machine instead of a pump machine. The Quickmill Achille, Bezzera Strega and the
Londinium L1 are all on my shortlist. However, I'm going into it knowing that if I buy one of these machines, it may not have as many bells and whistles for the money as what I'm used to buying.

Going back on topic, I don't believe that lever machines are good "Starter" machines for someone getting into espresso. Sure, if they can find an old used Cremina, Caravel, etc great.. but they need to understand
how to properly use it and they need to be able to understand how it works before they start pulling shorts. Pump machines IMHO have a shorter learning curve. Turn it on, coffee comes out. Done.

Again this is all my personal opinion and I knew that my opinions wouldn't be popular on this forum. That doesn't mean that my views are ignorant. Ignorant implies I don't know enough. I damn well do.
What I can agree with you with is that I really do not have any right to form an opinion about any lever machine until I've actually owned and/or used one.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 862
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 7:58am
Subject: Re: First time poster, new to Espresso Machine and some questions
 

qualin Said:

What I can agree with you with is that I really do not have any right to form an opinion about any lever machine until I've actually owned and/or used one.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

This being my exact point. You try and sound like an expert about machines you have no experience with. Don't. It's not fair to the people to whom you think you're giving advice.

For what it's worth, my first "real" machine was, in fact, a home lever, and it was neither difficult or complicated to learn to use, providing me, pretty much from day one, espresso that I've only had the equal of in a handful of high end shops. Picked it up used with a good, espresso capable hand grinder, total cost of under $500.
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