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How to Buy an Espresso Machine - The Guide
Espresso Machine Buying Guide - Making the Best of the Consumer Reviews
Introduction | Get a good grinder | Life of Ownership | Using CG's Reviews | Vendor Tips & Tricks | Choosing a Semi / Auto | Choosing a Manual | Accessories to Consider
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With over 4,000 reviews in our Consumer Reviews Section of CoffeeGeek, it's easy to become intimidated. What to read? What to look for? How does one sort out the gushing of fanboys from the real facts and honest appraisals?

During the last overhaul of CoffeeGeek, we did some major changes to the reviews section, including putting in warnings about being a fanboy. It helped some, but not as much as we would have liked. But we also added some other features that included a greater variety of ways to navigate the reviews, so you can get the most out of them. The trick is in knowing what to look for.

Let's look at one example - the Rancilio Silvia, our current review champ with over 160 posted reviews. Daunting, to say the least. There's even commentary dating back to 2000, predating CoffeeGeek itself! (I used to host more basic consumer reviews on CoffeeKid.com before CoffeeGeek was launched - we imported them all over to this site, way back in 2001.)

When you first load the page, you'll probably see ten reviews, with the most recent review at the top of the list. You can dive in at this point, but there's two other ways you can sort the reviews to find the best comments and/or best reviews on our website.

Sorting by Quality Rating

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Sorting by "Quality"
On each product listing page (the page that shows all the reviews for one product), you can view individual quality ratings for a review, or sort by quality.

Take a look at the quality rating right beside each reviewer's name on the page that lists ten or more reviews. That's a good indicator of just how informative and well written that particular review is.

Better yet, sort the listing by "Quality" instead, and you'll get a new listing of all the reviews, from the best written one on down.

How do we determine what the best reviews are? Well, we don't. You do - the reader of the website. Every member can vote once on each and every review posted in our consumer reviews section. Some reviews have had hundreds of votes; some only a dozen or two. But your fellow CoffeeGeek members have done a lot of legwork for you and have given a ranking to many of the reviewers. (Tip - be a part of the quality control movement - rank the reviews you read too!).

Sorting by quality gives us a list of the Silvia reviews, including some excellent ones by people like Eric Larsen, Greg Scace (the inventor of the Scace Device!) Chris Woods, Mick Reynolds, and others. Greg's review is almost six years old now, but it still stands up as an insightful look into the product, and recently, he's written a five-year update on owning the Silvia.

Once you're reading a review, you may notice a sidebar on the left side of the page that says "Quality Reviews". For every product in our database, we list up to the five best written reviews as judged by your peers on the website. It's a quick and easy way to navigate through the best written prose in our review section.

Sorting by Rating

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Sorting products by their rating
Choosing this option on the major category pages lets you see which products are rated highest overall by our reviewers.

Another way to navigate a product's reviews is to sort by rating. This is the rating given to the product by the reviewer, based on five criteria that are considered when they write the review. We encourage our reviewers to make these ratings realistic, and while the overall quality of reviews has gotten better in the last few years, there still may be cases of serious fanboyism that look at products with rose coloured glasses.

However, with these sorting features, you can make your own determination as to which  products and which reviews are the best. For example, if you sort by quality and look at the top ten ratings of the product you're looking at, this will give you, with a single glance, a good indicator of just how good that particular machine may be.

You can also sort the major category pages by rating, as in this example for the Consumer Espresso machine pages. There is a trick to using this system - the products at the top probably have very few reviews; for example, when I was writing this, the Ascaso Steel was at the top of the list, with a "10" rating, but with only one review. The Ascaso Steel is a great machine, but definitely not a "10" in any sense.

So, how does one deal with this situation? Scroll down the list a bit, until you see products with 5, 10, 20 or more reviews. If they still rank and rate high, chances are that's one kick ass machine.

For example, the Isomac Zaffiro has 8 reviews (a decent, if still low, number), and is rated as a 9.1 overall. Further down the list a bit, there's the Silvia with 162 reviews (!!) and it's 8.8 overall rating, and the Elektra Lever Machines with 9 reviews and the same 8.8 overall rating.

Once you cherry pick a few products to check out, go to the product's page and sort by "quality" to quickly get to the best written reviews.

Other review tips and tricks

Every product has its good points and bad ones. If you find a review that says "nothing" in the product negatives listing, chances are it's not going to be a review that will help you decide on your purchase. Instead, look for honest appraisals of the machines, ones that point out the flaws (and possible ways to overcome those flaws) as well as the good points.

Since 2003, every reviewer has been required to fill out the "buying experience" field, where they can review the service they received from the vendor who sold the product to them. This is a good way to find good vendors, especially for machines that may require aftermarket service.

Lastly, make sure you contribute to making the CoffeeGeek Consumer Reviews a good resource for others. Sign up for a membership, and once you have it, you can post insightful, detailed, and objective reviews for products you own (and preferably give yourself a month or more of ownership before writing a review). In addition, you can vote on the quality of other reviews you read from time to time. The more that members vote, the more meaningful the ranking and rating system will become for future visitors to the website.

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Buying Experience
All reviews written after 2003 require a "buyer's experience" where the reviewer is encouraged to write about the vendor they bought from.
Sidebar Extras
When you're on a specific review page, on the left side, you can find out more about this particular product, and quick jump to the five "best" reviews for the product.
Making Reviews Better!
You can do your part in helping to make our reviews section better by doing honest votes on the overall quality of the review, and participating in feedback for reviews that helped you.

Next Page...

Introduction | Get a good grinder | Life of Ownership | Using CG's Reviews | Vendor Tips & Tricks | Choosing a Semi / Auto | Choosing a Manual | Accessories to Consider
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Guide Sections
Arrow 1. Introduction
Aarow 2. Get a good grinder
Aarow 3. Life of Ownership
Arrow 4. Using CG's Reviews
Aarow 5. Vendor Tips & Tricks
Aarow 6. Choosing a Semi / Auto
Aarow 7. Choosing a Manual
Aarow 8. Accessories to Consider
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