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Astoria Espresso Machines (all) - Fred Collins's Review
Posted: October 10, 2007, 10:31am
review rating: 6.3
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
Astoria Espresso Machines (all)
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Arrow The Astoria Espresso Machines (all) has 3 Reviews
Arrow The Astoria Espresso Machines (all) has been rated 7.67 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since August 1, 2005.
Arrow Astoria Espresso Machines (all) reviews have been viewed 33,220 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Chris Matthews 7.40
Fred Collins 6.25
Beth Lee 1.50

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.8
Product Reviewed: Astoria Argenta JUN SAE
Manufacturer: CMA Quality: 9
Average Price: Varies Usability: 8
Price Paid: $700.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Denver Craig's List Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 2 weeks Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: NS Oscar
Bottom Line: Incredible buy, overkill for the home, built like a BWM or Benz ... incredible quality.  Steams forever, a bit fussy about the espresso grind.  Almost too easy to use.
Positive Product Points

I got this single group Astoria Argenta JUN SAE locally along with the grinder.  The machine is built like a tank.  The boiler is HUGE (6 liters) and all the plumbling and components are picture perfect.  The machine is nice looking.  Mine is the gun metal gray model, but I've seen copper and multi-colored ones that are also nice.  Parts are easy to come by and relatively inexpensive.   The machine with side panels off looks like art.  Absolutely stunning.

Negative Product Points

Even though they claim it's their smallest commercial machine, this is too large for most kitchens.  I have it plumbed in my garage.  The grinder is also huge.  The steam (while incredible) will boil a small cup of milk in about 5 seconds.  You really need to downgrade to a 2 hole steamer which necessitates swapping out the whole wand.  It takes an hour to really heat up properly.  It will make steam and espresso in 30 minutes, but the crema just isn't there until an hour has passed.  The  powder coated steel side panels will rust.  At this price, they should be stainless.

Detailed Commentary

The build quality of the Astoria Argenta JUN SAE is just incredible and home consumer models look like toys in comparison.  The four programming buttons can be programmed for various volumetric pulls.  I have a short single, long single and short double and long double.  If you've never used an automatic, it's very nice.  It's easy to pull consistient shots.  Once set-up and debugged ... this will provide you with excellent and consistient espresso shots.

When I got this machine, it had sat for nearly a year.  It's only 3 or 4 years old and was used in a light volume bakery.  The water softener was missing and I suspect was left in place at the now defunct bakery.  

I didn't need another machine, but I couldn't pass up this deal.  I've been going through and replacing all the gaskets, descaled the boiler, and generally cleaned up the machine.  As stated earlier, I needed to swap out the steam wand to use the 10mm 2 hole tip.  I ordered a naked porta filter, but that's not in yet.  I need to replace a sight glass due to a small steam leak.  I polished the chrome and have really just been using it a few hours each day to make espresso for myself and friends.

Making lattes for a small group of people takes a few minutes.  The volume capacity of this machine is well beyond what any home espresso barrista could use.  The plumb-in features (water-in, waste-out) are nice.  Again, previously having a pour over, I never knew how nice this is.  I can never go back.  The pump is a rotary design.  My Oscar used a LOUD vibrating pump.  This one is quiet and really nice.  

This machine needs to be turned on all the time.  I don't think it likes being turned on daily.  Once it heats up, it's great, but who wants to wait 60 minutes for their espresso.  I'll either leave it on or get a timer.

The machine seems sensitive to the ground of espresso.  Too fine and it won't work.  Too coarse and no crema.  I'm still working on the exact grind.  This machine seems far more sensitive to the grind than my Oscar.

Buying Experience

I like Craig's List.  You get to deal locally with the seller.  I've found some real bargains there.

Three Month Followup

After changing out the steam wand for a 2 hole model and doing a simple overhaul, the machine has been nothing but a joy to use.  It's a big large ... too large for a typical kitchen in my opinion, but works in a home bar setting with no problem.  I love the plumb-in features and the ease of use being an automatic.  This is a real gem of a machine.  It does what it's supposed to do without fuss.  It's reliable, consistient, and makes great espresso and micro-foam.  It's 100% overkill, but at the price I paid, it's a great deal for the home.  If you find one used for a decent price - I recommend it.

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review rating: 6.3
Posted: October 10, 2007, 10:31am
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