Furthermore, there is a series of posts somewhere (read it two years ago; can't locate it now) where shop owners or baristas or roasters (?) did a series of blind taste tests between the Caravel and a Speedster or LM or some other top-notch pump. Their conclusion was that the Caravel produced a shot that was at least as good, sometimes a notch better than the $,$$$ or $$,$$$ machine.
I'm aware of the Pavoni and other lever machines. They would seem the ideal solution except for their starting price of near $1,000. So, I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions: single shot, no steam, lo-tech, not too much money, great espresso?
dspear99ca Senior Member Joined: 17 Jan 2013 Posts: 93 Location: BC, Canada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Coffee Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013, 1:54pm Subject: Re: Lo-tech, hi quality espresso maker?
That stovetop deal fits the lo-tech requiremnent but...
If you want awesome espresso (I am talking about awesome-TASTING espresso, not brown liquid with "plenty of cream" on top) such as you described, you will not get it with that thing. What you need, minimumn requirement, is:
A good grinder. This is the MOST IMPORTANT piece of the puzzle. Bad grinder, bad espresso. Or, at least, no consistency. I used what I thought was an awesome grinder for years (Breville conical burr). Found out different. I've had a good grinder for all of four days and it is the best $350 I have ever spent on coffee. Bear in mind I am cheap, thrifty, tight as the bark on a tree so it was no easy sell to get me to buy this. You will not get that amazingly delicious shot with a crappy grinder, you just won't. I tried and tried and tried and tried.
Good beans. Roasted less than 15 days ago, ground right before loading the machine. This is SECOND in importance behind the grinder.
A machine that will give you consistent and correct pressure and water temperature. Many will, some out of the box, some with (usually inexpensive) modifications. My machine, an upgraded Gaggia Coffee, works okay. It's not a fast, high-throughput commercial machine, but for my morning cuppa' it works just fine. I wish it had a brass boiler instead of the aluminum one but as my old granny used to say "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride". eBay and Craigslist are your friends, as is the Buy/Sell/Trade forum on this site.
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