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I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > I'm about to...  
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schrodingers_cup
Senior Member
schrodingers_cup
Joined: 14 Mar 2005
Posts: 79
Location: minneapolis
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: Brewtus
Grinder: mazzer mini
Vac Pot: Santos
Drip: melitta cone
Roaster: hot top
Posted Tue Mar 15, 2005, 6:02pm
Subject: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

Good day all.  I am new to this forum posting wise, but have been crusin' it for a few weeks now. I am currently in the market for an espresso machine and.. well... its killing me less slowly than i'd like to admit. I have not so recently moved away from a city that introduced me to good coffee in all of its many faucets only to land in this god forsaken town of dog water and poor service. This has led me to the no longer deniable need to make my own good coffee.  I am looking to pull out the stops on the prosumer level as i may well have some minor commercial applications for this machine in a future small catering business (aside from the imense personal pleasure i plan to use it for).  being only on the consuming end of espresso for so long, the possibilities of a machine to make it with now have my head spinning.  my research has led me on a path that included flirtations with the rancilio s-24, salvatore, ecm giotto, wega lyra, la valentina, expobar brewtus, ecm giotto premium...  everytime i think i at least have the field of canidates defined i see a review for a machine i have not even heard of!!  And they all seem to say "all the others are good... but this ones a little better."  

sigh...

I am looking first and formost for the best damn shot maker and durability. E-61 of course.  Given its possible future applications, aesthetics are important and to a much smaller extant, noise.  A non-plumbed version is a must with a decent sized resivoir.

I was almost set on the giotto premium (but still not sure if it was worth the upgrade from the classic) when i started to read about the wega which seemed possibly slightly beefier quality wise and had the perk of not using boiler water for the hot water tap but thought it may be a little to large to lug around  (or even fit in my kitchen) and was more fond of the giotto aesthetically to cough up extra cash for the wega.  then i read the dan kehn review of the la valentina which sounded nice but mayhap not as sturdy, no pre-infusion and a general gut feeling saying no.  then came brewtus with it's double boiler, digital temp and general shining reviews and I just broke down...  No matter how much i read, i feel like i cannot make an informed decision with getting to use these machines.  So here, i make my last impassioned stand in this process and ask all yee who have of these beautiful pieces of steel and chrome in your possesion to leap to their defense and say why your use of them has made you certain of their virtue.
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andiron
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 142
Location: Austin, TX
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Isomac Relax
Grinder: Rocky Doserless
Posted Tue Mar 15, 2005, 9:15pm
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

Well, I'm not qualified to steer you any one way but see that your post has gone unanswered so far...so it's fair game huh? :) I'm sure you will get responses but you shouldn't let that stop you from searching. Be sure to use the search function and try to dig up all you can on the various machines. Also, you might want to make sure you go with a reputable vendor...it can make all the difference to you on getting started and supported correctly. Chris Coffee is an excellent dealer. Once people talk to him they usually go with him because he is all about service second to none. In fact an earlier post said that he actually warned someone away from one of his products because it wasn't a suitable grinder for their location/humidity. Sounds like you're looking at some cool machines and are on the right track. I assume you know how important the grinder is...but if not...you're going to get told this over and over again. Good Luck and welcome to Coffee Geek!  

Kevin
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KittJ
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 324
Location: Chappaquiddick Island

Espresso: PID Expobar Brewtus IIIR;
Grinder: Mazzer: Mini & SJ
Drip: Why??
Posted Tue Mar 15, 2005, 9:25pm
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

Welcome to the forum Mike, that was an interesting statement of frustration for your opening note.  I don't think too many of us are likely to feel it usefull to defend our past choices, but perhaps I'll be proven wrong.  It won't be the first time.

Reading your post, I got to thinking, "Gee, this guy is starting out with a questionalble set of apparent assumptions.  He thinks he needs the best possible gear to get started and that the espresso machine is the most important factor.  That's odd.  One of the most consistent messages on the board is that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine for controlling what's happening.  I wonder how he missed that."

So if you were my neighbor and told me over a cappa on the deck the same things you wrote, I would suggest that you jump on the Mazzer Jolly deal from Tagex while it is still around and then get yourself a little $175 Gaggia Espresso (I hear they are on sale on Amazon this week -- $25 off), a $20 58mm tamper and a 12 oz frothing pitcher from Espresso Parts Northwest, and a couple of $1.95 measured shot glasses from your local Starbucks.  Then you should just make espresso for a while.  That set of equipment will let you give show stopper drinks to your friends.  In the hands of someone who knows how to get performance from a machine, the Gaggia can match most what the big dogs are playing with.  After six months or so, you will have your own definite opinions and a better idea of what making espresso drinks is all about for you.  Then you will know what you are looking for and will not be throwing darts.  (And you won't need a new grinder<G>.)

Just my opinion, and worth what you paid for it.

Kitt
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twomartinis
Senior Member
twomartinis
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Posts: 956
Location: Charlotte, NC
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: FF! X5
Grinder: Rocky & Mini-winkle
Roaster: graffix at 4:20
Posted Tue Mar 15, 2005, 10:45pm
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

I'll second Kitt's recommendation. Begin with the best grinder you can buy (I see you're looking at the Mini, great), trust the geeks. While you are planning on your machine purchase / significant investment, you can play with your grinder, scour the CG archives, buy tons of beans, scour the CG some more and scour the CG yet again.

schrodingers_cup Said:

I am looking first and formost for the best damn shot maker and durability. E-61 of course.  Given its possible future applications, aesthetics are important and to a much smaller extant, noise.  A non-plumbed version is a must with a decent sized resivoir.

Posted March 15, 2005 link

Add the LaSpaziale S1 and Reneka Techno to your list, both dual boiler/rotary pump machines. You could also use a dual spring water bottle setup as a quasi-plumbed in machine, could be handy for one-night comercial use if you cater with it.

 
espornography.blogspot.com
flickr.com/photos/74108677@N00
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schrodingers_cup
Senior Member
schrodingers_cup
Joined: 14 Mar 2005
Posts: 79
Location: minneapolis
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: Brewtus
Grinder: mazzer mini
Vac Pot: Santos
Drip: melitta cone
Roaster: hot top
Posted Tue Mar 15, 2005, 11:38pm
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

wow, thanks for the replys coffee folk, all the caring in the room almost gives me the sniffles... the idea are well taken and i have said a few of them to myself already but seem to be a little hard of hearing.  I guess i should have said that i intend to get the mazzer mini, its the one thing i have managed to settle on since the grinder market is rather smaller and easier to manuver than the espresso machine market.
I know i am going a little bit overboard ofr just jumping in by looking at the level that i am, but i have a few reasons behind it... A. i have some cash right now that will in most likely circumstances not be here in 6 moths to a year when upgrade fever hits full swing.  B. having some experience with large buys for hobbies before.. computers, photography, salt water fish... everytime i started out going for the more affordable alternative iwas kicking myself in no time and getting frustrated with whatever i was trying to do until i got the right tools.  C. I only have a month before my girlfriend moves back in the country and there is no way I'll get away with spending 2 grand on what she'll see as a pretty coffee maker!

sooo.... i have already set myself to this and am now in the position of wanting to do it right.  i have done more than a few searches on the different machines and cant help but feel that i am leaning towards the giotto premium/mazzer mini combo (were you talking about the super jolly KittJ? i checked the tagex link..wow... but wont that be way overkill?) i guess i am basically just looking for someone to say something that probably isnt true, which is that ONE of these machines is far superior to the others and thereby the choice to make... I'm guessing I'll just keep doing research for a week or two more while looking at the refurbished pages everyday. well see...
thanks again
mike
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caffefresco
Senior Member
caffefresco
Joined: 22 Nov 2004
Posts: 98
Location: USA
Posted Wed Mar 16, 2005, 12:42am
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

schrodingers_cup Said:

i may well have some minor commercial applications for this machine in a future small catering business

Posted March 15, 2005 link

Hey Micheal,

This maybe minor but it may bite you in the future.  Since you might be using this espresso machine for commercial purposes ya may want to purchase one that has a suitable NSF rating for the catering business.

 
TonyS.

http://www.caffefresco.us
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JeremyR
Senior Member
JeremyR
Joined: 24 Jan 2003
Posts: 256
Location: Wellington
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: yes
Grinder: yes
Vac Pot: yes
Drip: occasionally
Roaster: yes
Posted Wed Mar 16, 2005, 12:54am
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

Schrodingers cup - how you doing in that box? Welcome to the forums, there's always room for more professional troublemakers.

To be as honest and accurate as I can be without actually trying all those machines, I think thy're all pretty well built, capable pieces of equipment. The grouphead is probably the hardest piece to design, and faema hit on a pretty good design which makes the rest of the machine-making process relatively easy.
What I think you should base your decision on are these points:

- Retailer. You want somebody, preferably local, who'll look after you if the machine goes wrong. Remember that prosumer espresso machines aren't made by the tens of thousands in a factory. It's a much more hands on approach so if someone's got a huge hangover on the day your machine's made it's possible you might get a dud.

- Boiler design. There are two approaches here, heat exchanger (HX) and dual boiler. Do some research on these, I personally think dual boiler is far better, it's also far easier to learn how to make a great cup. Of course there are proponents of HX machines, but I'm not one of them, especially in low volume situations. I currently use a commercial HX machine at home, but it's destined to be dismantled for parts at the end of the year.

- Pump. A rotary pump arguably produces a smoother espresso than a vibe pump. It's also quieter. I believe most the machines at this level have a rotary pump these days, but it's worth checking.

- Plumbed in or pourover. If there's going to be a water pipe within a couple of metres of the machine, it's a very simple job to plumb it in, saving a lot of hassle. Pourover machines can be converted relatively easily though.

- Looks. Face it, looks are important.

Good luck,
jeremy
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AlMac
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Apr 2004
Posts: 507
Location: Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Reneka Techno, Quaha...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Lux
Posted Wed Mar 16, 2005, 1:10am
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

schrodingers_cup Said:

i have done more than a few searches on the different machines and cant help but feel that i am leaning towards the giotto premium/mazzer mini combo (were you talking about the super jolly KittJ? i checked the tagex link..wow... but wont that be way overkill?)

Posted March 15, 2005 link

Yes the Jolly is overkill but if the price is good enough then, provided you are willing to house a commercial size grinder in the kitchen, it makes $ sense.  If you haven't seen a Jolly in the flesh then you should check it out before you put a bid in - it's fair bit bigger than the Mini - which people seem to think is already too tall.

You seem to be leaning toward a giotto premium and if you are you won't be unhappy - just as you wouldn't be with just about everything else you listed.

I went through all of this, preferred the giotto premium, thought about a Wega Lyra and then did a price comparison (I'm in Australia) and the Cimbali Junior is relatively better value overall (about AU$3(tank) to 3.9k (plumed in with volumetric dosing) v $2.5k odd for Wega and Giotto) and I love the look of it so kept on saving and will get that.

If you really are going to do catering a Cimbali would do you well - but it's a lot of cash to spend if its not what you really want and you don't end up catering.

This is a good link (best I've seen) that talks through several options - read the bit by espressopithecus java man: Click Here (groups-beta.google.com)$1500#1767f3e9b58b2533
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KittJ
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 324
Location: Chappaquiddick Island

Espresso: PID Expobar Brewtus IIIR;
Grinder: Mazzer: Mini & SJ
Drip: Why??
Posted Wed Mar 16, 2005, 4:56am
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

AlMac Said:

Yes the Jolly is overkill but if the price is good enough then, provided you are willing to house a commercial size grinder in the kitchen, it makes $ sense.

Posted March 16, 2005 link

I must be fascinated by the concept of "overkill"...  I have a Mini and a Super Jolly sitting side by side in my modest kitchen.  Mark Prince (we really need a mocking sobriet as a euphamism for mark) in his detailed review of the Mini concluded that it was better than the Rocky and equal to the Super Jolly.  Since I can compare them side by side, I must say that the old SJ feels to me to be "nicer" to use, but I can't find a difference in the shots.

The SJ is a more efficient use of capital, which is certainly not "overkill".  (SJ for $165, MM for $450).  They are both "used" the second day you own them.

"Housing a commercial size grinder" is a problem only if you are determined to put an empty 3 lb. capacity hopper on top of it .... which is insane.  On that basis, the Mini is "too big" and so is the Rocky.  I haven't used a "shipped with" hopper on any of my grinders in the last 2 years, except to grind a couple of pounds for friends or a trip ... an approximately bi-annual event.

I will try to post some pictures later today to show them, but the "threat" of the Mazzer SJ is HIGHLY over rated ... frankly, the Starbucks drip coffee maker is bigger.  Maybe I should insist  that we get that out of the kitchen.... sigh,

Kitt
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schrodingers_cup
Senior Member
schrodingers_cup
Joined: 14 Mar 2005
Posts: 79
Location: minneapolis
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: Brewtus
Grinder: mazzer mini
Vac Pot: Santos
Drip: melitta cone
Roaster: hot top
Posted Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:22pm
Subject: Re: I'm about to just put the names on the wall and start throwing darts....
 

Turns out you sold me KittJ, I had not seen the SJ thread on the forum yet somehow... spent this whole afternoon going through the whole dang thing waiting for the other shoe to fall... after it didnt i called nina ASAP and should be finalizing my order tomorrow. Sadly the price has jumped a bit but it still sounds like a steal.  Thanks for the tip, i cant wait to "overkill" a batch of good beans with it.

cubastreet-  a little to afriad to look in the box now n days, at least not until i have gotten to pull a shot on a new machine :] which i think has been narrowed to a brewtus or giotto Prem.

- as far as boiler goes.. thats why i am looking at the brewtus. i still cant quite get my mind all the way around the difference in final shot/steam/hot water tap that exists between an HX and a double boiler... any links or experience info would be appreciated.

-I agree with the support thing, and will check local but am guessing i wont be able to find a better deal than on one er two of these sites (no sales tax on $$ items is a big plus)  not to mention i have heard many tout the awesome customer service.

-  I am not looking for a plumbed in versions as the catering i am planning on trying to do will be an on location kind of thing for small groups so i will need my machine to be pseudo portable- hence no plumbing.  

-I would like the rotary pump but from what i have read, most all of the machines that do offer it only offer it with the plumbed in model... thwarted again.

-looks are definitely important if not just for personal pleasure then definitely for professional presentation.. again the Giotto steals my heart.  I can also see my girlfriend being more jealous of her than other machines tho.. ahh the complexities!?!

So yeah. I am looking currently at giotto prem and brewtus (but also giving a look at the LaSpaziale S1 and Reneka Techno) will post more on my indecision as it gets further along in awkwardness...
mike
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