doctorjohn Senior Member Joined: 9 May 2010 Posts: 2 Location: VT USA Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Evolution Grinder: Baraza Vario Drip: Technivorm
Posted Fri Jan 14, 2011, 6:25am Subject: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
OK - been at this about a year. My first machine, a refurbed Gaggia Evolution, died recently. Time to get a new one.
Have made real advances in my espresso on the Evolution: read CG forums for hours, mail order beans (recently I like Vivace Dolce), great grinder (Vario), modded the Evolution (added Silvia steam tip), worked lots on barista technique (WDT, frothing, very basic temp surfing, etc). I like espresso shots, Americanos and Macchiatos - my family likes more milk/froth than me - so frothing is important but secondary to espresso making. I think of my self as an advance beginner at this point. Consistency still a problem with shots, but slowly getting better. Time to get a new, nicer espresso machine.
Here's my problem - I am looking for the opinion of anyone who has made a similar jump: Upgrade to the Silvia, Silvano, LeLit PL 41 OR jump to a prosumer machine (I get a boner when I look at La Spaziale Vivaldi II).
Would it be helpful overall in my development to learn on the higher end consumer machines or am I skilled enough to pretty soon make the most of a prosumer machine? If I get a Silvia level machine it would be years before I could justify (mainly to wife) getting a nicer machine. Also, I assume the Vario is nice enough to pair with something like a Vivald II - but that may be incorrect. I live 2 hours from Chris Coffee in Albany NY and plan a pilgrimage to drool...er, look at their machines.
Thanks for any feedback, and I have appreciated and learned from the many helpful posts & discussion I have read over the past few years.
I felt that I'd learned what I needed to about SBDU machines, and I needed to move on to something substantially different. The ability to steam and brew simultaneously changes a lot of things and allows you to prepare much better coffees.
My experience with SBDU: It's really hard to manage temperatures. You have to switch modes, you have to wait, you have to flush, you have to wait for stability... all that takes time and adds frustration.
It sounds like you've already got a great grinder. Good job.
Posted Fri Jan 14, 2011, 7:04am Subject: Re: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
If cost isn't an issue then definitely go for the machine you really want! If you can plumb in the machine then I would recommend the S1V2 over the Mini Vivaldi for the rotary pump, programmable pre infusion & the convenience that a plumbed in feed/drain offers. The B. Vario would be fine with the Vivaldi but again if cost isn't a problem then a nice conical like the Compak K10 would put an end to future espresso grinder upgrades (IMO).
Posted Fri Jan 14, 2011, 7:17am Subject: Re: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
My two cents, being a guy who's looking up from a Sylvia...look higher than her.
She is a GREAT machine, and when you get to know her, produces really nice product. However, like others have said, she's not the end all be all of espresso...not by a long shot. I can't wait for the day when I don't have to wait on her to steam, brew, come back to temp, and all of the other things one might fight with throughout the process.
Bottom line, although it might be a jump from your former machine, my guess is it A. won't be lightyears better and B. you'll want to upgrade from her inside of 12 months.
Posted Fri Jan 14, 2011, 11:20am Subject: Re: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
Silvia, and the LeLit PL 41 are not the upgrade you are looking for, those are practically a lateral move. I started with a Gaggia and they are very good beginner machines, but if you want to improve your technique you want something consistent.
The logic that a beginner somehow can't handle or should wait to buy a prosumer machine is a fallacy. You will get more out of learning on the prosumer machines because they are actually much easier to use. They allow you concentrate on your technique. You can spend more time addressing your own flaws and not the machine's. You will really enjoy using an HX or DB, even the low end HX machines around the $1k price point will be a revelation. I don't think the consumer machines you listed have much to offer you anymore.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,151 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Jan 14, 2011, 11:42am Subject: Re: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
If your budget will allow, by all means make the jump to the best machine (and grinder) that you can get and still not have the wife throw you out on the street.
A better machine and grinder will vastly improve the ease of making espresso, not to mention the speed and quality.
The choice is do you go HX or DB, this is really a personal choice and depends on the way you work. Both are good ways to go, both make (or have the ability to make) great espresso, both will make your life so much better when it comes to brewing espresso. Both will let you steam and pull shots at the same time.
Decide on the features you are interested in, the looks of the machine and your budget and go for it.
Your money will go a little further on a HX machine but it is no worse or better than a DB. Both require flushes, the HX to cool and the DB to warm. Both require flushing the spent grounds from the group head.
My personal advice is to go with a plumb in and a full auto. Both of these features ease your espresso making life but are not mandatory.
You have been doing this long enough to know you will stay with it and what it involves, make the investment in a quality machine and it will stay working for you for decades with the proper care. Yes every machine ever made will require manitaince espresso machines included but start with quality and you most likely, will be happy for a long time.
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Posted Fri Jan 14, 2011, 12:42pm Subject: Re: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
Hey John, I started on a Silvia, and really like the machine,but it is not much of an upgrade to your Gaggia. If you get a Silvia or LeLit PL41 in another 6 months or a year you will be looking again. I went with a Quickmill Anita - it fit my budget, and was what I was looking for. Go to Chris Coffe - look - drool - they will take good care of you! You should have no problem learning how to use an HX or DB, you already know how to pull a shot. Good luck - happy hunting - John
Posted Sun Jan 16, 2011, 10:33am Subject: Re: Upgrade for advanced beginner: high end consumer vs. prosumer
After a year with an $80 thermoblock and $90 burr grinder, I jumped into a HX+Vario combo and have no regrets. A year is enough time to decide if you're ready to make that jump, I was, and my wallet thanks me because I'm now at a point where I have all the features I need or may need in the future (steam+brew, autofill, plumbed in, etc) so I don't have that "if only I spent another hundred or two more, I could have had that feature" syndrome.
I'd highly recommend going straight to prosumer if your budget allows it. Your Vario will go well with with any machine on this level, so that's a plus.
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