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Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rocket R58 Double Boiler
Rocket Espresso R58 Double Boiler -  Everything you need for the perfect shot!
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da_russky_007
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da_russky_007
Joined: 8 Jun 2004
Posts: 31
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia; Starbucks...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Black &...
Drip: Black and Decker
Posted Tue Jun 8, 2004, 7:52pm
Subject: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Hi everybody! I originally posted this the 'Coffee: Machines and Brewing Methods' thread. But now I found out that there is a separate thread for expresso, so I am reposting this:

Right now I have Starbucks Barista. I've had it for about half a year by now. And it would be an understatement to say that I am starting really not to like it... at all...  especially that pressurized portafilter. So I got onto coffeegeek.com and after reading some opinions about it, realized that there are quite a bit of people sharing my feelings. Therefore, I am planning to return the starBucks, get back my $300 Bucks, and buy a machine that would be the true Star (for the Bucks). And here is where I need a word of wisdom.

So any of you coffee geeks out there. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me of what would be that machine that would bring me a smile every morning, afternoon... and (heck why not drink coffee at night) night too. My budget is around $300, mayble plus $100 for a good one (yeah.. i am just a  poor college student, but i sure DO like coffee).

I am considering a Solis SL 70 with nonpressurized basket, because it had a pretty good review here. Does anybody have experience with it's built-in temper? Could you tell me about it? After Starbucks Barista, I am deathly afraid of any modifications that supposedly make your life "easier".

Anyways, please, share with me your thoughts on what is that perfect machine for the money and why your think so. I greatly appreciate your help!

-Yegor
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brokencup
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brokencup
Joined: 18 Feb 2004
Posts: 1,617
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1
Grinder: Cimbali Junior, Infinity
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: RK Drum
Posted Tue Jun 8, 2004, 8:58pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Grinders - Rancilio Rocky, Solis Maestro plus - Zassenhaus Mills all have been mentioned favorably in various posts. (In order of decending cost.)

Gaggia Classic is by far the most recommended low end espresso machine after that I guess it is the Silvia in order of ascending price.

(I'd flip one of the above around so that they both would be in the same order but it's late ;-))

Bob
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expobar
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Joined: 25 Mar 2004
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Posted Tue Jun 8, 2004, 9:05pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

brokencup Said:

Grinders - Rancilio Rocky, Solis Maestro plus - Zassenhaus Mills all have been mentioned favorably in various posts. (In order of decending cost.)

Gaggia Classic is by far the most recommended low end espresso machine after that I guess it is the Silvia in order of ascending price.

(I'd flip one of the above around so that they both would be in the same order but it's late ;-))

Bob

Posted June 8, 2004 link

Actually, Gaggia Carezza is more recommended for low-end...

If you buy a Gaggia Carezza, Espresso, or New Coffee, you are buying the same machine with different shells.  I, personally, love my Espresso.  

And i have a Zass Mill

75 dollar setup on ebay.... ("Fassenhaus" burr mill and "Gaggi" Espresso)

If you ABSOLUTELY need a 3-way solenoid (and you dont, just put together your drink and take out the portafilter handle) the cheapest machine is the Gaggia Baby.

I'm as of now a die-hard Gaggia man, I dont think you can get any more bang for your buck than with a low-end gaggia.
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da_russky_007
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da_russky_007
Joined: 8 Jun 2004
Posts: 31
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia; Starbucks...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Black &...
Drip: Black and Decker
Posted Tue Jun 8, 2004, 9:37pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

LedZeppelin588,

What kind of machine do you have yourself?

Concerning grinders, I had ordered a Solis Maestro Plus grinder last weekend. It's goind to arrive on the 10th. I am looking forward to trying it out. It seems like there are some nice changes over the regular Maestro.

-Yegor
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Luca
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Luca
Joined: 27 Jan 2004
Posts: 2,658
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Espresso: H: Maver W: FB-80
Grinder: H: Super Jolly W: Brasilia...
Vac Pot: Hario TCA-2
Roaster: Sample Roaster at Work
Posted Tue Jun 8, 2004, 10:38pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Firstly, would someone explain a starbucks barista to me in non-american terms?  My understanding is that it's a rebadged Saeco, which are all quite similar to gaggias, but with different portafilters and ss boilers ... is that about right?  If this is the case, you may well be able to get quite good results out of these things just by getting a non-pressurised portafilter.

The lower-end gaggias seem to be fantastic value machines.  The only differences between the carezza (et al) and the classic (et al) are basically the case material (plastic v metal) and the absence of a 3-way solenoid valve, which is definitely a convenience, but not a necessity.  Be aware that gaggias have an aluminium boiler, and are reputed to corrode easily, particularly if you happen to live near the sea.  There also seem to be a plethora of carezzas et. al. on ebay all the time, so the cheapest solution would be just to buy one from ebay if you're comfortable doing so.  Greg Kaan posted a review of the carezza the other day, which incorporates some of my comments from testing it at the cafe where I work the other day.  Basically, it's fine for espresso with a decent grinder, but seems a bit dissappointing in the steaming department.

The solis sl-70 seems like a really good step up from the carezza, particularly if you make a lot of milk-based drinks - it's constantly hailed as a really good steamer (I've heard tell that opening the steam valve trips the boiler element  ... a great idea!).  I've never used it, but it seems to me that most machines with a built-in tamper have a tamper that's too small ... and the machine is too light to tamp against the built-in tamper without putting a hand on top of it to stop it tipping.  Nonetheless, it seems great value, particularly with the larger boiler than most machines in this class.

Hope that helps,

Luca

 
General ramblings about coffee: http://www.pourquality.blogspot.com/

Reviews of Australian coffee: http://www.coffeereviewaustralia.com/
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da_russky_007
Senior Member
da_russky_007
Joined: 8 Jun 2004
Posts: 31
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia; Starbucks...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Black &...
Drip: Black and Decker
Posted Tue Jun 8, 2004, 11:18pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

After reading the CoffeeGeek review on Gaggia Classic (especially its comparison to the) Silvia, i am under impression that the Gaggia's aluminum boiler is a definite minus and that Silvia is a better choice. Plus Silvia is good-looking and Classic is kind of bad looking. It seems like it's not worth buying Gaggia models below Classic.

I definitely need a machine with a 3-way solenoid. A lot of the time I make several shots one after another, and it is pretty frustrating to have all your friends stop that poker game, sit and dumb-look at your for some 30 minutes while you try to make one coffee after another without having coffee grinds exploding all over you.

I also need a mashine with good steaming power. With my Barista it take me a minute and a half to steam 8oz of milk. It is quite annoying, to be honest.

I looking into a solid machine that will be a workhorse for the next 6 years... when I am hoping to gather enough money to get one of them "big boys". Thus Silvia (although a big price jump) seems to be quite a worthwile investment. Any thoughts? Any of you who have experience with Silvia have any comments? Am I on the right track?

Also, how does Rocky compare to Maestro Plus (or does it compares at all)?

Posted by Luca on Tue Jun 8, 2004, 11:38pm  
Firstly, would someone explain a starbucks barista to me in non-american terms?

What exactly did you mean by the statement. I am afraid I did not completely understand that.

Thanks for all your comments folks. I am definetely learning a lot. I can't wait to hear all your comments, decide on a machine, order it and enjoy good expresso... aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh

I am going for a surgery on my knee in 5 hours. Afterwards I have to lay around at home for about two weeks. A good cup of coffee will definetely deliver quite a joy to me those days :D

-Yegor
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kaanage
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Joined: 31 Mar 2004
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Espresso: Bezerra BZ99, Gaggia...
Grinder: NS MCF, Imat Lux, Cunil...
Posted Wed Jun 9, 2004, 12:49am
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

da_russky_007 Said:

It seems like it's not worth buying Gaggia models below Classic.

Posted June 8, 2004 link

??Why??? If you don't move it around, that pretty metal body just adds cost.

The PF sneeze problem is over blown IME but if you do make espresso for a group of buddies on a regular basis, then the Sylvia is the go, IMO due to its big boiler - it will take longer to get up to temp and the cycle up to steaming but will make more shots than most machines in its price range. The Gaggias (all of them) have that little Al boiler (still bigger than the Barista) which cycles quickly but limits the amount of steam/shots to about 4 lattes per cycle. The Solis would be in between the Gaggias and the Rocky from what I've seen but lacks the full size PF (53mm instead but still brass).

BTW You can get a non-pressurised PF from Saeco to use with the Barista.

The Rocky does not compare at all the the Maestro plus - it's in a different league. The Gaggia MDF is a better comparison but not as solidly built and less adjustable. It's definitely worth buying a grinder in the area of the Rocky, MDF, Iberital, Innova rather than below as any of the machines you mentioned will pay you back in better espresso with these better grinders.

Luca, the Starbucks Barista is just a rebadged Saeco Via Venuzzo (or something like that) - go in to a larger Starbucks and you'll see the same PF and the Saecos have the SS boiler too.

Yegor, if budget is a problem, I'd spend more on the grinder (get into those I mentioned) and less on the machine - your espresso will still taste good with any of the machines mentioned, given a decent grind (even the Barista).

Greg

 
do'in it on the cheap
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coffee_monkey
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Joined: 23 Apr 2004
Posts: 248
Location: Boston, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Rituale, FE-AR...
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Hario MSC-2
Vac Pot: Hario TCA-2
Drip: Hario DPW-1
Posted Wed Jun 9, 2004, 9:30am
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

I agree w/ Kaanage. I think spending money on a quality grinder is much more effective upgrade.

My first "real" grinder is the Maestro Plus. Back then, I really wanted an Rocky, but due to budget limitation, I bought the unit for vacuum pot/french press and thinking it will be "okay" when I eventually upgrade to an espresso machine. When I finally got my Barista (well, an old Estro), I realize it was just no consistent enough. There were just too many fine powders and I was getting aweful shots. I finally bite the bullet and bought an Rocky DL. It is one of the best upgrade I made (aside from the freshroast... but that is another story...), and in restrospect, I should have gotten it instead of the Maestro Plus.

The Barista actually can make quite decent shots, if you temperature surf a bit and UPGRADE to a non-pressurized PF. In my opinion, Barista w/ unpressurized PF + Rocky ($21+$270) is a better combo than Silvia + Mastro Plus ($500 + $150).

I do agree on the weak steaming power of Barista... but then I drink mostly espresso so it's not as big of a deal to me.

btw, if you remove the pf about 15 to 30 sec after you pull the shot and BEFORE you put the machine into steam mode, you should not get any PF sneeze. You will get a soupy puck but that is a hell lot better exploding coffee grounds...

Good luck!

 
www.barismo.com
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da_russky_007
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da_russky_007
Joined: 8 Jun 2004
Posts: 31
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia; Starbucks...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, Black &...
Drip: Black and Decker
Posted Wed Jun 9, 2004, 5:03pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

hello,

i have ordered Silvia with doser Rocky, a packaged deal from WLL.

It sound like Rocky is definetely the way to go.

Concerning the Barista, it is a pretty wimpy machine. I am just so dissatisfied with it and so tired of dealing with it that i just want to get it away from my sight. I enjoy making coffee for my friends when I have them over. Usually it takes about 30 minutes to get four decent lattes ready. it is just too long of a wait and takes all the fun out of making coffee. Not to mention the clean up: in my opinion, the soupy mess in the portafilter as opposed to a solid puck is unaccaptable. Before I had Barista, I used a $100 Krups machine. That Krups was much less mess and i could pull a better shot with it too. As an expresso lover, I take the pressurized portafilter as a slap in the face. My opinion of Starbucks company dropped pretty low, just because they dare to sell and stand behind this nonsence technology. Whoever created this idea was definetely not trying to create a good machine for quality expresso, but an easy-to-use solution for lazy and disinvolved people. The truth is that most regular folks wouldn't be able to tell much of a difference, but to me, I see a world of difference and it just doesn't let my conciense go.
Truly, how can an expresso company stand behind a a machine that claim good extraction at only 15 seconds? My specialty is analytical chemistry and according to my knowledge (and probably anybody else's who has exprerience dealing with columns, extractions, eluents etc.) the pressure and retention time (time it takes the eluent -water in this case- to flow through a column -in this case a puck of coffee grounds-) are both vital factors in good extraction and separation of flavors. The valve on Barista opens at 9 bars and the elution time is 15 seconds. That is 10 seconds less that normal extraction time. This inevitably results in underextraction and subsequent loss of flavor. The soupy mess left after the extraction is evidence of water molecules cycling through  the basket, thus making multiple contact with the same coffee grounds, thus makind a double (multiple extraction) which is more likely to result of extraction of the bitter flavours and loss of "good" flavors, because the water that extracted the "good" flavor then makes contact with the same ground particle, thus partialy imputing the compound responsible for the flavor back into the ground. The result is more bitterness and less savory flavor, where in traditional portafilters the water molecules make more or less "single" contact with the grounds thus extracting most flavor. According to Henry's law and the subsequent the law of mass action, and the resulting Ksp's (solubility constants) the water that does not contain any of the particle is more likely to dissove it. In other words the water in traditional portafilter is unsaturated, thus it's extraction capability is maximized. On the other hand in pressurized portafilter the water becomes saturated in the compounds responsible for flavor, and thus it's  extraction capability is minimized. In practice it turnes up when my friends say "put some more coffee in this latte" about an 8oz cup of latte that already has a couple of shots of expresso.
The question comes, what if I get the nonpressurized PF? I have a few things to say about it. Firt of all the 53mm diameter requres a deeper PF. What does that mean? It means that the water reaching the bottom of it is more likely to be already saturated; in contract to a 58mm portafilter what is more shallow and the water is not nearly as saturated by the time it reaches the bottom. The result is more flavor and less bitter.
A few words about the pump. If I happen to pull a shot more that 17 seconds, the pump doesn't sound very healthy and I don't want it to break. But even if I got the nonpressurized PF, because of it's diameter, i don't believe I will get as good of a shot as from a 58mm PF.

For you folks out there here are some basics on column chromatography, which is basically what we are doing when extractong expresso:
-our column is the grounds we pack in the the PF
-the spectrum of the flavor is Savory -> Bitter (savory being on the bottom, and bitter on top)
-retention time is the time it takes us to run the column (extraction time)
-assuming the same pressure (tamping, grinding and diameter and the depth of the column being the variables) low retention time will result in very low end of the spectrum and thus incomplete flavor (like in Barista or Saeco Classico); good (traditional) retention time will result in low and middle ends of the spectrum (rich expresso, a good machine); too long of a retention time or too long of a column will result in full spectrum which includes the bitter flavor (which is very overpowering apparently).
The pressurized portafilters are not even what can be defined as a traditional column. The prolonged exposure to the ground and the cycling of water inside the portafilter is close to more like running your regular column twice or thrise, using that same eluent for subsequent extractions. It makes me scringe just imagining what it really does to the flavor.
Why do we get the nice crema from the pressurized PF? I can only ascribe it to the Tompson effect, which states that as gas (or liquid) is forced trough a nozzle (aka small opening), upon its exit from a nozzle it will expand (and also cool off - that's the principle behing the way a fridge works). It makes sense that as dissolved gas and the liquid it is in (together with the steam that formes from the liquid even below boiling point as a result of increased pressure) exit the little pinhole on the bottom of the PF, it will expand making small itsy bitsy bubbles that appear to our eye as the longed for crema. But this crema is miles away from the real crema resulting from fresh coffee and good barista skills.

Anyways. I've spoken long enough. I am recovering form a surgery I have had today, so I apologize if I did not express myself in the most understandable manner....

yeahh... I got my Silvia ordered with the Rocky. I think I am only a few days aways from making those heavenly expresso shots, that are to be treasured along with good wine and caviar. After all, aft of expresso is just is fine and exquisite as wine making.

Cheers!,

-Yegor

PS tell me if my this post has benefited you guys in any way :))))
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Descartes
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Descartes
Joined: 28 May 2004
Posts: 406
Location: USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: Bodum Chambord FP
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Posted Wed Jun 9, 2004, 9:47pm
Subject: Re: Need of a good expresso machine!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Well Yegor, I'm not a chemist, but I appreciate you deriving a more quantitative description of the brewing process.
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