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Noob advice on machine
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Thedude27
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2011
Posts: 14
Location: MI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac TEA II
Grinder: Baratza Vario 885
Roaster: Collection of Poppery II's
Posted Fri Nov 18, 2011, 6:49pm
Subject: Noob advice on machine
 

Help :) i'm new at this and naively thought I could just buy a "good" machine that has a 15 bar pump, and be done with it.  I had no idea how much there is to consider.
I wore out the cheapo steam unit I had several years ago and was really missing having an espresso machine and now I want to get something that
is capable of professional quality results. I'm a home roaster so I figured what a great time to get a machine since I can get such a nice variety of fresh beans.

I've been trying to figure out what the I want for an "entry level" machine (I guess thats what you call them in the alternate
universe of espresso machines when you are spending a thousand dollars on one and call that "entry level".)

My requirements are that I would like a machine with the ability to create back to back milk drinks when company comes over and I don't
want to make an ordeal out of the process (meaning no huge recovery times for each drink). I entertain quite a bit and generally have quite a few ppl over.
Also I work from a home office and drink coffee all day so it would get a fair bit of use through the day.  
 
I would like something easy enough to make repeatably decent shots from someone who doesn't have OCD over espresso making(not me, my wife(the sane one) I'll probably get
to the point of obsession standing there with an IR thermometer on the group, and the electron scanning microscope evaluating the size of my frothed milk bubbles in angstroms).

Since my wife will be using the machine I want something that once I get it setup and ready to rock  (I mean if I setup the grinder for her based on the beans in the hopper..get a click tamper, setup any PID/programming/etc)   she could go to the machine by herself and pull a decent shot, without instructional classes and a hotline to a professional barista.

Also (less importantly) It needs to be shinny and look like I should have spent $1000 on a "damn coffee maker" so I don't
have to hear it from the wife :). I have convinced her to increase the budget... since clearly only a person living in a box on the street
would make espresso with a $600 machine (I'm joking, but good god to get what I would consider baseline performance you have to spend a lot...yes I realize
I'm supposed to think its a bargain when I look at cost over time, it is still a grand on a "damn coffee maker". Maybe I'll have time to turn
the tables and use the "but honey, i'm saving you money line").

After reading for hours and hours... I have come up with some machines I think would be good choices (one from most every semi auto class):



QuickMill Silvano:

Single boiler with Thermoblock unit.

Pro's:
- least expensive, yay. (a pittance at $995)
- Shots I have seen look tremendous
- PID with offset diff and pressure gage.
- seems well thought out, (lots of protection of components if you do something stupid,
                                          deep well-designed catch bin, easy to check water level).
- Nobody seems to be selling these used (especially the V2) so I suppose they must be happy with them and not wanting to upgrade.


Cons:
- Switch for steam not variable
- since this is the product of a union between chris and QM which seems kinda
 proprietary will parts remain available 10 years from now?
- some seem to have concerns about the thermoblock design but ppl with this machine seem very happy with its steam performance.
- Nobody seems to be selling these so I will probably have to end up dropping a grand on a new one.
- no hot water on demand on V2, not that big of a deal to me.


Bezzera BZ07p (DE maybe)

HX machine

Pros:
- Shiny...oh so shiny..best looking machine imo
- Hot water (not that big of a deal to me tho)
- seems to steam like a madman.  
- HX machine is a "real" machine
- did I mention its shiny?

Cons:
- seems to need to flush a lot more to get temp at the group right.  Does the DE require this or does the PID fix it?
- seems fairly rare less popular in the US? Is this right?
- the DE is a bit pricy, a used one would be awesome tho.



Breville  BES900XL

Double Boiler

Pros:
- Many advanced features with the PID (pre-infusion at whatever psi you want/hangout time/etc)
- Auto on is pretty cool so its ready in the am.
- Double boiler leaves no quesiton about steaming

Cons:
- non descaleble by end user, this seems like a big inconvenience, is this really that big of a deal to do at home(for mechanically competent people)?
- lots of stuff to fail (many fancy lighted switches/ 2 boilers/etc)
- untested longevity..Breville seemed to have many issues with cheap machines dying based on amazon reviews and forums.
- complaints about support


I want to do this one time and not have to continuously upgrade (I have enough expensive hobbies and I'd rather spend my money on beans) so I was originally looking at silvia's but I
know I would end up PIDing and modding the hell out of it, and waiting for steam/changeovers would eventually piss me off and I'd have to upgrade it. I
looked at the CC1 but it didnt seem up to the steaming as well as everything else, also didnt seem as well built (lots of features tho). Looked at the Oscar too seems like a
solid machine but the BZ07 would be easier to convince wife its worth the money.

My gut is saying the Silvano would do a fine job or maybe if I could find a used BZ07.. I'd really like to find something used
and keep it below 1K if I can, but whatever...

Is the BZ07 something my wife could pull shots on or is there a lot to getting the temps right?

I guess I have spent a lot of time looking at other ppl's opinions and watching them operate these machines,
do I have this info right? Am I concerned about things I should not be?  Am I in the ballpark here?


Oh and before you ask I now have a Vario grinder so I'm good on that front.
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,866
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Fri Nov 18, 2011, 8:18pm
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

That is a lot of analysis - I applaud your thoroughness.  Any of these should be a good choice.  I have the Silvano, and it would be bad if the importer no longer supported the machine several years down the road.  I don't intend to upgrade soon - of course i was happy with my Gaggia Coffee too so my tastes are simple.  If you can get past the shiny part (I like the shiny part, btw) then the Oscar deserves consideration too.  

For me the choice was between an Oscar and the Silvano and I do not think either would have been a bad choice.  I just went through a similar decision process with the Vario and the Preciso - there again, I think I would be happy with either grinder but ended up with the Preciso.

Good luck with your decision!

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 2:30am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

I think you pretty much singled out the pros and cons. None of the machines you mentioned are bad, and all of them will serve your needs. It would be easy to throw alternatives at you. But that doesn't really help.

Here are a few additional thoughts, though:

- The thermoblock enhanced steaming of the Silvano, together with its second pump almost makes a double boiler machine.
- The BZ07 has an electrically heated brew group, which shortens the heating-up period. Also, without a thermosyphon there's no need for cooling flushes.
- You haven't mentioned what kind of grinder you're planning to get, even though this is at least if not more important than the machine. What's your budget for a grinder?
- Maximum theoretical pump pressure (e.g. 15 bar) is totally irrelevant, since espresso is extracted at around 9 bar.

You will find fans and opponents for all machines. The choice is all yours.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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pchoden
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 74
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Vario-W
Vac Pot: Bodum Chambord
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Gene Cafe
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 7:36am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

Having just got the Silvano, I must say I'm very, very happy. It certainly is head and shoulders above my old Gaggia Baby. I've put it through its paces the past few days and I've been able to get some quality shots without too much effort. I'm not a big milk based drink guy, but I have made a few cappuccinos to check on the steaming. It may be my lack of technique (probaby is), but I'm having trouble getting good microfoam. That being said, the cappuccinos taste really good anyway.

As others have said in other threads, if you are making lots of milk based drinks, you might want a HX or DB machine rather than the Silvano with its thermoblock. Either way, the grinder will be key. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not totally happy with the pairing of the Silvano and my Rocky, but I'm going to wait a bit longer to decide if I'll upgrade.

 
Coffee is the common man's gold, and like gold it
brings to every man the feeling of luxury and nobility. - Sheik Abd al-Qadir
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Thedude27
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2011
Posts: 14
Location: MI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac TEA II
Grinder: Baratza Vario 885
Roaster: Collection of Poppery II's
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 9:16am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

NobbyR Said:

- You haven't mentioned what kind of grinder you're planning to get, even though this is at least if not more important than the machine. What's your budget for a grinder?

You will find fans and opponents for all machines. The choice is all yours.

Posted November 19, 2011 link

Hi thanks for the response,

I already have a Baratza Vario 885, as I understand it that is basically top of the line for home use and that further upgrades basically add features not so much better grind. At least that is what I have taken away with my reading and actually had a conversation with one of the ppl selling their silvia that said it really does make a difference (I had a capresso for my drip before getting the vario).
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Thedude27
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2011
Posts: 14
Location: MI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac TEA II
Grinder: Baratza Vario 885
Roaster: Collection of Poppery II's
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 9:41am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

pchoden Said:

Having just got the Silvano, I must say I'm very, very happy. It certainly is head and shoulders above my old Gaggia Baby. I've put it through its paces the past few days and I've been able to get some quality shots without too much effort. I'm not a big milk based drink guy, but I have made a few cappuccinos to check on the steaming. It may be my lack of technique (probaby is), but I'm having trouble getting good microfoam. That being said, the cappuccinos taste really good anyway.

As others have said in other threads, if you are making lots of milk based drinks, you might want a HX or DB machine rather than the Silvano with its thermoblock. Either way, the grinder will be key. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not totally happy with the pairing of the Silvano and my Rocky, but I'm going to wait a bit longer to decide if I'll upgrade.

Posted November 19, 2011 link

Again thank you, I really like getting the opinion of ppl that actually have these machines.  Now I was under the impression that the newly designed thermoblock (adding more watts) on the silvano was basically going to provide steam on demand as much as you may need and was essentially equivalent (functionally speaking based on actually making drinks (I'm sure a DB would probably outsteam it in a duration contest)) to an HX or DB.  Am I wrong about the thermoblock? Usually when I hear that its ppl judging based on other thermoblocks (ie when I saw the CC1 in action (videos) you can tell the difference between that and the Silvano) which are apparently slightly underpowered, not from ppl that have a Silvano so I'm curious that you are saying this.

I did read somewhere that the steaming technique on this machine because of the lack of a way to variably output the steam (its on or off) required slightly different technique of keeping the wand down for a bit longer.

I think I'm starting to feel comfortable that I am looking in the right direction and right now i think I am really leaning towards the Silvano. I have yet to find someone unhappy with it (I've only seen one being sold used...ever) and it really looks like chris who knows the pain points and where to put resources into these machines at this price point made some good decisions on it. It just looks well designed by someone who uses machines.


Do you think an "untrained" person could (with proper pre-setup) create decent shots (I mean i guess after setup, its really just grinding the right dose, minimal effect from tamping and turning the machine on and off) once you get it dialed in it?
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JtothaR
Senior Member
JtothaR
Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 683
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Faema D92/A1 Smart
Grinder: B VARIO, Krups Conic
Drip: Manual Pour-Over, Bodum...
Roaster: Redbird, Metropolis
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 10:49am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

You mentioned a couple things in your first post.

-Back to back drinks

-Ease of use for SO

-Don't want to have to upgrade

All of this screams Heat exchanger to me. IE: Bezzera BZ07 would be my first choice with the Oscar coming in second.

A PID on an HX doesn't stop you from flushing since the boiler will still be running at steam temp. What it does do, is eliminate the clicking noise from a P-stat and doesnt wear out like a P-stat.

Good Luck,
-James

 
Load and Lock.
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EricBNC
Senior Member
EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,866
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 11:06am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

Thedude27 Said:

Again thank you, I really like getting the opinion of ppl that actually have these machines.  Now I was under the impression that the newly designed thermoblock (adding more watts) on the silvano was basically going to provide steam on demand as much as you may need and was essentially equivalent (functionally speaking based on actually making drinks (I'm sure a DB would probably outsteam it in a duration contest)) to an HX or DB.  Am I wrong about the thermoblock? Usually when I hear that its ppl judging based on other thermoblocks (ie when I saw the CC1 in action (videos) you can tell the difference between that and the Silvano) which are apparently slightly underpowered, not from ppl that have a Silvano so I'm curious that you are saying this.

I did read somewhere that the steaming technique on this machine because of the lack of a way to variably output the steam (its on or off) required slightly different technique of keeping the wand down for a bit longer.

I think I'm starting to feel comfortable that I am looking in the right direction and right now i think I am really leaning towards the Silvano. I have yet to find someone unhappy with it (I've only seen one being sold used...ever) and it really looks like chris who knows the pain points and where to put resources into these machines at this price point made some good decisions on it. It just looks well designed by someone who uses machines.


Do you think an "untrained" person could (with proper pre-setup) create decent shots (I mean i guess after setup, its really just grinding the right dose, minimal effect from tamping and turning the machine on and off) once you get it dialed in it?

Posted November 19, 2011 link

If the casual user can work the grinder, then they can work the machine.  Temp stability and a forgiving yet appropriate (I like 8.75 on my dial better than 9) pressure make pulling repeatable shots a breeze.

No lie, I was so used to working on getting the right time (temp surfing) and watching the stream for the first hint of blonding (non adjustable OPV in my Gaggia) that for the first couple days with the Silvano I felt ambivalence - I took pride in the process of getting a good shot with a lot of my effort and only a little help from the machine - now the machine seemed to be doing more of the heavy lifting than me.  

I got over this pretty quickly since the shot quality was worth the less "hands on" approach.  It has been said many times that it is easier to learn on a more upscale machine than an entry level unit - this is absolutely correct.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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pchoden
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 74
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Vario-W
Vac Pot: Bodum Chambord
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Gene Cafe
Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 2:36pm
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

I think my issue with steaming is my being not so experienced in general making milk-based drinks and specifically not being too handy yet with the Silvano. There seems to be plenty of steam coming from the machine and it is fast in this regard. I have no experience with HX and DB machines but understand that they may be better suited to more heavy use with steaming and pulling shots. But in my case, I use the machine mostly on straight shots and Americanos.

I do think the Silvano will be easy to get the hang of and with the Vario it should be relatively easy to dial in. I love the solid feel of the Silvano and, after years of temp surfing with my Gaggia, its temp stability makes it very easy to get a consistent shot.


Thedude27 Said:

Again thank you, I really like getting the opinion of ppl that actually have these machines.  Now I was under the impression that the newly designed thermoblock (adding more watts) on the silvano was basically going to provide steam on demand as much as you may need and was essentially equivalent (functionally speaking based on actually making drinks (I'm sure a DB would probably outsteam it in a duration contest)) to an HX or DB.  Am I wrong about the thermoblock? Usually when I hear that its ppl judging based on other thermoblocks (ie when I saw the CC1 in action (videos) you can tell the difference between that and the Silvano) which are apparently slightly underpowered, not from ppl that have a Silvano so I'm curious that you are saying this.

I did read somewhere that the steaming technique on this machine because of the lack of a way to variably output the steam (its on or off) required slightly different technique of keeping the wand down for a bit longer.

I think I'm starting to feel comfortable that I am looking in the right direction and right now i think I am really leaning towards the Silvano. I have yet to find someone unhappy with it (I've only seen one being sold used...ever) and it really looks like chris who knows the pain points and where to put resources into these machines at this price point made some good decisions on it. It just looks well designed by someone who uses machines.


Do you think an "untrained" person could (with proper pre-setup) create decent shots (I mean i guess after setup, its really just grinding the right dose, minimal effect from tamping and turning the machine on and off) once you get it dialed in it?

Posted November 19, 2011 link


 
Coffee is the common man's gold, and like gold it
brings to every man the feeling of luxury and nobility. - Sheik Abd al-Qadir
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sun Nov 20, 2011, 2:57am
Subject: Re: Noob advice on machine
 

Thedude27 Said:

...I already have a Baratza Vario...

Posted November 19, 2011 link

So you won't need a new grinder.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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