ohills Senior Member Joined: 14 Mar 2012 Posts: 14 Location: oceanside,ca Expertise: Just starting
Espresso: Rocket Giotto Evoluzione V2 Grinder: Vario
Posted Wed Mar 14, 2012, 6:50pm Subject: A few questions
For the past 10 + years every weekend I been making what I thought was espresso drinks for my wife and I. I use a krups steam espresso maker along with starbucks espresso beans. Of course they are milk based because there is no way I could drink them straight. I thought this is what espresso tastes like. Even when going to upscale restaurants I have to put the sugar cube in the espresso just to drink it. I really didn't know what good espresso should taste like until a couple of months ago, when I came across two forums this one and HB.
I really would like to purchase a real espresso machine to make espresso and milk based drinks. I would only use it on the weekends and an occasional night. I started researching here and decided on the gaggia classic and the baratza preciso grinder. Then after a little more research I was looking at a hx machine. I really don't want to spend $1000 on the hx but it sounds like that might be the right way to start out with. Looking at the Nuova Oscar or the Bezzera BZ02 I still would like to stick with the Preciso
In the mean time I'm going up to the OC and try some of the Kean coffee thats on the favorite list or up to venice to try Inteligentsia. I would like to taste what real good espresso is suppose to be..
Posted Wed Mar 14, 2012, 7:21pm Subject: Re: A few questions
Roy, welcome to CG. The Preciso is an awesome grinder. I own one. When you've purchased your machine, and have a while to get your home barista chops in shape, you might also want to investigate the Baratza Esatto attachment for your Preciso. I will then be a "grind by weight" grinder, allowing you a MUCH better opportunity for consistent shots.
Either machine you mentioned would be a fine purchase. At that price point, looks come into play, as does your need for a hot water wand, which I believe the Oscar lacks. No a deal breaker if most of your drinks involve milk, not hot water.
Posted Wed Mar 14, 2012, 11:33pm Subject: Re: A few questions
I would second Portola Coffee Lab with a bit of a warning...when their sh*t is on, they are pushing some seriously bright espresso. I think this is great, but it is a long way away from the syrupy chocolate that a I find more common amongst non-bleeding edge higher end espresso. These chocolate flavors often get labeled "comfort" espresso, which I understand but find a bit pejorative.
Concerning the machine, if you do go the SBDU route, you might try finding a forum member in the SoCal area looking to sell a well taken care of machine that they have moved on from. I think that the $1000 HX machines get the support they do because the value offered by $500 SBDU machines is regrettable weak, and $750+ for a Silvia w/ PID is just too close to greener pastures. However, at $250 the foibles of temp surfing can be forgiven when the espresso is good. These aren't longest lived machines, so condition and care is important.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 5,679 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Thu Mar 15, 2012, 5:50am Subject: Re: A few questions
Both Portola and Kean are great shops, I have no reservations in advising you to go to either. Kean tends to serve (to use Russels words) comfort espresso and I do agree that Portola tends to be on the bright side, not a problem but you might mistake the brightness with sour, there is a difference between the two and it takes a little time to learn the difference.
As to a machine, well the grinder is king then comes the machine. I have owned everything from a Moka pot and a steam toy to a two group commercial and a lot in between. You positively can turn out very good espresso from a SBDU (Single Boiler Dual Use) machine but the more you spend to move into the HX and DB market (used in good shape is the least expensive way to get there but you might need to be a handy man to get the BEST deals) the easier it gets to be very consistent with your shots and the easier it gets to get the great shots. This is due mainly to the temp stability that these larger machines offer.
When it comes to milk drinks and you have more than one or two to make, we normally advise moving into a lower (starter) ranked HX machine as steaming the milk and pulling the shots can be done at the same time while holding high quality in both. Yes, you positively can do it on a SBDU but there is a large time lag between steaming and pulling shots, the steam ability of these machines is OK for the most part but they can only do one drink at a time due to the small boiler in these machines. The result is that your wife has finished her drink by the time you get yours made. This is a problem for some people and for some, it is not. Only you can decide on how much that is worth to you.
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
yes i have, i live near the silverlake cafe(they have a strada at this location). would definitely say it is worth checking out. even if they're the big name around, they're still among the best in the city(LA).
something to note about the strada and slayer is that these machines are typically tougher to pull a consistent tasting shot(cuz the on the fly pressure profiling that is done). the first time i had a shot from the strada, the barista was definitely trying to work the thing. preinfused, half pressure, full, back to half. he pulled 2-3 shots before serving me one. the single origin i had a LOT of lime in the finish. so yeah it was sour...but i appreciated it since that's one of the characteristics of the bean they were using.
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