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looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > looking to buy...  
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Acrobat
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Apr 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Eugene
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Apr 16, 2012, 8:03pm
Subject: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

Hello,

 My wife and I are looking to buy our first espresso/grinder, one of the main reasons is to cut down on the amount we are spending at local coffee shops.

I'm hoping to keep costs around the 600 dollar range maybe more if the bang for buck is worth it. We've looked at the Breville Express but after looking around here it doesn't seem to be a very good investment.

I'm open to any and all advice, thanks.

Acrobat
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Apr 16, 2012, 8:56pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

welcome to CG!

I was able to convince my wife (by showing her the math) how buying some decent espresso gear paid for itself over time.  I calculated in the cost of all the accessories, milk, coffee beans, and sweetener.  For us, getting a Rancilio Silvia and Rocky combo, and having her parents living in our house most of the year, paid off in about 6 mos.  Better equipment takes a little longer to pay for itself, but eventually it does, unless you buy commercial at retail price.  I guess my point is, if you can spend more for better stuff, it'll be worth it in the long run, and you won't have to upgrade as soon.

Your budget is doable, but on the low side, since you need both a grinder and machine, as well as accessories.

There are some standard question to help us help you decide what equipment is up for the task in your home...

How many drinks per session?
How many sessions per day?
What kind of drinks do you take (espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte)?
Do you anticipate entertaining a lot?

Do you have plumbing where you're going to put the equipment?
Are you willing to buy used equipment?

Most of us here, believe that you'll be much better served if you stick to shops that cater to coffee enthusiasts.  To name a few that are online (in no particular order)...seattle coffee gear, chris' coffee service, 1st line, whole latte love.  Again, there are many more, but these are some of the biggies.  The people are knowledgeable and the service is generally good to excellent.  We (CG users) tend to avoid kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table for our espresso gear.  The quality just isn't there, and there's no one in those places that is knowledgeable.

To modify your mindset just a little bit...if I may...try to focus on getting a good grinder because you can make much better espresso with a great grinder and a mediocre machine, than with a great machine and a mediocre grinder.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Acrobat
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Apr 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Eugene
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Apr 16, 2012, 9:14pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

Thanks,

 We would mainly use it for mocha and macchiato drinks. Right now we spend around 9 dollars every day on coffee drinks, so I'm willing to spend some money to buy the right equipment. We will recover the money in short order, I just want the best bang for my buck, if that requires me to spend more money than I currently have planned then so be it.

 I also understand the importance of a good grinder, but there are so many options out there I don't know what I need. Thanks again for the input.

Acrobat
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Acrobat
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Apr 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Eugene
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Apr 16, 2012, 9:19pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

We do some entertaining but would mainly be for us. As far as plumping goes we have a sink near by ;-)

Acrobat
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sn_85
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2011
Posts: 134
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Andreja Premium
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Apr 17, 2012, 12:12am
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

Welcome,

This question has been proposed numerous times in the past week.  I would check out these two threads as I think it will help guide you in the right direction.  I'm also positive some of the experts will come in here and say the same exact things that they posted in those threads as well.  

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/576457

The best bang for your buck is what you can afford.  I think $600 is tough to do and at that number you're basically looking at the bare minimum.  That's probably a Gaggia Classic and Baratza Preciso grinder.  Plus accessories that puts you closer to $700.  For a beginner setup it's not bad at all and it'll help you learn the basics.  However, do learn the limitations and understand potential frustrations with a single boiler dual use machine (SBDU), especially for a mocha and maccchiato drinker.  If during that time you do find that this hobby is for you I wouldn't be surprised that you'd upgrade the machine within a year or two.  So it depends on how much you want to spend now and how involved you think you'll get into the hobby.  

As far as grinders go, take at a look at the Baratza Preciso and Vario.  The Preciso being the bare minimum you'd want for espresso.  

Anyways, I'd take a few days and do a lot of research on this site.  Learn about SBDU machines and Heat Exchanger (HX) machines as well because that's the next logical step up.  Think about what you want to be able to do with your machine and what extra features you want (i.e. dedicated hot water spout since you like macchiatos).  That way you can plan out a better budget because I'm going to bet that in the next couple of days as you do more research that it will probably double.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
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 Tue Apr 17, 2012, 6:10am
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

Hi, welcome.
At your budget you can get some GREAT espresso, abet with a little more work on your part. Budget equipment need not be poor performers but you WILL need to do more on your part, a lot of what you get when you pay more is ease of use, better consistency and more features.

I would advise AGAINST a machine at your price point. A Vario http://www.baratza.com/ at about $450 and a MyPressi twist, at $149 for the twist Click Here (www.youtube.com)  with a hand process for milk will give you THE best bang for your buck..... however, it will not look like an espresso machine on your counter, because, it isn't!

For milk based drinks (nothing wrong with them, I like them too!) ease of use directs us to advise that you buy a HX machine, well if you both want to drink your drinks at the same time anyway. SBDU machines can do a GREAT job BUT, only one drink at a time with quite a bit of waiting between drinks. People who are into milk drinks OVER straight espresso, often tire of the lack of speed making drinks and step up to HX anyway.

The down side of HX machines is that NEW, they start at about $1K PLUS a good grinder, so you are into this hobby about $1.5K between the machine, grinder and accessories.

 
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!
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yiplong
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Feb 2012
Posts: 80
Location: EU
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Apr 17, 2012, 1:42pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

calblacksmith Said:

SBDU machines can do a GREAT job BUT, only one drink at a time with quite a bit of waiting between drinks. People who are into milk drinks OVER straight espresso, often tire of the lack of speed making drinks and step up to HX anyway.

Posted April 17, 2012 link

It's totally ridiculous to suggest something that's like triple his budget when he clearly stated his budget to be $600.  Although he indicated he's willing to spend more, I feel anyone's budget deserves a degree of respect, especially when the said budget is somewhat adequate for what he wants to achieve.  

You cannot pull shots and steam milk all day on a SBDU, but I doubt that's what the OP wants to do anyway.  SBDU doesn't mean "quite a bit of waiting between drinks".  A decent SBDU like the Silvia can pull a few shots and steam milk for couple drinks with no problem.  The only wait is between steaming and brewing.  On the Silvia this is no more than 20 seconds, on machines like the CC1 this will be about 2 seconds.
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yiplong
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Feb 2012
Posts: 80
Location: EU
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Apr 17, 2012, 1:43pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

yiplong Said:

You cannot pull shots and steam milk all day on a SBDU, but I doubt that's what the OP wants to do anyway.  SBDU doesn't mean "quite a bit of waiting between drinks".  A decent SBDU like the Silvia can pull a few shots and steam milk for couple drinks with no problem.  The only wait is between steaming and brewing.  On the Silvia this is no more than 20 seconds, on machines like the CC1 this will be about 2 seconds.

Posted April 17, 2012 link

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ocarolina
Senior Member
ocarolina
Joined: 30 Apr 2007
Posts: 59
Location: chicago suburbs
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio silvia 3
Grinder: baratza preciso
Drip: french press - no drip
Roaster: behmor / iroast2
Posted Tue Apr 17, 2012, 2:25pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

It's totally ridiculous to suggest something that's like triple his budget when he clearly stated his budget to be $600.  Although he indicated he's willing to spend more, I feel anyone's budget deserves a degree of respect, especially when the said budget is somewhat adequate for what he wants to achieve.  

Thank you for the breath of fresh (not hot ) air that you offer.  I am sincerely getting tired of reading posts about how everyone needs a HX machine, and that all others basically stink unless you drop a few thousand dollars.  YOU CAN get decent espresso at his price range with a good grinder. I (and my husband) drink milk drinks EVERY DAY, and never tire while making my drinks with my machine.  My SIlvia is great and I have had NO PROBLEM making back to back drinks with steamed or frothed milk.    

LISTEN to what people are asking and offer assistance based on their needs and budgets.  That is all they want.

For milk based drinks (nothing wrong with them, I like them too!) ease of use directs us to advise that you buy a HX machine, well if you both want to drink your drinks at the same time anyway.


NOT TRUE - I have a Preciso (was $249 in the package from wholelattelove.com) and a silvia, and it makes awesome drinks - but still above your price range.  You can get a preciso grinder, and you can compromise on the espresso maker - for what you want to spend.  

Don't listen to all the people that tell you that you cannot get a decent espresso within your budget - grinder is the key.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Apr 17, 2012, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: looking to buy my first espresso/grinder, need some advice
 

I used a Silvia for nearly 10 years before switching to DB (double boiler).   If one makes the espresso first, the wait to steam is a little longer than if you do milk first, but the milk is the featured item in cappuccinos and lattes, so I feel this is a better method.  Yeah, the wait is a pain, but I typically made 4 drinks (2 cappuccinos and 2 lattes) in a 20 minute session.  we did 1 session every day at on weekends usually a second session in the evening, and on some days even a third session in between.  So, yeah, a SBDU may be all you ever need or want.  However, having gone to the HX/DB level of machine, I can definitely say there is a HUGE difference in speed and consistency.  It's much easier to entertain...and the quality has gone up a small amount too.  some of the increase in quality is my increase in skills, as I've spent a bit of time over the past few months analyzing and micromanaging my process.

If OP chooses to go SBDU, there's a new post (within the past day or two) on B, S, T selling a 10 month old used Silvia V3 for $500.

Having said all that...I agree with Wayne's (calblacksmith) post.  OP says he's willing to change his budget to get what he really wants and it's not at all unreasonable (IMO) to suggest a jump to the HX realm as entry level.  OP can take it or leave it, but the post explains the benefits of making that leap.  If the OP said his budget was strict and he wasn't open to increasing it much, then I would agree, we shouldn't suggest he triple it, but again, he said he's open to spending more, if it'll get him what he wants.

More for OP:

If you have a sink nearby, and you'd consider hacking into the plumbing and maybe drilling a hole in your counter, you could consider getting a plumbed in machine.  Benefits include not having to refill the reservoir (which is a big PIA - IMO) and not having to dump a drip tray all the time (also a big PIA - IMO).

You didn't mention if your willing to buy used equipment.

Is counter space an issue?  This also might affect what you purchase.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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