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Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Need Help...  
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PamelaF
Senior Member


Joined: 1 May 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Jupiter, FL
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Mahlkonig K30 Vario
Posted Fri May 4, 2012, 3:44pm
Subject: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Hello!  I have spent a lot of time viewing the requisite blogs and videos in my journey to find the right espresso machine.  The more I investigate, the greater my list of perceived must-haves grows, and the more I question my perception.   I simply wish to purchase the best machine with maximum tweaking flexibility so that I may pull consistently superb espresso/lattes.   And I'd rather not spend $6K.    And I need the right grinder too.   And it should be really, really pretty.

Here is a wish list of the items I'd like:

*Dual boiler (unless HX machine with comparable heat consistency exists)
*E61
*PID
*Pre infusion
*Warm up time as short as possible (for those 5:45am shots) OR good timer
*Reliability and availability of parts from manufacturer
*Strong steamer
*Plumbable (can be an add-on)

Any comments are greatly appreciated, especially if I can do without any items on this list or if I'm missing anything.  

One machine which comes to mind is the Izzo Alex Duetto II.  Are there others I should consider?    If I do get the IAD2, what grinder(s) should I consider?  I don't have a set budget, but I aspire to a high value/price ratio (that and becoming a great Latte Artiste).

Thanks very much!
Pamela
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,347
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Fri May 4, 2012, 4:21pm
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Vibiemme DD
Rocket double (new - to be available soon)

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Sat May 5, 2012, 5:34pm
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Pamela, welcome to CG . . .

PamelaF Said:

Hello!  I have spent a lot of time viewing the requisite blogs and videos in my journey to find the right espresso machine.  The more I investigate, the greater my list of perceived must-haves grows, and the more I question my perception.

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Occupational hazard, I'm afraid.

PamelaF Said:

I simply wish to purchase the best machine with maximum tweaking flexibility so that I may pull consistently superb espresso/lattes.

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Problem No. 1:  there is no one "best" machine.  Period.  That's just the way it is.

PamelaF Said:

And I'd rather not spend $6K.

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Most of us don't.

PamelaF Said:

And I need the right grinder too.

Posted May 4, 2012 link

All of us do.

PamelaF Said:

And it should be really, really pretty.

Posted May 4, 2012 link

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

PamelaF Said:

Here is a wish list of the items I'd like:
*Dual boiler (unless HX machine with comparable heat consistency exists)

Posted May 4, 2012 link

So . . . a DB unless it's an HX.

PamelaF Said:

*E61

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Why?  I mean, it's a great design, but it's also 50+ years old, and there's more than one way to skin a cat pull a great shot.

PamelaF Said:

*PID

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Uh, OK, but it's useless if you get an HX.

PamelaF Said:

*Pre infusion

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Uh, OK, but I've pulled some "god shots" without pre-infusion.  

PamelaF Said:

*Warm up time as short as possible (for those 5:45am shots) OR good timer

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Timer.  Any machine in the class you are seeking will need serious warm-up time, unless you leave it on 24/7.  A timer solves that problem by switching the machine on 60-90 minutes before you arise in the morning.

PamelaF Said:

*Reliability and availability of parts from manufacturer

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Generally not a problem, unless you get an old(er) machine used as a "rebuild" project.

PamelaF Said:

*Strong steamer

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Not a problem.

PamelaF Said:

*Plumbable (can be an add-on)

Posted May 4, 2012 link

Does that mean that you want a machine that can be plumbed in later but will be used off a reservoir now, or that you will be plumbing in the machine (or running it off a Flo-Jet)?

Now, some additional questions for you:
1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)
4)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
5)  We know you don't want to spend $6K on the machine, but what is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

The more information we get from you, the better and more specific our suggestions can be.  Certainly two out of the three machines mentioned so far are quite good -- the Izzo Alex Duetto II and the Vibiemme Double Domobar Manual Stainless Version 3.  There is every reason to expect that the Rocket double boiler will be a fine machine, but it is brand new and no one has it yet.  

Then again, there's always the new Elektra T1 . . .

Keep in mind that -- in the cup, where it counts -- there is no difference between a DB and an HX.  Each has "maximum tweaking flexibility," as you put it, albeit differently.  It's easier to tweak your brewing temperature on-the-fly, as it were, with an HX, whereas with a PID-controlled DB, you would have to adjust the setting and then wait for the machine to re-stabilize at the new temperature.  OTOH, you can walk up to the DB straight away and pretty much pull the shot while half-asleep -- well, not so asleep that you aren't paying attention.  The "Four M's of Espresso still come into play.

As far as grinders are concerned, much depends upon how much room you have, and -- again -- your budget.  I confess I love my Mahlkönig K30 Vario, but it might be a bit much for some.  Many people swear by the Mahlkönig Pro-M Espresso Grinder, for a bit less.  Or you can look at something like the Compak K10 Fresh or the Mazzer Major-E.  For a great grinder with an extremely small footprint, check out the Baratza Vario or Baratza Vario-W.  Or, you can always go the route of a used Mazzer Super Jolly or Mazzor Major, and buy a new set of burrs . . .

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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PamelaF
Senior Member


Joined: 1 May 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Jupiter, FL
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Mahlkonig K30 Vario
Posted Sat May 5, 2012, 11:10pm
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Hi, Jason...

My husband and I have owned a Nespresso machine and have been drinking mostly cappuccino.  We have been increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of their coffee/machine.  I recently was served the most delicious latte at a schmancy steakhouse - unbelievably strong and full bodied with absolutely no hint of bitterness!     We tend to drink cappuccino and latte, but if the coffee is great, I love espresso.  

I plan on buying new.  FloJet will be fine for now, but we plan on moving in the not-too-distant future, and I'd like the option to plumb later.   Average 4 doubles at a time, 30 doubles per week.    I have a 15 amp circuit available and may have a 20 (have to check with my better half).   I'm no electrician, but it appears that we have a bunch of unassigned GFI switches, and several with "20"  stamped on them.   As far a budget goes, I'd like to keep the machine and grinder under 4K.  No space constraint issues.  

Now about the grinder - how would you compare the K30 Vario with the Baratza Vario grinders?  I understand the grinder is of the utmost importance, more so than the espresso machine.  Am I better off going with one of the more expensive grinders and a HX or the Baratza Vario/DB?

Many thanks for your advice!
Pamela F
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Sun May 6, 2012, 2:47am
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

PamelaF Said:

Now about the grinder - how would you compare the K30 Vario with the Baratza Vario grinders?  I understand the grinder is of the utmost importance, more so than the espresso machine.  Am I better off going with one of the more expensive grinders and a HX or the Baratza Vario/DB?

Posted May 5, 2012 link

Pamela,
Well informed questions.  The db vs hx debate is one where there is no winner.  Both have advantages. Hx gives you more control if you plan on switching beans regularly each day and playing with different temps on different pulls and is cheaper.  The DB is easier to get a consistent temp. Probably what the 'typical' home user is looking for, but costs more.  Both work well.
A purist will say, always get the more expensive grinder. Of course that has to be balanced with what you want in your machine. If you want the slightly easier working of the DB w/ PID over HX then that will tell you what is left for the grinder.
The nice thing about the B. vario is that it is built specifically for a home grinder. It has a small footprint and gives a grind quality that equals more expensive grinders. But it is built with cheaper part and less durable. However; commercial grinders are overbuilt for home use and as many here will say, will last forever. They will go on to work long before you leave this world, so really the B. vario is about the build quality that is really required for home use. If you are new to this obsession, starting with the B. vario is likely sufficient, but bigger is better.
So, like you say; either the hx with more expensive grinder, or DB with b.vario. those are excellent choices and many would envy being in the position to choose between the two. There are perks about each set up, but either combination will give you equipment to make excellent espresso.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,008
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun May 6, 2012, 9:45am
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Ok, 4k and milky drinks this is what I would get if I had that budget and a larger kitchen that I have now: (this is just one noobie's opinion.)

Click Here (www.chriscoffee.com)

And

http://www.chriscoffee.com/products/home/espresso/juniord

OOOPS. I think I went a bit over budget if you get everything new.  However, I really like the Vario W have.  I like dosing right into my basket by weight.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Sun May 6, 2012, 10:40am
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Pamela,

Well, certainly, the most basic of (true) espresso machines will beat the proverbial pants off a Nespresso machine . . . and most here would be very surprised to hear that the most delicious latte you've ever had was in a restaurant -- see Restaurant Espresso Experience for but one discussion of this aspect of coffee-making -- but this, too, is easily surpassed at home.

In attempting to focus your needs a bit more sharply, you are left -- first and for most -- with the famous "HX v. DB" debate, and as Devin has already said, this is a debate with no winner.  In your initial post, you mentioned you want "the best machine with maximum tweaking flexibility" but also that you want to "pull consistently superb espresso/lattes."  The first quote makes me lean to an HX, as it is more "readily tweakable" -- on the fly, as it were.  In other words, your brewing temperature is more easily and more rapidly adjustable.  This is great if, as Devin said, you plan on switching beans and/or playing around with different temperatures.  For example, I do not really play around with various temperatures, but I frequently pull two different beans/blends -- my "regular" from Red Bird, and a "special" single-origin espresso.  The latter will change from time-to-time, but I generally stick with Red Bird Espresso for my daily shots.  Still, I have an HX (see below).  But there are certainly people here who may have three, four or even five different coffees at hand requiring different temperatures . . . for them, I'd say an HX is essential.

On the other hand, if you do not intend on switching beans and/or experimenting with different temps, a DB will be more of a consistent "walk-up-and-pull" experience.  But, as I said above, there is no difference in terms of the quality in the cup -- and that is the ultimate goal, right?

PamelaF Said:

Am I better off going with one of the more expensive grinders and a HX or the Baratza Vario/DB?

Posted May 5, 2012 link

It's not an either/or situation, is it?

The bottom line here, Pamela, is that any number of machines in this price range will fit your needs, as will any number of grinders.  No one size fits all; no one machine (or grinder) is better than all the rest.

If you look at the Izzo Alex II machines, both the HX and the DB have an internal reservoir and a simple switch to convert them to a plumb-in model . . . and back again.  The Rocket DB, that Randy mentioned, should be a great machine -- going by past performance of Rocket's HX models, like the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione -- but appears to be plumb-in only, so a Flo-Juet system will be needed.  Quick Mill also is coming out with a DB model, but it appears to be pourover only, unlike the Quick Mill Andreja Premium, which is a pourover but with an optional direct connection kit.  

In terms of a grinder, any of the ones I've mentioned above will be excellent.  The Baratza Vario is the least expensive, as well as being the smallest.  I've never had a problem with mine (look on the right side of the photo below), and the customer service is excellent.  Any questions about the grinder have to do more with longevity.  (It's often said, for example, that a Mazzer is built like a tank and your grandchildren will be using it.)  The Mahlkönig K30 Vario is the quietest and fastest grinder I've ever seen/used.  Etc., etc., etc.

There is a similar debate over grinders, and that is large flat burr sets v. large conical burr sets.  The prevailing wisdom is that the "titan grinders" are superior, and that may be true in a commercial setting under constant use, but I've become convinced that it matters little in a home setting.  Rather, each format emphasizes a different aspect of the bean -- conicals produce a "brighter" shot, with more acidity and high notes; flat burrs produce a richer, deeper shot with more bass notes.  It's more a matter of personal preference, IMHO, than quality.

Cheers,
Jason

JasonBrandtLewis: newhomesetup.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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dsblv
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2006
Posts: 191
Location: Bellevue, WA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rocket Giotto Evoluzione
Grinder: MACAP MC4
Posted Sun May 6, 2012, 3:30pm
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

The Rocket DB, that Randy mentioned, should be a great machine -- going by past performance of Rocket's HX models, like the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione -- but appears to be plumb-in only, so a Flo-Juet system will be needed.  

Posted May 6, 2012 link

Based on the information on Chris's site, the Rocket R58 double boiler has an internal water tank and can be plumbed in. Similar to the Evoluzione.
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rsinger
Senior Member
rsinger
Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 187
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: OE Pharos - #136!!  ;)
Posted Sun May 6, 2012, 7:22pm
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Hey Pamela:

Welcome!!  To CG, this site and all the great folks here will provide a never ending resource of assistance, encouragement, and information. It's really exciting to enter the world of espresso at a relatively high level, and I think your in for a lot of fun.

I hate (not really) to muck things up a bit...  but just for fun take a look Here.

Let me know if you have any interest in walking down this path.

Best,

Rick

 
New Bezzera Strega
OE Pharos: #136!!
Silvia's a virgin.....  again! (and sold)
Brasilia Cappuccino Del-1 Hx (sold too)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/66189160@N04/sets/72157628015297112/show/
http://espressoproject.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,670
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 Mon May 7, 2012, 6:11am
Subject: Re: Need Help Finding First (Last) Serious Semi Auto Espresso Machine
 

Rick, you really are a DEVIL !! LOL!

 
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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