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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Looking for...  
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andyiam
Senior Member


Joined: 12 May 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sat May 12, 2012, 11:26pm
Subject: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

Ok, I've never owned an espresso machine in my life. My friend has a starbucks branded Saeco Via Venezia, which does okay. I have a bodum chambord french press which I love. Moka pot is on the way. I like espresso and would love to have a machine at home. Over the past couple of weeks I have changed from wanting a fairly low end machine, to a rancillo w/ PID to now wanting an E61 HX machine.

My initial budget for the espresso machine was $1,000 plus or minus 200. I want a semi-automatic machine, and the more I've read it seems like I really want a heat exchanger unit with the e61 grouphead. I am limited on cabinet space and appreciate a design that is not a monolithic mass of industrial design.

Before I ever buy something I try my best to educate myself and dive into as much information as possible. I don't want to upgrade through several different machines if I can settle on a good machine that will last a long while to begin with. Originally I was looking at the La Nuova Cuadra II (sp?) for $1095. Seems like a great deal, there were some things I don't like about it. Found the Rocket Models. Digging the premium plus and the Evoluzione.

Here's my question. How long will an Espresso machine last if it is cared for? Is this a 5 year kind of thing or could I potentially own this thing for 10-15+ years? and what kind of yearly maintenance costs and long term maintenance costs are we talking about. I have no problem throwing down for a rocket machine if it is something that, properly cared for, will be with me for a long time to come. However, if it will junk in 5 years there is no way in hell I'm going to spend $1600+ on it.

I can afford a nice machine, but I try to live by a moniker I heard once. "I'm too poor to buy cheap things" which puts forward that buying cheap things may be less expensive in the near-term, it will end up costing more due to repair and replacement. I'd rather spend $1000-$2000 now, have no need to upgrade or deal with subpar fit/finish and build quality. pending I can get that for the money.

Can anyone give me some insight? Thank you so much
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,851
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 12:57pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

Andy, welcome to the CG forums.
Any machine you mentioned, INCLUDING the Silvia can last 10-15 years. Most machines of which you speak are pretty easily maintained as DIY.
You might replace a stat every few years...easy and cheap, and perhaps a pump after 5 years, depending on how much you use your machine. Nothing you can't do with some help from the vendor.

Which brings me to a couple of points. Find an established vendor, one in which you can purchase bot a GOOD espresso grinder and machine, as you evan often save $100 or more.
Make sure the vendor has a tech on premises, who can help you over the phone.
Don't be shy about asking specific questions, as your usage patterns are specific to YOU, and after all, you'll be spending $1200+.
Don't forget to allow maybe $75 for a good ss tamper, milk pitcher, and cleaning supplies.

Regarding what type of machine...SBDU (like a silvia), or HX...or even a DB like the new Breville..it depends on hope  often you might want to prepare milk drinks.
If more then 1 a day, I'd go for the HX (or a DB, if you have the $$)...truthfully, a machine like an NS Oscar does a great job, and does not look monolithic. it has plastic sides, to hold down costs, but is otherwise a very nice HX machine.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
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andyiam
Senior Member


Joined: 12 May 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 5:08pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

Thanks for the reply IMA.

It was really good to hear that. As of now I'd really like to skip over the local vendor for a couple of reasons. But it all comes down to cost. If I buy locally the price will likely be more, and then sales tax on top of that.

My question is, aside from being to call them up with questions, does a local vendor offer any other advantages? I'm very mechanically inclined and feel as though with my inclinations and the internet as a resource I could troubleshoot any issue that would arise. I understand not everyone has the knack or desire to do that, but I actually quite enjoy 'digging in'. I actually saw a adapter to insert a thermocouple into the e61 brewhead. I think it'd be awesome to have a data logger on it even if just for initially getting a real sense of the machines behavior and then removing it after I get an innate feel for what's going on inside.

I know this isn't the grinders subforum, but the plan right now is to get the Baratza Virtuoso(maybe Baratza Virtuoso-w) grinder. Anything better in the same price range? I also have a french press I love dearly and have heard the virtuoso may not be able to grind coarse enough for a press.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,372
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 13, 2012, 6:37pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

OK, let's take it from the top . . .

Standard Questions:
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)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Taking it from the middle instead . . .

andyiam Said:

Ok, I've never owned an espresso machine in my life . . . Over the past couple of weeks I have changed from wanting a fairly low end machine, to a rancillo w/ PID to now wanting an E61 HX machine.

Posted May 12, 2012 link

andyiam Said:

I actually saw a adapter to insert a thermocouple into the e61 brewhead. I think it'd be awesome to have a data logger on it even if just for initially getting a real sense of the machines behavior and then removing it after I get an innate feel for what's going on inside.

Posted May 13, 2012 link

A suggestion, if you don't mind . . . learn how to walk before you learn how to run.  If you want to become such a "geek" that you want a data logger, you can always do that later, but it is far from an essential part of a beginner's setup, and at the moment -- well, it couldn't even be described as "overkill."

andyiam Said:

My initial budget for the espresso machine was $1,000 plus or minus 200. I want a semi-automatic machine, and the more I've read it seems like I really want a heat exchanger unit with the e61 group head.

Posted May 12, 2012 link

HX, yes.  But why must it be an E61 group?  Just curious . . .

andyiam Said:

How long will an Espresso machine last if it is cared for? Is this a 5 year kind of thing or could I potentially own this thing for 10-15+ years? and what kind of yearly maintenance costs and long term maintenance costs are we talking about. I have no problem throwing down for a rocket machine if it is something that, properly cared for, will be with me for a long time to come. However, if it will junk in 5 years there is no way in hell I'm going to spend $1600+ on it.

I can afford a nice machine, but I try to live by a moniker I heard once. "I'm too poor to buy cheap things" which puts forward that buying cheap things may be less expensive in the near-term, it will end up costing more due to repair and replacement. I'd rather spend $1000-$2000 now, have no need to upgrade or deal with subpar fit/finish and build quality. pending I can get that for the money.

Posted May 12, 2012 link

If you get a "serious" HX machine (by that, I mean a prosumer model, and nearly all HX models fall into the "prosumer" category), there is no telling how long it will last.  That's up to you.  But with proper routine maintenance and care, you should be able to leave it to a worthy soul in your will.  Whether or not keep it that long is another question . . . after all, there is the issue of "upgrade-itis."

andyiam Said:

My question is, aside from being to call them up with questions, does a local vendor offer any other advantages? I'm very mechanically inclined and feel as though with my inclinations and the internet as a resource I could troubleshoot any issue that would arise. I understand not everyone has the knack or desire to do that, but I actually quite enjoy 'digging in'.

Posted May 13, 2012 link

You don't need to "buy local," and in the case of a "serious" prosumer machine, I personally think you're better off buying online from a dedicated espresso machine vendor than from,say, a store like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma, etc., etc.  Vendors such as Chris' Coffee Service, 1st-Line Equipment, and Stefano's Espresso Care* -- among others -- will give you excellent advice before the sale, AND excellent service after the sale, too, and can often walk you through any problem you may run into with setup or should something go wrong "down the road."  One word of caution:  with some machines, you risk voiding the warranty if you take them apart on your own.

Cheers,
Jason

* I have no connection with these three vendors, other than as a satisfied customer.

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


Joined: 21 Nov 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Wilbraham
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Clever...
Roaster: Hottop KN-8828B2-K
Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 6:38pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

andyiam Said:

I know this isn't the grinders subforum, but the plan right now is to get the Baratza Virtuoso(maybe Baratza Virtuoso-w) grinder. Anything better in the same price range? I also have a french press I love dearly and have heard the virtuoso may not be able to grind coarse enough for a press.

Posted May 13, 2012 link

I'm guessing you mean the Vario (not the Virtuoso).
There have been some suggestions that the Preciso is better for non-espresso than the Vario (see Mark Princes early review) though most people here seem to recommend the Vario over the Precisio for straight espresso.

The Virtuoso is the model below the Preciso and you probably don't want that.
I have the Preciso and it seems to do a good job with espresso and coarser coffees, but I'm new at the whole espresso thing and have nothing to compare it to.

PS: It sounds like you're aiming toward something better than a Silva but if you're trying for a maching that's under $1000, you may want to check out the CC1.
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andyiam
Senior Member


Joined: 12 May 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 8:05pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

OK, let's take it from the top . . .
Standard Questions:
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)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

Posted May 13, 2012 link

1: Everything from straight espresso to milk drinks. Also am a big fan of cafe con leche and americano + baileys.
2: Honestly, more than likely 1. I know I don't need an awesome machine. But I really want one.
3: 3-4 ish?
4: Can't plumb in right now. Perhaps in the future. Not a big deal if a machine can't plumb in but would be awesome if it could do both.
5: 15 amp
6: Would love to hit between $1000-1200. Max is $2000. Just the espresso machine. Not sure on grinder, but don't want anything obscene. Something in the same range as the vario.

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

A suggestion, if you don't mind . . . learn how to walk before you learn how to run.  If you want to become such a "geek" that you want a data logger, you can always do that later, but it is far from an essential part of a beginner's setup, and at the moment -- well, it couldn't even be described as "overkill."

Posted May 13, 2012 link


I know it seems like overkill, and perhaps it is. But I could easily get a thermocouple onto a DAQ (data acquisition) so I could watch how temp at the grouphead reacts to different conditions. I feel like a 'pro' has less need of this than me. For a beginner I think the more information available the better to help the person learn what is really going on. I'd rather be thrown into the deep end than wade in the kiddie pool.

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

HX, yes.  But why must it be an E61 group?  Just curious . . .

Posted May 13, 2012 link

Everything I've read about the E61 seems technically superior to anything available. Such an eloquent design that has been around for over 50 years. That speaks to me. And it's very pretty. It doesn't have to be an E61 group head. I just highly desire it.

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

If you get a "serious" HX machine (by that, I mean a prosumer model, and nearly all HX models fall into the "prosumer" category), there is no telling how long it will last.  That's up to you.  But with proper routine maintenance and care, you should be able to leave it to a worthy soul in your will.  Whether or not you keep it that long is another question . . . after all, there is the issue of "upgrade-itis."

Posted May 13, 2012 link

That's great to hear. Though I want to do my best to avoid 'upgradeitis'
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dyno
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore The Club/Oscar
Grinder: K6 Pro/Super Mini E
Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 8:24pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

I've never used one but this looks like it hits your high points while maintaining a smaller profile.

Click Here (www.1st-line.com)

My singular concern would be the Jaegar pressurestat - seems like a step down from a Sirai.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,372
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 13, 2012, 10:54pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

re: data logger

andyiam Said:

I know it seems like overkill, and perhaps it is. But I could easily get a thermocouple onto a DAQ (data acquisition) so I could watch how temp at the grouphead reacts to different conditions. I feel like a 'pro' has less need of this than me. For a beginner I think the more information available the better to help the person learn what is really going on. I'd rather be thrown into the deep end than wade in the kiddie pool.

Posted May 13, 2012 link

You are presuming that a data logger is essential -- or, at the very least, highly desirable -- for a beginner to (I don't know) "make proper espresso."  That's bull$#!+, but it's your money: spend it as you want to.  There are people here who do indeed have data loggers, but they are (generally) professionals or truly interested in the science of espresso.  You do not need one to make great espresso, but if it appeals to your inner science nerd, by all means . . . .  

re: an E61

andyiam Said:

Everything I've read about the E61 seems technically superior to anything available. Such an eloquent design that has been around for over 50 years. That speaks to me. And it's very pretty. It doesn't have to be an E61 group head. I just highly desire it.

Posted May 13, 2012 link

There are true E61s, E61 clones, E61 variants, saturated groups, and all sorts of proprietary designs.  Do not misunderstand:  the E61 group is indeed a great design, and the fact that it is still in use after 50+ years demonstrates the timelessness of the design.  That said, it is also 50+ years old, and many other advancements have occurred.

I have a machine in my office with an E61 group head.  I have a machine in my home with a proprietary design.  In and of itself, there is NO difference in quality based upon the group that I can detect.

Remember The Four M's of Espresso:
1) the Macinazione is the grinder, and with it, the correct grinding of the coffee beans;
2) the Miscela is the coffee beans/blend itself;
3) the Macchina is the espresso machine; and
4) the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.  

All four are important.  Nothing is more important than the grinder.

andyiam Said:

I want to do my best to avoid 'upgradeitis'

Posted May 13, 2012 link

Yeah.  Good luck with that.  "Upgrade-itis" is rarely a question of "need"; it's more a matter of "want."  No one intends to buy a second, or a third, or a fourth machine and/or grinder.  Yet many of us end up over the hers doing exactly that . . .

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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JamesPN007
Senior Member


Joined: 2 May 2012
Posts: 21
Location: Southeast Florida
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: LaSpaziale S1 Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mahlkonig K30 Vario
Posted Mon May 14, 2012, 3:08pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

I found myself more interested in a DB unit rather than an HX unit, but I'm the type of person that wants to be able to set and forget the temp, rather than guesstimate temp with an HX or (gasp!!) perform data logging.  I guess I like being in the kiddie pool in that regard.  That being said, I ended up with a La Spaziale S1 VII, which is a plumbed DB machine.  The Breville DB is certainly intriguing at the price point (can occasionally be found on sale for under $1,000, which cannot be said of any other DB machine on the market), but its longevity is largely unproven since it is fairly new.

As far as grinder goes, the best grind quality for the $$ seems to come from the Baratza Vario, but again, longevity is relatively unknown compared to some time tested brands (Mazzer comes to mind).  The Mazzer Mini has served me well for the last couple of years, and would probably last at least another 20 years if I didn't catch upgrade-itis (upgrading to a Mahlkonig K30).
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auxpomme
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Mar 2012
Posts: 92
Location: los angeles
Posted Fri Jun 8, 2012, 4:26pm
Subject: Re: Looking for machine $1000±200
 

I'm not saying this because I'm about to sell a machine, but have you considered used? Both of my last 2 machines were used and as with cars, doing some research and due diligence can really pay dividends. I know for a fact that I would have paid full retail for a Vivaldi II and macap m4, yet... here I am grinding beans and pulling shots on some beautiful beasts.
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