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Hi all! Another new-to-espresso guy checking in! (ZPMEspresso question also)
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shoelessone
Senior Member


Joined: 13 May 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Oakland, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 5:09pm
Subject: Hi all! Another new-to-espresso guy checking in! (ZPMEspresso question also)
 

(Hi guys!

6 years ago I hated coffee. 3 years ago I loved coffee and hate espresso (thought it was silly/didn't believe people could actually like the stuff). One year ago, I started working at a company with a Nespresso machine but no drip coffee, and now I realize that espresso is really where it's at (for my own personal taste). I love espresso shots, I love cappuccino, and I love lattes.

So, I'm in the market for my first espresso machine. First thing I'll say is that I've been reading through this forum and I know that a lot of the questions I might have are already answered here, so I will continue to read and learn from all of the great info already available in the forum. That said, I'd appreciate any "custom tailored" advice I can get :).

In one thread a user pointed out 6 questions that would be helpful to answer when asking for machine advice. I don't remember where it was so I don't remember all of them, but I'll put together the answers to the questions I do remember:

1) What is your budget (espresso machine only)
My budget is ~400 dollars for the machine. I could possibly go up from that a bit, but honestly would prefer to go DOWN as $400 is a lot of money for me.

2) How many drinks at a time would you expect to use the espresso machine for?
Probably one drink at a time. My wife doesn't really like espresso (she's still just getting started on drinking drip coffee and espresso, even good espresso, she finds "bitter" - I've been there), and my dog probably isn't too interested either so it's just me :).

3) How many drinks per week would you make?
Honestly probably as few as 2-3 times per week. I'm a "wake up throw on your clothes and run out the door" sort of guy, so no time really for espresso in the AM. I'm more of a lazy saturday/sunday sort of guy, or perhaps on occasion an evening latte or cappuccino guy. So this isn't something I'm going to be using all the time.

4) What sort of drinks will you make most often?
I'm not sure if this is that helpful, but I'd guess that 40% of the time I'd want to make a cappuccino, 30% of the time I'd want to make a latte, and 30% of the time I'd make a pure espresso shot.

5) Grinder related questions (budget, etc)
So, I was given this guy: Click Here (www.sweetmarias.com) at some point, it's a seemingly fairly good/consistent quality manual burr grinder. For now, my budget doesn't allow for anything more expensive, so my plan at this point is to use this because I have it and it's "free" in that sense. I realize how important a coffee grinder is, and would be willing to invest more in a grinder in the future but for now I'd like to put all the money I can afford into a espresso machine, then later into a grinder if needed.

6) Other important things?
  • I can't install a direct water line and for the money I doubt it's even an option, but I need something with a water resevoir
  • I live in a small apartment, so the espresso machine needs to fit under a counter and not be TOO big
  • I am a nerd, and I don't mind spending the time/energy to learn to pull a good shot.
  • That said, I'd prefer a system that doesn't require me spending 30 minutes preparing a drink - so all things being equal, I'd prefer to spend the time learning to use a slightly more manual machine that once mastered can pull a great shot quickly, as apposed to an easier to use machine that is more automatic but requires more time


So, those are some "data points" for me to consider.

Now, in my bit of reading here it seems that a GREAT option for me might be to purchased a gently used machine used from Craigslist. Seeing as I live in the San Francisco Bay area, there seem to be a fairly steady stream of machines on CL. Just a few minutes ago I saw a Rancilio Silvia for $400 that is "like new". So at the end of the day I'll probably look to buy used if at all possible to get the best bang for my buck.


Now, a few direct questions I'd LOVE to have answered
  • One thing I didn't see on here is a compiled list of "this is what to buy in these price ranges" sort of post. Is there such a thing? I realize that depending on your needs there is likely not a "this is what you buy" type answer for all price ranges, but perhaps a "these machines are all great machines for XXX-YYY price range"?
  • What is the general consensus on the ZPM Espresso (http://zpmespresso.myshopify.com/) machine that's to be released sometime this year? I've followed it fairly closely since it first started on Kickstarter (Click Here (www.kickstarter.com)) and it seems like it might be the perfect machine for me. What I DON'T know is of course what the final product will be like, but I'm really tempted to wait for it to be released so I can see what I think. Actually I'm REALLY tempted to just pre-order for $350 just to get in line.
  • Over features, I'd rather have something that isn't going to break.


Thank you all for your time, for reading, and for this wonderful resource! Looking forward to learning a lot more about espresso and coffee in general!
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JPF
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Jun 2010
Posts: 223
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Mini Vivaldi, Pre-millenium...
Grinder: Dosered SJ, Resurrected...
Vac Pot: Yama Siphon
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: Behmor, Poppery I
Posted Mon May 14, 2012, 4:40am
Subject: Re: Hi all! Another new-to-espresso guy checking in! (ZPMEspresso question also)
 

Hello  and welcome.  Your budget is tough for entry to espresso.  I'll let someone else comment on whether the Zassenhaus is espresso capable, but as you mentioned the grinder is more important than the machine.

One option for you is the mypressi twist.  It makes real espresso for $150.  You need a hot water kettle, and you need to spend time pre-heating it, but it does a great job from all reports.  Only long term problem is you have to buy co2 cartridges.  You would also need a stovetop steamer to make cappuccino for another $65.

You can go the used Silvia route as you mentioned.  For your usage pattern, it would probably work fine.  You might also try to find a used Gaggia Classic, which does just as good a job as a Silvia, but is cheaper.

Finally, check out this used Livietta listed here.  It meets your $400 criteria, but is a small heat-exchanger, which is a huge step up from the SBDU "Silvia type" machines.  One interesting thing about these, is the steam boiler is manual fill, which allows you to put distilled water in it, so you never get scale build up.

The ZPM espresso is a great idea, but obviously completely unproven, and they've moved the shipping date way off in the future (I think) actually I have no idea when it's supposed to ship.  Who knows when it will actually ship, and if it will be any good.

 
Living the caffeinated life.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
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 14, 2012, 5:07am
Subject: Re: Hi all! Another new-to-espresso guy checking in! (ZPMEspresso question also)
 

Hi and welcome.

First, there is no machine/price point list because the market is always changing and any list made today will be outdated in a few months.

As said above, your budget is kind of slim but it can be done. For mostly straight espresso, for yourself a SBDU machine should be fine. I also tend to think the MyPressi would be a very cost effective way to go but as said above, you will need to heat your own water and will need an external milk frother. Bodem makes one that looks a lot like a French press for very little money. It all becomes how much work do you want to do in exchange for price point.

Grinder is KING and a Zass SHOULD work OK with a bit of effort on your part but as I have never owned one, I am going by rep only. Some grinders may not be up to espresso but from what I remember, this is on a grinder by grinder basis as it comes down to each machine, build quality of that particular grinder etc.

More money buys you ease of use, less hassle, more consistency and faster shots back to back. As Jason says, you don't need to spend a fortune but you DO need to spend SOMETHING!

If you have not done so already, read our FAQ on How to buy an espresso machine. It is fairly long but it will tell you a lot you likely don't know right now. http://coffeegeek.com/guides/howtobuyanespressomachine

 
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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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,467
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 Mon May 14, 2012, 5:43am
Subject: Re: Hi all! Another new-to-espresso guy checking in! (ZPMEspresso question also)
 

First of all, welcome, Kevin, to CG . . .

shoelessone Said:

So I'm in the market for my first espresso machine . . . My budget is ~400 dollars for the machine. I could possibly go up from that a bit, but honestly would prefer to go DOWN as $400 is a lot of money for me.

Posted May 13, 2012 link

Great espresso need not cost a fortune, but you do have to spend something.  $400 is feasible, albeit barely.  (See below for some specific suggestions.)

First, take a look at the various Types of Espresso Machines, so we can use some common language and be "on the same page" as it were.  For $400, you are firmly and solidly in the consumer SBDU class.  Nothing wrong with that at all -- I used machines in that class for 25+ years, before I upgraded.

shoelessone Said:

One thing I didn't see on here is a compiled list of "this is what to buy in these price ranges" sort of post. Is there such a thing? I realize that depending on your needs there is likely not a "this is what you buy" type answer for all price ranges, but perhaps a "these machines are all great machines for XXX-YYY price range"?

Posted May 13, 2012 link

No.  For several reasons.  a) No one size fits all, b) people's needs are different, and c) the market does change.  Machines come and go.  Now if you read long enough, you'll see some names crop up over and over again, but there are lots of great machines out there, and only a few brands to avoid . . .

shoelessone Said:

What is the general consensus on the ZPM Espresso machine that's to be released sometime this year?

Posted May 13, 2012 link

Since it has yet to be released, yet to be "tested" in the "real world," how could there be any consensus?  It sounded exciting for a moment or two, but then faded below the waves once again . . . it will reappear once it's released, but I don't remember seriously thinking it was all the revolutionary, that it would turn the "World of Espresso" upside-down . . .

I would suggest that you look at a Gaggia Classic, the [http://www.wholelattelove.com/Gaggia/new_baby.cfmGaggia New BabyLe'Lit PL041.  If you can find a used Rancilio Silvia, and you feel comfortable with used equipment, that would be a solid option as well.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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