Posted Wed May 23, 2012, 7:46pm Subject: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
I am contemplating getting a Breville Dual Broiler for home use. I am currently using a cheap Mr. coffee and pre ground beans (I know it's a long way from real espresso). I mostly drink cappuccinos - both hot and over ice. My wife does too. Probably talking 1-2 drinks per day. Don't drink many straight espresso, but do periodically at restaurants.
Couple of questions:
1) Will I be very happy with this machine? Lots seemingly to like including the hot water (would replace having electric water kettle on my counter).
2) What would be a good grinder to pair with it. Preferably would do French press grind as well as espresso. Also, my wife drinks only decaf, should that affect my choice? My brother has Gagglia grinder which he likes, but it seem very messy.
All suggestions and pointers to resources would be great.
Posted Wed May 23, 2012, 8:59pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
I have to commend you for being willing to shell out a serious investment on your first major espresso purchase. It's a difficult thing to do for a lot of people, but I think everyone would agree that it's the better way to go. If you continue to be serious about coffee, it is the way that you will go eventually, so why waste time on inferior equipment?
Compared to many here, I am pretty green when it comes to serious espresso equipment, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I have had the Breville Dual Boiler for a few months now, and I absolutely LOVE it. The feature set is almost identical the features on the high level prosumer dual boilers, in a more consumer friendly package (I mostly mean the price). Programmable pre-infusion is great, the temp is consistent and adjustable to 1 degree, the start up is quick, the steam pressure is decent (not the greatest), and it looks great on the kitchen counter. Breville also did a bunch of little things that just make life easier: super accessible water tank, easy lock and unlocking of the feet to move it around and then lock it back in place, it tells you when to clean it, has its own water softening system and indicator to let you know when to change the filter, etc. When it comes to the hot water, you may not want to chuck your electric kettle just yet. The hot water is great, but it's not really ideal for using for much more than heating up your cups and filter baskets. It would be a cramped space to administer to a french press, and it really kind of trickles out. It's good for what its meant for, though.
As many will tell you here, the grinder should be your first concern, not the machine. If you're going to be using it for french press and espresso, you may be limiting yourself a bit. Typically, the hardcore espresso grinders aren't the best for coarser grinds, the grinders made for filter grinds can't give you a good espresso grind, and the ones made for both aren't ideal for espresso. It's also frustrating, from personal experience, to have a grinder for both. The problem is, once you find the sweet spot for your current espresso, you kind of want to stay there so that you don't lose it. Obviously this is really only an issue with a stepless grinder, which most dedicated espresso grinders are. But if you feel like having one grinder for both is important, then I would suggest one of the Baratzas. There are many choices, but there are a TON of people on this forum who have owned or own a Preciso or a Vario and have found them to be very consistent espresso grinders. So if money is not an issue, my vote is for the Vario.
Take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes!
Posted Wed May 23, 2012, 9:53pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
I think Dave has it exactly right on the BDB. Amazing feature set for the price. Some of those features just make it a lot easier to live with - water filling, water overflow, wheels for moving. Some are the sorts of things that make it easier to get good results consistently - preinfusion, excellent temp control.
My experience has been that right from the first I was making tasty espressos and caps. This was in contrast to what I'd read on this site and Homebarista which made it seem like a very difficult art. (I do recommend reading on espresso in the guides here, on HB and on SweetMarias.com)
The next thing you need will be coffee and there are a lot of threads on that. For me its been useful to find a local 3rd wave roaster/espresso bar and compare what I make with their beans to what they make. I think I'm between 90 and 95% of their level for the most part.
You may find that your tastes will move to lighter roasts as you realize that the dark roasts really take away a lot of flavor.
About messy and grinders, I'd just say that espresso is amazingly messy. The only way to deal with this is continual clean-up. After every shot or grind. Towels and brushes. I also use large Al baking pan to do the weighing and filling/tamping on.
Things you don't need - "better" baskets. The Brevilles are very, very nice and easy to use. You also don't need a nicer tamper as the one that it comes with is quite adequate, though I think everyone quickly succumbs to something that looks more professional.
Go to SweetMarias.com and read about the different beans and regions. Read the library. Realize that real geeks roast their own.
Decaf shouldn't be a problem, just get something good from a good roaster, not the usual crap decaf. Plug for SweetMarias decafs.
Will you be happy with it. Probably but it may make it impossible to tolerate normal coffee. We have a superautomatic that is now sadly sitting unused in a corner. And except for a couple of exceptional places, my wife declares that any other coffee is "undrinkable" compared to caps that we do for her with the BDB.
You may know this but Breville has some very good vids of the machine in use and describing its features. They are accessible from the Brevilleusa.com website or from youtube, but all together on the Breville site.
Have fun and remember its only money and money can't bring you happiness but coffee can.
Posted Wed May 23, 2012, 10:25pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
Excellent posts from both the above.
I'll just add to comments that the coffee and water make a big difference in the final product, as does the grinder. Either Preciso or Vario (Baratza) are excellent at espresso AND excel at the other grinds as well.
Sweet Maria's Monkey Blend decaf is da bomb, but you either have to roast it at home, or see fir Tom will be roasting it, as he occasionally does roasting for online sales. Otherwise, Dunkin' Donuts decaf is acceptable, till you find an artisan vendor whose decaf is to your liking.
Several fine roasters offer decaf versions of their espresso...Cafe Vivace, Metropolis Roasters, Red Bird Coffee, Paradise Roasters, just to name a few.
Good catch, Rob. Yes. Using good tasting water is the absolute easiest way to improve the taste of your coffee. Coffee is 98% water, so if your water tastes bad, your coffees going to be affected. Use bottled or filtered water and you'll immediately see the difference.
Posted Thu May 24, 2012, 12:03pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
Thanks Dave, Jim, & Rob...
I am pretty excited about the machine. I am not a coffee snob, but I already don't like bad coffee much. Cambridge has some really excellent coffee shops (Diesel, 1369, the new Voltage) so I have gotten spoiled.
How true are Dave's comment about grinders not performing great for both espresso & french press? I currently don't have any grinder (and don't make much French Press, except for company), but I was hoping to be able to kill 2 birds with one stone. If that isn't possible, I will just get the best grinder I can for espresso grinds.
You all through out a few suggestions... but it seems like their should be clearer winner on grinders in the $200-400 range?
Posted Thu May 24, 2012, 12:18pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
As Dave pointed out, there are a couple of issues with using the same grinder for both espresso and other brew methods. He mentioned to lack of desire to change grind settings once you're dialed in for your shots (other than microadjusting for bean aging, etc). Also, some grinders are very difficult to switch back and forth between espresso fineness and other desired setting. This is particularly true of stepless grinders.
I'm guessing you might want to go with a Baratza Preciso, given your parameters, but it's probably best for someone who actually owns one to give you further advice on it.
Regarding a clear winner in the price range...definitely not. The problem is what meets one person's needs may not meet another's. There's not only the ease/difficulty of jumping back and forth, but build quality, consumer/commercial, electric/manual to consider. If you'd contemplate a manual (hand) grinder, take a look at the OE Pharos ($245 and reportedly rivals top commercial grinders).
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
SamTonin Senior Member Joined: 4 Feb 2009 Posts: 29 Location: Sydney, Australia Expertise: Professional
Posted Thu May 24, 2012, 12:44pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
You will be extremely happy with that machine. Especially with the programmable brew temperature.
As for the grinder, the new Baratza Encore or Virtuoso 586 is the only way to go. With its new upper burr and gearbox design, espresso is ready to grind out of the box Some of grinders have not been calibrated properly from the factory, so you may need to do that for them to grind fine enough. There are about 0.5 - 2g coffee left over in the throat after being ground, so grinding about a gram through and throwing away before you grind decaf is advised.
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 3,014 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu May 24, 2012, 1:56pm Subject: Re: Moving to the bigger leagues, suggestions welcome
I don't have the encore, I have the virtuoso and Vario W. The encore is probably a great grinder for the price but I would have grave misgivings that a cheaper model grinder than the virtuoso would be better for espresso than the virtuoso. Once you get your espresso dialed in if you are like me, you will not like moving the burrs. I can move them and it is easy, but I really like having the 2nd grinder (the Virtuoso) set up to do the drip/french press. Not that I do much besides espresso any more. But it is there if I want it. I keep thinking I should sell the Virtuoso but I really like having it as a back if I do drip/french press. I would have to say for espresso grinding I would get one of the 2 higher model Baratzas. The Vario W (or plain) or the Preciso. Not the bottom 2 models. Never cheap out on the ginder, you will be sorry or end up with 2 like I did. You can checked the Buy/sell/trade section of this forums for people upgrading grinders.
Both of the top models are adjustable grinds, some people say the preciso is better for drip/french than the vario. I have never tried it so I have no comment on that.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
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