MikeReilly Senior Member Joined: 28 Oct 2007 Posts: 277 Location: Vancouver Island Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: La Cimbali Junior D, Gaggia... Grinder: Mazzer Mini Drip: Cuisinart Roaster: Behmor, I-Roast 2, Popper
Posted Sun May 27, 2012, 12:57pm Subject: Re: Espresso Machine shot quality and reliabilty
Basically once you get in to HX and DB level machines, your shot quality won't change dramatically from one to the next. Mostly what you pay for are features and convenience: rotary vs vibe pumps, hot water wands (the main thing lacking in the Oscar), PID in DB's, etc. Most machines in this category are pretty darned well built. Bezzera, Rocket/ECM, Quickmill, etc. all make good machines. A Bezzera BZ07 or BZ02 would be fine, as would any of the entry level HX machines from other companies. There is a LOT more variance in barista skills than there is in machine capabilities, and that's what will make the difference for you. A decent HX machine with your grinder is capable of making awesome shots. One of the only machine dependent factors (and it's relatively minor in the grand scheme of things) is preinfusion from an e61 group vs. other group head hx designs. My machine has it's own HX system that requires s different flushing technique than the e61. I'm a slow learner and it took me a while to master it. Don't be too hesitant to go used on machines. I knew nothing about espresso machines before I bought mine, and had more things to fix on it than most used machines, but it didn't turn out to be very hard and the folks both here and on home-barista were very helpful. Previously the closest I'd come to this kind of work was swapping the taps in my bathroom.
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