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Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Is it possible...  
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red4167
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Scotland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Jul 26, 2012, 2:49am
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Thanks MJW & NobbyR, good to hear that you think it can be done.

I guess the dream is that I may be able to replace the nespresso machine with a grinder and the delonghi so the Pharos, as great as it looks, just isn't convenient enough.

The question is: how do I know if a grinder is "capable"? Many people slate stepped designs such as the rocky for not having enough adjustment... And it seems to be that adjustment is key... which leads me away from these models.

Commercial/pro grinders seems to have "infinite" or "stepless" adjustment sometimes with a "worm-screw". This grinder, the Iberital MC2 has a worm screw and seems to be fairly well specced (as good as the Rocky and Gaggia MDF). Any opinions as to whether or not this would be a good choice? It does fit my budget fairly well...
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,058
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Thu Jul 26, 2012, 3:45am
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

red4167 Said:

... how do I know if a grinder is "capable"? ...

Posted July 26, 2012 link

You can usually find out if a grinder can be used for brewing espresso by reading the consumer reviews and discussions on this forum.

Out of those three the stepless Iberital Challange MC2 would be my grinder of choice, because the steps of the Rancilio Rocky and Gaggia MDF are simply too wide. There are other stepped grinder like the Baratza Vario or Preciso that have so many possible settings that they are virtually stepless.

 
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red4167
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Scotland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Jul 27, 2012, 3:52pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Okay, I've decided to buy a good grinder and maybe a gaggia classic in a while once I get bored with the delonghi (the 3-way solenoid sounds like a good idea).

So,

The Ascaso I1 steel looks to be well made - flat ceramic burrs with a worms screw adjuster. The burrs are mounted on brass too! 200

Or

A commercial machine - I have found a seller nearby with a La San Marco SM90A (stepped but with small steps) and I might be able to get it for less than the Ascaso... It is supposedly in very good condition... BUT... it is huge! I am thinking that if I get it then I can run it with the hopper and doser removed (with a mod to allow grinding straight into the portafilter) as then it would be a similar size to a Gaggia classic and not look so out of place on the worktop...

Any thoughts on this? There seem to be many people out there running commercial machines and supposedly they do a very very good job... Will it work without the hopper? Is it a silly/crazy idea?

:)
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 8:13am
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

It is worth it to save up for a really good grinder.

I have not used either grinder. IMHO, SM90 would be a better investment. Even though it is stepped, if it runs it will run for ever in a home.  Replacement burrs are about 60ish range.   I personally would not pay over 200 for it because of the steps.  When you get to the 300+ range I would rather have a Baratiza or Super jolly.  I have heard better things about the grinding of SM90 over the Ascaso. Resale will also be about what you paid for it when you upgrade if you get a good price for it.

Many people take the hopper off commercial grinders to use them at home.  Then put a tamper or a bottle over the top to keep the beans from popcorning out. I considered SM90 but he would not move on the price.

It is worth it to save up for a really good grinder.  I love my vario W, I know it over your price range but I have had great luck with it and I love it grinding and weighing my beans for me right into my basket.  I  have moded it to hold the basket only.  My resale will be lower on my grinder and that is a down side, but there is not much out there that is not humongous and like 1-3k that will beat my grinder's output. So, I am not likely to upgrade it.  I might have to replace it one day that I would probably never have to do with a commercial unit, but that is a risk I am willing to take at the price point, ease of use and size of the grinder on my counter.

I think it is worth it to get the very best grinder that you can and not have to upgrade.  I think that is money better spent than upgrading.

 
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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red4167
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Scotland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 1:18pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Thanks Coffeenoobie

The seller wants ~200 for the SM90 so I don't think I will go for it. It is too big really. Are the Baratza grinders considered the best home grinders? I really like the design of the Ascaso and the fact that it has flat, ceramic burrs mounted on brass seems to be good so I am not sure why I keep hearing negative things about it... Care to elaborate?

Another concern is sourcing roasted beans. The best deal seems to be 4*250g bags for 20 inc postage which is a price that i would be willing to pay. The beans are roasted on the day they are shipped. I am worried about freshness. How long can I keep the beans if they come sealed in a bag with a one way valve? Will they last more than a couple of weeks? There are no local roasters so getting beans shipped seems to be the best idea.
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 1:35pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Other than hand mills I believe that they are considered the best.  '

When I get beans I freeze all but about 1/4 of a pound that I put in the hopper.  I put the other 1/4 of a pound.  (what I can use in about 3 days) in the freezer.  I use ziplocs you can pump the air out of but mason jars work and home vacuum sealers.  I then take out one small batch at least a few hours before I need it to let it come to room temp before opening.  I have in a pinch opened and poured out a shot and closed up the bag fast but this is not recommended.  I have a deep freezer outside that doesn't defrost and I don't keep them for very long.  Almost any bean 15 days from roast is stale. The freezing slows down the aging process but seems to speed it up after they thaw.  So put them in lots that you can use up really fast.  If you can use the whole pound in a week to 14 days from roast by all means leave it out.  Just grind finder as they age.

 
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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red4167
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Scotland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Hmm, thanks for the advice. I don't own a freezer. How will the fridge keep them?
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D4F
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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,026
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 2:44pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

There are several threads about freezing or not.  I recently decided to buy 5 lbs and freeze.  The consensus seems to be that you can freeze in full jars/bottles and/or vacuum.  Freezing should be in a deep freeze and continuous, no defrost cycle.  Most refrig freezers defrost and are not kept cold enough.  Refrigs are generally not advised.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 4:50pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Just buy what you can use up in less than 2 weeks.  When my beans get too old for espresso I make cold brew out of them.

 
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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frank828
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Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Posts: 581
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Posted Sat Jul 28, 2012, 6:00pm
Subject: Re: Is it possible to get good results from a crappy machine?
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

Just buy what you can use up in less than 2 weeks.  When my beans get too old for espresso I make cold brew out of them.

Posted July 28, 2012 link

or just roast your own beans!  ;P


as far as the question, i dont have experience with the delonghi but my cheap saeco is capable of making some very very good espresso.  last time i went to a high end cafe nearby, i wouldnt have been able to tell the difference between my results and the brew coming from the 15k dollar la marzocco machine.   of course, i dont have the stability and also consistency gets much more complicated with my machine.  i've modded and gotten to know my little machine and know what i need to do but someone new to it would probably not have as easy a time.  

oh yeah...i also have it coupled with a mazzer super jolly.  

like everyone here says, invest in the grinder first.
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