Posted Wed Sep 19, 2012, 8:46pm Subject: Re: Gift for my wife - which machine
I think the first question is what are you intending to get for a grinder? No machine can make good espresso from pre-ground coffee or improperly ground coffee. However, a less than ideal machine will make better coffee when paired with a decent grinder. If your budget only stretches to machine and not grinder at the moment, she'll most likely get frustrated with the results. Read the threads in the grinder forum on selecting and purchasing a grinder. You can never go wrong by purchasing a grinder that you will grow into.
Secondly, since you say she likes lattes, you'll need a machine that switches fairly easily between pulling shots and steaming milk. While I don't have specific hands-on experience with any of the machines you list, I can say that my experience with SBDU (single boiler, dual use) machines when trying to make milk-based coffee beverages like lattes and cappuccinos has been characterized more by frustration than anything else. The CC1, at least, has a separate steam system, so should be faster and easier to use for milk drinks.
Then, the bigger question is just how much time and effort is she willing to put into learning how to use whatever machine gets purchased. If she's interested, consider getting her a training class on how to use the machine.
Posted Wed Sep 19, 2012, 9:18pm Subject: Re: Gift for my wife - which machine
Excellent advise from George. All these machines are plenty good for making lattes from a quality standpoint, in that they all have decent steaming capabilities. The Crossland can get you there faster.
If you figure a proper espresso grinder (new or refurb) at around $250-$300...YES, that's right, the Gaggia will be the cheapest espresso machine from there. The Crossland is newer technology, built by a well respected guy. The Silvia, even with it's quirks is a solid, well known and supported machine will many happy users.
The lag time for the Gaggia and Silvia from pulling the shot to steaming is around 1;30 to 2 minutes, I believe. I may be wrong here, as I've only had an HX machine (Heat Exchanger) and my present manual lever. As mentioned, the Crossland has a separate steam facility.I believe it is a thermoblock, not an actual boiler.
Not mentioned is the Breville DB, which is a double boiler at a HX price. Heat exchanger machines allow a shot pull and steaming at the same time. They run $999 and up. The NS Oscar may be the best bang for the buck in HX's. Interestingly, the Breville is I believe only a couple hundred more and has advanced features. However, it is only about 1 year in production, so time will tell about it's reliability.
Personally, I'd go fora Baratza Preciso Grinder (refurbed from Baratza, (same warranty about $250), used Rancillio Rocky ($200-$225). I also look for a refurbed or pre-owned NS Oscar. Folks often will "upgrade" every few years, though the Oscar is, for many their last machine.
Posted Wed Sep 19, 2012, 9:27pm Subject: Re: Gift for my wife - which machine
As has been said, and will be said (and can be read over and over), the grinder is critical in the equation- even more important than the espresso machine. Please re-evaluate the budget based on that.
Any three of those machines can serve your needs. The CC1 will be faster going from brewing espresso to steaming the milk, but that is a factor only if the total preparation time is critical (like early in the AM, heading to work). If time is not important and budget is, a Gaggia is a good choice (like the "Baby" or the "Espresso" for around paired with something like the Baratza Vario. It is a very capable grinder and can serve even if, in the future, if an upgrade is contemplated.
CMIN Senior Member Joined: 14 Jun 2012 Posts: 1,627 Location: South FL Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: CC1 Grinder: Baratza
Posted Wed Sep 19, 2012, 9:38pm Subject: Re: Gift for my wife - which machine
As has been said, CC1 is really nice. The thermo block allows for fast steaming and switching back to brew vs the other single boilers. Plus you get the stability and full control of the integrated PID. I've been very impressed by this machine. Integrated PID is well worth it, makes it easy to adjust pre-infusion, temp etc...otherwise you'll have to learn how to temp surf on the others which is annoying and not near as accurate. If I want to pull a shot at 199 or 203 degrees, piece of cake. When you start experimenting with beans its pretty crazy the effect temps have on taste.
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 3,083 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Sep 20, 2012, 12:01pm Subject: Re: Gift for my wife - which machine
I like my Oscar and I don't want an upgrade after 10 months. I think I am getting pretty awesome shots. I did not want to upgrade as soon as I figured out what I was doing as I read so many here wanted after buying a low end starter machine. So, after much research, I decided for my budget and needs that an Oscar filled the bill. You can find a good deal on used ones if you are handy. Mine was my Christmas gift, that I picked out and fixed up. (but I am a strange girl)
Things your wife might find nice about Oscar over the shiny stainless brothers and sisters: No burn surface, plastic bread bags will not melt on it; portable, good for parties; easier to clean and doesn't show water spots; can be painted any color to match her decor. My mean husband will not let me paint mine.... but one day he might come home to a blue espresso machine.... Maybe with glitter... or copper.... or red...
I also like my grinder with him. There are at least 3 other people on the board with my same set up. Used Oscar and new Vario W is right at the 1k mark. For tea and hot water I use the steam wand to heat/boil the water right in the mug I do that rather than pull water off the tank. That gives me control over how hot the water is also.
I was impressed with the CC1 when I saw it and met Bill at the show. However, I am happy with my purchase. If I get something else it will probably be a lever machine in the distant future and I would still use Oscar for parties. I think it is great I can pick him up and do family events with him. Something I would never do with a shiny new stainless machine.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
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