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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Shopping for a...  
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washburned
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Nov 2012
Posts: 53
Location: napa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: Baratza vario
Posted Fri Nov 23, 2012, 7:39am
Subject: Shopping for a new machine
 

Hi, I found this site while shopping for a new machine for my wife. I have been reading as much as I can but it is a little overwhelming. We currently have a Gaggia baby and no grinder.  And before you say it yes I have read enough to realize a good grinder is also in order.   I will start by answering the following:
Thanks for any help

Standard Questions:
1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  
Mostly steamed milk drinks
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time?
Typically one sometimes two. But we do on occasion entertain
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?
14-28
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
this is a possibility
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
I might have a 20amp
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
What would be a budget model that works better than what I have $500ish ? And what would be a real step up $1000?
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dyqik
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Fri Nov 23, 2012, 9:21am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

A grinder will be the biggest step up - you can get great espresso from a Gaggia Baby or Classic with a good grinder, although there will still be usability limitations when making milk drinks.  The Baratza Preciso or Vario is probably the cheapest option new/refurb that is good for espresso (particularly the refurbs direct from Baratza), unless you want to go for a hand grinder.  Outside of these, you are into light commercial grinder territory, or maybe something like the Ascaso I series or similar, which are probably limited to espresso grinding only.

The most important factor behind the choice of machine is probably your answer to 1).  If you are regularly steaming milk, then something other than a Single Boiler Dual Use machine like your Gaggia Baby will be a big improvement in usability and steamed milk quality, while another SBDU machine would be fairly similar to use.  The aim would be to pretty much eliminate the wait between pulling the shot and steaming, which for two drinks is helpful, and absolutely vital if you're making more than two drinks.  I've only really got into making milk based drinks since I upgraded from a Gaggia Classic to my Bezzera BZ07 HX machine, as it's so much easier.

The smallest step up to this would be something like the Crossland CC1 ($700), which has a small thermoblock boiler for steaming in addition to the brew boiler.  The next step would be to either a lower end heat exchanger machine like the NS Oscar ($1050), Bezzera BZ02 ($1050) or La Nuova Era Cuadra I or II ($950 to $1100) or maybe the Breville Dual Boiler ($1000?) if you are happy with a more consumer-oriented machine.  You can knock maybe 25% off of these prices if you are prepared to shop second-hand online, and buying a grinder with one of these as a package will save you something.  

You should also think about whether you'd be happy shopping for second-hand prosumer/light-commercial machines that will need a little cosmetic work or tinkering to get into full working order - a lot more options will open up then, both for grinders and machines, but that might not be something you want to do.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,066
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Nov 23, 2012, 9:50am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

I have a couple replies to your answered questions...

washburned Said:

Standard Questions:
1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  
Mostly steamed milk drinks
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time?
Typically one sometimes two. But we do on occasion entertain SBDU machines are tough to entertain with, as you likely already know, so I'd consider HX based on your response
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?
14-28
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
this is a possibility plumbing in is a huge convenience factor, it won't change anything in the cup, but it'll make your life a lot easier
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
I might have a 20amp you'll need to check this, and in particular, make sure it's a dedicated outlet, if it is indeed 20amp
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
What would be a budget model that works better than what I have $500ish ? And what would be a real step up $1000?

Posted November 23, 2012 link

As eluded to in the previous response, getting a grinder is going to give you the best bang for your buck.  What you might want to consider is spending somewhere between $500 and $1k for a great grinder and then upgrading you machine on the next go-around.  However, if you can go used/refurbished, you might be able to find some great gear for your current budget, and get both.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,383
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 Fri Nov 23, 2012, 10:06pm
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

Keep your machine.  Spend the $500 and get a grinder.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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washburned
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Nov 2012
Posts: 53
Location: napa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: Baratza vario
Posted Sat Nov 24, 2012, 8:52am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Keep your machine.  Spend the $500 and get a grinder.

Posted November 23, 2012 link

I have found a little bit more out about why she does like her current machine. Apparently the water temp is not regulated properly between extraction and steaming. Is this machine repairable?
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,383
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 Sat Nov 24, 2012, 9:45am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

You said you have a Gaggia Baby.  This is an SBDU machine, and -- as with any Single Boiler/Dual Use machine -- you need to switch the thermostat between pulling a shot and steaming milk.  Regardless of which direction you go -- 1) shot first then steam; or 2) steam first, then pull shot -- there is a LOT OF WAITING involved:

1) Shot first: a) turn machine on; b) WAIT for machine to become thermally stable at the BREW setting; c) pull shot; d) flip switch to steam setting; e) WAIT for the machine to heat up properly to steam temp; f) steam milk.

2) Milk first: a) turn machine on; b) WAIT for machine to become thermally stable at the STEAM setting; c) steam milk; d) flip switch to brew setting; e) WAIT for the machine to cool down properly to brew temp; f) pull shot.

So, is your machine broken, or are you not patient enough?  Serious question.  It can be difficult to wait long enough in between steps . . .

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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washburned
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Nov 2012
Posts: 53
Location: napa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: Baratza vario
Posted Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:04am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

You said you have a Gaggia Baby.  This is an SBDU machine, and -- as with any Single Boiler/Dual Use machine -- you need to switch the thermostat between pulling a shot and steaming milk.  Regardless of which direction you go -- 1) shot first then steam; or 2) steam first, then pull shot -- there is a LOT OF WAITING involved:

1) Shot first: a) turn machine on; b) WAIT for machine to become thermally stable at the BREW setting; c) pull shot; d) flip switch to steam setting; e) WAIT for the machine to heat up properly to steam temp; f) steam milk.

2) Milk first: a) turn machine on; b) WAIT for machine to become thermally stable at the STEAM setting; c) steam milk; d) flip switch to brew setting; e) WAIT for the machine to cool down properly to brew temp; f) pull shot.

So, is your machine broken, or are you not patient enough?  Serious question.  It can be difficult to wait long enough in between steps . . .

Cheers,
Jason

Posted November 24, 2012 link

Jason, Thanks for the post. We do the shot first method. For us  its is hard to get a good brew temp. There seems to be a very fine line from the brew water being too cold to it being so hot that it is steam. My wife says its always been a challenge but it seems to be getting worse.
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,007
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:36am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

You could help your old machine with a PID.  Helps on most SBDU machines.  I included the Auber site.  Prices for kits, much less if you DIY.

Click Here (www.auberins.com)

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:06am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

The next step from a SBDU machine is into the starter HX machines such as the Oscar. These are very nice starter HX machines and for a very large of people here, it is all the machine they could ever use or need. A HX machine allows you to steam and pull shots at the same time, avoiding the whole switch between steaming and pulling shots routine of a SBDU machine. New they are around 1K and about half that used with careful shopping.

A good grinder, will be an excellent step though and it is one you need to seriously think about. The grinder is the heart of espresso, without a good grinder, ....... well it is much more difficult.

1k spent on good condition used gear will buy you a very nice setup, on new gear, you pretty much will be in SBDU land for both grinder and machine.

 
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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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,066
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:22am
Subject: Re: Shopping for a new machine
 

Hey Wayne,

Those of us who saw your previous tag about Obama know what you mean there, but for any one else...well, it sort of looks like you had a bad relationship...lmao

Oh...and I finally posted a photo of my setup in the shrines forum!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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