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Lelit PL041 for a greenhorn
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Senior Member

Joined: 11 Dec 2012
Posts: 1
Location: US
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Dec 11, 2012, 1:22pm
Subject: Lelit PL041 for a greenhorn

Hi all.  New to the forum.  Iíve been doing lots of research recently on semi-auto espresso machines.  This looks to be the perfect next expensive hobby for me  (after Home AV, Watches, Cars etc.)

In terms of use - 99.9% of the time, it will be use for only 1-2 lattes and/or americanos at a time.  Maybe twice a day during the weekend.  So I donít need a high volume machine.  I have no real experience pulling shots so this will be a learning opportunity for me (which I look forward to).  

Iím thinking that a SBDU machine will serve my needs well enough while I learn.  Iíve read many reviews and watched tons youTube videos.  I think Iíve landed on getting Lelit PL041 or PL41TEM  w/ PID and a Lelit PL43 grinder.   I like the  PL41TEM w/PID because it has both a PID and pressure gauge.    Knowing myself, and my experience with other interests, Iíll want to upgrade at some point Ė but have learned my lesson over the years to not go too cheap out of the gate Ė but at the same time I canít afford to sink too much into it either.  

I evaluated the Gaggia Classic, CC1 and Silvia- which all seem to be commonly compared in this price range.  

What are your thoughts re: this first timers setup?  Any big negatives I should be thinking about?  The one thing in particular Iím unsure about is the impact of the Lelitís smaller basket size Ėand limitations down the road this might cause.  

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Senior Member
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 682
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:37pm
Subject: Re: Lelit PL041 for a greenhorn

uabCoffee Said:

What are your thoughts re: this first timers setup?  Any big negatives I should be thinking about?  The one thing in particular Iím unsure about is the impact of the Lelitís smaller basket size Ėand limitations down the road this might cause.

Posted December 11, 2012 link

I started out with a Rancilio Silvia as my starter machine. I think for me, this was an excellent "First Timer" machine, Albeit a little expensive. I bought mine used so it wasn't a big deal. I was immensely impressed with the quality of
the components. A heavy commercial-grade portafilter, really high quality switches and a 58 mm brew group. Not to mention, the large number of positive reviews on the machine and the knowledge base behind it. It seemed like
everyone in the coffee geek community has either owned one or used one at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there are other machines on the market, you've quoted a few of them, which present better value for the money.
The Silvia is in a horrendous need of an update, both from a technological point of view and from a value point of view. Lelit, Ascaso and Gaggia are eating Rancilio's lunch.

When you are going to consider a grinder, go stepless right from the start. Don't waste your time or money with stepped grinders, unless the steps are very fine. I involuntarily learned this lesson.

I personally found that my Silvia was a little frustrating. Not because it was difficult to use, because it wasn't.. In fact, once one gets down the routine of how to use a SBDU, it isn't that bad. The problem was, until I learned how to
temperature surf, I couldn't get a consistent shot out of it. I could make an amazing drink one day and something horrible the next. (Especially if I forgot to switch off the steam thermostat!) That was one thing that led to upgradeitis
for me. The other thing was that when making drinks for friends, I was always waiting on the machine, especially when it came to making milk drinks. By the time I was finished making my drink, my friends were already finished theirs.

So the two biggest problems with SBDU machines are having to temperature surf on a non-PID controlled machine and the other was waiting for the boiler to heat for steam and cooling down the boiler to brew. For one drink in
the morning, it really isn't a big deal but if you want to make three or four drinks in a row, you'll be at the machine for a while. Especially if you temperature surf and make milk drinks. I found that I really wanted to upgrade to
either an HX or DB machine after six months of pulling shots, even though I'm the only one who drinks coffee in our house.

My advice would be, going with a PID equipped machine right out of the gate will stave off some of the upgradeitis and give you consistent shots.. So when your shots come out bitter or sour, you'll know that it wasn't the machine
that wasn't necessarily the issue, but rather the grind or the operator. :-)

While I think I could probably live with having to temperature surf, it honestly is a pain in the rear and isn't necessary anymore. Thermostat technology is old, PID technology is fairly new. Heck, a PID kit is roughly $200 in itself, so
why not buy a machine with one already included, instead of modifying a machine later?

I should let you know that all of the machines you suggested in your posts are good ones to start out with, temperature surfing or not. A PID controlled machine will also give you much more control over your brewing temperatures.

Going with a non-standard basket just limits what kind of accessories you can purchase.. such as baskets and extra portafilters. (Especially bottomless ones) However, a non-standard basket size shouldn't affect your shots.
(This is a whole other topic unto itself.) That's purely up to you and is purely your decision. If you can stick with a machine that uses the 58 mm convention, I'd recommend that.

So, I guess now.. you are probably asking yourself, "If SBDU machines suck, how come people buy them?" ... I would say because they're cheap, at least in comparison to other types of espresso machines. A new heat
exchanging machine starts right around the $1200 mark.. Half that for used. SBDU machines are a compromise for cost. The only other solution with an SBDU budget is to go with a Dual Heater machine like the CC1, which
uses a boiler for brewing and a thermoblock for steaming, so you don't have to wait. I've heard a few good reviews on the CC1. If the price is an option for you, I don't think that buying one would be a bad decision.

In some ways, when I think about it, had I bought a CC1 or a used Oscar instead of a Silvia from the get go, my upgradeitis probably would have been fairly non-existent.

Good luck!

Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Senior Member
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,083
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Dec 14, 2012, 3:44pm
Subject: Re: Lelit PL041 for a greenhorn

I skipped the single boiler starter machines and I am really glad I did.  I really like that it would take a 3k machine to even tempt me into upgrading from Oscar.  I got him used for about the same money as a new single boiler. Granted I replaced the pump, cleaned a valve and replaced one.  Less than 100$ in parts and some time.  It worked when I bought it but I felt the pump was not right and then the valve broke months later.   I wanted robust machine I could leave on all the time and that I would not outgrow really fast.  I like I can fix it and it has so many easy to get parts.  Also standard portafilter size.  I wanted that and steaming power.

I have been much happier with my first machine than Qualin was.  And I am very much a perfectionist about the espresso as Qualin is, just not as picky about the looks of the machine.  Output trumps looks for me.  And I am very happy even a year later with my machine.  And it really would take 3k to make me change machines.  

"How to Buy an Espresso Machine"
"First machine - 300-400$"
"For $200-$300 price range is the Gaggia Espresso Pure the best choice?"
"Decent Espresso Machines for $300"


Hand grinders are the cheapest:
Hario Coffee Hand Grinder
OE LIDO Manual Coffee Grinder
OE PHAROS Hand Coffee Grinder
Used commercial:
Super jolly etc.


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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