TonyVan Senior Member Joined: 24 May 2010 Posts: 276 Location: Pacific Northwest Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: GS/3, La Pavoni Grinder: Macap M7K, Rocky Drip: Kone
Posted Thu Dec 13, 2012, 1:31pm Subject: Re: What make expensive espresso machines better?
Without taking any issue with all the good advice provided so far, I'd add one thought. Any of the machines discussed can produce a great shot of espresso, and as CoffeeNoobie points out, with an espresso machine it's a matter of consistency. And ease, of course, and experience with the machine - but there will always be a way to temperature-surf or flush or otherwise time a shot so that it comes out well, once you master a machine's idiosyncrasies.
That's not going to be true for the grinder, however. A grinder produces what a grinder produces: if it can't grind coffee beans consistently or finely enough for the task, there is no amount of technique, practice, cajoling or wizardry you can apply to make a coffee grinder do a better job than it's capable of doing.
So, of the famous four espresso requirements, you can coax a good shot from virtually any espresso machine, and a barista can learn to o a better job, and the coffee can be handled differently to optimize it (or worst case you can always change it out for something you like more), but the grinder is the one element that puts a hard limit on the best you'll be able to achieve.
MJW Senior Member Joined: 25 Jul 2012 Posts: 179 Location: Silicon Valley Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Dec 13, 2012, 2:09pm Subject: Re: What make expensive espresso machines better?
If a machine's sold with unpressurized baskets, I agree that's a good indicator. I'll name some machines to look at. Crossland CC1. Ascaso Basic (?). Also: Saeco Aroma (needs conversion to unpressurized). Breville Infuser (?) -- also needs conversion. And, I still think a low-end Delonghi with a boiler can do it, if you can find one where you are. I believe the 330 is a thermoblock design.
It seems like regardless of thermoblock / boiler design, another key piece of temperature control is the sensor. Most inexpensive sensors would require electronic calibration (that is, digital correction of readings) to account for manufacturing tolerances and sensor accuracy.
(I just saw the most recent post about grinders. I agree, the grinder is more important than the machine for taste.)
Well, technically spoken a thermoblock is a boiler, and that's what the Opio has inside. But in the way this term is usually used here it means a "kettle" filled with water and warmed by an internal heating element.
Thanks, especially for the specific coffee machines models tips. I think Breville is sold under brand Catler in Czechia (Europe?) ...
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