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Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
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Ever
Senior Member
Ever
Joined: 23 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: EC155
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 12:21pm
Subject: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Happy holidays everyone. Long-time lurker, first time poster.

I have a low-end DeLonghi machine (EC155, http://amzn.to/Uhd0i1), and I have no grinder. I've used it for two years, and I'm confident that the "hobby" is here to stay!

I'm wondering which upgrade will bring the most drastic result to my homebrew espresso - upgrading the machine first, or first buying a grinder to pair with the existing machine. Considerations:

*Budget constraint, <$300 if possible

*I live in San Francisco - plenty of fresh beans within walking distance.

*I don't have a grinder, so I wind up buying good coffee and having it ground at the store. However I only drink an espresso a day, so the end of my <Blue Bottle, Stumptown, 4Barrell, Ritual> has been ground for over a month before I see the bottom of the bag.

*I don't see myself going to the coffee store for new beans/grounds more than once every two-three weeks.

With this in mind, will I see the biggest increase in quality from buying the best machine $300 can buy, or the best grinder?

I'm personally leaning towards the latter after some recent reading. It seems the importance of having fresh beans (~2-4 weeks since roast) and fresh grounds (<15 minutes if possible) is paramount. Much moreso than the increase I'll see from going from a $100 to $300 machine while keeping the same, poor technique I've had to use use with bean purchasing and handling.

Thoughts (and recommendations)? :P

Thanks guys!

 
My Twitter: http://bit.ly/VTiS2r
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,026
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 12:34pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Welcome to CG.  I used a Delonghi 701 for years, similar to yours. The machine is not great, but certainly capable, and threads on CG show some helpful mods.  A grinder will be the best band for the buck and fresh beans.  Consider buying 1/2 pounds more frequently, or getting a freezing routine.  

Baratza.com refurb for Preciso or Vario is in your range.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,470
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 Sun Dec 23, 2012, 12:42pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Ever Said:

Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?

Posted December 23, 2012 link

Seriously?  This is a question?

GRINDER!

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 12:44pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Be nice, Jason.  I agree $300 is best spend on a grinder.

"How to Buy an Espresso Machine"  (very important read)
"Espresso for under $300"
"For $200-$300 price range is the Gaggia Espresso Pure the best choice?"
"Decent Espresso Machines for $300"

Grinders:

Hand grinders are the cheapest:
Hario Coffee Hand Grinder
OE LIDO Manual Coffee Grinder
OE PHAROS Hand Coffee Grinder
Baratza:
Prescio
Vario(w)
Used commercial:
Super jolly etc.

 
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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Ever
Senior Member
Ever
Joined: 23 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: EC155
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 12:58pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Quick note to say thanks for the prompt replies (even Jason's :P )

I'll check out those options and links now.

 
My Twitter: http://bit.ly/VTiS2r
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,470
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 Sun Dec 23, 2012, 1:59pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Wasn't intending to be be rude, but . . .

Ever Said:

With this in mind, will I see the biggest increase in quality from buying the best machine $300 can buy, or the best grinder? I'm personally leaning towards the latter after some recent reading. It seems the importance of having fresh beans (~2-4 weeks since roast) and fresh grounds (<15 minutes if possible) is paramount.

Posted December 23, 2012 link

. . . I presumed you had already come to the same conclusion.  ;^)

If you can only spend $300 on a grinder, check out the following (new) grinders:

-- Baratza Preciso, $299
-- Quamar M80, $399 (I know, but it's usually $449)
-- Ascaso i-Mini cinical, $289

Keep in mind that the Baratza and Ascaso are, in a sense, short-term solutions.  In other words, they will work, but in an ideal world you'll want something better.  Indeed, you'll want something better (probably) in a couple of years.  So the other option is to look for a used Mazzer Mini or Macap, and get a new set of burrs.

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


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 179
Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 2:02pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

Ever Said:

With this in mind, will I see the biggest increase in quality from buying the best machine $300 can buy, or the best grinder?

Posted December 23, 2012 link

Happy holidays! I agree, a grinder is the best next step.  I think your coffee buying schedule is fine as long as you store the roasted beans airtight (at room temp).

I've used an EC270 which is a clone of your machine.  It is actually capable of very good quality.

With your machine using pressurized baskets, a Baratza Encore is all you need.  You can also get unpressurized baskets, and the Encore will work OK, but you could do better with a Preciso or used Mazzer Mini.  The Mini might be over $300 though.

I think the Encore is a good value and is a good way to go.  I have a Virtuoso and a Mazzer Mini and they are also great choices.  The refurb Preciso is a great idea.

I'd recommend doing a little reading -- which you're already doing! -- to decide whether you want to switch to using unpressurized baskets and make espresso the traditional way.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,470
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 Sun Dec 23, 2012, 2:17pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

I'd never recommend using pressurized baskets . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Ever
Senior Member
Ever
Joined: 23 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: EC155
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 3:06pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

I recall seeing posts about modding the basket when I first got it. I'm totally fine for a little weekend DIY if it's worth it - which it sounds like it is...!

 
My Twitter: http://bit.ly/VTiS2r
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,026
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012, 3:13pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade machine, or buy my first grinder?
 

There are a few EC155 mod threads to depressurize, change steam wand and other mods.  A fairly active recent thread

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/522849

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machinemods/555131

Nickfrogger has a lot of posts on EC155.  Depressurize is very worthwhile as are some others.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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