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Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Williams Sonoma...  
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Hylander
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Joined: 25 Dec 2012
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Location: Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 12:08am
Subject: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

My girlfriend and I have around $500 to spend, most of it gift cards, at Williams & Sonoma. Seems like the two machines that would be best are the Breville or Venezia? Which would be the better option for two newbies??
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fwtechwiz
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Joined: 19 Feb 2010
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Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Evolution
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Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 3:58am
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

If you're talking the 800 esxl Breville, there are two negatives that you'll want to consider.  The portafilter on this machine is non standard (51 mm) and is difficult to source a proper non pressurized basket and tamper for.  The basket that comes with the machine is pressurized, and  has holes that are too big..will let grounds through to between the two layers of the basket and eventually affect the taste and clog the single hole that the espresso must be forced through.   Cutting off the bottom layer will cause grounds to go through the holes into the espresso.
It is also a thermoblock machine, and will have temperature control issues...more or less than the Venezia, hard to tell.
I would vote the Venezia, because it uses a 53 mm portafilter, and it's much easier to find a non pressurized one to fit the machine.
But be sure and use a quality grinder.  Always keep in mind, the espresso machine is the accessory to the grinder, not the other way around.

Either way, make SURE the filter screen is removable for cleaning, that is a must.  I got burned with my first machine, a Hamilton Beach, because the screw holding the screen in was locktited in and could not be removed.
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MJW
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
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Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 4:50pm
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

The BES840XL "Infuser" is I think significantly better than the Venezia, because it has electronic temperature control.  It also is probably faster to transition to steam.  The Breville "Programmable" machine that has the included burr grinder, is not a good choice, because it has the old thermoblock that leaks and doesn't reach the appropriate temperature.

According to Seattle Coffee Gear the Infuser comes with both traditional, unpressurized baskets, and pressurized.  So you can use it to make first rate drinks, or, use it with preground coffee with the pressurized baskets.

The Saeco Venezia is a good machine but the Infuser in terms of performance seems to be much better.  There's risk that it might break but there's always risk that a machine will break...

It's necessary to use a good grinder like the Baratza Preciso to get good tasting espresso.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 5:19pm
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

there is only 1 breville machine I would even say is OK to buy and it cost twice what your budget is . you really need to buy a good grinder to get anything close to espresso from what ever machine you do buy however at your budget about all you can afford is a hand grinder as a motor powered grinder that is able to work for  espresso starts at about 350 dollars.

 
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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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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
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Location: Kentucky
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Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
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Posted Tue Dec 25, 2012, 11:11pm
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

It was five years ago I came here new to espresso after buying a Breville with the pressurized portafilter. I got it at Williams and Sonoma. They took is back and I bought a Gaggia Classic and Gaggia MDF grinder which I used every day for five years and it still works fine. Oh I replaced a steam valve. You cant get there from here is the only thing that comes to mind with Breville. Im sorry to have to tell you that.

Hylander Said:

My girlfriend and I have around $500 to spend, most of it gift cards, at Williams & Sonoma. Seems like the two machines that would be best are the Breville or Venezia? Which would be the better option for two newbies??

Posted December 25, 2012 link

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revolver1978
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revolver1978
Joined: 11 Dec 2012
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Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 8:46am
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

Hrmmm, Williams Sonoma - the first thing I notice on their website is that the machines you listed are under manual espresso machines. . . . which they are not. But whatever. . . . I remember when I caught the home espresso bug and picked up a used Breville Cafe Roma on Craiglist. I figured "hey, I might use this for a month or two, and then have a stylish paperweight. Let's minimize the investment and see what happens. . . . ) The BCR didn't make very good espresso and made very bubbly milk. I couldn't figure out why my local shop did so much better. . . . . and then I did a lot of online research, picked up a nice grinder and new machine, and am very, very pleased. It sounds cliche - i'm not an espresso snob, but can taste a good one and a bad one, kind of like wines. I'm much happier now with what most posters on this site would consider "entry level" equipment! (having spent almost $1000.)

As many other people have said - if you get a good grinder, you can always upgrade machines later. Personally, I would never buy a Via Venezia new - they've been around forever, people are always looking to upgrade and sell their VV's, and you could easily find one for $100 on eBay or a little more for a refurb unit from coffee supply store.

If it were me, I might suggest the following:

  1.  You think you'll stick with it - especially if you're not in an urban area with a favorite coffeehouse just a short walk away:
    If you don't have a good burr grinder - use the gift cards for the Baratza Virtuoso or the Breville Conical Burr. That will leave you about $250-$300 bucks. Hawk those on eBay or Craiglist for near face value and pick up a Gaggia Classic (they sell them online numerous places, including Sur la Table) and enjoy!

  2.  You just want to be able to make a Latte or Cap once in awhile (i.e., not a espresso macciatto drinker,) and am thinking "I have every kitchen gadget I need, what can I spend these darn gift cards on!?" and you don't have (or want to fuss with) a good burr grinder.
    Get the Breville (or even a Nespresso) and buy pods. You'll make consistent milk drinks - they won't be awesome, but they won't be bad either.

The key thing to great espresso drinks is freshly ground beans. Getting half a pound of ground espresso from your local coffee house will be fine for a few days and then it goes stale. The flavor hollows out, and for lack of a better word, the taste just turns "grey." "A thin-soup, Edgar" for any fans of Dr. Scarpetta fans out there. . . . If you absolutely cannot fathom spending on the grinder just go with pods. I think you just have to answer for yourself how much you want to be involved in making espresso at home. . . . there are a good number of people who would find my equipment barely acceptable!

Not sure how adventuresome you are, but if you're new to home espresso, I would highly recommend picking up a used espresso machine for short money and spending your gift cards on the grinder. You can use the grinder for drip/french press if you lose interest, and a good espresso machine - like a Gaggia or Sylvia - always has a market; you'll probably be able to sell it for what you paid for it. I had a very hard time wrapping my head around grinder dollars - all this dough for dumb looking thing? But after I made the purchase, I was so glad I did. Full disclosure - I bought a used Rancilio Rocky grinder, but considered both of the above - nearly purchasing the Virtuoso. I just happened on a particularly good deal for the Rocky.
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 2:35pm
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

The grinder, one model up from what Williams Sonoma sells is the one you want for espresso... the Baratza Virtuoso Preciso.  The Vario is one up from that and that is the one I have.   Too bad you can't sell your cards at face value and use that to get a machine.  The plain Virtuoso is nice for french press and normal drip.  I like it but not for espresso.

Click Here (www.williams-sonoma.com)

That will do espresso, you might get tired of it but you can still use it for camping and travel if you get a better grinder later.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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Click Here (maps.google.com)

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EricBNC
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EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,866
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 3:29pm
Subject: Re: Williams Sonoma - Buy Breville or Venezia?
 

MJW Said:

The BES840XL "Infuser" is I think significantly better than the Venezia, because it has electronic temperature control.  It also is probably faster to transition to steam.  The Breville "Programmable" machine that has the included burr grinder, is not a good choice, because it has the old thermoblock that leaks and doesn't reach the appropriate temperature.

According to Seattle Coffee Gear the Infuser comes with both traditional, unpressurized baskets, and pressurized.  So you can use it to make first rate drinks, or, use it with preground coffee with the pressurized baskets.

The Saeco Venezia is a good machine but the Infuser in terms of performance seems to be much better.  There's risk that it might break but there's always risk that a machine will break...

It's necessary to use a good grinder like the Baratza Preciso to get good tasting espresso.

Posted December 25, 2012 link

This is a very different machine than the ones people here relate to when discouraging people from choosing the Breville 800 series - it incorporates features not often found in it's price class.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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