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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Newbie buying...  
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,223
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Dec 26, 2012, 7:04pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Rob989_69 Said:

Thanks guys, I've read the buying guide posted and a bunch of threads here and elsewhere. I think until I can get a good grinder I'm going to hold off on a machine for now. I'll keep an eye on craigslist and ebay to see if I can get a deal on a nice machine.

Do most of you have a single grinder for everything? Do you drink espresso/or espresso drinks exclusively? I guess where I'm going is do most of you invest in a dedicated espresso grinder but use something else for drip/pourover/whatever other method you may brew?

Posted December 26, 2012 link


I'd suggest keeping an eye out on the buy, sell, trade list here too.  the deals may not be quite the steal as on ebay or craigs', but the machines are probably in better shape on average.

re: grinders...

I have one dedicated espresso, one dedicated decaf espresso, and two "others", one is an easily adjusted travel grinder and the other is a cheap burr grinder that I use only for presspot.

The moka pots are pretty good in my recollection, but I have to say since I got my first espresso machine (about 10 years ago) I haven't used one (although I have three - two of which are brand spankin new, as they were gifts).  I recently discovered the Espro press...WOW! the coffee is great, far better than any french press I've ever tasted.  The Espro presses are expensive, but IMO worth it.  The small single serving one is $70, while the large one is $100.  I just got my Mom a large one (I have the small one in my office at work) and we've made two pots so far today - both were fantastic.  I've also used Aeropress, much cheaper and also single serve, but not nearly as good IMO.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Rob989_69
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Rochester
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 7:26am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

I did look at the moka pots but I'm really looking for a machine. I have tried, and liked espresso, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation and though it may be sacralidge to say in these parts, I don't want more coffee toys. LOL. I do have an aero press, it is fantastic as a single serve coffee device. I didn't care for the espresso shots out of it though.

I'm going to up my budget to $1000, although I'd like to be far below that if possible. I figure if I have a dedicated espresso grinder and then use the cuisenart for drip I can get around the whole "buy another grinder" thing with the Sherrif....errrr... Wife. I may even look at a package deal.

Thanks again for all the help.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,465
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 Thu Dec 27, 2012, 8:11am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Rob, as I have often said on these pages, one doesn't need to spend thousands on espresso equipment (though many of us have), but you do need to spend something.  Let's start at the beginning with the now-famous set of

Standard Questions:
1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

Now, you can skip Questions 4 and 5 -- the answers, I'm pretty sure, are "no"and "15."  Plus, these are more for those who are seeking to improve their experience through upgrading their equipment.  But Question 6 is crucial:

Rob989_69 Said:

Do most of you have a single grinder for everything? Do you drink espresso/or espresso drinks exclusively? I guess where I'm going is do most of you invest in a dedicated espresso grinder but use something else for drip/pourover/whatever other method you may brew?

Posted December 26, 2012 link

Rob, grinding for espresso demands a dedicated "espresso grinder."  The requirements for espresso production necessitate a dedicated espresso grinder -- one that is designed for espresso, as opposed to other methods of preparing coffee.

Now, many of us actually have multiple grinders.  At home, for example, I have a  Mahlkönig K30 Vario as my "main" espresso grinder, and a Baratza Vario home grinder for my single origin espresso.  For those rare occasions when I make drip coffee, or for those even rarer occasions when I make decaf, I have an inexpensive La Pavoni PA burr grinder -- which I want to replace, but it's used so rarely that it's an extremely low priority.  

In terms of new equipment, take a look at an espresso machine like the Le'Lit PL041 or a Gaggia Classic.  For a grinder, look at the aforementioned Baratza Vario, or the Le'Lit PL53 (among other, similar grinders).

But I second the recommendation of keeping an eye on the BST forum here . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,223
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 8:14am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

The budget jump is going to help you tremendously, especially if you are open to used gear. If so, take a look at the B, S, T forum.

Before you look too hard though, it's probably best to decide between SBDU, HX and DB.

Many of us have dealt w the wife factor. In fact, I've got the cash set aside for a HG one grinder, but haven't bought it yet because of that...lol

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,465
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 Thu Dec 27, 2012, 8:23am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

emradguy Said:

Before you look too hard though, it's probably best to decide between SBDU, HX and DB.

Posted December 27, 2012 link

Agreed . . .

ONE way to classify espresso machines is by their method/mechanism/capabilities for producing the shot.  

-- Manual machines do not have a pump.  They rely on the operator to force the water through the puck by use of a lever.  With some machines, the lever is controlled manually by the operator -- like with the La Pavoni Europicola, or the Olympia Cremina.  The operator lifts the lever up and pulls it down, pushing the water through the puck.  With other machines, the lever may be spring-operated, like with the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva, the Bezzera B2006AL, or the Rancilio Class 6 LE models, in which the lever is controlled by a spring -- the operator pulls the lever down, and then a spring draws the lever back to the "up" position, moving the piston and forcing the water through the puck.

-- Semi-automatic machines have a pump to force the water through the puck, but the operator turns the pump on-and-off.  Examples would include the machines like Gaggia Classic, the Faema Legend (the original E61 machine), or the Izzo Alex Duetto II -- which are, respectively, an SDBU, an HX, and a DB machine -- all in semi-automatic formats.

-- Full-automatic machines, also known as volumetric dosing machines, have a pump to force the water through the puck, like a semi-auto, but after a certain volume of water is dispensed (programed by the operator), the pump will shut itself off automatically.  HOWEVER, the pump can also be shut off manually, just as with a semi-automatic.  Examples would include the Bezzera BZ07sde, the Elektra Sixties T1, and the La Marzocco Linea AV models.  Each of these , by the way, is also produced as a semi-automatic -- the Bezzera BZ07spm, the Elektra Sixties A3 (now discontinued, although plenty of other semi-autos are still made by Elektra), and the La Marzocco Linea EE models.

-- Super-automatic machines do everything for the user, who merely has to push a button, wait, and drink.  These machines will grind the beans, tamp the puck, push the water through the grounds, froth the milk . . . everything.  Examples include everything from a Gaggia Titanium, the Jura-Capresso Impressa S9, and the Faema X3 Prestige.

THEN you can classify machines by their boiler type (and please note, I am ignoring thermoblock units):

-- Open boiler machines are relatively rare, and date back many decades.  These can heat the water for espresso, but cannot build up any pressure to steam milk.  To the best of my knowledge, this are all manual lever machines, and include machines like the Arrarex Caravel and the FE-AR La Peppina.

-- Single Boiler Dual Use (SBDU) machines are the most popular machines for home use.  These have one boiler and two thermostats; the boiler will either heat the water within to brewing temperature or to steaming temperature.  The operator must wait for the boiler to move up/move down before continuing, i.e.: the machine can only brew or it can steam milk -- one or the other -- at a time.  The best known example, at least here in the States, would be the Rancilio Silvia

-- Heat Exchanger (HX) machines also have one boiler, but it is permanently set to steaming temperature.  Cool water, either from a built-in reservoir ("tank") or from a water line ("plumbed-in" or "direct connect"), is then flash heated to brew temp via the use of a heat exchanger.  Examples would include machines like the Izzo Alex II, Quick Mill Anita, or the Vibiemme Domobar Super.

-- Double Boiler (DB) machines have two boilers, one for heating the brewing water, the other for making steam.  Examples would include the Izzo Alex Duetto II, the La Spaziale Vivaldi II, or the Vibiemme Double Domobar v.3.

ALSO, machines can be classified by their components, if you will, and their target market.

-- Consumer machines are just that, designed for home use by the consumer.

-- Professional (or commercial) machines are designed for high-volume use in busy cafés, restaurants, etc.  They use more robust parts than consumer models, able to withstand their heavy, constant usage.

-- "Prosumer" machines fill in the gap; they are actually low-volume commercial machines that can also by used in a home environment.

So you can have a commercial lever machine, or a consumer lever machine; a full-automatic HX prosumer model, as well as a full-auto HX commercial model, and so on and so on and so on . . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Rob989_69
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: Rochester
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:02am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

OH my... LOL!

Ok, let me go down the list.

Right now, At most, I see me using the machine once a day. I'd be making 2 drinks at a time but only on weekends most likely.

I have a 20 amp circuit in the kitchen, and a dedicated 20 amp in the garage where my roaster is so power isn't an issue.

The kind of drinks. The whole range, espresso, latte, caps.

I am still looking hard at the Super Autos. I know they're not the "best" but I do like the usability of them. I don't mind fiddling with things, but the wife doesn't. If there exists a machine that litterally takes a button push to use, I want that. Realistically though It just needs to be easyish to use.

If not a super auto then at least a auto.

As far as the boiler/heater. I have no idea. I don't have a preference. I'm the kind of person that will buy the best I can for the money and if a little more gets me a significantly better machine I'll pay it. within reason of course. (if I'm looking to spend $500 butu $600 will get me something much better I'll do it.)
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,048
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 11:28am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

I think if you are roasting your own beans you will not be happy with a super auto, IMHO.  They probably should be bought new only and are more than 500$.  The J5 I saw talked about as a good one is 2k.  

Well, for 500$ I recommend what I got an HX machine used.  It is plastic but a work horse under the hood called NS Oscar.  It is not going to make coffee for the wife.  Maybe she needs a capsule machine or a french press.  

The vario w is 550 new and I am very happy with my set up.  Husband can't make coffee but he didn't before Oscar either.  It would be easy to learn,  I have everything set up to be pretty easy but he has no interest.

 
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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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,465
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 Thu Dec 27, 2012, 11:37am
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Rob989_69 Said:

If not a super auto then at least a auto.

Posted December 27, 2012 link

OK, so what do YOU think the difference is between a "super auto" and an "auto"?  What do you think the difference is between an "auto" and a "semi-auto"?  (From your quote, I don't think you understand the differences.)

Rob989_69 Said:

I am still looking hard at the Super Autos.

Posted December 27, 2012 link

Good Lord, why?!?!?!

Rob989_69 Said:

I know they're not the "best" but I do like the usability of them.

Posted December 27, 2012 link

So you don't mind drinking lousy coffee, so long as it comes at the push of a button???

Rob989_69 Said:

I don't mind fiddling with things, but the wife doesn't.

Posted December 27, 2012 link

So I imagine a lot of microwaved dinners at your house, right?

Rob989_69 Said:

If there exists a machine that litterally takes a button push to use, I want that. Realistically though It just needs to be easyish to use.

Posted December 27, 2012 link

Hmmmm . . . . here.

 
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RichardCoffee
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Joined: 2 Dec 2010
Posts: 128
Location: Long Beach
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: gaggia baby twin, mini...
Grinder: fiorenzato pietro 63mm,...
Roaster: weber grill with rk drum,...
Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 12:02pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

All I know is my own experience. My journey began because I did not like the lattes I got at StRbucks, or Gloria Jeans on their super automatics. Frankly, I agree that a Moka pot and some cheap tool that froths heated milk is just as good. But, I wasn't satisfied with that either. So, after much hand wringing, I decided to spend way more than I had ever before considered reasonable for coffee and I decided on a Gaggia Classic and a Gaggia MDF grinder - new. But after ordering, WLL told me the Classic was not then available but they would "upgrade" me to a Gaggia Baby Twin. I wish I had held out for the Classic. Although, I am traveling right now am using that set up as my travel machine and making 3 very good lattes and 2 Americanos each morning. Still, I made the "mistake" of continuing to read about others' experiences with espresso machines and grinders. So, soon I found a 63mm burr grinder on e-bay that I picked up for about $200.00, put a new set of burrs in it and had a really grinder that I was happy with for a few more months. Then, the Baby Twin is temperamental when making steamed milk, so I continued to read and about 6 months after I got the Gaggia, I decided to do the really unthinkable and I bought a Mini Vivaldi. Now I was really cooking, but something was missing. So, about 6 months later I found a Compak K10 Pro-Barista on e-bay and I bought that. Now, I have every thing I need. Except, now, I'm thinking the Londinium I with no pump - directly plumbed would be really nice. Maybe I could sell my Mini......so, whereas before I simply drank coffee, now I have a coffee hobby. I roast my own beans (that's a whole other story), weigh, grind, measure, tamp, brew and savor. And I don't think my story is unique among the people who contribute to these forums. So, that's why you experience some hesitation here when you ask for an inexpensive and non-messy solution. A lot of us have found very expensive and messy solutions and yet we are happy with our choices.......for the time being anyhow.

 
Bean2friends
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SStones
Senior Member
SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 506
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Thu Dec 27, 2012, 6:18pm
Subject: Re: Newbie buying his first machine. Need help
 

Buy whatever good deal you can get on a used machine in your price range that is working well enough that you can use it and keep it going.  That way it won't depreciate much over the few years you use it, and you can sell it when you upgrade, later on. If you don't plan on keeping it forever, it doesn't matter what it is, it only matters that it's a decent deal.
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