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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Super-Automated...  
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,462
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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 2:52pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

Back up!

IMAWriter Said:

I would argue slightly with my friend Jason B that a "low ends" La Pavoni can't make superior coffee. The best lever shot I've ever had came from a La Pavoni...maybe the best ESPRESSO SHOT. Better than my Olympia Cremina, a much more expensive and better built machine. However, the Cremina is yards ahead as regards consistency. For me, the BETTER machine. YMMV.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Where did I say you can't get a good shot from a Pavoni Europicola?!?!?!

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

And why is a Mazda Miata with manual transmission more expensive than a Yugo with automatic transmission?  Steve, you are comparing a cheap, throw-away piece of $#!+ with a rock-solid lever machine that your grandchildren will be able to use, given proper care and maintenance.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Yugo = super-automatic; Mazda Miata = Pavoni.  a) the Mazda is far superior to a Yugo; b) I wanted to pick an Alfa-Romeo, but I couldn't remember the model name of their 2-seat convertible.  ;^)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 2:57pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

Not to mention that a tiny pressurized boiler can be the only moderately robust part inside a cheap, molded-plastic body in a $149, disposable machine that can still print the catch phrases like "10 Bar Pump pressure" and "1000W All Brass Boiler", where as a lever machine, by nature of use, needs to be impressively rigid and structurally resilient... Might as well do that by making the boiler function as the body of the machine...  Now you're talking about 15 pounds of solid brass, machined and plated. Plus, to make it look good, the rest of the machine should be plated in the same way, since you're already making things with brass, make the piston and brew head of solid brass.  Machine will last a while, but it won't be as cheap as a little, disposable, made-in-China, PVC and Bakelite machine that offers more options.  A flow-meter, non-mechanically latching brew button, and $1.20 circuitboard can make any disposable machine into an automatic.  It can't make it into a well-known brandname with 50+ years of good reviews and many of those 50 year old machines still performing to prove that quality.
Even after an all-brass, well reknowned machine starts replacing unseen parts with cheaper plastic cylinders and pistons, they retain their history of quality and can continue to charge a premium price.
If a $900 Pavoni costs $100 every 4 years to last 20 years, You've still got a functioning, high-quality machine after 20 years. If a disposable little Krups costs $200 every 3 years when you replace it, you're getting to that $1400 a year later. Which of those options are you happier with?

It might, again, come down to "Which machine consistantly made the coffee that made it worth it?"

Although the musical instrument analogies by other coffeegeeks were a better arguement, it works mathematically, also.  Even dead, your used Pavoni is worth a couple hundred to someone scavenging a particular part.
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SteveFreides
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Jun 2012
Posts: 21
Location: Ridgewood, NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Syncrony
Drip: No Drip - French Press
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:41pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

The musical instrument analogies don't work well for me - I know too much about musical instruments in comparison to what I know about espresso makers.  Part of the reason the analogies don't work well is that, because I know a lot about music and instruments, I also know the choices aren't simple and often aren't easy.  I far prefer to acquire knowledge than to have someone try to "make it simple" for me - I don't need or want that.

-S-
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:46pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

SteveFreides Said:

The musical instrument analogies don't work well for me - I know too much about musical instruments in comparison to what I know about espresso makers.  Part of the reason the analogies don't work well is that, because I know a lot about music and instruments, I also know the choices aren't simple and often aren't easy.  I far prefer to acquire knowledge than to have someone try to "make it simple" for me - I don't need or want that.

-S-

Posted January 26, 2013 link

I'm not sure I understand the tone of this post. You are being strange. If you prefer to acquire knowledge, then feel free to read the EXTENSIVE posts about this topic answered many different ways by many different people. Speak with dealers. Go ahead. But you are asking to be spoon-fed a very basic concept. Why does it seem you are being so difficult to please. You can't have it both ways.
But perhaps I just don't understand what you are asking; in which case, I'm sorry for the above. Please try to explain yourself more clearly so that we  can answer more directly.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,462
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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:49pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

A couple more thoughts . . . now that I think more about it . . . .

SteveFreides Said:

"Quality" doesn't address my question, though.  If a lever machine and a semi-auto are of equal quality, which costs more and why?  Or perhaps a better question is, since you're suggesting the lever machine and the semi-auto I gave as examples are of different quality (if I understand you correctly), why isn't there a correspondingly "cheap" lever machine that costs even less than the DeLonghi EC702?

Posted January 26, 2013 link

A level machine, in and of itself, is more costly to produce than a machine with a cheap electric pump.  And -- honestly -- that DeLonghi REALLY is a piece of crap!  (Remember, the reviews are written by the people who bought them on Amazon -- how many people will admit "a fool and their money were parted" unless Amazon does something to make them angry.

SteveFreides Said:

To your point of instrument quality, yes, of course, that's true, but we must say in the same breath that the law of diminishing returns applies to musical instrument quality as, I assume, it does to espresso machines.  I own a variety of musical instruments because I'm a multi-instrumentalist.  But I don't own pro-level instruments for all of them because I don't play them all equally well and because I don't want or need a top-quality instrument all the time.  There exists such a thing as good enough.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

If all you want is "good enough," Steve, stick to your super-auto and be happy.  BUT, unlike with musical performance, excellence is just around the corner -- no endless years of practice, only to discover that, ultimately, you don't have the chops.  

SteveFreides Said:

. . . the player matters more than the instrument.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Absolutely right.  And yet, you have not accepted the fact that the machine (instrument) is not the most important part of the equation.  To wit,

The Four M's of Espresso:
1) the Macinazione is the grinder, and with it, the correct grinding of the coffee beans;
2) the Miscela is the coffee beans/blend itself;
3) the Macchina is the espresso machine; and
4) the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.  

All four are important.  Nothing is more important than the grinder.

SteveFreides Said:

I'd like to think that, in the same way, the fact that I put fresh-roasted, fresh-ground, high quality coffee in my espresso machine is the most important part of the equation - I don't think that old, lousy coffee going into a pro-level espresso machine is going to taste very good.  Which would you rather have, supermarket coffee that's weeks, if not months, past the date it was ground, run through a pro espresso machine - or my home-roasted beans through my Gaggia Syncrony?  You're welcomed to disagree with me, of course, but I'd choose the better coffee over the better machine every time.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

As has already been said above, this is a bull$#+ supposition.  The option is not limited to A vs. B -- great, freshly roasted coffee and a super-auto, as opposed to store-bought, stale coffee and the world's finest semi-automatic.  

As I said elsewhere, a decent, well-made prosumer machine -- even a solid SBDU consumer machine like a Gaggia Classic, Le'Lit PL41, or a Rancilio Silvia can and will run proverbial rings around your super-auto . . . all else being equal.  Sure, you want to "stack the deck," and stick Folger's or Yuban in the Silvia and freshly roasted, freshly ground beans in your super-auto?  I probably would prefer the espresso from your machine, but that isn't the discussion.  You take the same beans, and the same operator, and make sure the grinders are properly adjusted (to the best of their ability), and the manual lever, the semi-automatic, and/or the full-automatic (volumetric dosing) machine -- regardless of whether it's an open boiler, an SBDU, HX or DB -- will kick a$$, even against the most expensive super-autos around!

SteveFreides Said:

I love my coffee but I don't personally feel the need to have the best espresso machine on the market, just one that's good enough to make me coffee I enjoy drinking.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

As I said above, if you're happy with "good enough," that's fine.  More power to you.  Go forth, and be happy.  However, greatness is just around the corner -- you have but to take a few steps . . .

SteveFreides Said:

Sorry for the rant but I am back to my original question - I want to know, quality being equal, if a lever machine is less expensive than a semi-auto and, if not, why, since the semi-auto needs more gadgets than the lever machine does according to my understanding of each.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Steve, once again, your understanding of the issue appears to be flawed.

To begin with, you have economies of scale.  For semi-, full-, and super-auto machines, some of the parts are mass-produced.  Very few parts for lever machines are, and since fewer lever machines are sold, those parts which are mass-produced never reach the economy of scale achieved by pump-driven machines.  Espresso machines are, by and large, hand-made.  Super-autos are almost all made in China.  Levers, and many of the most popular prosumer machines you'll read about on this site (and on HB) are hand-made in Italy or in the U.S.  The more inexpensive the machine, the cheaper the parts and the more likely it was manufactured in China.  But levers by their very nature need to be more substantive than that.

Lever machines will always yield a "different" shot than a pump-driven machine.  This is one of the reasons behind "pressure profiling."

Very few of us on this site have "the best espresso machine on the market."  Some of the people here, however, do have what is considered the finest grinder on the market.  Me?  I don't have either one.  But I do have one setup in my home, and another in my office.  And I regularly, consistently produce espressi that is better (and not just by a little bit) than 99 percent of the espresso I can order in cafés, coffee houses, bars, and restaurants -- not just locally, but across the country and across Europe.

 
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SteveFreides
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Jun 2012
Posts: 21
Location: Ridgewood, NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Syncrony
Drip: No Drip - French Press
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 3:49pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

My wife thinks I'm strange, too - it's alright. :)

Just trying to explain where I'm coming from, no intent to offend and hope I haven't.  I'm learning and glad to be doing so, just waxing philosophical about the dangers of over-simplifying, nothing more than that.

-S-
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,462
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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 6:22pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

Steve, I think we all know where you're coming from . . . it's more a question of where you're going to that's the issue at hand.

I've lost count of the number of people in the last five or so years who, like you, came here praising the job of their own (or a friend's) super-automatic, and left having acquires a lever, a semi-, or a full-auto and said -- in effect -- OMG, I finally discovered what great espresso is!

Numerous times now, and across many threads, people have all said two things to you:  1) we are all pleased for you that you like/love your super-auto, and 2) a super-auto doesn't hold a candle to a _________ espresso machine.  Now, no one has suggested your taste buds are somehow "wrong"; you like what you like, and that's great!  But some of your assumptions do seem to be incorrect, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for someone to stand up and say, "By God, Steve's right -- those super-autos are God's gift to top-quality espresso!"  Ain't gonna happen . . . we all know that super-autos are all about convenience -- that's their raison d'être -- and convenience and quality are at opposite ends of a see-saw:  you can't have both ends up at their highest point at the same time.

Cheers,
Jason

 
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,917
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600+, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 7:21pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Back up!

Where did I say you can't get a good shot from a Pavoni Europicola?!?!?!

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Maybe I misunderstood.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,917
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600+, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 7:37pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

I think I can sum this up succinctly.
Steve observing your gear, it's obvious you need..or want convenience. Thus, the built in grinders on both your brewing machines.
So, I'd recommend you stray where you are. However, go get yourself into some REAL caFES, WITH GREAT WRITE-UPS, THAT MAKE SUPERIOR COFFEE.
If you can still say after that you're still satisfied with what you make at home, then it's obviously not based on taste.

No one is trying to browbeat you, just educate you. This Forum is dedicated to those who seek to prepare the best coffee they can, given their financial circumstances. When you're ready, perhaps you'll try it our way.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,462
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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 7:39pm
Subject: Re: Super-Automated Espresso Machine - Group
 

IMAWriter Said:

So, I'd recommend you stray where you are.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Freudian slip?

 
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