New guy here, relatively new to coffee too. My wife and I are looking to replace our Saeco fully automatic machine with something more reliable and not terribly expensive, we are on a tight budget. The Saeco has been a constant repair and maintenance hassle.
I have found a used Briel Double Espresso Machine, model DES222AP. I'm not finding any info on this machine, can anybody offer any suggestions about the quality and function of this machine. My wife will use it for milk based drinks, I prefer espresso.
Exploring options is one thing, but it's a piece of junk.
You don't need to spend thousands to make great espresso at home, but you DO need to spend something . . .
OK, let's take it from the top . . .
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?
I wouldn't waste your money. From the google images I've seen, this really looks like a cheap machine with limited longevity.
I'd like to know what you mean by "Tight" budget?
I want to start off by saying that you should stop thinking of an espresso machine as a small appliance. It isn't like buying a blender or a waffle maker. You should approach buying an espresso machine more like a large appliance, like a stove or a fridge. I know it sounds silly, but this really is the case, at least in my own experiences.
Jason asks those six questions a lot because that acts as a better judge of what machine we should recommend. However, the problem is, when you go below a certain price point, manufacturers make compromises to keep costs down. Unfortunately, when the price point is too low, completely unacceptable (At least in our eyes) compromises are made so manufacturers can sell more of their machines at palatable prices.
Now, there are two things you need to know before you consider even thinking about buying a machine:
Machines which use pressurized portafilters are a serious compromise. The idea behind using one of them is to make up for the shortfall of using a very inadequate grinder for espresso. They make strong coffee, but that's about it. Stay away from these machines if you want to make true espresso and focus on using unpressurized portafilters and using a decent grinder.
The biggest problem with espresso machines is that they must be able to brew espresso and then get hot enough to be able to steam if one is making milk drinks. There are a couple of engineering challenges around this. There are a variety of different types of designs which address this engineering problem, but depending on the approach being used, this can dramatically increase the price of the machine. With the more expensive machines comes capability, convenience, speed and durability.
To get right to the point, if you don't want to spend a lot of money but you do want a quality machine, you should consider buying a used machine from someone who knows a lot about espresso. My thought is, if the person is passionate about coffee, they'll also be passionate about making sure the machines are well cared for and kept up properly.
I would say, do you think you could budget at least $1000 for an espresso machine, grinder and accessories?
This is probably the perfect example of a thread where people talk about doing espresso on a budget.
Of course, they're discussing using a pressurized portafilter machine, but well.. the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
If you just want to start there and then upgrade later, I won't blame you.. although, most people who start out this way get hit with the upgradeitis bug really quick and want to switch to using unpressurized portafilters quickly.
When switching from a pressurized to unpressurized portafilter, the need for a decent grinder is absolutely mandatory.
Although, if you don't care and the coffee is "Good enough", then just stick with that.
Qualin's and others' posts have summed up everything I was going to try to warn you about after I tried to find that Briel machine online. All I would add is that that machine is a damn good price at $150 so it isn't a waste of much money. Maybe you should go for it and see if it works for your needs. If it isn't good enough, resell it for $120 and you're hardly worse off. Even if you do buy it, you can keep looking for another, better machine and deal.
Thanks for the feedback, it is much appreciated as this is all new to me. I have done quite a bit of reading on this forum, for a newbie, it is somewhat overwhelming to process it all and figure out what best suits my needs on a limited budget.
My budget; in all honesty, I do not have much to spend. I have been looking at used machines on Craigslist, up to $300. The Briel is $150 and comes with an entry level burr grinder. There seems to be a bunch of Breville 800ESXL's for sale around $200. I just ordered a new coffee maker, a Bonavita BV1800 with the thermal carafe. My current grinder is the blade style, I understand I need to buy a good grinder for better coffee and to make espresso.
With having the new coffee maker, I'm thinking I might be best served spending most of my current budget on a good grinder, I would like to keep that around $200, $300 max. With a good grinder and the Bonavita I can make great coffee and have grinding capability for espresso (please correct me if I'm not thinking right here). Maybe purchase the used Briel machine for $150, or less, and upgrade down the road as budget allows? I would think the Briel, in good service, would be a superior machine to the fully auto Saeco I have that we can't seem to keep running?
To answer the question on what I plan on using the espresso machine for;
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.)
I would be using it strictly for Espresso. My wife likes the milk based drinks, mostly Latte's.
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.)
One at a time is fine. My wife and I are on different work schedules, we are rarely preparing coffee together. We do not entertain guests very often.
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.)
I would probably make espresso every morning before work, a couple of extra times on the weekend. My wife is a latte junkie, she makes three or four a day, sometimes more. So around 30 drinks per week (I think we have an addiction)
4) Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
I could plumb if needed.
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?
I have about $500 to spend now. I could buy the used machine and a grinder and upgrade down the road. Let's say $600 max for the new upgrade machine, assuming I already have an appropriate grinder.
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