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Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Upgrade theory -...  
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 847
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 7:42pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

fredk01 Said:

Seems to me that you would be a perfect candidate for the Crossland CC1. ---- and only occasional milk drinks, so I don't see the need for a heavy duty HX type machine.

Posted February 20, 2013 link

Having tested the CC1 in my home I would venture to say the CC1 would be step up however I disagree with "only occasional milk drinks" supporting the purchase of a CC1. Actually I found it to be good for milk drinks with shocking steam power. The straight shots were drinkable enough but not on par with an exposed E-61 or better group. In all fairness it would be unreasonable to expect to be the complete equal of a machine costing twice as much or more. It is just one person's opinion, mine, that the CC1 is an excellent choice for someone coming out of Super Auto.

As for the OP I to would rather see a killer grinder and just save up for machine solidly in the prosumer class. If an intermediate step is a must the CC1 would be about as good as any and along side the Oscar would be another solid option.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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fredk01
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 136
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 7:57pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

jwoodyu Said:

... Actually I found it to be good for milk drinks with shocking steam power. ...

Posted February 20, 2013 link

Maybe that was a poor choice of words on my part.  I did not mean to imply the CC1 was not good at milk drinks, only that it was more appropriate for light use vs cranking out many milk drinks in a row quickly.

The quality of shots is probably a topic for another post.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:18pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

To the OP:

People go on the upgrade path for their grinders because they want a better tasting espresso and better grinding capability. There is a little bit more convenience, such as automatic timers,
weighed dosing, doserless operation, etc. I can certainly say from experience that a $300 grinder produces a very different coffee than what a $1100 grinder does.

People go on the upgrade path for their machine because they want more from their equipment. More capability, better convenience, more features, more consistency and more control.
I found that the difference between the coffee that a $500 machine makes as opposed to what $2500 espresso machine makes, isn't that much when you consider what you get in the cup.
Some people would argue this point. I'd like to emphasize that this is IMHO. I feel that a $500 machine requires a lot more work, knowledge and practice to pull the same shot that a
$2500 machine will always pull without much effort, regardless.

Realistically, it all really comes down to your budget and your needs. Jason kind of laid everything out in a nutshell for the most part. If you find that the machine you are using now isn't
"Keeping up" with what you want, then upgrade.. but don't waste your money either. IMHO, I don't think that if you have already saved up 2/3rds of what your dream machine is, you
should compromise with buying a lower priced machine when you only have 1/3rd left to save up! :-)

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
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 Feb 21, 2013, 6:50am
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

fredk01 Said:

Jason.  Why are you ignoring termoblock units?  At the CC1 price point, they seem to fit an unfilled niche: people like me that want quality espresso, but are not heavy enough users to warrant an HX of DB type machine.

Posted February 20, 2013 link

thermoblock machines generally haven't been very good, nor have they held up over time.  That said, the CC1 seemed to be a real "game changer," as they say, but then hit some bumps in the road.  Several vendors here in the States stopped selling it due to problems they were reporting, and Crossland is (apparently) making some changes to the machine.  In theory, a thermoblock should work fine -- I'm just not sure it has . . . yet.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
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 Feb 21, 2013, 6:55am
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

Bud?

qualin Said:

I can certainly say from experience that a $300 grinder produces a very different coffee than what a $1100 grinder does.

Posted February 20, 2013 link

Different, how?  Better? Worse? Or just different?

qualin Said:

I found that the difference between the coffee that a $500 machine makes as opposed to what $2500 espresso machine makes, isn't that much when you consider what you get in the cup.

Posted February 20, 2013 link

Again, is what you get in the cup better, worse, or just different?  I'm confused by your post.  Are you saying that a $2,500 machine is worth it because it's not that much considering what improvement there are in the cup?  Or, are you saying that the $500 machine is as good as the $2,500 one, and you should save your money?  

qualin Said:

Some people would argue this point. I'd like to emphasize that this is IMHO. I feel that a $500 machine requires a lot more work, knowledge and practice to pull the same shot that a $2500 machine will always pull without much effort, regardless.

Posted February 20, 2013 link

Bud, I'm not trying to argue.  I'm trying to understand.  Are you saying there is little or no effort involved in a $2,500 machine?

TIA,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 963
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:08pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

Ever Said:

That said, I figure the next step would be a Gaggia Classic or Rancilio Silvia, and I'm curious just how much better of espresso this will produce than what I'm able to achieve with my current setup. Will upgrading to the "Silvia-tier" will even be noticeably worth it?

Posted February 19, 2013 link

Depends on who you ask -- same as it is with worth on any topic.  Personally, I don't see the the point in "upgrading" from an SBDU to an SBDU but your priorities, budget, etc may be entirely different than my own.  I'm also not planning on hopping from machine to machine.  I'm looking for a "last" upgrade with my next purchase.

All that said, I'm one of those that would consider moving from any department/big box store espresso machine to be a worthwhile upgrade.  They're a whole different class of machine when you move up even into the entry level.

Ever Said:

My long term goals are to slowly work my way up through having a slick setup. I began with a $100 machine and two years later added a $300 grinder. A year from now I could see myself spending ~$400-$800 on a new machine (if it's worth it), and down the line even further buying a $1,500++ machine with respective grinder.

Posted February 19, 2013 link

Try looking at what the machines are versus just the price tags.

I'd strongly suggest looking for CoffeeGeeks in your area to see if you can visit and experience their equipment.  Worth is something that's difficult for one person to assess for another person.

Ever Said:

I'd love a machine that I don't have to "mod." I'm a tinkerer at heart, but it pains me to see threads about "necessary" mods to something like the Gaggia Classic - a machine I've considered to be an upgrade from mine.

Posted February 19, 2013 link

Necessary is also subjective.  Plenty do without what may be one person's "necessary" mods.  Others may agree that they are necessary.  As an example, I find the PID on my Silvia nice to have but it isn't necessary IMO.  The next person might see it as a must-have.

While you view the Gaggia Classic as an upgrade it is product designed to a price point and compromises had to be made to reach that price point.  Mods are done in cases where people want to address such compromises.  Granted, even high end machines get modded but it's typically the Coffee Geeks looking to eke out every possible bit of performance.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
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 Feb 21, 2013, 2:34pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

Ever Said:

I'd love a machine that I don't have to "mod."

Posted February 19, 2013 link

I have never "moded" any machine I've owned.

Ever Said:

I'm a tinkerer at heart, but it pains me to see threads about "necessary" mods to something like the Gaggia Classic - a machine I've considered to be an upgrade from mine.

Posted February 19, 2013 link

There are very few "necessary" modifications.  The point is that you're talking to a bunch of coffee geeks!  It's like going to a car show, seeing all of the mods people have done to their Corvettes, and thinking that if you buy one, you'll have to modify it too!

Ever Said:

So what tier is above the mentioned SBDU units (standard go-to machines)? And what about after that?

Posted February 19, 2013 link

Lowest level:  "steam toys"
Next level: SBDU
Top level:  HX & DB

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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fredk01
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 136
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 5:05pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

thermoblock machines generally haven't been very good, nor have they held up over time.  That said, the CC1 seemed to be a real "game changer," as they say, but then hit some bumps in the road.  Several vendors here in the States stopped selling it due to problems they were reporting, and Crossland is (apparently) making some changes to the machine.  In theory, a thermoblock should work fine -- I'm just not sure it has . . . yet.

Posted February 21, 2013 link

New thread started
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 8:45pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Different, how?  Better? Worse? Or just different?

Posted February 21, 2013 link

Well, you of all people have gone down that road, but for the OP, I suppose I should clarify.

It only makes sense that higher priced grinders have much more precision components in them as well as higher quality. Burrs which can run at a slower speed,
but grind more coffee. Espresso demands a consistent grind of a uniform texture. The more higher priced the grinder, the more consistent the grind will be.
(Of course, within reason and within limits. After a certain price point, you are paying more for speed, like when you get up into shop grinder territory.)

Reading on the grinders forum, there is a huge debate about flat burred grinders as opposed to conical burred grinders. One isn't better than the other, they
are different in that they bring out different tastes in the coffee.

So, to me, a higher priced grinder is much more durable, more reliable, better built and just generally produces a better grind overall. The difference between my
Rancilio Rocky and my Mazzer Mini Electronic is like night and day. Less fines in the cup, bolder tastes in the coffee, better consistency and it's also really quiet. :-)

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Again, is what you get in the cup better, worse, or just different? ... Are you saying that a $2,500 machine is worth it because it's not that much
considering what improvement there are in the cup?  Or, are you saying that the $500 machine is as good as the $2,500 one, and you should save your money?  

Posted February 21, 2013 link

What I'm saying is this...

A $600 Rancilio Silvia can make just as good as a cup of coffee as a $2500 Izzo Duetto. However, in order to achieve that, the barista has to temperature surf
to get it right because the machine isn't very consistent, whereas the Izzo is very consistent. I had to "work harder" to pull a great shot with my Silvia than I had to
with my Izzo.. No temperature surfing required because it has a precision PID, something the Silvia lacked.

As well, from start to finish, to make a milk drink with a Silvia, including temperature surfing and waiting for steam, it takes about 10 minutes. I can pre-heat my Izzo,
it takes 8 minutes for the steam boiler to warm up, I can make a milk drink in less than 5 minutes. Where the time savings come into play is that to make 5 milk drinks
with a Silvia takes about 30 minutes. To do the same with an Izzo, takes me slightly over one third that time. Of course, I'm approximating.

Now, to compare a cup of coffee between a $2500 Duetto and a $6700 La Marzocco GS/3? Using the exact same grinder and blend, I probably wouldn't even be able
to tell the difference.. Just as much as how a vibe pump machine makes exactly the same coffee as a rotary pump machine, but it costs less. The difference isn't in the
cup at that point in time, it is in convenience, capability and just the general experience.

So, to answer your question, I don't think there is much of an improvement in the cup between a cheap machine and an expensive machine, unless you count machines
which use pressurized portafilters, in which case that doesn't count. :-) What is an improvement is that the baristas skills don't act as much of a factor. An inexperienced
barista is much more likely to make a good shot with an expensive machine than an experienced barista with a cheap machine... if that makes any sense.

Going from a Rocky to a Mazzer grinder made the most difference in the cup, for me anyway. Also, the Mazzer had a few features I liked that the Rocky didn't have.
Timed dosing isn't the best method to grind coffee, but it sure beats having to hold down a switch.

Going from a Silvia to a Duetto didn't really improve much of what was in the cup, but what it certainly did was just make the overall coffee making experience much more
pleasant, faster, convenient and less "Fuss and Muss" to get that absolutely perfect shot. Again though, it all comes down to the "mano", the hand using the machine.

I hope that made things a bit clearer. :-)

To go back to what the OP said, if you really want to see a change in your coffee making experience, make a big leap on your machine. Go straight from a consumer
grade machine to a prosumer HX or DB machine, depending on your budget. Don't waste your money on smaller steps. I made sure to go from a vibe pump reservoir
machine (Silvia - About $600) straight to a rotary pump plumbed-in machine (Duetto - About $2500) once I became passionate about coffee.

If you want to see a change in the results of your coffee making experience, the steps for grinders are much more gradual and lower priced, but have a bigger effect.
For example, since I started off with a a Rancilio Rocky (About $300) and upgraded to a Mazzer Mini Electronic (About $1100).. That's pretty typical, I think of the price gap
between the next "step", so to say. Although, I'm sure some people would disagree with me there.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,981
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 8:54pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade theory - Which machine next? And which one after that?
 

Is OP, Ever, still reading and getting something from this thread or we just talking with each other :)

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