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Need help choosing a nice setup
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caffinatedhacker
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Florida
Expertise: I love coffee

Drip: Kuerig
Posted Sun Feb 24, 2013, 9:50pm
Subject: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

I am looking to purchase a really nice setup. I drink a lot of cafe con leche and espresso. I'm currently using a cheap Moka stove top pot. I was about to purchase a Gaggia Titanium Super-Automatic, but decided against it after reading about failure rates. I'm now looking at the Silvia, but wonder if spending a bit more would allow me to purchase something better for my needs. I've listed the basic question / answers below. Thanks in advance for your advice.

1) What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?

I am currently addicted to Cuban coffee. I love cafe con leche and cafe cubano. My wife and daughter drink latte's and cappuccino's. Of course, I love straight espresso shots too.
I also want to have the ability to make great Caffe Americano's.

2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at at one time?

Most of the time it will be one or two. There will be times when my wife, daughter and I will all be drinking. There will also be times that we will serve guests.

3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?

Probably 30 on average. NOTE: My wife and daughter need to be able to use the machine without too much frustration. They can learn to use the machine, but I don't want it to be a pain in the butt.

4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?

Yes, I can plumb. Can do either.

5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?

20 amp

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

$1000 - $1500 with grinder
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
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 Mon Feb 25, 2013, 1:19am
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

caffinatedhacker Said:

I'm now looking at the Silvia, but wonder if spending a bit more would allow me to purchase something better for my needs.

Posted February 24, 2013 link

The Silvia is a great machine in its own right. I used to own one. The build quality of the Silvia is fantastic and it is an extremely durable machine. It also keeps its value quite well on the used market.
Unfortunately, the technology the Silvia uses is quite outdated and doesn't really offer good value for the money compared to other machines in its price range. The big problem with the Silvia is that
it uses thermostats with a wide dead band. This is good enough for making milk drinks but for straight espresso shots, I'd say that it won't cut the mustard. That and the tiny drip tray drove me nuts.

Since you are making a lot of straight espresso shots, What I think you may need is a PID controlled Single Boiler Dual Use or a Single Boiler / Thermoblock machine. (Or what is called
a "Dual Heater" machine, not to be confused with a double boiler machine.)

Even though I've never owned one, something like a Crossland CC1 machine might be something more along the lines of what you are looking for. Read the reviews of this machine here:
"Crossland CC1 PID Espresso Machine"

Competitors to the Crossland CC1 are the Lelit PL4TEM V2, Ascaso Steel Uno Professional w/ PID and the Quick Mill Silvano.

I can't find reviews for this particular model of Lelit machine on this site unfortunately.
Reviews for the Quickmill Silvano can be found here: "QuickMill Silvano"
Reviews for the Ascaso steel machines can be found here: "Ascaso Seel Espresso Line"

caffinatedhacker Said:

Most of the time it will be one or two. There will be times when my wife, daughter and I will all be drinking. There will also be times that we will serve guests.

Posted February 24, 2013 link

One of the limiting factors of an SBDU machine is that you have to wait for it to heat up to make steam. All of the machines I've listed above, except for the Lelit do not have this limitation.

The downside to Thermoblocks is that people sometimes complain about the "Chunk Chunk Chunk" noises these machines make as they feed water to the thermoblock for steaming. Unfortunately,
this is just a reality of how they work. People also sometimes complain about weak steaming power compared to a SBDU, but this is a tradeoff for not having to wait for the boiler to reach steam temperature.
There are a lot of positive reviews about the Quickmill Silvano, so maybe perhaps it isn't as big an issue as I may think it is.

caffinatedhacker Said:

NOTE: My wife and daughter need to be able to use the machine without too much frustration. They can learn to use the machine, but I don't want it to be a pain in the butt.

Posted February 24, 2013 link

I think regardless of any machine you buy, unless it is a super-automatic, you will have to show them how to do use it. I saw a video of an 8 year old making a cappuccino on a semi-auto. It isn't hard.

caffinatedhacker Said:

Yes, I can plumb. Can do either.

Posted February 24, 2013 link

This may be something you may be willing to consider doing down the road if your coffee consumption increases and you get tired of filling a reservoir all the time. For now, due to your budget, I don't
honestly think this is an option for you and is not really necessary at this time.

caffinatedhacker Said:

20 amp

Posted February 24, 2013 link

This question is asked because a few machines use 20 amp service for better recovery time, but in this situation, a 20 amp circuit won't be required.

caffinatedhacker Said:

$1000 - $1500 with grinder

Posted February 24, 2013 link

I would consider something like a Baratza Vario, which would keep your grinder and machine within budget.

Good luck!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 652
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 2:30am
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

Well, I'm not biased at all, but the Nuova Simonelli Oscar and Baratza Vario or Vario-W should fit right in your price range. Unlike the Silvia, the Oscar is a Heat Exchange machine which can steam milk and pull a shot simultaneously. It also has probably the largest boiler of any home machine I can think of. The only reason the Oscar isn't more popular is because it's not shiny.

If you have $1500 do NOT buy a single boiler, dual use machine like the Silvia. It will only frustrate you.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,753
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 10:00am
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

qualin Said:

The Silvia is a great machine in its own right. I used to own one. The build quality of the Silvia is fantastic and it is an extremely durable machine. It also keeps its value quite well on the used market.
Unfortunately, the technology the Silvia uses is quite outdated and doesn't really offer good value for the money compared to other machines in its price range. The big problem with the Silvia is that
it uses thermostats with a wide dead band. This is good enough for making milk drinks but for straight espresso shots, I'd say that it won't cut the mustard. That and the tiny drip tray drove me nuts.

Since you are making a lot of straight espresso shots, What I think you may need is a PID controlled Single Boiler Dual Use or a Single Boiler / Thermoblock machine. (Or what is called
a "Dual Heater" machine, not to be confused with a double boiler machine.)

Posted February 25, 2013 link

What he's trying to say is, the Silvia won't keep up with your needs when you entertain and is probably not enough machine for your needs.

qualin Said:

Even though I've never owned one, something like a Crossland CC1 machine might be something more along the lines of what you are looking for.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

yeah, I agree this might work for you.  If you'd consider used, you might be able to get a good deal in the B,S,T forum or elsewhere on a HX or DB machine that will serve you very well.  Another place to check periodically is the buyer's remorse page on Chris' Coffee Service.

qualin Said:

I think regardless of any machine you buy, unless it is a super-automatic, you will have to show them how to do use it. I saw a video of an 8 year old making a cappuccino on a semi-auto. It isn't hard.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

There is a learning curve for lmaking espresso and espresso-based drinks.  No way around that, except like Bud said...superauto, but then...well...you have a superauto, instead of a super great machine.

qualin Said:

This may be something you may be willing to consider doing down the road if your coffee consumption increases and you get tired of filling a reservoir all the time. For now, due to your budget, I don't
honestly think this is an option for you and is not really necessary at this time.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

Plumbing in can be done quite cheaply and I think it's worth doing from the get-go.  You need a particle filter and probably a softener inline, which you can get from a home improvment store for less than $200 Or you can buy from the online espresso machine supply retailers.

Regarding electrical, there are two things to check before you buy.  First, is the 20amp supply you have dedicated (single Romex from the breaker to a single outlet) or is it shared (running things like lights and other outlets)? Second, does the machine you're about to buy require a dedicated outlet?

Regarding the grinder, again, if you are open to used gear, there are often good deals in the B,S,T forum.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 2,973
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:43pm
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

There is a learning curve with any espresso machine and I personally am glad I skipped the single boiler level of machine and went right to the more stable and strong steamer that I got used. (bought used so I could afford it)

It is kinda like skipping learning to drive a standard car and going right to automatic transmission.  Driving standard is harder to describe than do and not that hard to do when you learn it.  However, in your case I would not recommend any single boiler except maybe the CC1.

You are going to want to have a simple stream lined process to have them do it and not want a fussy fiddly machine to surf to get a good shot.  If you had a larger budget I would say get the Londinium I because there is no flush at all and levers are very forgiving in general.  And I was in love with that machine even before I got to test drive it at a friend's house.

If I were you, I would probably get a 900-1200 range HX machine and a vario w.  The W is good for you because you can set the grind weight for them and they will not have to even know what it is to get the right dose.  It is also easy to move the lever up a notch finer as the day goes on and not really understand the grinder at all.  (unlike stepless grinders that would be fiddly)

The Breville double boiler would be a good fit feature wise if I was comfortable in recommending a Breville.  I can't do it as I don't believe the BDB will last and you have to send it in for service just do descale.  That is like sending your car to Detroit to get the oil changed and you can't get parts for it.  I am not bashing them, I am just not recommending Breville because I have serious doubts about what I feel is a very expensive machine.  For the same money you can get a machine that I know will last a very long time and have a high resale value if you upgrade later.  You can work on those other machines to keep them going 10 or 20 years and much fewer if any proprietary parts.  I have strong reservations that in the future you will see 10 and 20 year old BDB still working.

 
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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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
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 Mon Feb 25, 2013, 7:38pm
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

emradguy Said:

What he's trying to say is, the Silvia won't keep up with your needs when you entertain and is probably not enough machine for your needs.

Posted February 25, 2013 link



Well, the OP's requirements seemed kind of conservative, but I do certainly agree that one of the biggest pains in the rear about SBDU machines is that they are great when you are making a small
amount of drinks, but when you are having company over, forget it. By the time your company finishes their drinks, you'll be starting in on making yours. This is especially true if your company likes to
drink lots of milk drinks.

In retrospect, please disregard my suggestion for the Lelit.. your family won't want to "Wait in line" to make their milk drinks.

emradguy Said:

Plumbing in can be done quite cheaply and I think it's worth doing from the get-go.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

It has been my own personal experience that even though the plumbing itself is fairly cheap to do, you need a machine which can accommodate the plumbing and the water pressure. As well, you may need
a pressure regulator. It is mandatory for vibe pump machines, but can be optional for rotary pump machines, depending on the situation. It has been my experience that when you factor in what a conversion
kit costs (Since many reservoir based espresso machines have to be converted) the pressure regulator and the labor to install everything, you might as well just opt for a rotary pump machine.

Unfortunately, even low end Rotary Pump machines start in about double your budget.

emradguy Said:

Second, does the machine you're about to buy require a dedicated outlet?

Posted February 25, 2013 link

I would consider all espresso machines to be high wattage, fairly comparable to a space heater in wattage consumption. If I left my Silvia on at the same time my wife was using the Microwave, it was enough
to pop the breaker, so there should always be the consideration made to put the espresso machine itself on a dedicated circuit or a circuit which doesn't share a lot of current with other devices.

emradguy Said:

Regarding the grinder, again, if you are open to used gear, there are often good deals in the B,S,T forum.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

I would highly agree with Emraguy on this one. A coffee grinder is a fairly simple appliance and there isn't much that can go wrong with them. Of course, you need to examine the burrs to see if they
are worn, but even if they are, they're fairly cheap to replace. The rest of it is basically a power switch and a motor, unless you go with an electronic grinder. (That is a little bit of an oversimplification, but
that sums it up.)

Good luck!

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


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Florida
Expertise: I love coffee

Drip: Kuerig
Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 7:58pm
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

qualin Said:

Even though I've never owned one, something like a Crossland CC1 machine might be something more along the lines of what you are looking for. Read the reviews of this machine here:
"Crossland CC1 PID Espresso Machine"

Competitors to the Crossland CC1 are the Lelit PL4TEM V2, Ascaso Steel Uno Professional w/ PID and the Quick Mill Silvano.

I can't find reviews for this particular model of Lelit machine on this site unfortunately.
Reviews for the Quickmill Silvano can be found here: "QuickMill Silvano"
Reviews for the Ascaso steel machines can be found here: "Ascaso Seel Espresso Line"

Posted February 25, 2013 link

Thanks. I will start looking at these. I have looked at the CC1 some, it didn't seem to get the greatest reviews, at least in the beginning.

Markarian Said:

Well, I'm not biased at all, but the Nuova Simonelli Oscar and Baratza Vario or Vario-W should fit right in your price range.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

I think I will get the Baratza Vario-W. I looked up the Oscar and found a nice video comparing it to the Silvia.

emradguy Said:

If you'd consider used, you might be able to get a good deal in the B,S,T forum or elsewhere on a HX or DB machine that will serve you very well.  Another place to check periodically is the buyer's remorse page on Chris' Coffee Service.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

I'm a bit apprehensive in regards to buying used, but will keep that as an option


emradguy Said:

Plumbing in can be done quite cheaply and I think it's worth doing from the get-go.  You need a particle filter and probably a softener inline, which you can get from a home improvment store for less than $200 Or you can buy from the online espresso machine supply retailers.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

I have a 7-stage reverse osmosis water filter I would love to plumb it into. Can the machines in my budget range be modded for plumbing?

emradguy Said:

Regarding electrical, there are two things to check before you buy.  First, is the 20amp supply you have dedicated (single Romex from the breaker to a single outlet) or is it shared (running things like lights and other outlets)? Second, does the machine you're about to buy require a dedicated outlet?

Posted February 25, 2013 link

It is shared with other outlets.


Coffeenoobie Said:

You are going to want to have a simple stream lined process to have them do it and not want a fussy fiddly machine to surf to get a good shot.  If you had a larger budget I would say get the Londinium I because there is no flush at all and levers are very forgiving in general.  And I was in love with that machine even before I got to test drive it at a friend's house.

If I were you, I would probably get a 900-1200 range HX machine and a vario w.  The W is good for you because you can set the grind weight for them and they will not have to even know what it is to get the right dose.  It is also easy to move the lever up a notch finer as the day goes on and not really understand the grinder at all.  (unlike stepless grinders that would be fiddly)

Posted February 25, 2013 link

What if I held off on a grinder for awhile and bought pre-ground coffee?
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
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 Mon Feb 25, 2013, 8:05pm
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

If you had a larger budget I would say get the Londinium

Posted February 25, 2013 link

Heh.. Well, That's nearly a $3000 machine. :-) IMHO, I think a spring lever machine makes for an impressive sight, the wife and daughter of the OP may find it a bit too imposing!

For the OP, is bumping up the budget for a machine and a grinder an option?

Coffeenoobie Said:

The Breville double boiler would be a good fit feature wise if I was comfortable in recommending a Breville.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

There is a massive thread about the BDB on this forum right now. People love this machine, but they're still working through a few teething pains with it. This machine would meet the
OP's needs quite nicely and it would just barely be within his budget. I think the BDB is an great "starter" machine, but buy it knowing that it may not have good longevity. If you buy it
from a store which has an extremely generous warranty, then it suddenly it presents excellent value for the money with the expectation that it is a consumer grade machine. Like anything
consumer grade though, consider having the expectation that when the warranty runs out, the machine will stop working. (It may last for years afterwards, who knows?)

The big controversy is that dual boiler machines are generally quite expensive while the BDB isn't. It could be due to volume manufacturing or maybe that it is made in China.
Everyone else (usually Italian manufacturers) generally sell a double boiler for roughly around $1000 more than the BDB. To keep costs down, most Sub-$2000 prosumer grade
espresso machines are typically heat exchanging machines. Even the Quickmill QM67, considered to be an entry level double boiler machine, is about $2000.

Coffeenoobie Said:

For the same money you can get a machine that I know will last a very long time and have a high resale value if you upgrade later.

Posted February 25, 2013 link

 

This. Something like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar, a lower end heat exchanging machine, is a proven design that has spent a long time in service. Parts are plentiful, the machines are very
serviceable (Do-it-yourself or professional) and they share a few parts with their larger cousins. (At least, to the best of my knowledge.) The downside is that they have a plastic cabinet.
Used, they typically sell around the $500 mark.. New, they sell around the $1300-$1400 mark. Right now, idrinkcoffee.com has a sale on, a NS Oscar and a Baratza Vario for $1600. That's
a good combo which works well together.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,753
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Feb 25, 2013, 9:53pm
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

Strongly recommend against pre-ground coffee.  It's not going to allow you to make decent, let alone good, espresso.

Also, there are a lot of machines that are ok for shared power supply, unless you're power is sketchy (like Bud's seems to be - it's the first I've ever heard of where a Silvia needed to have it's own dedicated circuit - must be something Canadian...just kidding Bud :)).

I completely understand your aversion to used gear.  I'm kind of the same way, though I would possibly be inclined to buy a used grinder (oh, wait, I did do that once - lol).  You could save some money buying a refurbished grinder from Baratza.  They update the site every Thursday am, and sometimes have Varios there.  Their refurbished units come with a one year warranty.  Also, Baratza is the epitome of customer service.  Ah, there's a Vario-W there now - $440 Click Here (www.baratza.com)

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 2,973
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013, 12:24am
Subject: Re: Need help choosing a nice setup
 

There are a few machines at the 1k mark not just my Oscar.  Not all of them ABS plastic, Oscar is no burn and portable and cheaper without the stainless steel.  Because it is not stainless the price is normally very reasonable for a used one.  

The Loundinium lever machine was very easy to use.  It was fill portafilter, tamp and go. It was amazingly easy for the quality in the cup. But that is not his budget.

 
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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