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Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Café Venezia Espresso Machine)
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nikitary
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Mar 2013
Posts: 1
Location: Brisbane
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Mar 8, 2013, 10:28pm
Subject: Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Café Venezia Espresso Machine)
 

Hi all, I'm in a process of purchasing my first espresso machine and wanted some input from the more experienced coffe people.

I am after a semi-automatic machine and am on a budget. I layed my eyes on this Breville, although it seems like a good starter machine to me, I don't see it's name mentioned very often.

What are better alternatives in this price range? And HOW are they better?

Thank you for your wisdom.
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coffeestig
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 67
Location: Charlotte
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill QM67
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Electronic...
Drip: French Press
Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 8:08am
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine
 

nikitary Said:

Hi all, I'm in a process of purchasing my first espresso machine and wanted some input from the more experienced coffe people.

I am after a semi-automatic machine and am on a budget. I layed my eyes on this Breville, although it seems like a good starter machine to me, I don't see it's name mentioned very often.

What are better alternatives in this price range? And HOW are they better?

Thank you for your wisdom.

Posted March 8, 2013 link

It's an updated version of the machine I started on.  If you've never had good espresso then you'll love it.  If you have exposure to anything else you'll loath it.  This is an example of ignorance being bliss.  Breville is not loved around here but I loved both Breville machines I had and each time I've upgraded I've given them to friends who have also very much enjoyed them.  It's a "fun"machine but just not in the same ballpark as what's deemed par around here.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 11:23am
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Cafso Machine)
 

Hi welcome to cg.
For the most part, that maker has a rep for making machines that may look good on a counter and are best used as wedding gifts that will never be used.

Please read our FAQ on how to buy an espresso machine, you will find answers to questions you don't even know to ask yet.
"How to Buy an Espresso Machine"

To the cost of the he machine you will need a grinder that is able to grind for espresso and on your budget that will be a hand powered grinder.

For your budget a moka pot and a good grinder is the best way to spend your money.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,260
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 11:31am
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Cafso Machine)
 

My advice is to avoid Breville. They are an unproven commodity with a spotty history and no track record. I came here five or six years ago but i had already bought one.
Why waste your time and money????? Would you try to climb K2 in trunks,flip flops and a beach towel???????


Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

Here is the best deal going in my opinion.

Click Here (www.wholelattelove.com)

Gaggia Classic MDF for 524.00

Everyone is always trying to find the inexpensive way to good espresso and there is none.
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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 Sat Mar 9, 2013, 2:26pm
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Cafso Machine)
 

Iluvdabean Said:

Everyone is always trying to find the inexpensive way to good espresso and there is none.

Posted March 9, 2013 link

I should correct that a bit. There is a way, but you have to make some serious compromises to do it.

We've had numerous threads with people asking if they can make cafe-style espresso for under $200 and ILUVDABEAN
is correct, you can't do it. At least, you can't do it buying new equipment. Buying used equipment, it is possible, but
it is difficult to do and IMHO, a complete waste of time unless you want to tinker with it. Some people would disagree
with me here, but there are some people on this board who are absolutely hardcore at doing espresso on the cheap.

If you can live with Moka pot style coffee, cheap espresso machines use a pressurized portafilter, which in turn
brews strong coffee, but it isn't like cafe-style espresso. With a pressurized portafilter machine, any coffee grinder you
can find will grind the coffee fine enough for the machine.

The big problem I find is that newcomers to this hobby tend to buy a very cheap machine, found out that it is problematic,
unreliable and doesn't tend to produce a very good cup of coffee. When they find out that they can't make cafe style coffee
at home with a machine like that, they eventually give up and sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji. In my eyes, that's just a waste of
money and time.

In all honesty, I'm not going to lie to you, ILUVDABEAN's suggestions are very good places to start. Realistically, I would
budget at least $1000 for a machine and coffee grinder. That would include the machine, grinder and all of the accessories
which need to be purchased in order to make cafe-style drinks.

Don't let that budget scare you, it's just a reality.  You will still make compromises for that budget, but they're not as
severe and you'll get a machine which will last you a decade or more with proper care and maintenance.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,260
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Cafso Machine)
 

Everyone is always trying to find the inexpensive way to good espresso and there is none.
I think this is accurate in that it expresses the idea of buying the cheapest machine out there and then asking the question
later on in this forum..."I bought this machine and a got a lb of old coffee but I cant make espresso."
Please help me. Where as its much easier to just say Gaggia Classic,MDF,fresh beans,good tamper,tamp to 30 lbs and
keep adjusting grind until you can get a double basket to a 30 sec pull. Then you can paly with the other ideas but you will at least
be in the ball park. So I say thats a good place to start. Thats all.


qualin Said:

I should correct that a bit. There is a way, but you have to make some serious compromises to do it.

We've had numerous threads with people asking if they can make cafe-style espresso for under $200 and ILUVDABEAN
is correct, you can't do it. At least, you can't do it buying new equipment. Buying used equipment, it is possible, but
it is difficult to do and IMHO, a complete waste of time unless you want to tinker with it. Some people would disagree
with me here, but there are some people on this board who are absolutely hardcore at doing espresso on the cheap.

If you can live with Moka pot style coffee, cheap espresso machines use a pressurized portafilter, which in turn
brews strong coffee, but it isn't like cafe-style espresso. With a pressurized portafilter machine, any coffee grinder you
can find will grind the coffee fine enough for the machine.

The big problem I find is that newcomers to this hobby tend to buy a very cheap machine, found out that it is problematic,
unreliable and doesn't tend to produce a very good cup of coffee. When they find out that they can't make cafe style coffee
at home with a machine like that, they eventually give up and sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji. In my eyes, that's just a waste of
money and time.

In all honesty, I'm not going to lie to you, ILUVDABEAN's suggestions are very good places to start. Realistically, I would
budget at least $1000 for a machine and coffee grinder. That would include the machine, grinder and all of the accessories
which need to be purchased in order to make cafe-style drinks.

Don't let that budget scare you, it's just a reality.  You will still make compromises for that budget, but they're not as
severe and you'll get a machine which will last you a decade or more with proper care and maintenance.

Posted March 9, 2013 link

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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 Sat Mar 9, 2013, 2:54pm
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine
 

OK, now rant aside... Here's where to start:

Assuming that you make 1-2 drinks a day for yourself and you very seldom have company over, the most cost effective pump-driven machine is called a
Single Boiler Dual Use (SBDU) Machine. (I'm not counting Thermoblock machines because in my eyes, they're junk due to having poor temperature
stability and reliability.) This machine has a single boiler with two different thermostats. One thermostat for brewing and a higher temperature
thermostat for steaming. The downside to these machines is that you have to wait for the machine to warm up for steam. This means that if you drink
lots of milk drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, etc, it can be somewhat time consuming.

(BTW, What I mean by time consuming is 10 minutes to prepare a milk based drink, from start to finish, including clean up.)

The most robust and highest quality SBDU machine on the market, at least IMHO, is the Rancilio Silvia. The downside is that you'll pay for the quality of the
machine but not the feature set. These machines sell for approximately $650.

Competitors to the Rancilio Silvia are the Lelit PL41EM (~$500), The Gaggia Classic (~$600), the Ascaso Steel Uno (~$600)

All of the above I would say are excellent starter machines.  All of the above have some great reviews on this site, read up on them before you make your
decision. I personally owned a Rancilio Silvia and loved it. I don't have experience with the other machines above.

For a coffee grinder, the Baratza Precisio (~$320) is a good place to start.

Competitors to the Baratza Precisio are the Lelit PL53 (~$300), Ascaso I1 (~$300) and the Rancilio Rocky (~$360)

I owned a Rancilio Rocky and while it did make for great espresso, it has a few minor shortcomings when it comes to making espresso. Most noticeably,
the stepped grind selection, which makes it very easy to dial in for espresso but doesn't give you the ability to control your dose. (You adjust flow through
both grind fineness and desired dose. With the Rocky, you get get your grind close and then adjust with dose.)

I do not personally have experience with the Baratza, Lelit and Ascaso grinders. I recommend you read the reviews on this site. I would say that the
minimum budget for an espresso capable grinder is at least $300.

Then, here comes the fun part....

You need to budget for accessories. These accessories include a precision scale which can measure down to 0.1 grams and preferably up to a Kilogram.
I personally recommend the Digiweigh DWP-1001 because I have one and it works fine for the purpose of measuring dosage and output.

Then you need a steaming themometer, steaming pitchers, both 12 oz and 20 oz, a knockbox to knock out grounds, a blind basket or a backflushing disc,
a bottle of cafiza and a bottle of grinds for cleaning, a tamping stand and a tamper, a grouphead cleaning brush (A toothbrush will do in a pinch) and
optionally, a set of 1 oz shot glasses to measure volume. (When making big latte drinks)

As well, it doesn't hurt to consider buying some espresso cups, cappuccino cups and late cups with saucers.

Good luck on your journey. Like I said before, don't let the prices scare you, these price points are where you move from buying junk and toys to something
which will actually do the job properly, be reliable and dependable and really make your hard earned dollars pay for themselves.

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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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,260
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 3:01pm
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine
 

No rant here just have to apparently explain my statement because you dont get it.
Everyone is always trying to find the inexpensive way to good espresso and there is none.
So dont look at the cheapest machine but look at the lowest price ones that make real espresso.

Good info though but still not less expensive than the Classic/MDF
for 525.00 with not tax and free shipping.Waboooooonga my Canadian espresso brother!
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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 Sat Mar 9, 2013, 10:45pm
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine
 

Iluvdabean Said:

No rant here

Posted March 9, 2013 link

Heh. Sorry about that, my posts were supposed to be together and you made your post while I was in the process of composing my second one.
It was ME who was ranting, not you. :-)

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 968
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 10:47pm
Subject: Re: Starter espresso machine (alternative to Breville Café Venezia Espresso
 

nikitary Said:

I layed my eyes on this Breville, although it seems like a good starter machine to me, I don't see it's name mentioned very often.

What are better alternatives in this price range? And HOW are they better?

Posted March 8, 2013 link

Don't put the cart before the horse.  Which grinder are you using or which grinder are you considering?  If the Preciso or equivalent (or better) is beyond your budget then I'd recommend saving up.  Grind is critical to brewing.

As for the machine -- what makes you think it's a good starter machine?  The price tag?  The branding?  It's a thermoblock which isn't desirable versus a proper boiler for thermal stability.  It has a pressurized portafilter which isn't desirable either unless you just want to look at the fake crema produced.

nikitary Said:

I am after a semi-automatic machine and am on a budget.

Posted March 8, 2013 link

What's your budget?  The $200AUD price of the machine you linked for both grinder and machine?  It's difficult to recommend any solution for that budget.   Coffee geeks aren't going to recommend a big box store espresso machine as they don't produce proper espresso and don't hold up in the long run.  If you're going to get into home espresso you'll be immediately upgrading from such a machine anyway and the money you spent on it will have been wasted.  A starter setup for a coffee geek would be something like the Preciso and the Classic.

coffeestig Said:

If you've never had good espresso then you'll love it.

Posted March 9, 2013 link

I wouldn't assume that.  Some newbies might love it.  Others will end frustrated with it and give up on home espresso.  If I had not taken the advice here I'd be in the latter category.

Iluvdabean Said:

Everyone is always trying to find the inexpensive way to good espresso and there is none.

Posted March 9, 2013 link

Expensive is subjective.  Newbies always have sticker shock but when you have no frame of reference that's to be expected.  I thought $450 my first machine and $250 for my first grinder were very expensive.  My experience has changed my perspective and I'm in the process of upgrading to a double boiler without any qualms.  I'd easily buy a Super Jolly knowing what I know now without any reservations.  It takes understanding what's possible at different price points to appreciate the pricing spectrum of espresso equipment.

All that said, some people would be happy with something like the Breville Café Venezia and a blade grinder but just tasting good espresso from a good coffee shop will demonstrate what's possible and why the Breville in question isn't a good choice if you're serious about home espresso.  Not everyone out there is a coffee geek as indicated by the popularity of Starbucks.
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