Markarian Senior Member Joined: 27 Jun 2012 Posts: 658 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 Apr 1, 2013, 11:53am Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
The Oscar may not look like much, but it has one of the largest boilers of any home pour-over (reservoir) machine. Its steam power is absolutely unmatched by anything in your price range. 29 Helens agree that buying a used Oscar is economical. But if you're not a handy, DIY type, then be warned because I don't think there's such a thing as a used Oscar that needs some work. Buying a new Oscar is certainly a worthwhile investment and one I don't think you'll be unhappy with.
Oh, let me mention one more thing about Baratza. They're based in Factoria and getting your grinder fixed is as easy as calling them up, describing the problem, and bringing it in. They do have excellent customer service and I'm pretty happy with mine.
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 3,083 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 1:01pm Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
I believe he has the budget for a new machine so I would not say Oscar is the first one I would get. Used he is hard to beat. My Oscar was not as bad off as Markarian but most used equipment of any kind have some issues.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 7:20am Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
Take a trip to Seattle Coffee Gear and try the equipment. They have the Oscar and a lot of other machines.
Between the Rocky and Vaio there really is no choice. The Rocky is an entry level grinder that is barely adequate for espresso. It has 40 widely spaced settings settings that frequently don't provide the right grind. The Vario will be a much better choice.
When I went to SCG intending to buy an Alex Duetto, I wound up with a Mini Vivaldi. Both great machines, but, the Mini Vivaldi worked best for me. Buying a machine/grinder package will probably get you a discount on the package. It's true you will have to pay sales tax, but the chance to select the right machine is worth the extra cost.
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 7:47am Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
There is a fourth option I'm surprised didn't come up, which is the La Nuova Era Cuadra. While not as heavy duty as the Oscar, it's an E61 HX machine. It pretty much has everything you want, including a vacuum breaker for putting it on a timer, if I'm not mistaken. Anyone want to confirm this for me?
takeshi Senior Member Joined: 12 Oct 2002 Posts: 1,062 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0 Grinder: Super Jolly Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 8:40am Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
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'm trying to limit it to $1,500 including the grinder. I actually have done some reading and the 3 options I've looked at are the Simonelli Oscar, the Breville dual boiler and the Sylvia. But of course I'm open to other suggestions.
Drop the Silvia and the Rocky. Both are overpriced. Between the Vario and the Rocky there's no contest. For your budget and usage you should skip the SBDU's which is yet another reason to ditch the Silvia.
Has the PID, but not that important for me as I may just go for blends.
SYinSF Senior Member Joined: 23 Mar 2013 Posts: 8 Location: Millbrae, CA Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: R58 Grinder: Vario
Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:03am Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
From what I read, your heart already picked Oscar and believe you found enough support here to convince your brain. Besides you can have both Oscar and vario for 1400 in SCG. I'll say it's a pretty good deal.
CMIN Senior Member Joined: 14 Jun 2012 Posts: 1,627 Location: South FL Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: CC1 Grinder: Baratza
Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:55am Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
Hard to beat the Cuadra for the $ as an E61 H/X. Cuadra II was one of the machines I considered last year except couldn't pass the deal up on my current setup. The only negative thing I could think of was the plastic sides that are chrome plated/painted, but they had to cut a corner there for the price it's offered at. Otherwise it's solid and an awesome looking design. Oscar is a fine machine as well, but trying to find a used one....pry have better luck getting struck by lightening. I set notifications for a craigslist when I was curious last year and nothing for like 6+ months showed up for an Oscar, only once in awhile and was always in a place like Alaska, Washington, or Ohio... basically as far north of FL as possible lol. Oscar is def the ugly duckling of the Espresso world though (no comparison to the Cuadras looks), but no doubt it performs and has a massive boiler (think it's one of if not the largest boiler of home machines), always wished they did a stainless casing version but then price would go up.
Vario - can't beat that grinder for the money, it performs = to grinders costing quite more $$$$ as far as taste in the cup. And sure it's not all big and shiny metal etc, but for the avg home enthusiast it rocks. Plus if your into single dosing like we are, Vario and even the Preciso are awesome since there's very little grind retention and a quick purge/knock get's it out.
Cuadra and Vario would be a really nice setup for the $
Seacoffee Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2013 Posts: 11 Location: Seattle Expertise: Just starting
Posted Wed Apr 17, 2013, 12:14pm Subject: Re: Help me choose my first semi automatic
It's a coincidence this thread was revived today. I was waiting for 1st-line to have the Vario back in stock so I could bundle it with the Cuadra. Placed my order this morning. Can't wait!
My decision was based on your comments. It seems the Cuadra is slightly favored over the Oscar. Additionally, it was the hot water wand, which I know I'd miss if I'd gone for the Oscar. I wasn't too keen on buying a machine that's only distributed by a single online retailer, but the following it gets here was enough to put my mind at ease.
Let's see how long it takes me to learn to make an espresso now. Bye bye Seaco Incanto :-)
Panamax makes great stuff! I've been using their higher end home theater units for many years. Nice to see someone is carrying the low end stuff for espresso machines too. I think I may just have to replace the Belkin I've been using to protect my Duetto. Thanks for the link, Jim!
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