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Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Buying advice on...  
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Senior Member

Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 91
Location: Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: BDB
Grinder: Vario
Posted Tue May 14, 2013, 11:06am
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Addiction89 Said:

I'm sensing a lot of confusion about what I have been writing about.

Posted May 14, 2013 link

The advice you are getting boils down to this. You can make great espresso drinks with fresh beans, a capable grinder and a basic espresso machine, but you can't make great espresso drinks with fresh beans, a poor (or no) grinder and the $7000 hand-built pinnacle of espresso (such as http://www.keesvanderwesten.com/speedster-big.html)

So take your budget and buy a capable grinder first. The most commonly recommended (and excellent) grinder used here is the Baratza Vario or Vario W. Then pick out a single boiler/thermoblock,  HX or Double Boiler machine that fits into the rest of your budget. Commonly recommended machines at lower costs that will do the job are the NS Oscar, the Crossland CC1, the Nuova Era Cuadra and the Breville Dual Boiler. All of these can pull espresso and steam at the same time - and there are many other options as well. Do your own research to figure out which makes the most sense for you because everyone has their own (usually very strong) opinion!

Best of luck!
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Senior Member

Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,627
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: CC1
Grinder: Baratza
Posted Tue May 14, 2013, 11:40am
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Addiction89 Said:

I'm sensing a lot of confusion about what I have been writing about.

I am well aware of espresso beans vs ground coffee. If we sold ground coffee to our customers then all of our lattes and Americano's would taste terrible.

I believe the knowledge that everyone has provided in this thread is very useful and beneficial in providing an excellent choice for espresso. I cannot determine how much I appreciate the assistance.

Lastly, there are different ways to steam milk. To make a milk mocha, you must steam it with little to some foam (making foam is unpreventable of course). To be exact, use the stainless steel milk pitcher; looks like this http://www.amazon.ca/gp/aw/d/B0039P15N4). Making some foam allows you to create latte art as you steam some foam.... make the milk spin while steaming creating less air bubbles... when it gets too hot to touch the metal then its done and then u bang out the bubbles.... swirl the milk and pour at an angle.... then u circle slowly and push hard to make a heart or a Rosetta... etc.

Latte art is not easy and if u just want a nice tasty hot chocolate then just steam with less foam.

A cappuccino is dry and has very little milk. Its so dry that it feels light because the milk was created with lots of air.

I would not recommend putting dry milk foam into your hot chocolate when u blend it since u want it to be thick and hot enough to melt the chocolate.

I suppose the best solution is to show you but I have no such equipment. I can record one of my coworkers if you'd be interested.

Posted May 14, 2013 link

Your not making any sense lol, you keep avoiding the grinder situation and not answering questions, but then give us lessons on how to steam milk??? Think everyone on here knows how to steam ;) .

Still haven't answered what your looking for. Basically what you've said boils down to you want a $2-3k machine, to only make tea and steam milk, and not make coffee b/c you can't afford a grinder but can bring home preground blendz whatever that is. That makes no sense lol. Why spend that much for no reason? When you can get a machine and grinder for 1k-1.5k easily or even cheaper then that??
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Senior Member

Joined: 11 May 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Canada
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Tue May 14, 2013, 12:22pm
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Okay. Yes I am not making sense. Perhaps I sound like a troll. I guess if everyone says grinder comes first then I suppose I should get it first. Then when I have enough cash from next paycheck then I can get an espresso machine.

Or maybe I should save up money for both at once in the future as things are starting to look like I need to save more money to have nicer equipment.

Anyways yes that makes sense then. If everyone prefers to make conflict with me then please lock this thread as I am finding it difficult to report it myself. I do not want to create any more conflict any further.

Thank you for everything even if I came across as arrogant or self centered... I just got excited but it seems I was not being appropriate and not self aware. Forgive me and please do not hesitate to lock this thread.
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 8,265
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 Tue May 14, 2013, 1:00pm
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Though I have been watching the thread, I see no reason to lock it.

I also am having a hard time following just exactly what your asking, your budget and requirements have moved around a bit.

I can understand getting all worked up about new equipment, it happens to us all. What most newer people here do not understand though is that the machine is the accessory to the grinder, not the other way around. If you want good espresso, it is grinder first, then look at machines

For $2K to $3K you can buy an excellent setup including a Mazzer grinder, a SJ (which is better), not the Mini and all the other stuff you will need too such as tamper, mats, knock box, cups etc. My personal point of view is that you are better off with a manual SJ and single dose into it than you would be with even the electronic Mini which costs more, but this is one place where YMMV!

A HX machine and a good grinder can be bought for under $2K brand new so there is no need to get one first then the other. In this price range, I would go with this machine

Click Here (www.1st-line.com) (about $1100 rounded up)

and this grinder,

Click Here (prima-coffee.com)  ($675 at this vendor)

Together, you are under $1800 brand new, plus shipping and any taxes.

Then if you want to look at machines such as Rocket which run in the $1600 or so range, that is fine though you will not get as much of a "step up" from the Cuadra to the Rocket as you positively see in Sylvia to Cuadra.

I am NOT endorsing the seller of the grinder though I have no reason to think that they are anything less than honest and upstanding, I just have had no dealings with them at all.

On the other hand, 1st line who is listing the machine is a long time advertiser on this site and have a proven track record of quality service.

There is a long owners thread on the machine and it has a strong following of owners who have purchased it. http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/554699

The frustration I think some members are feeling is due to the moving target of price and equipment, then add in the purchase path you are talking about such as the machine first then the grinder, that is leaving some members wondering about the need for a high quality machine as the output is only as good as what goes in and pre ground coffee is stale and nasty and will not pull a good shot.

The goal is to help you get gear that fits your needs AND produces great to outstanding shots in the budget limits you set. We favor outstanding ESPRESSO and simple espresso/milk based drinks. When you start adding in chocolate, sprinkles, syrup, etc, we tend to loose interest very quickly as most here do not drink those type of drinks but tolerate them as there is a demand for them from some of our family and friends who are not ....... into espresso but like candy flavor drinks where the espresso is a reason to add pounds of sugar and sugar based products.

We welcome your input here and look forward to helping you follow the road of great shots :D

EDIT, I know that it is not as easy in Canada to get new equipment at these prices but some of our Ca members can help you out here too, Craig might see this and help you out, he is another moderator and a long time member of the board, he has helped countless members and lives "north of the border" like you do, though we also have many members who share the great country of Ca as home who can help you out too.

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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Senior Member
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,684
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue May 14, 2013, 3:02pm
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Well put, Wayne...as always!

To OP...like Wayne (calblacksmith) says, we truly want to help you, but some of your replies make you sound evasive.  Maybe it's just that you're unsure of what you want, or have been reluctant to heed the advice so many have given.  I feel convinced by your last response that you are not trolling the board, so I would like to offer you an apology for that remark.  Again, we really, truly do want to help you.  As Wayne and others have said, with $2-3k, you can get yourself a sweet home setup that would prevent upgraditis for years to come.  So please, help us help you.

Perhaps a rollback to the standard questions would be useful...

How many drinks and what kinds in a session?  in a week?  do you intend to entertain?

do you have space restrictions and if so, what are they?

can you plumb in or do you need a machine with a reservoir?

what is your available power supply?  would you have a dedicated 20amp outlet? or would it be shared? or do you only have 15amp?

are you willing to purchase used gear?

I think I recall you saying you're not interested in a lever machine, but have you looked into whether you want a HX or DB machine?  Do you want a full-auto or semi auto?

Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
Check me out on Instagram!
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Senior Member

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

Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Tue May 14, 2013, 3:07pm
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Wayne. The  Cuadra is unfortunately not available in Canada at that price.  Even the Oscar is over $1,300 up here.
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Senior Member
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 682
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 Tue May 14, 2013, 10:59pm
Subject: Re: Buying advice on Grinder and Espresso machine

Addiction89 Said:

Or maybe I should save up money for both at once in the future as things are starting to look like I need to save more money to have nicer equipment.

Posted May 14, 2013 link

Well, a lot of vendors usually cut you a break on the pricing if you buy both the grinder and the machine together. A lot of us usually aim for the grinder costing about roughly
1/4 to 1/2 the price of the machine, but that's not really a hard and fast rule.

If you want a monster machine just so you can start making latte drinks right away then want to focus on coffee later, I completely understand.

However, if that up front cost is what is scaring you, think of it this way.. If you buy a grinder and machine together, you'll save more money than if you bought the machine first,
then bought the grinder somewhere else. The reverse is true as well.. the money you save on the pair can be used to consider notching up to a higher end grinder, like what
Calblacksmith said, it can mean the difference between buying a Mini as opposed to a Super Jolly without spending any more money.

Depending on your needs which Emradguy posted, it is better to stand back and really think hard about what your requirements are. Where abouts in Canada are you?
If you take a look at some product lineups, that should give you a good scope as to whats out there... The biggest retailers that I'm aware of in Canada are:
(In no order of preference or size by the way. Also be aware of customs fees if you do decide to use a retailer like 1st line.)

Espressotec - http://www.espressotec.com/
Caffetech - http://caffetech.com/
idrinkcoffee.com - https://www.idrinkcoffee.com/
ECM Coffee Machines (Not related to the other ECM) - http://www.ecm.bc.ca/
Cappuccino King - http://www.cappuccinoking.com/
Mr. Cappuccino - http://www.mrcappuccino.com/
National Cappuccino - http://www.nationalcappuccino.com/

Out of all of these vendors, the two I have the most experience with are Caffetech and Cappuccino King. All of the rest I've only dealt with on smaller, less expensive items.
All of these vendors above will be able to get you something you want within the budget you need without trying to oversell you, however only Caffetech sells La Cimbali here.

Espressotec and ECM Coffee Machines are based out of BC.
Idrinkcoffee is based out of Ontario.
Caffetech is based out of Edmonton, AB.
Cappuccino King and Mr. Cappuccino are based out of Calgary, AB
National Cappuccino is based out of both Calgary, AB and Edmonton, AB.

Addiction89 Said:

I just got excited but it seems I was not being appropriate and not self aware.

Posted May 14, 2013 link

Actually, I admit I did too. I admit that it's very easy to get "Scope Creep", thinking you need to start out with a $650 machine and no grinder and suddenly some crazy dude
in Calgary telling you that you need to buy $3600 worth of stuff to replicate your workplace in the kitchen and it's completely freaking you out. :-)

I went down the path of the Silvia and Rocky and got tired of the machine quick and upgraded. My wife asked me to hold onto them for six months and after that, I couldn't
wait to get rid of them, but I didn't screw around, I bought something which I knew I wouldn't want to upgrade from. My Duetto serves me very well and I didn't have to break
the bank to do it. (Actually, I did, a little, but only because I wanted to do it right.) In retrospect, the money I spent on the Silvia and Rocky could have been better spent on
a really decent grinder, but at least I did cut my teeth on a SBDU, so now I have every right to complain about them! :-)

So, I'd like to apologize if I may have scared you off or sent you down the wrong path. If you can put your foot down and come up with a firm budget and some strict requirements,
we'll work with that. You've already said lever machines are out, but what about plumbing-in? A yes or no on this question dramatically changes everything.

I guess what is irking people is that, to use a bad analogy, you are asking to buy a clothes dryer, but you're not pairing it with a washing machine. It would suck to spend
all that money to find out the dryer isn't cleaning your clothing. Eventually, someone is going to ask you to "Make a coffee with that fancy machine" and you won't be able to.
(Well, a good tasting coffee anyway.....)

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