calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 6,849 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 4:51am Subject: Re: First Espesso Machine
Your budget will not even buy a referb grinder that is able to work for espresso. Espresso is a higher $$ game and the $$$$$$$ you spend, the easier it is to be consistent and to get consistent quality.
Mypressi is offering a $169 unit, and it is a quality tool but it is not a pump driven espresso machine. Click Here (mypressi.com) You still need to heat the water though so add to this a hot water kettle, either electric or stove top, hot water is hot water.
This and a your grinder will get you in under your budget if you stay with the pressurized PF or pressurized coffee basket side of things.
You may find used gear if you wait and look hard, that will fit in your budget but to just go out and buy something off the shelf, no it will not happen if you are expecting it to look like an espresso machine.
Life has no guarantee so I would not expect a used espresso machine to carry a no flaws guarantee. YMMV!
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 5:07am Subject: Re: First Espesso Machine
]For a $300 budget you can get away with a new or used entry level machine like the Starbuck's Barista or Saeco machine. A Delonghi EC155 modded to unpressurized for $100 is what I used to start. For grinding the Hario grinders will do. The Skerton modded with an M8 loc nut makes it a stepless manual grinder.
Starter machine or machine and grinder? The best starter machine for the $ would be a Gaggia Classic which is usually around $400 new, but can be found for like $360 new on Ebay and other places. Wholelattelove sells refurb models as well under $300. But then you need an capable espresso grinder, and at the minimum that would be a Baratza Preciso which is around $300 new but Baratza will sell refurbs for $240+ shipping.
If you want a start starter machine, you can go with a Saeco Aroma which is under $300 new and has a pressurized portafilter and no 3 way valve. But the pressurized portafilter will work with your grinder, which don't take the wrong way but the Capresso burr grinders aren't capable at all for espresso (I had an Capresso as well). But the pressurized portafilters let you work with in capable grinder, preground coffee etc. The downside is it isn't espresso really, more like shot of drip with fake crema as it's pushed through a tiny whole vs a normal basket to foam the coffee up. However you can buy normal baskets to use with this machine and people do when they acquire a real grinder, your still stuck with it's other faults though like no 3 way valve, weak steaming, fairly small boiler etc.
You don't have to spend a lot but you do need a bit of a budget, a Classic and Preciso is pry the best entry for "real" espresso, and then you can easily go into the thousands from there lol.
edit - burner posted some good points too. I had an Bar32 modded and depressurized (Same internally as the EC155) as my 1st machine. It broke, so I upgraded. I have a Hario Slim as well which I've been meaning to mod to be stepless just to see what it would be like for espresso, as it's kinda finicky with setting, you have to find a click range and then play with dose constantly which is a pain. But making it stepless would solve that like he mentioned. So that could be another route, a Bar32/EC155 depressurized or witha krups regular basket and stepless Hario. Only problem is these machines don't last long, mine broke within a year, and I know 5 other people that own them no joke, 4 of them had theirs break/not repairable within a year, 1 somehow is still working like 3 years later go figure. Either way the bug will bite you and you'll find yourself wanting to upgrade... fast ;) lol
DanoM Senior Member Joined: 20 Mar 2013 Posts: 104 Location: Los Angeles Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: NS Oscar, '84 La Pavoni Pro,... Grinder: Baratza Vario, La Pavoni PGC
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 5:18am Subject: Re: First Espesso Machine
Unfortunately you don't have enough budget for an espresso machine, but you could save just a little more and get an espresso capable grinder for now. Maybe even look around for used grinders in great condition. The grinder is often the main limitation in inexpensive setups, so getting a good one is critical. (I like the Baratza Vario, but I don't have enough experience to make really solid recommendations there. Mine was $360 new via eBay.) Or go with the manual grinders - more work, but definitely less $ and still good quality.
After that comes the machine. I got a faulty Nuova Simonelli Oscar for $250 that needed another $210 in parts to get back into full working order, add in some accessories and I'm over $500 in no time. There are better deals out there at times if you keep an eye on Craigslist and the like. Always test any used machine before you plop down your money, and if you can't test don't take the deal.
Really, the best place to start is the grinder though. If you get a good one that's 1/2 the battle in espresso.
Not kidding. :) The set up I mentioned is very entry level. If you have the money don't let the high prices scare you. If I knew when I got my first set up what I would need for amazing espresso I would have dropped $1,000 for my starter machine. I use a Silvia + Macap Grinder now. Together about $1,700 new but I found both used for $700 total. Used deals are out there.
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 2,835 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 6:14am Subject: Re: First Espesso Machine
Welcome to CoffeeGeek!
You have come here for answers and this post has a lot of them along with some questions. After you read this post and answered your questions please post a new thread with your answers and ask for buying advice based on your needs and budget. You do not have to read the whole thread just this post.
We get a lot new threads every week that start with "I want to get a cheap, good quality, long lasting espresso machine that I will not outgrow and I will not spend over X number of dollars". Most people don't want to spend over $300 dollars on the machine and have given no thought much less have a budget for a grinder.
Espresso is not the only way to get very high quality coffee, and is probably the most expensive route. Other options (from most expensive to cheapest) include high quality automatic drip machines and single cup brewers, vacuum pot/siphon pots, moka pots, French press, Aeropress and manual drip cones, among others. All of these options will also need a good grinder suitable for the brewing style, but this is generally cheaper than a good espresso capable grinder. Whatever your brew method, the biggest improvement in your coffee may well come from using freshly and well roasted high quality coffee beans, ground just before brewing. (suggested by Dyqik)
My Oscar was 475 used, Vario 550 new. Oscar needed less than 100$ in parts to get up to speed. Modded for a couple of hundred more to be almost a musica. I have less than 1500 in my first starter set up counting accessories. Not counting the cheap grinder I bought first that is not good enough for espresso.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
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