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LJSquishy
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Oct 2013
Posts: 27
Location: Spokane, WA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Breville Dual Boiler...
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Fri Oct 4, 2013, 6:31pm
Subject: Looking for sturdy machine
 

Standard Questions:

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?   Lattes (flavored) and Americanos
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time? 2
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  5-10 max
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir? Reservoir
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit? 20-amp I think, but can't remember for sure
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder? $900 max for both machine & grinder
7)  Are you willing to buy used or do you need new equipment? Do you or family member have the skills to repair used equipment? Used is fine if in working order, but don't currently possess skills to repair
8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these. Yes, but have separate budget for extras if needed



I was set on getting a Rancilio Silvia (no PID), but I'm getting suggestions on other machines that may suit my budget & needs. Some of the suggestions have been a CC1, Gaggia Classic, and Lelit. I wanted the features of the Gaggia Baby Twin but a lot of the reviews have scared me away...it has the same insides as the Classic (plus a thermoblock for steaming) so I don't know that I want the Classic either. The CC1 looks great but I worry about longevity, and it's also not available to purchase at many websites so I wonder if there is a reason for that (ie: maybe not a great machine). Otherwise, the CC1 seems fantastic for my needs. Is it a quality machine?

My husband and I aren't that into espresso; We like flavored lattes & he likes Americanos. We are coming from a Mr. Coffee ECMP50 which we were actually mildly happy with but are definitely wanting a big upgrade. We will need a machine that can last 7+ years with proper cleaning/maintenance. I would really like it to have the ability to make 2 16oz lattes in a reasonable amount of time. I'd prefer not to temp surf because of the time it takes but I've accepted the fact that I may need to (Rancilio Silvia). It would be really awesome to be able to program a double shot but I know a feature like that may not be in my budget. I'd prefer to budget $200-$300 for the grinder. I'm just not willing to spend $400+ on a grinder like the Baratza Vario for just making 5-10 lattes per week. I think a grinder like the Baratza Virtuoso Preciso or something along that line should give a consistent enough grind. The grinder would be exclusively for espresso so if I can save money by not buying a "do it all" grinder that would be even better.

I'm really open to everything. I love to research so I will take everyone's suggestions into consideration! Thank you for all of the advice and help! :) Bonus points if there is a machine out there that can be programmed for a double shot and is durable!
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Sun Oct 6, 2013, 1:41am
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

I think your budget may be a little tight but doable for what you are looking for.

Your budget would break down like this:
$550 - Espresso Machine (SBDU)
$350 - Grinder
$100 - Accessories

That does put you $100 over budget, but I think that realistically you can't go much lower than that without making some serious sacrifices in the quality and durability of the machine and grinder.

Since you are limited to this kind of budget, that limits your machine choices to just a Single Boiler Dual use machine if you only consider new. I think that due to your volumes, a SBDU machine
should meet your needs. Machines in this class are the Gaggia Classic, the Rancilio Silvia and the Lelit machines/grinders. However, what is more important is purchasing the machine from a place that can service it.

I personally don't recommend machines which use a Thermoblock for steaming because you don't get a lot of steaming power compared to using a boiler for steam. This is especially important if you
make a lot of milk drinks. Unfortunately, Machines which use a thermoblock to steam would exceed your budget regardless. They're a compromise before you get into the low end heat exchanging machines.

The Rancilio Silvias are very well known for their durability on this forum. One forum member had theirs for nearly 20 years before they upgraded. That's just something to think about.
The biggest problem with SBDU machines like the Silvia is that you have to wait for steam, then flush the boiler to brew. My Silvia took approximately 3 minutes for it to warm up for steam. The Gaggia Classic
may take a bit less time to warm up because it has a smaller boiler. Just as an FYI, When I had my Silvia, It took me about 10 minutes to prepare a milk drink, from start to finish. That also included waiting for
steam and temperature surfing. If you are planning on making drinks for guests, an SBDU will not meet your needs at all because it's just too slow.

If you want to be able to prepare drinks faster, you should be prepared to increase your budget by at least $500 more to accommodate a low end heat exchanging machine, which already produces steam on
demand and will actually allow you to be able to brew and steam at the same time. You can get around this by purchasing a used Nuova Simonelli Oscar. If you can buy an Oscar used, you may be able to stay
within your budget, if you feel comfortable going down that route.

You mentioned that it would be nice to do volumetric programming. (ie. Programming in a double shot) .. I would say that unless you are willing to triple your budget, this is out of the cards for now.
The exception is the Breville BES900XL, which has this included, but still violates your budget by $400. On the upside, this is also an option over a low end new heat exchanging machine. As for the
longevity of the Breville, this is still under question because these machines haven't really been proven yet.

Minimum budget for an espresso capable grinder is at least $300, however what I have to stress is that the grinder is more important than the machine and should cost at least half of what the machine does.
If you can spend more on a grinder, I'd recommend doing so. While the Baratza Vario is somewhat expensive, it's also an excellent espresso grinder which is also capable of performing other grinds as well if
you need to. If you want to save a little bit of money, the Barazta Precisio is slightly cheaper than the Vario and yet still very capable as an espresso grinder, so that may be a decent alternative to consider.

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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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,163
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 Sun Oct 6, 2013, 6:17am
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

To emphasize the grinder budget consideration... You'll make better drinks with a Vario and a Gaggia Classic than you will with a Silvia and an Encore. If you've been doing all the research here you say, then you ought to understand the grinder quality has a much greater effect on drink quality than machine quality. Assuming you've read that a hundred times on here already and understand it, it doesn't make sense to set a $900 budget but then say it's not worth it to spend over $300 on the grinder.

Since you don't want to temp surf, you're going to need a machine with a PID (given your budget). The only machine I know of under $1k that comes with a PID new is the CC1. So, is you choose a SBDU machine, you either need to find a well-cared for used one with it installed, or install it yourself.

 
.
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: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Oct 6, 2013, 11:38am
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

emradguy Said:

To emphasize the grinder budget consideration... You'll make better drinks with a Vario and a Gaggia Classic than you will with a Silvia and an Encore.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

+1

Think hard now so you don't regret your purchase as you learn more and your palate for espresso improves.  Mine did very fast.  Within 6 months I was an espresso snob.  I believe that is part of what drives the upgrade fever is your tastes improve as you get better at making your espresso.  First the flavorings fall by the wayside because the coffee just tastes better, then you want less milk and soon less sugar.  I promise this will happen faster than you think.

I would rather see you spend most of your starter budget on a grinder and less on the machine, you would get better espresso.  I personally had about your budget but I wanted bang for buck. I spent 550 on a grinder and 475 on a machine, used Oscar.  I researched what I wanted and figured out I wanted to skip the single boilers because I felt I would not stay happy for long.  I wanted big power, no waiting for the machine to steam and I got it.

You need to have a long think about what you want and your budget.  I am not telling you have to do what I did, I am saying I wanted a machine I could be happy with for years and about the same budget and this is how I did that.  I am 100% sure if I started with a single boiler I would be tired of it by now and wanting to upgrade.

I had never repaired any appliance and I bought used, replaced a few parts fairly quickly. The pump right away, a valve later and took apart and cleaned out the 3 way.  A bit over a year later I (with tons of help) had my machine taken apart and cleaned and modded so I could put it on a timer and make the steam easier to use and balance the thermosyphon.

I am very happy with my machine, it is a low volume commercial machine so it is very robust inside.  It is now equal to its 3k brother in most respects.  Oscar is modded and on a timer.  

I believe, if you want to stay happy for 7 years, you need a machine you can grow with.

 
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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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,099
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Sun Oct 6, 2013, 2:04pm
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

qualin Said:

 ..........
The biggest problem with SBDU machines like the Silvia is that you have to wait for steam, then flush the boiler to brew. My Silvia took approximately 3 minutes for it to warm up for steam. The Gaggia Classic
may take a bit less time to warm up because it has a smaller boiler. Just as an FYI, When I had my Silvia, It took me about 10 minutes to prepare a milk drink, from start to finish. That also included waiting for
steam and temperature surfing. If you are planning on making drinks for guests, an SBDU will not meet your needs at all because it's just too slow.

........

Posted October 6, 2013 link

Should you be forced to use a SBDU to make your 2 drinks every morning, I wanted to give some hope that you could beat Bud's time of 10 minutes per drink on the Silvia.

I have an Isomac Venus and time to steam after pulling a shot is 60-70 seconds. I know the Gaggia is faster but don't recall exactly.

Every morning I use muscle memory to make 2 Cappuccinos (before I have my coffee...) 4.5 minutes per.  If I'm really quick 4 minutes, distracted, 5 minutes.  Most of this is getting a good work flow so everything is done while you are 'waiting' for the machine to steam/heat and brew/cool. That and knowing how to temperature manage the machine.

2 drinks in a row 9 minutes I'm ok with. Somewhere between 3-4 I think I would be looking for alternatives.
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LJSquishy
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Oct 2013
Posts: 27
Location: Spokane, WA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Breville Dual Boiler...
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sun Oct 6, 2013, 2:49pm
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

Thanks for the help so far.

I started looking at the Breville Dual Boiler and kind of fell in love (though I'm not really fond of Breville)...if I can ever get it for under 1k on sale. I also really like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar, though it can't dispense hot water which is a big bummer.

If my husband isn't okay upping the budget, we may go with the CC1 because I think it has all of the functions we are hoping for and with our light use I can't imagine it wouldn't last us 5+ years, right?

We will probably never get really into espresso. All we want to be able to do is make a few lattes a week that are at least as good as Starbucks (which I wouldn't really call very good but just using for comparison).

I understand the need for a good grinder. I'm looking at a Baratza Virtuoso Preciso probably. Maybe a used Vario or used Mazzer Mini but I honestly don't think I should need one that heavy duty for the machines I'm looking at. I'm not looking for amazing shots, I don't need the best available grinder, just something that can do the job and produce a moderate quality shot. Remember, we're coming from a Mr. Coffee ECMP50 that we were sort of happy with (and had a coffee shop grind our coffee) so by no means do we want to become experts. We'll never drink straight shots or even unflavored lattes or cappuccinos. The Mr. Coffee was a thermoblock unit and was relatively quick which is why I'm leaning toward the CC1 now over the Silvia.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Sun Oct 6, 2013, 4:07pm
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

Frost Said:

Should you be forced to use a SBDU to make your 2 drinks every morning, I wanted to give some hope that you could beat Bud's time of 10 minutes per drink on the Silvia.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

OK, That's not fair! Perhaps I should illustrate what I do in that 10 minutes:
  1. Turn machine on and wait for at least 20-30 minutes for it to warm up. (This is step 0 because it's not included in drink prep.)
  2. Tare portafilter on scale.
  3. Grind coffee into portafilter.
  4. Weigh portafilter after coffee has been ground.
  5. Flush Silvia until heater light comes on, then empty drip tray.
  6. Lock portafilter into the machine.
  7. Wait until boiler light goes off, then wait for another 30 seconds for the boiler to cool down. (I found reverse temperature surfing easier.)
  8. Tare cup on scale, Pull shot into cup, then weigh cup after shot.
  9. Knock puck out of portafilter then perform cleaning flush. Empty drip tray.
  10. Flip on steam switch and wait for approximately 3 minutes until boiler light goes out. During this time, fill up steaming pitcher with milk.
  11. Steam milk until it hits 50-55 C. Then, immediately clean the steaming wand so that the milk doesn't dry on the tip.
  12. Perform cleansing steaming, then turn off steam switch.
  13. Add milk to coffee and rinse out steaming pitcher.
  14. Flush boiler until boiler light comes on then empty drip tray.
  15. Perform water backflush to purge out 3-way valve. (Optional, but should be done at the end of every coffee making session.)
  16. Turn machine off and do a quick wipedown of the area.

All of these steps take me 10 minutes, from start to finish. To make additional drinks, you would only perform steps # 2 to 14. In case you are curious,
if there is one thing I really really loathe about the Silvia is the very shallow drip tray. I eventually resorted to using a tupperware container instead because
I got sick and tired of having to frequently empty the tray all the time.

Frost Said:

I have an Isomac Venus and time to steam after pulling a shot is 60-70 seconds.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

Supposedly, the Bezzera Unica is also very fast when heating up for steam as well, even though it has a much larger boiler than the Silvia.

Frost Said:

2 drinks in a row 9 minutes I'm ok with. Somewhere between 3-4 I think I would be looking for alternatives.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

The biggest thing that slowed me down is temperature surfing, waiting for steam and doing flushes. With a Double Boiler or Heat Exchanging machine, I can make a milk drink in slightly less than 4 minutes.

I found with my Silvia, if I was fast and didn't temperature surf, I could make 3 drinks in about 15 minutes. It's kind of frustrating when your friends are finishing their drinks before you start in on yours!
That's one of the big reasons why I moved away from a SBDU and onto a Double Boiler machine. However, for the interests of the OP, the volume of drinks they mentioned is suitable for a SBDU, as long as
they don't plan on having company over.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,099
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Sun Oct 6, 2013, 4:43pm
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

5 minutes per drink, back to back from a SBDU is about right.  But a precise temp surf is mandatory, or it's a fail.
I just didn't want Lisa to think it will take 40 minutes mandatory to make 4 drinks in a row.
(I have to do this once in a great while) Just making straight shots is much faster.
I do most of what you are doing but don't need to empty the drip tray, much different temperature control, and don't weigh the shot, just the dose.

If your steam light goes off at 3 minutes, you should start steaming at 2.5 or so (before it goes out will steam faster)
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Sun Oct 6, 2013, 4:49pm
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

LJSquishy Said:

I started looking at the Breville Dual Boiler and kind of fell in love

Posted October 6, 2013 link

The Breville DB machine has the most amount of features of any espresso machine in its class and it is the cheapest volumetric machine on the market that I'm aware of which has Double Boilers.
The only machine which equates to the featureset of the Breville DB is the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi, which costs nearly $1000 more than the Breville. The La Spaziale is also the least expensive double
boiler machine which I'm aware of, next to the Breville.

The Breville has a lot of positive reviews on this site. It has excellent temperature stability and its feature set is second to none. In fact, I wish that Italian Espresso machine manufacturers learned a
thing or two from what Breville has done. (ie. Visible reservoir, a float in the drip tray, a drawer for cleaning tablets, easy top fill and intelligence which allows you to complete the shot when water is low.)

The only downside to the Breville is that after 5000 shots, it needs to be sent back to an authorized Breville service center for descaling and service. Any other Italian espresso machine will gladly make you
shots until the boilers are completely filled up with scale. Like anything though, it's better to buy from a shop which provides good service and support so that if your machine breaks down, it can be repaired.

LJSquishy Said:

I also really like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar, though it can't dispense hot water which is a big bummer.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

Actually, it can. You just simply remove the portafilter, flush the coffee grounds off the screen and then "brew" into the cup to fill it up with hot water! :-)

Any Heat Exchanging epsresso machine which has a dedicated hot water wand will produce water which is almost at boiling point, so I've found that unless I'm making Ramen with it, the water which
comes out of the boiler is way too hot to drink and will scald you unless you let it cool down. It's better to pull water off the grouphead as it's a bit cooler.

LJSquishy Said:

we may go with the CC1 because I think it has all of the functions we are hoping for and with our light use I can't imagine it wouldn't last us 5+ years, right?

Posted October 6, 2013 link

The CC1 has some very positive reviews on this site and is a great alternative to a conventional SBDU if budget is a concern. My only concern with that particular machine is the steaming thermoblock.
However, this is more of a personal opinion more than anything else and I admit that I've never actually used a CC1. All I know is that Thermoblocks don't play nice with hard water. As for the longevity
of the machine, I honestly have no idea.

LJSquishy Said:

All we want to be able to do is make a few lattes a week that are at least as good as Star****

Posted October 6, 2013 link

I think anything you make will be better, unless you really mess up on the shot times or use very low quality beans.

LJSquishy Said:

I'm looking at a Baratza Virtuoso Preciso probably.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

That's a decent grinder in its own right and also has lots of positive reviews on this site. It's what I would consider as an entry level espresso grinder.

LJSquishy Said:

Maybe a used Vario or used Mazzer Mini

Posted October 6, 2013 link

The upside to buying a used grinder is that there isn't much that can go wrong with them. They either grind or they don't. Sometimes they may need new burrs, but those are inexpensive and easy to replace.
If you can pick up a used Vario or Mazzer Mini, that's a better route to take if budget is a concern. Just make sure that the seller can demonstrate to you that they can make an espresso with the grinder before you buy it!

LJSquishy Said:

I don't need the best available grinder, just something that can do the job and produce a moderate quality shot.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

Well, this is one of the fallacies about espresso. I've seen it happen time and time again where someone invests a lot of money into their set up, then they become disappointed or frustrated with the shots they are making
when they're not coffee shop quality. Eventually these people relegate their equipment to a shelf in the garage because they didn't get what they expected out of it. The old saying, "In for a penny, In for a pound" kind of
applies here because you don't want to compromise here. As well, You'll want a grinder which won't give you any cases of upgradeitis later. When it comes to a grinder, there's no such thing as "too good.", Rather more
like "too expensive."

Let me give you an example. Let's say that someday you are at a coffee shop and you are enjoying a really good latte. So, you ask the barista what beans they're using and buy a bag of them to bring home. So, you grind up
enough for a shot, pull it and then make your own latte with it but find that it isn't as good as what the barista made. So, you play with brewing parameters a bit and get it close but not quite. This will drive you nuts.
Eventually, you will get upgradeitis and you will want to upgrade your grinder. Let me put it to you this way, I tasted more of a change in my coffee by upgrading from a $300 grinder to a $1000 grinder than I did going from
my Silvia (A $650 machine) to my Izzo Alex Duetto. (A $2500 machine.)

So, if you can buy a really decent used grinder for the same price (Or less) than what you'd pay for a new, lower end grinder, do that. I wish I had done that to begin with.. I would have saved myself $300.

LJSquishy Said:

We'll never drink straight shots or even unflavored lattes or cappuccinos.

Posted October 6, 2013 link

I personally found that the steam kind of caramelizes the milk a bit and sweetens it up. I've never made a cappuccino or latte that needed sugar in it because it was already sweet. If you need syrups or sugar to sweeten
up a latte or cappuccino, there is certainly something wrong. Although, I can sympathize with you regarding straight shots. I can't drink my own straight shots without sugar in them.

The old saying, "Two wrongs don't make a right" is very applicable here. If you use fresh beans which are properly roasted and perform a proper extraction, you don't need to compensate by adding in extra sugar.
In some ways, it's actually much more healthy for you and it still results in an enjoyable drink!

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


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,317
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Oct 7, 2013, 9:30am
Subject: Re: Looking for sturdy machine
 

I strongly recommend against the Silvia.  No matter how good your technique, the machine's inherent inconsistency will make you inconsistent as well.  Best thing you can say about it is that ten years ago, it used to be a good value.  Espresso machine technology has advanced so far in the interim that is no longer true.  Now the best you can say for it is that it's cranky, inconsistent, slow and not suitable for making back to back straight-shots -- let alone lattes.  

There aren't a lot of espresso machines which hugely out perform their price range, but the Breville BDB is one of them.  Be aware that Breville plans to introduce a new version sometime within the next couple of months which addresses most of the machine's minor issues.  If you can afford it...

But, as always:
GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER

BDL
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