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Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Noob Purchasing...  
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Kazmin
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 8:15pm
Subject: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

Hello All
Thanks in advance for the helpful responses! :)
I've read many posts and countless reviews, but haven't really been able to narrow it down.
I have never owned an expresso machine and have only bought coffee.

this is for my home - counterspace isn't a huge deal.
how it works always trumps looks but a good looking machine isn't a bad thing :)
i want something bombproof and that will last forever

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)

this machine will be used mainly to make latte's and cappuccino's.
will also make expresso and americano

2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)

rarely more than 2 at one time

3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)

average 2-3

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?

standard

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

would like to stay under $2000 all in

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?

looking for new

8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these.

nope - suggestions of higher end accessories appreciated


thanks again
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Kazmin
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 9:51pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

btw
I am leaning towards the Quickmill anita or andreja
and from what I've read on the forum I was leaning towards the Vario W grinder (but i read some reviews that weren't great)
any thoughts on the above?
thanks again
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,744
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 6:51am
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

I haven't used either but...oh wait, I used a Vario at a friend's house once...well, like I was saying...I think that's a killer starter setup. The complaints ice read about with Vario are longevity (from being almost all plastic) and burr drift, but I don't think the drift is very common. I think your budget and needs put you in HX land, though you could consider a lever too. You maybe ought to look at getting a SuperJolly, a HG one, or a Major.

For high end accessories, I like Reg Barber tampers, but there are other excellent tampers out there, like Precision Coffee Tampers on eBay. I love the Motta Europa line of pitchers, and their knockbox is really nice too (if you're a stainless fan. You may want a frothing thermometer. You'll need cups. Again, if you like stainless, 1st-line carries the Frabosk ones, which are great! You'll need cleaning supplies. I like oldwillknottscales.com for a 0.1g resolution scale. They have a huge variety to choose from, great customer service a and good prices.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 735
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 Sat Dec 14, 2013, 9:58am
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
$2K is a funny sort of limit, because there really isn't that much competition between NEW espresso grinders in the $500 - $1K range.  The Vario at $500 ish ($450 for the non-W version) has pretty much sucked the life out of the competition in the forums.

Up to a few months ago, it was the GRINDER THAT WILL SAVE THE WORLD on the net, but I think perspective is finally creeping in.  The reality is that it's a well-built 58mm flat burr grinder; all  well-built 58mm flat burr grinders are well-built 58mm flat burrs and that the differences are build quality, ease and consistency of adjustment, grind retention, and clumping.    

Incomplete List of Grinders (you were most likely considering):
  • Rocky - No. NO!! NO!!!
  • Baratza Preciso -- Mark Prince is a very smart guy who knows a lot of coffee, but everything else being equal, a 40mm burr set, even a 40mm conical, can't compete with a decent 58mm flat if "in the cup" is the dispositive criterion.  
  • Baratza Vario -- 58mm flat burrs. Good grinder, excellent for the price.  Baratza is a great company and will offer unbelievable support if you have any problems.  Excellent scheme for fine adjustment makes dialing in about as easy as it can be.  On the other hand, the Vario is somewhat plasticky. Given all I've heard, I think it's fair to say that inconsistent sizing from grind to grind, especially after large adjustments (as from espresso to brew and back to espresso), is a real issue.  It does not seem to be a problem with all owners, but does seem to be a problem with the machine and not misuse.  
  • Baratza Forte -- If you had questions about how well built the Vario is, whether or not consistency is an actual and not an imagined issue, and whether or not inconsistency is a design problem or user error, Baratza did not.  That's why they built the Forte.  The Forte is the Vario-W done right, and is quite a bit more expensive.  The cream of the 58mm flat burr crop.  I'm not in the market for a 58mm flat burr grinder.  If I were, and the price difference didn't matter, I'd go with the Forte.  
  • Mazzer Mini -- 58mm flat burrs.  THE grinder pre-Vario.  It's fallen out of favor on the blogs.  Doesn't grind as well as the Vario, but better built and better looking.  Mazzer PITA adjustment.  Grind retention and clumping issues.  I never saw the attraction.
  • Macap M4 Stepless -- 58mm flat burrs.  Better built and better looking than the Vario, but doesn't grind quite as well.  Currently runs about the same price.  Worth some thought.
  • Compak K3 Touch and Elite -- 58mm flat burrs.  About the same price as the Vario and Macap.  Supposedly less retention than the M4 and Mini (don't know that for a fact, but Sweet Maria says so).  Less clumping than the Mini.  Easier to adjust than the Mini (IMO).  If I were buying a $500 58mm flat burr grinder it would probably be the Elite.
  • Mazzer Super Jolly - 64mm flat burrs, put this grinder in an entirely different class.  The difference is a HUGE improvement and easily discernible in the cup.  The SJ is mostly famous for being available cheap in good used condition when Starbucks quit using them.  Otherwise they're a 64mm commercial Mazzer which competes with other makers' 64mm grinders in the same way as Mazzer's 58mm grinders.  
    The in the cup difference between 58mm and 64mm burrs is the difference between "good" and "very good," but it's a difference you pay for.  The SJ is a rock, and should last forever if you treat it right; otherwise all of the Mazzer issues.  Lots of people love them, but I wouldn't buy one.

If you want to take the step from good to excellent (skipping very good along the way) new, espresso only grinders, the least expensive way to do it is with either the Quamar T48(83mm flat burrs) or Fiorenzato Doge Conico (71mm conical).  The Quamar comes in orange for $799 and polished aluminum for $899; the Doge is $899 and comes in any color you want if you want dark grey.  

MACHINES
One stainless/chrome box, semi-auto E-61 HX machine is going to be pretty much like another in terms of "in the cup" performance.  They're all built from the same components, by the same workforce, making the same money, working under the same conditions.  There are slight differences in appearance, "touch," internal layout, boiler size, steaming and suitability for large groups.  

The latest thing with HXs is using a PID instead of a p-stat, which is a good change -- as a statistical projection.

You could afford a PID controlled boiler/thermoblock (or thermocoil) hybrid like the Crossland CC1 or Quick Mill Silvano.  Steaming performance is somewhat limited for both.  Otherwise, the Silvano is very well built, but the CC1 is probably a little junky for you.  

You can also afford a Breville Double Boiler, which is in many ways an ideal step up to quality coffee, and offers HUGE value for the buck.  But it's probably not the sort of bullet proof machine you're looking for, and sure as hell doesn't look like one.  The cost for a prosumer class double boiler starts at pretty close to $2K, so unless your grind with your teeth you're priced out of the double boiler market.  

There are a lot of prosumer heat exchanger (HX) machines which fit all your criteria.  

Another Incomplete List:
  • Nuova Simonelli Oscar -- That it doesn't use an E-61 isn't an issue, but that the group it uses isn't very good is.  It is built much better than its price but is very difficult to use -- at least stock.  There's something of a cottage industry at CG convincing people to mod their Oscars and make them perform much better than they otherwise would.  Very plastic.  
    I had an Oscar for six months or so in my office.  The staff thought it was a monumental PITA, hated it and found excuse after excuse not to make espresso for clients.  Some battles aren't worth fighting, and it was replaced with a commercial Bunn drip -- which not only made damn good coffee but impressed the clients a lot more than the Oscar.  
  • Nuova Era Cuadra -- Given that you're probably buying a $500 grinder, the bottom of your price range in shiny box E-61s is probably the Nuova Era Cuadra.  I've never even seen one, but based on the internet buzz it seems like it's good for the price, but not quite an Izzo. Given that you've already factored (one or another) Izzo + Vario into your price range, the Cuadra wouldn't tempt me.
  • Competively priced E-61 machines from Quick Mill, Vibiemme, ECM, etc., as compared to the Izzos -- Alla time same same.  
  • Expobar -- The Expobar Office series seems to offer good value, but I've heard too many horror stories to be comfortable recommending one.  
  • (Saving the Best for Last) Faema Carisma -- The top of your price range is the Faema Carsima.  It's really a rung up the price and quality ladder compared to just about anything else you're actually considering, and only in your price range at all because it's new on the market and is enjoying introductory pricing.
    My own experience as a paying beta tester for new-to-the-market La Cimbali (Cimbali owns Faema)/Chris Nachtrieb collaborations has been mixed.  I love my espresso machine but am ambivalent about the grinder (great grinds, wonderful to operate, but monumental PITA to maintain).  Nevertheless (a) I trust Chris; and (b) in your shoes, I think the Carisma offers enough advantage over the Izzos (and other $1200 - $1600 HXs) at a small enough premium to be worth the shot.  

Bottom Line:
GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
The "in the cup" quality of a good E-61 prosumer is such that you'll taste the superiority of a better grinder.  As good as it is, the Vario is only Good.  It is not Very Good, and it is certainly not Excellent.  

To the extent that budget forces trade-offs, you get far more bang for the buck for every extra dollar necessary to push the grinder into Excellent than spending it on a better quality enclosure or a PID.

FWIW, the next big step in prosumer HX quality is convertible, line water and drain capability.  BIG DIFFERENCE.  That usually also means jumping from a vibratory to a rotary pump -- which can be something of an upgrade as well... as long as you have some kind of pre-infusion.  But plumbing-in isn't possible for everyone and convertibility ain't cheap.  
 
Recommendation No. 1:
Call Chris Coffee.  They give GREAT advice, and sell just about everything in which you're interested.
Recommendation No. 2:
Quamar T48 in polished Aluminum + Carisma.  Great coffee, serious counter candy.

Enjoy the ride,
BDL
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 2,972
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

To the OP the problem is there are much nicer machines in the 1600-2000 price point than at the 1-1.5k.  There is a huge feature jump at 1k  from the >1k and again at the 1.6k-2k.  It just how they price the market, no other reason I can see.

That makes your budget tricky because you are very close to some really nice machines that people want to recommend.  But budget creep is huge pitfall... however, if you have the money or can save a bit more and get a machine that we dream up upgrading to, I would do that personally.  I think that is better than wishing I spent a bit more later.

If you are not able you might be able to score a used 2k machine on the buy sell trade board from another geek that upgraded.   Or buyers remorse from Chriscoffee.

As president of his scoffed at "cottage industry", I point out my hobby is tricking out my used machine that was bought for less than 1\2 of the list price.  And I don't recommend new Oscars except in very rare cases because of the 2 fixes that are mandatory in my opinion. Just like tricking out a car is not for everyone it is not a one size fit all answer.  But a used HX for less than $500 is a good place to start for those of us with less budget than this poster.

I wish BDL could come over for cup of Christmas cheer, I would show him what my ugly plastic box can do, even on mornings when I half asleep.  And I can see how staff would not want to make espresso in a sales room.  That sounds like as source for another cheap Oscar for someone to get and trick out....

 
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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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,278
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

What he said . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Kazmin
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

Thanks - you guys are awesome!

Regarding the budget - thankfully its not a big deal to go up to the $3000 mark - I just didn't want to make an unreasonable purchase as a beginner and picked the $2000 mark initially based on the research I did up to that point.

I am open to any combo up the the low $3000's but I want something that will last and grow with my skills and tastes.

In summary - I don't want to be a "poser" and buy something that looks amazing and is capable of doing all these things I can't take advantage of.

I want the best bang for my buck for a machine i won't HAVE to upgrade for the foreseeable future and more importantly I won't WANT to upgrade for the foreseeable future.  I hope the above random rambling makes some sense.

I looked up the suggestions by BDL (thanks!!!).
And thanks coffeenoobie for giving me an excuse to spend more money with your suggestion

Yesterday I had been thinking about the the QM67 -but i read Chris' review and he mentioned that it was not designed for someone who is making milk drinks often. That will be my main use.

After looking through BDL's suggestions I like the Faema Carisma!!!! but would be open to any other suggestions if you guys think there is something else that would work for me

Re: grinder.
to be completely honest budget isn't really an issue for me thankfully. I just dont want to be stupid and buy expensive stuff for no reason/understanding.
i just really hate buying something and then having to upgrade a few months later due to either quality/performance or design flaw issues.

And for grinder either the Campak K3 or

if you guys things its reasonable to jump to the below at my stage in the game
Quamar T48(83mm flat burrs) or Fiorenzato Doge Conico (71mm conical)

Keeping in mind I am a complete noob as to working these machines and at the same time I want high quality stuff that will last and be able to grow with my skills and tastes - is there anything else you guys would suggest given the above :):)

im super excited to do this and i really appreciate the help - Ive been reading nonstop for the last week and haven't really felt like i found a serious contender i might pull the trigger on except the faema carisma  :)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,744
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 3:52pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

With your new budget, I would jump on the Duetto + Compak k10 fresh package on the BST right now. I've actually been contemplating that grinder, but am on the fence. That setup is fantastic - for someone who wants a great DB machine and top notch grinder.

 
.
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: 2,972
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 4:05pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

That sounds like an awesome starter package to me.  I could see myself happy with that forever.

 
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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Kazmin
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Dec 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Dec 14, 2013, 8:35pm
Subject: Re: Noob Purchasing Machine/Grinder - Plz Help
 

Coffeenoobie - I'm assuming you are referring to the Duetto + Compak k10 on the BST
im all the way in Canada - i emailed seller and it wouldn't work due to extra shipping cost

I did some more thought on the grinder and I think I should be more flexible and stay away from the expresso only grinders just in case I want to switch it up a bit :)


I found a bundle online (canadian website - big plus for me) for the QuickMill Andreja + Baratza Forte Grinder for $2450 (all in)



Bad news is I can't find the Faema Carisma for a decent price in Canada ($2250+tax)

Or I could get the Faema Carisma + Baratza Forte Grinder EDIT: from Chris' for $2530 + duties+fees ($250+) and risk warranty issues


given the above - do you think the quick mill andreja + forte at the above price is the way i should go ??
i dont really need the plumbing option so i was thinking of giving them a call and seeing if they can bundle the anita instead of the andreja and give me $200-$300 off the above price - any thoughts on that?

in summary
grinder: I'm thinking the forte????


machine: andreja vs anita vs carisma

please share your thoughts!!!

thanks again
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