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Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
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Pendel
Senior Member
Pendel
Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 41
Location: Maine
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL & Cremina
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Mon Dec 16, 2013, 10:51am
Subject: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Dear Co-geeks,

I am presently using Saeco Aroma with a Capresso Infinity, and awaiting delivery on a used Rancilio Rocky.
I use the espresso machine to "pull" a few shots per day only, and never froth milk.
During this gift-giving time of year my selfish mind has been wondering whether there is a significantly better machine that can be had for my purposes without breaking my loved one's bank.

Any advice?

Thanks!

:-)
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,772
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 Dec 17, 2013, 6:47am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Hi and welcome to the board.

WELLLLL, how big is the bank? That is the question. One thing for sure is that a better grinder WILL be much more noticed in the cup than another SBDU machine. The Aroma is a very basic but able machine and if all you are doing is straight shots, the addition of a PID will eliminate the whole temp surfing ritual. I don't know if I would invest in a PID for an Aroma but .... ?

Your infinity really is NOT able to grind for espresso, a quality espresso grinder really is need but your infinity  grinder will be OK for things like Drip or Press Pot, Vac Pot, Aeropress etc. Rocky will be a step up for sure but look into the mods to make it stepless, that helps him out A LOT and as a starter espresso grinder, he will work.

If you have not depressurized the porta filter, just doing that and adding into the mix an espresso able grinder will be more of a step up than buying another SBDU machine. The PID will take the pain out of brewing but the Aroma has a pretty small boiler, it needs all the help it can get.

That and FRESH beans, less than two weeks FROM THE DAY THEY ARE ROASTED, NOT A BEST BY OR USE BEFORE DATE!

 
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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BonsaiDoug
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 50
Location: Canandaigua
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Roaster: FreshRoast SR500
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 6:59am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

The Rancilio Rocky you have in-coming, from what I've read, should be capable of handling espresso grind. As to a machine, I recently bought a Gaggia Classic (under $400) and am very happy with the 3-4 doubles I pull daily (no milk drinks for me either).
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Pendel
Senior Member
Pendel
Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 41
Location: Maine
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL & Cremina
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 7:11am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Thanks calblacksmith!

I did notice that people use all kinds of clamps to make Rocky "stepless". Seems a bit dangerous given that the hopper is made of fragile plastic. I will keep on looking to see if there is a safer mod out there. Did see some good advice on using teflon tape on the upper burr threads. Seems like a good idea, but just to stabilize things, not to make it stepless, of course.

So, making Rocky stepless gives one more fine control over the grind, but it may be that the pre-set steps work well already with the machine and the coffee, right?

I do have a "depressed" portafilter, and have converted the pressurized one into a bottomless one (almost that is; still trying various handle options). Red Bird Blue Jaguar Espresso are my beans of choice at the moment.

Having a PID seems to be beneficial for every machine, but as far as pulling shots, what would be a real advantage of a "fancier" beast?

:-)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,110
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 7:25am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Pendel Said:

So, making Rocky stepless gives one more fine control over the grind, but it may be that the pre-set steps work well already with the machine and the coffee, right?

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Well, no, not really.  The steps on the Rocky suitable for espresso is few and far between.  Almost always, one has to up or down dose in order to correct for the limited ability to adjust Rocky grind exactly where wanted/needed.  This is the reason to do the mod to make it stepless.  Many people work around, by getting used to the doe modifications.  I did it for a few years too.  Going stepless is night and day!

Pendel Said:

I do have a "depressed" portafilter, and have converted the pressurized one into a bottomless one (almost that is; still trying various handle options). Red Bird Blue Jaguar Espresso are my beans of choice at the moment.

Posted December 17, 2013 link

excellent!

Pendel Said:

Having a PID seems to be beneficial for every machine, but as far as pulling shots, what would be a real advantage of a "fancier" beast?

Posted December 17, 2013 link

As Wayne said, putting a PID on a SBDU machine removes the need to temperature surf. This allows you to have greater consistency without the hassle of timing when the machine is truly ready to pull a shot. PID is not at all beneficial for HX machines, though some of the newer ones have it to control the boiler temp instead of a pstat - for longer lasting reliability from what I've read, not because it's any better otherwise. I haven't seen any lever machines with PID, though I haven't seen all of the popular lever machines.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Pendel
Senior Member
Pendel
Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 41
Location: Maine
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL & Cremina
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 7:30am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

BonsaiDoug Said:

The Rancilio Rocky you have in-coming, from what I've read, should be capable of handling espresso grind. As to a machine, I recently bought a Gaggia Classic (under $400) and am very happy with the 3-4 doubles I pull daily (no milk drinks for me either).

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Thanks! So, would Gaggia Classic be a noticeable improvement over the Aroma? (Both paired with the Rocky.)

:-)
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Pendel
Senior Member
Pendel
Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 41
Location: Maine
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL & Cremina
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 7:31am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

emradguy Said:

Well, no, not really.  The steps on the Rocky suitable for espresso is few and far between.  Almost always, one has to up or down dose in order to correct for the limited ability to adjust Rocky grind exactly where wanted/needed.  This is the reason to do the mod to make it stepless.  Many people work around, by getting used to the doe modifications.  I did it for a few years too.  Going stepless is night and day!

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Thank you! So, what is your favorite stepless Rocky mod method?

:-)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,110
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 8:02am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Pendel Said:

Thanks! So, would Gaggia Classic be a noticeable improvement over the Aroma? (Both paired with the Rocky.)

:-)

Posted December 17, 2013 link

I don't think it's much of an upgrade.  As long as your Saeco is working fine, you should probably keep it.

I don't have a favorite mod for Rocky...sorry...I never did mod mine, I just upgraded to something already stepless.  My advice would be to bypass it and get something better if possible.

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


Joined: 9 Dec 2013
Posts: 271
Location: Virgo Cluster
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
Grinder: HG One, Pharos, LIDO
Drip: Freiling 33 & 44oz FP,...
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 8:24am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

I am not sure what "... not breaking the loved one's bank" means as far as your budget ;-) but I will hit the upper end of the spectrum for a recommendation.

If you want the pinnacle of SDBU, and are primarily a shot / non-milk kinda family, then one consideration is a QUick Mill Alexia.  It is an SDBU, with an **E61 Grouphead**, and you can get it PID'd for and extra $150 at Chris Coffee.  To me, if you remain in the "shot only" category, it might be the last machine you ever need!

And pair that with a Compak K3 grinder, or AT MINIMUM a Preciso grinder, and you will have a nice setup.  The Infinity is a drip and marginally an FP grinder only.... In fact, I would not even get a Preciso with its smallish burrs - if you want to step below the Compak in budget / $$$, get an OE Pharos for $250 and get a $1000 grind!!! That is if you don't mind the manual route - but a Pharos IMHO will surpass grind quality of all the mid-Tier grinder due to its 68mm burrs... just takes a little more work to get it!

An PID'd Alexia and a Pharos would be the "next step" up in quality IMHO, and all for around the $1500 mark, and less if you don't need the PID.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,772
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 Dec 17, 2013, 11:17am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Pendel Said:

Thanks! So, would Gaggia Classic be a noticeable improvement over the Aroma? (Both paired with the Rocky.)

:-)

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Well, not really, both are lower end SBDU machines and there may be some "creature comfort" differences they pretty much make the same shot.

The PID is to get a stable temp out of the machine, nearly ALL SBDU machines will be better with a PID but as above, a HX will not benefit in the cup from one.

Rocky isn't really a BAD espresso grinder, just limited in adjustment and the mods seek to get around the limitations. If you do stay with espresso, one day you will want to upgrade from Rocky but for now, he can do the job.

 
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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