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Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 12:35pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Let me take this from the top . . .

Pendel Said:

I am presently using Saeco Aroma with a Capresso Infinity

Posted December 16, 2013 link

Oh, lord -- YES, upgrade the equipment PRONTO!

Pendel Said:

. . . and awaiting delivery on a used Rancilio Rocky.

Posted December 16, 2013 link

Serious advice:  either modify it to be stepless, or -- even better -- clean it, flip it, and buy a better grinder.  Honest.  If not now, then as soon as you can afford it.  

Pendel Said:

I use the espresso machine to "pull" a few shots per day only, and never froth milk.

Posted December 16, 2013 link

And never make a milk drink (cortado, cappuccino, latte, etc.) for a friend?

If you are serious about never EVER needing to steam milk, I'd suggest you get an SBDU like -- oh, wait a minute, we still don't what your budget is, and . . .  

Pendel Said:

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.
(emphasis added - jbl)

Posted December 16, 2013 link

Yes, well, I'd love Paris Hilton if I could access her bank, too, but it would be very helpful if you would really give us some concrete numbers.  I, for one, have no idea would would and would not break your loved one's bank . . .

I was going to say that if you really, honestly, truly NEVER need to steam milk, I'd look at an SBDU machine like the Quick Mill Silvano ($995) or the Isomac Venus ($799).  OR you could really "pull" shots on a manual machine like a Pavoni Europiccola EPC-8 ($789) or a Ponte Vecchio Export ($1099).

Then again . . .

Pendel Said:

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

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Yes, IMHO, but they'd also be even better paired with a better grinder.  That said, I'd take the Gaggia over the Aroma any day of the week . . . but I'm biased having used a Gaggia for 25 years.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Pendel
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Pendel
Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 41
Location: Maine
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL & Cremina
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 1:21pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Let me take this from the top . . .

Oh, lord -- YES, upgrade the equipment PRONTO!

Serious advice:  either modify it to be stepless, or -- even better -- clean it, flip it, and buy a better grinder.  Honest.  If not now, then as soon as you can afford it.  

And never make a milk drink (cortado, cappuccino, latte, etc.) for a friend?

If you are serious about never EVER needing to steam milk, I'd suggest you get an SBDU like -- oh, wait a minute, we still don't what your budget is, and . . .  

Yes, well, I'd love Paris Hilton if I could access her bank, too, but it would be very helpful if you would really give us some concrete numbers.  I, for one, have no idea would would and would not break your loved one's bank . . .

I was going to say that if you really, honestly, truly NEVER need to steam milk, I'd look at an SBDU machine like the Quick Mill Silvano ($995) or the Isomac Venus ($799).  OR you could really "pull" shots on a manual machine like a Pavoni Europiccola EPC-8 ($789) or a Ponte Vecchio Export ($1099).

Then again . . .

Yes, IMHO, but they'd also be even better paired with a better grinder.  That said, I'd take the Gaggia over the Aroma any day of the week . . . but I'm biased having used a Gaggia for 25 years.

Posted December 17, 2013 link




Thanks for the ideas!

The milk REALLY is a non-issue. When I have friends over, I whip out my Nespresso frother and voila, they are all happy (with a few stiff drinks in them, ahead of time, of course). Sacrilege, I know. Alas...

I am trying to upgrade the grinder first, since mine is clearly not up to snuff, even though I shimmed it and so it is a lot better than stock. Rocky seemed like a good next step, and if I can mod it cleverly to be stepless, perhaps it will do. If not, I guess Mazzer Mini or some such would be the following step. Given the small volume of grinding that I do, these master machines feel like an overkill, partly because I am not yet fully understanding what they do so much better than a Rocky (apart from being stepless, of course).

I also have to confess that I do like my Aroma, which has served me flawlessly, through "course and fine" for almost seven years. I like that it is a no-nonesense tank with mechanical switches, and a reliable enabler early in the morning. I realize it will not last forever, and so I am seriously starting to consider the next step, but I don't think I am ready for a $1K machine. As I have mentioned already, I don't need a machine that will switch between shots and milk effortlessly. If there is a basic no-frills easy to maintain tank of a machine, that is not fussy and pulls great shots, markedly better than Aroma, then that would be my choice. If not, I will try to see if a better grinder will make enough difference.

As far as the budget goes, it is not much. I am the only regular espresso drinker in the family, and so I would have to make a pretty convincing case for an expensive upgrade for the loved ones not to laugh me out of the kitchen.

:-)
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SpaceTime
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Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
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Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 3:39pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Pendel Said:

When I have friends over, I whip out my Nespresso ...

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Something about that combination of words just sounds wrong  LOL

I know, it's a family oriented site...
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,391
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 Tue Dec 17, 2013, 5:24pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Pendel Said:

The milk REALLY is a non-issue. When I have friends over, I whip out my Nespresso frother and voila, they are all happy (with a few stiff drinks in them, ahead of time, of course). Sacrilege, I know. Alas…

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Hey, if they like it . . .

Pendel Said:

If there is a basic no-frills easy to maintain tank of a machine, that is not fussy and pulls great shots, markedly better than Aroma, then that would be my choice.  If not, I will try to see if a better grinder will make enough difference.

Posted December 17, 2013 link

You have it backwards.

A grinder upgrade from the Infinity is mandatory!  A grinder upgrade from the Rocky is essential, but it can wait for the piggy bank to revoker from surgery . . .

As far as a "tank" is concerned, honestly no machine under $1K is built like a tank, but I'd certainly take a Gaggia Classic over a Saeco Aroma in a heartbeat.

But if I were you, I'd definitely do grinder first, machine second.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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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, 6:01pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

A grinder upgrade from the Infinity is mandatory!  A grinder upgrade from the Rocky is essential, but it can wait for the piggy bank to revoker from surgery . . .

.......

But if I were you, I'd definitely do grinder first, machine second.

Posted December 17, 2013 link

Just curious, what grinder would that be IYHO given that we are on a "budget" (although the budget is still unstated) ;-) and also knowing we cannot hide a bad grind / shot with milk in this case?  

Not that it is possible to pull a bad shot on a Gaggia or anything... ;-)
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,391
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 Tue Dec 17, 2013, 6:26pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

I am a firm believer in The Four M's of Espresso.  All four are equally important, but none more so than the grinder.  Thus, you spend as much as you can on the grinder without blowing your budget, and proportionately, the less expensive the machine, the higher percentage of your money is spent on the grinder.  So, for example, if you're spending say $12,000+ on an espresso machine, a Mazzer Robur-E is but a fraction of the cost at $2,599.  But if you're spending <$500 on an espresso machine . . . you're going to have to fork out -- again, IMHO -- an equal amount on the grinder!  

Don't misunderstand:  the Rocky was a fine grinder until others came along and blasted it out of here proverbial water!  I'd look at the following:  
-- a factory-refurbished Baratza Vario;
-- a USED Mazzer Super Jolly, if I could afford it; if not, a used Mazzer Mini or Macap MC4 (and then buying a new set of burrs);
-- a Compak K3 Touch, which I doubt you could find used; OR,
-- possibly a suitable manual grinder, but that is only for the OP since he is the only one drinking espresso.  Hand grinders are a PITA when needing to make multiple drinks!

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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SpaceTime
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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, 8:26pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

I tend to agree with your assessment.... good recommendations for someone on a budget - agree that a used or refurb'd Vario is a good option, and agree with your manual grinder assessment also.  I own a Pharos and a LIDO (both manual), and they are my favorite for onesy - twosy shots, but there is a reason I have a second electric grinder for FP / Drip and will have another for espresso soon - for the very reason you stated - in case I have thirsty and impatient guests!  LOL.

But the statement from the OP keeps ringing in my head "As far as the budget goes, it is not much. I am the only regular espresso drinker in the family, and so I would have to make a pretty convincing case for an expensive upgrade for the loved ones not to laugh me out of the kitchen."

So, Pendel - what are you thinking for grinder??
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Pendel
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Pendel
Joined: 16 Dec 2013
Posts: 41
Location: Maine
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MCAL & Cremina
Grinder: Macap M4
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 11:42pm
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Well, I am pretty much in the sub-$300 category for the grinder at this point, with a used Rocky coming my way in a few days. I plan to get the new burrs, teflon tape the upper burr block threads, and mod the grinder to be stepless (via a very sweet mod I found at Click Here (www.home-barista.com)). Will see what this does to the quality of the shots and go from there. I may start trawling for an affordable (to me) used SJ all the same. Perhaps I will get lucky some day.

Thanks for the input, all of you!

:-)
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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 Wed Dec 18, 2013, 9:05am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

Cheers Pendel.  

Although some might think you need more than a Rocky, it is still a fine grinder that has made MANY a happy espresso enthusiast.  For most people, the price point for a Rocky is already stretching it, and the though of paying $350 for a grinder is at the upper end.  I get that.

If at the end of the day you are starting at your new (or used) Gaggia Classic, paired up with a Rocky grinder, right there you have the ability to make better espresso than 99.99% of the population in their kitchen!!!  Paying more might start to squeeze out more consistency and ease of use, but one could argue not much more quality potentially - at some point it comes down to the operator and their skill level.  There are people out there who are pulling some darn good espresso shots with the very same setup you are targeting.

Remember, there are folks with $4000 setups that can't pull a decent shot, and there are folks with $500 setups that are.

:-)
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Wed Dec 18, 2013, 10:03am
Subject: Re: Semi-Auto Espresso Machine Advice, just for shots; no milk.
 

SpaceTime Said:

Although some might think you need more than a Rocky, it is still a fine grinder that has made MANY a happy espresso enthusiast.  For most people, the price point for a Rocky is already stretching it, and the though of paying $350 for a grinder is at the upper end.  I get that.

Posted December 18, 2013 link

yeah, I get that too...but what it really boils down to is "ignorance is bliss".  If you move from bad to good, but go no further, you won't really understand how much better excellent is.  In this scenario, Rocky is "good". It's like getting a Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra* after years of using a Schwinn* for transportation.  If you never drive a Mercedes* or BMW*, then you'll never know what you're missing.

SpaceTime Said:

If at the end of the day you are starting at your new (or used) Gaggia Classic, paired up with a Rocky grinder, right there you have the ability to make better espresso than 99.99% of the population in their kitchen!!!

Posted December 18, 2013 link

True that!

SpaceTime Said:

Paying more might start to squeeze out more consistency and ease of use, but one could argue not much more quality potentially - at some point it comes down to the operator and their skill level.  There are people out there who are pulling some darn good espresso shots with the very same setup you are targeting.

Posted December 18, 2013 link

Although I agree that operator skills are a huge factor in both quality and consistency. The quality of espresso capable from different classes of grinders is, perhaps, the least appreciated and understood factor in making excellent espresso.

Modding a Rocky to stepless is going to really help the owner get the most out of that grinder, but in the end, it's still a Rocky, and it doesn't hold a candle to a high end grinder in the cup (even a Mazzer Mini class grinder), all other factors being similar.  But again...I completely agree with the 99.99% statement above.

  • The cars and bicycle were selected due to common knowledge of their general build and performance quality.  This was not meant to bash anybody's personal mode of transportation.

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