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Super Automatic choice?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Super Automatic...  
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lymang
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 7:30am
Subject: Super Automatic choice?
 

I've been thinking for a while about getting an espresso machine.  After doing some initial research I realized that I do not want another hobby and don't really have the time to invest in learning how to make espresso, etc. and there's a ton of equipment, etc.

So I started looking at Super Automatics.  The array of potential machines is staggering, and the Internet is literally "all over" with opinions and reviews of literally every single machine I've looked at. For every awesome, detailed, positive review of a Jura S9, there's a dismal, detailed, miserable recommendation to stay away from a Jura S9.  This makes it VERY hard to figure out what to get, and given the money I'm looking at spending (also widely variable - seems like 1500-3500??)I hate to buy the wrong machine.

So it's led me here.  So to answer those questions:

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.)
Espresso, Cappucino, Latte (probably others, but I know I like those drinks, or at least the approximations I've had at coffee shops)

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.)
I can't see myself making more than two at any one time.  I'm the only coffee drinker in the house, and my father in law might occasionally be over.

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.)
I'd say between 20-30 drinks a week, predicting 2-4 a day.

4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir?
I think I will not be able to plumb the machine directly into the water supply.

5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
I have no idea.  Let's assume I can determine what amperage is on the kitchen circuit (and I do not guarantee that I can, but I can try!) what should I shoot for if I have a choice?

6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
Well, let's say I get a super-automatic, I believe that has a grinder in it.  That said, I've seen that most of the upper quality super-automatics run 2500-3500.  I should be able to do that.

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?
I do not want to buy used.  I do not know of anyone (myself included) who could repair used equipment.

8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these.
If I need these things for a super-automatic I can easily budget $100 for them.


Other things to note: I'm roughly in the Boston, MA, USA area so if I could find a place in New England (CT/MA/RI) to buy a machine, I'd prefer to get it in person.  Not just to help avoid shipping but so that returns are easier.

Thank you all in advance.  I am looking to buy by the end of February, 2014, or hoping to, as that will coincide with my birthday.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,354
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 7:43am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

Understand this first though, suppurautos are only about convenience, in return for that push button convenience they make pretty poor coffee drinks and forget about espresso (unless you want a nasty 15 second under-extracted shot lol), even high end commercial $10k+ superautos pale for espresso, just inherent to their design. The main problem with home superautos, the grinders suck back, they don't operate at right temps (Monza is the only one that is within range and has more metal for better stability than others), no temp stability, very picky about beans (if you like darker roast forget about it or the oils and beans will gum the internals up) even the milk steaming is mehhh, it'll be like frothed milk don't expect smooth yummy microfoam. That all applies whether it's a $500 machine or one costing thousands. And once out of warranty, any issues and your basically on your own either throwing it out (as parts are proprietary) or sending in for $$$$ for repairs. Monza is the only super-auto in that range that stand above it's competitors, and even then it can't come close to competing with a much cheaper semi-auto and separate grinder. Brevilles new Oracle is kinda a odd ball in that area, it's not a semi-auto or super-auto, kinda a hybrid of both, your getting the right temps/stability/better built in grinder/better steaming of a PID controlled smei-auto dual boiler etc but convenience of a super-auto.

Just to give you an idea, my friends has a Jura C9, thats around a $2,000 machine. It sucks. It's not even remotely comparable to my setup. Espresso out of it taste like swill even with fresh beans. Drinks, same thing. But some people don't care and just want that fast coffee.

Making espresso or drinks isn't hard at all, and that price range you gave can buy an incredible machine and grinder setup for home that will destroy a superauto let alone the far better reliability.
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lymang
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 7:47am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

CMIN Said:

Understand this first though, suppurautos are only about convenience, in return for that push button convenience they make pretty poor coffee drinks and forget about espresso, even high end commercial $10k+ superautos pale for espresso, just inherent to their design. The main problem with home superautos, the grinders suck back, they don't operate at right temps (Monza is the only one that is within range and has more metal for better stability than others), no temp stability, very picky about beans (if you like darker roast forget about it or the oils and beans will gum the internals up) even the milk steaming is mehhh, it'll be like frothed milk don't expect smooth yummy microfoam. That all applies whether it's a $500 machine or one costing thousands. And once out of warranty, any issues and your basically on your own either throwing it out (as parts are proprietary) or sending in for $$$$ for repairs.

Just to give you an idea, my friends has a Jura C9, thats around a $2,000 machine. It sucks. It's not even remotely comparable to my setup. Espresso out of it taste like swill even with fresh beans. Drinks, same thing. But some people don't care and just want that fast coffee.

Make espresso or drinks isn't hard at all, and that price range you gave can buy an incredible machine and grinder setup for home that will destroy a superauto let alone the far better reliability.

Posted January 22, 2014 link

OK.  I'll buy all that.  Given what I said, if you're willing I'd love feedback on your idea setup with my want list and price range.  I'm still going to look at a superauto but I'd like to know what you'd suggest for the machine and grinder if I decided to go with a manual setup.
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 849
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 8:38am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

If Albany, NY isn't too far afield, I'd go see Chris Coffee (a site sponsor here, I believe) and get demos on a variety of machines. He does sell the Quick Mill Monza, so if you do end up deciding that convenience outweighs quality in the cup, you've got a super-auto option. There's not substitute for hands-on and eyes-on. Give Chris a call and see what you can set up.

It doesn't have to be a "hobby" if you don't want it to be. But, if you really love espresso, and want to drink the best possible version of it at home, there will be a certain level of commitment you'll have to make to learning the ropes.

At the Barista Nation Los Angeles event, Unic had one of their latest generation commercial super-autos. I heard experienced baristas and long-time coffee people say it was the first super-auto that they'd willingly drink a straight shot from. It's also north of $25k. So, if you want quality in the cup and convenience, there's the bar you're aiming at. For that same price you can get a commercial lever machine (which are pretty much walk up and pull) and the best grinder, and have enough left over to buy a car—a new car.
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lymang
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 8:45am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

GVDub Said:

If Albany, NY isn't too far afield, I'd go see Chris Coffee (a site sponsor here, I believe) and get demos on a variety of machines. He does sell the Quick Mill Monza, so if you do end up deciding that convenience outweighs quality in the cup, you've got a super-auto option. There's not substitute for hands-on and eyes-on. Give Chris a call and see what you can set up.

It doesn't have to be a "hobby" if you don't want it to be. But, if you really love espresso, and want to drink the best possible version of it at home, there will be a certain level of commitment you'll have to make to learning the ropes.

At the Barista Nation Los Angeles event, Unic had one of their latest generation commercial super-autos. I heard experienced baristas and long-time coffee people say it was the first super-auto that they'd willingly drink a straight shot from. It's also north of $25k. So, if you want quality in the cup and convenience, there's the bar you're aiming at. For that same price you can get a commercial lever machine (which are pretty much walk up and pull) and the best grinder, and have enough left over to buy a car—a new car.

Posted January 22, 2014 link

I think my wife would object to me spending $25K on a espresso machine.  I mean, I could ASK her, what harm could THAT do? :-)
Albany is probably 3 hours away.  Not entirely out of the question, I guess, but probably out of the question in my time frame I was originally looking at.

Seriously I had no idea what I was getting into when I casually thought "oh hey I'd like to make real espresso in the kitchen"
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,354
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 9:42am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

A lot of people don't, your not alone lol. My buddy got the Jura C9 for "espresso" ... not knowing that superautos basically don't make espresso, more like 15 second nasty under extracted shots with no/little crema. That machine is basically a $2,000 paper weight. When he had shots of my setup and milk drinks, he was blown away at the difference. Be like going from a Yugo to a Porsche lol. Really it's not hard with a separate grinder and machine, only took me like a few days to learn to dial in, tamping correctly etc. You can get a timer so your machine turns on before you get up so after 40 min or so it's fully warmed up. Monza is the only one that's passable, even people whom have had coffee from it said it pales vs normal cheaper setups. Brevilles Oracle is going against superautos in that price range and is like a hybrid of a semi-auto and superauto, so your getting a better machine and features that can actually produce espresso, with the convenience of a superauto. But still not my thing.

I mean if I was spending in that price range, I'd pry be looking at an the Vetrano 2B, Alex Duetto 3, or Rocket R58. Vetrano 2B is a nice machine and have my eye on it for upgrading, especially for the price. Then I'd get an HG-One hand grinder as I prefer single dosing, and grab a Baratza Vario for standby if people are over, but that's just me. Really a lot of combinations, and you don't have to spend that much, you could go cheaper with cheaper priced h/x machines. Really as long as you get a decently good and solid machine, the grinder is more important. I'd look at the Vetrano 2B and the Baratza Forte, that would stay in your price range. The Baratzas are very easy to use and dial, and yeh there are some better grinders well above 1k but then you get into their quirks of huge grind retention, their massive and tall especially with the hopper (your cabinets may not allow it, nor wife, most wife's seem to hate these commercial grinders in the kitchen lol). My cabinets are low and wouldn't even allow a Super Jolley with a short hopper or even no hopper. I single dose though so the grinders, though they are kick ass, above 1k are kinda useless to me even modded. There's the Versalab but it's expensive and way too many issues and complaints from people for my liking.

I'm sure others will chime in for suggestions. Those machines are carried by Chris Coffee (Vetrano 2B, Forte etc)

And remember, FRESH ROASTED BEANS, don't buy anything at a store/grocery, their all stale, and anything with a "use by date" or "best by" run from lol. Plenty of good roasters online that roast to order and ship, and good shops in your area most likely that carry good roasters you can just pick up and buy. I've ordered beans from Barrington before by you. Google/Yelp your area for roasters or coffee shops (and ignore the Charbucks and similar stores) and see whats around you.
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 849
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:00am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

I made the (in retrospect) mistake of starting with a super-auto (Gaggia Synchrony Digital) and, since I was using my home roast and the only basis for comparison was *$$, stumbled along in ignorance for a little while. I was extraordinarily lucky in that my first "real" espresso setup was an Arrarex Caravel and espresso-quality hand grinder obtained from Orphan Espresso what seems now like ages ago. If you're the only coffee person in the house, and don't mind a little manual labor (though it doesn't really take me any longer to make a shot on the Caravel than on a semi-automatic HX machine, possibly less), a simple lever and hand grinder setup can keep you going for quite some time.
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lymang
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:12am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

I think I found a place that roasts coffee here near where I work, I'm going to investigate.  
I'm pretty sure that I'm not yet discerning enough of a drinker and I'd probably enjoy the results of a superauto just fine.  This is not to discount the excellent advice you're all offering me, just saying.  What I really need, ultimately, is a way to get up in the morning, with about 15 minutes of time, make an espresso and either drink it, or take it with me to drink in the car on the way to work.  I was hoping to have a machine that would power on with sufficient time to be ready to go when I get downstairs.
I'll look at that Breville Oracle, and see what it does.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,354
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:17am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

lymang Said:

I think I found a place that roasts coffee here near where I work, I'm going to investigate.  
I'm pretty sure that I'm not yet discerning enough of a drinker and I'd probably enjoy the results of a superauto just fine.  This is not to discount the excellent advice you're all offering me, just saying.  What I really need, ultimately, is a way to get up in the morning, with about 15 minutes of time, make an espresso and either drink it, or take it with me to drink in the car on the way to work.  I was hoping to have a machine that would power on with sufficient time to be ready to go when I get downstairs.
I'll look at that Breville Oracle, and see what it does.

Posted January 22, 2014 link

The Breville Dual Boiler has a built in timer, not sure if any other machine has that. No big deal though, you can buy a timer, mine was like 10 bucks I think? And plug your machine in with it to turn it on 40-60 minutes before you get up. So when you go up to it, it's ready. On my machine I run a quick 1oz flush, weigh and dose beans, grind and tamp, and pull a shot. Oh believe me you can discern the taste lol, superauto espresso taste like nasty swill coffee, hence why starbucks coffee is so awful especially straight shot or black b/c they only use superautos now (and their beans are beyond burnt and stale but that's another story lol), there's not even any crema.

If that was my price range, and since you pry don't want to hand grind. I'd do a Vetrano 2B and Baratza Forte, or even Baratza Vario if you want to save some money. Forte is basically an upgraded metal vario with extra tricks. You can go cheaper too, plenty of h/x machines in the 1-2k range, and really only thing you'd have to learn with them vs a double boiler PID machine is they need a cooling flush for a couple seconds to bring temps down to the 200 area, then lock and pull, other machines still need a warm up flush even after standing on for a while, I do like a quick oz to get some hot water through on mine before pulling.

Think of it like this, not only will you have to put up with poor coffee from a superauto, but what about 2-3 years down the road if something happens, warranty expires and your SOL. Either throw it out as it's now a 2-3k paper weight, or pay to have it fixed by manufacturer which depending on what is wrong could be $500 or almost the cost to replace with another machine.
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Skylar
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Joined: 15 Apr 2004
Posts: 132
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: lelit espresso
Grinder: lelit grinder
Vac Pot: B. D. Electric
Drip: chemex
Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:50am
Subject: Re: Super Automatic choice?
 

Forgive me please but a leap into a 1500 - 3000 purchase (your estimate) is rather a pricy way to launch into coffee. Are you using any other coffee devices? Pour overs of various sorts, electric drip devices, single cup brewers, French press, etc. etc. etc?

Are you really sure you want to plunge in the deep end of the pool? I mean, what is your coffee drinking experience? What do you really like?

This is not at all being critical, but I don't have a sense of what you are looking for. If it is to make a cup in the morning to take to work, it seems to me that an espresso device of any breed is a bit much unless you really LOVE (pictures of hearts and rainbows) espresso.


Sky
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