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Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
Rancilio Silvia - How to
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stefan1988
Junior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Florida
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Jan 25, 2014, 1:58pm
Subject: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

Hello i'm new to the forums. i'm on a quest to buy the perfect grinder and an espresso machine for home use

I've been doing research for a while regarding this subject.

My first question would be regarding the grinder.
I've been looking at reviews for grinders and found that the best one so far is the Baratza Vario without spending a fortune.
I believe one of the posts around the website did a comparison of the Baratza Vario vs higher grinders and found the that the Baratza Vario does an amazing job.

I came to the conclusion that  I need a  baratza grinder from those reviews after comparing Breville,Rocky, and other lower end models of Baratza

I see two models of the baratza Vario
The Baratza Vario and the baratza-W grinder.
The W allows you to weigh how much coffee you need to dispense

My question is: if you have to level the coffee grounds on the portafilter by moving around your finger and removing excess grounds, how important is to have the Vario Dispense the perfect quantity?
Will I be better off buying the baratza vario (without the built-in scale) and a separate scale later on?  Basically, how important is weight if you are discarding overflowing grounds from the portafilter anyway?

Also, will the Baratza Vario ground coffee fine enough for Turkish coffee?

The 2nd thing I'm trying to address is the espreso machine.

I've been looking around and reading around and there are about four machines I'm considering:

1.Rancilio Silva+PID
2.Breville 840XL Infuser
3.Gaggia Classic
4.Breville B900XL Double boiler

I can't for the life of me decide which one I need.
I heard the silvia is really hard to use and finicky but has been popular for a long time,  while the breville is the new kid on the block but people have complained about Breville's quality.
The Gaggia Classic seems to be another popular option.

I like that the Brevilles have already integrated PID Vs the Rancilio Silvia which needs to have it installed.

The absolute max I want to spend would be the double boiler and that is already a lot and I would only want to spend that much if it is truly, truly worth it.  I want a machine I will be happy with for a long time to come.  I am very picky about coffee and want the absolute best shots I can make, but I'm also new to the game of playing barista, so any advice would be extremely appreciated.  Thanks for your help!
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mennamorato
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Nov 2013
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Sat Jan 25, 2014, 2:24pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

Here are my answers:

1: The Baratza Vario is a great grinder (though not known to be very reliable), I would also look into used Mazzers, Compaks etc... It can definitely grind for Turkish, most high-end grinders can. I wouldn't bother getting a Vario-W (if you really want a Vario) just get a high quality scale to go with your grinder.

2: Add the Crossland CC1 and maybe a used Oscar to that list. Breville makes decent machines, but all the internal plastics and the fact that it is made in China turn me away from them. The Silvia is also a good machine, albiet a decent bit overpriced and tough to use for a beginner. As for the Classic, It will work fine, just remember you get what you pay for.

Personally I would go with a used oscar, or CC1, and either a Vario or similar.

- I own a Mazzer Mini, it would work great for you. Find my review for it in the grinders section.

- Mike Ennamorato
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 2,973
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jan 25, 2014, 3:00pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

After using the vario W I would not ever go back to a non W vario.  I miss that weight feature on my k30 now and I am trying to figure out how to mod my k30 to do the grind by weight.

I got very nice espresso out of my vario w and oscar (used)

 
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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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,224
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sat Jan 25, 2014, 3:17pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

I agree easily add the CC1 to that list, Silvia is outdated and bought new with PID you'd have to have a screw loose lol, my as well pay a little more and get into entry level h/x at that point. CC1 already comes with full PID control of everything including Preinfusion and dwell, a much larger boiler than even the Silvia, and a separate thermoblock for fast switching to steam. Breville Dual Boiler had a new model (920) that's updated, it's a cool machine and offers a lot at that price, I know some owners of the old model. An Oscar new isn't worth it, however they can frequently be found used for a bargain but being your in FL like me that's slim to none, almost all the good used machines are up north. Forget about the Breville Infuser. The Classic can be picked up refurbed for less than $300 from wholelattelove ebay store, good starter machine and can be pid'd yourself but then your still stuck as a single boiler only and you budget is allowing you to go higher anyway. Someone on here just scored a used Oscar for $320 I think.

Vario is a bargain for what it offers, top notch grind quality and the W weight feature is accurate. Early models had some issues, but they've been solid since. Buddy has had his for awhile and no problems, used non stop, and never had issues with the arms sliding and holding settings or anything like the early ones a few years ago. Biggest issues people eventually have is if switching back and forth from espresso to coarse, grinders are best left as one use only, doing that will put a lot of wear and tear on the Baratzas, used for one use no prob.

That said for Turkish, your better off with a Turkish hand grinder, I don't think any auto grinder is as good for Turkish coffee (even though they can go fine) the way the Turkish hand grinders are. This is pry the most popular Turkish Mill Turkish Hand Grinder

Seattle Coffee Gear was running a special for a CC1 and Vario combo for under a grand which is an awesome setup for the $, and then they had an extra 10% off if you signed up and they mailed you a coupon. Think people said the packaged deal was $900 after said and done, nutz. You'll have to check to see if their stlll doing that + another 10% off.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,499
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 Sat Jan 25, 2014, 4:29pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

I am adding another voice for the used Oscar or CC1. I take a lot of heat for my ... Um, ........ Lack of support for Breville products.
Weighing dose is the right way to go, just knocking the top grounds off is not accurate and accuracy is mandatory for espresso.

 
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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stefan1988
Junior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Florida
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Jan 25, 2014, 11:45pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

Thanks for the advice guys.

I saw more in depth the two machines suggested the oscar and the CC1.

both look like excellent machines.

I'm trying to figure out now the following two things.

how important is pre-infusion?. The oscar doesn't seem to have the same level of control.
My other questions is how do i regulate the pressure of both machines? is that something i should change?

The basic variables at the moment i know i have to mess with to get a good  shot of expresso are the following.
1.Type of grind
2.Tamp Pressure
3.Temperature
4.Extraction time (25-30seconds)

Will having the menu in the CC1 be more of an advantage? or should i buy the oscar?
which one will provide me with a better shot of expresso?

The oscar seems to have more steaming power vs the CC1 but both seem able to produce a latte and a  cappuccino with no problem.

So basically my question boils down to which one you will pick out of the two and why?
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
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 Jan 26, 2014, 12:20am
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

stefan1988 Said:

how important is pre-infusion?.

Posted January 25, 2014 link

IMO? Well, it is supposed to help prevent channelling and give you better water distribution across the puck, but it isn't absolutely mandatory to make a great cup of espresso.

stefan1988 Said:

My other questions is how do i regulate the pressure of both machines? is that something i should change?

Posted January 25, 2014 link

I wouldn't really worry about that. You don't really have an option to change brew pressure on this level of machine without opening it up.
Realistically, brewing pressure isn't something to worry about because out of the factory, the machine will be set up correctly.

stefan1988 Said:

Will having the menu in the CC1 be more of an advantage? or should i buy the oscar?

Posted January 25, 2014 link

IMO, If you can afford the Oscar, go for it. If budget is a limitation, then the CC1 is for you.

stefan1988 Said:

which one will provide me with a better shot of expresso?

Posted January 25, 2014 link

Well, I think it would help if you started calling it by its correct name "espresso". :-)

Second, either machine will produce a great shot of espresso provided that you understand how the machine works and you pay attention to how your shots come out.

The big question is, do you primarily drink milk drinks? If so, the Oscar is a better machine for that because of the steaming power it has. If you primarily drink straight shots,
then the CC1 is a better machine for that. So, I would pick a machine which best suits your coffee drinking habits.

stefan1988 Said:

So basically my question boils down to which one you will pick out of the two and why?

Posted January 25, 2014 link

Which one would I pick? Neither. That's just me though. Although, if I had to choose, I'd pick the Oscar. Although, I'd rather have an Appia instead. :-)

 
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: 763
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 Sun Jan 26, 2014, 9:20am
Subject: Re: Beginner Need some advice regarding grinder and expresso machine
 

stefan1988 Said:

How important is pre-infusion?

Posted January 25, 2014 link

Not actually critical to a good cup of coffee, but it's important in the sense that it helps make up for imperfect distribution, and improves consistency.  It's more important with rotary pumps than with vibratory pumps.  Both Breville BDBs, the CC1 and the Oscar use vibes.

Of those four, only the Oscar lacks pre-infusion.  Lack of pre-infusion is a hallmark of cheap and/or old-design machines.  There are very few machines priced above $1500 which don't have at least some type of pre-infusion.  

The oscar doesn't seem to have the same level of control.

The Oscar was designed for commercial use. It's quite robust, a good steamer, and can handle a lot of people in succession.  it has very few features, can't be put on a timer, lacks an OPV, its group overheats easily, and it require a lot of temping.  It's a very old design which, depending on how you look at it, is either simple or primitive.  

Keep an Open Mind Abut the BDB:
If you've made the decision not to buy a BDB based on what a few people have said here on CG, I think you're doing yourself a disservice.  There are tens of thousands of BDBs out there and if there were big problems with reliability, you'd hear screaming from thousands of buyers, rather than the same few stories repeated on all the coffee forums.  As far as I know, there's only one guy who returned and replaced his BDB four times (at BDB's expense) and never got it to work -- but the story is famous and is usually retold in the form of "I know a few guys who..."  

The BDB provides everything which makes espresso making as easy and consistent for the home as an espresso machine can.  It's as user friendly as it gets, and makes espresso at a very high level.   Customer service and repair policies are beyond exemplary.

Outside of the body (cheap), electronics (proprietary, flexible, reliable) and group (proprietarty, innovative, excellent), the pump, valves, and other parts come from the same parts bins used for mid-priced, Italian prosumers.

I'm as build quality conscious as anyone, but unless I were specifically buying a machine to last a decade and which was easily user serviceable, I would not hesitate to buy a BDB for either of my (adult) kids it would be a BDB.  But, I would only buy new and with a guarantee; and only from BB&B or someplace with an equally good return policy.

To be honest, even if I were on a budget I'd find some way to afford a Bezerra Strega (lever), or a competent HX for their greater versatility as well as their better build quality.  

CC1:
Like the BDB, the Crossland is a consumer grade, ultra user-friendly machine, and also built in Asia.  It is neither a double boiler, nor an HX, but a hybrid with a PID controlled brew boiler, and a thermoblock for steam generation.  

Bill Crossland's engineering is even more sophisticated and innovative than Breville's.  

Some Others:
The Quick Mill Silvano is also a hybrid, better built than the CC1, but without pre-infusion or sophisticated electronics.  On the other hand, its not only a better steamer but can steam and pull at the same time.

If you want a prosumer grade machine with a good group and at least some advanced features, they start at around $1500.  They represent an excellent combination of usability and build quality.

Prosumer double boilers start at around $2000.  Most of the good ones are clustered at $2,300 - $2400.  

My other questions is how do i regulate the pressure of both machines? is that something i should change?

You regulate brew temperature by adjusting their pumps.  You regulate the steam pressure and boiler temperature of the Oscar by adjusting the p-stat.  The CC1 uses a thermoblock to produce steam, and you'll want all it can produce whenever you want steam -- so the question as asked doesn't make sense.  Chances are you'll have to adjust everything once, then adjust nothing for a long time.

The basic variables at the moment i know i have to mess with to get a good  shot of expresso are the following.
1.Type of grind
2.Tamp Pressure
3.Temperature
4.Extraction time (25-30seconds)

Not exactly.  

Grind, dose and temp are the things you work with as the major components of dialing in, and for consistency.  Tamping, as long as its consistent and within a very broad window, doesn't vary.  That is, you don't change your tamp to suit the shot.  

Extraction time can be a very complicated subject, but it's controlled by the combination of grind and dose.  

Also... there's no "x" in espresso.  

Will having the menu in the CC1 be more of an advantage?

Yes.

Or should i buy the oscar?

Do you want what the Oscar offers that the CC1 doesn't?  Or vice versa?

Which one will provide me with a better shot of expresso?

About the same, once you've got them figured out.  The CC1 will make day to day operation easier, consistent temping much easier, and will flatten the initial learning curve a little.  The Oscar will provide enough steam for a party.  It's also built cockroach tough and will last forever.  

The oscar seems to have more steaming power vs the CC1 but both seem able to produce a latte and a  cappuccino with no problem.

Power means speed, and speed is important.  If milk steams too slowly it will lose its fresh, sweetness as it "cheeses."

The Oscar has good steaming power, steaming as quickly as anything other than full-on professional machines.  

The CC1's power is just adequate for a home machine.  If your steaming is limited to one latte or a couple of caps per session, the CC1's not a problem.  If you make a few milk drinks as part of your regular routine, or like to entertain with them, then steam is important for you and the CC1 is not a good choice.

So basically my question boils down to which one you will pick out of the two and why?

I wouldn't buy either for myself.  There are a few machines I recommend for someone new to espresso, and the CC1 is at the top of the list if price is a big consideration.  

Recommended (Noob / Bang for the Buck) List:
  • CC1 ($700);
  • Quick Mill Silvano ($1000);
  • BDB 920 ($1200);
  • Any of a bunch of mid-level, prosumer E-61 HXs ($1,500ish);
  • Bezerra Strega ($2000); and
  • Alex Duetto, La Spaziale S1, VBM DD, etc. ($2300ish).

The Oscar isn't on MY list because I think, that while it has its strengths and can make good coffee, it's too much of a PITA.  And, by way of context, there are a LOT of other very good machines which aren't on my "recommend list" either -- for all sorts of reasons.  

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
The Vario is a good but not a great grinder.  It's very user friendly.  It out performs nearly everything in its price range by a great deal.  It has a pleasant taste signature loaded towards coffee's "low notes."  On the other hand, it's not particularly robust.  Although Baratza sells Varios as all-purpose they're best used as either brew or "espresso-only."  If you want a well-built Vario which really can handle going back and forth between espresso and brew, it's the Forte.  

The Vario is not the "ultimate" you called it, but it IS a good grinder at a good price; i.e., a very good value.

Bottom Line:
For $1,000, the CC1 + Vario Package at SCG is among the few best values in espresso.  If you're serious about bang for the buck, it's a no-brainer.  Pull the trigger before they go off sale.

BDL
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