Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 10:06am Subject: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
Greetings, fellow Coffeegeekers. I'm looking for some advice on upgrading my espresso machine. I just finished reading all 11 pages of the sticky on buying a new espresso machine. I currently use a Gaggia Carezza which I bought from a fellow CG'er in 2008. It's been a good machine and it definitely fit the bill as an entry level unit, but I feel it's time to upgrade to something more sophisticated. I have a Rancilio Rocky doserless grinder, which I bought in 2008 and like very much. I'm looking for a machine that has a 3-way solenoid valve, a cup warmer, a larger reservoir and preferably a metal steam wand (articulating). I usually make a double shot of espresso every morning, and cappuccino a couple of times a week. Personal preference here only, but I prefer a machine made in Italy, and I've read recently that Gaggia moved all of its manufacturing to Romania. I don't know how well those machines perform. I'm looking at the Gaggia Classic, the Gaggia New Baby, and also the Rancilio Silvia, which I've always pined for. :) I see all of these machines for sale at a well-known auction site, and I'm undecided whether to go that route or purchase a brand-new machine instead. In terms of price range, I was thinking $300-400, but obviously for the Silvia I could go up to $650. I'd like something that will last a long time. I hope that answers all the questions necessary for a recommendation. If not, please let me know. Thanks!
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 11:15am Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
"Upgrade" may not be the correct term when staying within the SBDU category and at a similar level machine. That said, get the Classic. IMHO, the Classic is much better than the other Gaggia SBDUs. It has the 3 way and adjustable OPV, as you know, and is just about trouble free. Baby has different tubing and they are prone to leak, see "review" note.
Agreed, but then again I remember when the Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia were the same price . . .
But the first and most important question, to my mind, is why? Why are you changing your machine? It isn't really an upgrade, per se, so what is wrong with it that you feel it needs replacing?
Is the Classic a better machine than the Carezza? Yes.
Will you see a greater improvement by a) replacing the Carezza with the Classic (or even Silvia)?, or b) by upgrading the Rocky with a better grinder?
(Hint: look for the word "upgrade" in the question.) ;)
Unless the Carezza is malfunctioning in some way, you'll see a marked improvement in the quality of your espresso by upgrading the grinder and keeping the Carezza than you will by replacing the machine and keeping the Rocky.
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 1:51pm Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
Thank you for the responses, and for the questions. First of all, as to why I want to upgrade. Basically, it's two reasons. Firstly, features, and then after that, performance. The Carezza has no warming surface, and I like to have the cups warmed. Also, it does not have the three-way solenoid, so there's always residual water after the shot, and I prefer to have the dry puck. Thirdly, the water reservoir is fairly shallow, so by the time I've primed the pump, pulled the shot, and steamed the milk, half the tank is gone. In terms of performance, I'm not getting the same consistency in water temperature as when I first bought the Carezza (used to be about 195, now it's down to 160 or so) Also, after years of use, the portafilter isn't in as good of condition as it was before (for instance, there's a small wire or metal ring around the portafilter on the inside about halfway down, and it's coming out). I looked and also the double basket, shower screen and shower head assembly really need to be replaced due to staining, and when I started adding up the price of those things, it was going to be $100 or more, so I started thinking I might as well consider getting a new machine. The Rocky works like a champ, so I don't think I need a new grinder. I've pulled good shots with good beans, and bad shots with bad beans, so I really don't think the grinder is the issue. I just like the features of the other machines, so that's my primary reason for upgrading. Neither of you commented on the build quality of the Gaggias made in Romania, so do you think that's an issue? A rep I spoke with at WLL indicated that those machines may not be as good as the ones that were made in Italy before, and may have more repair issues. I'm leaning toward the Gaggia Classic now, though. There's one available on the auction site, and the seller assured me it was made in Italy and it's brand-new. The price is more than $300 lower than the Silvia. Oh and BTW, does either of you know if the standard pannarello wand on the Gaggia can be replaced with an articulating one so as to offer a greater range of motion? Thank you.
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 2:55pm Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
I am not sure where the Gaggia is manufactured now. I was recently told that the Classic was discontinued, but did not find evidence of that. Are you suggesting that the cast parts are now made in Romania or that the machine is assembled there? It went from Gaggia through Saeco and Philips. I don't know of any real changes. The machine is fairly simple as you know and can be repaired or assembled at home. Sounds like a great sale line, but now before the new ones get here :)
There is no active warming, just passive heat rise. If you leave the machine on for 45 minutes there is a little warmth, but minimal if you get up in the morning and brew in 15 - 20 minutes.
As far as water temperature consistency, if you are really brewing at 160F, it sounds like a sink shot. That may need a simple thermostat replacement as that is temperature control. Alternately, a PID controller would solve that and could be moved to another machine later.
As far as technique of priming and then pulling a shot, a whole other discussion for Gaggia.
The piece in the PF sounds like the basket containment spring?
Most of the time a shower screen and group can be cleaned with a good coffee cleaner, but I am not the one that has to look. A great double basket
JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,383 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 Mar 1, 2014, 4:28pm Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
I understand the desire to upgrade . . . don't misunderstand me. And having used a Coffee Gaggia -- basically the same machine as a Classic, but without a 3-way solenoid -- for 25 years before upgrading to machines that do have them, I certainly understand its advantages.
Your reasons for replacing the Carezza are sound, and were I in your shoes, I'd be looking at a new machine as well. The Classic remains your best bet vis-a-vis "bang for the buck." That said, however, and without meaning to sound like a broken record, I really would urge you to think about the grinder.
Get the Classic now, and start saving for a real upgrade with a new grinder! You will be truly surprised what a difference it will make.
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 5:14pm Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
Thank you, I will keep that in mind about the grinder, although something seems to have led you to believe that I'm dissatisfied with the flavor of my coffee, and that the grinder is to blame. I'm actually very satisfied with the coffee that I get, and as I say, the Rocky performs like a champ and I see no reason to replace it. It does a fantastic job of grinding the beans just how I like them. :)
. . . and that the grinder is to blame. I'm actually very satisfied with the coffee that I get, and as I say, the Rocky performs like a champ and I see no reason to replace it. It does a fantastic job of grinding the beans just how I like them. :)
Remember your very first car? That hand-me-down used Datsun, or Chevy Chevette? (Yeah, OK, you didn't have either of those; just go with it for a minute.) Remember how you loved it? OK. Do you still want to drive it? (If you're first car was a 1964½ Ford Mustang, just stop reading now; I surrender.)
The point I'm trying to make is youmost people LOVED their first car, but in hindsight, it was pretty much a POS, your Rocky was a decent grinder in its day, but . . . indeed, just as the "end-all-to-be-all" espresso setup used to be a Silvia and a Rocky, but now both are a) considered overpriced for what they offer, and b) have been surpassed by other options out there.
The key to great espresso is the grinder more than anything else. Honest. (Are you familiar with The 4 M's of Espresso?)
In the FWIW Dept., I have no interest in any coffee retail business, now am I trying to sell you an old grinder of my own. My comments above are provided in the spirit of great espresso, generally; everyone's espresso can be improved.
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 8:11pm Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
Haha, good analogy about the cars. I see your point. :) At the same time, I've been driving the same car for 10 years and I love it, so..... Also, you should know that for me, the Rocky IS a big step up. Before that, I was using a Braun blade grinder and then a Mr Coffee burr grinder. So for me, the Rocky is well nigh nirvana. Lastly, I should make clear that my wife & I are planning to have kids, and I'll probably be taken to the woodshed for even considering buying a new espresso machine. Asking for a grinder, too, might be a bridge too far. Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list. Thanks for your help and advice, I appreciate them.
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 10:16pm Subject: Re: Upgrading my 6 year old machine
Been there and done that (upgraded a plastic Gaggia to a Classic). The upgrade gets you build (plastic vs stainless steel), looks and functionality. However, there isn't much difference in the cup. You say that you are "very satisfied with the coffee that I get." If you want to improve the quality in the cup, I wouldn't waste my money on a Classic. I would get a machine that could consistently improve the quality in the cup. BTW 300ml+ boilers are nice for getting hot water for tea and hot cocoa.
People say get a good grinder, so I paired my $19 Gaggia Espresso with a Mazzer Super Jolly. :)
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