I wasn't sure to put this in the espressi machine section or modification section...
About 10 years ago I began down a path of gateway coffee drugs. Admittedly at first it was more about the culture and meeting friends at starbucks. One thing led to another and I the office where I work had a decade old pallet of Folgers for office coffee... I bought a french press and spinning helicppter grinder. It was nirvana. Eventually I ran across a sale on a breville espresso machine for 89 bucks and also bought a 59 dollar grinder - together with starbucks beans this was a new plateau for me. Everyone who came over stated it was the best they ever had. Next I discovered illy - another new height. Next I spend a staggering 599 MSRP on a Breville machine to be used with Illy and all my friends were amazed. Even this was better than most restaurants and coffee shops! Several increment upgrades to my coffee and espresso regiment and I ended up with a Quick Mill QM67 with a Mazzer Mini E doserless. To me this was by far the biggest bang for the home barista buck. The QM67 specifically had all of the dual boiler features I wanted with as much capacity as I need even for large dinner parties. I still feel that fore home its the best value for a du boiler machine on the market.
Other factors - I usually use Magnolia or Pure intentions beans which are locaally roasted. Occassionally I'll do some Counter Culture which is also local. Bottomless portafilter with a 2 shot basket from CCS.
Recently I "upgraded" my grinder burrs to Super Jolly Burrs. I was disapointed to find they looked to be identical to the owm Mazzer M E doserless that came with the machine. They are not. It grinds faster and much less clumping. Btw - I had nearly 5,000 shots on the clock/the original burrs. For the machine end of the experience I upgraded my basket to VST and went with a CCS presicion shower screen. The difference in this combination is night and day. With a bottomless PF I can see far less channeling and way more consistency. The Screen is a much for anyone with an E61 groupheap. The difference is as large as going from the 600 Breville consumer machine and illy preground coffee to my Quick Mill/Mazzer setup. For 100 all in (I also ordered a gasket and couple of other small things) this was a no brainer upgrade that was far overdue. When you look at the investment for a prosumer machine and legit grinder - this was a huge step up for a fraction of the price. VERY worth it.
Another thing I would like to recommend is that a user wait for a year after they make the jump to prosumer level equipment to change anything from OEM. It takesa lot of time and failed attempts to dial in a machine and grinder. My shots are pretty consistent and had I done this earlier would not been able to tell the difference since my technique was and is still improving.
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