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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Please help me.  
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wanttoknowaboutcoffee
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Feb 2004
Posts: 2
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Feb 7, 2004, 12:14am
Subject: Please help me.
 

Well. As my profile says I just got married to a guy that loves starbuck's Mocha, and now I want to surprise him with making him good coffee at home. Can anyone please tell me what I need to buy? What equipments and what kind of coffee? I feel so ashamed of not knowing anything about cofee.And the reason is that I am a tea person:(

Thanks alot if you help
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dana_leighton
Moderator
dana_leighton
Joined: 11 Jan 2002
Posts: 1,939
Location: Little Rock, AR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Isomac Relax; Caferina...
Grinder: Macap MXK; Baratza Vario-W;...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: Technivorm; CCD; Melitta
Roaster: Poppery I w/PID controller
Posted Sat Feb 7, 2004, 12:39am
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

Welcome to the bewildering world of espresso!

I agree that $4.00 is a lot for a mocha, but you'll soon realize that there are hidden costs to getting a good shot of espresso (equipment being the primary one).

You'll first have to determine how much you can spend. That becomes the driving factor in equipment purchases. You'll find out that around $400-450 is the minimum you'll need to get equipment capable of producing a good espresso (I'd recommend a Solis SL-70 and a Gaggia MDF grinder). If you can go for more, then you have more options...

How easy do you want it to be? Press a button, and have the machine grind, tamp, pull the shot, and steam the milk? Or are you willing to do more work? More automation costs more money.

Here are a few links that can be of service to you:

"What machine to buy - beginner."
"Silvia or Solis SL70?"
"Espresso equipment for $450?"
"STEAMING MILK VS FROTHING"

Good luck.

PS: I moved your post to the Espresso > Questions and Answers forum.

 
Dana Leighton - Espresso hack and CoffeeGeek moderator
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Whodat
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jan 2004
Posts: 132
Location: Boston
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ02S, La Peppina
Grinder: Isomac Gran Macinino
Posted Wed Feb 11, 2004, 2:23pm
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

On coffeegeek.com you will learn that $400-450 is the minimum you can pay & have equipment that will make "a good espresso" for your mocha.

On chocolategeek.com, you will learn that the only mocha worth drinking has to be made with chocolate from an obscure firm run by a tiny community of Zoroastrians in Duluth.  This goes for $75 the 4 oz. container.

On milkgeek.com, you will learn that virtually regardless of the depth of your pockets, your quest to make a good mocha for your husband is doomed:  the only drink worthy of the name has to be made using milk from a herd of heirloom cattle up in the Swiss alps, brought over the border to France, put on the TGV to Paris, and then whisked to the US on the Concorde before the critical components oxidize.  Since the Concorde was retired from service, only one lot in twenty has reached these shores in drinkable condition, and even then, only if you're fortunate to live within 20 miles or so of Newark Airport.

You say that you are a newlywed & a student.  While there are exceptions to every rule, most of the students (and a fair number of the newlyweds) that I know are on a fairly tight budget.   (You should have registered for espresso equipment!  What were you thinking?)  If you are one of the fortunate exceptions, forget about the rest of this post.

Depending on your definition of "good", you can get equipment that will make good espresso for $200, +/- $50.  Ditch the grinder for now (use pre-ground) & get a machine with a pressurized portafilter.  You (or your husband) will NOT be able to have the spectacular espresso experiences that so many on this site describe, but you will be able to make an enjoyable espresso.  On some machines, as you can see from the links, you can buy an unpressurized portafilter later, if you want more control & can add a grinder at the same time.

Maybe he'll get  you a nice Yixing teapot.

Good luck!
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flippant
Senior Member
flippant
Joined: 1 Sep 2003
Posts: 235
Location: Oslo, Norway
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Thu Feb 12, 2004, 6:19am
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

Temperance is a good thing, and Whodat made a nice point (funny, too). My guess is most people who spend oodles on espresso machines usually drink straight espressos or ristrettos. If your husband is into Mochas, both the milk and chocolate will do its part in masking the espresso to the point where justifying spending $500 on a tight budget just isn't possible.

(And when upgrade fever strikes, you'll be able to taste the difference and appreciate it!)

I'm sure he'll love you even more for this gesture, it's a great thing to do :)

Whodat Said:

Depending on your definition of "good", you can get equipment that will make good espresso for $200, +/- $50.  Ditch the grinder for now (use pre-ground) & get a machine with a pressurized portafilter.  You (or your husband) will NOT be able to have the spectacular espresso experiences that so many on this site describe, but you will be able to make an enjoyable espresso.  On some machines, as you can see from the links, you can buy an unpressurized portafilter later, if you want more control & can add a grinder at the same time.

Posted February 11, 2004 link

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wanttoknowaboutcoffee
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Feb 2004
Posts: 2
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Feb 13, 2004, 9:42am
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

Dear whodat,
I really appreciate your response to my question:) Actually I agree with you, and unfortunately or maybe fortunately I am not one of those exceptions so I think that I will listen to your suggestion and get my primary equipment now and wait on the grinder and the rest of it. You mentioned that to make a good espresso the equipment would cost about $250. What brand do you suggest that I get? And where would you buy it from? ( Just for you to be able to help more, I am in the US).
Thanks a bunch
-Me
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phaelon56
Senior Member
phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
Posts: 1,144
Location: Syracuse, NY
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM 4 group , Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Major, Super Jolly,...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Fetco, Melitta
Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Fri Feb 13, 2004, 9:56am
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

Look at Gaggia Carezza or the Solis SL-70.  I'd lean towards the Gaggia as it has the full sized heavy duty commercial style portafilter assembly and basket.  if you can find a deal on  Gaggia Baby it's a nice step up as the switches that turn on and off to start and stop the shots have the solenoid based pressure relief. This means you can stop the shot and immediately remove the basket to dump the  grounds and make another shot - not waiting around for the pressure to subside. I had a Gaggia Baby for about a year or two and it made excellent espresso once I got a feel for what I was doing. Also - I didn't learn everything I need to know in kindergarten - I learned it here at Coffeegeek!

 
Owen O'Neill
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ljguitar
Senior Member
ljguitar
Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 2,805
Location: Cheyenne
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Pulsar
Grinder: Mazzer SuperJolly • Baratza
Drip: Bunn • AeroPress
Roaster: Behmor•Variacs
Posted Fri Feb 13, 2004, 10:59am
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

phaelon56 Said:

Look at Gaggia Carezza or the Solis SL-70.  I'd lean towards the Gaggia as it has the full sized heavy duty commercial style portafilter assembly and basket.

Posted February 13, 2004 link

Hi WantToKnow...
The Carezza is a great machine. Two of our friends have acquired these in the past few months and are enjoying them immensely. I can build great shots with them.

For what you described it would be the implement of choice. Also, an MDF or Cunnill grinder would be a great match when you acquire the $$.

L  a  r  r  Y

 
L  a  r  r  Y          J

<°)))><
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Whodat
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Jan 2004
Posts: 132
Location: Boston
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ02S, La Peppina
Grinder: Isomac Gran Macinino
Posted Sun Feb 15, 2004, 4:12pm
Subject: Re: Please help me.
 

The coffeegeek side of me does in fact wish that I had heard of the Gaggia Carezza ~$180-$200) before buying a machine.  There us a "First Look" review on this site that suggested that it was a wonderful option for someone starting on a limited budget.  One of its upsides in the review, its 58mm professional-type portafilter, could be a double edged sword here.  On the one hand, you have the opportunity for far more control & finesse.  On the other hand,  there seems to be a strong current of opinion on this site that if you want to make espresso without a pressurized portafilter, you can't rely on store-bought, pre-ground espresso (grind too coarse?).  You might post a query about whether people here have had good results with a Carezza & no grinder (ljguitar, what about your friends?).  If people haven't, then you need a grinder, & now you're up to a total of ~$350.  Alternatively, if there is a convenient coffee store around, they would presumably be able grind the beans correctly (apparently, supermarket grinders often aren't in good shape & don't grind reliably).

The Gaggia Baby & Solis SL-70 are both ~$350.

The practical side of me recognizes that as a newbie (I don't think my old steam machine experience counts for much except the authority to strongly suggest that you don't go that inexpensive route) working ~70 hr/week, with a toddler, a newborn, and a wife who might not respond enthusiastically to, "Dear, lets put both an espresso maker AND a grinder on our counter!" a simple machine with a pressurized portafilter is probably best for now.

I'm happy with my Capresso EspressoPro (~$250; I got it on sale for $200).  It makes good espresso using preground Lavazza or Illy with a minimal learning curve.  I'm not much of a milk fan so I haven't tried much along the cap/latte side, but I have verified it makes satisfactory mochas.  It looks pretty cool too, for what that's worth.

Before buying the EspressoPro, & before finding this site, I had also looked (online) at the Briel Chamonix (~$150).  This seems to be a good starter machine.  The even less expensive Briel Lido (~$100) seems to have decidedly mixed reviews.

You might also browse the consumer reviews on this site.  Also, the people at WholeLatteLove and Aabree seem to be very helpful.  You might ask for their recommendations.

Good Luck!
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