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Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
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All87
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Oct 2012
Posts: 3
Location: AR
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Nov 18, 2012, 6:21pm
Subject: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

Hi! I am planning on buying my husband an espresso machine for Christmas. I have absolutely no idea where to start. I'm not a coffee drinking so I am completely lost! This is the machine he mentioned that he wanted. Any thoughts on it? Are there any other machines you would recommend? That is at the top of my price range so I wouldn't want to spend any more than that! And, he only has experience messing around with my parents' espresso machine. Thanks so much!
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RaymondParker
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2012
Posts: 41
Location: Vienna
Posted Sun Nov 18, 2012, 8:33pm
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

your right on the mark with your choice with the Breville BES840.
The machine is a great buy!
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Intrepid510
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Dec 2010
Posts: 355
Location: California
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Nov 18, 2012, 8:41pm
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

Please disregard the above, breville has an awful reputation for build quality and more importantly the machine doesn't get hot enough to brew espresso properly.

Here is a good place to start; Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

I would personally recommend this combo that is on sale which features a le lit machine and grinder for 599 http://www.1st-line.com/machines/home_mod/lelit/index.htm

 
Less water, more grounds.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,461
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 Sun Nov 18, 2012, 9:35pm
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

All87 Said:

This is the machine he mentioned that he wanted. Any thoughts on it?

Posted November 18, 2012 link

Yes. My thought is simply this:   GOD, NO!  Run a-a-w-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y!

All87 Said:

Are there any other machines you would recommend? That is at the top of my price range so I wouldn't want to spend any more than that! And, he only has experience messing around with my parents' espresso machine.

Posted November 18, 2012 link

Nick ("Intrepid510") is absolutely right!  Breville has a horrible reputation for both build quality and customer service.  (This may be changing with their newest machine, but that's well over your budget, and customer service remains an issue.)  Also, general rule of thumb:  machines that come with built-in grinders are generally not very good machines, and rarely do they have good grinders.

You don't need to spend thousands to get a decent setup at home, but you do have a couple of options.  Right now (as I write this), Whole Latte Love has the Gaggia Classic on sale for $349 (that's $100 off!).  There's also no sales tax and free shipping!  Similarly, they are also offering the Gaggia MDF on sale for $199, also $100 off with no sales tax and no shipping.  That's $548 delivered!

The second option is the Le'Lit deal offered by 1st-Line and recommended by Nick.

BOTH will serve your husband well.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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RaymondParker
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2012
Posts: 41
Location: Vienna
Posted Sun Nov 18, 2012, 11:15pm
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

My fore posters would have been 100% right a year ago. Provided they would have had at least a look at (not only seen some photos on the internet), laid at least for a trial physical hand on or possess such a product, they obviously don't. That makes their critique a little unreliable as they write, one to them completely unknown product, down the gully. To put it mildly - their evaluation has to be taken with a metric ton of salt.

Breville has, I don't know how and why, per accident or intentionally, landed a smashing hit with both the BES840 as well as the BES900 hat may very well change the traditional Italian dominated pro-sumer espresso machine market. (trying to sell, as the italian do, as they don't develop anything anymore but build the same ol' stuff all over again, a 20th century technology in the 21th, is a brave undertaking anyhow - but they could until now as they control(ed) the marketing worldwide - until now)

I got a BES900 from Amazon, the bigger sister you should get for your husband, and I had a good hard and long look inside.
The machine is sturdy and well build, has features hardly found in her class and gives the user unmatched control over his shot. I have the machine for only a week now and cannot say anything regarding durability. But speaking to the technicians responsible for servicing theses gears in Europe (Germany - and they are known for honesty in labour & precision in handcraft) I learned that they got one single machine back to repair for a faulty magnet switch. The machine is since June 2012 on the European market. As faults turn up usually within the first 60 days, thats a very good first sign for reliability. I'm not a advocate for Breville neither do I endorse that firm as it is absolutely unknown in Europe (normally, as I learned selling cheapest crap to the USA & Oz) but in that very special case, one has to give the company some benefit of doubt. User opinion in Europe is (look at 53 Amazon Germany reviews or 153 happy Amazon US user reviews from confirmed buyers) overwhelming positive. Nearly 5* only. And the Germans are not known for being over-polite to a failing foreign product.
Your vendor also has a whole sack of positive user backlogs: williams-sonoma

Remember (companies sometimes change track overnight) - Nokia turned the mobile phone market with a unexpected product from ground up. They were initially only known known for their single product they had on their shelves: Crappy rubber boots for Swedish fisherman - worn one night, thrown away the next day. Look for what Nokia stands today - the heavy watertight boots are long forgotten...
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
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 Mon Nov 19, 2012, 2:53am
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

First of all, I thought I should say that you should be aware that any retailer who sells Breville equipment usually doesn't support it or service it. Usually, thats left up to the job of a Breville service depot.

I would recommend looking for a specialty coffee equipment place in your town if at all possible. This way, you can get local service and support from a company that knows the product they sell. If something goes wrong with the product, you can put it in the back of your car and bring it to them instead of having to ship it off to who knows where.

Buying online is always an option if there isn't any local equipment vendors in your area. Just be aware to keep the box and be prepared to ship the machine back if there are issues with it.

Personally, this is the machine that I thought I'd start out with too, but then I hung around on these forums for a while. The people in this thread who are telling you to run away from this machine are doing so for a reason.
I've heard that the grinder on this machine usually fails after a few short years of use. It was one of the reasons why I didn't buy this machine.

It is always better to have a separate grinder and machine anyway.

Second of all, do not budget for just a grinder and a machine. Also budget for all of those little things that go with it. Things like a tamper, steaming pitchers, steaming thermometer, group head brush, backflushing disc or basket,
cappuccino cups/saucers, shot glasses (For measuring shots), an inexpensive precision scale for measuring coffee dose, a tamping stand, (So you don't damage your counter) a knockbox, cafiza detergent and grindz cleaner.

Now, a lot of shops sell the Rancilio Silvia. It makes a good espresso and an even better cappuccino. This machine is built to be extremely durable, it is very well built and it is really easy to use. Not to mention, they have a high
resale value on the used market, they're easy to clean and it is one of the few consumer grade machines on the market which contain commercial grade components. I think I'm qualified to speak about this machine because I owned
one and I think for your budget, they make a great starter machine.

http://www.1st-line.com/machines/home_mod/rancilio/index.htm

Now, the Rocky is a very well built grinder, but it has one frustrating limitation.. It has a stepped grind selection. For a beginner, IMHO I feel that this actually makes it a little easier to dial in the grinder, as long as the operator
knows that they must adjust the dosage of their shot to compensate for the grind being too coarse or too fine. (The scale works well for compensating for this.) There are other grinders on the market, like the Baratza Precisio
which offer stepless grind selection and are affordable. If you can go for the Baratza Vario instead, you should if you can afford it.

I won't argue that the Gaggia and Lelit machines are of a much better bang for the buck.. Where the Rancilio machine shines is in it's commercial grade group head, stainless steel and switches. It doesn't hurt either that it actually
comes with a portafilter which is identical to the ones they use on their commercial machines.

Personally though, if your husband is just starting out, you want to spend that little bit more and get him not only everything he needs, but you want to start out with a machine that isn't a toy, which will last you decades with
proper maintenance and care. I feel confident that the Rancilio Silvia, despite some of its shortcomings, is one of those machines which are designed to last and make you a great cup of coffee.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
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 Mon Nov 19, 2012, 3:14am
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

RaymondParker Said:

a trial physical hand on or possess such a product, they obviously don't. That makes their critique a little unreliable as they write

Posted November 18, 2012 link

All I can say is that I certainly had my mind changed when I did my research... You can take my word for it or not. IMO, if the OP is planning on spending that much on a machine, they should get something reliable for their money.
It could be that Breville has made the grinder more reliable in the years following, but now that I've been in this hobby for a while, I've realized just what a mistake buying one of these machines would have been.

If anything, not so much for the grinder issues but rather because as I've grown in this hobby, my requirements for a grinder have changed. The start of a good cup of espresso coffee is the beans, then the grinder. Not having
an upgrade path, in all honesty, really sucks. After a few months of making espresso, I upgraded from a Rancilio Rocky to a Mazzer Mini Electronic.. My God, what a difference in the taste of the drink...

RaymondParker Said:

Breville has, I don't know how and why, per accident or intentionally, landed a smashing hit with both the BES840 as well as the BES900 hat

Posted November 18, 2012 link

There is a HUGE thread on this board about the BES900, with a lot of good things to say about it.. and I'll admit that it really is quite something they engineered.. with features you rarely see on any espresso machine, Italian or not.
The price of this machine represents huge bang for the buck. The only things I don't like about this machine so far have been the complaints of the portafilter "slipping", the 53mm grouphead and the 6,000 shot lockout. (The machine will lockout and require professional service after 6,000 shots).

Personally, I prefer 58mm components only due to the fact they are much more industry standard and easier to come by. I also prefer owning a machine I can service myself instead of getting "locked out" and having to send it back to a service depot, but that's just IMHO.

RaymondParker Said:

(trying to sell, as the italian do, as they don't develop anything anymore but build the same ol' stuff all over again, a 20th century technology in the 21th

Posted November 18, 2012 link

La Spaziale seems to be bucking this trend... Check out the S1 Dream T. It costs $1000 more than the Breville, but it pretty much matches all of its features and then some.
I know it is outside of the OP's budget, but I'm trying to put forth a point that not all Italian equipment is antiquated and made with obsolete components. Unfortunately, it still does carry a premium. :-/

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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RaymondParker
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2012
Posts: 41
Location: Vienna
Posted Mon Nov 19, 2012, 4:34am
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

qualin Said:

It is always better to have a separate grinder and machine anyway.

Posted November 19, 2012 link

Thats true - having all in one piece is a matter of space & convenience against true to the book "expert-mode"

qualin Said:

Second of all, do not budget for just a grinder and a machine. Also budget for all of those little things that go with it. Things like a tamper, steaming pitchers, steaming thermometer, group head brush, backflushing disc or basket, cappuccino cups/saucers, shot glasses (For measuring shots), an inexpensive precision scale for measuring coffee dose, a tamping stand, (So you don't damage your counter) a knockbox, cafiza detergent and grindz cleaner.

Posted November 19, 2012 link

Your aware the the Breville comes with most of that that mentioned stuff right out of the shipping box (ok - without the tableware for a midsize wedding)

qualin Said:

The only things I don't like about this machine so far have been the complaints of the portafilter "slipping", the 53mm grouphead and the 6,000 shot lockout. (The machine will lockout and require professional service after 6,000 shots).  

Posted November 19, 2012 link

The extreme massive build portafilter (you can seriously damage a Abrams Tank trowing a Breville portafilter at him) will slip out only if not put in properly or if coffee powder remains, due to not cleaning after / before a shot, in the mechanism.
After 6.000 shots - about four years typical use, it will not lockout but give a visual warning. I'm happy to have a professional descaling after that time - I have seen my Pavoni Europiccola after 5 years (self descaled) with damaged oRings - these have to be replaced by a pro anyhow after some years. No matter what brand your getting.

Sorry that I may look like a Breville salesman - I have no commercial or other interest in that matter, trust me - but honestly: I could not be more happy with my machine.
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 880
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 Mon Nov 19, 2012, 6:04am
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

Breville's reputation for shoddy build quality and poor customer service aside (And I remember when LG was Lucky Goldstar and made absolute crap, compared to the much higher quality electronics they make today, so there's proof that a company can turn its quality around), to my mind the biggest problem with any all-in-one appliance is that added complexity means there's just that much more that can go wrong. Any simply problem takes the whole system down, rather than just part of it. Whereas with saparate units, you still can find stopgap measures should one or the other part have a problem (e.g. a hand grinder that's capable of espresso fineness and consistency can be used if the electric grinder needs to go for service, or something like a Mypressi and a kettle can substitute for the machine in emergencies).

Following the concept often pushed here that the grinder is actually the most important part of the equation, I would recommend the LeLit PL53 because it's stepless, and thus easier to accurately dial in for a proper shot.
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RaymondParker
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2012
Posts: 41
Location: Vienna
Posted Mon Nov 19, 2012, 6:51am
Subject: Re: Buying an espresso machine for my husband, help!
 

GVDub Said:

to my mind the biggest problem with any all-in-one appliance is that added complexity means there's just that much more that can go wrong. Any simply problem takes the whole system down, rather than just part of it. Whereas with separate units, you still can find stopgap measures should one or the other part have a problem (e.g. a hand grinder that's capable of espresso fineness and consistency can be used if the electric grinder needs to go for service, or something like a Mypressi and a kettle can substitute for the machine in emergencies).

Posted November 19, 2012 link

This argument in the real world doesn't hold water, as you may substitute any single failing part in a all-in machine the same as when one part of a separate system goes south. Not counting that a solid grinder sets you at least half the price of the whole BES840 machine back. And the grinder in the BES840 is technically not bad at all. There are imho other, at least theoretical arguments against the BES480. Like probable bean staling through warm environment & time critical steam availability. That would be a go and for a separate, more expensive and pro-system. Thought the bean problem is limited as the beans container in the BES840 is well nearly airtight sealed and so tiny that its not worth thinking about that matter. The heating system has all drawbacks all "one-heating element" opposite to "non-double-boiler system" have in common.
It always burns down to the question of price versa very personal need and preferences.

I could do a perfect shot (more or less most of the time) with my Pavoni Europiccola handlevel machine but the hassle, attention to details and finally dirt in the kitchen it takes...
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