Greatwhite Senior Member Joined: 21 Nov 2012 Posts: 5 Location: Canada Expertise: Just starting
Posted Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:26am Subject: Just like espresso in the morning...
Ok, i fully acknowledge I'm putting my head in the lions mouth but here goes:
I like a latte every now and then but I'm not a coffee "aficionado". Starbucks latte is good enough for my pallet.
However, I'm military and there's not many options for coffee where I'm currently posted. Tim Hortons, Macdonalds or the disgusting black liquid in the workplace pot. So its down to make my own.
I'm looking for a cheap (yup, i used the curse word) espresso machine to make a quick latte in the morning. Im looking at the Phillips Saenco Poemia. Cheap, ships to my door, seems to get decent review for a kitchen counter unit and appears fairly easy to use. Im pretty sure thats the one as that's all my budget will suffer atm. Its gotta be better than the steam cheapy that i occasionally use now.
Unfortunately, a grinder is not in the budget and i'll have to suffer with the whirly blade cheapy i currently have. In a couple months i should have enough saved up for an encore. Low end unit, but affordable and functional from what i can find.
This equipment, combined with wasting some beans and a bit of practice, has me I'm hoping it will be good enough for an occasional/low discriminating user just looking for a bit of java when heading out the front door.
So, let me have it.
Keep in mind I'm only looking for a drinkable latte that will be better than the swill i currently have to endure...well, that and the fact i have very little cash to spend...
Posted Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:29pm Subject: Re: Just like espresso in the morning...
Until you can afford a quality grinder, a stovetop moka pot is worth a try (stainless steel for $20 at Walmart, cheaper at Ross or Goodwill store.) It's the everyday espresso in Italy. It's not really espresso but it is strong coffee with a heavier mouthfeel which will stand up to milk & syrup. I would use preground coffee before I use a whirly grinder for moka because the fines would come through the filter and make it bitter. Mind you, just like an espresso machine, there is a little learning curve and a break-in period of a new aluminum pot.
Buckley Senior Member Joined: 25 Jan 2011 Posts: 423 Location: Internet Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Nov 22, 2012, 2:04am Subject: Re: Just like espresso in the morning...
The cheapest espresso machine on the planet is also the best value for the buck; it is the Mypressi handheld unit. Since you already have a cheap steam unit you can use the old unit to steam since the one drawback of the Mypressi is it does not steam. The handheld is also convenient if you have to move to different deployments or back to civilian, someday. It needs no maintenance but it does require a supply of small gas cartridges (nitrous oxide [whipped cream] or CO2), but these are easily available all over the world (well, US and Europe, anyway). At .40-.50 per cartridge, it adds 10 cents to the price of a shot but with the money you save instead of buying a cheap boiler unit and with maintenance, you will come out even or a little ahead over a year or two with the Mypressi. See my review under 'consumer reviews' and good luck.
qualin Senior Member Joined: 30 Jun 2012 Posts: 681 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 Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:54pm Subject: Re: Just like espresso in the morning...
You have a few options available to you. I have a very high opinion of Bialetti products because I've owned a few.
Bialetti makes a wide variety of Moka pots, the Brikka holds back the pressure so your coffee will have "crema". (Notice how I put the quotes around that, it's not really true crema.) The Moka Express is a conventional Moka pot which makes very strong coffee and the Mukka express is good if you like making cappuccinos or want conventional Moka-style coffee.
All of the major retailers seem to sell Moka pots and you can generally get away with just a standard drip grind with them, they're not fussy in that way.
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,194 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 Nov 24, 2012, 10:35pm Subject: Re: Just like espresso in the morning...
If you just MUST go with a pump machine that looks like an espresso machine, but have no money for a grinder. I advise going with pods, there I said it! WAY less in quality than most here would go with but acceptable results can be had with fresh pods, esp if the high bar is Starbucks, you SHOULD be able to achieve at least that level of quality with fresh (a relitave term with pods) pods. We have a sight sponsor that sells pods and I would think they would be your best bet. Pods are easy to use and clean up after and they can be acceptable when used with milk. YMMV!
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!
JamesInTaiwan Senior Member Joined: 12 Jun 2012 Posts: 12 Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Espresso: Rocket Giotto Premium Plus Grinder: Baratza Vario, Flying Eagle... Drip: Aeropress Roaster: Whirley Pop
Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 8:36am Subject: Re: Just like espresso in the morning...
A Gaggia Classic and a Hario hand grinder to help you realize what a difference fresh ground makes! Truly, the whirly blades will not help you with espresso, but you would be amazed what a Hario hand grinder can do! Plus, being military, you can count your grinding time as PT! Ifyouneed to go cheaper, the my pressi twist has already been mentioned. Don't forget refurbs and Craigslist, you can save a TON of money.
Greatwhite Senior Member Joined: 21 Nov 2012 Posts: 5 Location: Canada Expertise: Just starting
Posted Tue Dec 4, 2012, 8:07am Subject: Re: Just like espresso in the morning...
Thanks to all that replied with constructive points.
I purchased a Phillips/Saenco Poemia after reading a bit about it from various sources and some video reviews on you tube. The reviews go on about next level up internals with plastic exteriors, works fine for an entry level, etc, etc. Meh, I'll take their word for it. I won't be pulling apart a brand new unit to confirm and it's about all my pocket book will suffer at the moment anyways.
So I find it available at Sears in the online store, 179 bucks. Very manageable price. Out comes my Visa and I order one up.
Hey, I'm on a budget here, remember?
Free shipping to the local catalog store or my house. I chose the store because couriers are notoriously unreliable here and my work schedule is odd so lord knows if I'll be home to receive it or not. That way it shows up and I can pick it up when I have the time instead of wondering if it's being stolen off my doorstep or fired over the back yard fence.......
Surprisingly, it arrives 3 days ahead of scheduled and I get an email notification it's there the night before. Nice. A pleasant surprise from a retailer for a change.....
I just picked it up this morning, unpacked it and cleaned it out.
After a bit of famil, I tried pulling my first cup.
Whirly blades pulverize the beans fine enough for a trial go (yes, I can see the "purists" cringing already but it's currently all I've got to work with).
I mistakenly tamp the portafilter since it's self tamping. Machine has to really work at pushing the water through but gets it done. Pump is a touch noisy, but not objectionably so. Most of the noise is coming from the removable base and touching it with a finger quiets things down measurably. You still know it's running, but not loud at all. A little touch of foam tape in a hidden area will probably fix that for good.
Sniff the brew before it's fully finished; Smells strong, maybe even burnt. Very minimal crema (ring around edge of cup and no more) since it had to work so hard at pushing water through. It was dripping, not flowing, probably my fault for tamping since lots of youtube videos show the same unit with lots of crema.
I'm worried, but console myself with the fact that this is only my first try with the new machine and I had planned on having to dump the first couple tries anyways.
So what the heck; Steam up some skim milk and combine the two.......
Well howdy do!
Even with it being my first try, poor grinder and packing the filter improperly it's darned near Starbucks latte!
Maybe a touch bit bitter compared to Starbucks, but pretty close and completely drinkable. Not bad for a first try.
I try a squirt of the carmel syrup they sell for coffee's (wife likes it for other things when cooking and such, but hates coffee in any form) and it tastes just like a caramel Starbucks.
Well, Starbucks must be near crap if I can bang a similar quality one out so easily. But, the best you know is the best you've had I guess......
So now it's saving up for a good burr grinder and a bit of practice to see how much better I can get it.
I'm no expert and granted that I've only pulled one cup so far, but the little Poemia seems a decent deal for the cash if on a strict budget.
Sure, it's stainless clad plastic, sure the portafilter is aluminum, sure it's not going to look like I'm a "Barista" when people walk into my kitchen, but it seems to work acceptably for a guy just wanting a decent drinkable cup without having to drive 20 minutes or more (not even available where I am, drip brews only) and pay 6 bucks for a paper cupful.
I'm also not one for leaving appliances on the countertop (even a stainless kettle bugs me), but this little bugger looks slick enough to sit out all the time and not give me that crazy nervous tick "squint eye" every time I walk by because something is sitting on my clean counter!
Good thing too. Despite its relatively small size, it's pretty heavy full of water and not really something you want to slide in and out of a cupboard cabinet.
I'm pleased with it so far. I'll follow up in a couple moths or so....good or bad.....
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