steveCG Senior Member Joined: 20 Apr 2014 Posts: 1 Location: Australia Expertise: Just starting
Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014, 6:09pm Subject: What to buy?
Hi all, new CoffeeGeek here.
Interested in purchasing a new machine and have no idea what to buy, with all the conflicting results on reviews I have found over the internet.
I'm not sure if anyone in these forums are aware, but in Australia we have a very reputable organisation called Choice, which reviews and tests pretty much any home product you can think of and lists it to the public for a small subscription fee (been around for 30+ years).
Naturally, I looked up their list on "home espresso machines" to compare results and found the following (in order from highest ranking to lowest):
Breville BES870 (rank 1 with overall score of 82) Breville BES920 (rank 2 with overall score of 81) Sunbeam Cafe Series EM6910 (rank 3 with overall score of 80) Breville BES840 (rank 4 with overall score of 79 - everything else is out of my price range, so this is really the only other realistic option) Expobar Office SA (rank 5 with overall score of 79) ~ Gaggia Classic II 2013 (ranked 28 with overall score of 58)
I've read a lot on this website (CoffeeGeek) and picked up some very valuable information, and also understand that a lot of people love the Gaggia.
So my questions are:
Why do you think the Gaggia scores so low? How good is the Breville BES840 (aka The Infuser)? How do the two compare to each other?
And lastly, what should I buy?
I'm a coffee lover and really enjoy making coffee - the machine I end up going with will be for my partner and myself. I really want a sturdy machine that will last a long time and deliver constant quality coffee (mainly for latte's etc), without spending over $600.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,726 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 Mon Apr 21, 2014, 6:48am Subject: Re: What to buy?
Hi and welcome to the board.
You may want to check out http://coffeesnobs.com.au/ They are based down under and will be a whole lot closer to being able to give advice for equipment that you can get easily.
I am not going to advise on equipment but I am known here for not liking Breville. It is a home duty machine and I am not fond of them. For your money though, it may be a place to start but do not look at them to go the long distance. YMMV.
Do not forget a grinder, your grinder is MORE important than the machine. For your budget, you should be looking at LEAST $300 on a grinder new. That leaves you $300 for a machine.
A consumer based review org, may not be the best place to get advice on equipment, they have different concerns than the people who are truly into espresso for the espresso and most often, their findings are vastly different than what people who are "into espresso" will give you.
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!
No idea but I'd be wary of relying on the American equivalent (Consumer Reports) to research espresso machines (as well as many other items). If Choice's reviews don't explain their scoring then their information really isn't of much use IMO.
You want good build build quality, consistently good coffee, good steaming and low price. You can't really get any of the first three -- much less all of them -- on your budget. Something's got to give.
And be aware that (1) even a marginally competent grinder won't be inexpensive; and (2) the grinder is at least as important to the quality of the coffee in the cup at the very inexpensive level than the machine. If it's of interest, the grinder becomes more important as the budget increases.
Making consistently good coffee requires fine control over grind, dose and temperature. From an equipment standpoint you need a good grinder; an 0.1g scale; a watch with a second hand; an unpressurized basket of appropriate size; a close fitting tamper; and an espresso machine which can be temped accurately and consistently, and consistently deliver the brew water within a narrow pressure range. The scale, watch, basket and tamper are cheap. The grinder and machine come dear.
So my questions are: Why do you think the Gaggia scores so low?
I can't get into the site editors' minds, but the Gaggia is a pretty lousy machine in the greater scheme -- although not horrible for the money. Weak steamer. Small boilers. Slow recovery time. Takes forever to switch from brew to steam, or vice versa Can't be consistently or accurately temped. Build quality took a hit when construction and assembly left Italy for low-wage Rumania.
How good is the Breville BES840 (aka The Infuser)?
How do the two compare to each other?
The Infuser doesn't deliver much in the way of steam power, is slow to recover, and most of the other not so good stuff. On the other hand, it can steam immediately after brewing, and can be very accurately temped. If the choice is really between those two, I'd take the Infuser 840XL (not the old 800!) over the Gaggia; but would prefer to save my money -- even if it took a year -- to buy something significantly better than either.
What should I buy?
Take your time. Keep drinking cheap stuff until you've saved enough money to buy a really good grinder and a reasonably competent machine like the 920XL or the Expobar Office Lever Plus. Not including the grinder, that puts you at more than twice your current budget. And bear in mind that the three most important parts of the espresso equipment chain are (in order of importance): GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
As Wayne (aka Calblacksmith) said, start poking around Coffee Snobs. The posters there know what is and isn't available in Oz, what the "street" prices are, and whether there's something around which is especially well priced.
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