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Thread: Espresso machines

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    Default Espresso machines

    I know there are a number of espresso freaks around here, so I call on you. I really like espresso and I want to start making it at home. Where should I start on a machine and grinder? I'm assuming a semi-auto is way to go? Are the fully automatic ones any good or are they the equivalent of a faster backwards Dogma with EPS and a pie plate? It seems in the semi-auto realm there is a wide range in machines as far as maintenance and convenience go. I don't mind spending the dough for decent stuff, within reason. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by shoney View Post
    I know there are a number of espresso freaks around here, so I call on you. I really like espresso and I want to start making it at home. Where should I start on a machine and grinder? I'm assuming a semi-auto is way to go? Are the fully automatic ones any good or are they the equivalent of a faster backwards Dogma with EPS and a pie plate? It seems in the semi-auto realm there is a wide range in machines as far as maintenance and convenience go. I don't mind spending the dough for decent stuff, within reason. Thank you!
    The two machines I think are perfect for home use are:

    Gaggia Classic and
    Rancilio Silvia

    If you foam a lot of milk, the Silvia is slightly better

    Pair these with a Gaggia MDF or Rancilio Rocky grinder and you're good to go.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    excellent, thank you Wayne

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by WayneJ View Post
    Rancilio Rocky grinder.
    i got one of these a few years back, highly recommend. i did a lot of research, and it's probably the best grinder for the price hands down. i literally use it every day, multiple times per day, and it produces a nice consistent grind. the key is the heavy-duty commercial motor it uses. cheaper (or just crapier) machines skimp on the motor, and grinding beans can be pretty power intensive leading to early motor overload/failure. the rocky is aces.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Really need a budget and to know what you like to make. If espresso only, then get a Silvia and PID it, you'll be golden.

    If you do milk drinks, it's nice to be able to steam around the same time as your shot, so I'd consider the Crossland CC1 as the entry level. PID brew boiler, with thermoblock steam. This is the machine designed by Bill Crossland who brought the legendary GS3 to market.

    Remember to save enough for a good burr grinder. I like the Mazzer mini or Compak k3. Compak being slightly cheaper, but very well built. The Mazzer being the classic.

    If these suggestions are way under budget for you, let me know, I'll be happy to spend more of your money...

    Jon

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    I got a Gaggia Classic recently. This is my first home machine, so I don't have much of a basis for comparison, but I'm happy with it. It comes up to temp quickly and is easy to operate. I'm seldom doing more than a couple doubles at a time, though. It also came with "crema enhancer" thingy that I haven't even tried yet...isn't that cheating?

    I'd second what others have said about the grinder. I'm using a modified Solis 166 and it's probably marginal for espresso. I'm able to get some decent shots, by my own estimation, but I'd like something with a little more range so I could experiment a bit more.

    Steaming milk into microfoam is also harder than it looks. I'm not even close to getting that right yet. I certainly have more respect for baristas who can get it all right, time after time.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Used to have a Cellini Rocket at work. It was awesome.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by stackie View Post
    Really need a budget and to know what you like to make. If espresso only, then get a Silvia and PID it, you'll be golden.

    If you do milk drinks, it's nice to be able to steam around the same time as your shot, so I'd consider the Crossland CC1 as the entry level. PID brew boiler, with thermoblock steam. This is the machine designed by Bill Crossland who brought the legendary GS3 to market.

    Remember to save enough for a good burr grinder. I like the Mazzer mini or Compak k3. Compak being slightly cheaper, but very well built. The Mazzer being the classic.

    If these suggestions are way under budget for you, let me know, I'll be happy to spend more of your money...

    Jon
    Listen to this man. That Crossland looks awesome. Didn't even know it existed.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    OK, someone school me please. Is it reasonably possible to make a shot of espresso with a quality consumer level (e.g. Silvia or Crossroads) machine that is at the same level as what you'd get at Ritual/Blue Bottle/Four Barrel? How about milk drinks? Friends have gotten much fancier consumer machines than those, their coffee is sub-meh, and we all politely pretend otherwise until finally they revert back to more easily mastered french press and the like.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    It's not about the bike.


    Quote Originally Posted by professerr View Post
    OK, someone school me please. Is it reasonably possible to make a shot of espresso with a quality consumer level (e.g. Silvia or Crossroads) machine that is at the same level as what you'd get at Ritual/Blue Bottle/Four Barrel? How about milk drinks? Friends have gotten much fancier consumer machines than those, their coffee is sub-meh, and we all politely pretend otherwise until finally they revert back to more easily mastered french press and the like.
    Harth Huffman
    www.wabiwoolens.com

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Yes, a skilled barista can make a great espresso on a gaggia, Silvia, or the like. In fact, I'd bet that if you got Jared Truby from Verve ( one if my favorite baristas, he could take ten minutes practice on any machine and make a better shot than I can on my GS3. )

    However, the more precision you can get from your setup the faster you will approach reliably good shots. A good grinder will grind the same every day. A grinder with cheap plastic bushings will wear quickly and soon grind imprecisely. You'll be chasing the perfect shot forever, but never get there because your grinder is sinking you. If you have a great grinder, but poor technique, you'll still chase the god shot because you vary your technique every time. Vary the coffee mass, the dosing technique, the tamp etc. say you have the grinder, your puck building technique is good, but your machine is variable, well, you'll never get there either. You want a machine that can deliver the same temperature water to the group head every time. I recommend a PID machine for this. Preferably something that is keeping the brew boiler at 200 degrees. I don't see the point in PID ing a heat exchanger boiler to 240. You still have to temp surf the machine to near 200 for your shot. It's going to be hard to be precise on that. I know, I've tried it.

    Jon

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    For good information look at Whole Latte Love online and call them with your questions after reading the info on their website.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Look at the Quickmill Silvano too. I think I'm going to pull the trigger on it.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Another grinder option is this new high end manual from Orphan Espresso:

    OE Pharos Hand Coffee Grinder

    As the name suggests, the company got its start refurbishing old espresso machines. Every now and then they offer some pretty swell vintage machines.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    I've had bad shots at all those places. Some great ones too.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    This is worth checking out - Nomad espresso machine on Kickstarter

    Nomad
    Harth Huffman
    www.wabiwoolens.com

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by shoney View Post
    I know there are a number of espresso freaks around here, so I call on you. I really like espresso and I want to start making it at home. Where should I start on a machine and grinder? I'm assuming a semi-auto is way to go? Are the fully automatic ones any good or are they the equivalent of a faster backwards Dogma with EPS and a pie plate? It seems in the semi-auto realm there is a wide range in machines as far as maintenance and convenience go. I don't mind spending the dough for decent stuff, within reason. Thank you!
    I've had a Sylvia and Rocky in the past. Personally, I wouldn't do it again. Even for a skilled barista, the Sylvia can be difficult to get a good shot from. It isn't the most consistent machine, hard to get stable temps, etc. A PID helps -some-, but if you are going to drop $200+ on a PID, may as well just upgrade to a better machine IMHO. The Sylvia has rightfully earned the reputation of a machine that needs a lot of attention to make a good shot..

    I think in the 1k range (when on sale), the Breville BES900XL is a good option with a lot of features.

    To upgrade from something like that, then you are basically looking at a quality E51 group machine, like the Rocket Giotto line, about 1800 - 2k.

    For a grinder, I'd get a Vario, about 400 I think. If you can afford a bit more, then a MACAP ($500-600).

    You can also go a -lot- cheaper, on both the grinder and the espresso machine, but I wouldn't expect the same quality shots as you'll get from the better espresso bars.
    If your main drinks are lattes and americanos, then go cheaper, you won't notice as much in the end product. But if you really like drinking straight espresso, you'll need to spend some $$.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    I'm going to echo the Silvia review:
    a very tempermental machine. When it's good it's great, but every now and then even with the grind and roast being right it just won't pull a shot in the sweet spot.

    That being said, the silvia is, for most, the first machine they get and really helps you learn the process of pulling a great shot.

    You can find a used one for a decent price, and I recommend going that route to try it out.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew J View Post
    Another grinder option is this new high end manual from Orphan Espresso:

    OE Pharos Hand Coffee Grinder

    As the name suggests, the company got its start refurbishing old espresso machines. Every now and then they offer some pretty swell vintage machines.

    I have this grinder and recommend it. Very cool piece of kit.

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    Default Re: Espresso machines

    I don't believe it's made any more but Starbucks used to sell a Saeco-built espresso machine that pulled a decent shot for the money about $295 retail I believe. Someone may chime in whether Saeco has any offerings. bonus: J-Spin road for Saeco back in the day if I'm not mistaken

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