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47 posts

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Topic # 94442 11-Dec-2011 14:42 Send private message

Hey Guys, as the title mentions I'm after some recommendatios for a decent espresso machine. I bought one for $700 or so from Harvey Norman a few years back and it really was crap. Have been using a wee stove top for about 6 years and its OK but with the summer on us and my love of affagato's I want something that will give me a REAL shot of coffee :)

Started doing some research online but got overwhelmed to be honest, there seems to be a lot our there. Reviews consistantly came up tops with the Quick Mill Alexia - but these only seem to be available in the US and don't come in 220v.

 Am totally open to any suggestions but really would be happy to keep it under the 2K mark and closer to $1500 would be good.   Don't mind importing one as I import things all the time so if it's going to save a lot that would be great! If you know of a great place to buy from I am all ears :)


Thanks in advance...


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  Reply # 556604 11-Dec-2011 14:53 Send private message

Try http://www.coffeesnobs.com.au/

Most consumer grade machines aren't going to provide enough pressure to make a decent shot

Personally I'd investigate going with a non pressurised basket as well as you're able to tell quite easily if you're getting a uniform pour



47 posts

Geek


  Reply # 556607 11-Dec-2011 14:58 Send private message

Thanks, I found this site here http://edencoffee.co.nz/?gclid=COKNo8Pz-KwCFWdLpgod608PTg - their stuff looks pretty good but again I have not heard of ny of the brands and nothing to compare their prices too and most are over my budget....

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Master Geek


  Reply # 556615 11-Dec-2011 15:13 Send private message

I have a Rancilio Silvia and Kompak K3 grinder which I got from Altura Coffee. The Silvia makes great coffee, but the small 300ml boiler makes it hard to steam more than 2 cups of milk at a time. In addition the boiler is dual use, so once you have brewed your espresso you have to flick a switch and wait until the boiler reaches steam temp, which is usually only about a minute to minute and a half.

If you have the cash, a dual boiler or heat exchanger machine is definitely better than a single boiler/dual use. The VBM Domobar Super, Rancillio Epoca, Nuova Simonelli Oscar or Musica or Breville BES900 Dual Boiler are all good choices. 

Also remember to budget for a good grinder. The Kompak K3 is pretty awesome, although a Mazzer Mini or Mazzer Super Jolly would be better. 

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  Reply # 556617 11-Dec-2011 15:16 Send private message

I used to have a couple of espresso machines, but in the last two years I've enjoyed Nespresso. It uses capsules, and it makes consistently good coffee. Consistently is the keyword here.





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  Reply # 556624 11-Dec-2011 15:32 Send private message

No contest: the Rancilio Silvia is the best single-boiler espresso machine. Dual boiler ones are more convenient (froth milk at the same time as you make the espresso) but a lot more expensive. We have had a Silvia for several years now.




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  Reply # 556625 11-Dec-2011 15:33 Send private message

freitasm: I used to have a couple of espresso machines, but in the last two years I've enjoyed Nespresso. It uses capsules, and it makes consistently good coffee. Consistently is the keyword here.



I got a Delonghi Nespresso as my Christmas present (early) this year from my wife. 2degrees core network engineering now has easy access to decent espresso. :-)




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  Reply # 556627 11-Dec-2011 15:50 Send private message

mastapenguin:

Also remember to budget for a good grinder. The Kompak K3 is pretty awesome, although a Mazzer Mini or Mazzer Super Jolly would be better. 


Thanks everyone, great starting points and much appreciated!

Pardon my ignorance, but isnt a grander a grinder? I have a russel hobbs thing I got years back, electronic, has different settings etc, its a bit messy but does the job, I usually do 1/2 a packet a time though which isn't ideal! Whats the pro's in spending goood$$ ona decent grinder please?



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  Reply # 556633 11-Dec-2011 16:20 Send private message

mmm, looking around at the suggested models above, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar or the Rancilio Silvia seems like a great way to go. So both of these machines can make a near commercial shot from users experience?


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  Reply # 556646 11-Dec-2011 16:58 Send private message

The grinder is as important, if not more important than the machine. With prosumer/commercial espresso machines the quality and consistency of the grind is of utmost importance. If there is a large variation in particle size this can lead to over extracted coffee which is bitter.

My Silvia + Compak K3 can make a commercial quality shot, as well as delicious milk drinks. I would suggest you try out the Silvia and Oscar for yourself. The Silvia can be demoed at Altura Coffee, and the NS agents are in Onehunga where you can play with the Oscar.

The Oscar is a heat exchanger machine (hx) and so there is no delay between pulling a shot and steaming the milk, whereas the Silvia is a single boiler dual use (SBDU) so you have to wait between pulling shots and steaming (as the boiler changes temp). It was a tough decision, but I went with the Silvia because it was slightly cheaper, and is known to be very reliable with wide parts availability. I couldn't find as much info on the Oscar - but what I did find was positive. The main gripe about the Oscar is that the water tank is not removable; however, I never remove the tank from my Silvia to fill it. I always just use a jug and refill it in place. You'll find the main gripe about the Silvia to be lack of steam power - and sure it's not close to a hx or double boiler machine, but it's far in excess of the standard breville or sunbeam thermoblock machine.



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  Reply # 556658 11-Dec-2011 18:10 Send private message

Thanks for the great info and for taking the time, totally makes sense about the grinder now! Unfortunately I am here in what remains of Christchurch so not a lot of places to check out apart from the big stores with the sunbeams etc.... so need to go on advice from helpful people like yourselves, a method I am comfortable with and have bought many devices this way, like my projector and other expensive items as there just often is no where to test here.


Do different grinders suit different machines better? Are there other must have accessories i should know about :)

Do these machines need any form of servicing over time?  Probably leaning towards the oscar as the wife enjoys a a Cappucino from time to time... I usually just like a short black. I guess the Frother is good for guests etc too.

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  Reply # 556664 11-Dec-2011 18:36 Send private message

Sancho: Thanks for the great info and for taking the time, totally makes sense about the grinder now! Unfortunately I am here in what remains of Christchurch so not a lot of places to check out apart from the big stores with the sunbeams etc.... so need to go on advice from helpful people like yourselves, a method I am comfortable with and have bought many devices this way, like my projector and other expensive items as there just often is no where to test here.


Do different grinders suit different machines better? Are there other must have accessories i should know about :)

Do these machines need any form of servicing over time?  Probably leaning towards the oscar as the wife enjoys a a Cappucino from time to time... I usually just like a short black. I guess the Frother is good for guests etc too.


No worries about the info, I only bought my Silvia three months ago so all the research is still fresh. On youtube the guys and girls at Seattle Coffee Gear (http://www.youtube.com/user/SeattleCoffeeGear) give very honest informative reviews. 

There are two main types of grinders stepless and stepper grinders. Stepless grinders have no discernable notches or steps holding the grind at a certain point. Stepped grinders have notches where the indicator falls into as such keeping the grind there. Stepless grinders are better for espresso since you can finely dial in the grind, as the grind will change depending on the type and roast level of the beans, the age of the beans, the humidity and other factors. However, if you are going to switch between espresso and plunger for example a stepped grinder is better since you can always easily find the same setting. 

In addition, there are conical and flat burr grinders. Supposedly flat burrs enhance the cocoa/earthy tones and conical burr grinders enhance the brightness/acidity of the beans. My Compak has flat burrs so I can't really give you first hand experience in that department. Mazzer/Compak/Baratza grinders are good brands (in that order/$).

Also, there are doser/doserless versions. In a grinder with a doser the coffee beans grind into a chamber and the operator flicks a handle to "dose" the coffee into the portafilter. Dosers are good for cafes and other high volume users, but in a home environment you generally don't want ground coffee sitting in the doser getting stale. On the negatives, doserless grinders experience some level of clumping. Here's a good review between the Compak/Mazzer which addresses the doser/doserless and stepless variants http://www.coffeetamper.com.au/kb/reviews/mini-k3/

Generally, the advice with grinders is to buy the best you can afford. If you get something like a mazzer mini you probably won't ever find yourself needing another grinder, regardless of what machine you have in your home. In addition, the resale value is pretty high. The Compak K3 gives you most of the performance for a lot less price, but perhaps if I got a La Marzocca GS3 I might treat myself to a Mazzer haha.

In terms of must have accessories:

- Milk Jug
- Tamper (the plastic ones the machines come with are not ideal)
- Blank disc to back flush the machine
- Cafiza (or other machine cleaning powder)
- Descaling solution 

In terms of maintenance, you will need a professional service eventually but provided that the machine is looked after sufficiently by:

- Not using hard water / or descaling often enough
- Back flushing as recommended (I backflush with water every other day)
- Back flushing with Cafiza (I backflush with Cafiza monthly)
- Regular cleaning

A coffee machine is pretty simple: it's just a water tank, boiler, element, pump, thermostats or pressure stats, and some buttons. The pumps generally last for most of the life of the machine. The element might need replacing in 5-10 years depending on use and water quality etc.

It's easy enough to change a pressurestat or thermostat which are the most common failures.

Some awesome resources to check out are:

Seattle Coffee Gear website and youtube channel

www.coffeesnobs.com.au

www.home-barista.com

In addition I like to buy my beans from:

- Chiasso coffee roasters
- Coffee Lab
- Rush Espresso

Fresh beans make all the difference, and you generally don't want beans that have been roasted more than a month earlier. 

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  Reply # 556689 11-Dec-2011 19:45 Send private message

Look at the Rancillo Silvia or Ascaso dream for machine around the $1 mark, and then grinders like the baratza maestro. (all available over here).

I'm just looking at upgrading from a Single boiler machine to a heat exchanger....tossing up between the e-61 rocket or the Cuadra




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  Reply # 556700 11-Dec-2011 20:19 Send private message

freitasm: .... but in the last two years I've enjoyed Nespresso. It uses capsules, and it makes consistently good coffee. Consistently is the keyword here.

+1 for Nespresso
I've used their machines for a number of years, personally and in a corporate environments. No mess and consistent... who ever makes it. (I've been known to take mine 'on-site' for contracts of a month or more)

For a Bean-and-grind machine, I've have a Jura if I could afford it, as I've worked in offices with these too. But the Saeco Incanto is what I've had on the bench in the kitchen for most of the last 3 years.

Finding the Beans (and getting the grind) you like, will probably be the real key to getting something you're happy with.

 

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  Reply # 556704 11-Dec-2011 20:29 Send private message

I have a soft spot for my Bialetti moka pot.

We bought it in Italy, when we were on a camping holiday a few years back.

One of the key things we were taught was to never clean the moka pot with detergent, as this will give the subsequent coffee a metallic taste.

I agree, that the grinder is generally key. We buy small amounts pre-ground to suit the moka pot from the roaster.
 



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  Reply # 556709 11-Dec-2011 20:54 Send private message

davidcole: Look at the Rancillo Silvia or Ascaso dream for machine around the $1 mark, and then grinders like the baratza maestro. (all available over here).

I'm just looking at upgrading from a Single boiler machine to a heat exchanger....tossing up between the e-61 rocket or the Cuadra


Heat exchanger? Is that a 2 boiler?  The Coudra looks pretty good!  Heh, as with everything I buy the budget is seriously starting to blow out!



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