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Thread: Espresso Drinker - No milk or sugar required.

  1. #1
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    Espresso Drinker - No milk or sugar required.

    I love Espresso straight up in a 90ml espresso cup - without any milk or sugar. What machine and grinder would people recommend for me given I don't need any milk function.
    I'm currently using a Lavazza pod machine which I got for free with 80 capsules.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    What sort of budget please?

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    I don't have a budget. I'd like to spend $1000 or so but it's not an issue to spend $3000 either. Want something new as well so I can have the security of a warranty just in case I need to exercise my rights under the ACL Consumer guarantee.

  4. #4
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    I own a Isomac Zaffiro which would fit that requirement well. I've always thought it was an excellent "shot machine".

    They are $1500-$1800 odd and single boiler which makes it more troublesome for milk (make espresso then switch and wait for the boiler to heat higher) but it makes great espresso shot after shot and uses the same sort of E61 group and commercial sized group handle setup that would cost you at least double in a multi boiler machine.

    Well work having a look at the Zaffiro and other single boiler machines that are often overlooked by the milk drinkers.

    We have a few of the site sponsors who carry these machines, use the Quote Form button at the top of the page to send a query to all the sponsors at once, mention that you only need espresso shots and they might have other suggestions too.

    Good luck and let us know what you end up getting.

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    Cheers Andy - What grinder would you recommend for such a machine ?

  6. #6
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    What you can afford and what will fit on your bench!

    Personally I love using big commercial grinders and everything else feels like a toy (a slow toy at that!). Even if you have to buy them secondhand, a big commercial grinder is normally a once in a lifetime purchase and avoids the regular upgrade path. Not much goes wrong with commercial grinders either, if a secondhand one runs, then $100 odd for a new set of burrs and it's like new again until you put more than a 1000kg of coffee through it.

    Gotcha for most domestic environments is often the other half's comments like "that's bigger than our kids" or overhead clearance on your bench. Luckily Paula is accommodating to my coffee habit and doesn't mind what I have in the kitchen. At home I have had a Mazzer Robur, a Mazzer Volcano, a Mahlkonig K30 and Compak K6 (baby compared to the others). We are currently running the Mahlkonig at home for the Brazen brewer as the timer is perfect for repeatable brews without weighing coffee each time and it fits under the overhead cupboards well.

    Buying coffee gear is like buying a car, the market is huge and varied, set a budget and buy the best you can within that budget.

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    Thanks Andy, great advice and most appreciated.

  8. #8
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    Alternate options include the VBM Domobar Piccolo and Diadema Perfetta. Both benefit greatly from Scace calibration as they can be delivered new running hot (or cold). This should be part of the bench test performed on the machine before it is collected/shipped.

    I personally like the Perfetta for build quality and ease of access to the element, temp rheostat and OPV. This makes for easy calibration and service. CosmoreX coffee imported these, but I don't think that they do these days.

    The Domobar Piccolo can still be purchased new, but it's boiler out if it needs an element. It's otherwise also a great shot machine.

    I'm not sure on serviceability of the Zaffiro as I have never had my hands on one. Perhaps Andy can elaborate on this aspect.

    In my opinion, all of the e-61 options are far superior to any of the small single boiler machines- with or without PID.

    2mcm
    Last edited by 2muchcoffeeman; 2nd February 2017 at 11:49 AM. Reason: extra information
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post

    In my opinion, all of the e-61 options are far superior to any of the small single boiler machines- with or without PID.

    2mcm
    Amen to that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Bean_Coffee View Post
    For a pure espresso drinker a SB machine with PID control is a great idea. A PID on an HX machine isn't too useful but on a SB is great.

    Of course, most would say that a quality HX machine with an E61 head would be a better choice and I would only agree. However, this would costs significantly more than a SB machine.

    You can read about different types of machines here:

    www.kbean.com.au/buyers-guide

    Cheers, Paul
    Excellent link. Cheers.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    In my opinion, all of the e-61 options are far superior to any of the small single boiler machines- with or without PID.

    2mcm
    Ah, but you see there are no absolutes 2MCM - only what best suits the individual's unique requirements. You'll no doubt pick this up as you participate more and pick up some knowledge from the experienced members of the forum

    But seriously, quick warmup, energy use and form factor might be bigger priorities for the OP than the benefits of an E-61. Or not, of course - more questions required probably. Personally, if budget allowed and all other things were equal I'd still lean toward an E-61 HX or DB for resale value and marketability down the track, for guests and in case another member of the household developed a taste for milk-based drinks.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    You'll no doubt pick this up as you participate more and pick up some knowledge from the experienced members of the forum.
    I'm looking forward to doing that... Perhaps someone here will be able to tell me why my supermarket shots are thin and lack crema? I have a Strada 1 group and 5 different grinders, use VST baskets and weigh to 0.0001g accuracy. I run it on mineral enhanced distilled water. My VST refractometer and Puq Press tamper are really helpful as well. I am not prepared to pay $20/kg for coffee when I can get it for $11 at Aldi. And by the way, what's your best price on a new group seal?

    Meanwhile, I'd just buy this: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/coffee-har...colo-melb.html. I know the dude who serviced it and at <50% of retail, it's a good get.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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  14. #14
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Ah, but you see there are no absolutes 2MCM - only what best suits the individual's unique requirements. You'll no doubt pick this up as you participate more and pick up some knowledge from the experienced members of the forum

    But seriously, quick warmup, energy use and form factor might be bigger priorities for the OP than the benefits of an E-61. Or not, of course - more questions required probably. Personally, if budget allowed and all other things were equal I'd still lean toward an E-61 HX or DB for resale value and marketability down the track, for guests and in case another member of the household developed a taste for milk-based drinks.
    It's really good of you to take the time to help educate a relatively new member Matt. Based on his post above he needs all the help he can get!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    In my opinion, all of the e-61 options are far superior to any of the small single boiler machines- with or without PID.

    2mcm
    Yeah it's absolutely worth extending yourself to a HX machine. Even if you are primarily a shot drinker, inevitably you'll have guests or relos that want milk based coffees. A HX or DB machine makes it easy, and even fun to use when you need to bang out a few at a party.

    I suppose you could have a tin of International Roast on standby for the mother in law

  16. #16
    Senior Member LFM60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    I suppose you could have a tin of International Roast on standby for the mother in law
    To use as a missile?


    Sorry, just been to the shops and it must be pension day.
    Annoying old people everywhere!!!!!!!!
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Some DBs allow you to switch off the steam boiler when not needed - worth remembering. A lot of extra $$$ up front though.

  18. #18
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    Espresso drinkers who use multi boiler machines need to be mindful that when the steam boiler is switched off, the trade off in the majority of cases is thermostability as the water entering the brew boiler receives less HX warming in transit through the steam boiler.

    I'd suggest at least bringing the steam boiler to pressure initially. If it's insulated, it should provide a warming effect for a while.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    Espresso drinkers who use multi boiler machines need to be mindful that when the steam boiler is switched off, the trade off in the majority of cases is thermostability as the water entering the brew boiler receives less HX warming in transit through the steam boiler.

    I'd suggest at least bringing the steam boiler to pressure initially. If it's insulated, it should provide a warming effect for a while.
    I wouldn't have thought many (any?) double boilers would take brew water through the steam boiler...

  20. #20
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbilleter View Post
    I wouldn't have thought many (any?) double boilers would take brew water through the steam boiler...
    Many/most are fed by the pre heated water per favour of a HX in the steam boiler... You learns something every day
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  21. #21
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LFM60 View Post
    Annoying old people everywhere!!!!!!!!
    Hey!
    I resemble that remark...

    Mal.

  22. #22
    Senior Member LFM60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Hey!
    I resemble that remark...

    Mal.
    Not too far off it myself.

  23. #23
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    When you have a small volume boiler, pre heating the brew water via the steam boiler will help stop the brew water from dropping temperature mid shot. With that system you can get away with a small brew boiler for faster heat up times when switched on for the first time in the morning and also have more efficient operation for low volume use in the home setting. I think it is the way to go.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    We also need to be mindful that the OP gave us a brief of espresso only and circa $500- so all the multi boiler discussion is most likely completely irrelevant and off topic.

    I agree that a good preloved e-61 single boiler fits the brief perfectly- as Andy suggested way back in #4.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Oops - missed the budget! My bad, think I started that derailment.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    We also need to be mindful that the OP gave us a brief of espresso only and circa $500- so all the multi boiler discussion is most likely completely irrelevant and off topic.

    I agree that a good preloved e-61 single boiler fits the brief perfectly- as Andy suggested way back in #4.
    I'm looking, but I can't find reference to a $500 budget in the OP's posts?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdunster View Post
    I don't have a budget. I'd like to spend $1000 or so but it's not an issue to spend $3000 either. Want something new as well so I can have the security of a warranty just in case I need to exercise my rights under the ACL Consumer guarantee.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Hey!
    I resemble that remark...

    Mal.
    Hey! I'm not *that* old!

  28. #28
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    My Alex Duetto II uses steam for pre heat if brew water but you can tweak PID settings to compensate if you predominantly run steam off. Not really an issue regardless.

    Single boiler with PID like lelit or silvia can make yummy brews and steaming still very doable for small volumes.

    Best to go somewhere to see them in the metal and have a play.

    Cheers

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Hey! I'm not *that* old!
    Unfortunately, I'm old enough to remember where that old joke originated...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEM7I5VSVjY

    Mal.
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    What would be the smallest E61 based machine ? As my Kitchen Bench Real Estate is a little limited.

    The Isomac Zaffiro at 230x410x410 mm and 19kg is probably going to be too big.
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  31. #31
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    Or a PID'd Gaggia? If all you want is espresso. Not the best build quality in the world but parts a plenty.

  32. #32
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    The VBM Domobar Piccolo and its peers fit the OP's brief of espresso only (i.e. Single boiler and possibly e-61 given budget) .

    The VBM in particular is the same width and also not quite as tall. It's also about $700 less. I'd guess the others would be broadly similar in size.

    Unless the OP has changed his mind a HX machine is not required.
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    The depth of the unit is the issue for me more so than than height or width.

    Lelit Mara is 22cm w x 40cm d x 36 h and 18kg - it's a little smaller but probably more machine and dollars than I'd like to spend as a rookie.

    VBM Piccolo is 23cm w x 52cm d x 34cm h - The Depth of this is bigger than both the Lelit Mara and the Isomac Zaffiro.

    Hence, I need to either man up and spend 3k or more, or look at something smaller and lower down the pecking order.

    But after reading up about e61 based machines they appear to be what I need - and I assume a lot more forgiving than say a Gaggia, Silvia or Lelit PL41 [Which though would fit better with the bench and the wallet].

  34. #34
    Senior Member 2muchcoffeeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdunster View Post
    VBM Piccolo is 23cm w x 52cm d x 34cm h
    To the best of my knowledge, the depth of the Piccolo is 42cm and a variety of websites confirm that.

    It may be that you have sourced a website which has incorrectly provided the depth of the Domobar Super.

  35. #35
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdunster View Post
    What would be the smallest E61 based machine ? As my Kitchen Bench Real Estate is a little limited.

    The Isomac Zaffiro at 230x410x410 mm and 19kg is probably going to be too big.
    If something as narrow as the Zaffiro is too big then I think you are in trouble... and you can certainly ignore my previous post about commercial sized grinders!

    Get yourself a Behmor Brazen for $249 delivered and drink long blacks instead... we use one every day at home and at work.


    (PS: and now we are back on the sub $500 thread... although slightly off topic with brewed instead of espresso)
    (PPS: I distribute the Brazen... just in case it wasn't obvious!)

  36. #36
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Maybe one of the little unsprung levas would suit if the OP really wants espresso... otherwise manual methods sound like the go!
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    If something as narrow as the Zaffiro is too big then I think you are in trouble... and you can certainly ignore my previous post about commercial sized grinders!

    Get yourself a Behmor Brazen for $249 delivered and drink long blacks instead... we use one every day at home and at work.


    (PS: and now we are back on the sub $500 thread... although slightly off topic with brewed instead of espresso)
    (PPS: I distribute the Brazen... just in case it wasn't obvious!)
    Cheers. If I drink long blacks all day I'll need one of those climbing walls installed - so I'm going to rearrange some shelving in the Kitchen so I can fit an E61 based machine.
    I notice that the machines often only have one year warranty ? Does than apply to domestic use ? Because I was under the impression these machines were built to last a long time. A one year warranty sort of signals to me that the manufacturers don't actually believe the products will last.
    I've worked in the repair industry for two of the popular domestic brands and even though they are certainly not built to last - they still carry 2 year warranties. Unfortunately, it's difficult to distinguish between the coffee they produce and dishwater.

  38. #38
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Espresso Drinker - No milk or sugar required.

    I'm sure the knowledgeable sponsors will chip in on the warranty question - but my take as a punter would be that machines in the class you're looking at are certainly built to last (and if cared for will last for decades) - but any manufacturing issues will typically manifest well inside a year. A longer warranty would likely create confusion when standard preventative maintenance costs aren't covered (e.g. routine servicing costs and consumable parts like seals), and any serious issues outside a year are likely to be caused by misuse or lack of maintenance.

    Of course, if there is a issue outside the year, you're covered by your statutory rights under the Australian Consumer Laws; all the more reason to buy from a reputable retailer

    The appliance machines eg sunbeam may have longer warranties - but ime that's a tactic to overcome the perception that they're less solid. And again ime those warranties aren't worth much, and the machines are unlikely to outlive them by very long.
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