Post By gundy
Post By wfdTamar
Recommended equipment upgrades for PU6910
I'm just a beginner and recently purchased a Sunbeam EM6910+EM0440 for sub $500.
I know there are better out there (particularly the grinder) but for the price it's hard to beat for an entry into good coffee. It's very enjoyable playing around with it getting the most for the equipment.
However I'm interested in upgrading it a little but don't want to spend much. I've already bought a +/-0.1g scales for dosing and milk thermometer to get the right temp but I'm wondering what else I could buy that would have the biggest impact for this setup? I'm thinking either a better basket (VST etc) and or tamper.
I know a better grinder would make the most difference but don't want to drop another $300 right now.
Thanks very much in advance
Options are endless, but at the end of the day If you have a budget in mind i say do your best to stick to it. In my opinion you couldn't go wrong with a Rancillio Silvia. I dont know what your budget is but a sponsor on here has the new bundled with a Macap M2M for approx $1200>. I dont know what your budget is but sometimes it worth going a tad over knowing you are going to get something that will not only last but also that you will be happy with.
If you are really on a tight budget, but really want a newer machine and grinder, save save save until you have the funds.
Hi Chris! Thanks for the reply.
Yes eventally I would like something similiar to what you described.
I suppose what I am really asking is, I'm going to keep the EM6910+EM0440 for a few years to get value out of purchase, but in the meantime I was just wanting to spend another $100-150 more on a few bits and pieces which will help extract a better brew or make things easier for be consistent - low hanging fruit, $ for $ best value when teamed with this Sunbeam setup is another way of putting it.
I already bought a dosing scale and a milk froth thermometer. I'll be buying freshly roasted beans which will make a difference but was considering also buying a $40 VST 15g basket, better tamper and a water filter.
Any of these (or anything else) standout as good value options for me?
And in regards to the VST basket, I thinking the 15g size because I make coffee just for my wife and I but she likes a single decaf shot while I have single/double reg shot/s. From what I can gather the 15g size will allow me to pour her a Ristretto decaf while I'll have another pour with a 30-60ml reg. I think 15g basket is a good compromise without wasting too much coffee and I would prefer not to buy multiple baskets and constantly change it, does that logic make sense or is there a better method/size I could use?
Only being slightly facetious when I suggest rather than buying add-ons, you might get better bang for buck spending some of your leftover cash on a few fresh bags of beans from your local roaster, and a few bottles of milk (if you're a milky coffee drinker) so that you can:
a) fast-track your 10,000 hours
b) dial the machine and grinder in properly,
c) experiment with different grind settings, doses, tamp pressures to figure out how the machine responds. For example, how fine can you go before you choke the machine? how does it respond if you over or under dose? There are lots of variables you can play with. Make lots of notes.
d) learn how to foam milk (if applicable) - there's some skill and practice required to get consistent micro-foam, especially with smaller machines.
e) understand what you can expect as far as shot-to-shot variance, and do what you can to determine the underlying causes (whether machine, or operator)
The scales are a good start - you should now able to measure both the dose and the extraction volume accurately. Taking a measured, scientific approach is always a good way to go.
Remember, practice makes perfect, and above all else, don't forget to enjoy what you're doing!
Oh, if you don't have one already, a knock-box might be useful if you're going to be doing lots of practice shots
Thanks Grundy, good advice I would say. Didn't get the 10,000hrs comment though
It's a (questionable) theory, popularised in the book "Outliers", that posits that in order to get really good at anything, one needs to spend "10,000 hours" practicing.
Originally Posted by whitesr
Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert? - BBC News
Yeah that rings a bell now - yep got a while yet
Getting a new basket isn't a bad idea, but make sure it's going to be one that works with the machine. I think there's people successfully using VST baskets with Sunbeam machines, but I don't own one myself and can't remember for sure. From memory the EM6910 group head works better with deeper baskets so a 15g might be too small, but you'll need to do a bit of research. Also a VST or other precision basket will be useless without a proper fitting tamper. In the past this would've been a problem as it would've blown out your budget, but Matt Perger has just released his Barista Hustle tamper which is designed to work with VST baskets. It's around $50 so could be worth a look. This is where I'd be looking to upgrade some parts, other than that your machine is fine as it is so maybe just buy some accessories to make life easier such as a tamp mat and knock box.
I've had that combo. I found the grinder quite inconsistent. Best thing we did was wait for the Breville SmartGrinder to come up cheap somewhere (sometimes well under $200, like $179 or so). Made a huge difference.
At least 5 or 6 friends bought a 440 with a 6910 / 7000 as a package. They range from identical output to a calibrated 480 (i.e. level / slightly better than a calibrated Smartgrinder, but without the pretty control panel) all the way down to utterly hopeless.
Originally Posted by wfdTamar
I would suggest the OP tests the 440 with some other "known good" grinder to find out which one they have.
I have been using VST baskets exclusively years (except testing so-called equivalents - none of which are so far, esp. those EP EQ or HQ "precision" ones) in all sorts of gear. The 6910 works very well with VSTs - probably because the early (pre 2010) 6910's have a lot of shot power, the later ones still have enough grunt to run them properly.
I would also recommend a decent flat-based tamper (I use Pullman's, however any correctly fitting object will do) + a naked portafilter*. The three way combo (VST, Naked, Tamper) is transformative for your cuppas.
*One of the CS sponsors has a "Cafelat convertible p/f" (you can screw a single or double spout in if you feel the need, as well as use it as a naked) for around $120. If the one with your machine is brass, a quick holesaw job will change a standard p/f to a naked. If it is stainless, you really should use a good, accurate metal lathe.