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Thread: Espresso only machine recommendations

  1. #1
    338
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    Espresso only machine recommendations

    Hi, after lurking and reading a tonne of useful information here still not sure which way to jump. My apologies if this reads like another 'tell me what to buy post', I really couldn't find anything recent with similar information.

    Have had a Saeco Via Venizia for at least 15 years and make 4 expressos a day. Have never used the steamer. I have a budget of about $1200 to $1500 for machine and grinder with $1500 being a pretty hard upper limit. My wife will use the machine as well and has considerably less tolerance for mechanical nuances than I do. I am thinking of something like a Rancilo Silvia or Lelit PL41TEMD, a number of site sponsors in Sydney have these in my budget. I can see that a Rancillo with PID would cost similar to the Lelit. From reading here there are some comments (some relatively old)which have me wondering which way to jump. The comments concerning me were 'the Rancilo is much higher quality than the the Lelit' - Is that true? Hard to judge the motivations of the poster. 'The Rancilo is being dumped and there isn't enough margin for people to support' - the site sponsors seem very decent and hopefully are making enough to support the machine? Have also read either is tricky to use? Is there anything else in this price range I should consider?

    Thanks Gee
    Last edited by 338; 20th March 2017 at 09:35 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    Hi, after lurking and reading a tonne of useful information here still not sure which way to jump. My apologies if this reads like another 'tell me what to but post', I really couldn't find anything recent with similar information.
    No need for apologies. I can't say we've had too many but-posting threads
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  3. #3
    338
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    Sorry Barry, must have got my sites mixed up! To ensure I get some responses will refrain from posting my butt pics here.
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    I can't really comment on Lelit vs Silvia build quality, as I've never owned a Lelit.

    I will say that Silvias are built like the proverbial "brick dunny", if you treat them right they'll last pretty much forever (there's quite a lot of 15+ year old, fully operational Silvias around the place), however IME they are quite particular, and not at all forgiving of technique, this is a good thing for learning but may be problematic for your missus

    My recommendation for "espresso-only" machines is single-boiler E61 machines like the Isomac Zaffiro (my current daily), the VBM Domobar Piccolo (my "usual" daily is a VBM Domobar Junior but it's waiting for repair, no reflection on the quality of the machine, that was down to me) or the Diadema Perfetta. The E61 group is WAY more forgiving than the Silvia's group. Unfortunately I believe they're all out of your budget for "new", I'd suggest your best bet would be to keep an eye out on the for sale forum as they come up from time to time.
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    What type of coffee does your wife brew? Milk?

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    JBrewster thanks for the tips, will start researching that end of the market as ell.

    Dumiya the wife is an Espresso lady, no milk.
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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Would you consider a lever? An Electra Micro Casa maybe? If not I'd go the Lelit for overall ease of use and good quality.
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  8. #8
    338
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    Leroy thanks for the suggestion on the Micro Casa, definitely wouldn't rule it out, a bit over my new budget but happy to go second hand also. I think I am going to be developing a watch list while I research new

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    Silvia are really solid, but very dependent on the right dose, tamp and especially the grind. With no steaming there is no risk of boiling the boiler dry. I had one for a few years but found the steaming and recharging the boiler a worry. I was able to reduce the brew pressure to ~9bars ( factory set to 12!). Replacing the was group seal difficult but not needed very often. Simple design. Mine was the first version with adjustable OPV.
    I fitted a PID but question if it was really worth it. It did make the temp stable and just sipped the current.
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  10. #10
    Site Sponsor K_Bean_Coffee's Avatar
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    Silvia and Lelit are both very well built.
    An advantage of Lelit is the SS chassis. Also, the PID option is nice.
    You can't go wrong with either IMO. Both can make a great coffee.
    Cheers, Paul
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  11. #11
    338
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    Paul thank you for that unbiased opinion, helping no end.

    Dumiya, thanks for advice on technique required with the Silvia, may be a concern for the wife, she may not have the enthusiasm to learn like I do
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dumiya View Post
    Silvia are really solid, but very dependent on the right dose, tamp and especially the grind.
    As are all espresso machines.
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    I have a Silvia and it produces pretty good espresso, especially with a good grinder (recently upgraded to HG-1) and good beans.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Espresso only machine recommendations

    Say you allow $450-$750 for a grinder. I'll see if I can convince my brother to sell his Isomac Zaffiro. He can then drink more V60 and aeropress. And save his espresso drinking for out at cafes.

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  15. #15
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    Hi, after lurking and reading a tonne of useful information here still not sure which way to jump. My apologies if this reads like another 'tell me what to buy post', I really couldn't find anything recent with similar information.

    Have had a Saeco Via Venizia for at least 15 years and make 4 expressos a day. Have never used the steamer. I have a budget of about $1200 to $1500 for machine and grinder with $1500 being a pretty hard upper limit. My wife will use the machine as well and has considerably less tolerance for mechanical nuances than I do. I am thinking of something like a Rancilo Silvia or Lelit PL41TEMD, a number of site sponsors in Sydney have these in my budget. I can see that a Rancillo with PID would cost similar to the Lelit. From reading here there are some comments (some relatively old)which have me wondering which way to jump. The comments concerning me were 'the Rancilo is much higher quality than the the Lelit' - Is that true? Hard to judge the motivations of the poster. 'The Rancilo is being dumped and there isn't enough margin for people to support' - the site sponsors seem very decent and hopefully are making enough to support the machine? Have also read either is tricky to use? Is there anything else in this price range I should consider?

    Thanks Gee

    Welcome to CS !

    There are plenty of choices of machine in the "espresso only" category you are looking at.

    The Sylvia is an interesting one. We stock it but don't sell as many as you would expect.

    It is a good all round machine that has a "system of operation" like many single boiler machines but is a super reliable machine that has been refined over the years with the latest "E" model.

    In Italy Rancillio is one of the most popular manufacturers of commercial machines, particular at their trade shows where the Rancillio stand is the place to be. However here in Australia Rancillio is not really sought after in the café world. I suspect that the Grinders association has unfairly influenced this. A little bit off track put just pointing out that popularity is very subjective depending on the market and importer.

    I would be short listing the following :
    Sylvia
    Lelit PL41T
    ECM Casa IV

    Possible outside stretch on a HX:
    Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

    Leva machines, not for every one, but will produce a cracking espresso when its spot on:
    Elektra
    La Pavoni (probably closer to your price point)

    Six machines or more on your list and it is probably time to get down to a sponsor and have a look at these in the metal, or at the very least give one a call and seek their advice.

    We are generally a pretty helpful and informative bunch

    Cheers

    Antony
    CASA ESPRESSO
    (03) 9530 8992

  16. #16
    338
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    Antony, Thanks for the warm welcome and very accurate summary for someone new to real coffee. It is pretty daunting the variety and the concern of getting a machine you can't extract the result you want from. Those Lever machines are quite something! I think I wouldn't mind learning one, unfortunately my wife drives an automatic car and won't drive my manual, can't see her wanting a manual coffee machine.

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    +1 Antony. I have been a little unfair to Silvia. Mine was 2005 model and I sold it last year! I never had any thing go wrong with it. The only difficulty was in changing the group gasket which really was okay. As we steam milk for every shot I found the HX much easier to use. But OP will not steam milk so once set up and adjusted by the source shop it should be great. The basket will only take 14 gms of grinds it will not tolerate an over filled basket. I speak of my model here. But e61 group handles usually fit, the one I purchased did. The Rocket handles worked. So if a deeper basket is required a handle can be purchased. I was very happy with the way Silvia extracted a great taste from 14gms - this may work well for espresso.

  18. #18
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dumiya View Post
    +1 Antony. I have been a little unfair to Silvia. Mine was 2005 model and I sold it last year! I never had any thing go wrong with it. The only difficulty was in changing the group gasket which really was okay. As we steam milk for every shot I found the HX much easier to use. But OP will not steam milk so once set up and adjusted by the source shop it should be great. The basket will only take 14 gms of grinds it will not tolerate an over filled basket. I speak of my model here. But e61 group handles usually fit, the one I purchased did. The Rocket handles worked. So if a deeper basket is required a handle can be purchased. I was very happy with the way Silvia extracted a great taste from 14gms - this may work well for espresso.
    11 years and only group head seal changes, you would have to be happy with that.

    Interesting what you mentioned about basket size. I am not sure if they can take more then 14gr. We have one In the showroom, I might check in the morning
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  19. #19
    Site Sponsor K_Bean_Coffee's Avatar
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    Hi 338,

    It looks like you're about to jump down the rabbit hole. Take your time and do your research.

    My buyer's guide here may help a little: www.kbean.com.au/buyers-guide/

    Cheers, Paul
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  20. #20
    338
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    Thanks Paul for the guide, very useful and appreciated.

    This forum is a wealth of information - and some good humour as well.

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    Casa Espresso - you misunderstood. I could use a Rocket handle and its filter which takes 16gms. These fitted the Silvia group so gave me options. If I remember correctly the Silvia handles would not take the deeper basket.
    I don't know about the new Silvia handles they look different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dumiya View Post
    Casa Espresso - you misunderstood. I could use a Rocket handle and its filter which takes 16gms. These fitted the Silvia group so gave me options. If I remember correctly the Silvia handles would not take the deeper basket.
    I don't know about the new Silvia handles they look different.
    I got a precision basket from Chris at talk coffee, fits the Silvia handle perfectly and allows me to get 20 grams in easily while producing a much better shot than the standard basket. Best $20 I ever spent to improve the taste in the cup.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Yep, I also used a 20 gram EP basket with the original PF with my V1 Silvia, great baskets.

  24. #24
    338
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    Just wanted to say thanks for all the advice and suggestions, decided on the Lelit PL41TEMD and Lelit PL44 MMT from Jet Black - local for backup service and had already bought an Aeropress from them when at Cremorne. Looking forward to picking it up and doing their course.

    Now I see I should be scouring Ebay for second hand breadmakers!

  25. #25
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dumiya View Post
    Casa Espresso - you misunderstood. I could use a Rocket handle and its filter which takes 16gms. These fitted the Silvia group so gave me options. If I remember correctly the Silvia handles would not take the deeper basket.
    I don't know about the new Silvia handles they look different.
    Yes looking at the standard baskets they are the typical Italian style 7 and 14 gram baskets.

    Precision baskets allowing 20gr would be a great upgrade!


    regards

    Antony
    CASA ESPRESSO

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    Rancillo themselves make a 21 gm basket to fit the Sylvia pf

  27. #27
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Pretty sure i used to have one. May have had a different group handle for it though.

  28. #28
    338
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    I just thought I would update this thread for others who find it in an internet search, now it is a couple of weeks since my purchase. First of all I did plenty of research and really I couldn't have found a more helpful group of people than here. That includes the site sponsors, who genuinely love coffee and really are happy to help you, as can be seen littered through these threads. I chose Jet Black Expresso to purchase from, based on proximity but have no doubt any sponsor here would do a great job. It really is worth the couple of extra dollars (if that) to buy from a specialist versus an appliance store. After doing the vendors course I have really discovered a world of quality I didn't realise existed and I have only scratched the surface.

    I have now found one of my neighbours was selling a bread maker for $10, so have purchased green beans from here and started on a journey. First roast went well. To sum up the advice from here and a professional is very worthwhile, cant recommend it highly enough.
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  29. #29
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Arrow

    Sounds like you're having plenty of fun 338. Do you have any pics of your setup?
    Good luck with the home roasting. It can be an addictive hobby :-)
    Last edited by matth3wh; 2 Weeks Ago at 06:39 PM. Reason: i found the machine selected
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Espresso View Post
    Precision baskets allowing 20gr would be a great upgrade!
    Always Antony
    Pesado 58.5 20g fits most PFs.

  31. #31
    338
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    Quote Originally Posted by matth3wh View Post
    Sounds like you're having plenty of fun 338. Do you have any pics of your setup?
    Good luck with the home roasting. It can be an addictive hobby :-)
    I will post pics, just started raining cats and dogs in Sydney and the Corretto is under the BBQ shelter. It is a Panasonic breadmaker, which needed the insides ripped out and Bosch heat gun 630. Just added a Italian tomato can to the lid to give some height for the gun today before the second roast You are right it is addictive, trying to get a better result. Going to get the heat snob to add some consistency and be able to use some of the profiles seen here. Cheers
    Last edited by 338; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:00 PM. Reason: spelling!
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  32. #32
    Senior Member Gavisconi007's Avatar
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    At least there's no hail this time 338!

    The smell of roasted coffee through the rain- is there any better smell?
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  33. #33
    338
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    Gaviscon you are right lack of hail was pleasing! Luckily for me the roast finished before the rain - my setup seems less than rain proof!

  34. #34
    338
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    Quote Originally Posted by matth3wh View Post
    Sounds like you're having plenty of fun 338. Do you have any pics of your setup?
    Good luck with the home roasting. It can be an addictive hobby :-)
    correto.jpg
    my setup, posted as an example of too much length on the heatgun inlet, will revert back to shorter as taking too long to first crack and had to go lidless and stick gun in there to get 1st crack. You are right roasting is addictive!
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  35. #35
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    338 Winchester Magnum???

    Nice setup there mate. You'll never get tired of it...

    Mal.

  36. #36
    338
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    Lapua Magnum, have one but really in honour of some of our nameless heroes who held world records with the cartridge, until recently. Well picked by you!

    Mal I am hoping not to tire of it, but don't think I will ever be able to walk past a household throwout without a glance for a breadmaker. ��
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