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Thread: Do I really need a separate grinder?

  1. #1
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    Do I really need a separate grinder?

    I'm looking at buying a coffee machine. I don't want to spend more than $1000 max.
    The one I'm thinking about is the breville BES870BSS.
    I saw somewhere that is was recommended not to use the grinder that comes with the machine and to buy a good separate one.
    Why is the one that comes as part of the machine not good enough?
    Sounds a bit complicated if that's the case.
    What has been your experience?
    I'm new to coffee machines and don't want to complicate things but I do love a great coffee that doesn't taste like burnt dirty dishwater!


  2. #2
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    Which drinks do you want to make and how frequently?

  3. #3
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    You might be better buying a good second hand Silvia and Rocky etc for your 1000 clams. Cheers

  4. #4
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    If you're just starting out that one will do ok. The reason people suggest a separate grinder is that that grinder isn't great, and any built in grinder will tend to be hotter than a separate grinder as a coffee machine is quite warm inside. Heat is very bad for beans unless it's during roasting or extraction. If you're just learning this machine will work, and when you outgrow it and upgrade you can get a machine and separate grinder.

    Or as mentioned above a second hand Silvia machine and Rocky grinder will do you well and last longer and will allow your skills to grow more before upgrading.
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  5. #5
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    Daily at least.
    Strong(ish) latte

  6. #6
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    Even though I'm learning, I don't want bad tasting coffee which is what I've encountered with every home coffee that I've ever been made in my life from a coffee machine.
    If it's going to make grey looking burned and bitter undrinkable coffee then I won't get one!
    Would the built in grinder really be that bad?

  7. #7
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    For espresso machine choose between sunbeam EM7000 and breville bes920. For grinder choose between the breville bcg820 and an entry level macap/compak....
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  8. #8
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    Thankyou.
    Unfortunatley that's double my budget!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Remember these machines are appliances and will eventually need replacing. They are great to learn on and to see if you will continue to enjoy making your own espresso. There are a couple of threads on the machine you are considering. Use the forum and have a good read of posts on machines you are considering. More importantly source fresh beans (not supermarket beans). Oh! Welcome to the forum
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  10. #10
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chloe77 View Post
    Even though I'm learning, I don't want bad tasting coffee which is what I've encountered with every home coffee that I've ever been made in my life from a coffee machine.
    If it's going to make grey looking burned and bitter undrinkable coffee then I won't get one!
    Would the built in grinder really be that bad?
    Quite frankly yes, if you left the beans in it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    No you don't need a separate grinder to get great coffee. I had a nemox (like a lelit combi) for years and it made a fantastic coffee with the right technique using decent and fresh beans, much better than a lot of cafes.

    I would steer towards a "traditional " machine rather than an appliance, they are built to last and be repaired.

    You can get a Breville double boiler with grinder new under your budget from time to time on sales. Great machine when it works.

    I would get a Lelit combi instead of the 870 if you want an all in one (which is convenient)

    Have you considered a used machine and grinder? Your budget should get you something very nice.

    Another benefit of non appliance machines is the resale of excellent, especially if you bought used.

    Keep your eyes peeled in the for sale section here, lots of great gear pops up regularly.

    You don't need something fancy to make a great brew, but generally the more you spend the nicer the look, feel, durability etc.

    Cheers

  12. #12
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chloe77 View Post
    Thankyou.
    Unfortunatley that's double my budget!
    They don't need to be new to make great coffee!

  13. #13
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    The bes870 is a consumer appliance for making several very drinkable coffees at a time. No waiting 30 minutes for it to warm up, you are drinking your coffee 5 minutes after you decide you want it. My first one lasted 3 years, a disappointingly short time, it may have been caused by only changing the water filter once a year instead of the required six a year. In any event the new one has extended warranty and I will change the filters as required. Extended warranty is essential. In my view it is not a hobby machine. I cannot fault the grinder, the new one appears to be better than the three year old one, but to look at it appears identical. Supermarket beans are best avoided, some work, some cannot be made to work no matter what settings I use.

  14. #14
    Site Sponsor SpiceBean's Avatar
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    A quality grinder is very important to great coffee as the consistency of the grind effects flavour. The better grinders allow for a consistent grind whereas the cheaper ones aren't quite as good. Another thing to consider is that if you get an all in one and it breaks down that is your grinder and machine gone. So even if you want plunger, mochapot, filter etc you cant grind your coffee anymore. With this in mind, as others mentioned perhaps it best to look at quality second hand machines within your budget.

    Mike

  15. #15
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chloe77 View Post
    Thankyou.
    Unfortunatley that's double my budget!
    Most of us have budgetary constraints, perhaps a second hand Silvia/Rocky combo or similar would fill the bill, keep an eye on the for sale area of this forum Coffee Hardware For Sale good deals come up quite regularly.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Coffee is a food, which goes off. 3-4 weeks post roast and the beans go down hill big time. Its like bread, eating a stale loaf just wont taste good no matter how you cut it!

    Supermarket beans are usually very stale. The only exception I have seen is the local roaster stocks some IGAs and you can often get bags within a week or 2 of roasting. Always check the roasted date, or just DIY the roasting - you will never look back. Easy, fun and cheap.

    You can very easily see (and taste) stale coffee by watching the extraction, especially on a naked PF.

    A small single boiler like the lelit or silvia can be ready in minutes. turn on, prime boiler (critical), hit steam switch. in 5 minutes (or less? - never timed it but quite quick) it will be at steam temp and everything will be very hot. turn off steam, purge the steam to refill boiler wait for one heat cycle and you are good to go!

    Cheers

    Cheers
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  17. #17
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    I'll throw my second crack in and say yes, a good combination espresso & grinder machine is perfectly viable; choose well and you'll be happy with it, both on the grind and espresso side. FWIW, I have a few "combi" machines that have built in grinders, and also seperate espresso machines and seperate grinders. I think the whole issue of your beans warming up too much is way overblown. On my Quickmill Retro Combi for example, the bean hopper is well enough away from the boiler that it doesn't get hot. In addition, I even insulated the hopper to help ensure that. If you're at all worried your beans might be at a degree or two above room temp, then all you have to do is store very little in the hopper, problem solved. The grinders are very good on my combis.

    The Brevilles... well, you might be fine with them. (I do have some Breville machiens but not with grinders). But my personal preference, is Italian made combi machines. Any combi you get for a $1k really, is going to be better than what you describe drinking now. A lot of people don't realize, space is a consideration for some. I almost once bought a "Lucy" (Rancilio), which is basically a Silvia, with Rocky grinder built in. I passed on it, because the thing was massive (and despite being red, a bit on the ugly side). I prefer more compact machines.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    The BES870 is ok for the price and will give you a decent milky drink, but for espresso it's distinctly average and it's not a very precise grinder either. Plus you'll grow out of this machine very quickly indeed. You'll be much better off in the long run paying a little more than your budget and buying a Lelit PL042TEMD PID, a proper Italian espresso machine.
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  19. #19
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    Whilst I do overall agree with advice to date, if you want a good tasting coffee but don’t have aspirations to get a Big Bang Machine or get into the 'science' of coffee in a big way then then the bes870 would be a great package.

    My brother has had one for a few years now and he and his wife love the in built grinder and being able to use fresh beans and make an enjoyable latte on demand.

    If you think you might get 'upgradeitis' then a separate grinder is a good way to go as either that or the espresso machine itself can be upgraded separately. But if like my brother that’s simply may not be something you are concerned about. I know if his machine died he would not hesitate to go out an by the exact same machine!

    I actually have the Breville bes920 unit which along with a decent seperate grinder is making brilliant coffee that rivals many a cup I’ve enjoyed at some great local cafes, to the point we often don’t buy coffee out but wait until we’re home!

    Now the coffee purists here may disagreee (it’s called Coffee Snobs after all ) but at least you didn’t come here asking for advice about a Nespresso pod machine

    if you haven’t already seen it there is a dedicated thread on the bes870. I believe there were a few gremlins and the newer version is better, but as you are aware it is also more expensive. If you are not in a rush keep an eye out on eBay, they have had some great sales up to 20% off.

    P.S. Did a quick check - the packaged BEP920 is on eBay for $1349 which includes the BES920 machine along with seperate Breville Smart Grinder Pro. If your budget (and counter top!) can stretch that would be a superior machine and grinder to the older BES820 unit. Reviews and owners thread here on CS has favourable comments if you want to look into it.
    Last edited by Crema_Lad; 30th July 2017 at 08:28 PM.
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  20. #20
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    I basically agree with Crema_Lad. You can brew much better than average espresso with a Breville dual boiler and a decent grinder. The Brevilles 900/920 have a couple of problems. 1: they look like something you buy at Harvey Norman. 2: the seem to break a bit too often. My BES900 became too problematic and I got it replaced for free by a 920 that is going well. Coffee is excellent but I think next time will go for a shiny top notch machine

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brevillista View Post
    The BES870 is ok for the price and will give you a decent milky drink, but for espresso it's distinctly average and it's not a very precise grinder either. Plus you'll grow out of this machine very quickly indeed. You'll be much better off in the long run paying a little more than your budget and buying a Lelit PL042TEMD PID, a proper Italian espresso machine.
    You will grow out of PL042TEMD very quickly if you're into milky drinks as well. For this price bracket it'd be really hard not to look at the BES920/SG combo.
    Crema_Lad likes this.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacsnob View Post
    You will grow out of PL042TEMD very quickly if you're into milky drinks as well.
    Or not. We have plenty of customers who are very happy making milk coffee on their Lelit combi.

    charlie
    Dimal, matth3wh, Erimus and 2 others like this.

  23. #23
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    As above. I had a nemox combi (similar to lelit) for many years and it was great for a couple of shot milk drinks. Sure the bigger machines are more convenient but the combi is a capable little beast. And the package is great for travelling so you can keep it as a back up / travel / work machine when upgradeitis hits!

    Cheers

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JetBlack_Espresso View Post
    Or not. We have plenty of customers who are very happy making milk coffee on their Lelit combi.
    Second that! The Lelit definitely is a capable little machine - I took it into office last week and made 17 lattes in a row, and the machine never skipped a beat. Shot quality was consistent throughout

  25. #25
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    I was in the same position a week ago about to buy EM7000 and a grinder. We ended up with the Lelit combi PID. It feels well built and looks like a proper machine in polished stainless steel looks great on the worktop!.After one week have been getting some great shots and they are better than alot of cafes weve had coffee in, still got alot of learning and improving to do though .The Lelit combi PID was a few hundred extra but the non PID model was just under $1000 and seems to be great value for an Italian machine with decent built in grinder.
    Dimal likes this.

  26. #26
    Senior Member csutak40's Avatar
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    I just started using my new machine. I have a naked portafilter and a VST basket (thankfully fits from the 900). As an experiment, after filling and tamping (which is usually about 27-28gr) I decided to try the new gadget supplied "the Razor", which seems to shave about 3gr off it. I coffee I get is OK, so maybe I have been overdosing it However (even though I still get a screw mark) the top of the puck comes out a bit wet. What would cause that?

  27. #27
    Rbn
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    I have an EM6910, and an EM 0480 grinder (Sunbeam, built Dec 2007). All bought used, Total spend to date including a couple of minor repairs, under NZ$500.00.
    Also now use a bottomles/naked portafilter and VST/Pulman baskets.

    I assure you, with some practice, you will be making much better coffee than most cafes you will visit.
    Just read up on here, for tips, check out You tube videos and create your own style. You will love it.
    If it is latte or flat white you like and silky textured milk, a combo set like mine or similar will suit you for years to come.

    Robin
    And big thanks to all the patient people on here for getting me started on my "espresso" journey.
    Last edited by rawill; 19th August 2017 at 03:04 PM.
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  28. #28
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by csutak40 View Post
    the top of the puck comes out a bit wet. What would cause that?
    Water.


    I don't mean to sound facetious, but you've just pumped a good amount of water through the coffee bed, so seeing a wet puck is a definite possibility. There's an old wives tale that you need to have a dry puck when you remove your PF as it's an indicator of a good shot. What a load of BS. Does this mean that if you have the best espresso you've ever made then remove the PF and see a wet puck you're gonna a write it off as no good? In reality a slightly wet puck can be a good thing as it can be an indicator that you've had a good amount of space between the top of the coffee bed and the shower screen before starting the extraction. If you're seeing a small screw imprint you may still want to lower your dose a little. Are you seeing it after you've made your shot? It's pre-shot that matters so to double check you should insert your PF then pop it out again and the coffee bed should be undisturbed. Ideally do this with a small coin sitting in top of the coffee bed. The coin should not get pressed into the coffee at all.
    Dimal likes this.

  29. #29
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    28grams us a lot of coffee in your basket.

  30. #30
    Rbn
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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    28grams us a lot of coffee in your basket.
    Yes but, does Pulman make a basket that gets near this dose.
    I know I have a 19/22 one, and I think there is one a size bigger.

  31. #31
    Senior Member csutak40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rawill View Post
    Yes but, does Pulman make a basket that gets near this dose.
    I know I have a 19/22 one, and I think there is one a size bigger.
    My VST is a 20. I have obviously been overdosing it, but it certainly takes 28gr with ease
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  32. #32
    Rbn
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    Stronger coffee! haha!

    I have a 7 gm VST, a 15 gm VST, and the 19/20 Pullman.
    Pullman say there baskets are as accurate as the VST.

    My palate is not good enough to know!

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