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Thread: wisdom of starting at the pointy end?

  1. #1
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    wisdom of starting at the pointy end?

    Greetings all, By way of intro, I'm a complete coffee novice presently enjoying (tolerating?) an Instant each morning before work or a plunger when camping, but I do like a good flat white. The only espresso machine I've had a go at was my sisters' Breville that I clumsily tried when we visited her in China recently, and that's what sparked my interest because she makes a pretty good coffee with her Breville.

    I've researched a bit the last few weeks and am now thinking of buying a quality machine and grinder straight up because if I do this, I don't want to be replacing it or upgrading a few years down the track. We live in a small inland Qld town a long way from purveyors of coffee machines and consumables. However we do drive to Brisbane once or twice a year so would prefer to buy there; firstly, so I can have a look in store, and secondly, I could take a machine back to Brisbane myself if/when necessary rather than packing it off to Sydney or wherever.

    So my short list is:
    • Bezzera Domus Galatea, or Rocket Giotto (I prefer milk based coffee)
    • Macap M4D doserless grinder or equivalent
    • Basic accessories to get started: tamper, milk jug, machine cleaning stuff, etc
    • and... coffee beans!


    My priorities are:
    • machine reliability and longevity, given my location
    • Potential to produce a good coffee once I learn the skills. i.e., I don't want the machine to be a limiting factor. A forgiving machine might be handy though.
    • aesthetics: given how big they are they have to look good (I like the styling of the Galatea)
    • Budget: these are right at the top of my budget. I know there's cheaper out there but I'd prefer to get good equipment in the first place, to be future-proof.


    We have rain water that we use for tea and I would use rainwater in a coffee machine, Our town water supply is hot artesian bore water.

    I will be the only coffee drinker as my wife drinks tea, but we do get visitors and occasionally entertain. On a very rare occasion she'll order a decaf cappuccino when we're in the city or on holidays, so I might be called upon to make a decaf for her; or she'll make her own if she gets the hang of it. She also likes a proper chai latte sometimes (but not the syrup based ones).

    Are the machines I'm considering a bit too advanced for a novice to start out with? Will it be much faffing around to sometimes change from normal coffee for me, to making an occasional decaf for my wife, and back again?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Welcome DT11. Sounds like a pretty fair plan to me. You'll probably find using the kit that you have suggested will be easier to use than many cheaper options. But it sounds like it really is worth getting a bit of basic training at (or around) the time you make the purchase.

  3. #3
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Good machine choice. You will need a supply of beans freshly roasted or green and beanbay can provide both.
    Get a lesson when you get your machine and most sponsors will provide this.
    All set, enjoy

  4. #4
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Agree re fresh bean supply (roast your own!!) and some basic training but no dramas about starting off with a higher spec machine and grinder, intact it should make it easier for you.

    I loved the Galatea, great styling (subjective) and build quality. There are many others in the price range so your choice in machine and grinders is quite vast with many capable options.

    Cheers

  5. #5
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Evening DT11, the Bezzera Domus Galatea is an excellent option and would suit your requirements well, produces great espresso, reasonably priced (change out of $3000) easy to use and very reliable.

    The machine is easily mastered by of novice, of average IQ.

    And of course a bonus for you is the fact that the Australian importers are based in QLD,
    Barazi Bezzera Coffee Machines

    1300 550 927

    199 Logan Road
    Woolloongabba, QLD, 4102 Australia



    Also check out the Bezzera Magica, basically a plainer Galatea and a bit cheaper.

    The Macap M4D is reputed to be an excellent grinder.

    Good luck with your quest.

    Yes, I've owned a Bezzera Domus Galatea for 7 trouble free years.

  6. #6
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Hi DT11,

    Plus 1 from me for the Galetea. The Bezzera importer is in Brisbane so you would have absolutely no problem with service and back up.
    We import and distribute the Macap range of grinders, so feel free to contact us for info and pricing.

    Link below to our Galatea and macap package on offer

    http://m.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?sid=...&isRefine=true

    Cheers
    Antony

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    Something else to consider is you really have no experience with the amount of effort involved in using and maintaining high end machines. They are orders of magnitude harder than a teaspoon of Blend 43.

    I'd suggest getting something low - mid range and try it out. That way you can get a feel for whats actually involved. And in a years time, if it wasn't a passing fad and you're discovering you want better quality coffee only then start looking at high end gear.

  8. #8
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    I jumped in the deep end with a high end machine (equivalent quality to the Rocket you list), but I also jumped in the deep end of this forum for as much info as possible, as well as working hard at my espresso. I think buying high end is a good idea personally, but as MrFF says, if this is not well founded enthusiasm, it could be a costly experiment...
    Much like you, I had a chance to play with a machine, a Silvia, and that kicked it all off.

  9. #9
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    Thanks to all for the warm welcome and encouraging replies. Yes I noticed the Bezzera people are in Brisbane and that’s certainly influenced my choice, plus I like the look of their machines.

    MrFreddo, thanks for your suggestion re starting at the entry level, but I know myself well and am somewhat of a gadget freak. If I decide I like something I tend to blow dollars upgrading to better gear in quick succession. I’ve done it in my other pastimes trading up at great expense and thought I’d try & dodge that this time!


    So, I take it that changing between caffeinated and decaf beans/brews is not going to be a major issue, particularly with the grinder? Or would there be a tedious process of dialling the grinder back in after each change?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DT11 View Post


    So, I take it that changing between caffeinated and decaf beans/brews is not going to be a major issue, particularly with the grinder? Or would there be a tedious process of dialling the grinder back in after each change?
    Certainly doable, will involve a small amount of pfaffing around, change beans (easier with non doser grinder) and perhaps a minor tweak of grind setting, you would work it all out quite quickly.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Certainly doable, will involve a small amount of pfaffing around, change beans (easier with non doser grinder) and perhaps a minor tweak of grind setting, you would work it all out quite quickly.
    Righto, sounds good. From the write-ups and discussion I've seen, the M4D seems to be the go-to grinder so that's why its in my list. But the thought crossed my mind (& looks pretty doable now too with Casa Espresso's eBay listing referred to above), that for similar money I could get say two M2M grinders and allocate one for decaf? Not too keen on that idea though as it would start to clutter up the kitchen a bit and earn a few demerit points in Wife Approval Factor!

    I've taken on board the sound advice that fresh beans are paramount, but I'm not concerned about that because there seems to be a number of mail order/online suppliers including Beanbay one can subscribe to for ongoing fresh supplies, which is pretty much how we get good wine, good tea, good books, etc, out here anyway & that keeps the local post office and couriers in business too.

    Re training, I would very much try to do an introductory course if it can be booked it in around purchase time so I'll look into that. We're going overseas again for a short Christmas break transiting Brisbane so I'm at least going to have a brief look then if not actually make the purchase right then.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    One grinder to rule them all and in the espresso bind them... hopefully you can find one that easily switches up a few notches finer for your decaf and then back coarser again for your regular caffeine fix.

    Get the good water in to your machine. Good for the machine and your taste buds :-)

    Good luck!
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  13. #13
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    Domus Galatea although i am not a fan of its styling, at $25xx I think its is pretty good valve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by symphonie View Post
    Domus Galatea although i am not a fan of its styling, at $25xx I think its is pretty good valve.
    It's looking good to me on a number of fronts too, including price. I do like the 4L tank and 2L boiler capacity even though I won't be making huge numbers of coffees at a time. But I probably will be making tea sometimes from the coffee machine's hot water tap. I assume the water will be boiling for that, or is it maintained at a lower temp for coffee?

    The Rocket Giotto looks good too & I should get the opportunity to see one in action again soon. One of the family members we will be visiting in NZ is a coffee afficianado (I would have said "Snob" but don't know if he frequents here!) and I think he has a Giotto on his bench from which I've previously enjoyed some superb flat whites. He's fastidious in anything he does and has had his immaculate machine for a number of years so I'll quizz him when I'm there. Being the fiercely proud Kiwi he is, I think his machine is a Rocket Giotto, not ECM, which I think he would have bought after the Kiwis got involved in the Rocket company (i've only learnt all this wonderful trivia in the last few weeks of homework - isn't it great!).

    For me the machine choice between these two will come down to personal preference and not much else because most here seem to agree they're on a par performance-wise.

  15. #15
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Mark me down as another kiwi with a Rocket Giotto. 🐑

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    Hi Dt11, Upgraditis is a disease for people like me and by the sound of it your good self. I have wasted a lot of time and energy upgrading fishing gear, golf clubs, camera gear etc. So my coffee journey went, AeroPress up to a heat Xchange machine, no single boiler to start, I have no regrets and would recommend starting "The Coffee Journey this way." I very nearly purchased a Galatea myself but went with an Orchestrale Nota, ( hate square industrial looking boxes especially if they are shiny) I also purchased an MD4 But found it a pita to dial back to DeCaf every night for an after dinner coffee. The result was a second grinder a Macap M2N, an excellent little machine that is super easy to re-dial up or down as needs be. Also not much more expensive than a quality hand grinder, when I purchased mine. I am not knocking the M4d just saying the m2n is a very good grinder that is easy to use. I have removed the hopper and single dose directly into the throat of the grinder. I could happily live with just the m2n, but having the m4d as well is very nice. The other advantage of having a second grinder (or a single dose machine) is you can have your favorite blend in the main grinder and try out new coffees (blend or So) in the second grinder, especially if it single doses easily.
    There are many machines in your price range and they are all probably very good, just pick the features you need. It is the same for grinders pick your price point and features; just be aware adjusting grinders can be a pita. John
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    Quote Originally Posted by chippy View Post
    Hi Dt11, Upgraditis is a disease for people like me and by the sound of it your good self. I have wasted a lot of time and energy upgrading fishing gear, golf clubs, camera gear etc. So my coffee journey went, AeroPress up to a heat Xchange machine, no single boiler to start, I have no regrets and would recommend starting "The Coffee Journey this way." I very nearly purchased a Galatea myself but went with an Orchestrale Nota, ( hate square industrial looking boxes especially if they are shiny) I also purchased an MD4 But found it a pita to dial back to DeCaf every night for an after dinner coffee. The result was a second grinder a Macap M2N, an excellent little machine that is super easy to re-dial up or down as needs be. Also not much more expensive than a quality hand grinder, when I purchased mine. I am not knocking the M4d just saying the m2n is a very good grinder that is easy to use. I have removed the hopper and single dose directly into the throat of the grinder. I could happily live with just the m2n, but having the m4d as well is very nice. The other advantage of having a second grinder (or a single dose machine) is you can have your favorite blend in the main grinder and try out new coffees (blend or So) in the second grinder, especially if it single doses easily.
    There are many machines in your price range and they are all probably very good, just pick the features you need. It is the same for grinders pick your price point and features; just be aware adjusting grinders can be a pita. John
    how do you like your Orchestrale Nota? its rarely mentioned here as far as i know. 3L boiler is tad too big for making 1-2 cups a day i reckon.

  18. #18
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    I would have to agree here.

    The M4D is a great grinder, with a very accurate and easy adjustment mechanism, add in electronic dosing and its a winner.

    However it is possibly not the grinder for you for small volumes when you are looking at and changing beans back and forwards. You may find that the finest of the adjustment on the M4D becomes a pain when constantly changing beans.

    My recommendation would be the M2M. It has stepped adjustment which makes going back and forward between beans and grind settings easy and you would really not notice a difference in quality that you cant control with other adjustments (dose and tamping) between the stepped (M2) and step less (M4D) options.

    With space and budget constraints I would recommend a single M2M. If budget and space aren't a problem an M4D for main coffee and an M2M for decaf

    Cheers
    Antony
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    Hi Symphonie, brief off topic answer. Absolutely luv it. But its the only machine I have owned or used on more than one occasion, so don't really know. Maybe noisy and big are downside. Nothing gone wrong it just delivers. John
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    I think your idea of going for some good gear is sound, particularly if you plan on making it a hobby.

    With the decaf situation however, it's a real pain switching out for Decaf. I'd be planning on using your good gear solely for proper coffee beans. It sounds like your decaf beans are going to be used infrequently at best.

    For your occasional decaf scenario, have a plan B. This could be using preground for decaf (since decaf doesn't taste too flash to begin with, you don't lose as much by going preground). Or use a cheap pod system (e.g.: Aldi) for your decaf shots. Of course you can still use the steamed milk from your real machine. Just use the pods for the shot of decaf.

    Or for the decaf drinker, use normal beans and just give them a half shot.

  21. #21
    Senior Member ArtW's Avatar
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    I don't think you can go wrong with the Giotto and the MD4 but the Barezza would also be a good option. Be rest assured, this level of machinery would not be too advanced, in fact things like the automatic pre-infusion of an e61 actually make them significantly easier to use than more entry level machines. With regards to your decaf conundrum, I have a Lido hand grinder that I use when grinding for filter (I don't do decaf but I play with cold brew) and also serves as a work / holiday grinder. This portable solution really complements the Macap M4 that I use for most espresso due to its consistency and granular adjustability.
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  22. #22
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    ...since decaf doesn't taste too flash to begin with, you don't lose as much by going preground...
    There are awesome tasting decaf's out there that are every bit as good as non-decaf coffees. Decaf's such as Andy's DECAF - Wow!. Just because you have/want to drink decaf doesn't mean you have to drink cruddy coffee.


    Java "If it isn't good don't drink it!" phile
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    There are awesome tasting decaf's out there that are every bit as good as non-decaf coffees.
    Not if it takes him 12 months to get through a bag of decaf beans...

  24. #24
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    Not if it takes him 12 months to get through a bag of decaf beans...
    Not being able to go through a bag of beans before they go stale is hardly the same thing as the beans not being any good right from the start. Those are two entirely different and completely unrelated things.

    Not to mention that once he has the equipment in place and the wife tries some DECAF - Wow! made with it it might be a surprise how fast the beans are gone through. Plus if he can't go through the bag of beans fast enough it would give him a great reason to get into home roasting where he can roast up as much or as little as he likes.


    Java "Yet another great excuse to home roast!" phile
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  25. #25
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    wisdom of starting at the pointy end?

    +1 for decaf wow

    I occasionally do decaf on my grinder. Just add in an extra gram or two of coffee knowing I have to discard the first sweep from the doser. Repeat when switching back to regular.

    Seems to work ok for our purposes.

    Perhaps my grinder is more forgiving when it detects decaf.

  26. #26
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Decaf wow is great. If you didn't know it was decaf you wouldn't pick it from a normal bean taste wise, pour wise etc.

    Can you easily remove the worm drive mechanism from the m4d and just turn the collar like a mazzer to make it easier for quick large range adjustments?

    You could easily use one grinder for both, just will need to purge a bit and single dose the hopper. No biggie.

    Otherwise get a decent hand grinder that you can also use in your travels.

    Cheers
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    Firstly, I’m impressed with the response to this thread and I must say reflects on what a great forum this is… so many constructive suggestions, thank you.


    I like the idea of pursuing the "Decaf Wow" route, catering for both tastes and I think this will be good for both of us. I usually don't drink decaf, but then I don't normally have coffee in the evening either, but if we can dish up a good decaf with decent beans, then why not?! So I reckon I could get say an M2M grinder for both to start with as suggested, and if decaf becomes a regular menu item I could get another grinder (perhaps M4D) for the standard beans. But perhaps one at a time at this stage. I know it’ll take time, trial & error for me to learn the process but I’m sure it will be worth the effort, especially if I can do a crash course on one of our trips away.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    ...With the decaf situation however, it's a real pain switching out for Decaf. I'd be planning on using your good gear solely for proper coffee beans. It sounds like your decaf beans are going to be used infrequently at best.

    For your occasional decaf scenario, have a plan B. This could be using preground for decaf (since decaf doesn't taste too flash to begin with, you don't lose as much by going preground). Or use a cheap pod system (e.g.: Aldi) for your decaf shots. Of course you can still use the steamed milk from your real machine. Just use the pods for the shot of decaf.

    Or for the decaf drinker, use normal beans and just give them a half shot.
    I like the Plan B idea, such as pre-ground, or perhaps another (manual?) grinder. But not the pods; I have a bit of an abhorrence for the whole coffee pod concept. I’m not a rabid greeny as such, but used coffee pods somehow remind me of a remote and otherwise pristine Cape York beach I saw a fews years ago that was covered in litter from passing shipping - out of sight out of mind, but still there. Seeing that made me think a bit, but that’s just me. (I hope that doesn't sound like an opinionated lecture)
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  29. #29
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    I think you are right to start at the pointy end. I definitely would not start at a lower level. The units you mention are great. Making the coffee can be quite simple. Many Snobs make it sound complicated, that is okay too. The M4D is a brilliant grinder - it gives me a more satisfying taste than our home Mazzar Kony- e at half the price.
    I started lower down and was super frustrated until we bought the Rocket. We now have a Rocket at work with the M4D and never heard a grumble about the taste! In fact it has made the folk very fussy about 'drinkable' coffee.
    You may find with your new super coffee that your wife may shift away from decaffeinated.
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  30. #30
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    I've been quiet for a while mulling over all the useful info & good advice above, and convincing myself that I do want to go down this path. I've checked out a few machines in the metal in Brisbane and across the ditch in NZ, and done plenty of www research.

    Today I took a dive from the high board... CS sponsor Antony at Casa Espresso has put together this package for me:
    1 Bezzera Galatea Domus + Macap M2M package; too good to pass up. I'll use the M2M for decaf
    2 Eureka Atom grinder (in lieu of the intended M4D) for regular brews
    3 two Motta milk jugs;350 & 500ml
    4 tamper, cleaner powder, and some beans
    5 twelve month machine service voucher that I can redeem at Barazi in Brisbane (perfect for me, being a Qlder!)

    So that's put a sizeable hole in the DT11 money bin, but I'm hoping and quietly confident I won't have to upgrade for sometime soon. I'm now patiently waiting for the hardware to arrive & then I'll jump into the steep learning curve ahead of me. I might even learn how to make a half-way decent cuppa coffee!

    My biggest test will happen, hopefully quite a few months down the track after I've learnt some of the necessary skills; to serve my sister a fine flat white on one of her brief visits home from Asia. After all, I'll lay the blame squarely at her feet for starting this foray into a completely new interest! Thanks CSer's for all the good advice thus far.

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    Awesome. Well done. Enjoy.
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  32. #32
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Hi DT1,

    Thanks for trusting us with your purchase.

    Your gear is on the way.

    Interested in your feedback, especially the new ATOM grinder.

    Cheers

    Antony
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Espresso View Post
    I would have to agree here.

    The M4D is a great grinder, with a very accurate and easy adjustment mechanism, add in electronic dosing and its a winner.

    ...
    I've already placed my order so perhaps immaterial now but bearing in mind your comments in this post here, how does the new Eureka Atom compare with the M4D on these points? Is it on a par with the M4D with regard to "...accurate & easy adjustment mechanism... electronic dosing..." ease of use, etc?

  34. #34
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    L Plate driver...

    This week I got to play with my new coffee gear for the first time as I've just received the espresso machine. It's been a drawn out process getting it together because it arrived in bits and pieces over two weeks (the Bezzera was mistakenly sent 1000km south instead of 1100km north-west!), and I'm still waiting for a couple of other ancillaries to arrive.

    However I spent most of last Tuesday evening trying to dial in the Macap M2M grinder using Decaf Wow, my biggest problem there trying to get a consistent dosing technique. When I eventually got what I thought was a "getting closer" shot, I decided to make a white coffee to taste. That was my first attempt at steaming milk too, and it was pretty rough but passable. My wife had a sip and reckoned "that's better than most I've had down-town"! Yippee, that's all I needed to hear and vindicates my choice even if she reckons it's all a bit over the top. And I reckoned the coffee was alright too: I could happily stick with decaf knowing it can be that good.

    I suspect my wife's positive comment reflects the quality and freshness of the beans I ordered compared to what the cafes here might be using. Whatever the reason, it makes my unskilled efforts look alright!

    The next morning she requested a white decaf, and again she was pretty happy with it, but that's where it all came unstuck because I couldn't grind any more beans for my cup. After a few attempts the grinder clogged up & when I did get enough into the PF, it was too fine and there was no extraction. I eventually got that sorted and backed off the grind a few notches coarser, but am going to have to keep tuning. But if I can learn to dose the M2M consistently will be a bonus, and work on my tamp, I'm sure it'll come together.

    I also decided a day or two later to change tack and start with the Eureka Atom grinder using Espresso Wow. I know very little about these things, but dare I say I am impressed with the Atom. It's definitely easier to use than the M2M, not that there's anything wrong with the smaller machine. It took less attempts to get it close to where it needs to be so I made myself a milk coffee which was quite ok, then I ran out of time before going to work. I haven't tried the timer dose function of the Atom yet as I want to get the grind right first.

    So I've got a long way toy go, but I've made a start and am content with my choice of equipment at this early stage.

  35. #35
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    15,443
    It just keeps getting better and better mate...

    The journey is half the fun.

    Mal.
    kbc and DT11 like this.

  36. #36
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    486
    Your certainly on the right track with the equipment you have. All top quality particularly the Bezzera.
    Thank you again for your business and congratulations on the ATOM grinder. You are on a winner there.
    The coffee and extra milk jug are on the way along with an extra surprise for your patience

    Cheers
    Antony
    Dimal, matth3wh, RavenMad and 2 others like this.

  37. #37
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Western Qld
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Espresso View Post
    The coffee and extra milk jug are on the way along with an extra surprise for your patience

    Cheers
    Antony
    Arrived last Thursday, thx. PM sent.
    Magic_Matt likes this.

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