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Thread: Recommended first espresso machine?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Recommended first espresso machine?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    First off my price range is up to $300, I simply cant afford any more than that at this time. Even if i could, with all my expenses i really cant justify spending more than that anyway. Further down the line i can see myself upgrading but for now i just want something entry level so i can begin brewing my own cups and experimenting a bit.

    We do have a grinder, somewhere, but chances are its a pretty horrible POS so ill also be investing in one of those next, but first i need a machine :). As far as i know the only place i can get espresso machines locally is Big W or Kmart and the range is pretty much limited to either a sunbeam or breville. id be leaning towards sunbeam considering you can modify a few parts with krups parts but i figure i should ask first. That said im not opposed to ordering online.

    Secondly until i get a grinder ill be using either store bought pre-ground packs or getting some freshly ground beans from my work. That statement probably made quite a few of you cringe, but its the best i can do for right now, heh.

    So can any of you help me out? If so, Thanks :)

  2. #2
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Zaneus

    Youll need to provide more information to satisfy the old smokeys:

    What are you going to drink? Espresso, long blacks, or milk based drinks?

    How often?

    If youre just drinking just one or two a day, how about trying something a little different like a Presso?

    Itll cost less than half your budget (check out the sitesponsor details on the left), and you could spend the other half on a Sunbeam grinder, EM450 or EM480. Then you can grind fresh beans, freshly roasted. If youve got some spare change you could even get a popcorn popper and roast your own.

    Check out stoveboys living with Presso thread.

    It inspired me. ;)

    Cheers

    James
    SniffCoffee

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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    you might be better off with a ginder and a plunger / stovetop.....

    you are going to be disappointed with the coffee if no grinder and you still expect a really quality coffee.....

    but, the sunbeam (?) IKON model gets ok reviews and might be in that budget

    whats the reason you want a coffee machine? I hate seeing people buy something thats rubbish and it sit on the shelf.......


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    TC
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by 212D242929204C0 link=1277876031/2#2 date=1277878102
    the sunbeam (?) IKON model gets ok reviews and might be in that budget
    Its a Breville and now discontinued....Pick of the cheapies though ;)

  5. #5
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Another option: Aeropress + Hario grinder from Greg Pullman - a different taste to espresso, but I found it a good start and worked up from there.

    Dont assume you need an electric machine to make a good coffee!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Mostly milk based coffees, sniff. I have a french press but the major downside is after milk it isnt hot enough. Plus i cant get any sort of foam on top. I guess i want a machine more for the experience of making coffee than anything else. also out of my two french presses one of them has scalded me bad. from user error but it still makes me avoid using that press unless i absolutely have to use it. The lid didnt sit right so as i pressed down the whole thing shifted to the side and spat boiling coffee at my wrist *>:(

    That said, the presso looks great and im seriously considering it. The downside would still be cold milk as we dont have a microwave and heating milk on the stove top would be such a hassle that id end up never doing it.

    edit: probably no more than 5 a day depending on how much my parents use it. When i move out, probably no more than 2 cups a day.

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    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?


    Dont despair - there are ways of warming your milk!

    The first and most important thing will be (the gospel according to the Old Smokeys): fresh roasted beans (roasted 1-3 weeks before grinding), freshly ground (within 3 minutes of brewing).

    Each morning I make two lattes with my Presso and use a Bellman to steam the milk - again bought from a site sponsor. I bought the fancy one with the gauge, but you can just buy a straight steaming one. The whole process takes time - Ive never timed it, but it takes a while. Bear in mind the old smokeys will say you should also warm any machine beforehand.

    I used to use a Hario grinder to fresh grind the beans but got lazy and got an electric (the second gospel: buy the best grinder you can afford). The Hario is now a little travel companion.

    The benefit of a Bellman though is you could use it to make the coffee and steam the milk - the fancy one with the gauge can make coffee too and is just over half your budget and still leaves you enough for a sunbeam grinder.

    So you could do:

    Presso + Sunbeam
    Bellman + Hario
    Bellman + Sunbeam
    Presso + Hario + Bellman steamer

    Then when you upgrade later you can take these to work, holidays, wherever.

    A little machine will do these just as well, but with these gadgets you dont have to worry about descaling, failing pumps and so on.

    As youll discover looking around the threads, theres a lot of ways to make a good coffee - as long as the beans are fresh and the grind is fresh too! ;D

    cheers

    Sniff

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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    If youre after a Breville Ikon, try one of the Breville factory shops if you live close-by. I got one from the shop in Redfern NSW and 12 months on im still loving it, coupled with a Sunbeam grinder. IMO a really good cheap set-up (under $300.00) with which i can produce much better coffee than most cafes.

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    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Sounds good but the downside is convenience. How long would the bellman steamer take to heat up exactly? *take into accout that my current stove is a pretty cheap electric stove that would take around 8~ minutes to get 700ml of water to boiling point. Id like to find out because if its a big hassle chances are ill end up rarely using it.

    Also would it be able to produce a microfoam? Also take into account im a complete novice but im willing to put in the practice. Also how much steam would i get from it? enough for more than one cup of coffee? if so, how many cups? Sorry if im asking a lot of questions but because im just out of school and making no more than $300 on a good week this is a lot of money and a serious investment :)

    edit:
    what about this?
    http://www.dibartoli.com.au/product_details.asp?pid=430
    Seems like it could be a bit ambitious for the price but saves having two separate units.

  10. #10
    brett230873
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by 25272733400 link=1277876031/7#7 date=1277896526
    If youre after a Breville Ikon, try one of the Breville factory shops if you live close-by. I got one from the shop in Redfern NSW and 12 months on im still loving it, coupled with a Sunbeam grinder. IMO a really good cheap set-up (under $300.00) with which i can produce much better coffee than most cafes.
    This is exactly the solution I had in mind. Coupled with a popcorn popper you would be unstoppable... keep your receipts for warranty and read all of AMs threads on maintenance.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    To be honest after a bit of research the Bellman CX25P Stainless Steel Stovetop looks pretty much perfect. any final thoughts? that + the sunbeam grinder would be at about my budget plus should be more reliable than getting a cheap espresso machine. right?

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    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Zaneus

    I have the Bellman CX25P and use it just for steaming. I start steaming when the needle gets to the top of the green on the gauge. It takes a reasonably long time to get the milk up to temp but because the single steam hole on the tip is so fine its very easy to get microfoam, if anything by the end of steaming I have too much. Its faster if I use a smaller jug and steam enough milk for one cup and then steam another jug for the next.

    Koffee Kosmos advice is just relax and let the steam do the work.

    The Bellman will heat up quicker if you put hot water from your kettle into it. I put mine on the stove with cold water and by the time Ive finishing warming the Presso & cups, grinding and tamping and extracting its usually ready to steam.

    I havent used mine to make coffee as well but do a search of the site and youll find some tips on it.

    Bellmans are occasionally listed for sale in the hardware section so keep an eye out there.

    Good luck! ;)

    Sniff

  13. #13
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Have a look at this thread:

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1246339682/

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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Good thing with the Bellman is later on you have the camping option sorted too. :)

    With your budget 450 or 480 Sunbeam and even a Plunger to go with the fresh beans would be a great step up. My decent into coffeesnobbdom started much the same way as you with a $300 budget with an Ibiteral Challange grinder to go with the plunger a few short years ago. Now best I dont add up what I have spent so far or what I am looking at spending over the next 6 months :D

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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    I recently bought a breville Cafe roma and the sunbeam EM480 grinder. Got them both on sale it cost me just under 350.

    Couple of mods and I am making better espresso than what I was previously thinking was good - now when I have a coffee from one of the local cafes I liked I can taste the staleness...

    All the mods are is unpressurising the filter basket by removing the bottom layer of metal and making the portafilter naked - you could do without the naked PF but I really wanted to see how bad my dosing and tamping was... and it was bad ;D still is :D

    Maybe an option if you can find an extra 50...

  16. #16
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Just ordered the bellman from sorrentina :)

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    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Good luck with it!

    Remember, it will take time to get to know your Bellman, so dont expect a god shot with the first pour. Stick with fresh roasted beans, freshly ground, and youll be off to a great start! :)

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    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    I think the pressure gauge on mine is faulty. it didnt move at all after a good 5 minutes of heating. i had opened the coffee valve before than and got an almost steady espresso shot. closed it again to let it pressurise again, but the valve still showed it had no pressure, yet i was getting steam from the steam wand when i opened that.

    I tried another espresso shot and this time i got a high power stream of about 80% steam 20% coffee :-?. Took the unit off the heat and set it aside and opened all the valves to depressurize. hows that for a first experience?

  19. #19
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Zaneus

    Is the o-ring under the filter basket seated properly? Can you hear any hissing or see any water coming out there? Maybe your not getting enough seal there and so the pressure isnt building up. One time I heated up water in the bellman without the basket and seal in and it didnt work, there was no pressure buildup.

    Have a look inside and make sure nothings blocking the hole through to the gauge too.

    Sniff

  20. #20
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Its definitely all sealed and it is pressurizing. its just the gauge isnt reading anything

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    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Bummer! >:(

    Get in touch with Jack from Sorrentina - Im sure hell help you out.

    Dont give up on the Bellman just yet. *But keep your eyes on the for sale section - you might be able to pick up a sunbeam grinder/machine combo with whats left of your budget.

    Sniff


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    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Hah, i let the unit pressurize so much that the safety valve started going off. all the time i was hitting the gauge with a teaspoon. just before the safety valve released the gauge started trying to move up. got up to about 0.5 bar before the safety valve released, heh.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by 4C7778736365160 link=1277876031/21#21 date=1278903549
    all the time i was hitting the gauge with a teaspoon.
    Is this an advanced operational technique, what purpose does hitting the gauge with a spoon serve? if the gauge is faulty take it back to the supplier. *:-/

  24. #24
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    The needle in the gauge could very well be stuck. hitting it with a teaspoon while under pressure could provide enough jolt to get it unstuck. it did work somewhat in getting the needle to show something but it was in no way an accurate reading. Sorrentina even suggested that method.

    dont worry i wasnt going crazy with the teaspoon, just tapping it against the gauge.

    edit: even though the pressure gauge doesnt work ive still been using the unit. Keeping the steam valve open until it starts spitting then pouring the shot then. after that just guessing when theres enough to steam milk. Im getting ok results even though im using crappy store bought grinds. Milk steaming is nice and easy too. Plus i just poured my first latte art :D


    No chrema makes the colours a bit pale but i tihnk its an ok attempt considering it was the first time i got a consistent microfoam. I got what started to be a decent rosetta yesterday but then a chunk of foam landed right on top of it. The learning process is quite fun :)

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6D5659524244370 link=1277876031/23#23 date=1278921841
    Milk steaming is nice and easy too. Plus i just poured my first latte art
    And a pretty good job as well for a first attempt, Im jealous, been using espresso machines for over 10 years and my art is still crap :( I guess some can and some cant. :)

  26. #26
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Just bought a sunbeam EM0480 today and picked up some freshly roasted beans from work. debating on trying it out now, at 11pm, or waiting for the morning... its a hard decision!

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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by 003B343F2F295A0 link=1277876031/25#25 date=1280323131
    Just bought a sunbeam EM0480 today and picked up some freshly roasted beans from work. debating on trying it out now, at 11pm, or waiting for the morning... its a hard decision!
    I vote for staying up late and playing with your new toys. :D
    Its just like being a kid again!

  28. #28
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    when i pour a shot i always get a gushing stream thats mixed with steam that spits the espresso everywhere. Is that normal for the bellman? at first i thought it was the supermarket coffee as they wernt fine enough but it happens now with the coffee grinds im using. Im grinding at around 12 now and it still gushes. Any ideas?

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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    possibly you need to grind finer?

  30. #30
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Hey Zaneus

    Did you get your gauge fixed? *Maybe youre opening the tap too late and the water is too hot? *

    I got this from the other Bellman thread, its from a post by Jack from Sorrentina:

    "...Firstly the obvious: bean and grind. Bellman roasts his own and grinds immediately before use. I doubt you could ever get crema using supermarket coffee- too dry and stale.

    Secondly- careful packing- and a slow brew. The grind was medium/fine and the basket filled completely and lightly tamped down- then a little more coffee added and another light tamp. He started out with very hot water- and used quite a low flame. he let the pressure build up to around .75 Bar or so- then opened the coffee valve. With the tamp and grind he used the coffee flowed out in a steady smooth stream.

    Also he killed the brew quite early- just making 30ml shots..."

    Maybe give that a try?

    Another method I saw was leave the tap open from the start, let the flow come like a Moka and then close it off and let the pressure build up for steaming.

    Cheers

    Sniff



  31. #31
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    The pressure gauge was replaced and works.ive tried extracting at around .7 and also leaving the valve open but It seems to want to gush after .4 and anything below that is rather weak. no crema either. the grind is fine, as far as i know. i tried one today at a grind setting of 12 with the same result. im going to give it another go at 10 and see if thats enough to get a slower pour.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    This is the result i just got then. grinding on 12 (just couldnt go down further because it was already pretty fine) and very lightly tamping. Thing is, im still getting *about 60/40% steam coming out with the coffee when im opening the valve at around .7bar.


    after a couple of minutes when the milk is ready to pour:


    Its not a bad result i guess, but id really like a better result. right now i cant figure out how to stop the flow from being mostly steam *:(

    note; the crema was a fair bit darker, the flash just made it look pale

  33. #33
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Recommended first espresso machine?

    Grind on 11
    Hardly tamped at all this time. filled up, tamped down a couple of mm and leveled then topped up and leveled.
    Got a steady pour this time, but the espresso is bitter :(. at least it didnt spit everywhere with steam, hah. Still little to no crema



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