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Thread: Coffee n00b, advice wanted

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    Coffee n00b, advice wanted

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    My needs may be different from most, so please be nice and don't judge or post advice I'm not asking for, unless you REEEEALLY think it's important.

    I'm looking for a good breakfast coffee experience. In a mug. From a machine that hopefully will do everything, and consistently. The sticker is that I'm (comparatively) poor, so need to do things as inexpensively as possible. I'm not at all interested in recreating fancy café lattes, cappuccinos, whatever, all I want is a tasty fresh ground mug of coffee with milk to go with the bacon and scrambled egg toastie, using local recently roasted ethical beans. I'm single and make one coffee in the morning just for me.

    A while back I tried to achieve this with a Porlex hand grinder and an Aeropress. Yes it's most likely my fault for not knowing what I was doing, but I found it next to impossible to get good results at all, let alone consistently. I bought a used Breville something-or-other espresso machine from Gumtree, but without much success there either. So I gave up for a while and got a pod machine. Please don't stop reading, come back! I'm disgusted with the whole idea of pods, for all the reasons you already know, and want better.

    So now I'm looking at trying again. I like Breville stuff, I have a lot of their other kitchen appliances, but I'm open to suggestions. So far I see coffee machines at $200 and others at $400, and automatic electric conical burr ceramic grinders for $200-$300, and I see coffee machines with grinders built in for $700 upwards. I really don't want to spend any more than that, and much less than that if at all possible. it's just breakfast coffee after all. I've spent pretty much the whole last week reading review sites on various models, but now it's time to bring the question to people who know what they're talking about.

    At the budget end of things, is an all-in-one machine a better solution than having a separate grinder? Do grinders work well for single mug servings? Is there a particular machine/combo you recommend? This bit is not essential, but the ability to pump out hot water for tea would be a bonus.

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    Easily solved...Cafflano Klassic
    cafflano-klassic-coffee-maker.jpg

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    Thanks for your quick reply, I had a look at the video on their website and it doesn't really look like what I'm after. Manually grinding the beans, separate heating of the water in a kettle, decanting the brew into the mug to combine with milk. A great solution for coffee on the go, but not for me thanks anyway.

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Simple advice: learn to use the Aeropress properly. Some of the best coffee I've ever was made with an Aeropress.

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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Have a look at the Behmor Brazen. And buy a cheap small conical burr grinder like the Breville Dose Control. Problem solved.
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    Well that's where I was going wrong, I had an Aeropress, I watched the everliving heck out of every Youtube video I could find that showed how to use the Aeropress, I even purchased aftermarket filter disks, and yet it was never-ending disappointment. I'm grateful for your feedback, but can I please direct you to my original post, in which I ask for advice about which electric espresso machine and/or grinder I should buy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    And buy a cheap small conical burr grinder like the Breville Dose Control.
    I am grateful for your feedback, but did you read my OP? That's not exactly a 'cheap' grinder for me.

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    While I'm grateful for everyone's time in responding to this, can I please ask that people read the original post and make your replies relevant to the questions I'm asking?

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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    In your op you said up to $700, the dose control pro can be had for around 150ish (or buy the smart grinder in the coffee hardware for sale forum) and the brazen is 250???

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    Quote Originally Posted by magnafunk View Post
    In your op you said up to $700, the dose control pro can be had for around 150ish (or buy the smart grinder in the coffee hardware for sale forum) and the brazen is 250???
    Does the Brazen make single mugs of coffee efficiently? From the on-site video it looks like a larger machine.

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    What an appropriate user name!

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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrytheTurnip View Post
    Does the Brazen make single mugs of coffee efficiently? From the on-site video it looks like a larger machine.
    Yes it does.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    What an interesting thread...
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrytheTurnip View Post
    Does the Brazen make single mugs of coffee efficiently? From the on-site video it looks like a larger machine.
    How big is a mug? Espresso machines can be huge but will pull you a 60ml shot...

    I'd be going a Brazen if I was in your situation. Or save more money.
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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrytheTurnip View Post
    Does the Brazen make single mugs of coffee efficiently? From the on-site video it looks like a larger machine.
    Good point, that I am not sure about. You aren't explicit about what you're after in your post, but upon reading your replies, it looks like you want an espresso machine and a dirt cheap one.
    If you couldn't get a good cup out of the aeropress I'm guessing that you don't like the style of coffee it produces, in which case I don't see a Brazen being much help either.
    You could quite easily pick up a second hand single boiler machine and grinder for a reasonable price and with a little training, you will be able to make knock out coffees as long as you have good beans.
    If this is too much work, try making cold brew concentrate, cut it 50/50 with milk and nuking it, or perhaps buying a stovetop steamer, nuke the cold brew and top up with steamed mill.
    Beyond that, I don't see any other option, maybe nescafe red?!
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Bean_Coffee View Post
    The Trinity ONE is another option if you're feeling adventurous
    He doesn't want to boil his own water, dodgy x
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magnafunk View Post
    Good point, that I am not sure about. You aren't explicit about what you're after in your post, but upon reading your replies, it looks like you want an espresso machine and a dirt cheap one.
    If you couldn't get a good cup out of the aeropress I'm guessing that you don't like the style of coffee it produces, in which case I don't see a Brazen being much help either.
    You could quite easily pick up a second hand single boiler machine and grinder for a reasonable price and with a little training, you will be able to make knock out coffees as long as you have good beans.
    If this is too much work, try making cold brew concentrate, cut it 50/50 with milk and nuking it, or perhaps buying a stovetop steamer, nuke the cold brew and top up with steamed mill.
    Beyond that, I don't see any other option, maybe nescafe red?!
    Dirt cheap espresso ain't gonna be better than aeropress I fear...
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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Dirt cheap espresso ain't gonna be better than aeropress I fear...
    There are many single boiler owners out there that would vehemently disagree

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magnafunk View Post
    There are many single boiler owners out there that would vehemently disagree
    Oh, that wasn't a comment on the machinery.
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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Oh, that wasn't a comment on the machinery.
    I realised after I replied
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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Oh, that wasn't a comment on the machinery.
    I read it as more of a one who can't even make decent coffee with an aeropress is probably going to struggle with a basic espresso machine as well kind of comment
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Guess it really depends on the style of coffee you enjoy, I owned an Aeropress for over 12 months, tried various suggested techniques, never produced anything I considered any better than average, I just not a lover of that type of brew, pour over does nothing for me either, I really am an espresso person, love the viscosity, and intensity of flavour of shots or a lungo, different tastes!
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    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    I take it you are using decent fresh beans?

    There are various options that meet your budget and even more if you go used, and with the right technique and ingredients will give a decent brew.

    All options will require your manual input to some extent.

    Cheers

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrytheTurnip View Post
    .. can I please direct you to my original post, in which I ask for advice about which electric espresso machine and/or grinder I should buy?
    Yes, I read that and my advice still stands. I wouldn't recommend buying an espresso machine for a couple of hundred dollars and I reckon the Ap could beat a cheap coffee machine on brew quality. But it's your decision and your money. Feel free to ignore any advice offered but don't knock it. I have a feeling your expectations don't match your budget.
    It took me a while to get the right Ap technique. I use an inverted method that I learned it by trial and error. I've never watched a YT video; just read a few recipes. Start with a good grinder (I mostly use a Zassenhaus Turkish for Ap duties) and good coffee (I roast my own).

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    That's a fair call. If Aeropress really isn't a persons jam, then I guess one is staring down the espresso barrel.

    Getting a Breville 'something-a-rather' but giving up doesn't bode well for buying another cheap espresso machine - but if OP can pick up a used Rancilio Silvia or Gaggia (e.g. Coffee Machines - Domestic Coffee Machines - Second Hand Coffee Machines - Jetblack Espresso) and find a grinder for $150 (as someone mentioned, the Breville in the current marketplace, or another Breville off the shelf grinder) he'd be doing ok for starters.

    Let no-one be disillusioned though, there is the preheat ritual to morning espresso, and the cleanup afterwards - without which would mean poor coffee quality is only moments away.
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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrytheTurnip View Post
    I'm grateful for your feedback, but can I please direct you to my original post, in which I ask for advice about which electric espresso machine and/or grinder I should buy?
    I just re-read your original post. There isn't a single reference to an 'electric espresso machine'. In fact you don't use the word espresso at all. That's why I recommended the Behmor Brazen as it can make anything from 1 cup up to a full carafe and is incredibly easy to use. You can add milk to the brew if you choose, or not, it's up to you. Paired with a decent budget grinder like the Breville Dose Control (there's the Breville part you're keen on) and fresh roasted coffee beans you can make great coffee very easily. It also comes in well under your $700 limit, closer to $400 all up in fact.

    Cheap espresso machines can be found, but take time and patience to learn how to extract decent coffee from them. It sounded more like you were after ease of use rather than something along these lines, so I'd still be recommending the Brazen. Other than that why not one of these-



    Much cheaper, still easy to use and while the flavour is different you still get more body than you will through a filter machine like the Brazen.

    Just wondering - what was the Breville 'something' you had? Was it a drip filter like a Breville Youbrew or Bar Aroma?
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    Have you looked at a stovetop maker? I own a 3-cup Bialetti that cost ~$50 from David Jones or something like it. If you are using nice, fresh beans, the coffee can be pretty good.
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    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    I'm not sure where you are located but one of the first things I would do is find a site sponsor and or CIT class nearby and do a couple of hours on coffee basics.

    When I first joined Coffeesnobs I did a 2 hour class with with former sponsor Cosmorex in Canberra. It was cheap and gave me a couple of hours to play with grind, dose and tamp and a big espresso machine. It taught me that consistency in technique (grind, dose and tamp) is king and that the most important components are good beans and a good grinder.

    For a good while there that meant I had a $200 Presso with $1k Macap M4D, so I took the advice seriously.

    Cheers

    Sniff
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    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    The OP also said that he bought a used Breville and didn't like the results from that either. So if you can't get good results from a porlex, aeropress, or entry level espresso machine, and don't like / want fancy milk based drinks, then we'd have to ask what coffee you drink? It sounds like simple 'coffee with milk.'

    So maybe steer clear of a machine. I would second the plunger! My own fresh roasted beans, even through a 'whirly chopper' grinder when we're away gives a great brew. Spend the money you save on buying more gear you don't like (if you didn't like the results from the first breville, why would you get another - or any machine?) on good fresh beans. Learn to make nice plunger coffee, and enjoy! Cheap, simple, great for one…

    Cheers Matt

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    I've been considering this thread an excellent troll effort. Wondering if that's true.
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    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    I've been considering this thread an excellent troll effort. Wondering if that's true.
    It reminds me of the Little Britain skit where the bloke walks into specialty board game shop and asks for a Pirate Board Game, and then rejects every one of the shop-keeper's suggestions as it turns out that he is only after a board game about 'left-handed, hermaphrodite Pirates who have a limp and don't like sand and are allergic to parrots'. But anyway......

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    OK thanks to everyone's responses, sorry I was at work all day and haven't had any chance to respond until now. No, this isn't a troll thread, I am genuinely ignorant about many aspects of how to make good quality coffee at home. I try to teach myself via youtube, but figure sometimes it's best to talk direct to experts, which is why I posted here. Many great responses, you've all given me some good insight, thanks for that!

    @SniffCoffee's suggestion is a great one. I'm certain the problems I had with the AeroPress and the Gumtree Breville espresso machine were due to not knowing enough about the grind, and not due to the machines themselves. A barista course of some sort would sort that out. I was using decent (ie non-supermarket) beans, weighing and grinding before each attempt.

    I'm now leaning towards the Brazen, but I'm still concerned it might be a bit big for my needs. Where would you suggest I get one from in Australia?

    And just in case anyone's wondering, I'm not lazy, I'm more than prepared to put effort in if I think the result will be worth it. But at the same time I don't want to make work for myself, the simplest solution is often the best. And it is sad, but I really do need to factor cost into this decision.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Click beanbay in the menu above and you'll find a brazen there

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    Actually, stuff it, I'm buying the Brazen from CS. Now I need a decent grinder. Advice? I know I need conical burr, but the mainstream options grind directly into the handle-cup thingies, and it seems the Brazen doesn't need that.

    Also, this may well be the dumbest question ever asked, but I've googled it with no joy - does the Brazen do 'crema' or do I need an espresso machine for that?

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    You don't need conical burr, but you do need burr of some description. Flat burr is just as reasonable an option. And no, you won't get crema really. That's a result of espresso process.

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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Do you still have your porlex? Should do the job

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    OK so now I'm truly confused. I want a nice cup of coffee to start my day, but I'm not anal about it being the best mug of coffee ever, good enough is good enough. I'm not disparaging anyone who is on that particular quest, more power to you if you achieve it! I just want something better than the godawful pod bullshit that's being foisted on us these days, but hopefully with at least some of the implied convenience. Is there a basic "single person morning coffee shopping list"?

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    Second hand Rancilio Rockys seem to be popping up here on CS and other sites for around $200. If that's in your budget then well worth considering. They're quite solid and reliable.

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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    I've been avoiding spamming this thread with my ad but if you want crema, you need fresh coffee, an espresso machine, a decent grinder and someone to give you some pointers. If you're in Melbourne, check out my ad in the for sale section.
    The classic isn't going to do *anything* for you, but when you get it right it makes a cracking coffee, perfect for one latte and reasonable for a "muggacino"

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Crema is about gasses and pressure, so you're essentially only going to get it from espresso. It's not the mark of a good coffee. Sometimes crema will be fairly minimal from an espresso but still taste delicious. Just because you don't get crema by one method doesn't mean it's not as good. Brazen will be better than pods, heck it'll be much better than crap espresso, I'm not sure what has confused you. It might be helpful if you described exactly what you think is your ideal cup of coffee...
    Almost everyone here would say fresh coffee, a porlex and a Brazen will make an excellent cup of coffee with relative and repeatable ease every day. But if to you a cup of coffee means espresso with crema, filled with steamed/textured milk, then until you tell us that's what you want, we'll keep giving you a range of options.
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Just looked at magnafunk's ad. Honestly, if espresso and crema are what you're after, it's the cheapest entry point to good entry level espresso you're going to find. Take a look, pick up the gear, and pay for a lesson from your local coffeesnobs sponsor so you know what you can get from it.
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    @HenrytheTurnip I think I understand why you're confused now. The Brazen isn't an automatic espresso machine, but a pourover machine. Like espresso it brings water up and through the grinds, but your grinds will be coarser, there'll be more water, and your drink will be less intense than an espresso. There's nothing more than gravitational pressure, so there won't be crema.

    I get it. You are really just keen on espresso. Contact Magnafunk, realise that espresso at under $700 will require grinding into a portafilter manually (whether hand-ground or electric-ground), tamping your espresso puck, locking it in, starting the espresso machine and watching the extraction, and manually cutting the extraction when you're satisfied. Milk happens after that. Then you'll need to clean out the portafilter thoroughly, flush out the grouphead, and clean your steam wand. Once you've done this a few times, it'll seem very straightforward.

    That's your morning coffee. I think the routine is worth it. Can be done within 5 minutes with a single boiler machine like Magnafunks. I enjoy it as my wake up ritual.

    BUT if you think that's going to be too complex, your best 'fallback' that is not espresso truly will be the Brazen. You can pre-grind the night before and get away with it. You can pre-fill it with water. You can set a timer and at your chosen time of stumbiling into the kitchen, it will have prepared a delicious carafe of coffee for you. All you gotta do then is drink it, and when you're awake enough, rinse out the coffee compartments and carafe ready for tomorrow.
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  43. #43
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    I suspect that what Henry may require is a barista at his local cafe. Someone else will do all the pushing of buttons.
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I suspect that what Henry may require is a barista at his local cafe. Someone else will do all the pushing of buttons.
    Cheeky, but the evidence points that way!

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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Cheeky, but the evidence points that way!
    Hmm, I can understand why you might think that way, but I'm certainly not lazy and I'm more than willing to put effort in if it gets results. I'm just a bit wary, in that I've put effort in before and haven't got results, so I want to be certain of what I'm going to get before I try again.

    It looks like an Espresso machine is the way to go for me, magnafunk's stuff looks good but I'm way over in Perth WA, so I need something local. I've done a fair bit more digging around on this site in the last few days, so I'm gonna start with one of the better consumer-grade grinders and a cheaper single-boiler, and hopefully in a few years my financial status will be improved enough to upgrade. But anyway, a Barista course is now definitely on the cards. Who is the CS sponsor in WA?

    Thanks everyone!
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    I've just gifted my old Breville machine to a mate or you could have had that.
    Personally, having had a Breville machine and matching smart grinder for the last 3 years for around the outlay (provided Myer have a sale on) you're talking, I was more than happy.

    I did a Barista Fundamentals course through 5 Senses in Northbridge, well worth the coin. Going back soon just to do the 3 hour milk one.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Dimattina are a snobs sponsor in Perth Coffee Wholesalers - Perth Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Hobart Australia - Dimattina

    Worth giving them a call and seeing how they can help you out.
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    Interesting, never heard of them here in Sunny Hobart, they must be in the process of setting up, there will be 10+ commercial roasters here, I wonder who is buying all that coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Dimattina are a snobs sponsor in Perth Coffee Wholesalers - Perth Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Hobart Australia - Dimattina

    Worth giving them a call and seeing how they can help you out.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fratellimacchina View Post
    Interesting, never heard of them here in Sunny Hobart, they must be in the process of setting up, there will be 10+ commercial roasters here, I wonder who is buying all that coffee
    Meh, if they're happy to put it in their title line. There's plenty enough small cafes around that they'd have client or two - even if it's contract roasted with an in house label. But not to derail a thread...
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    Hello everyone! I shelved my coffee project when I found out I was going to be made redundant, but last weekend I though "stuff it, I want good coffee" so I bought a Breville The Infuser (on special from Retravision) and a Breville Smart Grinder Pro (not on special, also from Retravision). Did all the pre-first-use stuff and followed the instructions for my first coffee with frothy milk. Was a bit not so good. This morning however, on my second attempt, knocked the ball out of the park flavour wise. I'm not used to steaming milk and it was a bit too cold, if I put a thermapen into the jug what temperature should it read for best results?

    Also, something I wish someone had told me - don't buy an espresso machine unless you enjoy cleaning things! Wipe wipe wipe. Talking of which, although I wiped the steam nozzle immediately after use, milk seems to have burned on to the tip. Is there any way of cleaning it off and stop it from happening again?

    And last but not least, apart from a knock bin and a new set of coffee mugs that actually fit under the nozzle, is there anything else anyone recommend that I would need?
    Dimal and readeral like this.



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