Nice one DIG,Originally Posted by DIG link=1183681550/0#0 date=1183681550Hi folks, I have been a member here for maybe a month now, and I am really enjoying the site, some really helpful and valuable tips and discussion, so thanks to all the members who regularly share their knowledge and experience. I am still a relative newcomer to coffee snobs, but I have been thinking about the point of this thread for a while and felt that it was worth posting.
When I bought my original plastic and metal Breville Cafe Roma maybe 6-7 years ago (based on choice magazine actually) and my little $40 dollar blade grinder, I was able to make OK to good coffees (usually lattes, which is my preferred style). My goal then was to make something that I would consider as comparable to a latte I would get in an average to good cafe. I think that was about the standard of my typical brew, nothing fantastic, but certainly better than the results that a plunger or stove top could achieve using the same coffee. My wife (who has trouble disguising her disappointment with my coffees) was positive without being over-the-moon about them. Anyway, the old cafe roma broke down earlier this year (plastic housing cracked) and I decided to get another, and was very happy to see that they had upgraded this macine to an all metal, much tougher, version for a similar price ($150-200). I bought it a few months back, and some Lavazza beans from Safeway, and I was up and running again, making my decent but not fantastic coffees. A friend (who owned and worked in a restaurant) tried one, said the coffee was good (better than the last two he had had in cafes the previous day), but that I should consider getting a proper grinder and freshly roasted beans to lift it to another level, and that I should look on the web for some coffee forums for good info. That led me to buying the sunbeam 0480 grinder, and to discover coffeesnobs.
The combination of the grinder, and the use of very fresh coffee (roasted within days of purchase), a milk thermometer, and a bit of coffeesnobs education, lifted the standard of my average coffee (latte) to another level and I was completely amazed at how good it was (and even my wife seemed genuinely impressed and started asking for them each morning). Since then, from this site I also learnt about the disadvantage of the pressurised basket, modified mine by cutting a larger whole in the bottom layer, and this has added another level of quality to my brews. I am sure that it is not just me kidding myself because I want it to be good - I have had many friends come around and they all comment on how good it is now (and some of them would not just say it to be nice!). The grinder has needed a couple of adjustments as it has worn in, but that isn’t a major problem by any means (at least not yet after 2 months of twice daily use), and all in all, I am very pleased with my setup, which far exceeds my expectations when I purchased this equipment.
So, I just wanted to post my experience. Probably like many who think about getting a home machine, I came into this hoping that I could make a nice coffee of a standard that I would expect from a decent cafe, and now, with roughly $330 worth of equipment and a bit of attention to detail, I have easily and convincingly surpassed that standard, to the point where I am hesitant to purchase coffee from most cafes because I know Ill be disappointed. I dont doubt that another $1000 or so would allow me to produce still better coffees, approaching perfection, and the equipment would probably last longer and have higher resale value, but for many, an additional $1000 or more is not that easy to find. I think there are probably many others out there, who like me, are hoping to get an affordable (low hundreds) set up that will make a brew that surpasses their plunger, stove top and even their local café brew. In my experience, my low end equipment has gone well-beyond my expectations, and I would not hesitate to recommend a similar setup to anyone who is looking to get into home coffee brewing but not prepared to spend $1000 or more. Striving for perfection with higher-level equipment is very tempting (it is in my nature and will probably happen eventually) but I am finding it hard to justify at the moment because the results I am already getting are so good.
Cheers and thanks for the ongoing help and advice.
Would you consider adding a brief review to this thread:
including what mods (if any) you needed to do to create a good brew. The machine review is lacking lower priced models which would be helpful to many.