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Thread: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

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    Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi, I am new so be gentle with me :-)
    Ive come to realise that live is too short for bad coffee. I am upgrading my cheap espresso machine and grinder. After reading lots of threads on this site, I know how important the grinder is. My budget permits something like a K3 Touch. It also seems that temperature is very important but Im not sure if I can afford a PID controlled machine. None the less, how important is it to get the exact amount (grammes) of coffee into the portafilter prior to tamping? All other factors being correctly done, does it really make that much difference? Can I just set the timer on the grinder to produce a dose that "works well" and go with that each time?
    Thanks for any advice :-)

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Hello Wally and welcome.

    One of the least expensive PID controlled espresso machines I know of if the GEE espresso. Its well under $1k.

    As for your grinder questions, perhaps the most critical aspects of espresso are grinder quality and dose- so spend as much as you possibly can on a great grinder.

    Good luck in your search ;)

    2mcm

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 6C332B3D363D3138383B3B333F305E0 link=1302646326/1#1 date=1302646617
    Hello Wally and welcome.

    One of the least expensive PID controlled espresso machines I know of if the GEE espresso. Its well under $1k.

    2mcm
    Thanks for the reply. Ive seen some discussion on this machine and it seems to work well despite people saying the external build quality is perhaps a bit rough. I dont care how it looks on the bench. I just want a really good coffee and a machine that does good steam. Most people seem to recommend the Lelit or Silvia machines in this price range but the Gee also seems to tick all the boxes and does seem a little more user friendly. Im wondering if those who have a Lelit or Silvia purchased prior to the Gee coming out would still make the same purchasing decision had they been able to buy a Gee?

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Hey Wally, if you are looking at machines in that price range Id suggest you dont do anything until the new Breville comes out next month.

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    I agree, at least wait and see what Breville has to offer (which is partly their reason for pre-releasing information to us!)

    What beans do you use? How fresh are they?

    In the mean time you will probably get a boost to your coffee by getting the grinder now. The Breville smart grinder is positioned really well - it will grind the right dose for you eliminating the guess work even if you change the particle size (if I read the specs correctly).

    In terms of the exact dose - no the exact 9gm doesnt matter. Each basket / machine combo will fill differently and its important to dose for the complete package, not just 9gm. As people here say, dont play the numbers game or youll get on the wrong track - go by the outcome rather than the exact figures.

    Its more about consistency - try and make every basket consistent, whether its 9 or 9.2 or whatever. Distribute consistently, tamp consistently, extract consistently, and when it doesnt work out, only change one thing at a time. Youll get to the perfect shot a lot quicker!

    Quote Originally Posted by 2A222D212C2C372B430 link=1302646326/0#0 date=1302646325
    Can I just set the timer on the grinder to produce a dose that "works well" and go with that each time?
    unfortunately no! The beans will change with age grinding better in the "one week post roast" than they do in the "three week post roast" age.

    HTH!

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 4947574648514157240 link=1302646326/3#3 date=1302648848
    Hey Wally, if you are looking at machines in that price range Id suggest you dont do anything until the new Breville comes out next month.
    Thanks for the tip. I just found a long thread here about the new machine. Wow. Maybe I missed it but I didnt see anything about pricing?

    What am I to do for over a month without a machine while I wait for reviews etc to see if it really is as good as it seem? >:(

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    The most important thing in making espresso is YOU!

    Read, Learn, Get some training and over time youll get experience. :)

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 7B737C707D7D667A120 link=1302646326/5#5 date=1302654302
    Quote Originally Posted by 4947574648514157240 link=1302646326/3#3 date=1302648848
    Hey Wally, if you are looking at machines in that price range Id suggest you dont do anything until the new Breville comes out next month.
    Thanks for the tip. I just found a long thread here about the new machine. Wow. Maybe I missed it but I didnt see anything about pricing?

    What am I to do for over a month without a machine while I wait for reviews etc to see if it really is as good as it seem?* >:(
    Pricing is definitely in this price range (500 - 1500) At a guess Id say they will want to come in under 1000 but probably only just.

    What to do for a month? Well you can get the grinder - have a look at the Breville BCG800 at the same time you play with a K3T - quite a few sponsors have both, so you can assess whether spending the extra is worth it.

    After that one of the manual brewing methods might see you over?

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Hi Wally,

    Im a GEE owner and quite happy with it (somewhere there is my review of the machine). Ive only had for about a month, so I cant say anything about longevity, etc. But I can say that one of the things I like is that by having the PID and built-in timer for the shots it pretty much eliminates two variables and thus leaves me two concentrate on the grind and the tamp for each shot. Which is plenty for this newbie :) I also bought it despite my early misgivings about looks and origin because I got lucky with a marked down demo model, and right now they can be had quite cheaply at the bay of evil. If I was buying* now, I would be tempted to wait for the Breville, but I dont think I would get it for anywhere near the price of the marked down GEE, so Im quite happy with what I got for the money I spent.

    EDIT: I forgot - the other thing I really like is that because a thermoblock powers the steam, I wont accidentally kill the boiler. This is what really pushed me to the GEE over the Lelit I had my eyes on.

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D252D2A2026440 link=1302646326/4#4 date=1302653360
    What beans do you use? How fresh are they?

    In the mean time you will probably get a boost to your coffee by getting the grinder now. The Breville smart grinder is positioned really well - it will grind the right dose for you eliminating the guess work even if you change the particle size (if I read the specs correctly).
    I buy Merlo beans. 400g at a time in one of their tins with the one way value in the lid. They last me a couple of weeks. I currently have a KG100 grinder and only put in enough beans at a time for the shots I am making. I know my grinder is not good enough. Hence I am looking at getting a K3 Touch to go with the new machine. Seems to be ok based on what people here have to say. I know the Breville BCG800 is good but I dont mind paying a bit more for better quality. Fair comment? I havent fully read up on the K3 yet but I assume it can accurately measure out the dose? Or is the Breville better in this regard?

    I have a lot to learn. Ive never used a proper tamper before etc :-)

    If I get the grinder now, I still need something to brew the coffee with until the 900 comes out since by current machines group head seal broke and its not worth repairing. >:(

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 636D7D6C627B6B7D0E0 link=1302646326/7#7 date=1302655854
    What to do for a month? Well you can get the grinder - have a look at the Breville BCG800 at the same time you play with a K3T - quite a few sponsors have both, so you can assess whether spending the extra is worth it.

    After that one of the manual brewing methods might see you over?
    Sadly Im in Brisbane and many of the good sponsors are down south.

    I think my wife has a plunger at work we could use. But even my old cheap Aldi machine which lasted for 2 years before breaking a few days ago does better. Might have to drive to the local coffee shop for a few weeks.

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    What about getting a pre loved HX machine
    Barazi has a few trade in machines from time to time when customers upgrade

    I will come and train you if you dont live to far from me

    KK

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 68736F7F7D78796E7D1C0 link=1302646326/8#8 date=1302656159
    Hi Wally,

    Im a GEE owner and quite happy with it (somewhere there is my review of the machine). Ive only had for about a month, so I cant say anything about longevity, etc. But I can say that one of the things I like is that by having the PID and built-in timer for the shots it pretty much eliminates two variables and thus leaves me two concentrate on the grind and the tamp for each shot. Which is plenty for this newbie :) I also bought it despite my early misgivings about looks and origin because I got lucky with a marked down demo model, and right now they can be had quite cheaply at the bay of evil. If I was buying* now, I would be tempted to wait for the Breville, but I dont think I would get it for anywhere near the price of the marked down GEE, so Im quite happy with what I got for the money I spent.
    Thanks for the info. If the Breville were not just around the corner the GEE sounds good. Id rather buy from a sponsor who give advise and service so given the Breville will be a comparable price, I may have to force myself to wait. It really does sound like the Breville ticks all the boxes but I fear that if something sounds too good to be true, theres always a catch :-?

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 00242D2D2E2E1400243826244B0 link=1302646326/11#11 date=1302657224
    What about getting a pre loved HX machine
    Barazi has a few trade in machines from time to time when customers upgrade

    I will come and train you if you dont live to far from me

    KK
    Hey, thanks for the tip and the offer. Another requirement I have is that my wife is not quite into all this coffee stuff as much as I seem to be getting myself and so I also need a machine that is easy to use for her but offers a bit more for me to learn how to use. Those higher end machines look a little too complicated for her. Plus, I dont think I would like the uncertainty of waiting till a suitable machine became available.


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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 343C333F323229355D0 link=1302646326/13#13 date=1302658908
    Hey, thanks for the tip and the offer. Another requirement I have is that my wife is not quite into all this coffee stuff as much as I seem to be getting myself and so I also need a machine that is easy to use for her but offers a bit more for me to learn how to use. Those higher end machines look a little too complicated for her. Plus, I dont think I would like the uncertainty of waiting till a suitable machine became available.
    A HX (heat exchanger) machine is simple to use
    Get one thats volumetric or semi auto (button key pad) and she can use it easily
    You of course you can use it manually

    KK

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    If it is only the group seal that has broken--these are easy and cheap to replace. It is a fairly quick DIY job. See this list of sponsors for those who supply parts (I can recommend Coffee Parts). In general a group seal is about $5!

    A seal and a good grinder will easily keep you going until you decide on a new machine.

    Greg

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 05302725152D302F232E26420 link=1302646326/15#15 date=1302660731
    If it is only the group seal that has broken--these are easy and cheap to replace. It is a fairly quick DIY job. See this list of sponsors for those who supply parts (I can recommend Coffee Parts). In general a group seal is about $5!

    A seal and a good grinder will easily keep you going until you decide on a new machine.

    Greg
    Its an Aldi Lumina Signature (paid $179 2 years ago so an el-cheapo machine) and the group head looks like it is part of the casing. Well, I couldnt see how to get it all apart anyway. Im not even sure there are spares available. Ill have to take a closer look at what some of the sponser have available. Im not very mechanically minded though* :-[

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 5C7871717272485C78647A78170 link=1302646326/14#14 date=1302659401
    A HX (heat exchanger) machine is simple to use
    Get one thats volumetric or semi auto (button key pad) and she can use it easily
    You of course you can use it manually

    KK
    Fair point. I had been ruling out such a class of machine based on price (my budget only extends to say $800 for a machine). But Ill do some more reading/education and see whats out there. Thanks.

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 434B444845455E422A0 link=1302646326/17#17 date=1302665660
    Fair point. I had been ruling out such a class of machine based on price (my budget only extends to say $800 for a machine). But Ill do some more reading/education and see whats out there. Thanks
    There is a San Marino on the coffee hardware for sale at the moment, slightly out of your budget, but may be worth checking out.
    Not volumetric though, so not sure if your other half could use it.


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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Hi,

    the best thing is youre open to suggestions and youre looking into what people say. As youve probably realized, coffee and espresso machines are very personal, hence the plethora of different ideas! Ill just add some more of mine:

    Quote Originally Posted by 565E515D50504B573F0 link=1302646326/9#9 date=1302656312
    I buy Merlo beans. 400g at a time in one of their tins with the one way value in the lid.
    I cant comment on these - never tried them. How many days after roasting do you start using them? I would recommend trying one of the roasters on this site, Mr Beanbay himself does a pretty good job. Ive also tried Pioneer Roasters and Supreme Roasters. All good and all post around Australia. A 500g bag is a fairly cheap way of comparing your current beans.

    Quote Originally Posted by 565E515D50504B573F0 link=1302646326/9#9 date=1302656312
    I havent fully read up on the K3 yet but I assume it can accurately measure out the dose? Or is the Breville better in this regard?
    correct me if Im wrong but I dont think it does. I think it just grinds. while youre holding your pf against a button. The Breville really takes out some of the guess work.

    If I get the grinder now, I still need something to brew the coffee with until the 900 comes out since by current machines group head seal broke and its not worth repairing. Angry
    Ah, I didnt catch that from your first post. however:

    Quote Originally Posted by 565E515D50504B573F0 link=1302646326/10#10 date=1302656579
    I think my wife has a plunger at work we could use. But even my old cheap Aldi machine which lasted for 2 years before breaking a few days ago does better.
    There are too many variables here - beans, age, temp, grind, etc. I can and have made many bad coffees out of commercial machines. Ive also made fantastic coffee out of a plunger. It definitely is different to espresso, but still good in my books. That was with fresh beans from a local WA roaster tho.

    Quote Originally Posted by 565E515D50504B573F0 link=1302646326/13#13 date=1302658908
    Another requirement I have is that my wife is not quite into all this coffee stuff as much as I seem to be getting myself and so I also need a machine that is easy to use for her but offers a bit more for me to learn how to use. Those higher end machines look a little too complicated for her.
    More reason for the Breville grinder. Maybe even a click mat. People also have success with scales. Sometimes the simplest method is often the best, and one of my teachers simply scraped the basket with the hopper lid to make an even amount each time. Im sure she will get to making a decent coffee fairly quickly, if you set up the rest of the equipment.

    Might have to drive to the local coffee shop for a few weeks.
    Plus, I dont think I would like the uncertainty of waiting till a suitable machine became available.
    seriously, the machine you pick now will be with you for at least 2 years, maybe 5, maybe more. Dont rush for the sake of a month! (I did and I regretted it later)

    Hope that helps, take my advice with a pinch of salt! and... welcome to the journey!

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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 3C343C3B3137550 link=1302646326/19#19 date=1302701784
    I cant comment on these - never tried them. How many days after roasting do you start using them? I would recommend trying one of the roasters on this site, Mr Beanbay himself does a pretty good job. Ive also tried Pioneer Roasters and Supreme Roasters. All good and all post around Australia. A 500g bag is a fairly cheap way of comparing your current beans.
    Merlo roasts the beans on the same day they sell them. I use them within a couple of weeks. Thats good enough for me at the moment. I may try roasting my own later. One thing at a time :)

    Quote Originally Posted by 3C343C3B3137550 link=1302646326/19#19 date=1302701784
    Wally wrote Yesterday at 10:58am:
    I havent fully read up on the K3 yet but I assume it can accurately measure out the dose? Or is the Breville better in this regard?

    correct me if Im wrong but I dont think it does. I think it just grinds. while youre holding your pf against a button. The Breville really takes out some of the guess work.
    Hmmm. Ill do some more looking around then. It would be nice to get a good grinder with an accurate dose timer or whatever the correct terminology is.



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    Re: Newbie question - most important factor in making good espresso

    Quote Originally Posted by 424A454944445F432B0 link=1302646326/20#20 date=1302742983
    Merlo roasts the beans on the same day they sell them. I use them within a couple of weeks. Thats good enough for me at the moment. I may try roasting my own later. One thing at a time Smiley
    cool. TBH I said Id get into roasting ... 2 years later and I havent warmed a single bean! Im happy buying from the experts.



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