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Thread: Too many choices, please help!

  1. #1
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    Too many choices, please help!

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    I am going to buy a coffee machine as a present but i have little knowledge about coffee machine machanism. There are lots of information i have to read through in here before i can make a quick decision so i hope you could give me suggestions.

    I am looking at:
    - under $700 or preferably under $600
    - must have a decent steam wand frothing good milk
    - not a heavy coffee drinker, about 1-3 coffees daily
    - personally dont have very good impression in Sunbeam so please try not recommending Sunbeam

    Was having Breville BES860 in mind because the grinder is integrated and with david jones having discount. However it seems to me making my own combo might be better. I have also read good reviews with Saeco Via Venezia or some other Brevilles machine (e.g. Ikon, BES 820, 800ES, etc) *

    I am very bad at decision making so please assist!

    P.S. I understand a lot of people would do modifications to the machine (eg the handle/group head/portafilter). It would be great if i could get some suggested modification ideas from here too so I am aware of the possible issues of the machine.

    Thank you muchly!

  2. #2
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Welcome Waterdroplet

    What about the person you are going to buy the present for? What is their coffee knowledge?

    You could try the Breville but I dont necessarily agree that these are any better than Sunbeam.

    For your budget, I would seriously consider a Sorrentina Atomic. At $450 there would be enough change from $700 to get a grinder.

    I own one of these and recently had to use it for a week while my usual machine was off for servicing (not repairs). Like any coffee maker, it takes some getting used to but after two or three days I was making coffee that tasted about as good as Ive ever had. Steam power is excellent and makes good textured milk. I think it is ideal for 1 - 3 coffees a day. They are small and can be stowed after use - and dont need a power outlet.

    The Atomics usually get overlooked when discussing entry level equipment . There is a version of the Atomic made by OTTO out now but these are over your budget.

  3. #3
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Couple of things to really consider that are really important Saeco, Sunbeam, Breville, Delonghi Aldi etc are APPLIANCE manufacturers and resellers, they are not espresso manufacturers in particular.

    There is an expression when you call someone a SHOWBAG that applies to most of these bright and shiny and full of promise on the outside and fill of s@#$ on the inside.

    If you go over some of the threads here you will find lots of problems happening with these basic machines after not a lot of use and they can be prohibitive to service if you can even get the part.

    At your budget you are under the Silvia/Rocky combo which is a little over the $1k mark but there is an alternate combo machine which is simple fairly bomb proof and sits under the $800 mark for a machine grinder combo. Known as the Nemox Del Opera or Lelit Combi and several other names, runs a brass boiler and a decent burr grinder in a nice neat package.

    Not the only choice in the range but a good simple tough one.

  4. #4
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Re beanflying:
    I am afraid the Silvia is a bit over the entry level because i heard it is quite tricky to work out a nice shot from the machine and might not be the best choice if you are those who die for a quick cup of coffee in the morning. And it requires very careful cleaning and maintenance?!
    Is it true?

    Re flynn_aus:
    The Sorrentina Atomic looks very different! Does it work the same as the normal coffee machine?
    Is the steam wand adjustable at different directions (up and down, left and right)?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 3C2A3F2E392F39243B272E3F4B0 link=1272722502/3#3 date=1272786411
    The Sorrentina Atomic looks very different! Does it work the same as the normal coffee machine?
    This particular machine is a stove top

    Atomic machines in the past had electric element bases

    Quote Originally Posted by 3C2A3F2E392F39243B272E3F4B0 link=1272722502/3#3 date=1272786411
    Is the steam wand adjustable at different directions (up and down, left and right)? *
    I believe the steam arm is fixed (but I could be wrong)

    These machines will last many decades and could be considered as investments

    This is how it works
    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZNHib_-uO8[/media]
    KK

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 485E4B5A4D5B4D504F535A4B3F0 link=1272722502/3#3 date=1272786411
    if you are those who die for a quick cup of coffee in the morning. And it requires very careful cleaning and maintenance?!
    Is it true?
    All coffee machines require maintenence and cleaning ;) True the Silvia and even the Mokita will take around 30 minutes to come up to temp properly but just work it into the morning routine. If you want speedy heatup then normally the thermoblock appliance types will heat up faster but then that comes with the other issues of reliability and quality or lack thereof.

    For a quick cuppa my Pavoni is about as quick to heat up as any boiler machine (around 12-15 minutes) but then levers are not for everyone 8-)

  7. #7
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 726471607761776A75696071050 link=1272722502/3#3 date=1272786411
    Is the steam wand adjustable at different directions (up and down, left and right)? *
    As KK says, it is fixed.

    It doesnt quite work the same as other coffee machines but similar in principle: water is forced under pressure through ground coffee.

    Coffee machines use some form of pump to force the water through the coffee and the water is heated in a boiler or thermoblock. The Atomics use heated water to generate the pressure.

    My usual machine retails for the best part of $3000. The $450 La
    Sorrentina Atomic prepared coffee that was almost as good taste-wise but you have to learn how to use it, adjusting water quantity, grind and tamping pressure.

    Thats why I asked about the person who would receive your gift. Many manual or semi-automatic coffee machines take patience to get the best out of them, some couldnt be bothered and will happily commit to a life of instant coffee. Those who want single push-button ease of preparation, would go for a super automatic but then you are looking at $2000 or more for a decent one.

    Most of the users on CoffeeSnobs enjoy the ritual in making good coffee as well as getting the best result in the cup via fresh coffee, a good coffee and a capable machine or other type of coffee maker.

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Thank you all for the information so far.

    Hm.. The person whos receiving this is my colleague. We work in hospitality. Basically she makes coffee everyday at work. However as far as I know they are using automatic grind and brew. Only milk frothing is done manuelly.

    She likes coffee (drinking and making) very much. She once told me she wanted to take a course in coffee school so I assume shes a beginner but quite passionate in coffeemaking.

    La Sorrentina looks special as a gift but the wand is fixed and its stove top. I think I would get her one that looks more "commercial"-like and requires power outlet instead.

    Any other suggestions that would fall under my budget range? I dont want to end up buying her a pod machine :-[

  9. #9
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 7D6B7E6F786E78657A666F7E0A0 link=1272722502/7#7 date=1272805331
    I dont want to end up buying her a pod machine
    Then dont.
    You seem to have ruled out a few others; add pod machine to that list.


  10. #10
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Gift her the money so she can buy what she wants and is not locked into buying a appliance from a department store. Direct her to this site for advice and let her decide.

  11. #11
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 687E6B7A6D7B6D706F737A6B1F0 link=1272722502/0#0 date=1272722501
    Hi all,

    I am going to buy a coffee machine as a present but i have little knowledge about coffee machine machanism. There are lots of information i have to read through in here before i can make a quick decision so i hope you could give me suggestions.

    I am looking at:
    - under $700 or preferably under $600
    - must have a decent steam wand frothing good milk
    - not a heavy coffee drinker, about 1-3 coffees daily
    - personally dont have very good impression in Sunbeam so please try not recommending Sunbeam

    Was having Breville BES860 in mind because the grinder is integrated and with david jones having discount. However it seems to me making my own combo might be better. I have also read good reviews with Saeco Via Venezia or some other Brevilles machine (e.g. Ikon, BES 820, 800ES, etc) *

    I am very bad at decision making so please assist!

    P.S. I understand a lot of people would do modifications to the machine (eg the handle/group head/portafilter). It would be great if i could get some suggested modification ideas from here too so I am aware of the possible issues of the machine.

    Thank you muchly!
    Ill be as straightforward as I can.

    THere are two broad categories of coffee machines:
    X) Those designed to work with stale beans or preground coffee bought from the supermarket.
    Y) Those that require fresh coffee (under 3weeks post roast) ground on demand minutes before extraction.


    1) Does your friend buy pre-ground coffee? If yes, see Option A.

    2) Is your friend willing to grind her own coffee? If yes, and she buys her coffee from the supermarket (read: stale, over 3 weeks old post roast), see Option B.

    3) Is your friend willing to find fresh beans. NOT SUPERMARKET BEANS! (sourced online or from local roasters), and grind on demand? If yes, see option C.



    Option A: Any espresso machine from Kmart will do. They cost well under $300. They are shiny. They make a good present and she will be content.

    Option B: Option A + a simple burr grinder. They cost under $150. So together with a Kmart machine you will be paying less than $500.


    Option C: Get a Kmart machine, find an "unpressurized filter basket" (google it) that fits the machine, and then get a simple burr grinder. It will cost less than $500. FRESH COFFEE PWNS ALL!


    Only option C will make what coffeesnobs will qualify as "espresso" for under $500.

    :)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 041B13000D080C0C610 link=1272722502/10#10 date=1273080278
    Ill be as straightforward as I can.

    THere are two broad categories of coffee machines:
    X) Those designed to work with stale beans or preground coffee bought from the supermarket.
    Y) Those that require fresh coffee (under 3weeks post roast)
    Ill also be straightforward.

    Ezra, this is totally incorrect.

    Waterdroplet, Id be going with the other advice offered so far.

  13. #13
    Senior Member GregJW's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 70515A5A5D47340 link=1272722502/11#11 date=1273102598
    Quote Originally Posted by 041B13000D080C0C610 link=1272722502/10#10 date=1273080278
    Ill be as straightforward as I can.

    THere are two broad categories of coffee machines:
    X) Those designed to work with stale beans or preground coffee bought from the supermarket.
    Y) Those that require fresh coffee (under 3weeks post roast)
    Ill also be straightforward.

    Ezra, this is totally incorrect.

    Waterdroplet, Id be going with the other advice offered so far.
    ;D ;D ;D

    Youre the man, Den. (And ditto on what Den said, Waterdroplet.)

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    I might also add that while Im not anything more than a noob myself, the Sunbeam is and has been an adequate machine for me so far. *If you havent read this article over at Pullman it does, quite accurately, indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the EM6910.

    My EM6910 turns on within 2 mins (was 1min 46 secs this morning) at which point I start frothing milk while it heats up some more. *So its quick, easy, comparable with a Silvia from most of the reviews Ive seen and it can pair well with mid-range grinders and not feel out of place.

    Not to drag on too much, but I would urge you to reconsider the Sunbeam. *I have never had to return it for repairs though it does leak water under the drip tray, but its only a nuisance in my opinion.

    If I had the choice again I would not hesitate to get either the EM6910 or the Silvia as a basic machine. *I must say the noisiness hasnt really bothered me much at all - but that wouldnt be the same for everyone.

    Its only recently that I have been keen to move up in the world and actually make decent coffee rather than stale much-better-than-instant stuff. :)

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Next Upgrade: Compak K10WBC | Looking at: Expobar Minore III or La Marzocco GS/3

    Lofty upgraditis ambitions and welcome ;D

    Based on the problems that crop up here the Sunbeams are not only harder due to the increased internal complexity to fix but they need it more often than the Silvia/Nemox types. Personally the Sunbeam is still by far and away the best of the appliance type bunch but not my recommendation of choice.

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Thankyou :)

    Definitely, I dont doubt that Sunbeams can be difficult. Im glad that so far mine hasnt given me any issues.

    I figure Im using my machine often enough to easily justify upgrading and Ive put up with stale coffee for long enough to warrant some hefty upgrades. *That and I would rather not mess around and go straight to where I would want to be rather than periodically looking to upgrade. *I usually make about 10-15 coffees per week myself, every few weeks doing an extra 10 or so for people at work since I have it setup there - so I dont usually use it on the weekend at the moment.

    Im more gawking and admiring the GS3 than considering it seriously at them moment since the price difference vs improvement is debatable - the Exobar looks more than adequate. *Its the machine that Ive become more partial to but I definitely would consider suggestions.

    No grinder with a fake bottomed basket doesnt go very far towards helping improve technique either *:P

    As for the grinder, I should have it in a week or two hopefully *:D

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 527378787F65160 link=1272722502/11#11 date=1273102598
    Quote Originally Posted by 041B13000D080C0C610 link=1272722502/10#10 date=1273080278
    Ill be as straightforward as I can.

    THere are two broad categories of coffee machines:
    X) Those designed to work with stale beans or preground coffee bought from the supermarket.
    Y) Those that require fresh coffee (under 3weeks post roast)
    Ill also be straightforward.

    Ezra, this is totally incorrect.

    Waterdroplet, Id be going with the other advice offered so far.
    It is difficult, almost impossible make espresso using a pressurized filter basket. While with a standard basket, you really need fresh beans or else your life is going to be made a whole lot more difficult than necessary. Fresh beans expand when infused, which means pressurized baskets will get clogged in no time, trust me.

    Ive wasted alot of time:

    1) Using an EM4800 with pressurized basket trying to make drinkable espresso. Trying to clean pressurized baskets is no joke.
    2) Using supermarket beans with an unpressurized basket.


    In the end, you will need:
    1) An unpressurized basket
    2) Fresh beans, freshly grounded.
    ...To make espresso.


    If this guys friend is buying beans from the supermarket. Or even pre-ground, there is no point in investing in a machine that comes with an unpressurized basket...or even modding a Kmart machine with some online unpressurized baskets.


    Most machines you see in Kmart really are designed for supermarket preground coffee.
    Their pressurized baskets simply wont work well with fresh beans as they expand when infused and can clog the basket quite easily.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Ezra, while a coffee machine or coffee appliance may use a pressurised basket this does not make the machine or appliance per se designed to work with stale beans. The basket is designed to do that.

    Secondly, the idea that beans need to be less than 3 weeks post roast in order to be considered "fresh" is utterly ridiculous.

    Last but not least, the term is ground, not grounded.

  19. #19
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Keep in mind this guys budget is <$600.

    (highlighted above) Hence Option C: Kmart Machine + Unpressurized basket + grinder.

    Shortly after realizing supermarket beans were a waste of time, I used to buy my beans from an Italian deli on clayton road. Its one of those places where the barista actually drinks the espresso he makes and relies on repeat customers each morning. Not a fancy place by any standard.

    They had reasonably fresh beans, and I was buying them loose about 200g at a time. Its quite a hassle as by the time I purchased them, they were about 2 weeks after the shop received the beans in bulk from the supplier.

    You see, if you buy beans 3 weeks post roast, you really dont have much time to actually use the beans. They pretty much need to be consumed within the week and most people would be put off having to buy beans every few days.

    If you get beans a week post roast on the other hand, you get to appreciate how the flavours mature and you have a realistic drinking window of 2 weeks +


    Oh and sori for the bad england. Terrible next time i make no bad understanding. Forgive ok. ;)

  20. #20
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 534C44575A5F5B5B360 link=1272722502/16#16 date=1273128586
    It is difficult, almost impossible make espresso using a pressurized filter basket.
    I accidentally used the pressurised basket with the 6910 at work when making an espresso for the boss.
    I was using fresh beans ground then and there and he said it was the best one Id made him yet.
    :o

  21. #21
    A_M
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 427E6378727364717972160 link=1272722502/19#19 date=1273145607
    Quote Originally Posted by 534C44575A5F5B5B360 link=1272722502/16#16 date=1273128586
    It is difficult, almost impossible make espresso using a pressurized filter basket. *
    I accidentally used the pressurised basket with the 6910 at work when making an espresso for the boss.
    I was using fresh beans ground then and there and he said it was the best one Id made him yet.
    :o
    Fresh beans and the right grind and tamp, will give a reasonably shot even with pressurised baskets...

    The issue is; a fine grind and and or heavy tamp and you will choke it...

    A great artisan can do wonders with the most simple tools... The issue is that most of us are not artisans.


    PS. I have used a Sunbeam pressurised basket on a commercial machine and guess what... With good beans ya can get an interesting shot... In fact quite a good shot..

    Would I do it all the time... NO.. Pain to clean when the basket starts to get clogged.. But works well when ya only have access to a cheep grinder.. Try it :)

  22. #22
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    AngerManagement, that described my experiences exactly. After getting a Sunbeam EM4800, and a grinder, I tried to use fresh beans from the local deli. They worked, for about a dozen shots, until the pressuriZed baskets kept on clogging for no other reason. The smaller gaskets on the machine also guaranteed blowouts every now and then, and it seemed to be random chance of the basket getting clogged. I flush after every cycle, and soak my baskets overnight, but it still happened.

    Exactly what this guy is describing:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1128380756


    Fresh beans + Pressurized baskets = disaster eventually. I dont know why they clog so much more frequently with fresh beans. Im guessing it has something to do with the way the beans expand when infused.

    Currently i get 5mm clearance when tamping. (If i do the penny test, it does not even make a mark on the grounds, so yeah there is some clearance before the showerhead). After a shot, the clearance is reduced and i can see an imprint of the showerscreen on my puck. The fresh beans expand unlike stale beans, and that may be one of the reasons why they are not suitable for pressurized baskets on the long run.

    Also, Ive measured my standard double dose with a synesso basket to be 15g. A similar dosing technique with stale beans results in about 20g of grounds after leveling. Stale grounds still dont expand properly and generate proper resistance, and youll be walking the fine line between choking the machine and getting an acceptable shot.

  23. #23
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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Sorry to the OP but this topic has got a long way OT ::)

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    Re: Too many choices, please help!

    Hi
    Just getting back on track

    If this friend likes coffee and makes (automatic) coffee for others. I would definitely not spend a lot of money on buying him/her an espresso machine.
    Somethings are very personal and either fit the person or not. There is a huge unknown here.

    To be totally safe why not a Breville Cafe Roma (circ $180). *Very inexpensive makes drinkable coffee (Choices comparative standard) *It it is manual so will be a learning experience from the auto machine.
    dumiya.

    Or better - go shopping with them and have some fun looking around

    dumiya




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