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Thread: My first Prosumer Coffee Machine - What to buy?

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    My first Prosumer Coffee Machine - What to buy?

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

    Bit of a newbie so apologies if this has been asked before or i am opening up a world war in debate but i am looking to get my first prosumer espresso machine so looking for some guidance and feedback on what coffee machine I should choose - advantages vs. he pitfalls of each. Looking to spend less that $1000. Also need to be reliable and last for a good few years.

    I am considering the Rancilio Silver v4 or Letit PL041LEM but open to other machines.
    Why the Letit? - I went to Jetblack espresso website and they suggested a good alternative to the Silver is the Letit PL041LEM. Only issue is that I havent heard of them and I cannot find too much info on them.

    There is a mountain of info out there between the Gaggia vs. Rancilio but i cannot find much on the Letit.

    I have read about the temperature surfing that you need to do with the Silver and i reckon i can work around this and learn the technique, however i am concerned that my wife who also will be using the machine daily will find this too hard to work out and not want to use this new coffee machine.

    Would love to get some expert advice on what to choose based on real experience and use.

    Thanks
    Madaxle

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    Welcome madaxle,

    I think you will find that there is a fair body of information on the Silvia and Lelit if you search on the correct terms.

    To be honest, I am reluctant to recommend single boiler machines for beginners, multiple users or when any sort of volumes (dinner parties etc) are required. Many sponsors have buyers guides. Here's a link to ours to get you started: Buying Guide- Espresso machines | Talk Coffee

    Happy shopping...

    Chris

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    Hi Madaxle,

    Another vitally importantly part to add into you looking and budget it a good grinder. This makes ALL the difference!

    Also need to ask yourself...
    - will you wife use it (mine just gets me to make them now)
    - how many coffees will you make at a time
    - milk based coffees or short/long black
    - how often will you honestly need to make 4 or more coffees.

    If it will just be you mostly using it, and mostly 2-4 coffees and you budget is max $1000 the IMHO I'd go the Silvia. Great machine need to learn a few intricacies of it (temp surfing and filling boiler) but looked after will last a long time. Around those $$ should get u a Silvia and Rocky combo or a Silvia & Compak k3.

    Visit some sponsors and read the info Chris noted above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmmcoffee View Post
    Hi Madaxle,

    Another vitally importantly part to add into you looking and budget it a good grinder. This makes ALL the difference!
    Yes completely agree on a good grinder, looking to also buy a grinder in the $300-$400 mark. There are a few around both new and second hand i am looking at.



    Quote Originally Posted by mmmcoffee View Post

    Also need to ask yourself...
    - will you wife use it (mine just gets me to make them now)
    - how many coffees will you make at a time
    - milk based coffees or short/long black
    - how often will you honestly need to make 4 or more coffees.

    If it will just be you mostly using it, and mostly 2-4 coffees and you budget is max $1000 the IMHO I'd go the Silvia. Great machine need to learn a few intricacies of it (temp surfing and filling boiler) but looked after will last a long time. Around those $$ should get u a Silvia and Rocky combo or a Silvia & Compak k3.

    Visit some sponsors and read the info Chris noted above.
    - will you wife use it (mine just gets me to make them now)
    My wife works from home and I work in an office. I expect that I will make a 1-2 coffees a day for myself (morning and night) and my wife will want to make 1-2 coffee's during the day while she is working from home

    - how many coffees will you make at a time
    Most likely 1 at a time. Maybe on the weekend we may make 2 in a single instance.

    - milk based coffees or short/long black
    Personally I switch between espresso, macchiato, latte and cappuccino's all the time. Most likely milk based.
    My wife doesn't like strong coffee's so will tend to have long blacks and from time to time have a cappuccino.

    - how often will you honestly need to make 4 or more coffees.
    I rarely have people over for dinner but am willing to accept that if I have large groups I really need a double boiler system.


    I feel comfortable making a coffee but maybe I should bite the bullet with my wife and go to one of the sponsors training courses once i have chosen a machine to get both my wife and myself use to some quirks of the single boiler machine. The last thing i want to do is buy the machine and its all too hard for my wife and she does't use it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Welcome madaxle,

    I think you will find that there is a fair body of information on the Silvia and Lelit if you search on the correct terms.

    To be honest, I am reluctant to recommend single boiler machines for beginners, multiple users or when any sort of volumes (dinner parties etc) are required. Many sponsors have buyers guides. Here's a link to ours to get you started: Buying Guide- Espresso machines | Talk Coffee

    Happy shopping...

    Chris
    Thanks Chris. Very informative buying guide.

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    I'm biased but I do like the Silvias and by the sounds of it could work real well for u. Biggest thing that's a little tricky (but not really just need to learn it and it's not hard) is to temperature surf- YouTube it and it shows you how to do it to see how you both feel before you buy anything.
    Silvia ticks all ur boxes and will last a long time. But that's my opinion but I understand where Chris from Talk Coffee is coming from.
    They are a great unit and make great coffee.

    With your $$ for a grinder check out a Compak K3 push or touch for $$ nothing is near them.

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    I am also biased. I lean towards the Breville Dual boilers. While the silvia is cheaper, it is much more basic. I don't doubt that in the right hands it can make great coffee.

    The basic un-PID’d Silvia requires skill to have temperature control by surfing and it requires regular manual filling to maintain boiler water level to prevent heater element burnout.

    The Breville is far more user friendly as the temperatures and water levels are automatic.


    Barry

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    Personally I see the Breville's as disposable appliances. Love my Silvia. Even more now I threw a PID on it. Extra money is best spent on the grinder, a decent double basket and then maybe a PID.

    Also believe there is a definite benefit in learning how to work with temperature and pressure rather than having it all automated. Ends up with you being able to better produce a superior coffee and understanding whats going on.
    Yelta and Andy196 like this.

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    Good insights too Barry. Haven't used the Breville dual boilers but heard some good things! Check them out and see the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    Good luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by mentasm View Post
    Personally I see the Breville's as disposable appliances. Love my Silvia. Even more now I threw a PID on it. Extra money is best spent on the grinder, a decent double basket and then maybe a PID.

    Also believe there is a definite benefit in learning how to work with temperature and pressure rather than having it all automated. Ends up with you being able to better produce a superior coffee and understanding whats going on.
    My feelings exactly Mentasm, though I might add the Silvia is getting pretty long in the tooth now, its been around with very few changes since about 2000.

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    long in the tooth = well sorted

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    Quote Originally Posted by mentasm View Post
    long in the tooth = well sorted
    It's certainly a machine that's stood the test of time, second hand Silvia's seem to hold their price very well.

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    I have had coffee machines that had to be temperature surfed so I know what is involved.

    With my three year old Breville, being semi-automatic, not having to worry about things like temperature, water level etc. I can concentrate on the beans, grind, dose and tamp, to aim towards that elusive god shot.

    While it may not be totally parallel, the Toyota I now own is the first automatic I have had. I don’t think that being able to drive a manual car makes you a safer driver when in an automatic. I learned to drive in an old car with worn out synchromesh, so I had to learn how to double shuffle when going down through the gears. How many drivers now would know how to do that? With the modern car they don't need to.

    With a modern coffee machine you don't need to temperature surf.

    Barry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    It's certainly a machine that's stood the test of time, second hand Silvia's seem to hold their price very well.
    So much so that the advantage of buying second hand over new is somewhat negated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Duncan View Post
    While it may not be totally parallel, the Toyota I now own is the first automatic I have had. I donít think that being able to drive a manual car makes you a safer driver when in an automatic. I learned to drive in an old car with worn out synchromesh, so I had to learn how to double shuffle when going down through the gears. How many drivers now would know how to do that? With the modern car they don't need to.
    Barry
    Guess you mean double declutch Barry Driving tips for the track: Double declutching have not heard it referred to as double shuffle before, I see the simile your trying to draw, though not sure it's as cut and dried as that.

    Yes, I do know how to double declutch, and, I suspect learning the skill very early in my driving life improved my empathy for things mechanical, knowing how to operate a machine like the Silvia most certainly won't get in the way of operating any other machine, and, may even help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Duncan View Post
    I am also biased. I lean towards the Breville Dual boilers. While the silvia is cheaper, it is much more basic. I don't doubt that in the right hands it can make great coffee.

    The basic un-PID’d Silvia requires skill to have temperature control by surfing and it requires regular manual filling to maintain boiler water level to prevent heater element burnout.

    The Breville is far more user friendly as the temperatures and water levels are automatic.

    Barry
    Thanks Barry. Thats really good advice around temp surfing and while the dual boiler Breville is tempting, however i really like the look and feel of the italian machines. I tend to agree that the Breville looks to be more a short term investment where a Lelit or Silvia would last me a decade with some TLC.

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    All great advise so far...not i am thinking should i buy new or second hand. I have seen a second hand machine which looks ok - ECM Casa IV. Or a second hand silvia could be an option....get it a little cheaper, practice, service it and if it need to upgrade it with a PID.

    I think i will go to my local sponsor in Sydney this weekend and test drive a lelit and silvia to see how they go. Talking to a sponsor will help me see how they work in real life.

    Also has anyone used a ECM Casa IV - the one i looked at for second hand looks great. Single boiler machine.

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    If you must have an Italian made machine by all means go to a Site Sponsor and get a Silvia or Letit etc. A friend of mine likes his Lelit, however his has a single boiler and no PID. I have no financial interest in Breville, I just own and use one. While the Breville Dual Boiler is built in China, it was designed in Australia and some of the important parts like pumps and valves are made in Italy.

    How long will The Breville Dual Boilers last? No one knows. They have only been in use for three years. Mine was among the first sold and is still going strong. I got mine from Dennis Wells at Cupacoffee, when he was a Site Sponsor in Sydney. Chris at Talk Coffee sold the first ones in Melbourne.

    A lot of CoffeeSnobs are understandably critical of Breville because of the crap machines they produced in the past. Their dual boilers are different. They were produced after their coffee specialists and engineers widely researched domestic and commercial machines to see what was desirable in their domestic machines.

    By the way, Breville is a Site Sponsor.

    Barry

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    There's a lot of debate about temp surfing with SB, non-pid machines and the fact that the Breville/ Sunbeam DB machines can be "ready" really quickly and not need to be surfed.

    BUT, this site has little evidence of the owners ever measuring the actual brew water temps.

    there's a lot of "my breville is up to temp in 3 minutes"
    (and my old sunbeam dual TB was the same) but the actual output temps of the water was far below the required temp without pumping through hot water to fully heat the group and piping. or giving it at least 15 minutes to heat properly.

    So it seems a large number of users may "think" the smarts are doing it for them, but the reality is the temp is no closer to ideal than a non-PID'd single boiler machines.

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    Your boiler may be up to temp, but that certainly doesn't mean your brew head or group handle is, and that can make a noticable difference to the result in cup.

    TBH too much is made of temp surfing on a silvia. When you just make it part of your workflow for making coffee it really isn't a big deal. Even if it is painful for you installing a PID is so simple that I really wondered after doing it why I hadn't done it a long time ago

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    ^^ exactly,

    Even my dual boiler Lelit with PID still requires time or pumping through hot water to get the group hot.
    By using my own version of a Scase device. I know how long it needs to be on for or how much water to purge through to get it hot,
    and how the boiler temp (displayed on the PID) correlates with outlet temp at various stages of usage.

    There's a lot of talk and snobbery regarding the subject, but only a small percentage of users actually doing the testing for themselves.

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    Faced with a similar situation, I liked the Silvia but wasn't particularly keen on temperature surfing. Ended up getting a second hand Silvia with a PID from a fellow CS member. That's worked out very well, I've had the machine for over 2 years now, and am optimistic that I'll be able to sell it when it comes time to upgrade in the future. They are definitely well-built machines, with decent care they will last far, far longer than any Breville or similar.

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    Hi all,

    Ended up getting a Lelit PL41LEM today and a compak m3 push.

    I went to jetblackespresso and had my mind set on the rancilio silvia but the Lelit looked pretty awesome. Plus the salesperson said they sell 10 Lelit to every silvia's. Was also told that it's a bit easie to get a good and consistent shot than the silvia. Also has a larger drip tray.

    Well I managed to get a couple of good shots in the end.

    Has taken about 250g to dial this in and get my tampering to a point where I had a good shot.

    Well I think it was more my bad tamping that cased the issues :-) gotta learn somehow

    Anyhow wanted to thank you all for the advice and assistance. Couldn't have done it without you all. :-)

    One happy beginner coffeesnob!!!!!

    Here is my setup now ImageUploadedByTapatalk1410519745.578254.jpgImageUploadedByTapatalk1410519757.499669.jpgImageUploadedByTapatalk1410519768.305082.jpgImageUploadedByTapatalk1410519778.624992.jpgImageUploadedByTapatalk1410519795.152278.jpg

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    Congrats!!! No after all our help and wisdom you have to make us all a coffee
    madaxle likes this.

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    Good on you. Enjoy your coffee.

    The next thing in CoffeeSnobery is to get into home roasting.

    Barry
    mmmcoffee and madaxle like this.

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    Beautiful setup "madaxle"...

    Fun time from now on...

    Mal.

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    having a blast with my new setup. coffee slowly getting better as i figure out the right grind and tamping levels.

    :-)

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    God, every time I see a Lelit it just makes me want one more and more. Something about those switches I think... Killer setup madaxle!

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    The switches are pretty sweet..!!
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I agree with your purchase madaxle :-)

    Was my first machine and I loved it so much, was very sad to see her go. Once you nail down the variables it's easy to get the very same results every time. Good double ristrettos on the double basket.

    Never could learn how to use the single basket though, well only within normal parameters with a bit more blonding than I would prefer but the taste was still passable.

    If you do not have the custom made tamper for the machine from Jetblack Espresso I would highly recommend ordering one, it made one hell of a difference.

    Money well spent. Definitely not a disposable machine, it will last you forever if you take good care.

    Also, welcome to CS
    madaxle likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzo89 View Post
    If you do not have the custom made tamper for the machine from Jetblack Espresso I would highly recommend ordering one, it made one hell of a difference.
    Yes i got the jetblack espresso tamper with it.


    My first week has been great. Coffee getting much better each time.

    Thanks All :-)

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    Great to hear about your purchase. Lelit machines are pretty hard to kill. Just refil the boiler after steaming, clean the shower screen as required and replace the gasket rather than tightening the group handle like crazy.

    I wish you all the best with your purchase



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