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Thread: Beginner espresso machine - used/new?

  1. #1
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    Beginner espresso machine - used/new?

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

    I'm another new member with a burning interest and a lot of uncertainty in how to go best about beginning my home setup. I was raised Mormon and never tasted coffee until about 6 months ago when my world exploded and now I can't get enough of good coffee. Apologies for adding to the gamut of new brewer equipment help posts - it must be frustrating to answer the same sorts of things over and over.

    For the past 3 months I've been using an EM5000 from gumtree with a hand grinder, which at the time was magical to have at home. Now I am deeply eager to improve what I have - I feel like I need to catch up on all those years of good coffee I missed! I have since upgraded to a mazzer super jolly (gumtree!) and now want something to match it in the espresso machine department.

    I am lucky enough to not worry unduly about finances, but given it's my first foray into home espresso I feel uneasy about spending large (>$1000) for an espresso machine without having explored it as a passion first. The last thing I want is to spend big before realising I'm not interested in the cleaning and maintenance required to truly make the most of my equipment.

    I would likely make 2-4 milk based drinks daily for myself and wife, unlikely to see much more use with any regularity.

    Having read at length many of the other (probably very repetitive for you all) posts of those in similar circumstances, the overall sentiment I get is that quality components, durability and resale are of great merit which makes perfect sense to me. As a result, I'm most interested in the italian/non appliance machines. My concern comes because I feel like to get one of those machines would require me to look second hand most likely, and my relative inexperience in machine maintenance would mean that when I purchase one I would have zero idea whether it's close to failure vs a good deal. The risk profile is high because I lack the capacity to recognise a dud.

    Here are my options (as I see them):

    1) New appliance-style machine
    - Ie Breville (~350-400 for a new Infuser) to get a better sense of my wants/interests, and for ease of use (no temp surfing, wife able to use without requiring education, etc)

    2) Used Italian single boiler (~300-700 depending on model/opportunity)
    - Ie Silvia/Gaggia/Lelit
    - Classics, well regarded, frustrating to make multiple milk drinks, temp surfing/machine play required

    3) Used Hx machine
    - Ie seen a few La Cimbali m21s for 800-1200, expobar office auto ~700, La Nuova Era Cuadra ~800
    - More expensive (and thus more risky) used purchases.

    4) New italian single boiler (gaggia/silvia/lelit) for ~1k
    - Safer option, quite appealing and can be done with warranty and support from a site sponsor.

    If I were asked to say what I wanted right now I think I would grab a lelit 41TEM based on what I've read, but the prospect of a high quality, maintainable used Hx machine is tantalising.

    Would be delighted to be given any opinions on how you more expert home brewers would approach the situation, and even more delighted to be told about other options I hadn't considered fully (or at all)

    If you were in my shoes, with my sort of considerations, how might you proceed and why?

  2. #2
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    I think I might lean towards (1.b)

    Model: BES870BSS
    https://www.breville.com/au/en/produ...so/bes870.html

    or it's 2020 model replacement BES875

    https://www.breville.com/au/en/produ...so/bes875.html
    Model: BES875BSS2JAN1

    Good temperature control, easy to use, reasonable grinder, extraction gauge to help you while you are learning.
    RRP is close to your budget but street pricing is under $600 at Myer and when more people have the BES875 you might get the BES870 even cheaper.

    It won't be as good as a $5000 setup but you already knew that, it will be great to learn on and will give you the technique to swap to any machine in the future with confidence.

    Realistically, you will at some point of the CoffeeSnob journey end-up with a grinder costing as much as your current budget and will lust after a shiny Italian machine but till then, you will do well with the above.
    Dimal likes this.

  3. #3
    338
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    I would add if you choose 2 or 4 the Lelit PLTEMD is often discussed as the pick in the cheap Italian single boilers, has a PID so eliminates the temp surfing. Probably worth holding out for it against similar s/h
    Dimal and level3ninja like this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Can I toss another Breville into the mix:

    https://www.breville.com/au/en/produ...so/bes500.html

    I’ve used one and was impressed by what it produced. The owner had bought another Breville portafilter and a single walled basket and it was producing nice coffee and steam. The self purging steam wand was also handy. He said he got it $200 off in the sales too.

    Sniff

  5. #5
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    These are great food for thought, thanks gents.

    I'll have a read up on the barista express - there are plenty around for a steal second hand post christmas, but I think I always just presumed they were pretty much an Infuser with an additional grinder (which I think I dont need).

    Will definitely do some more reading on them.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    I think I might lean towards (1.b)

    Model: BES870BSS
    https://www.breville.com/au/en/produ...so/bes870.html

    or it's 2020 model replacement BES875

    https://www.breville.com/au/en/produ...so/bes875.html
    Model: BES875BSS2JAN1

    Good temperature control, easy to use, reasonable grinder, extraction gauge to help you while you are learning.
    RRP is close to your budget but street pricing is under $600 at Myer and when more people have the BES875 you might get the BES870 even cheaper.

    It won't be as good as a $5000 setup but you already knew that, it will be great to learn on and will give you the technique to swap to any machine in the future with confidence.

    Realistically, you will at some point of the CoffeeSnob journey end-up with a grinder costing as much as your current budget and will lust after a shiny Italian machine but till then, you will do well with the above.
    I'm not sure if it's changed with the new model but I found the steaming pretty annoying on the Barista. You swap it over to steam and you get a thud thud thud sound from the pump and it chucks out a bunch of water before you get steam. Also the portafilter isn't 58mm so it's a bit harder to find a nice tamper.

    Not deal breakers but if it were my money and I already had a Super Jolly I'd spring the extra $200 for the Breville Dual Boiler (I think they're still on sale for $800 new). You get to try out different brew temperatures (and if you never change it then you know you don't need to look for that in a new machine later on), the steam is good enough (but also forgiving enough) for latte art and any accessories you get (new filter baskets, a nice tamper like a Pullman or something) should be transferrable to a new machine later down the track
    Dimal and level3ninja like this.

  7. #7
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    uurrgghh.... ignore my previous answer.

    In my haste I totally missed that you bought a super jolly after the bit about a hand grinder.

    Okay, take two. You have done the right thing and bought a great grinder that will last years, add to it whatever you can within your budget.

    HX will be better than a single boiler as you both do milk.
    Something like a second-hand Giotto at about your budget will give years of pleasure and retain it's secondhand resale value.

    ...and as mthomas87 suggested, a new Breville Dual boiler would be a great option too if warranty is important to you.
    Dimal likes this.

  8. #8
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    Haha, thanks for the clarification. I was wondering where I was going wrong.

    I've heard great things about the dual boiler - my only reservation being that -some- people say they're less reliable and the longevity impacts the value of the purchase. The guy I bought my mazzer from said he used a DB and loves it, so it's been on my radar.

    Is a Giotto in particular reference to a Rocket? Or is it a brand in itself? My google-fu isn't yielding the understanding I'd like.

  9. #9
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Dual Boiler has a big fan club, it's a great machine in a plastic box.

    The Giotto was referring to a Rocket Giotto, ECA Giotto, ECA Rocket Giotto (lots of name changes but the iconic shape, good performance and easy to work on and a "real" commercial E61 group head makes it a favourite). Rocket is the brand, Giotto is the model(s)
    Dimal likes this.

  10. #10
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    Well overall this has been very helpful. Thanks for the perspectives.

    Ill keep an eye out for a used giotto/lelit and otherwise wait for a dual boiler to go on sale.

    As a side note, of the Hx models I listed in the original post (La Cimbali m21, expobar office auto, La Nuova Era Cuadra) are any truly worth considering? I've found them selling more often than the ones I want (lelit etc) which makes me suspicious.

  11. #11
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    I personally think the Breville Dual boiler will fit your needs well here. Can find them for sub-1k brand new and it'll do everything better than most other machines can even if you double the cost.

    Best thing about it too is that you can spend 2-3 years with it and if you decide you want to take the hobby further and spend up on a bigger, better machine, you can easily sell the Dual Boiler for a decent price.

    I would not recommend buying one second hand though unless you know every part of it's history and service history and the seller will give at least a 3 month warranty. When they age and get to about 5 years old, there's work that needs to be done to them to keep them running well. There's occasionally lucky ones that last longer than this but for the most part in my experience, it's 5 years or 5000 shots before it'll need a few hundred spent on it.

    For interests sake regarding pricing, I sell refurbished Dual Boilers for $440 and that's on the cheap side due to my location. If you look at the prices of them in Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane, people are asking $100-200 on top of that.
    Dimal and 338 like this.

  12. #12
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    Yeah the used ones can be hit an miss. I bought a BES900 secondhand as my first espresso machine. After about 6 months it started having over-temperature issues and leaked. Paid $350 for a service and moved it to my office (bad idea) where it was worked great for a while but was subsequently destroyed. Picked up a secondhand BES920 when I was getting the other one serviced and it has run flawlessly for over 3 years now making very tasty espresso. If someone offers me a Linea Mini in the for sale section you're welcome to buy it from me :P

  13. #13
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    The main problem with buying a used coffee machine is you can't be certain it has no scale buildup in the boilers and/or tubing.
    Questioning the seller as to whether they used filters will provide a vital clue, especially if they live in WA or SA.

  14. #14
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    most of the machines I had before were 2nd hand machines. all serviced and cleaned up nicely... works well too before I sold them on
    Started off with a Gaggia which was great for learning how to make coffee (and temp surfing till I installed a PID)
    managed to pick up a few decent machines, including a Rocket Giotto; but this was too complicated for the missus to use, and had to clear some gears for funds, so ended up with the BES900; to be honest, the machine has been great. made plenty of good shots and lasted for 4-5 years before I upgraded to the BES920.

    Use good water, and serviced will keep thes dual boilers working fine.

    TBH, the Biggest improvement i have had was getting the right grinder... converted my Super Jolly to be a single doser, and getting new plates made my life (and wife) so much easier

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    I personally think the Breville Dual boiler will fit your needs well here. Can find them for sub-1k brand new and it'll do everything better than most other machines can even if you double the cost.

    Best thing about it too is that you can spend 2-3 years with it and if you decide you want to take the hobby further and spend up on a bigger, better machine, you can easily sell the Dual Boiler for a decent price.

    I would not recommend buying one second hand though unless you know every part of it's history and service history and the seller will give at least a 3 month warranty. When they age and get to about 5 years old, there's work that needs to be done to them to keep them running well. There's occasionally lucky ones that last longer than this but for the most part in my experience, it's 5 years or 5000 shots before it'll need a few hundred spent on it.

    For interests sake regarding pricing, I sell refurbished Dual Boilers for $440 and that's on the cheap side due to my location. If you look at the prices of them in Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane, people are asking $100-200 on top of that.
    This made me feel better about our DB is just under 4 years old but has done some where around 16,000 shots, had new O rings just inside warranty but the OPV, O rings and a few other things are going so it is time to replace I feel.

  16. #16
    Member kexkez's Avatar
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    We recently jumped in to get our first machine and a grinder. the lelit 41TEMP ( the one with PID) in October. Loving it. we tend to only do one or two coffees a day for us each. Finding it easy to use once into the routine of it. Have purchased the cleaning gear as well. Wish you all the best for your adventures. Look into what your water quality is before diving into buying a more expensive machine. I'm using bottled water of a brand recommended by the machine seller(not all are created equal) This seemed a more practical plan to start with given the amount of coffees we have. But if we were doing a lot more a filter system would be the way to go if your tap water is not good.
    Dimal likes this.

  17. #17
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geebee666 View Post
    This made me feel better about our DB is just under 4 years old but has done some where around 16,000 shots, had new O rings just inside warranty but the OPV, O rings and a few other things are going so it is time to replace I feel.
    If you're in Sydney and looking to offload an old 900 or 920 I could use one for parts.

  18. #18
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    I am in Hobart unfortunately.



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