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Thread: Another noob, same question, which machine?

  1. #1
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    Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi All,
    Please be gentle this is my first time!
    I know youve answered this question hundreds of times before and Ive read most of your answers, plus umpteen others on other forums.
    However everyone is different so here is my situation.
    I love good coffee
    I always drink my coffee with milk.
    I only drink 1, occaisionally 2, cups a day.
    At home I have a Sunbeam EM0450 conical burr grinder and a stove top stainless steel Vev Vigano. I use Lavazza beans or occasionally organic beans that my wife buys. This combination produces an acceptable cup of coffee but not as good as I can get from an espresso bar or good cafe. In the past Ive had a few thermoblock machines but found them no better than the stove top pot. I found the Sunbeam grinder a huge improvement over the Breville Annihilator (or whatever it was) that I was previously using. *
    My rating of espresso bars and cafes goes something like this. 20% make great coffee, 50% make OK coffee, 30% I would never visit again.

    So what machine should I buy for weekend use for myself, my wife and the odd guest?
    I dont want to spend more than $1000 unless you can convince me otherwise. I dont mind investing some time and effort in getting the best out of my new machine.
    My own research has narrowed it down to a choice between the Rancilio Silvia and the Rancilio Silvia. I didnt like the sound of the aluminium boiler in the Gaggia Classic. For my use a HX or dual boiler seems overkill, not to mention out of my price range.
    Im planning to visit one of the CS sponsors tomorrow to check out the Silvia

    So what are your suggestions?
    Will the Silvia do the job?
    Will the Sunbeam grinder suffice? Ive read many times that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine.
    How soon will upgradeitis kick in? Or will I be able to satisfy the never ending craving for better coffee by experimenting with different roasts or even roasting myself?
    Should I forget about a new machine altogether? After all $800 will buy a lot of cups of coffee, a lot of beans or a couple of decent grinders!

    Thanks in advance * * *

  2. #2
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Hi there and welcome!!

    Given the amount of coffees you will be making, the Silvia will be a very suitable coffee machine for you. It makes excellent quality espresso for minimum capacity requirements. Youd be pretty happy with the silvia/sunbeam combo. You are right in saying the grinder is more important, however, dont forget that you also need FRESH COFFEE!! ;) Make sure, when you buy coffee, look for coffee bags with a one way valve to let the carbon dioxide to escape but keep the oxygen out - not to be underestimated!!

    Good luck with your searching, feel free to contact us if youd like any advice. :)

    Deb

  3. #3
    A_M
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by iluvmyoldmerc link=1225457782/0#0 date=1225457782
    Hi All,
    Please be gentle this is my first time!
    I know youve answered this question hundreds of times before and Ive read most of your answers, plus umpteen others on other forums.
    So true ;)

    However everyone is different so here is my situation.
    I love good coffee
    I always drink my coffee with milk.
    I only drink 1, occaisionally 2, cups a day.
    At home I have a Sunbeam EM0450 conical burr grinder and a stove top stainless steel Vev Vigano. I use Lavazza beans or occasionally organic beans that my wife buys. This combination produces an acceptable cup of coffee but not as good as I can get from an espresso bar or good cafe.
    Fresh beans in the first instance - Supermarket and some Coffee shops do not have FRESH beans...

    In the past Ive had a few thermoblock machines but found them no better than the stove top pot. I found the Sunbeam grinder a huge improvement over the Breville Annihilator (or whatever it was) that I was previously using. *
    Just like many other machines, not all thermoblocks are the same...

    So what machine should I buy for weekend use for myself, my wife and the odd guest?
    I dont want to spend more than $1000 unless you can convince me otherwise. I dont mind investing some time and effort in getting the best out of my new machine.
    A better grinder to start with...

    My own research has narrowed it down to a choice between the Rancilio Silvia and the Rancilio Silvia. I didnt like the sound of the aluminium boiler in the Gaggia Classic. For my use a HX or dual boiler seems overkill, not to mention out of my price range.
    Im planning to visit one of the CS sponsors tomorrow to check out the Silvia
    Sponsor is a good move.. But almost sounds like you have made your choice ?

    So what are your suggestions?
    Will the Silvia do the job?
    Will the Sunbeam grinder suffice? Ive read many times that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine.
    How soon will upgradeitis kick in? Or will I be able to satisfy the never ending craving for better coffee by experimenting with different roasts or even roasting myself?
    Should I forget about a new machine altogether? After all $800 will buy a lot of cups of coffee, a lot of beans or a couple of decent grinders!
    Silvia will do the job...
    Current grinder ... I think not, at least if your looking to get the best bang for bucks..
    Upgradeitis will kick in after about a week :o
    $800 will get you a good grinder and some beans for a few weeks... ::) with a few $$ left over :o

    Most of us will all say the same in general.

    1: Good grinder.... The best you can afford.
    2: Fresh beans... FRESH

    That is 80% of teh hard work done.

    For me, I want a more solid system ($3k - $4K) than the EM6910 ($500) but the $ difference can not be justified at this stage.

    NOTE: When looking at the Silvia, be aware that boiler systems can take some time to come to temp and depending on the control systems; there can be a knack to getting the best out of them...



  4. #4
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Hi there ILMOC (sorry if this abbrev doesnt suit you!)... which city/state do you live in? Best thing I ever did was to go into one of the sponsors shop (for me the closest was Di Bartoli in Bondi Junction) and just have a play around with all the machines that are within your price range.

    As the others have mentioned, the Silvia is pretty much regarded as the entry level and very very competent single boiler machine for the kind of use that you described. Sounds like you already know that.

    And if you get more replies here, you will hear it said often that the grinder is probably the more important variable equipment wise (assuming the use of freshly roasted beans, competent technique, etc.). I reckon the EM0450 probably just doesnt cut it in terms of consistency and reliability that the Silvia demands. The entry point for coffee-snobbery grinders is about the $400 mark (Iberital Challenge comes in under that, Rancilio Rocky, Ascaso I-mini, and a few others might be just over the $400 mark). Medium level grinders looking at 600+ - usually better build, features, and longer lasting than the bracket below. At about the 1k mark, you start getting into the grinder for life equipment, where you may possibly never have to buy another grinder in your life again (e.g. Mazzer Super Jolly).

    So if budget is the major consideration, I reckon $1200 might give you a good entry level grinder and espresso machine. Contact the sponsors on the left and theyll be more than happy to help you out and give further advice to suit your needs.

    Hope this helps!

  5. #5
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Just to add...

    I started pretty much in your position... about $1000 limit, but pushed it to $1100 which got me a Silvia and Iberital challenge at the time. 6 months later, I sold the IC for a Mazzer Super Jolly and have never regretted it. My Silvia still serves my needs very well, and the SJ is just so much better is every aspect of what a grinder is meant to do. I cant see myself ever getting another grinder and besides changing whatever moving parts that break down in the years to come, I wont be spending another cent on a grinder. The SJ being a commercial grinder (usually you will see them used as the decaf grinder in small to med sized cafes), its going to take a fair bit to wear those burrs down under domestic use!


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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    ...and a different view.

    My Sunbeam EM0480 grinder works beautifully. It grinds the beans, I somehow manage to produce crema through my Sunbeam EM6910.....what more could you want.

    All for under $1,000 (but I am a man of "simple" tastes)

  7. #7
    A_M
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Gaza link=1225457782/0#5 date=1225493384
    ...and a different view.

    My Sunbeam EM0480 grinder works beautifully. *It grinds the beans, I somehow manage to produce crema through my Sunbeam EM6910.....what more could you want.

    All for under $1,000 (but I am a man of "simple" tastes)
    Bang 4 bucks... And a solid start down the coffee experience... I would also agree. *

    Of the 3 Siviia users at work; two have stated that their wives and kids have had issue in learning how to get the best.. *And that they like my work unit as it would have suited their use... maybe a little better.

    Is that the fault of the machine NO... :)

    The other one went on to spend about another 5k - 7k on upgrade after upgrade.. Still going now down a roasting path and last I heard another 12K was being looked at....

    At the end of teh day, the person buying needs to take some time out and think about...

    What *they Want Vs Need Vs Real Use Vs Freedom to express themselves

    When all is balanced... *and the end user */ owner is happy... *Then good on you an well done; regardless of the brand or cost.

    AM


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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Hi iluvmyoldmerc and welcome to CS!

    Ill start with a quote from Atillio...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1223394242/0#1 date=1223415295

    a) Ive never used a pid silvia but I consider myself to be well versed with a standard silvia and I import them direct. As far as I am concerned, silvia is the best domestic on the market under a thousand dollars BUT/...
    when you compare it to a good quality semi commercial machine (whether it be a regular commercial heat exchanger type or a dual boiler type) I am afraid it doesnt cut it and the semi commercials will always (subject to operator expertise) brew a better espresso for whatever reason including that the semi commercials are more forgiving of operator technique.

    I dont think there can be any doubt about it although some may wish to argue.

    b) There is no need to be confused about the differences between semi commercial heat exchanger machines and semi commercial dual boiler machines.......

    .....too much time is spent in forums like this picking them apart by way of their technical specs and the pros and cons of what some people think they can and cant do when the fact of the matter is, if you choose a good quality machine of either type, you end up with a great espresso machine.....if you have good technique and understand your machine it will reward you, and if you dont.........!

    Essentially, they are two different internal engineering philosophies / designs that are a means to virtually the same end at that is, to make an espresso.....
    ..........and thats it.

    If you choose well, in either type ( HX or dual), you end up with a great esp machine. If you choose badly, you end up with a crappy machine....but that is not to do with whether you have chosen a HX or a dual boiler type, it has to do with whether the manufacturers model you chose is a good coffee machine in toto or not.

    My advice therefore is, if you are looking for something more than a silvia choose your price bracket, and then look at a range of machines in that price bracket irrespective of whether they are HX or dual boiler. Dont forget that a very important thing to ask about is ***reliability***.

    And in the end, you will have to place your trust in the supplier of your choice.

    hope this is helpful.

    Regardz,
    Attilio
    first / original CS site sponsor.
    So, if your budget is definitely under $1k then the Silvia is most likely the machine for you. The grinder you have will not do it justice. Take along your home grinder to a sponsor and taste the difference that a better grinder can make. Also, consider how many posts youve read in your research where people have purchased what they thought would suit, only to upgrade soon thereafter.

    As for fresh coffee - a one-way valved bag is not a guarantee that the coffee is fresh or any good. Look for something that has the roast date on the pack, talk to the roaster, and try the coffee before you buy.

    If I can be of assistance, feel free to contact me.

    Cheers!


  9. #9
    TC
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Hi Merc and welcome,

    If you can scrounge another few hundred bucks, look very closely at the VBM Domobar Vashetta (aka Levetta/Piccolo)...

    It more than justifies the extra spend and we can assist with further information if required. Stock is almost zero though with no more til late November and a price increase to boot *:(.

    More details... http://www.talkcoffee.com.au/equipment/coffee-machine-vibiemme-domobar-levetta.php

    Chris

  10. #10
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    The Sunbeam grinders are usually considered to be the minimum quality required to get decent coffee--i.e.- a starting point. The Silvia is a step above that, so while the combo will work well, it wont be getting the best out of Silvia.
    In the end it all depends on the balance between how valuable good coffee is and your budget.
    If you like what youve read about the Silvia then go ahead with that. You may want to upgrade the grinder at a later date, a Rocky is a good match.
    If you see the Silvia as an opener for you, then definitely consider the VBM Domobar ? (whatever the current name for the single boiler is these days--it seems to change weekly) and unless you get into making lots more coffees at once you may never want to upgrade your machine again. The Sunbeam will not match the VBM, to do that youll be looking at $500 or more for just a grinder.
    Do remember, its not a contest, its about enjoying the coffee and the creativity in the process!
    Greg

  11. #11
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    My first machine and grinder were an Expobar Leva and Macap M5.
    I dont forsee ever having the need to replace them.
    With freshly ground, freshly roasted coffee they make better coffee than most cafes.

    At work I use a Sunbeam 6910. Originally with a Sunbeam 0450 that I bought to match it.
    They made acceptable coffee but I found a bargain Gaggia MDF grinder which is cleaner, quieter and IMO makes a better coffee.

    A Silvia was on my short list too before buying the Expobar.
    If your budget keeps you at that level then dont worry about the Silvia;it will do a good job.
    Do though strongly consider getting a better grinder than a Sunbeam.
    It will do a better job, last longer and depending on which one you get, save you money (on upgrading) in the long run.

    The sponsors will look after you. Talk to them.

  12. #12
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    Re: Another noob, same question, which machine?

    Welcome iluvmyoldmerc

    I was looking at the silvia but then became convinced that an HX machine was the way to go.

    2 reasons:
    1. It might be getting a bit technical but from my research the hx machines tend to have better temperature stability. 2. The ability to steam and pull a shot at the same time was also a big selling point for me.

    My brother in law has a silvia with Emo480 and it does a good job. As other shave said

    I ended up going with the Expobar semi-auto to go with my emo480. Picked it up for about $1380.

    If you can stretch the budget iluvmyoldmerc, its worth it.



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