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Thread: Time to move up to something more serious

  1. #1
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    Time to move up to something more serious

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

    Ive been dabbling in the persuit of the perfect coffee for many years now.

    However, with limitted funds Ive purchased a number of low-end Krupps and Sunbeam espresso machines (which never seem to last).

    Anyway, I now feel its time to upgrade to something more serious. What Im looking for is something that has a manual operation (not push a button to grind, pack, steam and produce crap) and that has a decent steam arm for frothing the milk.

    The retail stores guys just look at you blankly when you ask for something like this!!!

    My local barrista is recommending a Isomac Venus which he can get me for $1,000. To me, this is a lot of moolahh.

    My question is... is there anything out there that people can actually recommend from experience that is a quality machine for less than this? If so, where do I get it from?


  2. #2
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Hi vadie and welcome to CS!

    Perhaps the most popular, and reliable machine under $1K is the Rancilio Silvia, though it too has its flaws.

    Regardless of which machine you may choose, the quality of the espresso produced will be more reliant on the grinder that you use, rather than any espresso machine.

    If you can, take the opportunity to compare machines side-by-side. If you happen to live in either Sydney or Melbourne, we and Talk Coffee (Chris) can arrange this for you. If you live elsewhere, feel free to give either myself or Chris a call, as we would be happy to provide you with information.

    Cheers
    Den

  3. #3
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Yes, a Rancilio Silvia. Current retail price is around $820 now. Many of the site sponsors on the left of the screen will stock this model. I used to have one of these, and they are also an extremely popular machine among the people on this forum. Its very solidly built - all brass and stainless-steel construction. Rancilio, in case you dont know, is a well known manufacturer of commercial espresso machines, and their Silvia model is built to a similar quality but in a smaller size for domestic use. Its a much more serious unit than the likes of Krupps and Sunbeam, uses a proper boiler (unlike the thermoblocks that Krupps and Sunbeam use) and has very good steaming ability for a machine of this level. It also has a proper commercial size portafilter which will accept filter baskets from most commercial machines, if you wish to change to different filter basket sizes. I think most people on this forum would agree that this machine is the best that youll find for under $1000.

  4. #4
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    With limited fund a good choice would be a LeLit Combi PL042. It has the advantage of combining a single boiler machine with a reasonable grinder for well under $1000. I have had mine for 12 months and am very happy with the coffee I am able to produce. The LeLit has a small footprint and is clean to operate. I only put the exact amount of beans in the grinder as I need them. *Steaming is great and produces excellent microfoam.

    A google search for LeLit Combi PL042 will give you all the details you need.

  5. #5
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Thanks SunnyCoaster, Bill and Den for the advice.

    Does anyone know of a place where I could see some of these machines in the flesh - preferably all at once?

    PS I live in Sydney

  6. #6
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Quote Originally Posted by cuppacoffee link=1226318664/0#1 date=1226321156
    Hi vadie and welcome to CS!

    Perhaps the most popular, and reliable machine under $1K is the Rancilio Silvia, though it too has its flaws.

    Regardless of which machine you may choose, the quality of the espresso produced will be more reliant on the grinder that you use, rather than any espresso machine.

    If you can, take the opportunity to compare machines side-by-side. *If you happen to live in either Sydney or Melbourne, we and Talk Coffee (Chris) can arrange this for you. *If you live elsewhere, feel free to give either myself or Chris a call, as we would be happy to provide you with information.

    Cheers
    Den

  7. #7
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    in no particular order:

    • JetBlack on Military Road, Cremorne

    • Di Bartoli on Oxford St Bondi

    • cuppacoffee on Box Road, Taren Point


    Click the sponsor links at the left side of the page for more info

  8. #8
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    As Dennis said, the grinder is very important, so you should budget for a good quality grinder as well. If youíre looking for a total package (machine AND grinder) for under $1000 then the Silvia will be out of your price range (unless you buy second-hand). A suitable grinder to match the Silvia would be at least a few hundred dollars extra. A Rancilio Rocky grinder, for example, is over $400.

    Perhaps consider SunnyCoasters recommendation, depending on your total budget.

    In Sydney, Di Bartoli (refer site sponsor list on left of the screen) has the Rancilio Silvia. I dont know who stocks the LeLit Combi.

    regards,
    Bill

  9. #9
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    I see youve started down the dangerous and slippery path of the quest for that "better" coffee. A few years ago, when my uncle bought a Krups Nespresso pod machine for $600, I thought to myself, Id never spend that much money on a cup a of coffee!! Early last year I decided to buy my first coffee machine and grinder, a second hand Gaggia Carezza and Breville BCG450 grinder. Reading the posts here, you know of guys with $2k+ machines and grinders that look more at home in a cafe than a kitchen benchtop and I thought to myself, "those guys are nuts" and "Ill never be able to justify spending that kind of money on a cup of coffee"..
    That lasted a few months before I got the rocky and thought that it would be the last grinder I would need to get. Its starting to get itchy again.

    Plus side is: The coffee has never been better... I suppose the moral of this story is; if you can stretch that budget to get the best you can for a grinder (that looks more at home in a cafe than on a kitchen benchtop) and at least a Silvia (or better a Minore II), you will save yourself the money and hassle of an upgrade later (which will inevitably happen, not a question of if, more a question of when).

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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    NewToEspresso you paint a scary picture .... only because its likely to be true :)

    can you come around and explain this to my wife :)

  11. #11
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Hi Vadie, Ive been reading all the replies to your post and it brings back memories when I first joined CS.
    CS is a temptation and makes one want to acquire better and shinier equipment in pursuit of that perfect shot. Wives do not understand this uncontrollable urge and would rather replace the bedroom carpet etc......
    The common advice from every CSer is get the best grinder that you can afford as this is crucial in pouring good espresso.
    My wife appreciates all the new equipment now that I make her wonderful cappucino and lattes in her favourite mug (she likes mugs!!) and chocky sprinkled on top and a spoon to finish every last drop of the silky textured milk and crema.................

  12. #12
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Quote Originally Posted by greenman link=1226318664/0#10 date=1226399862
    CS is a temptation and makes one want to acquire better and shinier equipment in pursuit of that perfect shot. Wives do not understand this uncontrollable urge and would rather replace the bedroom carpet etc......
    Yeah..... I think it comes under that category of "Boys Toys" where resides such things as fully worked 23 T-Bucket Roadsters, super high quality Power Tools, and a damn fine Fishing Boat with all the necessary inclusions like Fenwick Rods, Penn International Reels ::)... You get the idea; its an absolute Must Have ;D

    Mal.

  13. #13
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Hi all,

    Unfortunately the wife is a tea drinker...I know, I know...what can I say?

    I called in to JetBlack on the way in to work today and checked out the Rancilio Silvia... hmmm nice. It seems to be what Im after (for now until I get bored and want to move up to a Minore II or equivalent).

    The only drawback seems to be if I wanted to make 6 lattes/cappos ie dinner party that there may not be enough steam in the boiler to make them all without stopping, refilling the boiler, waiting another minute for the steam pressure etc.

    Maybe Im getting picky.

  14. #14
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    By the way... I agree with all the comments on the grinder. The Rocky looks good enough for me but it might have to wait until the current sunbeam croaks it. Judging by the other sunbeam gear Ive had, I wont have to wait too long :)

  15. #15
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    My EM450 produced pretty good espresso on Silvia until I got Rocky.
    When I have guests over and they want a coffee I find that 4 is quite manageable but over that number there is a time lapse.

  16. #16
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Hi Vadie

    I was also contemplating a Silvia as my first machine
    However common sense prevailed and I jumped straight to a HX machine

    I believe TG also started with a HX machine as well

    Anyway the moral of this story is that I have saved money in the long run due in part that I wont need to upgrade anytime soon and we got a machine that we wanted
    Donít forget to factor in the people that want to visit you because you have a coffee machine
    You may think you make up to six cups at a time but it soon blows out
    The most cups I have made when relatives and friends drop in is 26 from memory?

    If you buy a decent machine of your choice on hire purchase you will find that small manageble monthly payments are very cost affective.

    If you roast your own beans the savings you make will more than cover the interest payment on the machine ;)

    KK

  17. #17
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Ok, now its time to show my newbiness...

    What is a HX machine?

    Is this different to a boiler?


  18. #18
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Heat Exchanger.

    Different to a boiler.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1226318664/0#17 date=1226572596
    Heat Exchanger.

    Different to a boiler.
    However HX (heat exchanger) machine also has a boiler for steam and hot water

    The best way to describe a heat exchanger is that it is an extra small (mini) boiler that heats the water instantly to the set temperature

    Thatís why you can make coffee and steam milk at the same time

    I am sure there is a more detailed and technical explanation but the easy one works for me ;)

    KK

  20. #20
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    I thought my answer was enough to help vadie search for a detailed answer.

    "Teach a man to fish....."

  21. #21
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Perhaps a more accurate explanation is: when guys here refer to silvia being a single boiler machine, what they actually mean is the silvia is a dual-purpose single boiler machine. Dual purpose meaning, the one boiler is used both to provide brew water at 93-95 Celcius and steam (at >100 Celcius). How this is done is via thermostats. When the silvia is switched on, the default thermostat is 100C (give or take a few degrees). The thermostat is located at the top of the boiler and by the time the water gets to the grouphead, it should be about the right temp (should because there is overshoot and quite a big variation between when the thermostat cuts out and when it starts hence youd notice PIDs being mentioned). When you want to steam milk, you have to press the steam button. What that does is bypass the 100C thermostat and activate the 140 C thermostat instead ie. boiler starts heating up the water continuously until the temp hits 140 degrees. Water turns to steam at about 100C (more or less because of impurities) and starts creating pressure inside the boiler which is the same steam pressure you get to steam the milk with when you open the steam knob. Clear as mud?

    A HX machine is also a single boiler machine (it has only 1 boiler), but has a much bigger boiler than the silvia and the temp it boils to is higher by default. That is because it is not ruled by a thermostat, but by the steam pressure inside (pressurestat). Because of the high temp in the boiler, the water in the boiler is not suitable for brewing. For brewing, a separate line carrying the water pumped from the tank goes through the boiler and water is heated up that way (flash heated for lack of a better description).

    Its a bit more complex than that but this is a summarised version of the differences between a silvia and a HX.

  22. #22
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Quote Originally Posted by vadie link=1226318664/0#12 date=1226490365

    I called in to JetBlack on the way in to work today and checked out the Rancilio Silvia... hmmm nice. It seems to be what Im after (for now until I get bored and want to move up to a Minore II or equivalent).

    The only drawback seems to be if I wanted to make 6 lattes/cappos ie dinner party that there may not be enough steam in the boiler to make them all without stopping, refilling the boiler, waiting another minute for the steam pressure etc.
    Hi Vadie, just to clarify above - the silvia is a great little machine but is just not the machine for entertaining large groups of people on a regular basis - capacity aside it simply a little bit time consuming.

    The silvia is fantastic if you want to do 2 to 4 coffees on a regular basis with the occasional entertaining of friends when you might want to do 6 or 8.

    If you entertain alot you should consider a heat exchanger (which has been explained very well by NewToEspresso! This takes the time factor out as you can do the milk and coffee at the same time.

    Please feel free to contact me if youd like to go through some other options. If you have more time next time you drop in I will make you a coffee on the Silvia so you can see how great the results can be!!

    Deb

  23. #23
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Thanks everyone for all your inputs and clarifications..especially NewToEspresso for that great explanation of HX vs Silvia.

    Ill definitely call in again soon.

    Vadie

  24. #24
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    Re: Time to move up to something more serious

    Well, last week I bought my Silvia from Deb at Jetblack Espresso.

    A big thank you to her for spending time explaining everything to me before I decided to buy. Also, the course on how to look after the machine and get the most out of it was very worthwhile.

    Ive made quite a few espressos and lattes over the last week and each and every one has been excellent. Ive even dabbled in latte art...long way to go. Im at the stage where I attempt a leaf or something but then actually decide what it is after Ive made it.... you know, you start off making a leaf and create a pig with a ring thru its nose, or a rose, sailboat....whatever.

    Again, a big thankyou to all who contributed in my journey to this purchase.

    vadie



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