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Thread: Which machine?

  1. #1
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    Which machine?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight

    Hi,

    Heres where Im at....

    Ive got the bottom of the range Sunbeam Ristretto. Used it because its all I could afford. Found a coffee I liked and was happy for a while, coffee was better than anything in the local cafes (doesnt say much for them though Smiley . Then I started to get picky, so I bought a proper Sunbeam grinder (good deal at $169), now suddenly the coffee tasted like crap (same brand as before, only now I bought unground beans). Suddenly I have to buy much more expensive beans to get a nice cup - muuuuch better than pre grinder. Im now getting picky, so Ive read about unpressurised baskets, but nowhere in Melbourne can I find any to buy so I carefully drill a tiny pattern of holes in the bottom of my double basket. Now I get 1 cup of liquid gold to 4 cups of swill, but that one cup is heaven. No matter how carefully I try to do the same thing each time, I cant get any consistency, so like many poor workmen Im ready to blame my tools. Its time to buy a new machine.

    The question then is, what is the absolute cheapest machine that could produce a decent consistent cup of espresso?

    Id love a Silvia, but it aint gunna happen any time soon, I can stretch to around $400. Is it worthwhile to do this, or should I just forget esspresso and drink Sunbeam lattes?

    cheers
    Gary

  2. #2
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    Re: Which machine?

    Wow ... drilling your own holes ...

    Im not sure how much of an improvement over the ristretto anything under $400 would be ... Id put the money towards getting and Iberital Challenge (~$250) instead of your grinder. But thats just me. I absolutely hate stepped grinders!

    I think that the biggest problem with machines in this class (and, indeed, many "prosumer" machines shipped from overseas) is that the brew pressure can sometimes be off the charts. You might yet be able to pimp this machine into shape if you can find a way to adjust the brew pressure inside it ... but how youre going to measure it, Ive got no idea. Regarding the baskets, have you checked the possibility of getting a krups basket?

    The best bang for your buck is probably the cheapest gaggia that you can ebay up ... the steam wands suck, but for $20 or so you should be able to retrofit a silvia steam wand.

    Cheers,

    Luca

  3. #3
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    Re: Which machine?

    Have a look at the hardware for sale on this site,
    there is a Napolitana Quaha for sale for a very good price, complete with grinder, (under your max budget, would even allow you to get a decent SS tamper I would think).

    As I understand it, they have a proper brass boiler, which is bigger than the Gaggia ones, and although not a commercial PF it is at least similiar, and better than the cheaper Sunbeam/Breville etc. stuff.
    Bit of time learning how to get the best from it should see a worthwhile improvement in espresso shots, and if you want to steam milk it can do that better than any thermoblock machine.

    Regards
    Bullitt

  4. #4
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    Re: Which machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1149034580/0#1 date=1149039084
    I think that the biggest problem with machines in this class (and, indeed, many "prosumer" machines shipped from overseas) is that the brew pressure can sometimes be off the charts. *You might yet be able to pimp this machine into shape if you can find a way to adjust the brew pressure inside it ... but how youre going to measure it, Ive got no idea. *Regarding the baskets, have you checked the possibility of getting a krups basket?
    Having looked in the back of my machine, I reckon it wouldnt be too hard to plumb a pressure regulator in between the pump and the thermoblock... Wouldnt be too hard for me to calibrate it first at work (~130psi), then cut the tube and fit it in as shown...

    Am I as mad as I think I am? :P


  5. #5
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Which machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by garymck link=1149034580/0#0 date=1149034579
    Im now getting picky, so Ive read about unpressurised baskets, but nowhere in Melbourne can I find any to buy so I carefully drill a tiny pattern of holes in the bottom of my double basket. Now I get 1 cup of liquid gold to 4 cups of swill, but that one cup is heaven. No matter how carefully I try to do the same thing each time, I cant get any consistency

    cheers
    Gary
    Hi Gary,

    Ah-Ha, now the journey begins. It definitely sounds as if youre on the right track with what youve done here. Might just have to drill a few more holes than youve currently got and try again..... could be that the combination of back-pressure from the drilled-out basket and the tamped coffee cake are close to a critical point in the flow/pressure curve of the pump that causes unstable characteristics. Perhaps by drilling a few more holes it will allow you more control by varying your grind setting and thus moving away from the "critical" area.

    What do you reckon? Easy to try and cheaper than another new grinder or more expensive machine 8-),

    Mal.

  6. #6
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    Re: Which machine?

    Hi Guys,

    thanks for the suggestions! I think Ill give Mals suggestion a go and drill more holes and see what happens. Ive tried to get Krups baskets here, but I havent found anywhere that has them in stock. In fact All Appliances in Heidelberg said Krups no longer supply the ones I need. Hi Ho Hi Ho its off to drilling I go!

    cheers
    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: Which machine?

    I ground the lower base off competely for my friends Ristretto and it made damned good espresso with my lux grinder given a bit of temp surfing. I think the temp surfing is the once enough of the lower base is removed.

    Can you get hold of a multimeter/themocouple and do some measurements vs the indicator lights?

    Greg

    PS His crappy Breville burr grinder couldnt be dialled fine enough to work with the depressurised basket so he had to go back to the normal one. Later, he modded the grinder with some washers to pack the burrs closer and is back to depressurised. A true geek!!

  8. #8
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    Re: Which machine?

    I ground the lower base off competely for my friends Ristretto and it made damned good espresso with my lux grinder given a bit of temp surfing. I think the temp surfing is the once enough of the lower base is removed.

    Can you get hold of a multimeter/themocouple and do some measurements vs the indicator lights?

    Greg



    Hi Greg,

    Ive now cut a hole in the bottome of the double filter using a dremel, so flow is not now a problem.

    I still get some variability, and not a lot of crema. The shots come out at 25 seconds or so with the grind set at "5" on the Sunbeam grinder.

    If temperature is a possible problem I can measure it since I do have a multimeter/thermocouple, what should I be looking for and where? Is anything adjustable?

    cheers
    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: Which machine?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight

    If you can snake the TC over the lip of the portafilter and onto the coffee, look for temps in the range 90-95 deg C. Youll need to calibrate the TC first to make sure what you read is the real temp.
    The simple (and least accurate) way is to measure the temp of boiling water (which should be 100 C at sea level for pure water). Then you can use the offset to correct the reading. Its better the use a calibrated thermometer and compare with that. There are plenty of traps for the unwary, but if you only want to get into the ballpark, the boiling water method should do well enough, especially near brew temps.




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