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Thread: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

  1. #1
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    Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys, im new to this whole thing, and am currently having a difficult time comparing products, and even product types and was hoping for a bit of expert input to help me along my way.

    My first stumbling block question is: Manual or Automatic?
    From what ive read, the traditionalists and pros all seem to prefer manual machines, but always with the important proviso that its because of their skill etc that allows them to fully customise all the variables, thus producing a better product.

    However im most definitely NOT one of those people. So does that mean an automatic is better for me?

    I like the looks of the Sunbeam EM6900, but integrated grinders, along with things like auto-decalcifying seem to be only found on the auto machines, which leans me towards those instead.

    Of the autos, ive compiled something of a shortlist comprising of DeLonghi and Saeco.


    Saeco Magic Roma $599
    Saeco Vienna Deluxe $670
    Saeco Incanto Rondo SBS $749
    Saeco Café Crema $769
    DeLonghi EAM3000B $799
    Saeco Incanto $799
    Saeco Stratos $799
    Saeco Incanto Rondo $895
    Saeco Magic DeLuxe $899
    Saeco Magic Comfort $999
    DeLonghi EAM3200S $1,100
    DeLonghi EAM3300 $1,100
    Saeco Royal Digital $1,199
    DeLonghi EAM3400 $1,275
    Saeco Incanto RS SBS $1,299
    Saeco Magic Comfort Plus $1,399
    Saeco Royal Pro $1,449
    Saeco Incanto Digital SBS $1,499
    Saeco Royal Digital Plus $1,499
    Saeco Royal Cappucino $1,649
    DeLonghi EAM3500 $1,695
    Saeco Incanto Sirius $1799 ($1499 w/o Touch screen)

    Of these the EAM3000B, and Saeco Magic Deluxe seem to stand out (though its just to me, and i dont know what im talking about ;) ). This is only on a comparison of ADVERTISED features and price. (and some positive user-reviews of the Saeco, particularly here http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/consumer/saeco_magic_deluxe/rodw)

    I would prefer to spend less than $1,000, but i could possibly be persuaded to go higher if it can be justified.


    Do any of these particularly standout?



    Oh, just another thing i should mention, it will usually be required to make at least 3-4 coffees at a particular time, and a couple of these "rounds" per day.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Hey,
    Why all Saeco and DeLonghi?
    For a "manual" machine that is quite popular is Silvia at around $700-$800? but for automactic machines... im not that familiar with them.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Hi Zakal and welcome to the CS world!

    I see heartbreak and frequent pricey services.... The coffeemaking experience which involves simply the push of a button produces the result of a button push. If you must go down this pathway, do it with a Dura....

    I suggest that the best way of making coffee if its this type o machine you want is to leave it in the hands of a talented barista (the guy/girl around the corner *;))...

    Alternatley, buy a good machine, get a little training and join the many members here on an incredible and enriching journey!

    2mcm

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/0#0 date=1151835245
    Hi guys, im new to this whole thing, and am currently having a difficult time comparing products, and even product types and was hoping for a bit of expert input to help me along my way.

    My first stumbling block question is: Manual or Automatic?
    From what ive read, the traditionalists and pros all seem to prefer manual machines, but always with the important proviso that its because of their skill etc that allows them to fully customise all the variables, thus producing a better product.

    However im most definitely NOT one of those people. So does that mean an automatic is better for me?

    I like the looks of the Sunbeam EM6900, but integrated grinders, along with things like auto-decalcifying seem to be only found on the auto machines, which leans me towards those instead.

    Oh, just another thing i should mention, it will usually be required to make at least 3-4 coffees at a particular time, and a couple of these "rounds" per day.
    Gday Zakal and welcome to the forum.
    Youve asked whether to go for a manual or auto, stating that you dont have the skills to work a manual machine.
    No one started with the skills to work a manual machine, or any type of machine for that matter, its a matter of learning and seeking bigger and better things.

    Just to clarify some definitions Ill use later on.
    Manual = lever machine, the barista does the grinding, dosing, tamping and the pumping work, then coffee comes out.
    Semi auto = barista does the grinding, dosing and tamping, machine pumps the water, then coffe comes out.
    Auto or super auto = press a button, coffe comes out.

    If you want to compare the output of a manual v auto machine, go to a good quality cafe and sample what comes out of a manual or semi auto machine. Then go to *bucks or the red headed clown cafe and sample what comes out of a automatic machine.
    If you like the latter, well youll be satisfied with an auto machine. If, on the other hand you prefer the former, be prepared for a journey, and what a journey it is.
    Seriously though, the output of a super auto to cant really be directly compared to the output of manual machine. They have different methods of operation, in relation to coffee dose, grind, tamp, temperature, etc.
    With any machine, particularly a super auto, you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheapo super auto, you may have saved money on the initial purchase, but be prepared to stump up for ongoing sercive and repair costs. This is simply because there is more to go wrong with them.
    A manual or semi auto machine, on the other hand, is basically a boiler, a couple of valves and some thermostats, so theres not a great deal that can go wrong with them. As with the super auto though, you get what you pay for.
    Anyhow, I think Ive gone on enough now.
    Let us know how you go and dont be afraid to ask questions, it can be a daunting task taking your first dabble in the espresso pond.
    All the best

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Thanks for the responses so far guys.

    In answer to some of the questions.

    Reasons for Saeco and Delonghi were that on my brief catalogue survey of a few places like HN, Myer etc, these are the brands that poppued up.
    As did Krups, but i didnt like the feature:price ratio, and the fact that they didnt seem to have removable boilers (im a bit paranoid about calc building putting certain female family members who shall remain nameless, off using the machine).

    Were it me alone, id be a lot more tempted to take the plunge on a semi-auto, and maybe look into the EM6900 as well as the mokita and silvia, but there are other people who will use the machine who may not appreciate the extra mess/effort/time required to do it properly.

    However, lets assume i can get them to come around:

    What is a semi-auto setup going to cost me?
    Would the sunbeam be sufficient? and what about grinders?

    I saw some of the latter at over $900, and i really would have trouble justifying that sort of money just on a grinder....at least not at this stage of my espresso addiction.. hehe ;)

    Also, how does the time frame of the semi-autos compare to the fully automaticcs....i know they arnt nearly as quick cos obviously you have to do more "prep-work", but im particularly interested in how long the machine takes to do ITS part of the equation, such as heatup time etc.


    Thanks again,

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Gday Zakal,
    in relation to super autos, I dont think that the any of the boilers are user removable, I think you may be referring to the reservior or tank.
    If youre thinking of a semi auto set up and what will it cost, well that all depends on what type and how many you drink.

    The most important thing with any semi auto machine, is the grinder. I would get the best grinder I could afford, even if it meant waiting for the coin for a machine. The best machine in the world will be let down by a bad grinder.
    IMH(humble)O the Sunbeam EM0480 would be the cheapest grinder to get you by. Up from there you have the Iberital challenge, Rocky, Macap and Mazzer. That was by no means an exhaustive list of course, and I would suggest that you speak to one of the site sponsors who will look after you and give you honest advice and top service.

    Now to the machine. If you only drink milk drinks and you need to pump out a lot in a row quickly, youll need a heat exchanger (HX) machine, or the Sunbeam 6900, which has two thermoblocks. A HX or twin thermoblock allows you to pull a shot and steam milk at the same time. A single boiler machine will take too long to prep a lot of milk drinks.
    If you only drink straight espresso, with the occasional milk drink, then a single boiler machine will serve you well. Youve mentioned the Silvia and Mokita, which are both excellent machines. Again, I would speak to the site sponsors who will give you great advice and service.

    In relation to prep time, most home use machines will be good to go with about a 30-45 minute warm up. This depends on a few different factors of course. An easy way to have your machine ready for you is to put it on a timer switch, so its heating up before you wake up.

    The advice given so far is just my opinion, and dont be swayed either way by it. If you think you will be better served by a super auto, then get one. If you want to take the time to learn the ins and outs of espresso, then get a semi auto. Of course, you will have to train the other users in its correct operation, which could be painful.
    At the end of the day, the best machine for you is the one that makes you happy :)

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lovey link=1151835245/0#5 date=1151878001
    Gday Zakal,
    in relation to super autos, I dont think that the any of the boilers are user removable, I think you may be referring to the reservior or tank.
    If youre thinking of a semi auto set up and what will it cost, well that all depends on what type and how many you drink.

    The most important thing with any semi auto machine, is the grinder. I would get the best grinder I could afford, even if it meant waiting for the coin for a machine. The best machine in the world will be let down by a bad grinder.
    IMH(humble)O the Sunbeam EM0480 would be the cheapest grinder to get you by. Up from there you have the Iberital challenge, Rocky, Macap and Mazzer. That was by no means an exhaustive list of course, and I would suggest that you speak to one of the site sponsors who will look after you and give you honest advice and top service.

    Now to the machine. If you only drink milk drinks and you need to pump out a lot in a row quickly, youll need a heat exchanger (HX) machine, or the Sunbeam 6900, which has two thermoblocks. A HX or twin thermoblock allows you to pull a shot and steam milk at the same time. A single boiler machine will take too long to prep a lot of milk drinks.
    If you only drink straight espresso, with the occasional milk drink, then a single boiler machine will serve you well. Youve mentioned the Silvia and Mokita, which are both excellent machines. Again, I would speak to the site sponsors who will give you great advice and service.

    In relation to prep time, most home use machines will be good to go with about a 30-45 minute warm up. This depends on a few different factors of course. An easy way to have your machine ready for you is to put it on a timer switch, so its heating up before you wake up.

    The advice given so far is just my opinion, and dont be swayed either way by it. If you think you will be better served by a super auto, then get one. If you want to take the time to learn the ins and outs of espresso, then get a semi auto. Of course, you will have to train the other users in its correct operation, which could be painful.
    At the end of the day, the best machine for you is the one that makes you happy :)

    yeah, well looking back, im not sure where i got the removeable boiler idea from on the Delonghi, cos it is only the water reservoir that is removeable...but on the Saeco, i got it from the "removeable brewing group" feature. But again, that doesnt include the boiler either does it?

    And yes, the major hassle for me is going to be whether other users here are going to want to be trained....once i figure it out (assuming that happens ;) )

    In terms of volume, it will be used to make about 4 at a time, a few times a day.

    I have a few more questions:
    That 30-45min warm-up time you mentioned...is that the same for the super autos?
    Also, why is it so long given that a kettle heats a larger volume of water in less than 5mins?
    Is the warmup time going to be determined mostly my the machines wattage?
    And, if your going to be using it over the course of the day, surely you dont do the 30-45min waiting thing every time you want to use it, but on the other hand, wont leaving it on all day use an enormous amount of power, and ruin the machine?

    Thanks

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Gday Zakal,
    I dont know if the super auto machines take the same amount of time to warm up, but I imagine that there will be some warm up required.
    The semi autos take a while to warm up, as youre not just waiting for the water in the boiler to heat up, that only takes a minute or so. The rest of the machine also has to come up to temp as well, like the group head, the deliverly lines, the steam lines, etc. This is so that all of components of the machine are as thermally balanced and stable as possible. Stable temps = better shot quality.
    A lot of people leave their machines on constantly throughout the day, depending on the machine of course. There are various debates, which I wont go into, about whether to leave the machine on 24/7, or to turn it on as needed.
    Power wise though, the elements only cycle on for a minute or two at a time, which doesnt have a huge power draw. I think it would equate to a couple of dollars a month to keep it running all the time. There are web sites around which detail various consumer appliances power ratings.
    Hope this helps.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]
    Great advice there Lovey 8-),

    Mal.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    ahhh okay, thanks for that Lovey...so its the whole machine your trying to heat, not just the water, and obviously theres no direct heating for those parts is there?

    Though, if you had people drop in and the machine was off, you could serve up a coffee in a few minutes....itd just be of substandard quality right?


    On another note, i just realised the Sunbeam EM8800 superauto should have been on that list too, so if anyone has anything to say about that model, or any of the others, itd be most helpful.


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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/0#9 date=1151925098
    ahhh okay, thanks for that Lovey...so its the whole machine your trying to heat, not just the water, and obviously theres no direct heating for those parts is there?
    Not really, but you can take steps to bring the machine up to temp quicker, mainly by flushing lots of heated boiler water through the various water paths, ie group head and steam wand.

    Though, if you had people drop in and the machine was off, you could serve up a coffee in a few minutes....itd just be of substandard quality right?
    It would taste like poo, as youd be basically using cold water to make coffee with :P.

    On another note, i just realised the Sunbeam EM8800 superauto should have been on that list too, so if anyone has anything to say about that model, or any of the others, itd be most helpful.
    I dont have any experience with this machine, but a lot of people on this forum have the Sunbeam EM6900, and have given very good feedback on the Sunbeam service.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    On another note, i just realised the Sunbeam EM8800 superauto should have been on that list too, so if anyone has anything to say about that model, or any of the others, itd be most helpful.
    I dont have any experience with this machine, but a lot of people on this forum have the Sunbeam EM6900, and have given very good feedback on the Sunbeam service.
    Yeah, ive noticed that positive feedback about the 6900, and if i dont go for a super-auto, ill probably get that one.

    Atm im still operating on the assumption that ill be forced into a superauto as i havent yet been able to convince everyone else that we should try something new and fun hehe.

    So ive been comparing the machines on the list above on a "what do you get for the extra money basis" in terms of their features.

    Its a shame its so difficult to find detailed info about these machines, especially about its internal construction, as really, thats probably more important in the long run than whether it has Feature A or Feature B.


    Two questions have arisen while doing this:

    1. Is Auto-Decalcification a scam? (it seems that all the machines that have it, have the same Decalc procedure as those that dont...invariably involving a tablet or liquid of some kind).

    2. What exactly is the Delonghi "tubeless" system?

    Thanks,

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    I cant offer experience on choosing the best machine but FWIW Ill add my personal experience.

    About 1.5 years ago I was in a similar situation to you. At the time you could have convinced me that a superauto was the dogs bollocks of domestic coffee machines, that it would make perfect coffees for me at home. The budget didnt stretch to that though, so I bought the nicest machine (in my opinion) I afford at Myer. A bit of sales pitch got me, basically (not that Im complaining).

    A year later and I invest in a matching grinder. I figure at this point that Id better find out a bit more about what I just bought and how to get the most out of it. Enter the world of internet coffee...

    Enter home roasting.
    Enter microfoam.
    enter heaps of knowledge that I never knew about...

    Im now on that slippery slope of machine mods, tweaks, careful monitoring and obsession... Ive had some good positive feedback from friends, but I know Ive got a long way to go even to get the most out of my humble machinery.

    Which brings me to where you are. Youve already discovered the internet coffee sites first. This is a good thing, though no doubt you feel overwhelmed at first. Dont worry, keep reading, rereading, and absorbing info. Knowledge is power. The internet is free, so the return on investment (ie just your time) is excellent.

    If you start taking coffee more seriously, youll probably find that the superauto doesnt meet your demands. At which point you might want to trade it in on something else. Waste of money.

    Had I the chance to do it over, Id probably find a simple yet durable machine (Silvia kind of level), and get a good grinder right from the start. Because the machine doesnt make the coffee, you do. I mean, look at the Silvia. Its a plain brick with zero features, yet its consistently one of the most popular machines in the world. Must have something good going for it, right?

    Sure, it takes a little practice to set it up and get the details right, but whats the cost of a few kilos of beans and a few litres of milk in the long run? Nothing, compared to the satisfaction of learning and developing new skills and producing top-quality results. And remember that free (and hopefully useful and corect) support is just a computer away.


    Ill let you in on a secret. At the Sunbeam coffee appreciation course they tell you the importance of watching the extraction pour into the cup, and to cut the flow when blonding starts to occur. In other words, ignore the auto dosing feature of their own machines! So why pay for that feature at all? Why not invest the money in a more durable boiler, or better grinder (for example)?

    The other critical factor is of course long-term cost. How long does a domestic appliance last for? 5 years maybe? How long do you want to make coffees for? Longer than that Ill bet. So wheres the downside to investing some more cash now on a machine that will last 10-20 years?

    OK, apologies for the long ramble. All I can say is: read heaps, learn, and remember your goal: Making the best coffee you can make.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Well said Matt [smiley=thumbsup.gif],

    Mal.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Hi Zakal,

    I can also support the general comments made above.
    I purchased a second hand Silvia, to replace the Breville thermoblock machine I bought before I had found the internet coffee sites like this one.
    So far Silvia has not required any service, apart from normal cleaning....(and if you get a Brita filter jug, or similiar, the need for decalcifying is reduced dramatically in any machine).

    On the other hand a friend of mine, who is also a member bought a Saeco Incanto (also before he found out about this site), and he uses it a fair bit....
    Yesterday it was going away for the 3rd or 4th repair under warranty....
    He also has just invested in a Rocky grinder and will be buying a Silvia or something similiar as soon as he can afford it ....

    Generally I think that some people will always be happy with the coffee that comes from a superauto, especially if you use fresh beans, and of course the convenience, but most people eventually become disappointed with the fact that they can be unreliable, have a shorter useful llife and can be relatively expensive to maintain, OTOH,

    some people, who may not even claim to be coffee fanatics will always prefer the quality of coffee drink that can only come from a semi auto machine.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Yeah, well today i went into Harvey Norman and have a bit of a talk with everyone (my family not the sales staff) as we poked around at the different models.

    Basic consensus was that we would rather go a semi-auto machine and grinder, than spend all that extra money on one of the circa $1500 superautos. We decided that it was all a bit gimicky (having it froth the milk for you etc) and really wouldnt save THAT much time anyway.

    If we decide we can afford to spend that much, we would be better off getting a 2nd hand commercial one for the extra durability etc. (hehe although knowing us, we will probably end up just saving the money)


    What do you guys think of that?

    Thanks,



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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Gday Zakal,
    it didnt take you long to turn people to your way of thinking, the force must be strong with you.
    Commercial equipment, especially 2nd hand gear, is a whole other ball game compared to domestic or pro-sumer machines.
    Most, if not all, commercial machines have to be direct plumbed. They may have a higher power demand than your standard 10amp household power point can supply, depending on the size of the machine of course.
    2nd hand machine, 2nd hand car. You get good ones, and you get bad ones. Some machines have been lovingly cared for and maintained, some havent. Youd have to ask yourself, why are they selling it if its such a great machine? You also probably wont get any warranty or service back up for a 2nd hand machine.
    The things that may cause a machine to fail may not necessarily be visible, the same as in a car. This is strictly my view of course.
    As with everything, you get what you pay for.
    There are a lot of great site sponsors here who can assist you with good advice, great equipment, and most importantly, great service.
    Just another thought, if youre still looking at a domestic or pro-sumer machine. Id be a bit reluctant to deal with an appliance dealer, as I dont believe that they would give as good service and back up as someone who is dedicated to selling espresso machines. If the machine breaks down, off it goes to some service centre, not back to the vendor. Again, strictly my own view.
    Good luck with it.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/15#15 date=1152081274
    Yeah, well today i went into Harvey Norman and have a bit of a talk with everyone (my family not the sales staff) as we poked around at the different models.

    Basic consensus was that we would rather go a semi-auto machine and grinder, than spend all that extra money on one of the circa $1500 superautos. We decided that it was all a bit gimicky (having it froth the milk for you etc) and really wouldnt save THAT much time anyway.

    If we decide we can afford to spend that much, we would be better off getting a 2nd hand commercial one for the extra durability etc. (hehe although knowing us, we will probably end up just saving the money)


    What do you guys think of that?

    Thanks,

    Zackal, there are lots of possibilities. Attilio from Cosmorex as well as my company, Talk Coffee can assist you with some useful comparitive information and suggestions. Id generally suggest you avoid Hardly Normal and their thermoblock machines- they are best at selling toasters, lounges and computers! ;) ;D

    Chris

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Actually we would rather have the unit plumbed in if we could. Plenty of plumbers in the family who coudl probably take care of it.

    Though the higher power requirements may be an issue, but we are putting airconditioners in in the new house which require a 20A line to be run anyway, so if it needs it, it can be done at the same time.

    Still, a good point that needs to be considered.

    I would still guess that we would end up with something like the Sunbeam, or maybe something like the Mokita Combi due to its inbuilt grinder.

    Problem is, no offence to current owners, the Mokitas and the Sylvias are more than a bit on the ugly side. I know it is completely irrelevant, but they look about 30 years old in their design.

    Oh well, id rather it make good coffee than look good.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Firstly definitely forget Harvey Normans and Myers et al, (for computers ;) as well as coffee machines )

    re commercials what lovey said is true about two group HX machines but most single group machines will run on standard power no problems and many dont require plumbing in. (Ive got 2 both on standard plugs, one is plumbed, one is pourover. The plumbed unit is so much more convenient)

    The trick is to find one that has ideally only been used in a domestic mode and one that doesnt have too many electronics. These do exist if you are patient enough to wait for the right one close enough to where you live so you can preinspect. But of course there is a risk involved and it will come down to how much of an adventure you want this whole coffee making experience to be ;)

    For a safe plug and play solution buy a new machine but your first criteria should be the service and support youll get from the dealer not the brand or features of the shiny box. If I was looking for a new machine my first contact would be one of the site sponsors here as they have proven themselves to be committed to supporting their customers.

    Finally if you want some nice eye candy/bling *for the new espresso bar then one of the s/s machines with the exposed e61 head would be the way to go :)



    Quote Originally Posted by Lovey link=1151835245/15#16 date=1152083940
    Most, if not all, commercial machines have to be direct plumbed. They may have a higher power demand than your standard 10amp household power point can supply, depending on the size of the machine of course.
    .

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    oooook then- are we doing cheap or expensive, domestic or commercial???.... ::)

    Commercial or prosumer and plumbed with inbuilt sex appeal = bucks *;)

    I suggest that it may be better to avoid an inbuilt grinder....one dies, they both die and I no of nothing under 10k which is plumbed and has a built in grinder....What was that budget again???? *:P

    Chris

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1151835245/15#20 date=1152088168
    oooook then- are we doing cheap or expensive, domestic or commercial???.... ::)

    Commercial or prosumer and plumbed with inbuilt sex appeal = bucks *;)

    I suggest that it may be better to avoid an inbuilt grinder....one dies, they both die and I no of nothing under 10k which is plumbed and has a built in grinder....What was that budget again???? *:P

    Chris
    haha alright, alright calm down ;) Point taken.

    My comment about sex appeal" was just that if i could choose between two units, one that looked good, and one that was ugly...and they were otherwise fairly similar, id choose the better looking one. I wouldnt pay much extra, and i wouldnt sacrifice much in the way of quality or features to get it either.
    its just a secondary consideration.

    Same really goes for the built in grinder and plumbing in.

    If getting a built in grinder means overly compromising the machine, or my wallet, its not going to happen.

    As i said, i will probably end up with a new domestic semi-auto, as i dont like my chances of finding something in my price range in the used commerical market. Although we bought the machine we used to use for my uncles restaurant/bar for about the $1000 mark, and that had never needed any work until he sold it (the place, not the machine). No i dea what it was though.

    I intend to just look around for a bit to see whats out there in the used market, and see what turns up.

    Any suggestions where to look? (ill definitely check out the site sponsors etc)

  23. #23
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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    ok- so realistically, how about a machine and grinder budget ...then we can advise you! ;)

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1151835245/15#22 date=1152103964
    ok- so realistically, how about a machine and grinder budget ...then we can advise you! *;)

    well, i wanted to keep it under $1,000 dollars, but i know that im probably not going to get anything worth getting for that, so i can stretch it a bit. (Unless of course i go for the new domestic option i outlined above which is less than that).



    no laughing!
    hehe ;)


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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    For that budget, a grinder I recommend is an Iberital Challenge. I only just got mine, but I did a lot of research and for the price, its a good choice. I paid $270 to my door, which would leave you about $700 for a machine. The next obvious step up in grinder would be a Rocky ($400-450), but that would leave less for a machine and is probably not worth the extra cash over the Challenge (others may disagree!). From what Ive read, a step down to perhaps the Sunbeam EM0480 ($170) MAY not be quite up to the standard needed for your machine.

    If it were me, I would snap up a new Silvia which would take you to exactly $1000. But I guess you have to sort out what type of machine you want.

    Just my two cents :)

  26. #26
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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Next step might be something like an Expobar Semi-auto and an Iberital Challenge or Rocky doserless but those hands might need to delve about 50% further into your pockets! ;) :P

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Yeah, i think what you and Liquid Gold are suggesting represents the next rung up on the ladder from what i was looking at in a new machine, and like you say, it costs more money.

    Still, we seem to be making progress as i think ive steered everyone off the Superautos for a while.

    Can anyone suggest some places to look for used machines besides Trading Post and eBay?

    I would like to see whats on offer in that department at least.


    Also, a question about grinders...is a doser the thing that dispenses the ground coffee directly into the basket? and if you dont have one, can you still grind straight into it, or do you need to go into a container, then load the basket?


    Thanks.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    A doserless grinder usually has a "claw" that the portafilter sits in, so you can grind straight into it. Some even have a switch at the base of the claws that the portafilter presses against, so that as soon as you put the PF in place, it starts grinding.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/15#26 date=1152171491
    Also, a question about grinders...is a doser the thing that dispenses the ground coffee directly into the basket? and if you dont have one, can you still grind straight into it, or do you need to go into a container, then load the basket?
    Yep, thats it. I think that the general consensus is that having a doser on a grinder at home is pretty superfluous; youre aiming to get freshly ground coffee into the portafilter and having a doser creates a possibility that you will have stale coffee there. I listed some merits of dosered grinders here: http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/213856#213856 Yes, you can grind directly into the portafilter basket with a doserless grinder. Be prepared for mess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/15#26 date=1152171491
    Can anyone suggest some places to look for used machines besides Trading Post and eBay?
    You might want to try the buy/sell equipment forum on this very webpage!

    A word of warning, though; the process of buying domestic espresso machines can best be summed up in the phrase caveat emptor. You might find a bargain, but you might well end up with an absolute POS that will cost you twice as much to get back into semi-functional order. At least if you buy from a reputable vendor you have someone to go to if you one day wake up to find your kitchen full of steam.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Thanks for the info about the grinders.

    As for 2nd hand machines, just let a La Cimbali M27 2-group machine with 5 portafilters go for $820 on ebay. Was in melbourne, and im not, so didnt wanna risk it, but is it just me or does that seem very cheap?

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Used 2-group or larger commercial machines tend to go very cheap on eBay as theyre too big for most home users to consider and commercial establishments for the most part dont want to muck about with used equipment.

    A safe bet is to assume that reguardless of what the ad may say for condition take as a given that youll have to do a full descaling and rebuild before its ready for fun.

    If someone is ready to give up a counter for their espresso fun and has the power, water, and waste availablility as well as the hands on ability to do the rebuild, used commercial machines can be a very viable option.

    Other down-sides to a large commercial machine is the power it uses and the additional heat it puts into your home. Good in the winter, but bad in the summer.

    Java "Loves his used 2-group Cimbali" phile

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    I understand the descaling part (intheory), but what do you mean by rebuild? What actually has to be rebuilt?

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/30#31 date=1152232330
    I understand the descaling part (intheory), but what do you mean by rebuild? What actually has to be rebuilt?
    The springs and washers in the steam and hot water valves as well as the in-line filters and injectors and the grouphead gaskets. As part of the descaling youll also have to replace any gaskets on parts you open up. Such as the boiler and the heat exchanger. Shower screens may also have to be replaced depending on their condition.

    On my 10 year old Cimbali Basic M-28 2-group the total cost for a complete rebuild was about $70USD as I recall.

    Java "Cimbalis Rock!" phile

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    That doesnt sound too much. As long as its something you work into the cost, it sounds fine to me.

    As long as you meant $70, not $700. hehe.

    Im going to checkout places like GraysOnline as they often have sales of equipment from restaurants, bars, cafes etc that are in liquidation or whatever.

    I think this is the surest bet of getting a machine in decent working order (unless it was a cafe that went broke due to its shithouse coffee hehe) as unless they went broke, the machine was going to be the one they used next week, and for the foreseeable future.

    Unlike someone whose getting rid of it for motives unknown.

    Bit annoying living in Bris...doesnt seem to be as much up this way.

  35. #35
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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    I did indeed mean $70USD and not $700USD. :)

    One of the things to keeps in mind is the availability of parts. Im lucky enough to have one of the handfull of Cimbali dealers in the US just a couple of miles from my house.

    What-ever brand you go with make sure parts are readily available to you.

    I would also recommend staying away from the autos and those machines that incorporate electronic touch-pad controls. The touch-pads and their electronic circuits are one of the most common failure points and can cost an arm and a leg to replace. To keep your long term maintenance costs down stick with the systems that use the simple on/off heavy duty mechanical switches with no fancy electronics. Electronics dont like heat and humidity, both of which theyll get in abundance in an espresso machine.

    Java "Sometimes old tech is better than new tech" phile

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Yeah well as i decided earlier in this thread, theres just no point in me going for an auto now that my family is on board with the semi-autos. Why pay more to get less?


    And yes, availability of parts is important, and id guess it would probably cost a bit over $100AUD to do the same job as you had done, but here...still, not a lot of money really.

    Just got to wait for something to turn up on ebay or graysonline now. The wait is killing me, i just wanna go out and get something NOW!. hehe ;)


  37. #37
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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/30#35 date=1152421214
    Just got to wait for something to turn up on ebay or graysonline now. The wait is killing me, i just wanna go out and get something NOW!. hehe ;)
    Patience Grasshopper, patience. Good things come to those who wait! It took me two and a half years to finally get the owner to sell the Cimbali at a good price (a great price as it ended up), and that on top of years of looking around for one. In the end though it was all worth it as I ended up with exactly the machine I wanted at a price even I could afford. :D

    Make it a habit to visit the smaller cafes and resturants and look/ask about any old equipment they may have that theyre looking/willing to part with.

    Also dont assume that just because a machine is a commercial model that parts will be available for it. Check and make sure of their price and availability before buying a machine.

    Java "Shop smart!" phile

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile link=1151835245/30#36 date=1152425885
    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1151835245/30#35 date=1152421214
    Just got to wait for something to turn up on ebay or graysonline now. The wait is killing me, i just wanna go out and get something NOW!. hehe ;)
    Patience Grasshopper, patience. Good things come to those who wait! It took me two and a half years to finally get the owner to sell the Cimbali at a good price (a great price as it ended up), and that on top of years of looking around for one. In the end though it was all worth it as I ended up with exactly the machine I wanted at a price even I could afford. :D

    Make it a habit to visit the smaller cafes and resturants and look/ask about any old equipment they may have that theyre looking/willing to part with.

    Also dont assume that just because a machine is a commercial model that parts will be available for it. Check and make sure of their price and availability before buying a machine.

    Java "Shop smart!" phile
    Good tip that last one, cos it was an assumption i was making. Probably pretty stupidly actually as there would be less commercial machines than domestic machines, and parts arnt always interchangable (ala Sunbeam).

    My patience wont hold for long though, so if nothing turns up in the next few weeks ill probably go for something like the Sunbeam, and use it as a learning machine, but just keep my eyes out for something better to come along.

    At least i should know what im doing a bit more by the time i get it.

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    Re: Newbie First Espresso Machine question...

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Okay speaking of things turning up:

    Ive found two of interest on Ebay, one a commercial machine, and one a domestic with grinder:

    First, theres a Rancilio Z9 2 group for about $600 with a bit over a day to go

    Second, theres a Gaggia Classic with MDF Grinder and Base for $220 with 20hrs left.


    Both of these would need to be shipped of course, and both are used.

    Are either of these worth looking into?

    The Rancilio looks cheap, but im not sure about the Gaggia being an aluminium boiler....and havent heard much about the accompanying grinder..


    ...Any thoughts? THanks



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