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Thread: I could use some general Brand advice?

  1. #1
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    I could use some general Brand advice?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys, due to some advice in my other thread about what machine to look for, ive decided to look into a 2nd hand commercial unit, which has basically rendered redundant all my extensive research into superautos and some of the domestic machines (sunbeam etc).

    Ive been looking thru the offerings on ebay, trading post, classifieds etc, and have stumpled across even more brands im not familiar with.

    So i was wondering if maybe you guys could maybe help me out with some general advice as to some of the manufacturers ive been seeing including any "stay away from these!" type things.

    I understand that my request is rather vague, but there isnt really much point going into specifics on something like ebay as the products on offer change so much.

    So anyway, here are some that i have been seeing a bit of:

    La Cimbali (have gotten the impression that these are VERY good)
    Bezzera
    Boema
    Wega
    La San Marco
    Faema
    Nuova Simonelli
    Carimali
    Brasilia (is that the same as Brazilia?)
    Azkoyen (sp?)

    Thats about all i can remember seeing at the moment, so any advice would be great, especially anything critical i should be aware of.

    THanks again guys

  2. #2
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Gday Zak,

    All the machines you have listed are good quality machines and capable of doing a great job in the right hands and with the machine setup properly... and thats the crux of the whole issue of course, being machine condition and how it has been setup by its previous owner(s) or their service company.

    If you are a reasonably technically capable person and good with tools and your hands, then buying a used machine can have its rewards.... for the unwary or non-technical, there are lots of pitfalls unfortunately, so you really need to be sure just what you are getting into with buying a used machine, especially if you cant observe its operation in person.

    As with everything, you pay your money and take your chances with used equipment, it is most definitely NOT a level playing field and you need to be very wary that what you think you are buying is in fact what you are actually buying.... you dont want to buy into someone elses headache. All the best,

    Mal.

  3. #3
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    The question is....do you want an "instant" *coffee machine, or do you want a "project". Do you want to spend time working out the project....

    Suggest that if you want a coffee machine, you keep away from the project.

    Decide what your parameters are:
    Domestic or semi commercial or commercial.

    If you have decided against the basic / smaller & therefore department store type machines but only need a domestic type, then its easy...just go for a silvia & be done with it...I believe there is a second handi in the 4 sale section above. Be quick, theyre good.

    If you wish to go for a larger capacity than the domestic type then let us know your budget and tell us if you want an instant machine or the project. If you think you might be into the large project, are you prepared to pay for a 15 or 20 amp electrical circuit to be put in the house for the machine, can you afford the space, are you prepared to supply the plumbing, and do you want to spend the time....?...or just make coffee straight up.

    If you want an instant machine, forget about buying someone elses rubbish on internet auction sites...coinsider a good quality semi commerial machine, but be prepared to budget even more than 2 gs for a new one & that doesnt include a matched grinder.

    U need to work out what you really want & how much to spend, before anyone in here can help, or you will drown in a sea of information that will only get *more & more confusing.

    regardz,
    FC.

  4. #4
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    yeah, thanks for the tips guys.

    As for budget, its not really that high unfortunately which is why im looking down this path.

    I dont necessarily want a 2 or more group machine due to the power requirements, and am basically looking for something like what Mal managed to pick up recently.

    I understand that buying anything 2nd hand is going to be a lot riskier than new, but that is why i was asking for the brand advice, to try and minimise that risk by avoiding any machine considered by those who know, as rubbish. hehe.

    The thing is, one of the cheaper ways for me is the buy a new sunbeam EM6900 and grinder, and thats going to set me back around $700, though if i was going to do that tomorrow, id probably get that Silvia/sunbeam combo for sale in the FS section (though shipping could be a nuisance).

    What ive noticed though, is that there are quite a number of used commercial machines going for around that price and less, and i was thinking that if i could pick up one of THOSE, and maybe spend a little on it, id have a tankier machine for about the same money.

    And bench space isnt an issue, so if i got a bigger machine i could make a feature out of it rather than having to hide it away to save space.

    I also like the idea of being able to plumb the machine in, and would ideally love a HX or something with a great steam capacity, but its not crucial and a good price will influence me more than that.

  5. #5
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Hi again Zak,

    I can appreciate where youre coming from, but I was VERY lucky to be able to get the quality of machine that I did for the price I paid. Ive been hounding evilbay for between 12-18 months and bid on more auctions than I care to count and lost out. To be honest with you, I do see the occasional machine that might be worth a try and since I have a field technical/engineering background, the possibility of facing a complete rebuild of one of these machines doesnt really phase me at all. If you dont have such a background or have a close friend who does, then Id be very hesitant to recommend this particular path.

    If you are determined to do this though, then a better proposition might be to develop a client/service provider relationship with one or more reputable retailers in your area.... this was advice provided to me by FC and had even started following up on it when the Bezzera became available. At least then, if you need technical advice and assistance, you have a ready source available right off the bat with your new retail partner. I think FCs right again, you really do need to identify the options you have and follow through on the one with the most likelihood of success. Its very difficult to give you any more specific advice than that at this stage. All the best,

    Mal.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Another consideration when looking at commercial machines is replacement part availability. Make sure what-ever machine you decide on has spare parts readily available to you.

    In dealing with used commercial machines single group machines tend to go for significantly more than a 2 group machine does as they are highly sought after by home brewers as well as small cafes.

    The best deals out there seem to be the 2 group machines as I consistantly see them going for less than half the price of lower quality single group machines.

    Good luck in your hunt!

    And yes, Cimbalis are indeed great machines. Massive over-kill for most home users, which means theyre a perfect match for a Coffee Snob! :) :) :)

    Java "Loves his Cimbali" phile

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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Yeah, its something ive noticed as well about the 2groups, which is originally what got me thinking about the idea.

    I know this may be a dumb question, but if a machine is in working order, and by that i mean everything on it is WORKING...what work could the machine conceivably require?

    Like obviously cleaning, descaling etc is almost a given, but what else can be wrong with it that is being concealed somehow despite the machine doing prima facie, everything its supposed to?


    Also, the point about availability of spare parts, is that something anyone can tell me about those above brands? and if not, how do i go about finding out?

    Cheers again guys.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 link=1154073320/0#6 date=1154096038
    I know this may be a dumb question, but if a machine is in working order, and by that i mean everything on it is WORKING...what work could the machine conceivably require?

    Like obviously cleaning, descaling etc is almost a given, but what else can be wrong with it that is being concealed somehow despite the machine doing prima facie, everything its supposed to?
    If everything on it is working and youve personally verified this then beyond a cleaning and descaling the most likely things that will need to be done is a rebuilding of the steam/water valves and replacement of the head gaskets. Also potentially new jets and inline filters depending on the model and how well maintained it was.

    The problem is in whether or not everything is working. When buying something off of a place like eBay this can be very problematic. The seller may say everything worked when it was last hooked up, this doesnt mean that will be the case when it arrives on your doorstep. Things like rotary pumps do not like to be left sitting for long periods as they tend to seize up if left sitting for too long. Also if the unit froze while sitting there will be problems with it. Potentially ones that make it worthless.

    Even if they are willing to guarantee that it all works when you get it if such isnt the case then its up to you to pay for shipping the unit back for a refund. The cost of shipping such a large unit 2 times can add up to almost as much as the purchase price. So while its guaranteed to work and if not you get a full refund of the purchase price youre still out hundreds of dollars in shipping costs and have nothing to show for it.

    Also, the point about availability of spare parts, is that something anyone can tell me about those above brands? and if not, how do i go about finding out?
    When youre looking at a commercial machine go to the manufacturers web site for information on where their authorized dealers are located. Also do a net search for parts on them. With many brands parts are only available via their authorized dealers. Some parts (such as gaskets and pumps) you can get from third party vendors, but parts specific to that company/machine are only available through them.

    If you have questions about a specific company/machine contact the site sponsors and Im sure theyll be able to answer any questions you might have. :)

    Java "A big fan of commercial quality equipment" phile

  9. #9
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Frankly,
    home bodies (no disrespect intended) need to keep away from machines that are overly complicated in theior design & build, or as others have noted, are harder to get parts for.... Ability to get parts is not related to their physical location in someones warehouse, but how good or bad the people running the service section are at bothering to get back to you or fish out the part & sell it to you.....

    The above are the types of things my company looks at, and is the reason why we are starting to decline to serivce some brand machines...because their importers are too hard to deal with. If they are hard for me, they will be even harder for the average home prpoject builder.

    Again in view of the above, I would be inclined to advise you to keep away from ALL electronically governed machines ( if you are going to buy a project & therefore something older / used with no known history.... from someone you dont know, where part or all of the machine may not even turn on at purchase....

    So, no "electronic" / "volumetric" machines for you, *semi-automatics are the go.

    Then:
    by far the easiest brands on your list to deal with on the east coast of Auatralia are:

    Bezzera
    Boema *
    Brasilia (is that the same as Brazilia?)

    BUT, gpoing down a list of brands still doesnt mean much because you cannot factor in the actual condition of the individual machine you bid on or buy. You might buy a good looking boema, and it may hahve been situated in aa country town where they use bore water, it could be completely blocled with scale, and the electronics could be shot......

    In the end, I am concerned that the attraction for this type of project may only be the "cheapness factor " of the project to start with. In the end it can be a very different story.... So for example, it may be much more cost effective and perfectly adequate to spend somewhere around 1300.00 to get into a new silvia & rocky combo (or whatever, but I am deliberately mentioning equipment of known quality with long standing excellent service record unlike some others that have absolitely no service record), rather than go down the path of the unknown.

    So as already stated in around about way...would rather see you buy an "instant" machine than get into a project where you dont know what you are getting into.

    For what its worth, my advice.

    Regardz,
    FC.



  10. #10
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Yeah i see your point, i am probably biting off more than i can chew with the whole idea, cos as you say, one really has no idea what they are getting into buying sight unseen.

    Unfortunately i cannot afford a good new HX or somethign machine, and i know that if a buy a new machine that is prone to upgraditis, it will never happen until the machine breaks, cos despite my best intentions i will struggle to convince anyone (whose money it also is ehhehe) that we should be upgrading while there is a working machine sitting there, no matter how rudimentary.

    Thanks for the tip about electronics, i have seen quite a few of those for sale actually, thats probably why. hehe.

    How are the La Cimbalis for repair costs? Have heard mixed things about costs on them.

    Thanks again


  11. #11
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    Re: I could use some general Brand advice?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Hi again Zakal, I feel for your dilemma and have certainly been where you are now. My take with second hand stuff especially off evilbay has been one of evaluating the risk against the reward and managing the risk exposure as much as you can. If I were *to buy a machine site unseen from an unknown vendor Id allow at least $300 to get it running in good condition if you can do all the work yourself *Solenoid valves, steam valve assemblies, relay, pressure gauges elements all run at around $80-$100 per part. Yes it may cost more or it might cost less but in most cases youd be reasonably covered.

    The key things with 2nd hand machines for me is firstly to find out if have they been used in a *commercial or domestic environment. Of course service and maintenance is equally important *but one week in a busy cafť could be equivalent use to more than 5 years in a *home setup. One of my juniors was nearly ten years old when I bought it and I reckon it probably hadnít pulled more than a couple of hundred shots in its life


    Re cimbali parts, I must declare an interest here on two levels, firstly Iím an unashamed *cimbali fan boi, secondly Iíve been talking off line with Zakal about the possible sale of one of my combos. Iíd suggest you have a look at the cofeeparts site, one of the site sponsors by the way. There youíll see that all the normal wear an tear items washers orings valve etc are similar prices between the different machines, i.e. a boiler gasket for a bezzera or cimbali will be the same price for the same sized part. Even a new HX for the jnr is only $80 or so and an element is only $85, compared to a much more $$ Silvia element. Some of the genuine cimbali parts from coffex seem to be pretty expensive though, steam tips at $45, grinder hopper lids at $60 or so, but these arenít parts that youíd normally expect to replace. I *recently got lucky with coffex, they couldnít supply a new part so they gave me an as new secondhand one for nothing!

    The only other downside with Cimbali parts is you might need to buy some larger *spanners ;), these guys didnít mess around with the size of the fittings!

    Good luck in your quest




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