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Thread: Newbie needs advice

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Newbie needs advice

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hello lovers of the brew,

    This is my first post. The start of a journey......

    I have a dilemma. I have enjoyed my daily coffee at a favourite coffee shop and can can no longer accept inferior coffee at other institutions (I think Im becoming a bit of a coffee snob) My favourite barrista is now selling the shop so I think its time I started brewing my own (+ its costing a bucket load of money buying a coffee (or 2)everyday).
    What to Buy ??
    I first looked at a little gaggia (about $479) ok I thought until I saw an ECM botticelli 2 ($995) on the next shelf. now this is a much sexier machine and the owner of the shop had many good things to say about the quality of the unit. and also suggested the Silvia ($775) as a quality unit. Of course now I realise I will also need a quality grinder that will probably set me back an extra few hundred $.

    So I keep my dear wife informed of my deliberations and she says "Your going to spend all this money why not buy an automatic machine that does it all" (currently advertised in the cataloge she is pressing into my face for $900).

    So fellow coffee people. Can you get an auto machine that does allow you to make a quality coffee without the mess (I enjoy the rich italian style coffee, she likes a latte, we both dislike the drip coffee style).

    If an Auto is out what are your views on the Ecm Botticelli, Silvia and Gaggia.

    + I wish to learn the "Art" does anyone know of barrista training in Adelaide.

    (Budget is hopefully under $1,000 but can stretch to maybe$1,250)

    Many Thanks


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Re: Newbie needs advice

    Hi Alister,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs.
    Yes it is a journey, and a great one at that :)

    No dilemma really, you should get a good machine and make your own drinks for much less cost!

    Within your budget I would recommend the Silvia & Rocky combo.
    Also suggest get a decent tamper as the plastic ones supplied with the machines arent that good, and allow for some proper coffee machine cleaner, and a blind filter (which are relatively inexpensive). You will also need at least one steaming jug and a milk thermometer is good to help when learning to steam the milk. So there goes most of your budget, but you will be able to make some great coffee given fresh beans.
    Yes it is important to have a good grinder, and generally it is preferable to have a separate grinder.
    ALSO most important is fresh roasted beans, which is why many of us roast our own.
    Your budget would also just stretch to a cheap popcorn popper or heat gun both of which will allow you to roast your own beans if, or when, you want to go that way.
    Did I mention fresh beans? BTW you can get fresh grean beans through this site about once a month.

    The ECM Botticelli looks like a great machine also, bit dearer, slightly bigger boiler, and a built in temp guage I believe, dont know about parts availability etc.
    Silvia parts are relatively easy to get should you ever need any.

    Recommend you contact the site sponsors they will help you out with good advice and service, and if you can drop in to one of their shops I am sure they will be happy to show you finer points on how to operate the units, etc.
    Generally the Gaggias make good coffee, but have smaller aluminium boilers compared to Silvia & Botticelli, and the preferred ones are Carezza (if cost is critical) or the Classic which at least has a 3 way valve (if memory serves me correctly).
    If you are steaming milk the bigger boiler (Silvia, Botticelli) can be an advantage.
    Aluminium boilers can have trouble with corrosion, depends a lot on the water you put through them.
    Three way valves are not essential, until you have used a machine with one, I would never buy a machine without one personally, having used a machine without one at work, the mess is unbelievable if you forget and pull the filter handle off too quick. (Carrezza doesnt have a three way valve, the others mentioned all do)

    Superautos,... many have gone down that path and realised their mistake later.
    (Some of course have been happy with the capability, but sounds like you wouldnt be)
    They are convenient, and can make a decent drink if fed on fresh beans, but dont brew as well as a Silvia or Gaggia or ECM can. Generally they dont steam milk as well either.

    They are also relatively complicated and can be prone to expensive repairs, friend of mine bought one (and it cost a lot more than $900) and his has been back for repairs three times under warranty, now hes also got a second hand Silvia which is going great, and brews much better than his superauto does.

    Keep browsing around the site there is plenty of info here to help you :)

    Sorry cant help with the barista training in Adelaide, but I think the question has been asked somewhere on this site recently, or again one of the site sponsors is can probably help with more info.

    Hope this has been some help.


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Newbie needs advice

    Wow, youre at the start of a long and hopefully fruitful journey.

    Dont get a superautomatic. They have so many moving parts that breakdowns are common. They cant make a shot even close to what the machines you list are capable of. Cheap superautomatics (ie. less than $2000) are not worth the metal and plastic theyre made of. Beware!

    Of the list you mention, they are all good machines capable of making excellent espresso. Of the three machines, the Gaggia has the worst steaming performance, but is still adequate. It also has an aluminium boiler, which has a tendency to corrode in a very short space of time. Otherwise it performs well. I was very happy with mine, while I had it.

    The Silvia is a proven performer, but known to be a bit finnicky. Im not a fan of the non-adjustable brew pressure, which is set too high at the factory. Ive heard that an update is on the way that includes an adjustable over pressre valve, but its not here yet.

    The ECM has the largest boiler of these three. It also has a thermometer included, which allows accurate temperature control. This makes temperature management much easier. The only con with the Botticelli is the fixed steam arm. Otherwise it has a good rep and is a powerful steamer. If youre interested, Barazi (a site sponsor located in Brisbane) has an exdemo model that they will sell for $700 or thereabouts. It has a full warranty so is a bit of a bargain.

    My last suggestion would be to look at the Sunbeam EM6900, or if you can wait, the new EM6910 that is due out on October 1. I had a brief test drive of this machine on the weekend and was very impressed. Its steaming is adequate, more like a Gaggia, but you can steam and brew at the same time! Also there is no temperature surfing and the new EM6910 will have a user adjustable brew and steam temperature (an excellent feature for a techno-coffee snob). It also has a pressure gauge to help you dial in the grind... all in all this machine is getting more impressive with each iteration. The cons with this machine are that it is still in development and has had quite a few teething problems. When it works its impressive. Otherwise, Sunbeam have been excellent with their warranty on this machine. That still doesnt make up for the fact that many owners are without a machine for a week or more, while their machines are being repaired or replaced. If this machine gets sorted, then machines like the Silvia will lose a lot of market share, as the Sunbeam does more for less.

    Of course dont forget the grinder, fresh beans and some time to develop the skill required to get the nectar youre after.

    for grinders, the cheapest is the Sunbeam EM0480, which does the job. The next best is the Iberital Challenge, which has a stepless grind adjustment, which is really important for dialling in the grind to get a good pour. Definitely dont skimp on the grinder.

    On the weekend I met a gentleman who had bought a Mazzer Mini to go with his Sunbeam EM6900. Thats a grinder that actually costs more than the machine. May people think that this is the way it should be done.

    In order of importance for getting a good shot it goes as follows:

    Fresh beans
    Skill at dosing, distributing and tamping the grounds in order to get a uniform extraction
    A good grinder that grinds uniformly fine enough for espresso and has enough adjustments
    A decent machine with a stable brew temperature and pressure.

    So IMHO youre starting at the bottom of the list. Thats OK. Just dont forget the order of importance and that there are other factors involved that need to be sorted out.

    I hope you enjoy the journey.



  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Newbie needs advice

    You already have good advice to not go fully auto. Can attest to that with
    our office machine experiences. Started with Gaggia classic type, outgrew
    it; "upgraded" to small auto, finicky, unreliable, loved to go back to the
    shop for "service"; tried to fix that with a bigger auto, same deal; now
    have 2-group Wega, works flawlessly, everyone looks after it.

    The Rancilio distr. in Newton has Silvia for around $750. Lost address, can
    be found via Mocapan in yellow pages. They can demo it.

    Try visiting Rio in Stepney. Lots of m/cs in all categories to try. And talk
    it through at the same time, very helpful. Isomac Venus is worth a look.

    Id also be interested to know of a course in Adelaide if you find one.

    Have fun!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Newbie needs advice

    Im in a similar situation to you, decided i wanted/needed a machine, started off looking at the cheapish department store machines....then moved up to looking at superautos, did a LOT of research into various features of about 30 different models from the Krupps, Saeco, Delonghi etc range....then came here and got talked out of it.

    I decided that the same money would be FAR better spent on a more manual machine and actually learning the art of it all, cos at the end of the day, despite probably suffering thru some burnt swill at the start, ill have (hopefully) learned a skill, and can enjoy some quality coffee after not too long (again...fingers crossed).

    Last thing i wanted to do was spend $1000 odd dollars on a plastic super-auto only to be in and out of the repair shop with it.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Re: Newbie needs advice

    Bullitt, Sparky, Hazbean & Zakal1,

    Thanks for your advice. *Looks like the auto machine is out. I will also take a look at the Em6900. *The Em 6910 also sounds very enticing. Does anyone have any further info on this one?

    posting modified by 2mcm...please keep phone numbers and commercial postings for PM ;)

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Re: Newbie needs advice

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Alister- Do what I ended up with!
    A superauto in the kitchen for quick coffee at parties for people who are happy with a coffee taste and lots of foam ;)
    And a Silvia rocky combo in the back room, studio, bean room, cafe, writers den- for me! and Bullitt when he comes round, and a select few who seek perfection. ::)

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