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Thread: Low end machine dilemma

  1. #1
    CS
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    Low end machine dilemma

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

    I am on the market to get an espresso machine. I am a really just a novice drinker, and doubt that I would ever become an enthusiast, I had a laugh.

    I have come up with 2 machines after some research. What do you think of them (I know most, if not all, would prefer the 2nd option)?

    1. Via Venezia with a Solis Scala 166.
    I thought this might be suitable but have heard lots of people say that Saeco machines often break down (more than other brands). Would I eventually need to upgrade to a Silvia (remembering that I am not that fussed about coffee in the first place)?

    2. Miss Silvia, probably without a grinder for the time being and get pre-ground coffee until I really need a Rocky (Im already stretching my budget on the machine).
    Would I ever need such a machine? Is it beyond my league (in its capabilities)? Would it be too complicated to use than say a VV?

    How difficult is it to use these machines? How long do you have to wait for the water to boil? How long does it take to make one cup of espresso? What do you think of the fully automatic machines? Do they produce worse coffee?

    Any advice would be appreciate.

    CS

  2. #2
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    This may not be terribly helpful in the scheme of things but I am afraid is entirely dependent upon you and what you as an individual are happy with or you as an individual expect..

    What you have heard about with regard to saeco machines does not apply to the VV. It is one of the best domestics around and frankly, I think its the best machine saeco produces....but you have to be happy with the pressurised filter handle and the type of brewed coffee it results in. Some folk are ok with it, and some arent. Otherwise....this is an excellent starter machine that potentially will be with you for a good 15 years or so with excellent standard of build, good (internal) domestic boiler machine design, *& spare parts availability.

    The 166 grinder is a very good starter grinder.

    So depending on your own individual likes & expectations the above could be just fine & excellent value.

    Miss Silvia is also just fine but requires a lot more understanding to use to obtain a satisfactory brew. So in effect it is "harder" to get a good result than the the above mentoned VV because it is less forgiving of the operators level of understanding.

    HOWEVER, the Silvia when used properly will give you a commercial quality espresso but the VV wont. VV produces a different kind of brew because of the pressurised group handle and generally speaking, the VV espresso is less well extracted & is more "mellow" than a robust & well extracted commercial quality espresso as brewed by the Silvia.

    How difficult is it to use these machines? *
    It is easier to use the VV than it is to use the Silvia, effectively because of the pressurised filter handle..otherwise they are very similar.

    How long do you have to wait for the water to boil? *
    The silvia has a larger boiler capacity so the intial start up time from dead cold takes longer but once they have both been on for a while (you can leave them on all day if you wish ...but not while you are not at home or sleeping please...so that you can come get coffee at any time on demand). Effectively then, they give you coffee on demand at any particular time. * *


    How long does it take to make one cup of espresso? *
    Depends on the individual and how much care you take. Othwerwise, it will take you LESS time than to boil the jug to make a cup of instant.


    What do you think of the fully automatic machines? *Do they produce worse coffee?
    They make coffee very much like the VV as described above.


    But seriously, people are always being led to just a select few model machines when they "read" on the net....effectively choking sales of many perfectly good items. Nothing wrong with the machines you picked above but there are also other good machines around to suit any number of individuals. My personal preference is to stay away from aluminium thermoblck & aluminium boiler machines, which leaves all and sundry brass & stainless steel boiler machines..........


    Over to you! *;)

    regardz,
    FC.

  3. #3
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    Another good option for the cost of a Silvia is a Gaggia Classic and a grinder. The new Sunbeam conical burr grinder for under $200 and a new Classic will set you back under $700 and allow you to make excellent espresso. Its also an easier machine to use than a Silvia but it also allows room to grow.

    Just another suggestion,

    Regards,

    Mark.

  4. #4
    CS
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    Thanks FC for your great commentary :)

    Sparky, the Gaggia Classic is one Ive read a little bit about. How would that compare to the VV? Remembering that I am a novice, would that be difficult to use?

    Thanks.

    CS

  5. #5
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    You have been given very good advice so far, so Im going to keep this short.

    a) The better, and more expensive, the equipment, the easier it will be to use. In the sub-$1000 category, all machines are probably about as easy to use as each other. (Well ... if you steer away from thermoblocks and pressurised portafilters)

    b) The grinder is much more important than the machine, particularly at this price point. Silvia without a GOOD grinder is like a Merc without wheels. Silvia with preground ... youd be better off with instant. Preground of any description is garbage. If you are only grinding for espresso, the Iberital Challenge is probably the best bang for your buck. If you want to switch between espresso and other methods of brewing, a stepped grinder will probably be more suitable.

    c) Super automatic = garbage. Youd be better off with a good grinder and a french press/plunger.

    Cheers,

    Luca

  6. #6
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    CS, I have a mate who had a VV, while I had a Classic. He consistently preferred the coffee from my machine compared to his (hes an espresso drinker). I paired my Classic with the Gaggia MDF grinder ($250 using bargaining at Harvey Norman) and was making great coffee.

    That said, FC has already mentioned the pressurized portafilter design of the VV will make coffee without the need for a good grinder. Its just different coffee. My mate lived off this for years but always preferred a commercial espresso. Then he got a non-pressurized portafilter for his VV and was making coffee similar to my Classic. However, he needed a good grinder. He started cheapish (Delongi or similar) and regretted it as it *couldnt grind fine enough. Then he upgraded to a Rocky and was driving the VV like my Classic.

    So maybe for your purpose, the VV is more versatile as you can use preground with the pressurized PF and then buy a non-pressurized PF and grinder if you start looking for more performance or to get closer to commercial quality.

    The Classic (or the cheaper Carezza -$300ish) is a better machine from the start, but will require a grinder with the quality of a MDF/Lux/Iberital to get a reasonable coffee... and youll require fresh coffee....

  7. #7
    CS
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    Yep, I am sold! I just bought the Classic this morning :) Now I am on the market for a suitable grinder. Yes, I am considering the Lux, MDF, or Iberital Challenge. Is the Lux that you are referring to made by Nemox? I saw that on sale for $250. Are the 3 grinders much of a muchness for the Classic?

    If all fails, I think Ill get a Solis 166! But I am in no hurry for one immediately. If I happen to find one at a good price, then Ill get one ;)

    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    Re: Low end machine dilemma

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    The three grinders youve listed will work well with the Classic. The Solis probably wont. Now that youve stepped in and bought a decent machine, you really will need a decent grinder. The Nemox Lux and Iberital Challenge use the same grinding burrs. There are a few more rebadged grinders out there that also use the same burrs. The MDF uses flat burrs like the Rancilio Rocky and higher end grinders, but is slow and loud. The Lux is also loud by all accounts.

    To really enjoy the product from your machine you cant skimp on the grinder. You should also use fresh beans from a local roaster. Then just settle back, make good coffee and enjoy it.

    Cheers,

    Mark.



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