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Thread: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

  1. #1
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    A Newbie that has read too too too much info

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

    Thanks for all the advice I have been reading for about 2 months now, but this is first post.


    So your help please, here are the dilemmas

    I want to buy a new Coffee machine and grinder for Husbands major ?0 Birthday.


    I want to replace an old Krups!!!! Okay I know, but very little else available 10 years ago.

    I definitely dont want an automatic.

    The budget is Ugh!!! as per most of us

    We went to the Aroma festival, The ECM stand Giotto was stunning and the coffee awesome to my taste, however way out of the price league. The Botticelli was not available for a test drive, and we were told by reps that we would not be happy with it anyway, that may be so..... however the Giotto is still out of our price league.

    We then went and spoke to the Gaggia team, they pulled the worst coffee ever from the Classic, maybe they were disinterested etc, however, my money is now not going there!


    We went over to Sunbeam and Husband seduced big time, he is happy to wait for the next model in October. Im really not so sure, quality issues seam a real problem and having lived with the thermoblock for so long, where coffeee is too cold too often - however the price is certainly right!

    I then showed him the Rancilio set up in the local arcade, (I had hoped it would be at the festival) He did not like the look of the machine too agricultural apparently compared to the modern looking Sunbeam.... so it is now off the list.

    We drink a lot of milk based coffees in the am Cappuccino latte etc

    Therefore I am now wondering about the Expobar semi automatic office, definitely couldnt afford the fully automatic (Is there a big difference, do really need to pay the extra) or would I be happy with the semi automatic office. I realise this is a H-X machine so probably better and quicker for the cappucinnos.

    What are peoples experiences with this machine? are there other H-X machines in same price bracket that i have missed? It does appear less expensive than others, is it also then of less quality or just less expensive?

    Does it take long to heat up to make espresso of do you leave it on all hours? What are its niggles, can you live with them? Is it quick and easy to pull a coffee?

    I would then look at purchasing a Rocky or Iberital grinder, Gosh then so much more to decide........ doser/doseless automatic/ manual or the chrome semi automatic Iberital whatever that is, but it may look better with the chrome Expobar.

    This really would then stretch the budget way over.... and the financial director is getting a little tetchy about it

    too too much for my brain to process!!

    All comments gratefully received, please point me in the right direction

    Does anyone on this site demo these machines in Sydney ever? I am happy to purchase online, but would prefer to at least view the machine in the flesh first.


    Thanks again

    Salmon :-/



  2. #2
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Hi Salmon, and welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

    Pity that he didnt like the look of the Silvia, cos she can make some pretty awesome coffee, for the money.

    Apparently the Expobar Semi Auto is a very good machine for the money, some of the site sponsors can help you out with more on that one, and Im pretty sure they would recommend the semi auto is better for home use.

    The Sunbeam mark 2 is expected to be a very competent machine, and many are reporting being able to make great coffee with the current model, although there is some concerns about reliability/build issues, (and while Sunbeam have been very good at servicing issues, its surely better if you dont have to go without the machine while its being fixed). I think also Silvia and Expobar should always steam a bit faster than the uprated thermoblocks, and while the twin thermoblock arrangement enables you to theoretically brew and steam at same time, if you are paying attenion to pulling your shot/s you wont be steaming at the same time, but you can do it straight after, as with the Expobar which should be ready to go straight away also, (and I dont mind the short wait for Silvia to get to steam temp).

    Gaggias use aluminium boilers and they are about half the size of the Silvia boiler so probably better they didnt impress you anyway. Pity about the poor shot from the classic, apparently it can do very nice shots, but steam capacity is a bit limited.

    A good grinder is an absolute necessity, and for home use, doserless is the most preferred way. The doser versions are less messy, but apparently more fiddly to clean out, and need to be cleaned out frequently at home. Doserless versions will make a bit more mess, but dont need as much cleaning of the unit itself (and I dont find it that much trouble to wipe the grinder and bench down when I have finished).

    Fresh coffee beans are the most important ingredient. Have you thought about roasting your own? Theres plenty of good advice on this site too help you get started. Otherwise find a good local roaster if you havent already done so.

    Hope this is of some help,
    Regards
    Bullitt

  3. #3
    Super Moderator scoota_gal's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Hi Salmon, welcome to Coffee Snobs,there are a few of us girls about too and always nice to welcome another as we are clearly outnumbered!

    I agree with you on the information overload youre experiencing! The internet is a wonderful place but can get a bit much at times! :D Its good to find places like this forum as they do have a lot of info in them, youve just got to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    Guys might scoff at me for saying this to you, but sometimes good old womens intuition can be of great help and so listen to what you think about all of this too, dont just take what so and so said for granted! ;) (Im not specifically refering to anyone in that last comment either, so please dont take offense Bullit, as I agree with your post too.)

    I also have a Silvia and Rocky set up now, I used to have the Sunbeam (which has now been given another good home!) and the little Sunbeam was great till we finally outgrew it. I love the Silvia and all the issues about it I have read about here and elsewhere, are non issues for me.

    I guess it all depends on your approach to coffee. Personally, I think I am way to relaxed about my treatment of the process of getting a great shot. The information I have seen here on temp surfing, PID controllers etc, etc is enough to blow your mind! :o To me thats all way too much trouble and I have my own steps to producing the perfect shot (IMO) everytime that is simple and effective! ;) :D Which of course, would make some of the others here just shake their head at me! But Im a practical gal who just isnt into the highly technical stuff. 8-)

    And I agree with Bullit. Pity your man doesnt like the look of the Silvia. As far as agricultural goes, I wouldnt put it in that class as all! But then, Im biased, as I have a handsome Silvia gracing my kitchen and a tractor sitting in the garage. I can confirm that its no where near agricultural!! :D ;D

    All the best, Salmon. Hope you find what your looking for. :)




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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    silvia too agricultural?
    look at an ecm botticelli- similar, but larger boiler more stable temp (no need to temp surf) plus temp gauge
    fantastic espresso lots of steam and drop dead looks
    brett


  5. #5
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Yes, a whole world of shiny toys out there.

    As Garfield says "he who dies with the most toys, wins"

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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    I wouldnt recommend the ECM Botticelli. I have one, and really want to replace it.

    You WILL need to temperature surf: its farily unstable and if left unattended for even 20 mins, will require flushing. There is almost too much steam pressure: very difficult to get really well-textured milk.

    The temperature gauge isnt really worth the trouble - its not particularly accurate (even the retailer said its a bit of a gimmick).

    If I had my time again Id go down to the Silvia (at least $300 cheaper) or step up to the Ghiotto/Mondiale/Butterfly level.


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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Thanks everyone,
    info very helpful
    I agree the Silvia looks fine to me.... however it will not be mine as such!!!!
    Thanks for the advise re the doser and doserless very practical and just the sort of info I wanted to find out.
    mmm I must say the thought of roasting my own is becoming more tempting by the day.
    I shall however, get over the first hurdle and that is to purchase a new Espresso machine and grinder.
    Scoota Gal you are correct all the reading re temp surfing has really put us off the Silvia as well
    And Bullitt like you I like to purchase things that work first time. I realise from all the posts that Sunbeam have been pretty terrific with their warranty service, I just dont want to purchase an item and have to assume I will use it because Sunbeam have not trialled the product robustly enough prior to release. I dont have time to be their guinea pig.
    I will revisit the SIlvia, I like the look of the Botticelli however if I spend this much the H-X expobar is not much more, so I thought it may be a better bet. any comments welcome?
    I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to that first cup!

    thanks again

    Salmon


  8. #8
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Hi salmon,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs [smiley=thumbsup.gif].....

    Yep, making the final decision can really be difficult but I guess it all comes down to what your final budget actually is, and the sort of machine that will appeal both from the cosmetic and operational points of view. I would recommend, if it is at all possible, to visit the premises of one of our Site Sponsors, discuss budget constraints and then ask them to demonstrate the machine(s) they would recommend to you. At least you will have the opportunity of trying before buying, and thats worth a fist-full of money right there.

    Give the sponsors a go, they WILL help you out. All the best,

    Mal.

  9. #9
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Mal,

    Thanks for the good advice, May just have to go on a road trip to Canberra, Melbourne or Brissy eh?
    Cant see any of the guys are in Sydney. Because I am certainly happy to give them the opportunity.
    I never was good at making decisions. I am really enjoying the learning process though.
    Salmon

  10. #10
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Too bad the Gaggia guys couldnt be bothered to pull a decent shot - their domestic machines are capable of making excellent espresso but do need to be temp surfed and flushed like the Botticelli and Sylvia - I, for one, dont find this to be a problem. There is nothing that I know of in the sub $350 area that can touch the plastic bodied, non-solenoid, dual heating element models (yes they are declasse amongst the bling crowd but the espresso can be excellent if care is taken). Their fast heatup time cant be matched except by thermoblocks.

    Greg

  11. #11
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Im waiting on the Expobar Leva from Chris at Talk Coffee (site sponsor).
    I too had the concern of not being able to find a Sydney supplier but Chris was so supportive from the word go that I decided to purchase from him.
    (The excellent price was also a factor)

    Hopefully only two more days until it arrives.
    The grinder may be here today though.
    So Ill have something to unpack while I wait.

    Everyone with some knowledge of equipment that Ive spoken to says Ive made an excellent choice in the Expobar.

    Ill report on my first efforts in pulling shots later on this week.

  12. #12
    TC
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1154854121/0#10 date=1155009351
    Im waiting on the Expobar Leva from Chris at Talk Coffee (site sponsor).
    I too had the concern of not being able to find a Sydney supplier but Chris was so supportive from the word go that I decided to purchase from him.
    (The excellent price was also a factor)

    Hopefully only two more days until it arrives.
    The grinder may be here today though.
    So Ill have something to unpack while I wait.

    Everyone with some knowledge of equipment that Ive spoken to says Ive made an excellent choice in the Expobar.

    Ill report on my first efforts in pulling shots later on this week.
    Hey Thunder....it will be on my workbench tonight or 1st thing tomorrow for a test and tweak.....and then on the back o truck heading your way....

    Hope you get a great result of it and thanks for sending your business my way! 8-)

    Chris

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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    tHUNDER
    you dont appear to have said anything about the grinder but let me tell you, youre going to love it.

    Salmon.
    The business of temperature surfing is made FARRRRRR too difficult in some internet coffee machine circles. Like Greg, I dont find it a problem and to put it another way, if you are looking for a machine that *doesnt* require temperature surfing, then you may as well give up now as you are not going to find such a thing in a regular domestic or small commercial machine in or anywhere near your price bracket.

    So called temperature surfing is a normal part of esp machine management & the "necessity" of doing so would be the last reason not to look into a silvia, particularly as the machine offers positive benefits over many other models.

    Regardz,
    FC.

  14. #14
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    I didnt mention the grinder because I dont know what salmons budget is and Im sure shell be looked after in that regard if she deals with a site sponsor as recommended.

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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Hey Salmon..

    As has been said, dont concern your much too much with the "temp surfing" thing.

    Its really just another thing people do on the quest for ultimate perfection.

    I guarantee you that you have drunk coffee that you have found quite acceptable in the past from commercial outlets where the barista couldnt care less about the espresso process.

    The Silvia and Imat Mokita/Napoletana will produce a very nice brew provided the person at the helm knows what theyre doing and this is before tempsurfing/PIDs, etc.

    Another thing is that machines where you can extract and steam at the same time are nice, but at least a little overrated.

    My machine has one boiler and sep modes for steam/espresso. I find that by the time Im done pulling a shot or two, flick it over to steam, and go and get the jug and milk ready, the steam is ready to rock. So unless you frequently need to serve a number of people (6-8?) in a reasonable amount of time, you might want to give less weight to that consideration.

    My recommendation is to spend a little less cash on the "bling factor" of the machine and stick with something that is solid and decent and spend the extra on sending you and/or hubby to a good barista/espresso course.

    No matter what machine you get, youre not going to get the most out of it unless you really know your stuff :)

    my 0.02

    cheers
    Lachlan (who is signed up for Advanced Espresso at CoffeeAcadamy later this month )

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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    :) Lachlan,

    Thanks for the sound experienced advice this really is the type of stuff I was after., also had a great chat to Chris at Talk Coffee today.

    Salmon

  17. #17
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Hey Salmon- good to chat today and glad you found it useful....

    A HX machine will certainly make the whole milky coffee job easier and the Expobar Semi-auto is a great bang for buck entry point- but at a price premium over the silvia (which is still a big fave of mine). I still own one and they are a great machine.

    Temperature surfing is pretty much inherent in good barista hygiene- we all do it automatically. Dont worry too much...

    As for comments on the stability of the ECM Botticelli, all I can say is RUBBISH! It produces fabulous espresso and is capable of sensational milk texture. In addition they look great...

    Those who gripe generally tend to forget that the biggest source of shot variation holds the group handle. We are sometimes way too keen to blame our tools!

    2mcm

  18. #18
    Super Moderator scoota_gal's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1154854121/15#16 date=1155129268
    Those who gripe generally tend to forget that the biggest source of shot variation holds the group handle.
    :D Yep, I agree! ;D

  19. #19
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    2muchcoffeeman- glad u said that about the botticelli- not quite my bezzera but strangely easier to get consistent results on than the little prosumer hx unit at work (millenium)
    as they say 50% barista 25%coffee 25% machinery
    otherwise all cafes would have great coffee and no one would make coffee at home!
    Brett

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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Gdday everyone. Well some months ago I went through the whole process that Salmon is going through, and ultimately decided to buy a Nuovo Simonelli Oscar from Bake n Brew in Adelaide (although I live in Perth). Cost $1,195, and we have been extremely happy with it. Nice smooth looks (it has a rather curvy moulded case in ABS plastic), copious boiler (its an HX model), endless steam.

    Initially, I was not making much better coffee than I could make with the Baby Gaggia which the Oscar replaced. So I took myself off to a Barista course at the W.A Barista Academy, and was invited to bring the machine along with me. The problem, of course, turned out to be ME!

    So after an afternoons intensive training, I then went out and bought a Sunbeam Cafe Series 0480 Grinder, (which seems incredible value $178), and now get freshly roasted coffee from Five Senses coffee in Rockingham, and the coffee I can now make with my new found skills is (dare I say it) .....awesome! Wonderful flavour, gorgeous coloured crema, and sweet, smooth microfoam if anybody wants it. It did take quite a bit of practice though.

    Ive had small domestic espresso machines for nearly 20 years, and just thought that they made better coffee than a plunger or stove top espresso, but nothing like I could get from a good coffee bar. I refused to grind my own coffee (thought it was an unnecessary fuss,) and stuck with pre-ground Lavazza (most recently il Perfetto). What a waste of coffee drinking years!

    Anyway Salmon, if your husband doesnt like shiny S/S machines (as I dont), have a look at the Simonelli Oscar. They are Italian, of course, but seem to well loved in America. Its pretty substantial, and weighs quite a bit, which I like, because it doesnt skate about the bench top when you lock the handle on. So far, no technical problems of any kind. The pump is notoriously noisy, though.

    The closest alternatives I could find were the Expobar and the Ascaso Steel as they were also around the same price and had roughly similar specs.The Oscar won out for me on looks, simplicity, and the fact that it had a really good size reservoir and waste water tray. Oh, and you can also turn the drip tray grid upside down to gain more space beneath the portafilter if you need to. Useful if you have friends who insist on having a morning Americano in a mug!

    Allen


  21. #21
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    How do you temp surf an EM6900 - after it heats up (a couple of mins) its ready and is ready for the next shot basically straight away. I have not checked temps of fresh water immediately after shot is pulled. I might have to.

    Cheers

  22. #22
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    ...I suspect purely from an academic point of view, because I pulled 20 doubles over about 35 mins yesterday and the think just kept on pumping out great expresso.

    Cheers

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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Sounds like its working ok then
    If you are really keen you could use a thermocouple (my $70 Jaycar multimeter has a temp probe) to test it.

    There are a few diff ways- do a google search. The way I do it is I wait until the boiler light goes out and put the probe into the portafilter through one of the spouts and measure temp. There is debate about whether this is the best spot- some say put a probe into a foam cup, some say right up into the filter etc. Whatever you do, wait till boiler light goes out each time and measure at diff intervals from that time. From my point of view, wherever you measure, keep it constant and compare shots at the various times and temps- personally I like92 - 93 C

    However- if it tastes good now do you need to measure? Unless you are like me and love to tweak for the sake of tweaking!

    All the best
    Brett

  24. #24
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    ...sorry I meant 20 cups of espresso from 10 doubles!

  25. #25
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    Re: A Newbie that has read too too too much info

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by telemaster link=1154854121/15#22 date=1155367483
    There is debate about whether this is the best spot- some say put a probe into a foam cup, some say right up into the filter etc.
    Id stay away from the "foam cup" method with a T/Block machine, and for that matter, probably any machine that is designed for domestic duty. Far better to try and measure data from a real pour using a small-bead t/c of the type that Sparky uses for all his experiments. Just place it on top of the coffee cake prior to locking the PF into the Group and then go for it. You have to be on the ball though, the temps move pretty quickly once the Brew Water hits the puck :o.

    Quote Originally Posted by telemaster link=1154854121/15#22 date=1155367483
    However- if it tastes good now do you need to measure?
    Exactly ;),

    Mal.



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