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Thread: What to Buy?

  1. #1
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    What to Buy?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight

    The other day I decided my Krups Novo just couldnt cut the mustard anymore and had to go. Simple, , time to checkout the web. A few days later and after checking out crema, wholelattelove, coffeegeek, coffee for connoisseurs (amongst others), I am an expert! Well not quite, but I did learn a thing or 2 about E61 groupsets and god shots!

    I mainly drink espresso/ristretto/machiato with the occasional latte/flat white. I dont need to serve a family of 12 so the machine would tend to only be used for the 5/6 shots a day. I would love an ECM Giotto Premium/Diadema Junior/la Scala Butterfly but need to draw the line somewhere and $2500 is a bit more than I could justify.

    I also will need a new grinder, I would want to get something that will last and deliver a consistent grind of espresso .

    Currently considering these machines :

    • Rancilio Sylvia (maybe Ill PID it) $700 +
    • Nuovo Simonelli Oscar Professional $1100
    • Isomac Zafirro $1600


    And these grinders:

    • Cunill Cafe Tranquilo $400?
    • Macap M4 $?
    • Mazzer mini $600


    So Im looking for an espresso machine which can consistently churn out 5 to 6 exceptional espressos/cappucinos a day, is durable, reliable and has readily available spares. On occasion it would be nice to churn out half a dozen lattes for guests, but not essential. Price is not limited, but I would need to understand why the extra $ is justified to go up the food chain.

    With grinders, I would want to get something that will last and deliver a consistent grind of espresso (no need for drip, filter, etc). Id rather pay a bit more than have to upgrade later.

    Sylvia/Macap M4 ? Nuova Simonelli/Cunill Cafe Tranquilo ? Diadema Junior/Mazzer mini? Which way to go...?

    Any suggestions? And where in Sydney is a good place to buy these things?

  2. #2
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Go and see or telephone John in San Souci (his Coffeesnobs name is "Pinot").

    Check out his advertisement above in the "Coffee Related Items to Buy or Sell " category, second form the top of the page. I dont think you are going to do better on new or near new equipment at the moment.

    Regardez,
    FC.

  3. #3
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    Re: What to Buy?

    2Sheds,
    There are alot of people who would recommend the Silvia and Rocky combo. I would be one of them. Unfortunately Ive never had anything in the same league to compare it to, but I picked up my combination for a sheckle over the 1000 mark. Still cant get the grin off the dial. ;D

    Boris

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Id go with the La Valentina and Mazzer combo.
    Ive got a Tranquilo and have found it to be excellent. It took some getting used to in the looks department, but Ive grown very used to its simple workman like appearance. I got mine for around $330, and so far I think it has been excellent value. I do plan to get the Mazzer Mini E at some stage in the future.
    The guy Ill probably by a La Valentina from is a local coffee technician and he has nothing but good things to say about the build quality and reliability of the La Valentina.
    I think Sienna coffee were offering the Oscar for just under a thousand bucks as a special a few months ago. I had a look at the Oscar in person and found it to be a little too plasticy for my tastes.
    Everything youve mentioned sounds good and it sounds like youve done some research. If you get a chance to actually use the machines in question then perhaps that would be the best option, although an option Ive found reasonably hard to exercise.


    Stephen

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    Re: What to Buy?

    quick solution is to firstly buy a mazzer as itll be the last grinder youll ever need to buy.

    WRT espresso machines Id suspect with your intended usage youll probably outgrow the Silvia fairly soon (and this is from a guy who has a Silvia for sale :().

    The Zaffiro is ideal for the pure espresso drinker less so for lattes and cappas. The Oscar is certainly the cheapest new HX but earlier threads here had concerns with its structural integrity

    Personally Id look for a simple secondhand commercial single group if you dont mind the odd bit of problem solving and DIY.

  6. #6
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkboy link=1110030682/0#3 date=1110100533
    Id go with the La Valentina and Mazzer combo.
    Ive got a Tranquilo and ......

    I had a look at the Oscar in person and found it to be a little too plasticy for my tastes.
    Seems a lot of people dont like the plastic of Oscar, but from all accounts it is a very capable machine - how else are you gonna get a hx machine with 1.5 litre (more than the la Valentina I think) insulated copper boiler for a bit over $1000?

    I havent found any place which sells the la Valentinas? where do you get them?

    Is it only the style of the Cunnill that you don.t like?

  7. #7
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    Re: What to Buy?

    2sheds

    About 6 months ago when I saw the Oscar was available for under a thousand dollars I began doing some online research. Most of the reviews I read came from CG or alt.coffee. From those reviews I gathered that there was a second slightly modified Oscar that was made for the US market. The US version sounded fairly appealing and most of the Oscar owners had the attitude that you get used to the plastic shell and what does it matter what the machine looks like if it makes a good brew...? I was thinking along the same lines but was determined to actually see the Oscar in person before I made an online purchase. I ended up in Lane Cove at an industrial estate, for the life of me I cant remember the name of the outlet, but upon actually seeing and physically handling the machine I came to the conclusion it would be too much of a compromise. It really is a subjective, aesthetics based decision. The numbers and features of the Oscar stacked up really well against everything in its class, in the end I had to live with the machine day in day out and felt the premium paid for a machine I found appealing was worth it.
    A large part of my liking for the La Valentina is the support I know I will get from the local guy who sells it to me.
    Here are a couple of links to reviews for the La Valentina:
    http://www.geocities.com/n9zes@sbcglobal.net/LaValentina/LaValentina_Review.html

    http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/commercial/valentina/dan_kehn

    While Im on reviews heres a fairly comprehensive one for the Tranquilo:

    http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/grinders/cunill_coffee_grinders/Daniel_Hanna/1589

    From what Ive read the La Valentina has a 1.2 litre boiler and I know its not insulated. Id think about insulating the boiler myself when I get one.
    In terms of where to buy a La Valentina, Fresh Coffee sells them, but he is in Canberra. Or as Fresh Coffee mentioned Pinot sells them. He is in Caringbah. Check out his post in the Trades Hall section:
    http://www.coffeesnobs.com.au/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=Sale;action=display;num=1109840373

    I really like my Cafe de Tranquilo doserless grinder. For the money I dont think It can be beaten. Ive read posts mentioning problems with the off and on switch shorting out but no dramas thus far for me. It does have a minor problem with ground coffee hanging up in the dosing cone, due to static build up I think. Again this hasnt been a big issue with me.

    It really comes down to that compromise between what is reasonable budget wise and what catches your eye on an aesthetic level. If you could care less what the gear looks like then an Oscar and a Tranquilo would be a moderately priced combination that would be capable of producing some excellent results IMHO. If you get a chance to see some of the items in question up close I think that would help you make some decisions.
    Please note all the above is just my personal opinion based on lots of reading and discussions. I havent owned a Mazzer or an Oscar or a La Valentina. I have fondled and used all of the above on a very limited basis :)
    Fresh Coffee and Pinot would be the best people to talk to. They sell machines for a living and would be better equipped to guide you on your espresso journey :)


    Stephen

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2sheds link=1110030682/0#5 date=1110185832

    Seems a lot of people dont like the plastic of Oscar, but from all accounts it is a very capable machine - how else are you gonna get a hx machine with 1.5 litre (more than the la Valentina I think) insulated copper boiler for a bit over $1000?
    Hi 2sheds,

    Heres a link to swag of reviews on the Oscar by both users and CG.... http://tinyurl.com/57a4h

    Especially take note of this review by Andreas Siegert here....http://tinyurl.com/57bz2
    He is very highly thought of in the alt.coffee newsgroup and elsewhere.

    As you say, from all accounts it is a very capable machine and well constructed. It probably comes down to appearances and "feel" in the end and I guess thats a decision that only you can make. In its favour though, it is easy to clean and relatively quiet in operation, has an E-61 Thermosyphon type of grouphead and is well supported by Sienna Coffee and others in Australia.

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Guys,

    all good responses. Just a couple of clarifcations...La Valentina is the name used by the american importer of the machine that in the European and other markets (including here) is called the Diadema Junior. They have a 1.3 litre boiler.

    The Oscar is as stated precicely by Sharkboy....very well done. You have to decide whether you are happy with a machine that due to the plastic monocoque construction, has little weight compared to its metal brothers, and therefore is too easily shunted around the workbench when you are trying to use it (eg when applying the gorup handle). You also need to decide whether you are happy with the overall total plastic look and its slightly smaller overall size...you have to live with it, in *your kitchen, and probably for a very long period.

    Speaking from personal experience of servicing Oscar, it is nowhere near as easy to get into in the event of a breakdown, as the metal machines with steel or stainless frames & easily removed outer cases, and as a consequence of its smaller size & constrcution is finicky to work on...but it is cheap!

    I cant actually remember whether I took any notice if it really has an insulated boiler or not but even if it has, it will not necessarily be relevant to anything...particularly as the body is a completely sealed unit around the workings of the machine, keeping the heat in, unlike metal bodied machines that have "holes" everywhere. In fact if it is insulated it may well be to try and keep the boiler heat from affecting the plastic body, not from the point of view of trying to stabilise boiler temperature better...!

    It does not have an E61 type group, if that is important to you.

    Mention is often made of mazzer mini grinders....but there are others for example the MACAP M5 as reviewed by coffeegeek (if that is important to you) in August last year. The M5 competes directly with the Mini and the manufacturers are within very close proimity to eachother. The review was more than favourable and in the end they wondered if the MACAP M5 is and I quote, the *"Mazzer Mini Killer".

    Mazzers are very often hard to get in OZ, but we have no trouble getting Macap M5s, Mxs, or M9s here and the stock is good. In any case anyone looking at, interested in, or referring to a Mazzer Mini, might also like to take a look at the Macap M5.

    Clarifying the budget price in the original post in this topic, you would have to be lucky to strike a standard Mazzer Mini or Macap M5 for much less than $699.00, and the more upmarket models like the Mini E only go up from there.

    The Cunil grinder has issues with static *and therefore the amount of mess that can be left after grinding coffee...but this is related to how much coffee is ground in any particular sitting, and whether you as an individual will be upset by this or not. Some individuals are, some arent. Otherwise the Cunil is a very good little semi commercial grinder and criticism cannot be levelled at it from the point of view of the actual grind quality.

    Regardez,
    FC.


  10. #10
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Hi All!

    2sheds,

    Just for an extra opinion - I have to second sharkboys view on the Tranquillo grinder. I have had mine for a little over 6 months now and can not be happier with it. I paid around $320 for it and despite the asthetics debate....I love it!

    I do hate the fact that everytime I pull it apart for cleaning, I have to put a new liquid paper mark on the dial though..... >:(

    The static issue raised by FC is worth noting - I have looked at a number of electrical counter measures for it, including the replacement of the doser(less) port into a full aluminium unit, but at the end of the day, a quick tap on the port releases enough of the grinds to suit me :)

    Machinewise, I am also in a similar situation to yourself - I was VERY interested in an Oscar, mainly due to price. I have since moved on due to the fact it doesnt have a hot water tap and the unit itself is a little too compact for my liking.

    I am specifically after a non-lever, HX machine which after much research has lead me to the Diadema Junior. I think this machine will be the best unit to suit MY needs and I am presently in negotiations with FC ::) to purchase one.

    Just an extra opinion from another newbie to help you out!!

    Regards,

    James

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    Re: What to Buy?

    AJ..

    Just wondering how far you have your grinder set too... ie how many clicks away from the burrs touching?

    FB

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Hey FB!

    I screw the top burr down until it connects with the bottom burr and both begin to turn together.

    I then screw the top burr anti-clockwise until it doesnt touch the the bottom plate i.e. they no longer spin together.

    It is always within +/- 5 spaces from the original position, hence the reason I need to put a new mark where 0 is.

    I suppose I am use to it now, but I should begin to clean off some of the old marks before the top turns from black into white!! ;D

    This inconvenience however, is a small price to pay for a great grinder! ;)

    Regards,

    James

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Thanks James,

    We have one ourselves and we take it back about 1 block +1 stop and leave it there and that generaly does our coffee Beans.... Untill we eliminate our mortgage (3-4 years) the Cunil will have to do... and then the Mazzer mini might take a new place.. Overall we have found the Cunil to be a reliable grinder, but I would like to have a grinder with finer adjustments.

    Static has always been a problem, but the ammount of grinds left up the chute concerns me greatly, there is nearly a tablespoon worth there. (thats where the little finger comes in handy)

    But its all a learning curve and each day we learn.... if we dont learn, then why are we here.

    FB

  14. #14
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Ill tell you my mazzer (with doser) experience.

    I grind first thing in the morning, make the coffees, and then clean the grinder. There is always about a teaspoon of grounds that sit in the "ejection" chute. I dont think its static that makes it sit there, its largely gravity - the chute is relatively flat. I just have a bamboo skewer I stole from the packet in the kitchen drawer that sits with my grinder brush and I just scrape it out with that into the doser, say 6 seconds, a quick on/off pulse of the grinder to eject the few grounds in the burrset, another quick poke with the skewer, then dose it all out into the waiting container (I dont tend to dose into the portafilter). 15 seconds. A quick brush, and the bottom is clean too, all in under 40 secs. This way I know things will be very fresh the next morning

  15. #15
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1110030682/0#8 date=1110241904

    The Oscar is as stated precicely by Sharkboy....very well done. You have to decide whether you are happy with a machine that due to the plastic monocoque construction, has little weight compared to its metal brothers, and therefore is too easily shunted around the workbench when you are trying to use it (eg when applying the gorup handle). You also need to decide whether you are happy with the overall total plastic look and its slightly smaller overall size...you have to live with it, in your kitchen, and probably for a very long period.

    Speaking from personal experience of servicing Oscar, it is nowhere near as easy to get into in the event of a breakdown, as the metal machines with steel or stainless frames & easily removed outer cases, and as a consequence of its smaller size & constrcution is finicky to work on...but it is cheap!

    I cant actually remember whether I took any notice if it really has an insulated boiler or not but even if it has, it will not necessarily be relevant to anything...particularly as the body is a completely sealed unit around the workings of the machine, keeping the heat in, unlike metal bodied machines that have "holes" everywhere. In fact if it is insulated it may well be to try and keep the boiler heat from affecting the plastic body, not from the point of view of trying to stabilise boiler temperature better...!

    It does not have an E61 type group, if that is important to you.

    Hi FC,

    Maybe youre a pretty big guy with power to spare or some such, but as the specs indicate in the accompanying link... http://tinyurl.com/4aqv4, an Oscar weighs in at 39 lbs or just under 18 Kgs. I would have thought that was a reasonable sort of mass for a home based machine. And you are right about the ABS Plastic shell/cover, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for a lot of owners this doesnt seem to be an issue. I guess people who believe that all espresso machines should come clad with s/s will steer clear of it regardless of its oft reported excellent performance.

    Regarding the Boiler, yes it is insulated as can be seen in this linked image... http://tinyurl.com/3vo89 but regardless whether it was done to reduce the impact on the ABS housing or to improve Boiler efficiency, or maybe both... the benefit to the end user is still there. You can also see part of the Steel Frame upon which the components of the machine including the ABS shell are fixed. It isnt a plastic monocoque as you suggest.

    And yes, it doesnt have a bona fide E-61 Group but a patented equivalent that does the same thing, like a lot of other manufacturers. The Group and Portafilters (yes there are two) are of equivalent commercial quality and mass. The patented thermosyphon system keeps them hot ready to go at a moments notice. From more than twenty reviews I have read by a wide range of end-users, the only real criticism seems to be the lack of a Hot Water outlet. Seems like a minor matter to me and to most of the more than pleased owners of the Oscar.

    Really cant see the point in knocking a machine that has obviously been well designed and manufactured just because of its exterior cladding. The science of plastics manufacturing has come a long way and the machine should not be relegated just because its not a finish that you particularly like.

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Hi Mal,

    you must have me confused with someone else...as I really dont recall "knocking" the Oscar, but I think I advanced a reasonably fair assessment of a machine that my company used to sell until it became obvious that the clients did not want to buy...and yes, it almost always came down to the plastic construction, and they were prepared to pay more for others finished in old fashioned metal.

    Regardz,
    FC.

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    Re: What to Buy?

    Mal

    I take it you own an Oscar (and the winner is :))

    One thing you raised that I was concerned about was the lack of hot water outlet. Not because I wouldnt have hot water readily available, but due to boiler water not being refreshed as often as would be desirable. Do you find yourself having to do some tinkering to drain the boiler every so often, and if so, is it tough to do?

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    Re: What to Buy?

    There are a couple of ways this has been discussed on Coffeegeek. One is to undo a drain bolt inside somewhere (the owners say its pretty easy to to). The other way was to get the machine up to temp, unplug it, take it to the sink and then tip it on its side towards the steam arm and open the steam valve. The boiler pressure will then blow out most of the water.

    Greg

  19. #19
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkboy link=1110030682/15#16 date=1110521186
    Mal

    I take it you own an Oscar (and the winner is :))

    One thing you raised that I was concerned about was the lack of hot water outlet. Not because I wouldnt have hot water readily available, but due to boiler water not being refreshed as often as would be desirable. Do you find yourself having to do some tinkering to drain the boiler every so often, and if so, is it tough to do?
    Hi sharkboy,

    As a matter of fact, I dont own an Oscar and will probably never be in a position to be able to afford to consider ever buying one or any other machine of similar RRP. It just so happens that I was following a few threads on alt.coffee a little while ago where the pros and cons of Oscars was being discussed at length and several Oscar owners chimed in with their impressions of the machines and links to various reviews that had been done over time.

    When its all said and done, the Oscar is a very good value machine considering what it is capable of. To arrive at similar levels of performance one has either to "step up" to one of several different makes of s/s clad machines, or maybe strike it lucky and get the machine of your dreams from eBay or Auction houses. Sure, its clad in ABS plastic and doesnt have a HW outlet, but I think in the overall scheme of things and remembering what is important, it consistently produces excellent espressos/cappas, etc in the hands of someone who is not necessarily trained to Professional Barista level of profficiency.
    If I could afford to buy one, the latter would be held up as a more reasonable measuring stick of potential than that of its paltry shortcomings... in my view of course and that does not necessarily translate or equate with that of everyone elses.

    I guess my view is, that the espresso machine is just a means to an end. Providing it does a good job of what it is intended to do, then everything else is of secondary importance. My wife does not agree with me about such matters, she is much more concerned that appearance fits in with the overall decor of the location, no matter what it is that is being contemplated. We always manage to arrive at some level of compromise that ensures that we are both content about the final decision. Life is and always will be full of compromise.

    All the best,
    Mal.

  20. #20
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Thanks to everyone for their input, in particular FC and Pinot. I have finally chosen the Giotto Premium which I was able to get for a similar price to the Diadema. I purchased it from a local dealer, which will be convenient if it ever needs a service.

    The Nuova Simonelli Oscar seems to polarise people - you either love it or hate it. Interestingly, I am unable to find any owners that have anything but great things to say about it. At $1095 (Australian), I still consider it as a great value machine (and a HX one at that). If cash were more limited, I could live with Oscar.

    Thanks again for your generous assistance.





  21. #21
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    Re: What to Buy?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Nice one.

    Did you get a grinder too?




    Stephen



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