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Thread: Why upgrade my grinder and roaster?

  1. #1
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    Why upgrade my grinder and roaster?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I got into making coffee a few years ago when on a very tight budget. Initial equipment was a Sunbeam EM4820 ($168) + Sunbeam EM0450 Conical Burr grinder ($200) + homemade popcorn machine roaster ($25). And a regular supply of green beans from Coffee Snobs.

    The espresso machine has died and the budget loosened a bit, so I'm about to upgrade to a Lelit PL41TEMD ($999) or Lelit PL042TEMD - with built-in grinder ($1249). I could also get a Behmor 1600 Plus roaster ($495).

    But the missus has baulked at this, saying 'Why do you need a new ginder and roaster if what you've got is doing the job OK?'

    To which I stammered and hesitated and all I could come out with was 'Coz it's better'.

    So - why do I need a new grinder and roaster if what I've got is doing the job OK?

  2. #2
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    ... because if you get the Behmor your roasting is likely to improve dramatically and you will get better coffee if you upgrade the whole chain...
    ... machines with integrated grinders are barely a step up. Most of their grinders are worse than the 450 you have. Another reason is that the heat destroys the stored beans over time...
    ... because if you upgrade the espresso machine to something better it will probably highlight that the grinder is not up to it (unless you actually have a 450 that does a fair job - not common but barely possible)...
    ... and upgrading the espresso machine to one that will froth milk whilst pulling the shot will make a huge difference to lattes and cappuccinos... Assuming one of you takes milk.


    FWIW, I would start with the Behmor and probably a 6910 / 7000 - about a $1200 upgrade. After a while you can always "borrow" a better grinder somehow and if the difference is obvious to SWMBO then you will have a free pass for a grinder upgrade later.
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  3. #3
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    What other reason do you need than, it will make you happier and able to garner even more enjoyment out of a very interesting and fruitful hobby...

    Mal.
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    Senior Member Brewster's Avatar
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    Hi SpeedBump.
    How often do you have to roast with the popper to keep up a continuous supply?
    I got into home roasting almost 9 years ago. Like many, tried the inexpensive popper first, and after early success, quickly realised that I would need a roaster with a larger capacity to make it worthwile for me. I knew the upgrade would deliver more consistant results and supply of fresh beans. When I did the sums, I knew the bigger roaster would pay for itself many, many times over it's life and it didn't disappoint. Well worth the initial outlay.

    Cheers
    Mal

  5. #5
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    No point upgrading to a Ferrari if you're still going to be driving through a field. Best get some asphalt to drive on so you can actually use what you bought.

  6. #6
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    There is night and day between a popper and a Behmor. You'll be blown away by the improvement once you get to grips with the machine.

    Also as Tampit mentioned I'd avoid a 'combi' machine unless you have a genuine need for one (space saving for example). If you do end up buying one make sure you don't store your coffee beans in the grinder hopper as the heat from the boiler will spoil them much faster than normal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Bean_Coffee View Post
    Absolutely.
    I remember the popper with 90 gram micromicromicro batches and 8 minute roast times.
    The Behmor will (as Leroy said) blow you away.
    Cheers, Paul
    K Bean - Dream Machines
    Slight digression here Paul, but is there as big a difference between a Corretto setup (vs popcorn maker) and the Behmoor? Cheers!

  8. #8
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    There would be a longer learning curve associated with a Corretto than with a Behmor.
    The Behmor also offers a lot of benefits with being basically, a Plug'n'Play Roaster with loads of built in flexibility.

    A Corretto does have advantages too of course...
    Once you get a handle on the physical characteristics of the system you cobble together, it does offer a lot more hands-on and sensory driven approach than other proprietary and unitary designs. This suits some people and not others of course and is not unlike the effort required of a small, basic drum roaster. Coupled with the CS Roast Monitor software and the HeatSnob, everything is possible...

    I reckon a Behmor would be pretty hard to beat though, especially coming from a popper roaster.

    Mal.
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    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Well - looks like faithfull ol' popper is going to be superceded. Behmor, here I come!

    And I don't have to have a combi, so I'll strike those off the short-list.

    If my 450 grinder is OK, I might stick with that 'til it dies - or proves inadequate.

    But the actual machine - we only ever make a total of 2 cappuccinos per day. From what I've read, I understood that it was ideal to avoid 'appliance store' machines, if possible, and instead go for a prosumer machine.

    TampIt suggested maybe a Sunbeam 7000 ($849). Would I be better off with that or something like a Lelit PL41TEMD (for $150 more)

  10. #10
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    I started with a Coretto and now use the Behmor.

    I bought the corretto off a snob as I wasn't sure roasting would be my thing and just wanted to try it with minimal outlay. I used it for several years with incremental tweaks to the gear along the way. They are capable of ripper roasts.

    I then got the Behmor and love the fact it is one compact unit that is easy to use and "clean", no mucking around with getting heat gun out of the way, probe out, pan out, dump into cooling sieve etc. you just press buttons on the Behmor. And the roasts are fantastic.

    Either way, both are quite easy and produce the goods, and pay for them selves quickly with the money you save buying fresh beans. And the DIY aspect can't be beat! You will never go back I reckon, it's a lot of fun.

    Re the machine, I had a combi (Nemox) as my first machine for years and they are a great machine. Very capable of a ripper brew and it ended up being my backup/travel/work machine once I upgraded to something more "serious".

    Having said that, if you can stretch the $ an E61 style machine is awesome, for the bling alone!

    Taste wise you don't need to spend massive on a machine if your beans and technique are good, but it does add to the overall experience using quality gear.

    Don't forget you can get great used machines here if you don't mind second hand.

    I would steer towards a "traditional " machine ahead of an appliance type one.

    Your grinder may be ok (they can vary) in which case you can use it until upgraditis bites!

    All this is very easy to justify with a quick calc on money saved compared to buying a coffee or two a day from a cafe!

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedBump View Post
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Well - looks like faithfull ol' popper is going to be superceded. Behmor, here I come!

    And I don't have to have a combi, so I'll strike those off the short-list.

    If my 450 grinder is OK, I might stick with that 'til it dies - or proves inadequate.

    But the actual machine - we only ever make a total of 2 cappuccinos per day. From what I've read, I understood that it was ideal to avoid 'appliance store' machines, if possible, and instead go for a prosumer machine.

    TampIt suggested maybe a Sunbeam 7000 ($849). Would I be better off with that or something like a Lelit PL41TEMD (for $150 more)
    G'day SpeedBump

    The main reason I suggested the 6910 / 7000 is because the long term life of the machine will largely depend upon how you maintain it. Several of my friends have 6910s from 2008 or 2009 which are in perfect working order. Feed it with good water, do not crap up the seal with grounds and do a regular clean / descale and they will last well. Abuse or fail to maintain any machine and watch it fail... 3 months of WA tap water is a pretty common death for any machine over here.

    FWIW, the 7000 is quieter and easier to froth milk, however in terms of learning curve it is more like an automatic car than a manual - lots of hand holding.
    The 6910 is much more "hands on manual", and is more like a traditional commercial machine to use. A lot of the skill you can transfer later to a bigger machine.

    They have effectively made my 2 group La Pavoni obsolete.

    Domestically, no contest. Same standard of coffee and milk froth, no need to plumb it in and find a 20Amp power point, warm up time of 90 seconds (La Pav pulls 20 amps for 35 minutes and needs at least three preflushes before it is ready) and the 6910 /7000 fits in a normal kitchen. All 3 machines are likely to outlast me with minimum grief.



    TampIt

  12. #12
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedBump View Post
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Well - looks like faithfull ol' popper is going to be superceded. Behmor, here I come!

    And I don't have to have a combi, so I'll strike those off the short-list.

    If my 450 grinder is OK, I might stick with that 'til it dies - or proves inadequate.

    But the actual machine - we only ever make a total of 2 cappuccinos per day. From what I've read, I understood that it was ideal to avoid 'appliance store' machines, if possible, and instead go for a prosumer machine.

    TampIt suggested maybe a Sunbeam 7000 ($849). Would I be better off with that or something like a Lelit PL41TEMD (for $150 more)
    Your current grinder may just be ok so it's worth a try. The 0450s can vary in quality a bit, but if you've got a good one it will work well.
    As far as Sunbeam v. Lelit for the machine, most people here will tell you to definitely get the Lelit. Overall I agree, but it's up to you really. This is what you need to consider:
    The Sunbeams will allow for simultaneous milk steaming and brewing as they are both dual thermoblock machines. Even though you drink milk drinks this is something you'll rarely do, but being able to steam milk at any time without having to wait for the boiler to come up to pressure could be useful. I've owned a couple Of Gaggia Classics which are similar to the Lelit. Once you know how to use the machine this isn't a huge issue, but it's worth considering. If possible I would get into a dealer who can demo the Lelit for you, that way you'll see how well this side of it works and be able to decide if it's going to be ok for your needs.
    The other factors are appearance as well as care and maintenance. Let's be honest, the Sunbeam EM6910 isn't very attractive. The EM7000 is a bit better, but the Lelit is much nicer looking. Regardless of build quality all these machines will perform better if well maintained. The Lelit is possibly slightly easier to keep clean and will handle a bit more punishment than the Sunbeams, but will still die if badly abused.
    Hope this helps.

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    God I love this community - so much helpful advice!

    After more-than-careful consideration of everything mentioned, it looks like I'm going to go with the Lelit PL41TEMD machine, the Behmor 1600+, and stick with my Sunbeam EM0450 grinder.

    Water quality is something I totally missed when I first got into making my own, so it looks a Aqua Pro bench top water filter is in order, as well. (budget is already blown, but I still need to consider the total cost of everything).

    Two final related questions while I have you all here - same question - if my plastic tamper that came with my cheap Sunbeam seems to tamp OK, do I need to upgrade that? If so, what should I be looking at without having to sell one of the kids?

    And finally, if I WAS to go the whole hog and replace the old grinder, what's the minimum I should be looking at to get the job done right?

  14. #14
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    Speedbump, bought the exact same Lelit a few weeks back. It comes with a plastic tamper but in all honesty a proper tamper is so much nicer to use and does a better job easier I wouldn't hesitate to upgrade. My Lelit came from Jetblack and they had a modestly priced inhouse tamper. It is one part of the system you will touch every day, better to not think about where you made shortcuts every day, but rather how much you enjoy the whole system.

  15. #15
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Well done for considering water quality and making the decision to install filtration. It will both improve flavour and help avoid unnecessary repairs to your coffee machine.

    Definitely get a proper tamper. I think that the Lelit you're looking at has a 57mm portafilter so your Sunbeam one won't fit it anyway. You don't need to spend silly money, but somewhere around $60ish could be needed to get the right one.

    And as far as the grinder goes the absolute bare minimum would be a better version of the 0450. That being the Breville BCG820. If you can find one for <$200 on sale or on CS in good nick for even less it could be worth considering. It may not give a much better grind than your 0450, but is much cleaner and more user friendly. Ideally I'd be saving my $$ and looking at an entry level flat burr grinder around the $500-$700 mark, such as a Compak K3, Macap M2M or Quamar Q50. Alternatively keep your eyes on the For Sale section here as good quality, well priced grinders do come available from time to time.

  16. #16
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    So - a decent tamper has been added to the shopping list and I know what to look for if I get a mad impulse to spend more money on a different grinder.

    Thanks, everyone!!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedBump View Post
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Well - looks like faithfull ol' popper is going to be superceded. Behmor, here I come!

    And I don't have to have a combi, so I'll strike those off the short-list.

    If my 450 grinder is OK, I might stick with that 'til it dies - or proves inadequate.

    But the actual machine - we only ever make a total of 2 cappuccinos per day. From what I've read, I understood that it was ideal to avoid 'appliance store' machines, if possible, and instead go for a prosumer machine.

    TampIt suggested maybe a Sunbeam 7000 ($849). Would I be better off with that or something like a Lelit PL41TEMD (for $150 more)
    Sunbeam seems like Breville, more of an appliance than coffee specific. If between the two I'd definitely buy the LeLit.

  18. #18
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    Totally blew the budget out of the water! Happy to report I ended up getting a ECM Casa V machine, a Quamar Q60 grinder, a Behmor 1600 Plus roaster, a BWT water jug + 3 pack of filters, Crema Pro knock box and a Motta Timber Top Tamper.
    Brewster and Dimal like this.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Welcome to coffeesnobs upgraditis



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