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Thread: Help for a newbie

  1. #1
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    Help for a newbie

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

    Just joined CS as I need some advice and this seems to be the ideal place to get it!

    The family and I have just moved back to Sydney (small kitchen, unfortunately) and I am the only coffee drinker (1-2 cups a day at home; 2-3 cups at work!). That being said, I am determined to buy a decent coffee machine for home.

    My constraints are space (small kitchen as I said) and money (dont we all?). I was hoping to buying something for under $750 particularly in these post-christmas sales. I was wondering about the fully automatic machines but suspect that space and money may be prohibitive. The Saeco Incanto CS seems to fit the bill ($599 at Bing Lee ... RIP) except it seems rather large whereas the Krups Compact Espresseria Pro sounds smaller in size but larger in budget.

    Can anyone give me any ideas, advice or alternatives?
    Thanks in advance,
    RP8383

  2. #2
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Welcome to CS.

    Dont forget that without a quality grinder you wont get decent coffee out of any machine.
    Have you budgeted for that?


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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks for the reply. I thought a fully automatic machine does that too. (or am I being too optimistic, naive or just completely unrealistic within my budget? If so whats the best that I can get for that price?)
    RP8383

  4. #4
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Gday RP8383 and Welcome to CoffeeSnobs...... [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

    With your budget mate Id steer well clear of any Super Auto machines like the unit you referred to. At best they produce average quality coffee (while theyre running) even if you use the best quality, freshly roasted beans you can lay your hands on. And as Ive already alluded to, they are very high maintenance machines and unless you are prepared to spend between $1500-2500 for a decent machine such as manufactured by Jura, then I would forget all about Super Autos.

    The most important aspect of all, and one that is most often overlooked.... is the need to use freshly roasted, high quality coffee and ONLY grind it immediately prior to brewing, no matter what method is employed. Ground coffee starts to go stale and rancid within minutes, freshly roasted whole beans may last up to a month but are best used within two weeks of roasting as they also go stale and rancid.

    I guess that brings up the next item..... A decent grinder. No matter what method of brewing you employ, be it Espresso, Plunger, Drip, Stove-top or Turkish... you need a grinder that is capable of producing grinds that are confined to within a narrow size range and this means that anything but a decent burr grinder is out of the question.

    Probably the least expensive grinder available that is capable of doing this is the Sunbeam EMO450 at around the $150 mark. This is a very basic grinder but it uses reasonable burrs (grinding/cutters) and can do the job for espresso. If espresso is your coffee drink of choice though, you would be much better served by going with a higher quality grinder such as an Iberital Challenge or a La Spaziale Junior for around the $270 mark from several of our site sponsors. Id advise reading through this and subsequent threads on the pros and cons of grinder to give you an idea of performance and price.

    So, depending on the quality of grinder you buy and the amount of money left over, you may well be better off going with a Plunger or Stove-top for the time being and saving your biccies until you can afford a half reasonable espresso machine. The first real espresso machines probably start with the likes of a Gaggia Baby/Classic or Imat Mokita/Fenice/Lelit and go up from there. Lots of info to be found about these machines across the boards but this would be the bare minimum starting point that I would consider recommending to anyone and the budget for this level of machine would lie somewhere between $500-600.

    Anyway mate, I guess thats all food for thought and I hope it helps you out a bit. All the best and hope you have a Great New Year for 2008....

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks, Mal. Thats been a great help. Always better to look before you leap! Ill look into things a bit closer then.
    Best wishes to you and yours for the New Year, too!
    RP8383

  6. #6
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    The Sunbeam owners must all be on holidays, so Ill speak on their behalf. :P

    On your budget you should be able to swing a Sunbeam EM6910 espresso machine and an EM0480 grinder. A lot of people here have these and are more than happy with them. I have no experience with the espresso machine, but have the grinder and use it as a second grinder. There are some issues with the grind settings not being stable, but this is easily fixed at home - there are plenty of threads in the Grinder section here telling you how.

    And just to back Mal up, steer clear of the superautos. :)

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Having used a super auto, I would not recommend them to anyone. I have recently bought a machine with the same constraints (price & space) as you. The improvement in taste was dramatic and is still improving. I now have a LeLit Combi PL042 which has an inbuilt grinder. Using freshly roasted beans and only grinding the amount of beans required is producing coffee so unbelievably better than the old super auto. As the distributer is not a CS sponsor, I suggest you Google "LeLit Combi PL042" for further information

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hiya RP8383 and welcome to CoffeeSnobs!

    Im a CS who started on his coffee journey using a superauto - primarily because I was seeking something that was fool-proof and convenient and afterall... it did provide "good" coffee. *But after ~6 months of ownership. I was given an Espresso Basics class voucher (as a birthday present) and only then did I realise that "GREAT" coffee was within the grasp of this mere mortal. *Within a couple of months, I changed my equipment to a manual set up.

    Did this cost me? Yep!
    Have I regretted it? *Absolutely no way!
    Did I need to negotiate with the Mrs for some extra bench space (separate grinder/coffee machine)? *Yep! (but the step up in the quality of my coffee did a lot of my negotiating for me *;) )

    So really, my only regret was not having gone the manual set-up sooner.

    Cheers,

    -A-

    PS: In the 8 months of owning the superauto (Saeco Incanto Sirius Digital, rrp $1800), it cost me around $360 in servicing costs, but this figure would have been ~$300 higher had it not been for warranty coverage *:o

  9. #9
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    To second Viviane (on behalf of the Sunbeam afficionados), I use a Sunbeam 6910 at work, recently supplied by Sunbeam to replace the 6900 that died (their customer service is good).
    I also bought an EM0450 grinder (similar to the 0480 but plastic body) and it does do a reasonable job.

    So if you try do a deal for both items you should come close to your budget.

  10. #10
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hi all,
    Happy New Year to everyone and thanks for all the advice!
    I will do some more homework and look into buying either a Lelit or a Gaggia Baby with a Sunbeam EMO480 grinder and a Greg Pullman tamper - sounds like the combination will more than suit my needs (for 2008 at least anyway). If anyone knows of anyone good deals going in these post-Christmas sales I would be most appreciative.
    RP8383

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    One piece of advice regarding the sunbeam grinder and the gaggia baby. The grinder is not going to be up to the standard of a gaggia. I would recommend a Gaggia MDF when they become available again which is not far off now. Or an Iberital Challenge.

    Your other alternative is also a gaggi classic. I have a teeny tiny kitchen and have a gaggia Classic and a Gaggia MDF grinder and they take up very little room.

  12. #12
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks, Lucinda. Any tips as to where to buy them?
    RP8383

  13. #13
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hi RP,

    Having read your needs, Id second Sunny Coasters suggestion of a Lelit Combi - good single boiler (300 ml brass) unit with built in Lux grinder. More than happy with mine. About $750 price range.

    One thing about pre-Xmas sale expectations, this isnt a typical discount department store item youre looking at (or maybe if you go Sunbeam it might be?) and getting a discount price may not be realistic. However, of far more importance is the quality of service and after-sale service, which will be remembered long after youve forgotten the price you paid (to borrow a quote from someone else on this forum - I think Greg or Chris - thanks guys).

    Good luck and enjoy the search.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks, Greg. Point taken. It is easy to get sucked in by the initial low cost only to get burnt later.
    RP8383

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Try site sponsor Di Bartoli in Sydney. They stock Gaggia stuff and will be able to help you.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hi guys,

    First I want to say what a great forum this is - Im looking forward to having a good read back through all the posts. Im no Barrister, but I love a great espresso.

    Ok, onto my question...

    Im looking to buy a new espresso machine and would like some advice.

    My wife and I work from a home office, we both love nice smooth coffee. We dont have that many coffees per day (2-4 between us) but when we have them, I really dont want to be disapointed by a bitter cup! (it Ruins my day!! >:( :( )

    Some years back we bought a cheapy Sunbeam machine and an equally cheap Sunbeam grinder (0400 model). When I first brought it home, we had a dozen cups of coffee between us within the space of an hour because we were so chuffed at the quality (that afternoon we rushed around the house in a chaotic house clean-up fit that resulted in half of everything being cleaned spotless! :o).

    A few months down the track, our machine began to start making the odd cup of really bitter coffee. A few months later, it got to the point where we would only get one good cup our of every six bitter ones. Eventually in a fit of "bitter coffee rage" I threw the Sunbeam in the bin and went back to the office to sulk. Id like to point out here that I had been cleaning the machine pretty regularly. I should also note that I only ever bought Supermarket roasted beans.

    Anyhow (thats enough background) I finally started looking around again for a new coffee machine (Its pretty bad when I have to go to McDonalds to get a non-bitter cup of coffee), and after first reading the Choice review (recommending the Magimix) found this forum.

    After reading a few posts, I gave Renzo a call at DiBartoli who gave some great advice and we talked about the Gaggia Classic with a Silvia frothing spout to get a silkier milk which sounds like a good setup for my budget.

    However, after returning to the forum, Ive realised that half of the bitterness problem is probably to do with my cheap grinder, and the fact that Ive been using Supermarket beans.

    Given that Im going to have a go at roasting my own green beans from this site (which should improve things), and I have a budget of $500-600 what would people recommend I do?

    I can see two main options:

    1. Buy the Gaggia Classic, and keep using my cheap Sunbeam grinder for now (and get a conical burr grinder ~$200 later).

    2. Buy a better conical grinder (like the Sunbeam for around $200) and buy a cheaper espresso machine for around $400 (are there any decent machines for this price?)

    What are peoples thoughts on this? Will the cheapo blade grinder continue to give me horrible coffee even with the Gaggia? Will a conical burr for under $200 do the job?

    Cheers!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Welcome Hubris!

    Get the Sunbeam out of the bin (if you can) and blow your whole budget on as good a grinder as you can!

    Helicopter grinders wont make you happy - they do a lousy job....like taking an axe with the expectation to be able to manicure a bowling green.

    Having said that, youll be astonished at how much improvement you will find once you start roasting your own, or buying fresh.

    Perhaps you could go back to Renzo/Ofra and ask some more questions?

  18. #18
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Welcome Hubris!

    Definitely option 2. A blade grinder will never give you the consistency of a burr grinder. Im confident youd get consistently better results from a $200 machine with a burr grinder than a $2000 machine with a blade grinder. Blade grinders just smash the beans and grind fineness is only determined by how long the blades are allowed to smash away at the beans. Burr grinders on the other hand have an adjustable set distance between each burr so the grind will always be the same (other factors like build quality aside for the minute).

    If cost is the issue, the combo Id be looking at if I were you would be the Sunbeam EM0450 (their entry level burr grinder) or the 0480 (same internals but a couple of extra features) and the Gaggia Classic if you can afford it. If not then something like the Breville Ikon is reputed to be quite a good machine at a RRP around $350.

    Good luck!
    Greg

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hi,

    I am needing help in regards to buying a new coffee machine. I have been looking around and realy like the Jura brand although in saying this, my husband wants a coffee machine that is a double boiler, he has been looking at the Giotto. The other requirement is that we would like to be able to place a mug on the tray.

    Could you please advise on a quality machine and coffee grinder if needed.

    Thanks

    Sam

  20. #20
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    A good grinder is crucial in producing good coffee. I started out with the Sunbeam EM450 and still use it early in the morning in my garage as Im not allowed to use my Rocky in the house at 5.30am!! It does a good job and I noticed a marked improvement in my coffee once I started using fresh beans and grinding on demand, at that stage I was using a Saeco Via Venezia and the espresso improved out of sight.
    Upgradeitis soon took hold of me and I now have a Silvia/Rocky setup, roast my own beans on a Corretto roaster and so the journey continues!!
    Good luck with your decisions and check out the wealth of information on this forum.................................

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Welcome Sam!

    Firstly, terminology is probably confusing if youre new to all this, but youve raised two very different types of machine. A Jura is a superautomatic which does everything for you, costs a lot of money to purchase and maintain, and generally gives adequate to good results. The Giotto is a semi-automatic machine which means you have to take care of things like grinding, tamping and steaming milk, but they are capable of much better results, similarly priced (approximately) but are a lot cheaper to maintain. So youre really trading off high cost and high convenience against high quality of results. Also the Giotto is actually whats called a heat exchanger machine not a double boiler, however both systems achieve the same end result via different means.

    Itd help us a lot if you can advise if youre after a superautomatic machine or a semi-automatic (preferable). Also what budget you are working to will help a lot.

    Welcome again!
    Greg


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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks Greg,

    Well, I am hopeless with terminology, so please excuse my lack of knowledge. We want a machine that does make coffee and steam the milk at the same time. I was thinking that the Jura could become a problem later on due to the electronics of it. I was hoping to confirm that the Giotto would make a much better coffee than the Jura.

    To throw another spanner in the works, do you know what the kitchen aid espresso machine is like. We have not come to any decision on the price as yet. I think my husband is happy to spend $2500 on the Giotto, however if you or anyone else could recommend a fabulous coffee machine please do so.

    Thanks again Sam ;D

  23. #23
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Welcome Sam.

    You can get a pretty decent grinder and machine for that sort of budget.

    I recommend talking to the site sponsors.
    They will work with you to decide and support you afterwards.

    I bought from a Melbourne sponsor because at the time there wasnt a Sydney one and have been extremely satisfied with both the equipment and after sales service (which has only needed to be advice as the machines both run perfectly).

    However you may prefer to deal with someone close to home, so if youll mention where you are we can be more specific as to which sponsors are in your area.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hi,

    Thanks for that. I am in the Newcastle area and have no idea what I am doing. How do I contact the sponsors please.

    Thanks sam.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hi Sam,

    No problems at all, it definitely has a language and acronyms of its own much like any special interest area! I would strongly steer you away from a superautomatic unless youre in an office environment where no-one knows how to use it and is willing to take ownership of the thing.

    I think there are a few KitchenAid machines but from the little I know they tend to be at the lower end of the price and quality spectrum and are not overly well represented in Australia (others who deal with machines could confirm). If youre prepared to spend above the $1500 mark on a machine then you have plenty of options. You mentioned grinder in your first post and this is something which absolutely, definitely, non-negotiably needs to be in your budget to get the best from any espresso machine. If your limit is around the $2500 mark then Id look at a machine more around the $1500-$2000 mark and spend the rest on the grinder. If you get a cheap grinder it will always limit the results you can get from your machine. If you can stretch it out to $3k then you open up a few more options in the higher end of the machine bracket.

    Id recommend a read through the Information on Espresso Machines thread as this covers many of the machines in this price range. But consider Expobar Office, Expobar Leva, Expobar Minore, Diamond Italia, Vibiemme Domobar Super and ECM / Rocket Giotto as a starting point (there are others). Once youve done that, check out the info on grinders thread in the grinders area as that does the same for the grinder; for the sort of machine youre looking at, Id be looking to spend upwards of $500 on the grinder. If any of the terminology confuses you, do a site search on the term in question and youll probably get the answer - there arent too many questions which havent been asked before! ;)

    Remember that depending what you get and where you get it from, the accessories that come with the machine will vary - milk jug, thermometer, tamper, knock box, cleaning accessories etc. Tuck away a couple of hundred for these, though most of our site sponsors can normally work out something for you if youre buying a machine at the same time.

    Happy hunting!
    Greg

    P.S. Sponsors are in that list right over there <------------------- :)

  26. #26
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    By the way neither of those Information On... threads are exhaustive and the sponsors may have other equipment that suits. They are more than happy to recommend a suitable combo for your needs and budget.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thank you so much for this info, it is going to help alot. ;D ;D ;D

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hey Thanks a lot guys...

    After all your advice and some more reading around the net, I decided to order the Gaggia with the Silvia steam arm from Di Bartoli. Renzo, and Jonathan there have been great, and Jonathan has been very patient with where I am on my coffee journey hehehe...

    Ive also taken on board all your advice and decided to buy a better grinder. I have about $150 worth of David Jones vouchers so (based on some of the posts on this forum) I was going to get the Sunbeam EMO480. Any opinions on this?

    BTW, I cant wait to try roasting my own beans!! ::) Im counting down the last of my McCafe coffees!! :-[

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Good choice Hubris on the machine, and as a bonus youll score brownie points with Lucinda! ;D The 0480 would definitely be the grinder of choice at that price, unless you wanted to save a few bob and get the 0450; but the 0480 looks better and has the manual switch which can be handy.

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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Greg, I agree, the 480 looks better ;)

    hehe... Dennis, I actually let loose on the old Sunbeam with my wood splitter... from memory Id made 12 bitter coffees in a row hoping for one nice one... and in the end it was too much for me to bare. Also, from talking with Jonathan at Di Bartoli, it sounds like a lot of the problem with the Sunbeam was that Id been using our Yass town water which produces a lot of scale. Sounds like it had been building up in the thermoblock for a while.

    Ill also take your advice and keep my little helicopter for trimming against my brick planter boxes ;)

    Sam, I found this site helpful in understanding what I was getting for my money.

  31. #31
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Hubris - I use rainwater in my classic, as Adelaide has disgustingly hard water, I would suggest you get a small water purifier like the ones that have the replaceable candles in them if you tap water is manky. I used this water before we had access to the rain water and it kept down on the lime deposits.

    Also when you pick up your classic ask Renzo to give you some caffetto descaler and cleaning solution and go through what you need to do to clean your classic every month to keep it well maintained.

  32. #32
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Thanks for the advice Lucinda. Will follow your advice. BTW, how often should I run the descaler through the machine?

    Ive actually decided to go with the Baby Gaggia (my wife wants the Dose, and I like the cherry red ::) :-[), and Renzo has told me that I cant fit the Silvia arm to it, so it looks like Im going to have to mill up a fit the Silvia frothing arm to the Gaggia ::)

    Does anyone know if theres any components (from other makers) that will allow me to connect the Silvia frothing arm, or is there another arm that I could fit to the Baby Gaggia that will improve the frothing? (I like the real silky milk)

  33. #33
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Well, my Gaggia arrived last week, and after a week of experimenting, Im starting to get an understanding of what everyone has been talking about on the forum. Ive spent the last week, playing around with grinding settings, and can see what a dramatic difference it makes! Ive especially noticed this between different brands of beans, and different roasts. Ive put up a mini-chalkboard on the wall next to the machine, and started scribbling notes about the various beans and the grind that tastes best. I can see now why everyone was recommending the more expensive grinders, with 50+ settings etc... I thought you were all nuts! but can see how imagine how even smaller grind variations would make a big difference.

    Ive just received my green bean starter pack and cant wait till Saturday to give them a try!! :)

    BTW, Can anyone recommend somewhere in Canberra where they freshly roast beans to sell?

    Thanks everyone ;)


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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Welcome to the fanatics club! ;D Sounds like youve got a good setup there, and notetakings a great idea. Itll make it a lot easier for you to justify (to yourself or others) any future upgrades to more expensive equipment if the need arises.

    CosmoreX in Canberra sell freshly roasted beans. Send an email to Fresh_Coffee (Attilio) and let him know what youre after and when youre heading in and hell be sure to look after you!

    Greg

  35. #35
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by Hubris link=1199020252/30#32 date=1200997734
    BTW, Can anyone recommend somewhere in Canberra where they freshly roast beans to sell?
    Why? Our very own CosmoreX Coffee can help you out there mate :).... Just click on the link to the left for relevant info,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  36. #36
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Gotta be quicker than that Mal! ;) ;D

  37. #37
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    Re: Help for a newbie

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Well, at least we are in agreement with the advice Greg.... ;)

    Mal.



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