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Thread: Which espresso machine to buy

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    Which espresso machine to buy

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hello all,
    My first post here. I currently own a Gaggia Titanium which Ive had for about 5 years (didnt expect it to last that long). It still works ok, but looking to upgrade now that we have some money from our wedding. Im looking at spending somewhere around $2200-$2700 for a machine+grinder. My wife seems sold on the Expobar Office Control, but Ive heard some things that are putting me off this machine (mainly overheating, but also inconsistency with the programming) and it doesnt have any gauges; so Im not quite sold on this one. I am more swayed towards the Isomac Tea, VBM Domobar Junior or Expobar Leva. I know theyre different purpose machines, and we have different ideas of what we want, but looking for opinions to sway it one way or the other. The VBM is probably a bit out of the range once I add a grinder in there, but I think I like it the best. Ive had a play with the Isomac and VBM (loved both of them) and were going to try out the 2 Expobar models later this week. My other query is what sort of budget should be allowed for a grinder considering these machines - what I mean is say I bought the VBM and a $250-300 grinder would that be a mismatch in quality? What sort of money would people be looking to spend on a grinder for one of these machines? Ill probably look to make a purchase in about a month or so. Thanks for any opinions.
    Mark.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Hi Mark and welcome to CS* 8-),

    My advice would be to allow at least Compak K3T money (circa $600) for a grinder.

    Also within budget would be a machine along the lines of a Diadema Junior Semi-auto, which eclipses all you have mentioned on finish. Build quality is superb as well.

    If you find another few hundred to play with, our April Izzo Vivi/Compak K3T special is also in range. THe VBM is a gun mahcine as well.

    I would encourage against more complex machines like the control at home unless there is a very good reason. More complexity = more to go wrong. It and the semi-auto (pulsar) do run pretty hot.

    The new Breville Dual boiler machine is well within range and promises much.

    Youre most welcome to call for a chat if youd like some pros and cons.

    Happy shopping ;)

    Chris

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    [bias]K3T + Domo Jnr!![/bias]

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Its call the Office for a reason Mark. There are nicer looking and better performing machines to consider.

    If the budget is firm at $2700 then you should be able to squeeze in a Diadema Jr Semi Auto + K3T.

    Ive had a Domobar Jr for a year now and am absolutely delighted. Was torn between it and the Diadema. I have little doubt I would have been just as happy with the Diadema.

    Like many on here I also bought my machine from Chris at Talk Coffee, even though I am in Adelaide (he is in Melbourne). I would highly recommend speaking to him or another of our fine sponsors.

    I have not used the Breville Smart Grinder (BCG800) which may be a low cost option for you. Considering Chris has recommended the K3T I would say its capabilities may be pushed for the level of machinery it would be paired up with.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Thanks for the advice guys, Ive added the Diadema to the list (even though Im trying to shorten it). The reason I was talking about grinder pricing was that I was wondering about matching up the Domobar Jr with the Breville Smart Grinder. They both seem to review well on this forum, but it almost seems the Domobar deserves a better grinder than this. The K3T looks like a good one from reviews, but I think Id be pushing the budget to match these two up.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    My guess is that if you were to buy the Breville grinder you wouldnt be disappointed with it, but if you were to line it up against a K3 or better, you would notice a significant difference and then want to upgrade.

    Someone like Chris who sells both would be able to give a much more informed point of view.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 29362B23252A7C75440 link=1303783668/4#4 date=1303810785
    They both seem to review well on this forum, but it almost seems the Domobar deserves a better grinder than this. The K3T looks like a good one from reviews, but I think Id be pushing the budget to match these two up.
    Hi Mark

    We came from an upgrading background (6910), and our advice would be to push the budget... :-[

    Do it once... ;)

    Chris n Natalie


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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    I went to see Chris at Talk Coffee with the idea that I was going to choose one machine out of three options I had in mind. I left with having to choose a machine out of two completely different options I didnt even think/know about.

    Going to see a sponser is your best bet. You get to look at all the shiney, reconsider your gods, and will yourself to push as much money into a machine as you possibly can.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Doxxus, how do you find the K3T? Im trying to convince myself its the better option. Have you used any others previously. What is it that a better grinder will do for you, is it more consistency in results or something else? Im trying to understand why people place so much importance on the grinder, every forum post I read about it seems to say youre better cutting youre machine budget to spend more on the grinder. Thanks.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 455A474F49461019280 link=1303783668/8#8 date=1303948838
    Doxxus, how do you find the K3T? Im trying to convince myself its the better option. Have you used any others previously. What is it that a better grinder will do for you, is it more consistency in results or something else? Im trying to understand why people place so much importance on the grinder, every forum post I read about it seems to say youre better cutting youre machine budget to spend more on the grinder. Thanks.
    In a nutshell:
    A good quality grinder will give you consistent particle sizes. If you have variable particle sizes they will extract at different rates when coming into contact with water. Consistent particle size leads to uniform extraction and a smooth, deeper taste.

    Cheaper grinders often have plastic burr carriers which can give greater movement during grinding. Better grinder have metal burr carriers. The more expensive you get the better engineered they are, in general.

    Im sure there are many other factors involved and there are members on here that could turn this into a huge topic on its own.

    Early in my coffee journey I upgraded from a Lux style grinder to a Compak K3 and noticed a huge improvement in quality in the cup. I was quite happy with what I had been producing up until then and was surprised how much better a shot I could get with a more expensive grinder.

    Going from a $200-300 grinder to a $600-800 grinder results in a big quality jump IMO. Beyond that you still get improvements but I am guessing the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Im sure you would notice a difference when comparing a K3 to a large conical but thats a massive price jump and one I cannot afford yet.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Thanks Caffeine Junky, thats a good explanation. I did think about starting a new post about the grinder. Think Ill have to go have a play with some when I get a chance.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Can I tack a Q on to this topic...?

    One thing Ive been wondering about in regard to buying particular machines is on-going service/maintenance costs. What sort of money do you need to allow for? What sort of things are more likely to go wrong (if anything) and which manufacturers out of the ones listed in this topic have better track records?

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 3F3326263A61253A520 link=1303783668/11#11 date=1304744727
    What sort of money do you need to allow for?*
    As a bare minimum for maintenance, you need cleaning solutions (descaler and backflush detergent), group head seals go fairly regularly depending on machine too. Of course, as with any machine, buttons, taps, valves, etc can all break, but not really something you can plan for. Get an idea of parts prices from Coffeeparts.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Thanks RichardM... good point to check CoffeeParts!

    I guess I was more wondering whether a particular make or model has more or less issues over others - Im guessing at the price point of this topic theyre all pretty good, but I imagine site sponsors would get to see and hear about the repair side more often?
    i.e. Theres a thread where an Expobar Leva has a leak at bottom of boiler (possibly dud gasket?); and an Oscar for sale that had a few big services and replaced a pressurestat...

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Youd need to make a bit of a decision about auto, or semi auto.
    Yes, with the auto, in theory there is more to go wrong in the long term, but like most eletctronic devices they are VERY reliable . The convenience is good though, hit the button and do something else and the cup doesnt overflow. Semi auto are cheaper, so you get more in other areas per $$$. I have an sunbeam 6910, and love the short heat up and auto function. I also have an expobar pulser.
    There are alot of good machines in your price break if you read the specs (boiler size, element size, etc and try one. Parts are also readily available for that market of machine if you need gaskets, seals, etc (see coffeeparts site who are a sponsor) or the manufacturer if the part is specialised.
    At $2700, you would be able to get a dual boiler expobar (E61) and a smart grinder (just).
    BUT I would have a look at the new breville when it comes out .............its on my inpulse buy list if its as good as the thread claims it will be. Grinder wise, Id love a K3, but I just got the shim kit for my Sunbeam grinder, so now it grinds fine enough and the urgency to upgrade has gone. Expobar are a bit cheaper, I think (could be wrong) becasue they are made in Spain with a lower labour rate than other EU countries, but they are good on detail eg my pulser has an insulated boiler, and the expobar dual boiler has a little roller wheel between the lever and the microswitch (now thats detail).
    If the gaggia is still working, have some fun shopping and check out all the machines :-), and as in Harry Potter "the wand chooses the wizard". Im waiting for the evoluzione or Duetto to choose me :-)

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    About automatic machines:
    Over the course of a week, youll find yourself altering your shot time and volume to compensate for small changes in bean age/staleness, tamp pressure, etc. I find it best to stop the shot when its starting to blonde; not after a certain exact time, or when a certain exact volume has been dispensed.

    An automatic volumetric machine doesnt compensate well for these small variances.

    Using an automatic machine doesnt really save you any time either. With practice, you can use the 25 seconds of pour time to steam your milk (keeping one eye on the pour to check for blonding).

    Heres how I justify cost:
    If you & your wife buy a cafe coffee most days of the week, that will quickly add up to about $50/week.
    Your beans and milk will only cost about $15/week, so youre saving about $2000/year by making your own coffee at home!

    The VBM Junior is an awesome machine, but there are many very similar "HX" machines, so you can choose one to suit your taste (look & feel).
    For grinders, people have said the K3T is great, and (for a bit less money) the Eureka Mignon is also excellent.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    I have the VBM junior with a
    k3 touch. For me, it is a perfect combination. The quality and consistency is great and the footprint of the units work well in a smallish kitchen. I had tried my old grinder before the k3 and the difference was huge. I then tried the k3 on my old machine, a via venenzi seaco and it was a huge improvement.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Hey Nat Pop, theres another one liking the VBM+K3T combo, seems to be a very popular choice on this site. Im not surprised though the both look and feel great, Im thinking that is my top choice at the moment, but Id have to stretch the budget somewhat to get there.
    Skelly, Ive kind of moved away from the autos now, though I think it would be a while before Im telling the difference between shots due to bean freshness and all that. I hadnt thought about tamp pressure though, you would need to be very consistent if you were using an auto. Im not needing to justify spending the money either, were mostly using funds from a wedding registry (had to put something on there!)

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    And yeah the small size of the VBM is definitely a big plus, its going to be a tight fit with any machine+grinder so an extra 40mm or so is a big help.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 5E415C54525D0B02330 link=1303783668/18#18 date=1305121969
    And yeah the small size of the VBM is definitely a big plus, its going to be a tight fit with any machine+grinder so an extra 40mm or so is a big help.
    Im like you with pretty limited space. Just last week I got my hands on a near new Rocket Giotto which was going to replace the VBM. After a couple of days of using the Giotto I realised that little bit of extra sized made it akward to use in a tight space. And for the record, I think the little guy performs as well as the Giotto in most areas.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 383933203E3B21520 link=1303783668/19#19 date=1305149459
    And for the record, I think the little guy performs as well as the Giotto in most areas.
    You start to get into diminishing returns territory quite quickly when comparing machines, it really depends on how deeply you want to get involved with it all.

    I have had my setup for over a year now and have not spent anything on it. I got in touch with Talk Coffee to see if I should bring my kit in for a service and he said there wasnt anything that would need doing 8-) I keep it clean and use water run through a good filter to keep the scale down.

    The group seal will require replacing sometime in the future but that is very cheap to do yourself.

    I have a K3 WBC and GPP from Talk Coffee and cant see any need to upgrade, that doesnt mean I wont one day though ;D

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 282E3932282F37355C0 link=1303783668/20#20 date=1305165078
    I have a K3 WBC and GPP from Talk Coffee and cant see any need to upgrade, that doesnt mean I wont one day though* ;D
    Spoken like a true coffee snob ;D

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Hi,
    I am looking at an upgrade from my Sylvia but also have limited bench space. I like the Giotto but it is too wide for my bench by the time a put a new grinder there as well. Is there any machine in that quality and price level that that takes up less bench space?

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 45555942555E4F070F0307360 link=1303783668/22#22 date=1305188020
    Hi,
    I am looking at an upgrade from my Sylvia but also have limited bench space. I like the Giotto but it is too wide for my bench by the time a put a new grinder there as well. Is there any machine in that quality and price level that that takes up less bench space?
    Welcome scotchy,

    Have a look over the Vibiemme Domobar Junior. It has one of the smallest footprints around.

    Cheers

    Chris

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Hi Scotchy.* I would very highly recommend the VBM Domobar Junior.

    I too had limited space, in particular width, and chose the VBM for that, and many other reasons.

    Its been around 13 months now and I could not be happier.* The build quality is excellent and produces an outstanding shot (assuming other variables such as quality beans and grind).

    Interestingly I got a hold of a near new Giotto last week.* I was considering replacing the VMB with the Giotto but after 2 days went back to the VBM.* The Giotto was a little too wide making the ergonomics in my tight space akward.* More importantly I couldnt see any performance benefits (for my purposes) of the Giotto.

    A less expensive machine is the Diadema Junior Plus (Semi Auto).* I was trying to decide between this and the VBM.* According to Chris from Talk Coffee, whom I bought from, there wasnt a lot between them. I liked the look of the VBM and it also has a little more steaming grunt.

  26. #26
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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    ...and interestingly Chris has ex-demo versions on sale of both the VBM and the Diadema.

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163933911/7#7

    I would grab one of these and use the $$$ youre saving compared to a Giotto on a grinder.

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    Re: Which espresso machine to buy

    Quote Originally Posted by 67777B60777C6D252D2125140 link=1303783668/22#22 date=1305188020
    Hi,
    I am looking at an upgrade from my Sylvia but also have limited bench space. I like the Giotto but it is too wide for my bench by the time a put a new grinder there as well. Is there any machine in that quality and price level that that takes up less bench space?
    Maybe next time you are in Sydney drop at the shop and see the machine in operation and check the foot print.

    Regards

    Renzo
    Di Bartoli Home Barista Centre



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