Buying Used equipment
I am going to take the plunge and buy an espresso machine and grinder, I have made the decision to buy quality this time, my previous machine was a breville ikon, with bought pre ground coffee, from supermarkets or gift packets that family and friends would buy on holiday trips, the combination didn't give the best results, but it was a starting point.
I am considering a HX or small double boiler, the reason for the smaller boilers is that for 95% of the time I am the only coffee drinker in the house, and don't see the point in having the machine running to heat up and keep hot 3l or more of water all the time, the three ladies in my life, drink tea or hot chocolate, so if required, when I make my coffee, I could also pour off hot water and steam milk for a tea or hot chocolate.
These are a few question I'm looking for help with:
1. Have you bought site unseen, what was the out come, did the equipment work as stated, did you need to make repairs, if so, how much extra did it cost you in the end.
2. What questions, (assuming they will be answered truthfully) did you ask. not having had a HX or double boiler before I'm not sure what problems they develop.
3. Is the age of the machine important,(depending on use of course) when do parts start to wear out, such as, seals, springs, taps and working parts.
4. Would you do it all again, or this time spend the extra to get brand new, have warranty and peace of mind.
5. Any advice, or other helpful info that you can offer.
I am looking at a few machines right now, from CS members, ebay, gumtree and second hand or demo models from a couple of site sponsors, you may of seen them yourselves, I only have $1500 to spend, and I guess like everyone else I need to make the right decision, and have equipment that will last me for a number of years to come.
Several sponsors (Talk Coffee, Jetblack, Rick the Coffee Machinist to name a few) often sell their demonstrators or refurbished machines at very reasonable prices.
A small double boiler where you can switch the steam boiler off is probably the best bet - again you might be able to pick up a demonstrator or slightly dinged one at a reduced price, in fact I think you can get the non-Pid Lelit PL60 for about your budget:
Lelit Dual Boiler - PL60
But you won't get a huge improvement in the quality of your coffee until you get a good grinder and start using fresh roasted beans...and that's another hit to your budget.
It's pretty much case-to-case basis. If you do your homework, you'll be okay for the most part. But accidents/unexpected do happen and factor that into your 'saving'.
1. Sight unseen, yes. Sometimes it's as stated (mostly). Sometimes not.
2. Depends on the machine and its common problems. Homework needs to be done here. But mainly age, and consider the hardness of their water in that area. Scale is probably the no.1 killer for any espresso machine. Insist on pictures.
3. Age is important. Be prepared to change the seals at the minimum, even if you don't need to.
4. Of course. If a machine has a design flaw, it's going to break anyway, regardless of used or new. If it's well designed and has good part availablity, it will keep working and just a 'relatively' simple fix is needed for the most part.
5. Mostly covered above. Just one last tips :p , if it's too good to be true, most of the time it is.
Where are you located? If you're located in a big city, you should find a range of machines/grinders in your budget come up locally and you'd learn a lot from meeting the seller and seeing the machine in person.
For newish machines I don't consider a machine out of warranty such a big deal - if a machine was somehow faulty it will probably manifest problems while still in warranty. Site unseen? Buyer beware is important - anyone can talk the talk on ebay/gumtree/CS by cutting and pasting ads. If they've had it serviced professionally it can provide a level of comfort - but I'd be inclined to call the service agent as well.
At your (quite reasonable) budget and relative level of inexperience I'd be looking at domestic machines within 5 years old. If the machine is from an area with hard water you want to be sure that the water has been effectively filtered. You don't want to descale a HX/dual boiler.
If you're confident that the seller is competent and honest I'd be more comfortable with you buying a (non-appliance brand) grinder site unseen.
If you can stretch another $1000 I would go with this package http://www.talkcoffee.com.au/shop/vi...unior-grinder/
Brand New and will last you 10+ years provided you keep it maintained and fed filtered water. And money can't buy the after sales service you'll receive.
I live in northern nsw, only 30min to Lismore, but the biggest city is the Goldcoast, about 1.5 hours away, so getting to see most equipment before I buy is a little hard.
Good point about the water quality, it's something that I have read about, but it never sticks in my mind, I live out of town and am on tank rain water, (thank god for the rain we are getting right now filling my tanks I had a laugh) and I forget about how treated and hard the water can be in some cities/towns.
I have looked at the Lelit models, and while I may end up with one, I just love the awkward, and some say, ugly look of other machines, with the long twisty steam wands, almost naked with their exposed parts, not hidden behind metal hoods and covers, the type Doctor Who would own, built and designed by the Darlik's, as one CS poster said, it takes up a lot of room on the kitchen bench, you look at it everyday, you need to like what you see.
Just look at the Unico Splendor Machine up for sale at the moment, what a beauty, I would sit next to her while drinking my coffee, stroking her lovely sides with a clean towel keeping her shiny and clean until she's ready to please me again with her next silky crema delight.
The look of E61 machines is certainly what gets most snobby snobs excited. The Lelit, by comparison, would be more energy efficient for the single user. Although here in Hobart any extra heat generated is generally a good thing!
While I've bought cars and bikes sight unseen I wouldn't buy a coffee machine as it's not worth getting someone independent to inspect it. That's important as what they consider "like new" or "works perfectly" can be vastly different from yours.
If you are diy mechanically inclined then age, warranties, parts are not so important as you should be able to fix most minor issues yourself using Google. If not then a new one might be more suitable.
Important qu is ask to explain their maintenance routine and why they may or may not use filtered water.
imho you sound like you'd prefer new for peace of mind. Instead of looking at a pricey twin boiler, why not a new 6910/7000. Good machines at Half the price and you've got enough money left over for a decent grinder.
I'm not sure how things are going with Tony's love life but he's indicated a pretty serious need for something with a bit more sex appeal! (Tony - keep your clothes on in the kitchen, for OH&S reasons among others)
Originally Posted by tonyh
WantRancillo, sorry mate, I may of got a little carried away when talking about the Unico Splendor Machine, but just look at her.
Kyeba, $1000 extra is more than a little stretch at the moment, maybe with 6 months more saving and a little help by way of a discount from the site sponsor mentioned I could look at a deal like that, the other problem though is convincing the non coffee drinkers of the house that I should spend $2500 on me just so that I can drink coffee.
MrFreddofrog, I am an electrician by trade and more than handy at tinkering, its not so much that I will have a machine that I have to work on, but one that I have to spend more money on, I don't see the point in saving $500 on a machine that is 5 years old, if I then need to spend $500 on repairs to make it work, you may be right in that I would prefer to buy a new machine, and if I can't put enough money together I will need to reconsider my options.
samuellaw178, I'm starting to realise that water quality is a lot more important than I had previously though, as I said I am on rain water, the only thing I need to worry about is a little frog piddle, what photo's can be taken to show scale, the amount of or lack of, I was thinking that scale would be an internal problem not visible.
I suspect Sam was referring to general photos rather than photos of (no) scale but this link might help
Should I descale my machine? | Talk Coffee
This is more an observation then a question, the better branded machines hold their value well don't they, some of the machine I have looked at are 10 or more years old and are still bringing more than half their original price, and who knows they may last another 10 years with the proper care.
I read on another thread by Yelta, that his Bezzera Domus Galatea is now 6 years old and that the daily cost of the machine based on a purchase price of $2850 is now down to $1.30. I tried that on my wife last night when she asked how much all this was going to cost me, I couldn't manage to make my mouth open and say, $1500 or maybe $2000 or it could even go as high as $2500, I took the smart route and after a long pause said, oh I think about $1.30 a day, she still shock her head as she left saying, just so you can drink coffee, it better taste good. She is into bromeliads, you know the plants, maybe when I buy my gear I will get her a bromeliad, that is if I have $20 left over :p
Anyway I have sent a lot of questions out to a few sellers about there machines based on the advice received from this site, we'll see what happens, I guess the longer it takes me to find something the more money I save towards something better and newer
That's exactly right. You can't really see the scale(if any) from pictures. To know that, you have to research how hard the water is in the seller's area. Chances are most people don't have sufficient softening. General pictures give you a sense of how the machine has been taken care of, and how old it is. Though that can still be deceiving - you can polish the hell out of the machine but the internal is still crap. Speaking of which, internal pictures will further reduce the chance of getting a lemon. If there is any leakage or water scale, it'll be more likely to manifest.
Originally Posted by WantRancilio10
It was said in an earlier post but bears repeating I think - Grinder.
If your $1500 limit is for a machine AND a grinder then realistically the machines you are looking at are not in your range I am afraid.
I bought my first grinder from here (thanks yet again Mal :) ) as well as my current machine. I was very fortunate with both and have had many years of great coffee from 2nd hand gear. When I upgrade my machine unless I get really lucky it will once again be bought 2nd hand from here. So long as you research and read the posts (including the persons who is selling the item in case they have had issues in the past and asked for help here) things can work out well buying 2nd hand - especially if you need both items with your budget.
Caveat of course is that 2nd hand anything can turn around and bite you in the hip pocket even if people sell truthfully.
Hope this helps some
I Will need to know heaps more mate, pictures, age, history, maintenance, water quality and if used with filters, services, any past and current problems and of course a price.
Have you read the entire post above, if so you will know where I am located, what my budget is and what the other CS members have advised me to look for in a used machine, will wait to hear back from you
Another thing Tony, if shipping is involved and it is a heavy machine, make sure it's packed real well. That's killer no.2 after limescale. Even a well-built sexy lady like Unico Splendor will lose a limb or two after going through roller coaster ride by the courier. :p
Btw, from a seller's perspective, I would hate someone to ask way too many (sometimes irrelevant) questions, and decide not to buy in the end. My way would be to pick some main questions that I think is important, and a bit more detailed question in the following correspondence if I'm concerned, rather than a long string of ???. That of course will depend on how much info the seller puts forth in the first place (like what we have here above, haha). Just something to keep in mind when approaching any prospective seller. But as usual, that's just my personal preference/opinion.
Good luck with your purchase!
The longer I look and research, the more clearer it becomes that I need to raise more money or lower my machine requirements. I don't want to lower my machine requirements, so I guess I have to save more money, there's plenty of time, Christmas is coming up soon, maybe machines will come on the market to make room for new shinny toys, I won't rush in and buy something that I don't really want or won't be happy with.
Originally Posted by Shannon
All good advice, and I agree that a trip with a courier could be like taking a roller coaster ride, and then there is the cost of freight, it in it's self may exclude long distance purchases.
Originally Posted by samuellaw178
My preference would always be to buy local, just to avoid the potential for damage in transit (not always possible I know)
Depending how bad the coffee bug has bit you, I'd recommend saving a bit more for a better machine, because like most CS' rs, you'll likely upgrade a few times down the road.
Originally Posted by tonyh
Might as well plan which machine you'll realistically settle on for the main part of your journey, especially since your better half doesn't understand why we spend this much money on machines.
Tony, I posted in Hardware for sale, posted some pics and can post any other you may need. The water has always been filtered only, serviced over xmas as we usually go away, new seals and showers installed. we had to get a new on/Off switch replaced and the steam knob re-built but they said that is very common. The Grinder was and probably still is one of the best on the market(Mini Mazzer Doserless), never missed a beat and having a good grinder is what its at!