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Thread: Starting my coffee journey - what should I buy?

  1. #1
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    Starting my coffee journey - what should I buy?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all, It all started when my wife bought me a mokka pot last year for Christmas and from there I’ve grown quite passionate about my morning coffee ritual. I bought a smart grinder pro, started buying freshly roasted beans from local roaster and become hooked on youtube reviews.

    You know how it goes, every brew becomes more than a quick cuppa – it’s the science, the tweaking of minute details… I think I’m ready to take that leap and buy an espresso machine to extract all that goodness of liquid gold we so desire!

    It would seem that a single boiler machine is a good place to start for a newbie – but these are entry level and bit fiddlier when it comes to milk based drinks, but these can be justified in the budget…

    So that leads me to heat exchange machine which seems to be sweet spot in terms of quality and value vs a DB/SB – but at double the cost of single boiler. Before I came across this site, I was asking myself who buys a $2500 coffee machine for home?! Apparently a lot of people do.

    So, I’m trying to justify, is it worth buying a $2000 espresso machine or is this all just a fantasy? Am I caught up in the theatrics of pulling a shot with an Italian beauty or this an obsession that I'll get bored with?

    My short list is:
    VBM Dombobar Jr
    ECM Mechanikia Slim
    Di Bartoli Lumina
    Rocket Appartmento
    Bezzera BZ10

    I like all coffees, short, long, white. My wife is espresso only, and we would each drink at least two in the morning at home, and weekends at least 4 cups each. Obviously, the styling has to be good to look at and compact enough to convince my lovely wife that it will not clutter our kitchen.

    Oh yeah, is it okay to buy interstate (online), or should we buy from local stockist and do they have end of year sales to wait for?
    How much could I expect to pay in service / maintenance each year?
    Last edited by squibcakes; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member flashpixx's Avatar
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    And so it begins....
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  3. #3
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    Welcome aboard! those are all great machines.

    I, like many, started with a Silvia and that machine lasted me 13 years. I upgraded only 2-3 months ago to the DI Bartoli Lumina you have in your list - it is a great piece of kit!

    Best advice is, if you are near one, drop into a site sponsor and have a go at all the machines you're interested in. There may be little things you like or dislike about each that may sway your vote.

    FWIW - the HX is a lot easier than the single boiler silvia in terms of repeatability, and it's an absolute workhorse. The Silvia is great for making a great coffee when you have a good routine, but it struggles if you need to make more than 2.

    Happy shopping!!
    Brewster, Dimal, flashpixx and 1 others like this.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by squibcakes View Post

    So, Iím trying to justify, is it worth buying a $2000 espresso machine or is this all just a fantasy? Am I caught up in the theatrics of pulling a shot with an Italian beauty or this an obsession that I'll get bored with?
    i think you will fine a large number of people on this site who havenít gotten bored with coffee. In fact most peoples obsession has gotten greater. I started with a $150 Breville and upgraded 3 more times to now having the Bezzera Strega. Same sort of deal with the grinder.

    Im not that experienced with all of those machines you mentioned but at that price range you fine all of those machines make coffee and can foam milk. The rest might be intricacies around aesthetics, noise level, footprint, warm up time, price ect.

    its recommended to go visit one of the site sponsors and have a play with the machines or at least google hard if you canít get to a sponsors location.

    **warning** upgradeitis is contagious around here but if you spend good money now you should be able to hold it off a few years

    All the best with you journey.
    Brewster likes this.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by squibcakes View Post
    Hi all, It all started when my wife bought me a mokka pot last year for Christmas and from there Iíve grown quite passionate about my morning coffee ritual. I bought a smart grinder pro, started buying freshly roasted beans from local roaster and become hooked on youtube reviews.

    You know how it goes, every brew becomes more than a quick cuppa Ė itís the science, the tweaking of minute detailsÖ I think Iím ready to take that leap and buy an espresso machine to extract all that goodness of liquid gold we so desire!

    It would seem that a single boiler machine is a good place to start for a newbie Ė but these are entry level and bit fiddlier when it comes to milk based drinks, but these can be justified in the budgetÖ

    So that leads me to heat exchange machine which seems to be sweet spot in terms of quality and value vs a DB/SB Ė but at double the cost of single boiler. Before I came across this site, I was asking myself who buys a $2500 coffee machine for home?! Apparently a lot of people do.

    So, Iím trying to justify, is it worth buying a $2000 espresso machine or is this all just a fantasy? Am I caught up in the theatrics of pulling a shot with an Italian beauty or this an obsession that I'll get bored with?

    My short list is:
    VBM Dombobar Jr
    ECM Mechanikia Slim
    Di Bartoli Lumina
    Rocket Appartmento
    Bezzera BZ10

    I like all coffees, short, long, white. My wife is espresso only, and we would each drink at least two in the morning at home, and weekends at least 4 cups each. Obviously, the styling has to be good to look at and compact enough to convince my lovely wife that it will not clutter our kitchen.

    Oh yeah, is it okay to buy interstate (online), or should we buy from local stockist and do they have end of year sales to wait for?
    How much could I expect to pay in service / maintenance each year?
    I think to start with buy local with good service. A $500 second hand cafe grinder but probably a new single boiler HX machine.

    Only time will tell whether you get bored but honestly good equipment is worth it. The only reason I don't recommend a second hand machine is that scale can be an issue. A $2500 single boiler machine is all you need and they are very simple and will last a lifetime. A second hand Robur for conical or Mazzer Super Jolly if you have room in your kitchen will get you going.

    Whatever you buy now you may well trade it but new machines hold their value and items bought second hand for a good price will also hold their value.

    New to espresso means you are like a leaf on a windy day blowing one way then another. Embrace it and I think you will enjoy your journey but don't waste your money too much on equipment. Too much is $1500 on a grinder and $4000 on an espresso machine which is still fine if you have the money and know exactly what you want and why.

    Men are gadget freaks and get techno hard-ons over equipment, myself included. I will never grow up. Just take it easy!

    My wife wasn't happy when I spent $1000 on a Dyson V11 vacuum.
    Brewster likes this.

  6. #6
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    As someone who has been through 4 machines (Baby Gaggia -> Silvia -> Lelit Mara -> R58) and numerous grinders. What I have learnt
    - diminishing returns on machine upgrades
    - spend equal amounts on a good grinder
    - invest in roasted beans
    - the rest is YouTube.

    My preference is an e61 head, smart switch to turn on the machine early enough and make sure you keep it well maintained and serviced.
    Brewster, Dimal, CafeLotta and 2 others like this.

  7. #7
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    personally after treading a similar journey to you I have ended up with a superjolly grinder and an ecm HX e61 and am both happy and content where I am right now. my brother has the profitec pro 700 and our coffee is no different and my steam power is almost as good. I think for simplicity of machines my combo is an awsome point to be.

    do a barista course or spend 500 hours watching youtube videos and I'm sure you will love what you can do time will tell.
    Dimal likes this.

  8. #8
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    If you want to buy once only, def go for a hx e61 machine. Doesn't really matter which one. Go with the one with the appropriate size and controls that you like.
    If you do make that decision, also make sure you do go for a decent grinder. Lots of options but I'd say you would want to be looking at 700-1000 new or a bit cheaper 2nd hand to be in the ball park.

    If you go this way you are less likely to be hit by upgraditis in a few years.

    I did 5 or 6 years on a silvia/rocky combo. Added a PID to it along the way. I went with a 2nd hand e61 HX for around 1000 bucks, but I've probably spend 800 on repairs since I've had it.
    Dimal likes this.

  9. #9
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    Hi all, thank you for your thoughts and kind words of wisdom from your experiences.

    I checked the site sponsor section and didnít see any sponsor in the Brisbane area however Iíve located a coffee machine shop on South side of city which I intend to visit.

    It sounds like good feedback in general with the HX machines. I intend to take a barista course because no doubt my first coffees will taste horrible.

    A few observations from your comments.

    The Silvia, ECM and Lelit SB are the go to entry level machines which from accounts provide newbies good foundation to start with and would also be cheaper to run. On that, do HX machines guzzle huge amounts of electricity?

    I will steer clear of a secondhand espresso machine purely as we donít know what problems Iím buying, ie worn out heater, scale, dead mouseÖ.
    Would a secondhand cafť grinder require new burrs and what would they cost approx? What signs to look for in worn out grinder? The super Jolly looks amazing btw!

    I can fully appreciate the mentality of pay more now in order to save upgrades later. I think thatís why Iíve decided not to go domestic appliance path. Iím certainly not loaded with money, and $3000 for machine + accessories seem steep now, but then that didnít stop me in the 90ís when I bought my first P155 PC for the same price.

  10. #10
    Senior Member flashpixx's Avatar
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    When you finally decide on a grinder or grinders to choose from, put up a post in the grinder section asking for thoughts. There will definitely be at least one member who has intimate knowledge and can recommend or not.
    Not so much an issue with a HX e61 machine in the price range you are looking. Buying new you should be confident of getting a reliable machine, just comes down to your personal preference on operation and looks.
    Have fun

  11. #11
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    A decent quality grinder is definitely not an 'accessory', rather it is essential...
    I'd look through the 4-Sale section here for a used grinder before canvassing cafes for worn out ones...
    You'll at least get a machine with some known history of use and throughput on the burrs.

    Mal.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Excellent advice here from people who have gone through their own "journey".

    I have nothing specific to offer.

    On whether to go-- figuratively speaking from a Daihatsu Mira straight to a Lexus LS, yes and no.
    Upwards progression is what we naturally do. It's part of life's learning.
    And every one of the better machines we buy on that upwards path has something to teach us.
    Like learning to recognise the inadequacy of our existing machine in brewing our perfect brew. Knowing how
    those individual short-comings relate to the art of coffee makes us better informed of what to look for in the next machine.

    Yes, in the long run it will be a more expensive exercise. But it's the way of the world.

    I've been drinking coffee since I was born...Yet it would have been an unimaginable conceptual leap to go from my first coffee
    machine to the one I have now.
    The thought simply would not have entered into my head and I would not have been experienced enough to realise
    why I would need the current machine in any case.

    Second hand commercial machine or a domestic new machine?
    I was very very lucky. Second hand worked out for me without any of the nightmares others have experienced.
    For my 70 kg monster I had to buy just 1 solenoid, 1 sight glass, 1 pressure gauge.

    That was 12 years ago and the only items since have been a couple of consumables like group seals and vacuum break valve o-rings.

    But what I have learned in that time about how E61 heat-exchange machines work is priceless.

    At festive times like Christmas I go around taking all the coffee orders confidently knowing
    I can brew in batches of 4 coffees at a time, with never-ending steam power for lattes for everyone.

    There is no right way or wrong way to set out on the coffee "journey"...
    If getting a great coffee is all you want, buy that Lexus straight off.
    If you want to learn more about how the art of that coffee is delivered to your lips...buy everything in between first and put the costs
    down to education. Anyway, it may not be all that expensive if you strike it lucky.

    And you may enjoy your unctuous, sweet, golden-red crema-laden brew better, knowing it was your journey of learning that got you here to do it.
    Dimal likes this.

  13. #13
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    if the main drinks are going to be black coffees, my suggestion is to focus your budget on a sweet grinder like the niche zero, get a cafelat robot manual espresso machine, and a $30 aldi milk frother for the occasional milk drink. you'll pull amazing shots with a setup under $2k that doesn't require servicing, baby-ing, or feeding it filtered water.

  14. #14
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    Hi woodhouse, James Hoffman just did a review on that very same setup and gave a thumbs up. You’re right this setup very cheap to run. We have the Nespresso milk frother and I find the foam to airy and light for my liking. I would assume the Aldi version similar.

    i definitely keep the cafelat in mind, thanks for your recommendation.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    There is no right way or wrong way to set out on the coffee "journey"...
    If getting a great coffee is all you want, buy that Lexus straight off.
    If you want to learn more about how the art of that coffee is delivered to your lips...buy everything in between first and put the costs down to education. Anyway, it may not be all that expensive if you strike it lucky.

    And you may enjoy your unctuous, sweet, golden-red crema-laden brew better, knowing it was your journey of learning that got you here to do it.
    All very good points you make and a lot to think about. Thanks!



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