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  • Which machine reigns supreme??

    Hi All
    After years of drinking coffee all over Brisbane and getting quite the taste for good espresso, I’ve decided to take the plunge and start making my own. I’ve spent the past few days exploring this discussion forum and was completely stunned to find such an amazing sub-culture of coffee fanatics!!  

    I’ve looked over the web and even at the Choice reviews of coffee machines (which didn’t seem all that comprehensive) and I feel like I’m starting to get an idea of what could be good but I was hoping maybe people could advise of their best choice. I’m looking at spending between $400 to $600 on a machine (and up to $200 on a grinder – never realised they were so important!!).  

    I’m not sure if this isn’t a stupid question – the old how long is a piece of string – but any advice would be much appreciated (and I’m sure it would be a useful resource to have this info in the one thread for other people like me who are starting out and looking for their first machine).

    Thanks very much!!



  • #2
    Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

    Originally posted by mutt link=1175035846/0#0 date=1175035845
    Hi All
    After years of drinking coffee all over Brisbane and getting quite the taste for good espresso, I’ve decided to take the plunge and start making my own. I’ve spent the past few days exploring this discussion forum and was completely stunned to find such an amazing sub-culture of coffee fanatics!!  

    I’ve looked over the web and even at the Choice reviews of coffee machines (which didn’t seem all that comprehensive) and I feel like I’m starting to get an idea of what could be good but I was hoping maybe people could advise of their best choice. I’m looking at spending between $400 to $600 on a machine (and up to $200 on a grinder – never realised they were so important!!).  

    I’m not sure if this isn’t a stupid question – the old how long is a piece of string – but any advice would be much appreciated (and I’m sure it would be a useful resource to have this info in the one thread for other people like me who are starting out and looking for their first machine).

    Thanks very much!!
    Have a look at http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163234999....Thats why we created the section ...

    Im happy to assist with pros and cons but suggest that you set a higher budget- you will seriously struggle for anything useful under around $1k in a package- and thats with a dodgy grinder :P. Feel free to give me a buzz if that will help...

    regards

    Chris

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

      mutt - Welcome!

      Chris is right.

      You need to up the budget a little to get value for your money.
      Otherwise youll need to spend more again too soon and feel like you wasted the first lot.
      Definitely more economical in the long run.

      If you cant gather the extra immediately, I suggest you splurge on a really good grinder, its possible to buy one that will last you a lifetime and accommodate any machine you aspire to.

      A good grinder will make for better coffee but a great machine with a cheap grinder will get you nowhere.

      Another very important factor is access to freshly roasted beans.
      You should look around for a local roaster or consider finding a trusted online supplier.

      This site will soon fill that requirement.

      Alternately you might end up roasting them yourself. Its not at all difficult and then you know they cant be any fresher.

      Good luck on your new journey.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

        Thanks for your advice guys. Certainly makes sense, although convincing my better half to spend that much on a good coffee machine and grinder will be interesting to say the least!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

          Originally posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1175035846/0#1 date=1175036314
          Originally posted by mutt link=1175035846/0#0 date=1175035845
          Hi All
          After years of drinking coffee all over Brisbane and getting quite the taste for good espresso, I’ve decided to take the plunge and start making my own. I’ve spent the past few days exploring this discussion forum and was completely stunned to find such an amazing sub-culture of coffee fanatics!!  

          I’ve looked over the web and even at the Choice reviews of coffee machines (which didn’t seem all that comprehensive) and I feel like I’m starting to get an idea of what could be good but I was hoping maybe people could advise of their best choice. I’m looking at spending between $400 to $600 on a machine (and up to $200 on a grinder – never realised they were so important!!).  

          I’m not sure if this isn’t a stupid question – the old how long is a piece of string – but any advice would be much appreciated (and I’m sure it would be a useful resource to have this info in the one thread for other people like me who are starting out and looking for their first machine).

          Thanks very much!!
          Have a look at http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163234999....Thats why we created the section ...

          Im happy to assist with pros and cons but suggest that you set a higher budget- you will seriously struggle for anything useful under around $1k in a package- and thats with a dodgy grinder :P. Feel free to give me a buzz if that will help...

          regards

          Chris
          Sunbeam EM6910 and EM0480. Great entry level gear. Should be able to haggle for a combined package at most of the big retail stores. i.e Harveys and Good Guys. Im really happy with the coffee Im producing with these two pieces of equipment. Ive never used anything else though so I can only speak for the Sunbeam stuff.

          Theres squillions of posts on these two items on CoffeeSnobs. Start here http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1167810861

          A search will yield heaps of other info....Youve opened a can of worms by asking this question. Just wait and see!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

            also you could consider secondhand quality machine/grinder. there are some to be had now and around here. that said, how about a stovetop. makes a decent coffee and you could use up that left over for a good grinder

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

              Or a Presso and a decent grinder.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                Mutt,

                I was working on a simialr sort of budget to you earlier this year. From reading this site, there were only two machines under 1k worth looking at: Rancilio Silvia and the Sunbeam EM6910.

                The Silvia uses a boiler that takes some time to warm-up (20-30 mins ?) where as the Sunbeam uses a thermablock that only takes a few minutes to come to temp. This was a determining factor for me. My brewing habbits were never going to be compatible with a lengthy warm-up time!

                The 6910 can be found for $600, and the Silvia for closer to $800.

                Remember that all most all the domestic machines you see for sale in dapartment stores and electrical retailers (with the exception of the em69xx) use pressurised baskets. These need to be avoided at all costs.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                  I had a similar dilemma to yourself last year. I ended up with a Rancilio Silvia and Sunbeam EM450 all for under $1k. PM me if you want I will let you know specifics. I am also in Brisbane and sourced my equipment locally.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                    Originally posted by dailybean link=1175035846/0#5 date=1175042960
                    also you could consider secondhand quality machine/grinder. there are some to be had now and around here. that said, how about a stovetop. makes a decent coffee and you could use up that left over for a good grinder
                    There are a few bargains to be currently had.

                    Machine in Sydney: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1174470771

                    &

                    Machine + grinder in Canberra: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1174702010

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                      Yep definitely dont write off second-hand stuff; I got my Silvia secondhand for $500 and deals like that come up fairly regularly in the Coffee Hardware For Sale forum here on CS. A good machine like a Silvia thats been looked after is essentially as good as new; theres not much to break down with them. Similar applies to the Sunbeams, but with an aluminium thermoblock (albeit it stainless lined) and more electronics involved youre more likely to have faults down the track than with something like a Silvia which is purely electrical switches.

                      Just to correct a couple of things from a previous post...

                      Originally posted by Ash_Sydney link=1175035846/0#7 date=1175044234
                      The Silvia uses a boiler that takes some time to warm-up (20-30 mins ?) where as the Sunbeam uses a thermablock that only takes a few minutes to come to temp. This was a determining factor for me. My brewing habbits were never going to be compatible with a lengthy warm-up time!
                      Not so; both machines will have their hot water apparatus (boiler or thermoblock) up to temperature within a few minutes (my Silvia takes just over two minutes for the thermostat to switch the heater off), but BOTH machines should ideally be left for at least 30-60 minutes to allow all other components in the brew path (group, portafilter, spouts, etc) to heat up to the same temperature. However you can start brewing with either after a couple of minutes, but results from either machine wont be as good as if allowed to properly warm up.

                      Originally posted by Ash_Sydney link=1175035846/0#7 date=1175044234
                      The 6910 can be found for $600, and the Silvia for closer to $800.
                      Not quite apples with apples... Sunbeams RRP is $699, Silvias RRP is $759. Sunbeam can be picked up as you said for around $600 depending where you go, the Silvia at around $680 $730 from site sponsors. So either way the difference is around $100, but either way the Sunbeams still cheaper. Whether its the best machine for you is a topic of several other threads Id encourage you to read through.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                        Can I just correct on Silvia pricing. No sponsor is likely to sell a Silvia at $680 as the margin on them is pretty much nothing. Machine breaks, sponsor loses...BIG TIME! >

                        Id be thinking more like circa $730....

                        There is a factory price increase on 01 April, so if anyone wants new, Id be shopping now....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                          Whoops, sorry Chris! Hope I dont get too many people coming your way for a underpriced Silvia . I was basing my figures on historical information but youd know better than me how that relates to current or forthcoming pricing so Ive revised the post accordingly. What I really wanted to point out was that the original post compared the cheapest price around of the Sunbeam with the RRP of the Silvia, which isnt a fair comparo.

                          Greg

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                            Heres my $0.0214 worth. I realise that when starting out in any new hobby, its hard to shell out the big bucks for the top quality gear. However, the budget is very close to the Sunbeam EM6910/0480 machine/grinder combo price and thats a great place to start. Definitely read the threads suggested above and consider these pros and cons:

                            EM6910 pros:
                            Fast heat up (much faster than Silvia due to a number of factors).
                            Easy temperature management. (So easy that all you have to do is set the temp and brew)
                            Commercial sized/weight portafilter (good heat retention and can use after-market 58mm baskets)
                            Adjustable brew temperature
                            Adjustable steam paramaters
                            Sunbeam are strongly supporting this machine with excellent after-sales service
                            Can make great shots (but maybe not as good as Silvia at her best or a commercial machine under proper use)

                            Cons:
                            Still unsure about the longevity.
                            Will depreciate faster than a Silvia
                            A lot of electronics to go wrong

                            EM0480 grinder Pros:
                            Can grind fine enough and well enough for espresso.
                            Cheapest grinder capable of grinding for real espresso.

                            Cons:
                            Cheap construction means it probably wont last more than a year or two.
                            Stepped grind adjustments are too coarse and wont allow fine tuning of the grind


                            These arent an exhaustive list, but for a machine/grinder combo at the bottom of the acceptable category, the pros more than out weigh the cons.

                            An other machine to consider is the Gaggia Classic. Its also capable of great shots and has pretty fast warm up (compared to the Silvia) but has a small aluminium boiler that tends to corrode over time. Its not a show stopper, and the boilers are cheap to replace, but many people, myself included, dont like the idea of drinking water tainted with aluminium. However, my second machine was a Gaggia Classic and it made brilliant espresso (after a few tweaks).

                            If you can stretch to the Silvia over the Sunbeam, then you should read the Silvia vs Sumbeam debate. There is no clear winner, but the two machines appeal to different people for different reasons.

                            BTW: as youre in Brisbane and sampling the differnet brews around the place, have you been to Naked Coffee in the Elizabeth Arcade? Its easily Brisbanes best espresso. No sugar required. Other places I like are Caffiene on Commercial road Tenneriffe and Cibo in Newfarm (opposite Coles).

                            Cheers,

                            Mark.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Which machine reigns supreme!!

                              Thanks so much for all the comments so far. In my price range, both the Silvia and the Sunbeam sound good. I must admit I do like the sound of the quality in the Silvia but at the same time, the Sunbeam has a few interesting bells and whistles. When it comes down to it, I want to be able to extract the best coffee possible (and with my newbie skills, I imagine it is going to take some time!)

                              Mark thanks for your summary on the issue – very clear!

                              In Brisbane, my new favourite coffee shop is Brother Espresso on Margaret. Just opened the other day and they make a really subtle brew but I find it very tasty. Having said that, I’m also a big fan of naked coffee (and proud to have had a coffee there the first day it opened!).

                              Comment

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