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Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

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  • Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

    My Sunbeam EM3500 "Bar Espresso" has served me pretty well for a couple of years now but shes finally bitten the dust.

    Im planning on resurrecting her with the assistance of some epoxy glue but from a brief read of a few threads here it sounds as though Ill need to make some modifications to get the best out of it - Im still using the supplied pressurised baskets and do find that I need a very short pour from the double basket to get anything decent. So, rather than spending money on non-pressurised baskets etc to upgrade a broken machine, would I be better off putting my pennies aside and buying something decent? My budget is pretty stretched at the moment but the Sunbeam EM06910 sounds like a pretty good buy from what Ive read here and elsewhere. Will it make a substantially better coffee than an EM3500 modified with a non-pressurised basket?

    Ive got no chance of funding approval from the CFO for more than $600 or so on the machine

  • #2
    Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

    By broken do you mean it longer works? A Krups unpressurized basket is only $15, so it may be worth trying provided the machine still functions. Just bear in mind that freshly ground beans, the correct grind and correct tamp is necessary when working with an unpressurized basket. Its a bit harder to use, but fun learning.


    • #3
      Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

      You definitely have the potential for better results from the 6910, theyre chalk and cheese in terms of machine quality and temperature stability, however as usual youll need a decent grinder to get the best out of it. Id venture to suggest youll get better results from a working 3500 or equivalent (with non-pressurised baskets as SamR suggested) and fresh properly ground coffee than you would from a 6910 with supermarket coffee or blade grinder ground coffee.

      Id definitely recommend saving for a 6910 or better, and in the meantime track down a decent grinder so when the new baby arrives youve got some fresh food to feed it! You may be surprised how good plunger coffee tastes when made from freshly ground coffee, and a plungers normally only about $20 so the Minister of Domestic Affairs probably wont complain!


      • #4
        Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

        Thanks for the replies guys

        SamR, part of the plastic housing that the water reservoir sits on has become brittle and broken off, so the valve doesnt engage properly and the water flows straight out. It should be easy enough to fix once I can get the machine apart (dont have the right security screwdriver bit).

        Greg, thats good to hear that the EM06910 is a better machine - some people suggested to me that I was being sucked in by marketing and that all Sunbeam machines are identical internally (their argument was that they all had 15 bar thermoblock systems, so must be the same). Ive kinda fallen for the EM06910 - it seems like really good value for money, especially if they run the free grinder promo again. Im probably naive, but Im hoping Ill get both for under $700 if I bide my time

        In the meantime, Im using ground coffee from a cafe - I buy enough to last me a week at a time. Is this comparable to freshly ground? Also didnt appreciate the difference a non-pressurised basket could make. If my patch up job goes to plan Ill pick up a proper basket and give it a try. Is there an easy way of working out which one to order for my machine?

        Would you recommend the Sunbeam grinder (EM480 I think)? Its about the limit of what I can spend, though I could possibly divert some cash from my machine "future fund" if it would be better spent on a more pricey grinder...


        • #5
          Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

          Originally posted by m@ link=1190084201/0#3 date=1190097551

          In the meantime, Im using ground coffee from a cafe - I buy enough to last me a week at a time. Is this comparable to freshly ground? Also didnt appreciate the difference a non-pressurised basket could make. If my patch up job goes to plan Ill pick up a proper basket and give it a try. Is there an easy way of working out which one to order for my machine?
          Hi m@

          Well preground coffee from anywhere is stale before you get it home - the "life" of ground coffee is around 3 minutes...... by the end of a week it is stale alright.... very, very stale.

          Wont be as noticeable with pressurised baskets - but you will really taste the difference when using normal baskets.

          Re normal baskets, the best bet is to go to a Krups or Saeco repairer / service centre with your PF..... they should have normal baskets which will fit.


          • #6
            Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

            The 0480 is good for the price compared with some other sub $200 units. So if thats all you have then go for it, but there are various threads here from people who have had issues with having to adjust the grinder finer and finer as it wears out, after apparently not too many months of use.

            If you can stretch to around the $300 mark you can get the Iberital Challenge from some of our site sponsors (not me in this case) which is reportedly a much better unit, and of course you can spend more than that if you want! The grinder is more important than the machine (within reason) so look at the Iberital.

            Re the machine, have a read through as this will tell you a bit more about the machine and what it can do. Its mainly a comparison with the Silvia which is another great machine but you can learn a lot about both from it. For what its worth, you can normally get second hand Silvias in as-new condition here on CS for around the $500 mark, and IMHO itd last longer than a EM6910.

            Finally, have a read through the Information about Grinders and Information about Espresso Machines threads in the respective sections as this will give you a non-exhaustive overview of whats out there and what they can do.



            • #7
              Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

              Thanks JavaB, Ill track down a basket and see how I go.

              Your review was actually the first one I read for the EM06910 Greg, and how I found this site I figure the Sunbeam is probably better suited to me - I like my coffee but Im not super obsessive (yet ) so if I can make something equivalent or better than a good cafe without taking too much time or effort. Ill do some more reading here though

              Thanks again, Matt


              • #8
                Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

                For what its worth, I was about to buy the Silvia/Rocky combo when the Brisbane retailer I ordered from insisted I try the Sunbeams first.
                Id say that for the average user, the Sunbeam is great value for money and is backed by a great warranty (already swopped the grinder), terrific LOCAL customer service, a free training session which is well worthwhile 0 but alas I think youve left it too late for the free grinder.
                BTW, at the training session, they actually showed us three piles of ground coffee - one fresh, one 10 minutes old and one half an hour (from memory) and the differnce was astounding. I used to grind a stash for the day, but now only grind as I use it - and the difference is amazing.

                Good luck with your choice...


                • #9
                  Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

                  Originally posted by flatwhite link=1190084201/0#7 date=1190165993
                  but alas I think youve left it too late for the free grinder.
                  I know, its making me all em0

                  And to top it off, someone was selling a prize pack they won with the em06910, em0480 and a bunch of other sunbeam kit on eBay, but decided to sell it to someone else before the auction ended for... $560.


                  • #10
                    Re: Goodbye, Sunbeam EM3500

                    Well, shes back up and running

                    Now Ive just gotta get myself some normal baskets and a grinder and Im in business!

                    If anyone else has a similar problem with their sunbeam, let me know and Ill post a howto for the repair. Im guessing most of their consumer models are similar internally.


                    • #11
                      This was a long time ago... but I'd be very interested in the 'How to' mentioned above (mattbr 26 Sep 2007). Is that machine you repaired still working.
                      I have a leaky Sunbeam 3500S...... I can not leave broken things alone........
                      I can not get into it due to those awful screws that nothing fits. ( mattbr called them security screws)

                      I have a new, better machine now but this one still works, just leaky. And..... I'd really like to see inside this machine that has unfailingly made me coffee for many years. Why those screws? Is there something in there that sunbeam don't want me to see? Or so that I don't treat myself to a free 50Hz defibrillation?
                      I nearly grabbed the drill last night, lucky it was late and the thought of my neighbours being woken up at 2 am stopped me. Maybe someone wiser can suggest another approach? Correct tool availability?
                      It's not a big deal, my new machine, and the art of getting a superb brew is far more appealing, but I can't resist the potential to fix another broken thing??