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  • Easy to use machine less than $500?

    My mum asked me for advice on a new machine; things I know nothing about as I have a Presso.   I have explained to her the importance of the grinder and I think I have convinced her there.

    She needs a machine that is

    1 Easy to use (not too many buttons, consistent performance, ie the "sweet spot" is not too narrow) as she is not very technically minded these days

    2 No brute force required - the Presso is out, and no monster tamps either

    3 Can froth milk

    4 Relatively small (she has a very small kitchen)

    5 Reliable.

    She may be able to stretch her budget if there is a standout machine over $500 that fits the above requirements

    Cheers

    Jason

  • #2
    Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

    Does the $500 include the money to buy a grinder?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

      On top of the grinder cost, perhaps a sunbeam

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

        Nobody has been forethcoming with pearls of wisdom yet. A bit of fishing around has come up with a couple of options worthy of the next price bracket.

        They are

        1 Gaggia Classic

        2 Baby Gaggia

        These machines are small and froth milk but I am not sure if they fulfil the other criteria.

        The baby gaggia has some buttons which may make it easier to use. Out of the Baby and the Classic what are the real differences as the prices are pretty similar?

        I think I would get my mum to buy a EM0480, or Rocky, with the steps as this makes them a bit easier to use. Can you get decent coffee out of these m/cs without a stepless grinder?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

          Id suggest a 2nd hand Rancilio Silvia,

          Pre-loved CS member machines appear here relatively frequently as upgraditis hits. A Silvia will do the job well.

          In addition, the boiler is brass rather than Aluminium and this will lead to a longer lived machine which can later be upgraded with a PID should your buddy become more retentive

          Chris

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          • #6
            Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

            THanks for the advice 2mcm, I thought about the Silvia but it looks to be a gear freaks tinkerer machine thats tricky to get right, great for me but not for my 65yo mum who is just getting over a stroke (ps not a coffee related problem).

            The original question was something that was easy to use and reliable, and doesnt necessarily need the grind just right and the tamp just right but will do a pretty good job (ie bit of a wide range) under variable conditions including output from a stepped grinder. Not so much a connsumate CS machine, but at least a machine that wont upset me greatly when I come to stay with her.

            I dont want her to go into DJs and be duped into buying a gazillion dollar Krups with all the bells and whistles that requires more servicing than a Ferrari and results in a pot of Nescafe beside her machine...

            Cheers

            Jason

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

              Originally posted by Al_Cappuccino link=1214209650/0#5 date=1214294921
              THanks for the advice 2mcm, I thought about the Silvia but it looks to be a gear freaks tinkerer machine thats tricky to get right, great for me but not for my 65yo mum who is just getting over a stroke (ps not a coffee related problem).

              The original question was something that was easy to use and reliable, and doesnt necessarily need the grind just right and the tamp just right but will do a pretty good job (ie bit of a wide range) under variable conditions including output from a stepped grinder.  Not so much a connsumate CS machine, but at least a machine that wont upset me greatly when I come to stay with her.  

              I dont want her to go into DJs and be duped into buying a gazillion dollar Krups with all the bells and whistles that requires more servicing than a Ferrari and results in a pot of Nescafe beside her machine...

              Cheers

              Jason
              Hi Jason,

              I dont believe I am saying this, but at 65 and after a stroke, I dont think Gaggia or Silvia will be suitable as they very much similar in operation. I think Id actually have to suggest something like a Nespresso type system . I think a grinder and having to load etc will possibly prove too challenging. Alternately, perhaps some type of Superauto...

              Chris

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                I thought about a Nespresso system too. She is recovering fairly well and probably be up to loading and using a grinder but she is not so good on managing complex tasks and things that require some heft such as wrenching on a PF, hard tamping and so on. She may find a Nespresso provides a reasonable output compared to a poorly used machine (not to mention potential danger of not putting the PF on properly etc).

                There are some pretty fancy auto machines out there but are almost the same price as a small car! She probably has enough money to get one but I cant imagine the service costs associated with them. Does anyone on CS have any experience with the auto systems. Are they worth it compared to the pod systems??

                Just as background, she loves espresso coffee (with frothy milk) but is going to be much more home bound these days so access to good coffee might improve her quality of life somewhat.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                  A pressurized porta-filter will also cover a multitude of sins in terms of grind and tamp. The saeco via venezia is under your price range (400-450) and if you use it off the shelf, its designed not to need much tamp pressure at all.

                  The coffee will of course not be the best, but fresh beans and a good grinder will help in that regard.

                  all the best,

                  sd

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                    Hi Jason, I agree with sd, the Via Venezia is a good little machine, has a stainless boiler and makes an ok coffee. Sounds like your mum wants simplicity of use and VV could be the answer. I started out on this machine and I was quite happy with the brew until I joined Coffeesnobs and the upgrade bug hit me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                      Mums staying this weekend so I might test her out (supervised) on my gear. CS condemns the pod and pretty much all the Superautos as well so I reckon if she can get used to a VV and a stepped grinder (Ill order her beans from Bean Bay on a regular basis, any auto top up options on BB?) she will be happy.

                      Just one more point, is the VV so much better than the cheaper Sunbeams, Brevilles etc??

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                        Hi Al

                        I think when it comes to a 65 year old with any disability it would be good to test here out with her how she uses a machine and what here tastes are like. As you said, youll test here out this weekend - good idea. Suggestions here ranged from Nespresso to manual machines like a Silvia. That ranges from hassle free to possibly too complicated.

                        After you have tried here on your machine this w/end I would suggest to see see if a place nearby can demo a pod based coffee machine to you in their shop. Take here along and see if she likes the coffee from it. If its fine for her and she likes it get that. Far less hassle and mess.

                        (suggestions above based on getting a PC for my mum at 75 that has never even used a keyboard before)

                        Mike

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                        • #13
                          Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                          I would recommend a Gaggia which combines the advantages of cost and simplicity. A good entry level machine

                          The Baby Class is manual and operates like the Silvia. There is also a Baby Doser (slightly more expensive) which will stop when the required shot is poured. The Baby Twin has twin boilers so you can steam at the same time as pouring a shot. I think the Gaggia Classic is similar to the Baby Class.

                          Some tamping technique is required and you dont want to use the plastic ones that come with the Gaggia. To avoid the need for a grinder then try the coffee pod. I have tried pods that I bought for my previous machine (to encourage my wife to make her own coffee) and these are adequate as long as you dont need a good crema. Well I have never achieved a good crema as you cant control the tamp.

                          The Gaggia Baby comes with a single basket designed for coffee pods and I assume other Gaggia models have this too. I have bought coffee pods from www.coffeedirect.com.au but you can also but the Illya brand in DJs

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                            Originally posted by Al_Cappuccino link=1214209650/0#10 date=1214364135
                            Mums staying this weekend so I might test her out (supervised) on my gear.  CS condemns the pod and pretty much all the Superautos as well so I reckon if she can get used to a VV and a stepped grinder (Ill order her beans from Bean Bay on a regular basis, any auto top up options on BB?)  she will be happy.

                            Just one more point, is the VV so much better than the cheaper Sunbeams, Brevilles etc??
                            I will stand by the fresh beans, good grinder, & VV as long as it works for your mum. IMHO, the VV is better than others at these price points and will outlast them as well.  If you go this way, itd be good to clean it out once in a while by unscrewing the portafilter and brushing off the buildup around the plastic mechanism.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Easy to use machine less than $500?

                              Another vote for the Saeco Via Venizia. Makes a respectable coffee and easy to use (no tamp required).

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