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  • Newbie Looking @ buying a machine for HOME

    :  My husband and I are looking at opening a cafe/bookstore early next year.  Therefore we need to practice our coffee making techniques, milk texturing and latte art.  We are doing a course but we need to continue practising at home.  I am absolutley clueless to where I should buy a machine, what brand, what model, what to look for, should I buy new (budget probably about the $500 or so), buy secondhand.  We have been advised about the Gaggia but I think that was only because they sell that brand.  Please help, the more information we get the better.  I have also checked out ebay but because we are clueless we are too scared to bid.  I have done some research but that has made us even more confused.  So we are asking for your Help!!! Help!!!  :-/ Sorry I should be more specific, we are currently looking for a machine for home at the moment so we can practise, therefore when we open the cafe/bookstore we will know how to make a good textured coffee. :-* Ok lets try this again. I understand a commercial machine will be an experience in itself. What if I just what to make myself a good coffee ( I like all sorts especially a short black) and guest at home. Recommendations, experiences, suggestions & any other information would be great including good grinders. There is so many domestic machines out there it gets rather confusing. We want a machine that is reliable and great value for money and at the same time makes a good coffee.

  • #2
    Re: Advice buying an espresso/coffee machine

    bloomlea,

    Welcome to CS.

    What do you want from the machine? Do you just want to be able to offer the occassional coffee to people browsing the store?
    Or do you intend to sell coffee?
    Have you considered a grinder?
    What coffee beans would you use?

    A $500 budget does not really seem feasible to me. Most people here will advise you to spend at least that on the grinder.

    I think you would do well to chat to a sponsor in your area if possible.

    Or keep posting here. Theres lots of us obsessed people around to answer!

    Brett.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

      Welcome Bloomlea

      Well these were discussed and created just for questions like yours so I hope they are helpful.

      http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1224157582/20 (go to Reply #34)

      BTW, you mention $500 or so. I think the or so is the more realistic amount

      Cheers
      Steve

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

        Hi bloomlea and welcome to Coffee Snobs.

        For the bookstore you will need something that costs a bit more but you can cros that bridge when you come to it.

        For now I would recommend a Sunbeam EM6910.
        I think RRP is <$700.
        Along with that you will need a capable grinder.
        The bare minimum would be the Sunbeam EM0450 but I dont recommend it.
        I have one and it will just do the job but barely.
        They cost about $150.

        However I recommend you spend $3-400 on a grinder.
        The Ascaso mini or the Rocky would be a a good two to consider.

        You could also consider looking for a second hand commercial grinder.
        They sometimes get sold on this forum by CS members and will have been well looked after.

        The site sponsors dont sell the Sunbeam but I recommend you talk to them when it comes time to purchase the equipment for the shop.

        Whatever you do, dont go near ebay for your machine for home.
        The cheaper machines on there are generally rubbish and used commercial machines may not be able to be demonstrated as working for you and youd be buying a pig in a poke.

        An alternate plan could be to spend a bit more now and move the machine and grinder to the shop when it opens.
        Depending on how busy the coffee sales get at the shop, a small "prosumer" machine may be more than enough.
        The advantage would be that youd really get to know the equipment before opening for business.

        Talk to the sponsors re prices.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

          Hi, I think you would find anything new for that price would perform considerably differently to a commercial machine (which I assume you are saying you will get later). milk texturing will be very different. But I suppose it is still good practice to get on top of a domestic machine. If it is short term I wonder if renting some gear is possible? I assume you can rent coffee gear somewhere?

          My only other point would be that most people serving coffees dont have any idea how to make coffee well. If you have done a course, you are probably doing better than most. I know where I am located, coffee is very competitive. Just about everyone charges $2-$2.20 a coffee, but all make it badly. But 99% of the population dont care which is why the shop owners dont try harder - everyone just goes where it is cheapest.

          Damian.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

            Practicing on a domestic machine at home first isnt a bad idea, however every machine will be different to use so when you finally get the other machine for the cafe itll be another learning curve all over again.

            Id suggest getting the machine you intend to use in the cafe, set that up at home to practice on, and then more it in to the cafe when it opens.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

              bloomlea,
              If you or your husband are in anyway inclined, maybe buying a used commercial machine and doing a restoration yourself can save an enormous amount of money on a machine that will produce excellent coffee, last for ages and cater for an increase in demand, if that happens.
              A year ago i bought an old Faema commercial machine that is 20 years old and completely stripped the internals for a full clean and descale and replacement of all seals. The machine cost me $200 and i spent $180 on parts, and some elbow grease. The machine now functions as a brand new one would and i know the machine inside and out, so if anything goes wrong i can fix it myself. For a total of under $400, i have a 3 group machine that would, i assume, cost many thousands of dollars if bought new.
              The biggest leap in my coffee quality has come from buying a decent grinder, it makes such a huge difference. I can get a better coffee from using my Macap grinder with a breville ES800 machine (non-pressurised baskets), than i can using a sunbeam 0480 grinder and my Giotto.
              If i was in your position, i would spend $800 or so on a new grinder and see what you can get in the way of a used commercial machine, but thats my opinion.
              Be aware, most domestic appliance warranties will not cover the machine if used in a commercial environment so this makes a $600 domestic coffee machine that may only last 6 months very expensive.
              These are my opinions, but I guess that is what you were asking for.
              Cheers,
              James.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

                James, just curious as to how many hours of "elbow grease" you put into the machine, if you put any value on that, and also wondering if there are any other 20 year old parts that might give up the ghost and be as cheap to replace?  Not suggesting it wasnt all worthwhile, but particularly in a commercial environment, warranties can be comforting.

                Oh, and if I had a $500 budget and was opening a bookstore next year, Id get a decent grinder, a nice plunger, some freshly roasted beans, and spend the rest on books.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

                  Originally posted by cuppacoffee link=1225867564/0#7 date=1225945149
                  Oh, and if I had a $500 budget and was opening a bookstore next year, Id get a decent grinder, a nice plunger, some freshly roasted beans, and spend the rest on books.
                  Absolutely Den..... [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

                  Mal.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

                    Originally posted by cuppacoffee link=1225867564/0#7 date=1225945149
                    Oh, and if I had a $500 budget and was opening a bookstore next year, Id get a decent grinder, a nice plunger, some freshly roasted beans, and spend the rest on books.
                    I was assuming she meant $500 for a home machine just to practice on, and then would be buying a better machine for the bookshop/cafe later??? Perhaps she should clarify this, as there is no way youd get anything suitable for commercial use for $500. She should be looking at a decent HX, plumbed-in machine for the bookshop/cafe, which would be at least $3,500 for the machine alone, and then theres the grinder to consider as well - probably another $1,000.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

                      Bill, maybe Im just a big snob but practising on an appliance and thinking you can transfer what youve learnt to a commercial machine is pretty naive IMHO.

                      I still say go for the plunger, learn to do it well, then buy a dozen and offer them in the bookstore. It would make a nice point of difference.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

                        Dennis I went from my Expobar to a commercial machine (in a cafe, not at home).

                        I like your dozen plungers idea.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Newbie - Advice buying an espresso/coffee mach

                          Originally posted by cuppacoffee link=1225867564/0#10 date=1225964147
                          Bill, maybe Im just a big snob but practising on an appliance and thinking you can transfer what youve learnt to a commercial machine is pretty naive IMHO.
                          Well thats what I thought too. Having domestic machine experience may help somewhat, but a commercial machine is quite a different beast to a cheap home machine. Id get the commercial machine first and practice on that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Newbie Looking @ buying a machine for HOME

                            Hi bloomlea, and welcome to CS.

                            This might seem somewhat unusual to you at first, but Ill ask anyway. (Ive read your other posts.)

                            How many coffees a day do you envisage your cafe would produce? This would help determine if a prosumer machine like a VBM Domobar Super Lever or similar might do for the moment for the cafe, and if so, you could use it at home first like Bill suggested. You can also put the water inlet/outlet tubes into a large bottle like those used for drink coolers as your water source as opposed to having a true plumbed in commercial machine. And it certainly produces fabulous quality coffee, and gorgeously textured hot chocolates!

                            It needs to be paired with a quality grinder, in the vicinity of the Mazzer Mini or Macap M4. Sponsors of this site (on the left-hand side of the screen) offer really great deals on pairs matched like this.

                            You may decide that you still want a home machine and a cafe machine (who wouldnt really... ) however at the level you are looking at for home at this point, youll still need to spend quite some time practising on the cafe machine. I reckon great coffee right from your grand opening is essential if you want return business on the coffee front.

                            Good luck with the venture!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Newbie Looking @ buying a machine for HOME

                              I dont think the plunger idea is going to cut it for the majority of customers who are going to prefer/expect textured milk.

                              Comment

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