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  • Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

    Greetings friends.

    The reality of the matter is that my old Breville 800ES has decided that it doesnt want to make coffee anymore. It has demonstrated this by not producing either steam or coffee when these functions have been requested of it.

    I am a man who enjoys a coffee in a most legitimate sense therefore I am of the opinion that a new espresso machine is something which I ought to consider making purchase of. I am experiencing some consternation however, due to the fact that while my 800ES was perfectly adequate for its heavy student based workload over 4 years of working ownership, it never really produced a magnificent extraction.

    I would therefore like to take a perceivable step up with my next machine purchase and I honestly dont know what to do as there seems to be a bit of a price leap (ie. apx. 500 whole Australian dollars) between the middle of the road Brevilles and anything claiming to be superior and I simply cant justify the extra expenditure. I therefore would like to enlist your assistance in this matter to determine whether there are any machines about, which would be superior to the 800ES without the 700-1000 buck price hike.

    Im not interested in automation. Ive always worked with manual machines and I would prefer something without bells or whistles. I dont want to fork out for more buttons or extra spouts or grinders or flashy gauges. I need a simple machine that can extract better than the homestyle brevilles. I spoke to the gentleman at the Breville outlet today who said he would have a reconditioned BES820 for me next week if I wanted it for $270. I did a bit of reading though and it doesnt seem like the BES820 actually does a better coffee than the 800ES.

    I can replace my 800 if I need for $179 with a reconditioned model. I would prefer to get something better but I need some decent leads to justify spending more. I would just like to know if anyone knows of anything they could recommend or has any leads on where something superior could be found for a good price in Melbourne. Second hand or reconditioned is fine as I have no issues with this kind of situation.

    Many thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

    Welcome IPYF,
    How much are you prepared to spend? I cant work it out from the post.
    Do you already own a decent grinder? Many people (me included) will suggest spending as much as you can on a good grinder, and, if necessary using a low tech extraction method (moka pot / aeropress) if you are primarily concerned with flavour.
    If you have a decent grinder, maybe a second hand Silvia would do the trick for you at <$500. With fresh beans, a decent grinder and the right technique the Silvia will definitely outdo your old machine.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

      Honestly I think 500 is my absolute ceiling. This is why Id prefer to go reconditioned or 2nd hand. I just cant justify stacking hundreds of dollars into an espresso machine when I could replace the one I had which worked adequately for $179.

      I already have a good grinder so having another would be no asset to me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

        The conundrum you face isnt unique. Many people want to experience a vastly superior coffee at budget prices. The thing is, machines that produce vastly superior coffee cost $1,000 more because that level of engineering costs money. I wonder on what grounds you cant justify paying the price for a machine that will deliver the goods? Are you prepared to settle for inferior coffee? If so just replace your old machine with a new one.

        Sometimes we do need to accept that diamonds cannot be had for the price of a cubic zirconia. Like Barry said, what is your actual budget? And are you a milk drink consumer? This will make a difference to the kind of machine recommended.

        Ok so Ive just seen $500 is your budget. You say you have a good grinder, which grinder exactly? Some machines require a certain standard of grind to work properly. A grinder that worked with your Breville my not be up to standard with a
        Silvia or Gaggia. Certaily a La Pavoni europic will be very fussy.

        Honestly your best bet may be to hang out on the bay and look for a cast-off Lelit. They usually go for around $400-$500 and some if them have a grinder combo. It will be vastly superior to a $180 breville. I dont mean to be rude, but it wont take much to outdo those machines.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

          I have a couple of grinders. The one that came with my Breville is here and I dont often use it because it doesnt seem to produce a strong cup, even on its finest setting Im not getting a lot of flavour. I have a hand spice grinder which I use most of the time so its just a matter of getting the courseness right. Ive had more success with that than the electronic one. Of course it depends on the beans but Im not somebody who expects something to happen by themselves, I like to experiment with different beans and grinds all the time just to see what happens. I just got to the point with the 800ES that I thought "Well. Thats as good an extraction as this machine can do" which is my driving motivator for getting a better machine.

          Sadly that doesnt change the fact that Im a poor person and I cant afford to spend a months rent on a higher end machine. At the same time though, if I replace this machine I want it to be something of an investment. I have a theory with coffee machines that you get a year per $100 spent. So far its proven to be true and based on this I dont really feel that getting a reconditioned breville, which might last 3 years if Im lucky, is money well spent.

          In terms of responses though I think I might have to go the direct swap option, or even not having anything at all. Im astounded to find that in the midrange (500-1000) its mostly a case of added features rather than added quality. You would think one of the major companies would do away with the auto-dosing features, onboard computers and the extra hot water spouts just to produce a competative manual machine for enthusiasts with no frills. I hate frills.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

            In terms if your last comment, thats only true of domestic appliance machines. Those companies are in the business of making an appealing kitchen appliance not making good coffee. Under $500 you do have some options in the simple engineering vintage category. Vintage machines can produce excellent coffee unfortunately because if this they tend to be sought after and that drives the price up. Vintage machines also have a longevity that doesnt exist in appliances made today. Some machine from the 1940s and 50s are still in use today with only minor repairs.

            For your money you can get a used Gaggia Classic (quite easily) for about $200. You do not need to worry about the age of these machines so much as long as they were looked after. They have no electronic gadgetry and are a simple yet well built machine. Mine is 10yrs old and will last many years more. They are a full stainless body with quality components. They are plentiful on the secondhand market and because of that are relatively cheap for what they are. They can also steam milk but will be frustrating unless you replace the steam wand with the Silvia one for an extra $50.  Parts are easy to get and inexpensive. You can repair them for longer life and are much better value for money than a low end Breville. Mine produces a nice shot with loads of crema.

            A used Silvia is on a par with the Gaggia but will set you back more because there are fewer of them and they are more popular. But you can still get one with your budget.

            If you want a lever machine a pre-2000 build La Pavoni europic is an option. The older ones were better built, its simple and repairable but its a 2 shot wonder before you have to switch it off and let it cool down. You can expect to pay $400 for an old one but the shots it produces can be excellent and rival a much more expensive pump machine.

            Which brings us back to your Grinder you still havent told us what model your hand grinder is. Hand mills are fine but not created equal and not all of them are capable of producing a consistent enough grind for the Gaggia, Silvia or Pavoni. The better your machine the less tolerant it will be of an inconsistent grind, and if you are wanting a great shot the grinder is more important than the machine. Handmills that have been known to work well are the Kym, Dienes and Zassenhaus. They have conical burs and can grind espresso although they even vary between years and models. I use a Kyocera handmill with my Gaggia just fine and it costs $70.

            The reason why we keep coming back to the grinder is because we want to save you the frustration of getting a good coffee machine but not being able to get the promised performance from it. There are a lot of posts here and elsewhere of people with good machines stating they cant get decent coffee from them. Thats beause their grinder is failing them.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

              Hi IPYF and welcome to Coffeesnobs.
              Youre probably starting to wonder "why does a sub$500 machine section even exist on this forum?" The answer is simple. A good coffee is as much about bean, grind and technique as much as the extraction equipment used.

              Many people here make a great coffee on appliance level machines. It can be done. Some people here report they struggle to make a good coffee on much more expensive machines too. This forum is full and qestions and answers on how to improve your coffee experence from machines from ALL price brackets.

              You have a strict budget of $500. Stick to it.
              I guess you have the BCG450 coffee and spice grinder. Check out the threads on modifying it to produce a finer grind. Search on this site is top left of screen.

              Settle for an reconditioned Breville or Sunbeam and change the pressurized/dual wall baskets for unpressurized single wall. The double walled ones produce a false crema. They can be purchased from various places or one member even offers conversion as a nearly free service.

              Id go for a machine that produced coffee+hot water+steam so you can produce all types of coffee drink styles.

              Find a source of fresh roasted beans. Not supermarket ones. And maybe start roasting your own in a popper once you sort out your new machine - but thats a different story.

              Read up on extraction volume/time relationship. It may improve your technique. A trap many fall for is thinking overextraction makes more coffee. A fixed amount of coffee can only produce a fixed amount of espresso. If you want a longer/larger volume of fluid then add hot water and/or milk. Apologies if you know this already.

              Search the site for other peoples experiences with cheaper Sunbeams and Brevilles, modding the BCG450, pressurized/unpressurized baskets and extraction/dose/time/volume.

              Heres one for instance.
              http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1293682938

              You should be able to stick to your budget and get an acceptable coffee. Others with higher disposable incomes may think differently but theyre not making the decisions.



              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                Thanks for some excellent responses. Im more or less happy with my grinding situation. I"m trying to reduce owning things at the moment as I am habitating a very small space. Thats why something little like a Gaggia Classic would be ideal.

                Without straying too much from the topic, Ive had limited success with boutique beans. I used to get most of my beans from Jasper but I couldnt get a consistent cup for my buck. Theres a wee store in the Queen Vic where I got some Columbian dark for my percolator the other week. Theres also the Coffee Company down on Balaclava that Ive had some hit-and-miss interaction with. Im not going to get much more involved in my processes until I have a working machine again.

                Are the Sunbeam products mostly much-of-a-muchness with Breville?
                I could toddle over to their factory outlet, but I may not bother if its just going to be a case of swapping like for like.

                If I get the Breville again I will definitely get the single wall baskets. I never even looked into this to be honest, I just assumed that there was only the one type. Assumption truly is the mother of all f$ckups.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                  SB vs Breville
                  They essentially do they same job, they can be improved with a few changes, some need careful handling to give best results and some should be avoided. But the same can be said for most competitors at any given price point.

                  A better make of espresso machine.
                  You may need better ginding if you start down that pathway. Same may be true for single wall baskets.

                  Used Gaggia classic . Many people jump for these. Most say you should change the steam wand for one from a Silvia. But depends if you want steamed milk. May not mattter. May even be done already.

                  There are good used machines advertised here all the time. If youre in no hurry, sit it out and keep a constant watch for something in your budget. I originally suggested a reco breville because of your budget and run with your previous machine. I figured you wanted a replacement not upgrade. When my Breville was dying I took the leap to a new Silvia but Id been saving in expectation of an upgrade.

                  Boutique beans. Im no fan of the expression mainly because if means different things to different people. But I guess you mean beans from a smaller roaster. Why not ask for recommendations in a new thread ? The standard suggestion of course is why not try Andys roased from BeanBay ? (Top left of screen) Maybe try a starter pack. I can recommend the Ethiopia Harrar Longberry.

                  Keep posting. Well try not o confuse things for you.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                    Hello,

                    In the <$500 site sponsor The Coffee Man have a secondhand Silvia that they posted about the other day (as this is my first post I am not allowed to post the link, but it is easy to find). As a Silvia owner it may not pair very nicely with a spice grinder though. There are many threads to look at regarding the pros and cons of this machine.

                    I have used a friends 800ES with a conical burr grinder and definitely think the Silvia is capable of better results in the cup. It is also more expensive though. I think the Silvia does an excellent job, if you are prepared to put the effort in.

                    My Silvia is paired with a Compak K3T, which you might like to look at in time. You will definitely notice the difference with a conical burr grinder. But you can build on your equipment over time. You dont have to have the latest and greatest equipment to be able to produce excellent coffee. If you are prepared to put the effort in and get to know your set up then you can get great results.

                    Good luck with the decision you end up making.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                      IPYF. just as a little encouragement to you........
                      I was in a very similar situation, witha spice grinder , a dogey espresso machine, and little cash !.
                      But patience, detrmination, and hours spent scouring the classified adds etc.... lo and behold,.. a nice shiney. little used, Rancillio Silvia, Rocky grinder, and various other goodies ( Tamper, mugs, cleaner, etc) all appeared for $400 !!
                      .. So keep looking !

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                        I think being a student is no exception,
                        I am a uni student and i have just invested $1700 in a BES900, a BCG800 and now a Behmor 1600.
                        I look at it more as an investment. As i will end up buying this machine in the long run anyway so decided why not just buy it now.

                        You can get the machine for easily $1200. Your better off saving/working few extra hours and getting exactly what you want rather than something that you dont want that you wish was more.

                        Yes $1700 is a huge load of cash for a student, but it helps me when i study and even after i have finished uni i hope the machine iwll last me years to come.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                          Of course its up to you, but I would always make the attempt tp upgrade when buying a new machine. Every increment improves the coffee result which is what having a home machine is about. 

                          I initially only wanted to spend $500 on a home setup, I couldnt justify more than that on my morning cup. But once you start drinking good coffee suddenly the priorities change... ;D

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                            Well Ive not been truly dissatisfied with my coffee with the Breville machine. Its more a case of seeing whether I could do better inexpensively. I think Im going to toddle over to the Sunbeam factory outlet and see if theyve got any reconditioned models of their higher end machines as it seems that some of those ship with single wall baskets.

                            I certainly like a good coffee but I cant justify spending big bucks. I had a rich friend in high school who bought a $8,000 mountain bike which, lo and behold, didnt make him an amazing bike rider. He sold it for $4000 and bought a new bike for $10,000. It didnt make him a good bike rider either. Though this is an odd analogy for a coffee forum I think it serves. A $2000 machine wont make a cup of coffee thats $1600 better, thats up to me the coffee maker. A better machine might help, and it might be better made and last longer but there are so many factors at play that it would be an horrifically expensive shot in the dark. I simply dont have that kind of disposable income.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Are you adequately prepared to assist me with my purchasing decision?

                              Originally posted by 435A534C0A0 link=1332651068/13#13 date=1332898784
                              I certainly like a good coffee but I cant justify spending big bucks. I had a rich friend in high school who bought a $8,000 mountain bike which, lo and behold, didnt make him an amazing bike rider. He sold it for $4000 and bought a new bike for $10,000. It didnt make him a good bike rider either. Though this is an odd analogy for a coffee forum I think it serves. A $2000 machine wont make a cup of coffee thats $1600 better, thats up to me the coffee maker. A better machine might help, and it might be better made and last longer but there are so many factors at play that it would be an horrifically expensive shot in the dark. I simply dont have that kind of disposable income.
                              Nor can you drink champagne on beer wages.

                              Comment

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