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~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

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  • ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

    Looking to get a coffee machine for my girlfriend as a birthday present.

    Ive done a tonne of research - Im fairly new to espresso myself so I would just like to get some backup from the more experienced.

    Some background info:
    • She already has a Sunbeam EM0480 which was a past present - shell want to stick to this grinder until it dies for sentimental reasons.
    • We currently use a plunger.
    • We like to try out freshly roasted local beans and always restock every week or two.
      She probably wont be using this machine to make her morning coffee as shes generally up quite early and rushed, so she typically grinds and brews a plunger full and puts it into a thermos to take to work (shes a Nurse)
    • She enjoys the idea of coffee and trying out different beans - so Im confident a manual espresso machine will be fun for her to use and play with.
    • Shell like experimenting with the tools she has, however I doubt shell be into researching different components / mods / upgrades for the machine.
    • She wont be so hardcore that shell be looking to get 100% perfect brews and pursue all sorts of means to get it - shell be happy with the process of making an espresso from fresh beans and getting it nice enough. 
    • This is a present so I want something that is reliable, simple and fixable - she will want to keep it for a long time and will be reluctant to upgrade again for sentimental reasons - shes like that
    • Dont really want to spend too much more than $600.
    • Im a very electrically / mechanically apt person so I dont mind getting in there and fixing/modding if things to go wrong.  First thoughts are to use my Dads metal lathe to machine her up a nice tamper.
    • We arent often required to make coffee for more than just the two of us, so it doesnt matter if its not the fastest machine in the world for churning them out.


    So based on my research Ive looked at the following machines:

    Lelit PL041
    - This is the one Im leaning towards.  All reports indicate this is a good quality machine for the price.  Can get this locally at a good price with good supplier support.

    Gaggia Classic
    - Seems quite common and popular.  Main downsides are alloy boiler it seems.  Lelit just as good or better in most aspects?

    Sunbeam EM6910
    - If this wasnt a birthday present I would definitely be considering it because it does appear to pack quite a few features and I wouldnt be adverse to throwing it away if it breaks down after a few years - however I just dont want to be giving her a throw away appliance for a present.  So its probably a no to the Sunbeam.

    Rancillio Silvia
    - a bit out of my price range - $600 is already a stretch.  The Lelit appears to be quite comparable for a better price - major difference being the slightly better build quality of the Silvia.

    Saeco Via Venezia
    - Looks good and a nice price.  Apparently easy to make unpressurised.  Smaller unit compared to the others Im looking at.  If im willing to spend the cash Im probably better off with the Lelit or similar.  Especially as well be looking to hold on to this machine.


    So currently Im very close to securing the Lelit - if anyone chimes in with any other comparable options or significant reasons not to I think thats the path Ill take.

    Thanks in advance!







  • #2
    Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

    Personally I dont think aluminium is a big problem but I might be in the minority. It is a good choice for a boiler with an external heating element becuase of its superior heat conduction. (most of the others probably have internal elements)

    I dont know too much about the lelit but someone else will. it might be a better machine. baskets are 57mm instead of 58 like most machines, not sure if that matters.

    I guess youve seen the second hand silvia on here for $500 but want to buy new for a present?

    For the best coffee put a pid on one of these machines, but you can always do that later.

    You could get the 2nd hand sylvia and a PID kit.

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    • #3
      Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

      Cant do Im afraid. Eveyone should start their journey on an EM6910. Brilliant, if noisy, machine.

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      • #4
        Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

        Id vote for the gaggia, extremely reliable and cheap. Easy to repair. Standard 58mm filters. The boiler heating elements are very robust and unlikely to get burned out if someone forgets to reprime after steaming milk. Small boilers is only a problem if doing several coffees back to back. Quick to heat up because of the small boiler.

        Ive no experience of the lelit, but those that do seem to like them.

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        • #5
          Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!


          Lelit PL041
          Gaggia Classic
          Sunbeam EM6910
          Rancillio Silvia

          Interestingly I have owned each of these machines so feel I am in a position to give you advice. I should point out that I only used the Gaggia & the Silvia for short periods of time but did use the Sunbeam & Lelit quite a lot.

          Firstly and most importantly, they are all capable of producing an excellent coffee.

          The Sunbeam is the odd one out with its dual thermoblocks; the others are all dual purpose single boiler machines. This gives the Sunbeam an edge when it comes to steaming milk which you can do whilst pouring your espresso. The others will involve brewing your espresso first, switching the boiler to the higher steam temperature, and then texturing your milk. From the requirements you’ve described I don’t think it’s a big issue. If you were planning to entertain a lot and make frequently make more than 2 coffees, I would say go for the Sunbeam.

          The Lelit & Silvia are pretty similar machines with respect to design, performance and longevity. These are very robust machines. The Silvia has a better resale value but it sounds like this won’t be a factor for you. The 57mm group design is not a big issue.

          The Gaggia is a decent machine – very popular and been around for a long time. I just feel the others do things a little bit better.

          In summary I think you have already made the right choice with the Lelit.

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          • #6
            Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

            So I went and picked up the Lelit this morning - nice looking machine and were going to have a lesson on it tomorrow after I give it as an early birthday present. Thanks for your help everyone, looking forward to some fun with it!

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            • #7
              Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

              Congratulations MC. Excellent idea to get some training so youre getting the most out of your machine right away.

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              • #8
                Re: ~$600 Manual machine - confirm my decision!

                I have not had a Lelit but I have been researching a new machine to replace my old Saeco VV and was tossing between the Lelit and the Silvia. the Lelit is a 57mm PF but you can get different sizes in baskets and NPFs for them so thats a plus I think if you like to play around. Enjoy you new machine.

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