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  • Machine recommendation?

    Hi all,

    First time poster here, I'm sure there's a few threads like this already but I'd rather not hijack someone else's or bump something old. I've been looking into purchasing my first espresso machine for some time now and thought that the good people of this forum may be able to offer some guidance toward making a decision. Being in a regional area, I am some distance away from any sponsor showrooms or decent stores, so it makes it a bit hard to test out machines or get advice in person.

    My budget is around $1,000, less if possible, more if you can convince me. I primarily drink latte's, however, due to being time poor in the mornings before work, espresso's are becoming more favoured also. For those reasons alone, a quick heat up time is a must as well as good steaming capability. I've been looking at both the Lelit PL41LEM and Rancilio Silvia machines, pairing either with an Iberital Challenge, Lelit PL043 or Rocky Doserless grinder. A Compak K3 Touch and low end HX machine would be my ideal choice, but probably well beyond my current budget. Keeping in mind my finances and that I'm a newbie having never made a coffee in my life other than (dare I say it?) instant or using a crappy pod machine, what would be your recommendations?

    From what I can see, the Lelit machines seem to be fairly forgiving of coffee ignorant people such as myself, as well as having a fast heat up time, however, the steaming may not be as good as the Silvia and can have leaking problems. Does anyone know if those issues have been fixed or had any experience with the latest version seen on Jet Black? Also, what are the negatives with having a 57mm group? The Silvia on the other hand is probably more powerful and rewarding in the long run with a larger community behind it, but seems to be fussy with temperature/grinds/tamp and is prone to rust and other cosmetic imperfections. I've also thought about the Gaggia Classic which I've seen go for fairly cheap new, but am hesitant about the aluminium boiler and would rather something less likely to corrode.

    So I guess my question essentially boils down to Silvia or Lelit? Any other suggestions for a machine/grinder, new or second hand around my price range are also welcome.

    Cheers.

  • #2
    Chron,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs,

    It is not easy to pick between all the choices.

    Unless you are determined to own an Italian machine, take a look at the Breville Dual Boiler, BES900. There are a lot of us here very happy with our BDB’s.

    While the recommended retail price is $1,500, they can be found discounted down to about $1,200.

    It has two stainless steel boilers, short warm-up, instant steam, two PID’s that give a constant temp and many other extras that give a lot of bang for your bucks.

    Being a semi auto, many things can be pre-set to make brewing easier but unlike a super auto settings can be easily altered.

    As you are new to coffee brewing, whatever machine you buy, you will have to master grinding, dosing, and tamping etc, it may be an idea to take a course to learn about it.

    Barry
    Last edited by Barry_Duncan; 8 October 2012, 07:19 PM.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the reply Barry, much appreciated.

      I did consider the Breville as well as the Nuova Simonelli Oscar a little while ago. The prices put me off a bit at first but I'll definitely be looking into the BDB again to see if I can find it cheaper.

      I realise the BDB hasn't been around very long to properly evaluate it, but are there any major problems thus far worth noting? What about the Breville Smart Grinder? Any good?

      Yeah, I plan to do a course at some point, just finding time is the problem. I'll be travelling to Italy next year and had hoped to attend such a course while I was there, although I don't like my chances...

      Comment


      • #4
        Loving my new Silvia. Just ordered a Rocky to replace my EM0480. Rocky + Silvia for me came in at a little over $1000. I bought silvia via coffeearoma website, with optional cleaning kit and rocky via ebay auction from coffeearoma.

        Find Im drinking a lot more coffee now than I used to. It becomes quite addictive.

        I was worried about heatup time for the Silvia, but to be honest I am not finding it to bad. I switch it on before I start my breakfast and by the time I have made toast and drunk juice the machine is at a decent temp. I do the temp surf sequence running the hot water through the portafilter into my espesso cups which warms everything up and kicks the boiler in again. As soon as the boiler light goes out I brew and it puts out great shots even after this brief (5-10) warm up. Found I can make it quicker if I have to by hitting the steam switch as soon as I power on the Silvia and waiting till the boiler light goes out. Only takes a few mins. You do have to run some water out of the group head after switching off the steam button as it will be a bit too hot and you'll find the water flashes to steam. Complete the temp surf again after you've gotten rid of the steam and you'll be up to a usable temp all round in possibly less than 5 mins.

        As for fussiness with the Silvia, I don't see that really. So long as you understand what you are doing its pretty easy to pull a great shot. I don't think I've managed an awful one yet. Follow the basic grind, tamp and temp surf rules with the silvia and it should give you reliable shots. I've seen some pic of rusty Silvia's but from what I can see that only way that is going to happen is if you are lazy and don't keep it clean. I basically don't run any water into the drip tray. Keep an appropriate sized plastic container near the machine and run temp surfing and cleaning water into that. Just use the drip tray for drips, and empty it every day or so. Allowing it to fill and over flow and sit for days is definately going to end up with rust problems, but that isn't a fault of the machine, but of the operator. I think it you look after the Silvia with tidy use, daily cleans and weekly backflushes you'll happily get 10 years out of the mqchine with it looking as good as they day you bought it. Its a really well built piece of kit.

        Comment


        • #5
          Good Guys recently had the dual boiler and smart grinder on special for $1099.
          GoodGuys Breville Dual Boiler + FREE Smart Grinder $1099! - OzBargain

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          • #6
            Chron,

            Do your research and buy what you will be happy with for the money you are prepared to fork out. There are people here happy with all sorts of machines. The higher you go the less chance of upgradus setting in.

            I have used more basic machines and had to surf the temperature as mentasm does. This is ok for 1 or 2 coffees but if brewing for a large group it is hard work. If you don’t concentrate on the job you can get some awful results. With the BDB temperature surfing is not needed as the machine keeps the water at the group heads within 1 degree of the setting.

            While the BDB has been around for a little over one year, the common problems with the early ones like mine, has been the high setting of the over pressure valve and a perishing O ring blocking water flow.

            Breville fixed mine in less than a day and these problems should not happen with the later machines.

            If you go through the dual boiler users thread, most of the problems people have are to do with the coffee used, grinding, dosing, tamping and pouring, not the machine. These factors are the same with any machine you use.

            I also use the Breville Smart Grinder. Other than having to add a shim to get the grind fine enough, I have had no trouble.

            When brewing coffee the use of good fresh beans, about 2-4 weeks after roasting. Grinding on demand just before brewing. Water flow through the coffee puck is controlled by the fineness of grind.

            Barry

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            • #7
              Hi Chron,

              I've been using a Silvia - paired with the sunbeam grinder. It takes a few weeks to get up to speed with grind/tamp setting, but once you are - and you have a good source of beans, you'll be on your way to coffee Nirvana. I've had coffee's at home that rival most commercial shots at cafe's.

              Look out for second hand ones if your budget isn't able to stretch that far.

              I've also read good reports on the Breville - but haven't personally had the chance to use one.

              One way around the warm up time issue (which isn't that bad to be honest). Is to run your machine through a timer - that switches it on and off at a certain time of the morning. Just always make sure you have plenty of water in the machine.

              Cheers!

              Chris

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              • #8
                Chron,

                I have been happily using my Silvia more recently with the Breville Smart Grinder and I have been impressed with it. It grinds fine enough I haven't had to fit an extra shim yet but I have the kit just in case. (It's free from Breville - all you have to do is request it). The quality of the grind was an improvement from the EM0480 and you can often pick it up at a reduced price.

                Once you have made your decision, doing a course will be a good idea.

                Cheers,

                Freojohn

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                • #9
                  Hey guys, i have got a Miss Silvia and a Miss lucy and while i am currently engaging in a passionate relationship with both of them i am still looking to upgrade. The main problem i have with Miss Silvia is it does not hold that much water and the drip tray i ridiculously small. Another problem i have is the temp control. If you only have to make 1 or 2 cups its ok but honestly i get sick of surfing the temp with every cup. If you get a silvia you really need a PID installed long term. I know these are boutique machines but that is just my opinion. The lucy has a version 2 silvia steam wand installed and i have the drip tray plumbed into a plastic container which i empty one a week. I use the Lucy more than i use the silvia.

                  Having said that, Rancilio provide a excellent machine to learn about coffee and a great starting point but i am really interested this breville machine. I think ideally i need a machine with two boiler's.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by XXX View Post
                    Hey guys, i have got a Miss Silvia and a Miss lucy .....
                    ...... I think ideally i need a machine with two boiler's.
                    Why not just switch them both on at the same time..one to brew.., one to steam !

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