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Newbie looking for some suggestions :)

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  • Newbie looking for some suggestions :)

    Hi there I've decided that with the obscene amount of coffee that I drink I really am doing myself a disservice by putting up with what really does taste like ground dirt. Ie. instant. I'm looking to buy myself a good machine and as all dewy-eyed wanderers are when they come to a new hobby, I have NO idea what I'm doing! I was hoping that I could get some help with some suggestions. I've had a Nespresso pod machine (bleeeeech... currently rusting under the bench because the coffee was in most cases no better than instant) and while I love a good plunger coffee I'd like something with a little more finesse.
    Ok I admit it. I'm sick of pushing a plunger like a cavewoman. I crave technology darn it!

    My preferences are:

    - Somewhere in the $600-$900 price range. I realise that's a bit wide. I'd rather spend less than more (sadly the kids can't live on coffee as the husband and I seem to so providing food *sigh* is an occasional hindrance) but I don't want to sacrifice quality if it means spending an extra $200. But I also realise that sometimes a cheaper machine can be just as good if not better if you know what you're buying. Which I don't. Hence tracking down you lovely lot heh.

    - I'd prefer automatic. I've been looking at the Breville BDS870 Barista Express as a guide as to what I've been looking at, but I have no idea if they're any good. I do love the experience of grinding beans and pulling a shot myself but sadly most mornings I don't have that luxury and would be better off if I could let the machine do a good portion of that work for me. Sad but true.

    - We're milk coffee drinkers in general but can be coaxed to the dark side (haha, see what I did there? No? Never mind, I'm a wee bit tired...) with the right bean. We also don't use sugar. As a result the sins that might be hidden with either additive is probably going to occasionally be glaringly obvious with a dodgy machine hence why I'm willing to go up a bit in price for what is effectively only a starting machine. I realise beans and freshness have more to do with that but I'd like to keep as many variables down as possible.

    - I move around a lot and can never guarantee kitchen bench space. I'll always have bench space but not knowing that I'll have room for a monster machine could be an issue. The last couple of places we've had have had huge amounts of bench space so it wouldn't be a problem but I can't guarantee that in the future. Not to mention the fact that I need something that's relatively robust as the removalists often don't give a hairy canary how well they package up our kit.

    I'm not entirely against a manual machine and would certainly consider suggestions. It's just that as I said as a busy mummy I rarely have the time to stand and enjoy one of the best parts of consuming coffee which is crafting a cup entirely yourself. I also think that having a separate grinder, whilst obviously preferable, for now is an unwise move. The frequent house moves mentioned would probably lead either to one or both items being broken or lost. At least if I only have one unit there's less to damage heh.

    So CS please come at me with your suggestions! I'm happy to hear any and all but please give me reasons for your opinions. "This machine is the best, I've had one for years!" is great but it doesn't really tell me much when it comes to why it's the best And don't fear disagreeing with someone or mentioning a model that's not a popular one, I'm really not fussed by brands so long as it makes a great cup of happiness

    Any help much appreciated. I'm not new at drinking good coffee but I'm certainly new at trying my hand at it at home!

  • #2
    I'm assuming you'll need a grinder too? I'd say the most popular recommendations will be a Rancilio Silvia or a Sunbeam EM6910 (both full manual - auto is a dirty word here, hehe) with either a Rancilio Rocky Grinder or the cheaper Breville Smart Grinder (BCG800). Either a google or a search on CS will show plenty of results for all products. With any of the combinations from these 4 you'll be at or around the top of your price range. If you don't need a grinder the Breville Dual Boiler will definitely be the frontrunner, i'm pretty sure with some specials of late it's been had around the $900 mark.

    Both machines are known to be well built and last for ages, particularly the Silvia. Plenty of youtube vids on the Silvia. It's hardly changed in the last 10 years, which I guess says there's no issues with it. There are easy DIY upgrades if you're interested too. The 6910 is very popular (i've not had experience with it), and from what I can tell is very easy to use and great value. The grinders are essentially the best you'll do for your budget to allow the machines to do their job properly.

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    • #3
      Get a smart grinder and a Silvia from one of the site sponsers. You'll regret anything less once you get into it

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      • #4
        Ive just got the breville bes850.semi auto..its great machine combine with breville 800 grinder.. much cheaper than the rancilio

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        • #5
          I've got a rancilio brand new in the box not open yet. If you like I can sell it to you for $650. If not i'll just return it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Download View Post
            - I'd prefer automatic.
            as much as we say the Silvia is an easy machine to get the hang of it, with your preference, I don't think the Silvia would be a machine that would meet your criteria...
            my method before I had the PID installed was:

            - grind coffee beans; ** need a good grinder for the Silvia....
            - put coffee grind into fill filter basket and weigh it with a digital scale to make sure I have the right amount of grinds... make sure you tamp correctly
            - Temp surfing (which involves turning the espresso switch water on off, watch the heater light, flush, etc)
            - Pull shot
            - to steam milk, switch on steamer switch, wait till it heats up,
            - steam milk
            - wipe, and clean steam wand, turn on water pump, purge steam till water comes out to make sure boiler is refilled with water and not burnt out...
            - clean up, then enjoy coffee...

            So the process may not be so automatic, and if you get any steps wrong, you can get a mediocre or bad espresso out of it... everyone say the Silvia is not very forgiving, and I have to agree... getting a PID just makes it simpler in some steps.

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            • #7
              Like okitoki says, if you want an automatic machine then don't bother with the Silvia. You really have to actually enjoying the making process or you will find it extremely tedious. This is especially true when you mess up a shot and have to redo it because it's undrinkable. That being said, when you make a good coffee its going to be far better than and of the cheap full auto machines

              I've found one of the best small changes you can make if weighing the dose! (I have the same scales I've seen in one of Okitoki's photos which was about $7 from ebay hong kong). I find they aren't super accurate on a day to day basis (obviously they don't have the temp compensation element to save costs). But they are quite reasonable for consistency between a few shots.

              I used a similar process as well, but I also have a PID now which means you can basically pull the shot whenever you can see the temp is right.

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