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First coffee machine recommendations

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  • First coffee machine recommendations

    Hi all

    So I've been stuck on a french press for a while and thought a change was needed after going to Melbourne and realising coffee is just not the same in Brisbane. I was reading around and everyone seems to think the Rancilio Silvia or the Sunbeam EM6910 is the way to go for your first one. I've got my friends sunbeam grinder which I use at the moment.

    I was happy to just go grab a Silvia though I'm just wondering whether I should skip the entry level and go to a step higher to lessen/prolong the need to upgrade down the track. I'm also thinking about it because I'd like a dual boiler too just to save time in the morning rush (not a morning person until after coffee).

    So if I was to skip the entry-level stuff, what would I be best looking at? Price range around/under $1000 preferably. Thought about 2nd hand gear too but would have no idea what to look for.

    Last edited by mitt; 29 August 2013, 10:56 PM.

  • #2
    Hi Tim

    You make a good point - Why buy a "stepping stone" machine e.g Silvia, when there's a good chance that in six months you will want to trade up to a heat exchange or dual boiler. The convenience of being able to brew and steam at the same time cannot be underestimated particularly first thing in the morning when you need your fix!

    However, at the risk of sounding like a party popper you might struggle to achieve your aim of a HX or dual boiler at the $1000 you are stating as your budget. It would probably be a fairly well worn second hand machine with a "fair few ks on the clock" at that price. You would also probably feel the need to upgrade your grinder.

    I'm not sure what your skill level is like but for what it's worth I would go down the Silvia & Rocky grinder path for around your budget. You could then sharpen your skills and then maybe trade up in a couple of years time. History would indicate you'll get a fair swag of your initial purchase price back for a well maintained machine on this website. After a while on the Silvia you get a lot quicker at steaming milk, temperature surfing and shot extraction etc and you may not even feel the need to trade up to a flasher set of wheels. (Sorry about all the car analogies I've just been car shopping).

    Or in two years time you may be swimming in cash, buy a nice Rocket Giotto, keep the Silvia, take it to work and use it feed your caffeine addiction there rather than pay 4 bucks a pop at the dodgy cafe down the road........

    Good luck with the adventure



    • #3
      Oh yep. Thanks for the in depth reply. After I wrote that I realised the next step up would be upwards of $2000 and a better grinder. But it makes me wonder what is in the $1000-1500 range?? I found the breville bes900 but it seems there are a fair few problems.

      So hypothetically lets say I have cash to burn (still deciding) along with the rocket giotto, what other hx machines should I be looking at? (Though this makes it another section in the forum doesnt it? Lol)


      • #4
        Don't forget to set a budget for a good grinder.

        When you get a good one. It can probably last you for a long time before you want to upgrade compare to upgrading new coffee machines


        • #5
          2 points...

          !: the sunbeam grinders are (I have heard) rather random in the quality of grind. Read my threads and you will realise I kinda go along with that... except there is a guy called Mac_c who gives some things to do to make your Sunbeam grinder work as it should have.

          SOOOO... your good coffee has less to do with the espresso machine than it does to do with the grinder.

          I have spent considerable effort on getting my EM6910 to produce good espresso. I have spent probably more in getting my EM0480 to produce grinds worthy of the time I gave my EM6910. And I would buy a new grinder... (or use Mac_C's process to fix the ones I have) before I would replace my coffee machine.

          The EM6910 (& the EM7000 - which I have NOT tried) has 2 x thermoblocks. This means steam AND espresso can be produced together. The boiler machines under about $1500 tend to make you 'surf' a temperature range to get your coffee and then get your milk. The twin thermoblocks let you do them at the same time.

          There are some gotchas... the EM6910 has leak/pressures issues. The good thing about this is, if you learn what might cause such things they are easily fixed. The grinder has consistency issues. Grind a double shot 5 minutes apart and you might get pressure differences and very different coffees coming out.

          But... get it right... find and do the fixes from CS pages, and you have, for under $800, a combo system that can provide good and consistently good coffee for everyone you know.


          • #6
            Yeah if I had 1k to spend I'd spend $400 on a quality grinder (should be able to get a K3 push or baratza preciso) and then $600 should get you a new EM6910 on sale without a problem.
            I would also get a VST basket or two and a tamper matched in size.


            • #7
              Nothing wrong with the Silvia. I'd be surprised if you'd be looking to upgrade 'in six months'. I'm about 12 months into my Silvia/Rocky relationship and Im only now feeling completely on top of my grind/dose/tamp/pull proceedure so it is consistently good. My latte art is coming along, but the really does take time and practice. I'll be looking at extending to the auber PID on mine as soon as the warranty is done. That should extended me for another year or two before I can talk the minister of finance into something like the Rocket Giotto where I'd like to end up.


              • #8
                Thanks for all your replies. Much appreciated. Still thinking about skipping the beloved Silvia/Rocky combo which I have no problems with btw. It's that I'd rather not have to buy again if I don't have to.

                After reading all these posts I do think I may be in the wrong section for to talk about $2k+ machines.


                • #9
                  Going back to your original question of which HX machines the Giotto is a wonderful machine. It's worth going to one of the sponsors to take one for a test drive and see other like machines. Good luck with your search.


                  • #10
                    Great thread. This is exactly what I'm going through. While I know the Silvia/Rocky is a great combo I think I'm just going to jump up to the Giotto/probably Mazzer and be done with it...


                    • #11
                      the oscar by nuovo seminelli is a hx that can be had for just shy of a $1000...$500 should be able to nab you decent grinder like the k3 push or something along those lines.


                      • #12
                        There's a couple of Oscars going very cheaply on the bay ATM. Not sure if pickup only though.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CremaMyPants View Post
                          Great thread. This is exactly what I'm going through. While I know the Silvia/Rocky is a great combo I think I'm just going to jump up to the Giotto/probably Mazzer and be done with it...
                          Heh. As much I as I just wanted to believe the Silvia would be enough, I found myself thinking about deciding between a Giotto or Technika IV most of this last week... so I spose that's the way I'm going. The Compak k3 push seems value for money and on par with the Mazzer from the things I've read so I'll just go with that for now.

                          tbh I don't think there is a way to truly be 'done with it' and avoid upgraditis... or materialism (though that just sounds so much worse), we'll just shift it from espresso machines to our other hobbies. LOL.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by applor View Post
                            Yeah if I had 1k to spend I'd spend $400 on a quality grinder (should be able to get a K3 push or baratza preciso) and then $600 should get you a new EM6910 on sale without a problem.
                            I would also get a VST basket or two and a tamper matched in size.
                            If I had around $1500 I would get the Mahlkoenig Vario grinder (aka Baratza Vario, Mahlkoenig make and distribute them in Aust). Not the "W", the one that is doserless, and goes directly into the p/f. Guy in Syd(?) is distributor. Leaves no grounds (i.e. 0.5g measured in reviews is worst case). Roughly $650.

                            A Pullman Barista Premium tamper (i.e. the 316 stainless one) - wooden handle in my case, as it doesn't have the chill factor of acetal or metal - your call. Get them from Things Coffee direct together with the whole VST basket range (7g ridged, 15, 18, 20 & 22 ridgeless). They will fit the tamper to the baskets as long as you order them together (VST's vary noticeably in diameter). Say $450 for that lot.

                            This is truly a precision tool, together with the VST's and a decent grinder they redefine the way your coffee arrives in the cup. Using that as a start, any maker with a single floor maker and a naked portafilter (p/f) that can steam as well as pour a shot at the same time will excel.

                            Personally, I have 2 6910's (see journeyman's my new machine for a lot of info about these). As long as you are prepared to keep them scrupulously clean and convert the p/f to naked they are consistent and will exceed the coffee in 90+% of cafes. BTW, use CS posts to dig out issues with the woeful manual. Around $600, often a lot less on special.

                            I actually bought my 6910 / 480 combo because my commercial machine and grinder retained far too much grounds (grinder) and took too long to warm up (30 mins) and give decent coffee (first 3 or 4 get sinked while the whole thing warms up after the 30 mins) as well as chewing up a huge amount of power (maker). The 6910 / 480 combo works well enough at home (I am fanatical about my coffee), however the Vario is miles better than ANY other grinder I have ever seen for home use. My first long term machine: 6 group La Cimbali in 1979, too many to count since. Commercial grinders are struggling to match the Vario even if you clean them and catch the first grounds. Anything with a doser retains too much for home use (7g retention - common on commercial grinders is a complete single espresso).

                            Just my 2 cents worth.



                            • #15
                              To those patient enough to wait and save a little more, you cant go wrong with a Nuova Simonelli Oscar partnered with the Compak K3 for 1500-1600$.
                              This is a great value quality grinder and a great entry level heat exchanger machine of which you can find out about the Oscar from Casa Espresso. Mention that you are a CS member.
                              I can vouch for those because I have em in my stable.
                              Better machine which produces better shots than the Silvia which was my previous machine.