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Help for a newbie BES 870 vs 920

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  • Help for a newbie BES 870 vs 920

    Hi everyone, this is my first post. Just trying to get some expert opinion about what machine to buy.
    I currently have a capsule machine and am looking at getting an espresso machine. I don't mind learning a little, even going for a course, but I don't exactly have a lot of time to experiment, clean, maintain the machine. I drink one long black in the morning and the other half drinks at most a milky coffee on the weekend. My priorities for a machine are quality of coffee, ease of maintenance, and warm up speed (I often only have 15 minutes for breakfast!).

    Given that I mainly drink black coffee is it worth paying the extra for the dual boiler (BES 920)? Price is not an absolute priority but of course I wouldn't saving some coin if I could, especially if the extra features are only used sporadically.

    How long does the 870 take to warm up? I know the 920 is programmable but if the 870 only takes a couple of minutes to warm up then that's still fine.

    I would appreciate any opinions or comments. I understand that with the 920 I need to get a grinder as well, and I will probably get the bundled breville one. Perhaps, there are even suggestions for a different set up?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    After owning one of the Double Thermoblock Sunbeam machines (appliances) and now moved onto a shiny Italian machine
    I'd suggest looking for one of the smaller, Italian machines.
    They are built to last, built simply and will have good resale if you want a bigger machine down the track.

    Dual Boiler or Heat Exchanger design probably isn't needed in your case of mostly black and a single milky drink once in a while.

    The trusty Rancilio Silvia
    one for sale here http://coffeesnobs.com.au/coffee-har...ia-sydney.html
    And it's partner the "Rocky" Grinder are a hard to beak combo. (I have a Rocky with doser and it's a very good unit, very consitent grind and quiet compared to some)
    Or something like the Lelit PL41 Lelit PL41LEM Espresso Machine

    While we're on grinders, buying a GOOD grinder that will last, is just as important as the machine.
    So something a step up from the Rocky like a Mazzer mini, Macap M4, etc are a worthy investment.

    The site sponsors will all have a good deal they can do for you in a total package or single pieces
    My own machine came from Jetbalck Espresso, and as a lightly used machine it was almost half the price of a new one.

    I have the Dual Boiler Lelit PL60 and can have it up to temperature in ~5 minutes to make a very decent coffee. (a couple of tricks are needed like increasing the brewing temperature by 5 degrees and flushing some of that over-heated water through the group to heat up the group and piping and portafilter)
    20 minutes or more is ideal to allow the entire machine to stabilise properly.
    But my routine is to get out of bed, turn on the machine and then have my shower, this gives the machine ample time to stabilise and produce excellent shots.
    Last edited by Robbks; 5 June 2014, 12:12 PM.

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    • #3
      puchicarat.

      Welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

      I had a BES860 that has been superseded by BES870. I upgraded to a Breville BES900 dual boiler and Smart Grinder, nearly 3 years ago and noticed an improvement to the coffee as well the ease of making milky drinks.

      The BES920 can be set to turn on and be ready for you whenever you expect to need it.

      While the BES879 will be a great improvement to your capsule machine, I think that the BES920 is well worth the extra cost.

      While the Silvia is a good solid machine that can make great coffee. It is less sophisticated than the BES920 and requires more input by the user to get consistent good results. As sold it does not have a PID to accurately control temperature.

      Do a lot of research and buy the machine that will fit your needs at the price you can afford and enjoy your coffee.

      Barry
      Last edited by Barry_Duncan; 5 June 2014, 04:19 PM.

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      • #4
        Correction made.

        Agreed that anything is an improvement on the capsule machines

        I guess a total budget is what we need to sort out to provide some better options.
        If it's higher, the little Italians with PID will outshine the BrevilleBeams
        And I guess it's also whether the user "wants" to be the major factor in shot quality, or wants the "machine" to do the work.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the replies so far. My impression from my research is that the Italian machines, at least in this price point, are more 'fiddly', hence the Breville approach. In an ideal world, I would love to tinker and experiment, but in reality with my time constraints especially in the morning, I need something that can give me consistent results within a reasonable time/effort.

          Anyone can tell me how long it takes the BES 870 to warm up?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by puchicarat View Post
            Thanks for the replies so far. My impression from my research is that the Italian machines, at least in this price point, are more 'fiddly', hence the Breville approach.
            People can and do "fiddle" with the Italian machines for various reasons, but mostly because they can (parts are available for example) not because they have to. Tinkerers may also be more comfortable working with metal than plastic?? The same coffee making principles apply to all machines. What differs is build quality, materials used, expected life span, features, price etc

            charlie

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            • #7
              Another question, but are we talking you getting out of bed and leaving the house within 15 minutes?

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              • #8
                I know this would seem trivial but I'm in a double storey house, with the bedroom upstairs and kitchen downstairs. I usually have half hour between waking and leaving the door. So ideally, I would like to avoid running downstairs to start the machine and ducking back upstairs to shower before breakfast.
                I know I know, first world problem.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by puchicarat View Post
                  Thanks for the replies so far. My impression from my research is that the Italian machines, at least in this price point, are more 'fiddly', hence the Breville approach. In an ideal world, I would love to tinker and experiment, but in reality with my time constraints especially in the morning, I need something that can give me consistent results within a reasonable time/effort.

                  Anyone can tell me how long it takes the BES 870 to warm up?
                  It's pretty much much ready as soon as it's switched on all and lit up.
                  Put the porter filter in and flush it on the 2 cup setting to heat everything up and you're ready to go.

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                  • #10
                    I think regardless of the machine that the dash downstairs would solve any potential warm-up issues.
                    OR, install an upstairs safety switch for the downstairs power point. (like you have to have in new kitchens for your oven/ cooktop)

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                    • #11
                      The fiddling that you have to do with all non-automatic machines is to fiddle with the grind, dose and tamp. It is most important so you can get the best coffee out of your machine.

                      Barry

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                      • #12
                        My BES870 is pretty quick. I turn it on, make sure the water is full, beans in the hopper, wait maybe one minute for warm up, then flush an 2cup through the portafiller to heat up. Then I take the portafiller out, rinse in hot water and dry completely. Then grind the beans, extract the espresso. All up from turning the machine on, maybe 3 mins? Depends how slowly I move in my zombie state. If you're having milk then that's another minute or two maybe.

                        Speed has not been an issue for me. Its my first machine and I'm very happy. However I only have lattes and cappuccinos so I can't comment on the quality if an espresso or long black.

                        Like Barry said, you need to test a few settings to decide what you like, (grind size and amount) no matter which machine you get. Best not to do that in the morning. Once you've determined the settings you like the morning coffee us very quick and easy.

                        My advice would be to get the 920 if money isn't an issue. I love my 870 but $$$ was a factor in my purchase. The 920 has a duel boiler I think? Meaning you can texture milk at the same time as the espresso. The milk can seem slow in the 870 however I have nothing to compare to. But I'd like that option, it'd make for a faster milk coffee and hotter as the espresso isn't cooling down while you're doing the milk.

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                        • #13
                          Obviously you'd also need a separate grinder with the 920, so cost and bench space need to be taken into account. I like the grinder included with the 870, however others have said it's better to go separate so they can be upgraded later. I figure I'll deal with that later, the 870 has been great to start with and I'll be happy with it for a while.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for all the replies. Just to keep you updated, I went and bought a BES 920 with the smart grinder on the weekend. The machine heats up so quickly i dont think I even need the timer function. Spent the weekend reading/watching information on the net and experimenting. As it is my first real machine, it has been a huge learning curve. However, even with my limited time, the coffee is heaps better! Thanks for your help and hope to see you guys on the forum.

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                            • #15
                              Do you have access to a fine temperature probe, such as one fitted to lots of multimeters?

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                              I'm really interested to see what temperatures the various machines are capable of producing after the short heat-up times.
                              While the boilers/ thermoblocks may be hot, the rest of teh pipework and group may suck a lot of temp out of the water and not transfer it through the coffee,

                              there's a lot of snobbery around here regarding baskets, dosing, tamping, grinding and all the hardware that's associated with it, but very little talk of actual brew temps, and knowing what temps your beans are blended/ roasted/ designed to be brewed at.
                              A couple of degrees difference can make a big difference in the cup.

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