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Life expectancy of $600 machines and/or the costs of servicing?

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  • Life expectancy of $600 machines and/or the costs of servicing?

    Okay I have a EM0480 grinder. Does the job fine for me.
    I drink double shot flat whites in a larger Cup (mug style - although my wife thinks its more of a soup cup - my son calls it a Barrel).
    I have been using Sunbeam EM3800 with an extended warranty and every 12-18months the machine eventually dies and I get a free replacement machine. I have been doing this now for 7 -8 years and because these Sunbeam machines get discontinued I am now up to the sunbeam cafe EM4820 machine. The last one just died only lasting 3 months.
    Definition of Died - The steamer wont push out steam or greatly reduced flow, the pump loses pressure and cannot pump out coffee, and/or water starts dribbling out of the head basket when coffee is pouring (possible seal problem).
    I use 100% filtered water everytime. After making coffee I run water through the steam wand and run water through the machine.
    I drink approx 3 x coffees a day every day.

    So my question is I have always toyed with getting a Rancilio Silvio or a Lelit machine but I fear that I will run into these previous common problems later down the track. I dont want to waste $600+ on a machine only to have some problems in a 1 or 2.
    Are these realistic expectations that I should be able to get a good 5-8 years out of these machines without serious problems?
    Or do I have to pay every couple of years to get these serviced which could be equivalent to buying another $175 EM4820.

    Yes I will admit that I am a "frugal" shopper but my wife (a non believer -coffee drinker) has identified my addiction and does not want to contribute any further household expenditure to this addiction.
    And like any good husband knows, we can also find a way to eventually get the $$$$ to get what we want.
    Your thoughts would be most helpful.

  • #2
    Seal could be a cheap fix parts from sponsors/eBay.
    Are you one to tinker? Pull apart the sunbeam? Could just be blocked somewhere, what's your time worth, if it going to the tip it can't hurt.
    Pickup a warrantied machine from a sponsor, proper regular cleaning grind correctly to reduce strain on pump and maybe take back from time to time for a check up

    Correct me if I'm missing anything


    • #3
      Seems strange that you need to do this within the first 12 months of the machines life.
      I have gone through about 4-5 machines in this time.
      So the will a $600 + machine need a new seal in the first 12 months of use of 3 double shots x coffees a day?
      No I am not one to tinker. Hence the idea of buying a better machine than my $175 one. Correct me if I am wrong but if a machine is blocked (internally) using filter water within the warranty period, would that not be a warranty issue?


      • #4
        Hi HaDaJa, welcome to Coffeesnobs! and a very good start from your coffee journey!
        Just a simple answer to your question, it all depends on what you want from your cup. Comparing to appliances EM3800/EM4820, Rancilio Silvia or Lelit could get your pour & espresso into different level pending on your skills. Being a proud owner of Giotto V3, I would say if you can keep proper maintenance like backwash everyday and chemical backwash in 1-2 weeks, and watching out your water quality, you can get 10+ years awesome service (if not 20+ years) from Rancilio/Lelit. Of course, its also recommended to get extra regular service from our CS sponsors in every 3-4 years to ensure it has the best condition to get you golden pour As always a great cup would cost you money..... and see how much you wanna spend....... Good luck and enjoy your coffee!


        • #5
          I would have no problem buying a $600+ machine only if I knew that other then basically keeping it clean I will not have any performance issues for 5+ many years.


          • #6
            Jwill, I think Ha_Da_Ja is wanting to get out of the warranty/replacement loop, rather than repairing the machine.

            Ha_Da_Ja, if you were to pick up a Silvia, you will have a much better experience. The machines run very well for years if looked after well, have their seals replaces as needed, and a service routinely enough. On top of the flushing you do of your Sunbeams, you'd need to look at backflushing as well, but otherwise you've already got all the habits down.

            You might even end up with better tasting coffee, but I don't know how important that is to you, or if what you've got going fits the bill. Might just be an added extra bonus.

            Silvias sell well second hand - there is obviously good trust in the longevity of the machine. As JWILL says, pick up a secondhand Silvia from one of the site sponsors, they've been reconditioned and sell at a good price with warranty. I wouldn't be concerned about not being able to purchase extended warranty - the quality of the machine is all the warranty you'll need.


            • #7
              Thanks Ibiza I think we posted at the same time. At the moment I enjoy nice home made coffee that far exceed most standard cafe's and chain store coffee shops. I don't want to be in the top 5% supreme coffee experience home conniseuer. I am happy with what the machine is currently producing at the moment in regards to flat whites and my personal style. I am confident and have had many positive response s from people over my nicer than average coffees. So i am happy at this level. I just want to make sure I can continue making nice coffee without the regular machine replacement and without substantially increasing my price per cup ratio which currently sits around 75 cents.


              • #8
                Originally posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
                I would have no problem buying a $600+ machine only if I knew that other then basically keeping it clean I will not have any performance issues for 5+ many years.
                Think of it as buying a Toyota Hilux rather than a Great Wall ute. Sure your Toyota will need a service and an oil change, but it won't need new parts every 18 months.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
                  So the will a $600 + machine need a new seal in the first 12 months of use of 3 double shots x coffees a day?
                  Normally NO, if you can brush the group head/seal after every brew session and not leaving the group handle too long w/coffee grinds into the group head, not overfill the basket....... Its not about the machine value, its all about your maintenance........ You also mentioned filter water, what kind of filter water you use? we're not talking about filter drinking water, you need filter water for espresso machine, talk to our CS sponsors like Bombora or Chris of Talk Coffee


                  • #10
                    Filter water is using my my water I get after its gone through a .5 micron carbon block.
                    I like some of the further suggestions about cleaning, also I think I need to start removing the head basket after each brew so it does not sit on against the head seal is a good idea. I Did learn after the return of the first machine to not overfill the baskets that is a great reminder. I have found that if you tamp too much you can choke the pour putting a lot of strain on the machine. So I know that with each different brand of beans I grind I have to experiment a little of getting the right grind for the machine for that batch of beans.


                    • #11
                      Take the EM4820, attach it to the nearest fast moving obhect and say goodbye.
                      Nobody needs an EM4820 in their life.

                      What happens is the water flow housing, behind the knob, splits and leaks water. You will get reduced flow everywhere and once the cavities of the group head get filled with water it will start to leak out.

                      I currently have 5 of these machines with the problem. Sunbeam do not sell the replacement part.
                      I use a Breville part made of aluminium and much stronger to get them working again but it's a fiddly job and not really worth it.

                      Try and get your money back, or replacement and sell it, then buy a non-appliance brand machine to cure the breakdown woes.


                      • #12
                        HA_DA- during your warranty cycle journey did you get any "pop" symptoms. There have been several unconfirmed reports that these Breville beasties go "pop". It would be good to have this confirmed by a long term warranty-surfer.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by noidle22 View Post
                          Nobody needs an EM4820 in their life.
                          buy a non-appliance brand machine to cure the breakdown woes.
                          Further to noidle's comments...
                          Department stores specialise in 'appliances' not machines - appliances are dead within a few years (so no resale value).

                          Simple machines like Silvia are simple in construction and can go easily 10+ years - not much to go wrong, easy to fix/replace components.


                          • #14
                            I don't totally go against appliance brand machines, some can last many years when treated well.

                            It's a basic fact that a high quality, expensive non-appliance branded machine with little electronics or stuff to go wrong will outlast a cheapie.

                            I currently use a BES900 that's the first generation which I picked up for cheap as it wasn't working. It's only got 3600 shots on it but aside from the usual solenoid gasket replacement, the group collar was worn out, the steam valve was leaking, the solenoid is buzzing and the OPV was faulty.
                            Some of this is due to the previous owners heavy-handed operation but things like a failing OPV and a worn out group collar won't happen for a good few years on a higher quality machine.

                            Further to my previous comment in the other post, I still recommend the Breville. It's a great machine.


                            • #15
                              My Silvia is around 6-7 years old, we've had to replace the boiler twice (our own fault), but we expect many more years out of it. The best part is that it's so serviceable if there was any need for it.