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Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

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  • Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

    Im looking at taking a somewhat cheap dive into the electric coffee world.
    I come from a world filled with bodum french presses and various macchinettas, however wish to expand my horizons.

    I have next to no experience in making espresso from a machine, so Im looking at a basic cheap machine to start off on.
    I have been thinking of saving up to get a Silvia, however even that looks a little far off at this stage and Im starting to itch >_<

    MYER (Australia) have a sale on at the moment on the Sunbeam EM3800 machines for $135 or something -  http://www.sunbeam.com.au/products/product_details.cfm?rec_id=607&sec_id=2&home_id=2

    Has anyone used one of these beasts before?
    If not, what could I expect from such a machine? Is it worth entering the world of espresso on this sort of machine?
    Its so difficult to find reviews on the lower end machines.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks guys.

    Wade

  • #2
    Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

    Gday Wade and welcome to CoffeeSnobs mate [smiley=thumbsup.gif],

    If youre starting out on a low budget, about the best advice I could give you is to forget about a cheap espresso machine and buy the best burr grinder that your budget will allow, and then make your coffee with freshly roasted beans, freshly ground immediately prior to brewing and use a French Press/Plunger, a Stove-Top/Moka Pot, a Presso (from one of our sponsors) or similar device.

    Avoid supermarket coffee like the plague as that stuff was probably stale long before it ever reached the supermarket shelves. Try to find a reputable artisan roaster close to where you live and buy freshly roasted beans from them, or via mail order from reputable roasters (such as some of our sponsors ). The quality of the brews you produce will literally blow your mind, you simply can not beat freshly roasted beans. Ive been brewing with a Plunger for the past several months while I restore a 1-Group commercial machine and I can assure you, this method makes for a really terrific cup of coffee so dont get too hung up on buying an espresso machine first, the grinder is much more important as without a quality grinder, any espresso machine is all but useless.... they look good though :.

    Hope this has been of some help to you WB. All the best,

    Mal.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

      Hi Wade and welcome to CoffeeSnobs,

      Yep. Mal is right on the money....

      These cheap machine will make OK coffee - at best - from stale supermarket grounds. They have pressurised "crema enhancing" baskets to produce false crema and they make something looking like an espresso. Put in fresh ground, freshly roasted coffee... and the resultant espresso wont be any better.... If you want mediocre.... then maybe.

      But a plunger, with freshly roasted beans which you have just ground.... great aroma and taste.... a coffee you can really enjoy.....

      So on a budget- get yourself a good grinder and a plunger..... and great tasting coffee will be yours.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

        Wade Im a Moka pot brewer, and based on the advice from this forum Im convinced that the biggest single improvement I will ever get in my coffee will be when I get my Iberital grinder and start using fresh coffee.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

          Hi Wade. I started with a Sunbeam EM5800 before joining this site, and Ill agree with the others above. I sold the machine because I moved overseas, but with some work it could produce reasonably good drinks (better than most cafes).

          Of course, to do that involved home roasting for freshness, and a grinder, and some machine mods (eg de-pressurising the filter baskets). The 5800 also has electronic temperature control, not a thermostat which the 3800 probably has, so the temperature stability of my machine was fairly good (its an important factor).

          The little thermoblock machines also really lack some grunt for steaming, which you cant get around...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

            Thanks for all the replies

            I dislike the idea of the machine having a pressurised portafilter basket, so that certainly has me straying now Ive read that.

            This is a very similar situation to my photography hobby. When I started playing with cameras a few years ago, every forum yelled to get a better lens, rather than a better body.

            I do indeed like the idea of being able to grind my own beans. Currently I get mine grinded fresh in the city and put them into a air-tight container, however it might take me a week to use 250gm..

            Ive read a bit about the Iberital (Challenge?) grinder. Would that be recommended if I could stretch my budget that far? What sort of price should I be paying? Any reccommended place to go in Adelaide or a good online reseller?

            Thanks again guys

            Wade

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

              Hi Wade,

              Ill be that you notice a dramatic increase in bitterness across the week.

              I think that I recommended the Iberital to you on your coffeegeek post ...

              The pros of the iberital challenge delivers a fantastic grind and gives you very fine adjustment. The cons are that it is slow, noisy and is not as durable as a small commercial grinder. The fine adjustment that the knob allows is a double-edged sword; although you can really zero in on the correct grind for espresso, it takes a lot of turning of the knob to go back and forward between espresso and french press. If your plan is to buy this grinder and use it for french press, then switch it exclusively to espresso when you get a machine later down the track, this grinder will be a perfect fit.

              We think that it is the best offer below six or seven hundred dollars and because it is relatively cheap it has been flying off the shelves. Our next shipment is overdue and should be here any day now. We would be happy to sell you one when they arrive. The price will be between $250 to $300; we wont know until we get the invoice with the delivery.

              Cheers,

              Luca

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                Hi Wade,

                Welcome to Coffee Snobs.

                Ill second (or is that third or fourth?) the others in recommending a good grinder first if your budget is tight for now.

                From what Ive read and other CSers with them have told me, the Iberital is indeed the starting point at the lower price end of the grinder market. In other words, most cheaper ones wont do the job for espresso.

                Good luck on your continuing coffee journey.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                  Wade, in Adelaide, you have two choices of people to contact.

                  Mark Barun The coffee Barun, who is a site sponsor and Peter at Simply Coffee in Kent town. Both will be really helpful and you could get the Iberital challenge from either - although it may have to be ordered in.

                  Failing that you could also get a Gaggia MDF, also about the same price as the Iberital, may even be cheaper at some places.

                  As the next bean bay is coming up soon and we will more than likely be using Simply Coffee as a pick up point, come along oon the day that other CSers get together and have a chat with us all.

                  As for machines, I would stick to the plunger, or even stove top (moka pot) for now and save up for Miss Sylvia or if you do not have the patience a Gaggia Classic which is currently sitting around the $550 - $600 mark.

                  To be honest, at entry level the Gaggia is possibly the minimum you could consider if you want an Italian built machine.



                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                    After a bit of thought, Ill certainly get a grinder first off. I probably wont be able to purchase a machine for a few months after this, but Im sure that will give me time to learn a bit about grinders.

                    lucinda - That meet sounds cool. If you can, PM me the details or linkage of info and Ill certainly come along if Im free. Its probably on a Saturday though, and I work every Saturday, lol.

                    For around the $250-300 mark, are there any better grinders than the Ibetital? Veneziano Caffe
                    mentions its not as durable as some, however is this much of a hindrance?
                    Once I move onto electric espresso, I will probably stay there for a while, however Im sure I may want a moka/plunger coffee now and then - Is it really that hard to change grinds dramatically accurately? (ie; fine to course)

                    I might give Mark Barun and Simply Coffee a call to check prices on the Iberital. You have PM also Veneziano

                    Wade

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                      Wade,

                      The Iberital IS good value for money.... it has stepless grind adjustment (IMHO essential for good espresso) and is quite well made.....

                      There are of course far better grinders... but they attract a far better price as well. The next one up is probably the Rocky which ia also a very capable grinder....

                      Because the Iberital has a worm drive adjustment (ideal for small changes in espresso grind....) to make the large change required from plunger to espresso means lots and lots of turns of the adjustment knob.... by no means impossible..... just takes quite some time (some have even made up a crank handle to fit the knob to make adjustment faster 8-))

                      But it certainly is a good grinder.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                        The only alternative to the Iberital is the Gaggia MDF. It is a stepped grinder and is a wee bit smaller in size to the Iberital. Some say that it has less flexibility than the Iberital in how fine you want your grind. I myself have not had any problems and have found it does a great job once I found the right setting for my machine.

                        It is very sturdy as it has a metal casing so it is also on the heavy side.
                        This is a photo of mine with my Classic which I use a lot and is a very good entry level espresso machine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                          So much information. My brain is dying.

                          If I get an Iberital, will it grind fine for courser stuff (plunger etc..)?
                          Ive heard it takes 12 or so revoltions to go from course to fine - Does it really take that long? Wouldnt it take 15ish seconds to turn that?

                          I certainly think stepless is the way to go, as it seems the only way to track various constantly changing variables.

                          Quality wise the Iberital is good? I certainly would want it to last a while..

                          Also, what is the difference between manual and auto? Manual you have to turn off once you want it to finish grinding? Ive read the Iberital has a timing thing.. Does this mean it turns off at after its grinded what you set it to?

                          The biggest problem is that there are so many different opinions, lol.
                          Pros for dosers, cons for dosers and vice versa. Pros for moving up to Rocky, but then its stepped.. But its a higher quality grind? But then you cant adjust it as finely, so maybe you lose that quality? Iberital cant compete with Madcap/Mazzer and maybe worth moving up? But will I notice the difference at this stage? argh

                          On a side note as well, where do people dose the coffee if they want to make plunger? Into the plunger?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                            Originally posted by WadeBeger link=1176047623/0#12 date=1176116451
                            If I get an Iberital, will it grind fine for courser stuff (plunger etc..)?
                            Sure will. In fact, I have borrowed a friends gridner with practically the same burr set, but with stepless adjustment, specifically for french press when travelling ... with fantastic results!

                            Ive heard it takes 12 or so revoltions to go from course to fine - Does it really take that long? Wouldnt it take 15ish seconds to turn that?

                            I certainly think stepless is the way to go, as it seems the only way to track various constantly changing variables.
                            I havent done it recently, but, yes, it takes a helluva lot of turning that knob to go from plunger to espresso grind. Going back and forward is also hampered by the fact that the grind particle size indicator is a sticker that sits on the hopper, which can actually be twisted around without changing grind size ... so if you accidentally twist the hopper around, the number representing your espresso setting wont represent it any more. For these reasons, it is best not to plan on changing the grind frequently. If you want to change the grind frequently between french press and espresso on the one grinder, the "floating collar" design of the mazzers and imitated by the compaks is, IMHO, the best, but, of course, you pay for that.

                            People have very different opinions on how important a stepless grinder is. My own opinion is that it is essential if you are the sort of person that wants to get the best out of every bean. Once you get your technique consistent - which can take a while - a stepless grinder allows you to use a finer grind and a lower dose or a coarser grind and a higher dose to achieve the same volume pour in the same time. Although the resultant espresso will look the same, the taste difference can sometimes be quite amazing. With a stepped grinder, you will often have to change your dose level to get the desired volume/time. Not only is it, IMHO, harder to adjust dose repeatably than it is to adjust grind particle size, but it will probably stop you from experimenting with different grind sizes and doses for the same volume/time pour. To give you some idea of how important this is to us, we bought a rather expensive commercial grinder that was fantasitic ... except for the steps ... so we had no qualms about bringing a drill to it to make our own stepless modification ;D However, in the interests of balance, I should point out that there are a bunch of people who dont see this as as much of an issue as I do.

                            Quality wise the Iberital is good? I certainly would want it to last a while..
                            "Good" is relative. Relative to a mazzer, the iberital is significantly lower quality. The mazzer should last a lifetime, with an occasional burr replacement. The iberital ... not so sure. You should get a few good years out of it, though. My concern with the iberital, IIRC, is that the burr carrier is made of some sort of plastic/resin material. Presumably this will wear and need to be replaced. However, in practice I have heard of grinders with similar burr carriers going well after four or five years.

                            Also, what is the difference between manual and auto? Manual you have to turn off once you want it to finish grinding? Ive read the Iberital has a timing thing.. Does this mean it turns off at after its grinded what you set it to?
                            Yep; pretty much a timed grind vs a grind that you stop manually.

                            The biggest problem is that there are so many different opinions, lol.
                            Pros for dosers, cons for dosers and vice versa.

                            Pros for moving up to Rocky, but then its stepped.. But its a higher quality grind? But then you cant adjust it as finely, so maybe you lose that quality?
                            I doubt very much that the Rocky grind quality will be better. I thought that the steps on my Rocky were enough of an irritation that I sold it last year and recommended against stocking it at work. The Rocky does seem to be more solid than the Iberital, though.

                            On a side note as well, where do people dose the coffee if they want to make plunger? Into the plunger?
                            Yep; I just grind right into the plunger.

                            In summary; the Iberital is not a Mazzer. What it is is a grinder that delivers a very good quality grind and stepless adjustability for espresso. The drawbacks are balanced against quite an attractive price tag.

                            Hope that helps,

                            Luca

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Subject: The Point Of Entry? Sunbeam EM3800?

                              On the question of moving up to a Macap/Mazzer, will you notice the difference;
                              Do you need to try something of lesser quality to appreciate something better?

                              If you had the choice of being given a BMW or small bottom of the range second hand car (typical for most teenagers) as your first vehicle, which would you take?

                              Comment

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