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  • Better cup of coffee

    Hi All, I’m new here, I only discovered this site a few days ago, thank you for a lot of reading material. I’m in search of a better cup of coffee. I live in Melbourne, some great coffee places (painfully also a lot of places with great equipment and bad coffee). I’m not satisfied with what I currently can make at home and I hope I can get some help. My current preference is a short-long black. I now do realize that I might have to spend some money to be able to get a better espresso.  From my existing $600($500 machine &$100 grinder) set up, where do I start? Can I get anything ‘decent’ for under$2500(machine, grinder & tamper)? Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Better cup of coffee

    Hi mbcup and welcome to CS!

    You can certainly get something way more than decent with your budget. Suggest you contact Chris @ Talk Coffee...in Melbourne and a Site Sponsor (link to the left of this page).

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Better cup of coffee

      Hi mbcup,

      With $2500 you should be able to get yourself a good quality HX machine, decent grinder, an hour or two of training and the accessories youll need to get going. Or, depending on your needs, you could opt for a single boiler machine, excellent grinder (no need to upgrade in the future) and enough training so that youre getting the best out of your setup from day one. Or, spend all of it on equipment if you prefer to learn "on the job" or if you already know the ins and outs 8-)!

      charlie




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      • #4
        Re: Better cup of coffee

        I agree that you should be able to get a decent setup for that kind of money.
        I second talking to Chris @ Talk Coffee (I bought my equipment from him and Im in Sydney).

        I recommend a Pullman Tamper (see the list on the left).

        Consider stetching your budget a little more (if need be) to prevent having to upgrade in the future.
        Remember, you can sell the existing equipment and make a few $ back.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Better cup of coffee

          Thank you All for the advice, correct me if I’m wrong but if I spend +$800 for the grinder & tamper(Mini Mazzer & Pullman), I’m left with under $1700 for the machine; is that enough ? What would  you recommend? Thank you.

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          • #6
            Re: Better cup of coffee

            There are a number of options for machines in/under $1700--all capable of excellent coffee. These range from mid to high-end single boilers to a couple of the less expensive HX (I think) and a variety of thermoblock machines at the cheaper end.

            Do talk to one of the sponsors--they will ask you questions to find out how the various options interact with your needs and desires. This can be complicated. Note that the sponsors are specialists and often fanatics for good coffee and WILL give good advice--they are NOT just interested in making a sale (IME).

            Greg

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            • #7
              Re: Better cup of coffee

              Mbcup,

              You say you drink black coffee? So milk isnt a big factor? If not, a single boiler machine for around $1500 and a mini mazzer would be a pretty good combo,

              charlie

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              • #8
                Re: Better cup of coffee

                Thank you All for your advice and suggestions.
                Ive done more reasearch (again!), Im now more inclined to spend my budget(~$2500) on a machine alone( it is all Thundergods fault, he advised me to stretch my budget a little!).
                I was considering VBM Domobar Super Lever, is this a good choice or what other espresso machines should I be looking at?
                Yes Charlie, I like espresso (or medium black) but it would be nice to be able to make a decent cappuccino, as well (and why not, a better affogato).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Better cup of coffee

                  Originally posted by mbcup link=1228649186/0#7 date=1228998763
                  it is all Thundergods fault
                  Me thinks thou needed little persuasion because in thy heart ye already knew the answer.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Better cup of coffee

                    Originally posted by mbcup link=1228649186/0#7 date=1228998763
                    I was considering VBM Domobar Super Lever, is this a good choice or what other espresso machines should I be looking at?
                    Yes Charlie, I like espresso (or medium black) but it would be nice to be able to make a decent cappuccino, as well (and why not, a better affogato).
                    The cappuccinos you make on a dual purpose single boiler machine like a Diadema Perfetta or Vibiemme Piccolo can be just as good as those made on a HX or twin boiler machine. But youre not going to regret going the HX or twin boiler route - especially when word of your baristering skills spreads and your place starts to resemble a cafe on weekends . On the other hand, the quality of the your grinder determines how good your espressos can be.

                    charlie

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                    • #11
                      Re: Better cup of coffee

                      Originally posted by mbcup link=1228649186/0#7 date=1228998763
                      *snips*
                      Thank you All for your advice and suggestions.
                      Ive done more reasearch (again!), Im now more inclined to spend my budget(~$2500) on a machine alone...
                      DONT DO IT! --- unless --- you have a good grinder. A $100 grinder will limit your coffee excellence far below the capabilities of a $2500 espresso machine. To match a machine like the VBM, your grinder budget needs to be in the region of mini-mazzer and up. I know its hard to believe, but the grinder is before the machine in the process and determines the outcome from there on. Just like cheap, stale beans make bad coffee despite a Robur and a Synesso (a multi-thousand dollar combo). Each stage depends on the success of the previous stages.

                      Greg
                      Sorry to be so pushy, but I purchased in the wrong order, and I firmly believe in learning from history so we dont have to repeat the misteaks of the past.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Better cup of coffee

                        As Greg said above....

                        GRINDER.... GRINDER.... GRINDER (and then machine).....

                        With a quality grinder and a pretty cheap machine..... reasonable espresso / coffees

                        With a cheap grinder and a Synesso..... cr@p coffee.

                        Its the grinder (and of course freshly roasted beans) which will make most of the difference... Get these wrong and, regardless of the machine, you will be disappointed - very disappointed!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Better cup of coffee

                          It looks like it has to be a package, machine + grinder. Im back to square one. The problem is that I really like the idea of a HX machine e.g. GPP,VBM SL or dual boiler e.g. Expobar(all about same price). I just feel that this sort of machines will last the test of time(produce a great espresso, more reliable & also more capable).
                          Sorry, Greg, on "region of mini-mazzer and up", what is up and why? In what way another grinder is better than mini-mazzer? Is it the commercial part or a better grind - better extraction part?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Better cup of coffee

                            mbcup,

                            the HX machines you mentioned are all good - and go the distance as will machines like the Silvia (the only real difference is with a single boiler you cant extract and texture milk at the same time - not a problem if you are an espresso or long black drinker..... but for milk based - more than a couple at a time and the HX comes into its own!)....

                            There are single boiler machines (non HX) of exactly the same build quality as the HX ones..... it just comes down to price (and brand!)....

                            Re grinders "up from mini-mazzer" (which is an excellent grinder)..... the more you pay, the better the grind quality (but this isnt linear...... the quality increases less than the price increase....)

                            I had a La Cimbali Jnr grinder teamed with my twin group LaCimbali (that is $1200 grinder) and the results were very good. I then had an opportunity to purchase a "special" LaCimbali/DRM grinder which grinds at very low speed using a combination of conical and flat burrs (about a $2500 grinder)...... the quality of the espressos improved noticeably! Also less adjustment of the grinder was required to compensate for humidity changes or bean ageing. Both those grinders are "commercial quality" not prosumer.

                            So from my experience more expensive is definitely better when it comes to grinders.....  At the bottom end (below say $600) there are very significant gains in quality for increased $$$$ - above that the difference is less significant - but still there.... and you can taste it in the cup!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Better cup of coffee

                              As JavaB said, above mini-mazzer territory you are into the realms of decreasing gains for increasing cost, although depending on your fussiness these gains can be significant, and may be in areas other than just grind quality.

                              I went for a Macap M4D--doserless, chrome, (IMO) a slightly better grind than a mini-mazzer, electronic time control, and (another IMO) better looks and convenience.

                              This is paired with a VBM Domobar (now Piccolo, current rrp $1550 or so). This machine is a single boiler and that boiler must be heated to make steamed milk after the espresso is extracted.  For up to 4 lattés in a row this is no problem, but more than that it gets slow, and an HX or dual boiler would be an advantage. The Piccolo is exactly the same front end as the VBM Super machines and for black coffee it is exactly the same process and (probably) quality.

                              For milk coffee, once the coffee is extracted I switch on the steam control and have to wait 45 seconds to a minute to begin the milk treatment. Since extracting a coffee takes less than 30 seconds, for one or two this is a complete non-issue. Id love to know how many people actually try and steam milk during the 30 second coffee extraction--Im a male and can only do one thing at a time anyway. ;D

                              Back on the grinders: I went from a spice "whirly" grinder, to a Rocky ($450 at the time). Even with all the tweaks Rocky was easily beaten by the Macap ($1100+).

                              Good beans, good grinder, good machine--in that order. Then practice=good coffee.

                              Greg
                              ps-once the spending is over the fun begins, and goes on for a long time!

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