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Decisions Decisions

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  • Decisions Decisions

    I'm stuck with the modern dilemma of too many options.
    I love the history, style and cache of an Atomic , but am thinking for a real espresso it should at least be a europiccola. The europiccola has cache and style, and is beautiful like the atomic - but it can make a real espresso. What is sensible of course if you are thinking espresso (and I am) is the Rancilio Silvia and Rocky combination. This box gains some style and function with the PID pressure dial upgrade (IMO) and it can make multiple coffees - thats the sensible path to consistent, delicious coffee that I can share with a small group if required. hmmm. So why then am I still thinking europiccola when I know I'd get more function out of the Silvia. The main function of the unit would be a morning coffee, and then on weekends a second. probably an enjoyable thing to do with a europiccola - I guess the rub is that the europiccola won't deliver the loaves and fishes for the multitudes that occasionally descend on my house. If you have a coffee machine and grinder in your house people will want coffee. They'll see the machine and know the score, or they'll just want one to know what all the fuss is about, and why I have invested in this drug paraphernalia.... I'd be in a sense obliged to explain, or simple serve up something delicious to answer those questions... and with the europicola, that could take an embarrassingly long time. I would feel like the deck hand on a steam boat, while others sit down and relax - taking in the company of my little family while waiting patiently for steam boat bob to finish making their beverage.

    Has anyone else been through this?

  • #2
    I've got an europiccola and mainly make coffee for myself. Can make 3 doubles or 4 at a push then have to stop and let it cool to refill it. If you are likely to entertain you might want the professional, which has a bigger boiler. I have an aeropress and a few plungers for guests. Most just want a coffee flavoured milk drink anyway.


    • #3
      I'm certainly up for the challenge of the europiccola, and I have read about some of the various techniques with the temp surfing and modification of the pressure release valve to keep the pressure lower (say .5 bar) and turn off the machine just before pre-infusion. I just keep reading that the coffee is so variable out of the europiccola that it's always going to be a gamble with burning coffee with multiple shots and it takes along time to cool down.

      Yesterday I was pretty sold on the practicality of the Silvia, but I'm starting to wonder that if I manage the temp well, the europiccola could be the way to go. It might mean a grind that suits the lower pressure - but that would be OK with me.

      Is there a mod - similar to the PID upgrade for the europiccola?

      Something that I'm a little surprise about is that the europiccola doesn't cirulate the cool water (pre-boiler) through the group head to keep it cool between shots. I think that would probably solve the heat issue to some degree.


      • #4
        Definitely try before you buy. It's a real love/hate machine.

        A lot of the mods/techniques are a waste of time. Some of them (like short 'fellini' pulls or turning down boiler pressure) even make the shots worse.

        There's nothing wrong with the design. It does exactly what it's supposed to do. Heats up quickly, pulls a great shot, maybe steam some milk, then gets switched off and cools down.

        Mine's gonna get stashed/sold soon for reasons I never expected. The boiler is exposed to touch and hotter than the sun (well almost). And we have a little one that's just figuring out how to move chairs around, climb, and snatch stuff off the bench.


        • #5
          Should have said there is a bit of a learning curve with the europiccola. It could take a few months before you get consistently good shots. And don't forget the sneeze.


          • #6
            If you like the atomic, perhaps you could consider the Otto?


            • #7
              If I was going to atomic territory - I'd have to get the full fare and go all the way to atomic town. I'm not entirely convinced about the quality of the coffee out of an otto but I'm sure it's pretty good. It doesn't really do espresso or multiple cups so while I love the aesthetic I dont think the otto or atomic is what I am after. The europiccola has plenty of style and can make espresso in the right hands - but now I'm worried about it getting hot and my little kids getting to it. It's beautiful and I like the idea of getting involved in the process but I do wonder about it getting so hot.

              So yeah - Silvia or perhaps ECM botticelli. These are both similar, will take the PID upgrade should I get serious and will do a good job pretty safely and consistently. They're just not art. I've actually been contemplating the ECM and changing the switches they look so bad. I'm thinking toggle switches might make it look less like a soap dispenser and more industrious. It's all academic I suppose.

              Is there something that I'm missing in the second hand market at <$500?


              • #8
                I like the look of La Pav's, and had one many years ago, a very fussy machine, and only good for a couple of shots. It is more form than function. It's designed to look good first, and make an espresso second. You cant use one to make coffee for half a dozen friends on a lazy afternoon. It was quickly replaced with a machine that could reliably make a half dozen coffees without taking forever - a SB EM6910. Sure, the Pav looks better, but the 6910 looks good too, and as a CS'er I would think you would perhaps be more concerned about the contents of the demitasse than the style of the machine sitting on the bench?


                • #9
                  I disagree.

                  It wasn't designed with function<form. Every part of the machine is functional (except the eagle on top of the romantica model). It's about as simple as espresso machines get. A group, boiler, and base. It looks like some funky antique contraption because it is one. The design is pretty much unchanged since the late '50s.

                  It's only fussy with regards to temperature management. Once that's mastered it's a really forgiving machine. You have complete control over flow rate during extraction. And the deeper 49mm baskets are super-easy to dose without getting channeling. Once you get everything under control it can pull some seriously tasty shots. It just can't provide quick back-to-back cups.

                  It's definitely a love/hate machine!


                  • #10
                    OK so I nearly ended up with a professional over the weekend but am now thinking Elektra. I've been reading what I can about them and they seem rule out one variable in the lever process. It's not going to be as 'involved' I suppose - but it looks good and will push great shots if what they say is true. I have also been thinking about the diadema perfetta. K3 push will be the grinder...
                    These two are close in price, well recommended, look great but work a differently. I'm looking for a good 2nd hand one of either but they don't seem too common.


                    • #11
                      OK - I keep finding more alternatives and my potential costs keep going up. I read that the micro-casa produces a very 'bright' and 'clean' shot, rather than a rich creamy one. Apparently the Olympia cremina will produce a richer shot, but it leaves you poorer in the purchasing process. After reading more and more and more I am coming to realise that perhaps I need to think about the kind of coffee I am really after rather than what seems like an attracive well made machine that produces 'good' coffee.

                      My experience at this stage is with the Sunbeam EM4800 using preground beans from reputable coffee shops. I've learnt alot with this machine and the various grinds that I get. I enjoy the experience best when I can make a full flavoured, chocolatey, nutty sort of shot. I can micro-froth milk without too much hassle, but to be honest I rarely get anything out of this machine that tastes great on it's own - that's really what I'd like to achieve. I'd like to be able to do this for 2/3 people if possible, but that's not a deal breaker. I'm not totally set on a lever - but I do like the idea of being involved and tuning into the machine. The La Pavoni maybe a bridge too far for my technique (or lack thereof), but the microcasa sounds a little more consistent. But after reading that the microcasa produces a bright clear taste - I guess I am now second guessing myself (again). The olympia sounds perfect I suppose as it sounds like it will satisify my requirements, but they don't come up often 2nd hand are otherwise out of my price range.

                      Got any tips for machines I don't know about?


                      • #12
                        The La Pavoni takes a little while to get used to, but its worthwhile. Once you sort out the pressure that works you're away. Good beans and a good grinder and you'll have those angels pissing on your tongue.


                        • #13
                          So far
                          La Pavoni: Just too many variables for my humble technique. Beautiful but I'd like a little more certainty with what I am producing.
                          Elecktra MCaL: One less variable and lost of user control. Besutiful again but does it have the spring power required to do 7, 8 or 9 Bar of pressure?

                          I'm now pretty decided on the lever action, and so I'm thinking PV Lusso (1 Group) or similar. Cremina if I found one 2nd hand. Anything else in the sub 1K category second hand that fits the bill? Or sub 1500 brand new?

                          I'm hoping to go with a machine that is as simple and efficient as possible.