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Another newbie looking at an NS Musica and wondering about alternatives

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  • Another newbie looking at an NS Musica and wondering about alternatives

    Yes, I'm a newbie and this question has been asked before (most recently that can I find was here although the main Musica thread seems to date from 2010 and is here), but perhaps my situation is different and perhaps the alternatives have varied a little.

    My situation:
    . First really serious machine
    . Low volume usage, mostly expresso & milkless but also some milk. Occasional higher volumes when I can't wait too long
    . I don't see myself as someone who will continually experiment and tinker. I know I need to learn to dial in the grind and dose and tamper, but once I have the taste want I'm happy. I don't want to temperature surf. A bit of flushing is ok but not too much.
    . I know I need a good grinder and won't skimp.
    . I would prefer a smaller form factor for machine and grinder (will start a separate thread), or at least not *too* large, as there isn't a lot of space and domestic politics are an issue
    . Where I live it's hard to get to see most of these machines easily. If I really needed to, I could make the effort to get to Sydney, but it's not easy or convenient.
    . From my main hobby (photography) I have learnt the hard way to work out what you really want and just buy it, rather than start out cheap and upgrade (see here for a satire on camera upgrading). Fortunately I am in a position where I can afford to do this, although I don't want to be unnecessarily profligate.
    . I have done a lot of research, both here and on CG & HB, perhaps too much. I admit I've watched too many SCG giggle videos.
    . I know that what I will get in reply are a lot of opinions of varying experience. From my camera experiences I believe I have learnt to do enough research to be able to collect sufficient opinions and weight them by experience of the poster to construct a meaningful view.

    Where I have come to is the NS Musica.
    . It's a HX model with the right sort of form factor.
    . I have consider the E61 machines like the Rocket and the BFC Junior and the like that are around $2,500 plus or minus, and by and large the form factor just seems too large to me. I know that E61 has advantages.
    . I know that the Musica has very similar internals to the Oscar, but some of the extra features attract me, as does the look.
    . I know that on this forum the Musica has a number of fans (hi Stan & Di) and there are also some people who are negative about it, in a slightly offhand way. This includes a few sponsors.
    . The volumetric option and the electronics are a negative to some, but doesn't either attract me or repel me.
    . The need for a cooling flush seems to be an issue, although to be honest I am a little confused on this, as some claim it's not an issue, but then I'm confused on the need for E61 flushing as well.

    My question: Given all this, re there any other models that should I seriously consider against the Musica? The Lelit Mara has been suggested to me as an alternative, are there any others that might fit the bill? Quality, HX, not too big.

  • #2
    Welcome to CS "gunda"...

    Yep, some nice and very suitable machines in the Lelit line-up. Other makes that address the smaller footprint models are Bezzera, VBM, Expobar for example; with some of their models using an E-61 Group into the bargain. You mention that it would be somewhat of a hassle to get into Sydney to visit one or more reputable specialist dealers (such as our Site Sponsors), in the end though, this might be your best option to ensure that you end up with the best machine to suit your requirements. Consider it as part of the expense in getting the best machine, for you...



    • #3
      Thanks for your reply Mal. I was concerned that my long introductory post may have put people off from responding, but I did want to demonstrate that I had researched this forum and others before posting.

      Perhaps you're right about a visit, but it's time as well as cost. Even if I do, it would be helpful to get an idea of what the high quality, small footprint, HX models are, so that I can do a little research in advance. I noticed another post here from last year that comments favourably on the Diadema Junior for its small footprint and overall quality. Which models from Bezzera and Exporbar might suit?

      Perhaps I should just fill in the quote form and get the sponsors to suggest options. How does it work - does one use this form at this stage of the purchase process, or is it better to wait until there are fewer options and I'm focusing more on price?


      • #4
        Hi Gunda...

        Welcome to CS! :-D

        I think , to a degree, you have pre-empted your next move! ;-)

        Your considered approach, your desire not to upgrade in the near future but to go for the jugular first up.........

        I can only encourage you to make the effort and get some eyes/hands on time with some machines.

        Mal is right....consider it as 'part of the cost' in a sense that is wider than just the financials.

        A short list from me: Izzo Vivi, VBM Junior, Diadema Junior or even the Diadema Unico Splendour, which is also small.


        • #5
          Thanks for that list. The Diadema junior - that's the same thing as a BFC Junior, is it not? I have the impression that it's the same machine branded slightly differently. I'm a little confused on this point.

          If so, I have seen the BFC Junior in action - the BFC range is the one that I can see in action easily. I didn't think it was all that small a footprint. Either I have underestimated the size of the Musica and the Mara, or I was looking at the wrong Junior (there are several versions I gather) or my expectations of a small footprint are unrealistic in this market segment.

          I know, I know ... I have to see for myself. Maybe ...


          • #6
            BFC Junior is 26cm Wide and 46cm Deep,
            Lelit PL62 is 22cm Wide and only 40cm Deep

            All depends on where your space restrictions lie.
            if depth is the issue, and mainly low-volume of "black" drinks are your thing, then maybe a dual boiler which you can turn off the steam side would be another option.
            The Lelit PL60 Dual Boiler is only 28cm deep but is wider at 30cm. Smaller boilers should give faster heat up and less power consumption.


            • #7
              I had come to the same conclusion. I checked the specs online and the BFC units are significantly deeper than many others. (The Musica isn't far behind, although I sense that its styling disguises the fact). I guess I had mentally put all-similarly styled units in the same basket, but perhaps the BFC ones aren't a good indicator of the genre. The VBM Junior is smaller all round - 22.5 W x 35 H x 40 D.

              Depth is the main factor, then the overall WxDxH volume of the unit, and having this hullking great chrome thing dominating the kitchen (or so someone might say). You're right, the Lelit units are mostly shallower, other than the Mara, but

              I don't want to choose the unit solely on size, but it is one factor.


              • #8
                Hi gunda, have you looked at the Quick Mill QM67, it has a small footprint, is a E61 and has twin boilers.
                Last edited by b430m; 1 August 2014, 07:52 PM. Reason: Group revised


                • #9
                  No I hadn't. Does anyone sell it in this country? (I'm not counting a certain drop-shipper that now operates from an overseas base.)

                  My inclination is to go for an HX unit, since other things being equal is should be smaller, simpler cheaper, but am still open to suggestions.


                  • #10
                    This is one of those "for the record" posts, to help others considering this question. I didn't manage to see a Musica in the flesh, as the sponsors and other stores closest to me didn't have one or didn't stock them. I did some careful comparisons of measurements, and concluded that the Musica was larger than it appeared in the photos. Its styling is deceptive, as is the angle from which it is often photographed. I suspect that had I seen it in the flesh and compared it to other machines I still may not have bought it, but it would have been nice to have the opportunity. I found aspects of the Musica appealing, but the fact that it can only be calibrated to a limited extent together with the complexity of the machine led me elsewhere.

                    I bought a Lelit Mara PL 62 from a well-known sponsor. I decided that I wanted an E61 machine, and one that either came calibrated or could easily be, and with the Mara I could get a compact one as well. I made the effort to drive the several hours to a sponsor and got very helpful service. It is a surprisingly compact and classy machine compared to other E61 machines. If you use the published specs then the VBM Junior is about the same size, but the Mara appears to be a lot smaller when you see them side by side. I didn't take a tape measure to check the measurements and resolve this discrepancy between measured and apparent size. The Mara costs a couple of hundred more for much the same thing, so it seems that it's another case of "the less you get the more you pay". I'm glad I didn't go any bigger, because it doesn't look all that small at home - a point often made to me.

                    I'm still in the early stages of the grind-dose-tamp journey, and making good progress, but I'm still to much of a newb to offer an informed review. It works well for me and I have no regrets.

                    Also for the record, I received a PM pointing out that I could get a Quick Mill QM67 from Coffee Italia. I'm aware of the flame wars that have been fought on this site regarding this company, including in the last few days. As a newb I have no choice in joining in. I prefer to support local companies whenever possible, but I also import things when it makes sense to do so. I avoid drop-shippers after one bad (non-coffee) experience. On this occasion, my on-balance judgement was to avoid this company. And I didn't see the point in buying a machine that is not generally available in this country and which I couldn't see in advance.

                    Thanks again for all the advice in this and one other thread.


                    • #11
                      Interesting reading this thread. I've been on a search for a very similar machine, but with a much smaller budget (<$500). I wanted an HX or DB preferably with programmable dosing, but that wasn't essential. I was looking mostly at 2nd hand Breville BES900s and Bezzera BZ99s. Other things that came into view were the NS Musica, Brugnetti Simona, and Grimac Mia among others. I've ended up with a 2nd hand Simona Top thanks to a fellow CS member, but got close to a couple of Brevilles and Bezzeras. I'd be interested to know if you investigated the Grimac as I believe they are available new in Australia and are well regarded. Now, back to my Brugnetti (and my old Gaggia Classic that's in a hundred pieces!! Haha!).


                      • #12
                        I'm not sure how much of this thread will be relevant to you, as I was searching for a new machine and was prepared to spend what it took to get a machine that I wouldn't be tempted to upgrade from.

                        I didn't consider the Grimac Mia as it didn't crop up in my searches and wasn't sold by the major Australian retailers / sponsors. According to this thread last year,


                        Grimac went out of business, but I'm not sure that's right as there is still an Italian website that seems current. Perhaps they're just not being imported into Australia any more. In either case I wouldn't be interested -I wanted to stay in the mainstream.