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Advice wanted - balancing quality, "walk-up shots" and reliability, on a $2000(ish) b

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  • Advice wanted - balancing quality, "walk-up shots" and reliability, on a $2000(ish) b

    Hi everyone,
    I’ve delved and delved through the forums, but thought I’d shout out for some advice.
    I’m planning on spending $2000 on a machine + grinder, but my arm could probably be twisted a little higher. This is my first espresso machine purchase. I currently grimace through a nespresso capsule in the morning to get me started, but savour my aeropress black coffee during office hours.


    Number 1 priority is quality of espresso. I drink more short blacks than milk drinks, so this is the biggest priority.
    Number 2 priority is consistency and “first shot of the morning”. I’ve got two young kids, and I want to be able to very consistently make my morning shot without thinking about it. Later in the day, I’d love to “tinker” and make lovingly crafted “god shots”, but I also need to know I can make a good shot without fuss.
    Number 3 is reliability. I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. There aren’t many good machines available here except at exorbitant prices, but I do have access to wonderful beans and great roasters. I can buy Lelit machines here, but I will be making a few trips to Australia in March and could also buy a machine then. What I have to do is hope it doesn’t break down as local servicing is difficult!


    In order to get the consistency right, it looks like I have two options - focus on a machine with a PID, or else get one with a superior group like the E61.


    For PID machines, it looks like Breville and Lelit might be best options. I have to admit, I love gadgets and tech and am looking at the Oracle fairly lustily, but I won’t be convinced until I actually try one. I hear a lot of complaints about reliability of Breville, but I have also seen them rate very highly on the choice.com.au reliability survey (which is, I think, more accurate, since most people don’t write to forums to say “it works fine”, only if they have a negative experience.)


    As well as Breville and Lelit, there are some Italian machines that look attractive, perhaps a Nuovo Simonelli Oscar or a Vibiemme Picollo.
    I haven’t narrowed down a grinder yet, but expect to spend about $400-$500 on it.


    Any thoughts on how to balance these three priorities?

  • #2
    Welcome mate...

    Out of interest, are you going to be buying your setup in Oz and shipping back to Indonesia, taking it back with you, or buying locally? Also, if you are buying here in Oz, are you averse to buying used, much loved machinery? Lots of excellent buys to be had from CSers in the 4-Sale section...

    Mal.

    Comment


    • #3
      The plan would be to buy in in Oz, then bring it back with me. So it needs to weigh less than 32kg to take on the plane!

      That way I can get 10% GST back, and also avoid import duty. Anything imported into Indonesia gets slapped with expensive duties, usually about 40-100% of the value of the goods, so posting it here isn't an option. I'd like to buy locally for the support, but it's much more expensive. For example, the Lelit PL42TEMD sells for about A$1600 instead of A$1250.

      If I was based in Australia I wouldn't have a problem with second hand, but I'm a little nervous about taking a second hand unit, putting it into a random box, shipping it via plane then unpacking it in a new country!


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      • #4
        Without your priority 3, it's impossible to achieve priorities 1 + 2, in your situation, I'd go for the most reliable machine I could find. People on this forum do post on how good their machine is, as well any problems they have had. I'd try to find out as much information as possible about any prospective machine, from as many different sources as possible. Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mjoyce View Post
          I love gadgets and tech and am looking at the Oracle fairly lustily
          In my experience, anything "all-in-one" is a bad idea. The Oracle, while I haven't heard/read anything bad about it, has the grinder built in, so I'd be wary of whether the machine will operate effectively if the grinder died.

          I have a Breville BES920 and the Breville smart grinder and I'm very happy (in my limited time with it).

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          • #6
            Yup, I'm nervous about buying an all-in-one. I can't imagine that the grinder in the Lelit Combi or Breville Oracle would be as good as what I'd get if I spend $500 on a standalone unit. Longevity and reliability would be a big reason too. I like to experiment with different SO beans so imagine I will have to adjust grind quite frequently.

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, I guess depending on where you intend making landfall here in Oz will dictate with whom you do business. We're always happy to recommend our CS Site Sponsors to prospective buyers as they not only look after CSers but they are all very reputable businesses who look after all of their clients extremely well.

              Perhaps you could take a look through the Site Sponsor list here to determine which ones will be within range, and earmark a couple to go visit when you're here and maybe contact them beforehand so that your limited time isn't wasted. Food for thought anyway...

              Mal.

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              • #8
                The last time I made my first shot in the morning without thinking about it, I dosed coffee grounds on my portafilter without putting the double filter basket first. I am sure there are other hilarious morning coffee prep stories out there. Check out the 4 Sale section for a Cremina.

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                • #9
                  Not sure I have the answer for you, but I've found that quality in the cup and consistency on walk-up shots was more driven by the grinder than the espresso machine. What grinder are you considering?

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                  • #10
                    My budget seems to be creeping up a little... I started out looking at a Baratzo Preciso, but am now leaning towards a Compak K3 grinder. I'm also feeling drawn towards more serious units like a Vibiemme Junior HX. One thing drawing me towards an HX is the need to prime the boiler for a single boiler.
                    Chris from Talk Coffee said it well on his website,
                    Boiler priming for single boiler machines | Talk Coffee "As a result, we do not recommend single boiler machines for offices, busy families or other situations where distractions can regularly occur." This describes me pretty well! The warm-up time for an E61 group will be a lot longer than for something like a Lelit PL41, but the need to prime the boiler on the single boiler machine would offset this and would ultimately get in the way of that "walk-up shot" goal.

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                    • #11
                      I suppose cooling flushes on HX is a little quicker than priming boilers. I agree that a good grinder play a major part in getting a good "walk-up shot" but the first shot in the morning will always be like shooting dice. Then again, you can play with loaded dice.

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                      • #12
                        Geez I wish people would stop talking about cooling flushes on HX machines. If the machine is well configured, no cooling flush is required.

                        As an example, we demonstrated a VBM Domobar Junior v an Izzo Alex Duetto set to 93deg yesterday. Both had been sitting idle for 2 hours. Same same.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mjoyce View Post
                          Yup, I'm nervous about buying an all-in-one. I can't imagine that the grinder in the Lelit Combi or Breville Oracle would be as good as what I'd get if I spend $500 on a standalone unit. Longevity and reliability would be a big reason too. I like to experiment with different SO beans so imagine I will have to adjust grind quite frequently.
                          Hi mjoyce, The lelit combi is very reliable and nothing like the Breville. Very basic parts and hard for anything to go wrong. The grinder is an entry level grinder but you wouldn't ever have trouble dialing it in and the conical burrs last a long time. I have owned the old and new version of it before I upgraded to a hx. I can honestly say this is the only 'all in one' I would ever trust due to the time I had my first one for. I only upgraded because I wanted the new look as well as the gauges and PID. The only thing I ever had to do to my first lelit combi was get a new set of burrs, group seal changes and a heating element blew once by accident. If they are available in Indonesia then I would certainly advise to reconsider going to the trouble of buying a different machine from Australia.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
                            Geez I wish people would stop talking about cooling flushes on HX machines. If the machine is well configured, no cooling flush is required.

                            As an example, we demonstrated a VBM Domobar Junior v an Izzo Alex Duetto set to 93deg yesterday. Both had been sitting idle for 2 hours. Same same.
                            Not even for the first shot of the day? Isn't that the context of this thread?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JojoS View Post
                              Not even for the first shot of the day? Isn't that the context of this thread?
                              No. Not even for the first shot of the day. Not with a well configured machine. Good technique is a rinse of group and steam wand before and after use. Nothing more is required.

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