What to buy? Upgrading from plunger.
I'm the sort of guy who NEEDS to investigate everything himself, research the ass off anything before buying. But mate, this coffee thing is doing my head in! I need help. Currently i use a plunger but am looking to upgrade.
I'm looking for a machine(s) to
- grind coffee beans
- makes an expresso, latte and cappuccino
I have no idea what fits the bill above, happy to buy second hand (point me to your advert!), i'm not tied into any brands. Can anyone point me in a general direction because after days of reading the internet i haven't progressed anywhere.
Thinking of just going to harvey normans and buying the first coffee machine i see.
Hi kc and welcome to CS.
Yep reading too much on the interwebs will have that effect on anyone. The genuine reviews are few and far between and mostly you have to read between the lines
of people's opinion, paid reviews, sponsored reviews, gratuitous reviews, biased reviews, uninformed reviews, revenge reviews......ad nauseum.
But whatever you do, don't go to HN and buy the first cab off the rank.
Where are you situated? What is your budget?
If, however, you wish to buy an 'expresso' (sic) machine I believe all that is required is a spoon long enough to get to the bottom of a jar! ;-)
but if it's espresso you long for then there is a whole brave new world just around the corner.
as chocki said what sort of kanga are you budgeting on?
bare minimum is a cheap burr grinder (sunbeam em0440minimum) and a $69 "disposable" machine unless you take the pod route,
then you step up to the middle of the road machines and there are also preloved prosumer machines that often go for $200-$500 dollar range (think rancilio silvia / gaggio classic).
you also have the lower range sunbeam/krupps/breville that range from $150 -$400 that use the double walled baskets with thermoblocks.
Situated in rural south australia, 4 hours drive from adelaide. Don't mind doing the coffee plunger thing but wondering if i can do better? Thinking of 2 options at the moment.
1. Not sure if i want to get a great manual grinder and Aeropress or Moka (this would suit me, and i drink the most coffee in the house).
2. Or head down the grinder/press a button type Delongi machine that does the milk thing too. Happy to buy second hand. Budget of say $600 if its a great machine that does espresso, latte and capacino. This would suit a us plus a couple of visitors who visit 3 or 4 times a week.
(I should also point out we have a cheap ($100?) 5 year old Breville bar vista. Use it occasionally. Often the coffee is cold even though i head the cup and run hot water through the metal filter first. Tastes ok. Problem might be its an expresso maker and we're trying to make a simple cup of coffee so it ends up diluted down due to size? Maybe its not fit for purpose).
If you can't be bothered with a manual machine and you just want ease of use then a pod machine that does the frothing of milk and everything else for you is probably the way to go.
If you want to get a bit more involved and don't mind a bit more clean up and effort then stretching the budget for a Breville BES870 is were I would look. I am similar in that I did a lot of research before getting mine. I am really happy with it and it fit my budget perfectly. I was tossing up between pushing my budget further and getting a Rancilio Silva and grinder combo but really couldn't afford it... The 870 I think is the best to get people going below $700 mark.
The key is to use fresh roasted and fresh ground beans when you make your drink. If you're not prepared to cover these two things as well as learning how to use the machine then stick with the plunger.
I too had the same and I pulled it out of the cupboard to see if I could use it instead of splashing out on a new machine. These machines are terrible and I wouldn't recommend anyone bother with the low end. Not hot enough just not good enough.
Originally Posted by kcdusk
I own a really low end 90 buck espresso thermoblock machine, and yeah its pretty crap. it was pretty decent into getting the techniques right .. i only use it now to froth milk.. and make like hot chocolate and stuff :S
Originally Posted by waza
Yea don't get me wrong, it will definitely give people an idea of the work involved I just think the $100-$150 is better spent in a bigger machine.
Originally Posted by luvmidnite
Always can sell the bigger machines second hand if its not for you and only loose a little of your money in the resale price
From what i read and not very much because it has always lead to one direction of like, breville , gaggia, and rancillo, Heat exchange and dual boilers always seem pretty legit. Thermoblocks aren't getting it hot enough. I made a coffee, poured milk. and it was pretty lukewarm.
As for, doing 3-4 visitors , i think , it comes down to speed,
I would say spending anything less than a thousand dollars on grinder/machine (my favorite being a rocky and a le'lit brewer - built in PID and pressure gauge for under 700!) is a distinct downgrade from plunger, which can be great if brewed well and drunk immediately (so the fines not sieved out don't keep extracting).
I believe I made a big mistake buying an espresso machine as my first coffee machine. I bought a silvia and rocky combo, which can produce amazing drinks if you're skilled. I wasn't. Two years later it was still inconsistent. I brewed a few times on pro cafe equipment and thought 'well that was easy!' I sold both.
You could upgrade the plunger in so many ways - you might have done this, apologies if so. Better beans (fresh, specialty, good origin), better grinder (a baratza conical burr grinder or a stabilized hand grinder) and better recipes and techniques using scales and a thermometer to get it right. Get the most out of plunger just by adding quality and a bit of science.
From there for volume brewing I'd look at a clever dripper, a Chemex or a technivorm/the alternatives (all good, whatever is convenient).
Espresso, like all kinds of coffee for me, is something you either do right or don't do. Think of it this way: if you bought a basic 'espresso' machine, it might make something passable, but not ever something a cafe would charge you $3-4 for a latte for. Buy some simple things like a v60, Aeropress, grinder, scales and thermometer or other stuff mentioned above, and you CAN make something cafes charge $6 or more for, and without much practice.
Welcome to the journey...
I have owned and still own plenty of machines from domestic to commercial and I would say for that kind of money you can get some pretty decent equipment
For my money manual espresso machine and adjustable grinder are always the way to go as you have more control over the variables
I love my commercial home machine but I can get a just as good extraction from my sunbeam em6900 which I found in hard waste and restored myself
The problem with lower end machines (nor that I'm saying sunbeam cafe series is low end) is reduced milk frothing ability IMHO I can make great coffee on a less expensive machine but it drives me to distraction that the milk heating ability is a bit stop start and seems to take forever - still if it's only one cup at a time you're making its not really an issue ...
I get the feeling that convenience is going to be fairly important for you so a super auto or manual combination machine would probably fit the bill best. All the other stuff like Chemex, Aeropress, etc. is what you buy if you want to start making coffee a bit of a hobby. They are very capable but not always as convenient for making 3-4 coffees 3-4 times a week for your visitors, either because they take more prep to get a decent coffee or they involve a more complex brewing ritual and/or longer clean up.
It might take some looking but you should be able to get a decent auto for under $1000. Stick with Jura and Delonghi, and do the right things to make sure they work at their best - fresh beans, fresh COLD milk and KEEP IT CLEAN. Grind retention and temp stability is often the only real issue with these machines if you do all the other things right so brew a short black first then throw it out and go on with making your coffees.
If you are happy to put in a bit more effort then the Breville BES870 machine with built in grinder is definitely worth a look. It's a clever enough machine that it'll help you on your way and there's heaps of info online about it. Otherwise one of the grinder/machine 'combis' that come in various guises including the Nemox Neopolitan. This machine is essentially rebranded and sold under other names such as La Pavoni and Quaha. Hope this all helps. Good luck.