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Thread: What if you just want a great tasting coffee without too much hassle?

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    What if you just want a great tasting coffee without too much hassle?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi everyone, Iím a new member and would like to ask about coffee machines.

    I love coffee and I usually drink a strong latte.
    Iíve been looking at getting a coffee machine but after reading the posts on here Iím a bit overwhelmed!

    It seems that pod coffee machines and anything completely automatic isnít popular here.

    I think Iíd like a manual machine but after speaking to a friend that has one, she doesnít think itís worth the effort and the mess and is going back to a pod machine as sheís time poor like me.

    Iím a nurse and do shift work so Iíd like to make one in the morning but thereís no way I want to fluff around for 20 minutes when I start work at 7am navigating a coffee machine.

    Does anyone one have any suggestions for machines that donít make burnt and bitter tasting coffee but also donít require a bachelor degree?!!
    Are automatic ones really that bad?

    Iíve has many horrific coffees at cafes with professional machines.

    Thanks!

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    A coffee shop at $4 a day is probably unbeatable for one a day, a certain commitment to make your own great coffee at home is required. You will always have to clean the equipment daily whether it is manual, lower cost appliance grade or upmarket hobbyist. Even pod machines have to be cleaned daily. Coffee beans deteriorate if not used in a couple of weeks.

    Different matter if you are making say 5 a day. The extra effort may be worthwhile.

    Repetition and experience will speed up the process. I believe there are manual equipment which will be quicker than your 20 minutes estimate, no one stands by the kettle waiting for it to boil while making a cup of tea.

    And if you are served burnt and bitter tasting coffee use your consumer rights, protest and or go elsewhere.

    Have fun and good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WarrenK View Post
    A coffee shop at $4 a day is probably unbeatable for one a day, a certain commitment to make your own great coffee at home is required. You will always have to clean the equipment daily whether it is manual, lower cost appliance grade or upmarket hobbyist. Even pod machines have to be cleaned daily. Coffee beans deteriorate if not used in a couple of weeks.

    Different matter if you are making say 5 a day. The extra effort may be worthwhile.

    Repetition and experience will speed up the process. I believe there are manual equipment which will be quicker than your 20 minutes estimate, no one stands by the kettle waiting for it to boil while making a cup of tea.

    And if you are served burnt and bitter tasting coffee use your consumer rights, protest and or go elsewhere.

    Have fun and good luck.
    Thanks!
    Iíll usually take it back. I donít understand when sometimes the same cafe and same barista can produce the most delicious coffee one day and the worst dishwasher burnt coffee another day.

    I said 20 minutes as I read somewhere that many machines take that long to warm up and be ready.
    Iíll be making more than one coffee. I normally drink about 3 per day. Some days of course Iíll buy one.

    I understand that the machine needs cleaning of course but I thought there were lots of other things too

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    Like many others here, I'd say a grinder would be recommended, because that's how you'll get as good/ better than coffee you'd pay for. The grinds can make a bit of a mess.

    But hey, you're a nurse. You would not be a stranger to mess!

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    Do I only grind what I need for each cup?
    I assume I can’t pre grind a few coffees worth?

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    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    Do I only grind what I need for each cup?
    I assume I can’t pre grind a few coffees worth?
    Yeh, it's best to grind just before you make a coffee. In terms of the start up time...you can use a timer switch to start the machine before you get up.

    Do you have an idea what you budget might be (for machine and grinder)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    Yeh, it's best to grind just before you make a coffee. In terms of the start up time...you can use a timer switch to start the machine before you get up.

    Do you have an idea what you budget might be (for machine and grinder)?
    I’m thinking no more than $500.
    I’m open to second hand as well and have checked out FB market place.

    I was was really hoping I could pre grind maybe 3 cups worth at a time!

    I quite like the breville ones. They seem to have good reviews.

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    Yes best per cup. Bulk grindimg may be part of the reason your cafe can give such hit and miss results.

    But grinding a days worth is still a long way better than supermarket preground 12 months ago!

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    What if you just want a great tasting coffee without too much hassle?

    Definitely need a grinder - the common cheap stating point seems to be the breville smart grinder (around $180 on sale), often paired with one of the entry breville/sunbeam machines or something better like the dual boiler (BES920)

    If you want an all-in-one, thereís a breville with grinder built in for $620ish, or up to $1800+ for the Oracle - these are all ďappliancesĒ though and probably last 5-6 years before needing a decent repair.

    The other good starting point for a ďproperĒ machine would be a Gaggic Classic, Rancilio Silvia or Lelit PL41TEMD - the Lelit has a version with grinder too (PL42TEMD).

    Beyond that... starts to get into serious business!


    EDIT: Just saw your budget - probably a Breville Barista Express (BES870) for around $500 new, otherwise a Breville smart grinder and maybe a 2nd hand gaggia classic or similar. I think there was someone selling a 2nd hand Rancilio Silvia & Grinder here for under $400?
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    Quote Originally Posted by shauno View Post
    Definitely need a grinder - the common cheap stating point seems to be the breville smart grinder (around $180 on sale), often paired with one of the entry breville/sunbeam machines or something better like the dual boiler (BES920)

    If you want an all-in-one, there’s a breville with grinder built in for $620ish, or up to $1800+ for the Oracle - these are all “appliances” though and probably last 5-6 years before needing a decent repair.

    The other good starting point for a “proper” machine would be a Gaggic Classic, Rancilio Silvia or Lelit PL41TEMD - the Lelit has a version with grinder too (PL42TEMD).

    Beyond that... starts to get into serious business!
    I’ve read that it’s best not to use a grinder that’s on the machine as it can affect the beans. So I’d rather buy a machine without a grinder if that really is the case and buy a separate grinder.

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    Yes thereís a Silvia & grinder for sale here for $300 - thatís a great deal, the Silvia just needs to be looked after & learn how to use it...

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    Agree with shauno. Silvia at $300 + a new breville SG will do well for $500

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    Quote Originally Posted by shauno View Post
    Yes there’s a Silvia & grinder for sale here for $300 - that’s a great deal, the Silvia just needs to be looked after & learn how to use it...
    Never heard of Silvia. I’ll google.

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    Whoa just saw both for $300 (as shauno mentioned ).
    Hope you're in Sydney. That's a fine deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shortblackman View Post
    Whoa just saw both for $300 (as shauno mentioned ).
    Hope you're in Sydney. That's a fine deal.
    In Melbourne.

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    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    If you are happy to convert to a long Mac, or flat white, perhaps a aeropress or delter press, paired with precision handgrinder. It's a bit of manual work, but with good beans, a excellent brew can be had for under $150. Plus you can take it with you for work brews. Run bottled water in your kettle, and it's a 5min job to make a morning brew.

    No steamed milk option though... Your option may be a microwaved small amount of milk

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    The aeeopress doesn’t really appeal as it seems to be more for plunger style coffee.

    I looked at Rancilio Silvia and can’t afford it so I’ll have to buy one of the appliance type of machines.
    Would love some suggestions!

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    Get the Sydney set posted to Melbourne for $50

    Otherwise, Breville BES870 is your best bet for $500 new with warranty...

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    100% agree get the Silvia and grinder posted to Melbourne! That's a great deal

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    Not sure. Knowing my luck something will happen to it in transit and end up not working.

    I have no back up if there’s a fault.
    The BES870 is coming up at $689

    Sorry for all the questions but does anyone know if breville make one like that without the grinder?
    Last edited by Carmen00; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:05 PM.

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    The BES840 is pretty the same thing without the built in grinder

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    Easy to use, high quality, supported by a good sales and service network, capable of great coffee and affordable are all things that tug in opposite directions, so for your budget you are going to have to be realistic about what you can get and what your priorities are.

    I owned a breville dual boiler and a friend had a breville smart grinder. Support from breville was attrocious. The smart grinder basically stopped grinding; it was as though there as a plastic shaft or cog in it that just broke and slipped. My dual boiler started leaking steam. I called breville and they could help with neither. The best they could do was point me to one of their authorised service centres. The service centre told me that the boiler on the machine was leaking and I was up for $600 to replace it. That seemed very dubious to me; previous espresso machines that I had with similar symptoms had only ever needed soemthign like a pressurestat or a safety valve replaced, so the idea that a whole boiler needed to be replaced seemed a bit much. I didn't have time to quibble with them, nor had I done the work of trying to diagnose and fix the problem myself - that was the point of going to the professionals. I suspect that the service techs probably just wanted to replace a block unit with a whole bunch of stuff attached to it, rather than servicing or replacing individual parts. Anyway, the problem reoccurred just outside the warranty period on the repairs, so I quickly decided there was no sense throwing good money after bad and got rid of the machine. My friend's smart grinder we just turfed; it wasn't economical to fix it, but disappointing that it only hacked a few years' use. Pity, since the dual boiler delivered incredible performance for the money.

    So you have some decisions to make.

    If you want push button super convenience where the machine is fully automatic, you are probably going to trade off total quality and the mechanical complexity of an all in one means that it will be more likely to die sooner.

    There are a few second hand machines and grinders around that look like pretty sensational value. I'd take the compak or macap grinders at sub $300 over a tiny sunbeam or breville conical any day of the week, since they should last a fairly long time. I have a macap at work that is 10 years old; it needed a capacitor replaced, but otherwise has been great. That silvia for $350 also looks like a steal. Of course, it has limitations in that you have to temperature surf and have to wait for it to heat up to steam. You can't really do multiple milk coffees back to back. But it's internally very simple and should be repairable. If you are handy, when you have some more cash down the track, you can PID the silvia.

    No one has yet mentioned the most important point - you will need beans that are fresh and that you like. Put a lot of effort into trying lots of different things and making an informed decision based on a broad assessment of what is on the market. There are many commercially available coffees from roasters who all market themselves in a similar way that are not very good.

    Good luck!

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    Thanks for all the advice everyone!

    Excuse my ignorance but can I ask how a Silvia machine would be better than a breville? Is there anything that it does differently or better that I wouldn’t get from a store bought machine like breville or whatever?

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    I've had a Breville Smart Grinder since they first came out. My original one died a few months back and I have another now. They are better grinders than people think. Breville have a factory outlet in Fitzroy and they are on special at Harvey Norman etc from time to time. I have a little Europiccola lever machine so I can't help much with machines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    Thanks for all the advice everyone!

    Excuse my ignorance but can I ask how a Silvia machine would be better than a breville? Is there anything that it does differently or better that I wouldn’t get from a store bought machine like breville or whatever?
    The main benefit of a Silvia was it's durability and ease of repair, especially for DIY capable people. The biggest drawback is brew temperature control. It is essential to learn how to temperature surf to get any sort of consistency and avoid burnt coffee especially. You also need to understand why and how to keep the boiler primed (full) at start-up and especially immediately after steaming to avoid damaging the boiler heating element. The Silvia gained a big following when it was a $400 machine and priced for entry level users. Now as a $900+ machine many consider it to be overpriced. If it included a long overdue PID at the price, it would be a no brainer. Many people fit an aftermarket PID to get around this shortcoming but when you take into account the cost, you may as well start shopping for other machines in the $1000-$1500 price range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    The main benefit of a Silvia was it's durability and ease of repair, especially for DIY capable people. The biggest drawback is brew temperature control. It is essential to learn how to temperature surf to get any sort of consistency and avoid burnt coffee especially. You also need to understand why and how to keep the boiler primed (full) at start-up and especially immediately after steaming to avoid damaging the boiler heating element. The Silvia gained a big following when it was a $400 machine and priced for entry level users. Now as a $900+ machine many consider it to be overpriced. If it included a long overdue PID at the price, it would be a no brainer. Many people fit an aftermarket PID to get around this shortcoming but when you take into account the cost, you may as well start shopping for other machines in the $1000-$1500 price range.
    Temperature surfing doesn’t sound so good. I know I’d end up with burnt coffee!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    Temperature surfing doesn’t sound so good. I know I’d end up with burnt coffee!
    To put it in perspective, maybe have a read of this..............https://www.home-barista.com/espress...ng-t45807.html

    P.S. Should have read your first post before posting the link. Probably way too much information for what you're after! Apologies.
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 3 Weeks Ago at 01:18 PM. Reason: P.S. added

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    Hi everyone, Iím a new member and would like to ask about coffee machines.

    I love coffee and I usually drink a strong latte.
    Iíve been looking at getting a coffee machine but after reading the posts on here Iím a bit overwhelmed!

    It seems that pod coffee machines and anything completely automatic isnít popular here.

    I think Iíd like a manual machine but after speaking to a friend that has one, she doesnít think itís worth the effort and the mess and is going back to a pod machine as sheís time poor like me.

    Iím a nurse and do shift work so Iíd like to make one in the morning but thereís no way I want to fluff around for 20 minutes when I start work at 7am navigating a coffee machine.

    Does anyone one have any suggestions for machines that donít make burnt and bitter tasting coffee but also donít require a bachelor degree?!!
    Are automatic ones really that bad?

    Iíve has many horrific coffees at cafes with professional machines.

    Thanks!
    I empathise Carmen, my wife, an ex nurse has a similar attitude to your friend, she enjoys good espresso and can use my setup, however she cant be bothered stuffing around with the "espresso process" only drinks cappuccino when I make it for her, otherwise happily drinks instant.

    With the work schedule you mention I doubt any machine would suit you, why not buy a pod machine, or perhaps a plunger/French press with a grinder until your in a better position time wise to come to terms with an espresso machine.

    French press is quick and easy with minimal messing around.

    If you buy a decent grinder it will also do the job when you buy a machine, of course you will also need good quality freshly roasted beans.

    Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I empathise Carmen, my wife, an ex nurse has a similar attitude to your friend, she enjoys good espresso and can use my setup, however she cant be bothered stuffing around with the "espresso process" only drinks cappuccino when I make it for her, otherwise happily drinks instant.

    With the work schedule you mention I doubt any machine would suit you, why not buy a pod machine, or perhaps a plunger/French press with a grinder until your in a better position time wise to come to terms with an espresso machine.

    French press is quick and easy with minimal messing around.

    If you buy a decent grinder it will also do the job when you buy a machine, of course you will also need good quality freshly roasted beans.

    Good luck.
    I’d happily buy a pod machine but aren’t they meant to be the worst?

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    We have a assortment of pods and machines at work. Even if I pull a pod apart and take the grinds and put them in my aeropress, I cannot get a good drink (reduced brew time and all).
    My workmates ask why I don't just use the pod machine. I usually split my coffee with them so they can understand and make own comparisons. Everyone prefers my fresh ground beans and aeropress to the pod drinks they are getting.

    Aeropress is much cleaner and easier than french press. A temp controlled kettle is handy, but not obligatory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I empathise Carmen, my wife, an ex nurse has a similar attitude to your friend, she enjoys good espresso and can use my setup, however she cant be bothered stuffing around with the "espresso process" only drinks cappuccino when I make it for her, otherwise happily drinks instant.
    Ditto with my Lovely Lady.
    Absolutely can't be bothered with real coffee of any kind, even French Press.
    Sticks to her preferred instant coffee no matter what...

    Mal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    I’d happily buy a pod machine but aren’t they meant to be the worst?
    Pod machines lift the 'minimum quality level' up from what you can achieve with a proper espresso machine. And they lower the ceiling on the maximum quality you can achieve. For nearly everyone that bothers to come to a site like Coffee Snobs, the quality level you are forced to is not high enough. For many many people it is high enough.

    The fact that you are here is already an indication that you think about coffee quality more than someone that would be happy with pods. Add to that the heinous ecological impact of all the packaging plus the extra cost of beans, and pods are probably not an option for you.

    The Breville Smart Grinder Pro at $190 looks like a bargain, so all you need to do is decide on an espresso machine. The BES920 dual boiler ticks all your boxes (warms up in 5 minutes, excellent temperature control, can set volume etc) except the price box. Currently it's at $788 at Hardly Normal and never goes much below that, but it goes up quite a bit in between specials. If you drop to under $500 you're looking at a significant loss of features like integrated group head along with the accurate temperature control that gives, and easy steaming etc. Like the Duo-Temp Pro Espresso machine at $379. Or a second hand Silvia with PID when they come up locally. I have one I am thinking of moving on (and even a Rocky grinder) but I'm in Perth so no help there. In your position I would probably just bite the bullet and jump on the BES920.

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    I do like a good coffee and it’s getting harder to find good coffees at cafes. They seem very inconsistent and I’m sick of taking it back. So yes, I’d really like a machine. I’m happy to practice and make a few crap coffees until I know what I’m doing. Of course I’ll be using it at other times and probably a few times a day.
    I’m thinking maybe the breville bes820 or 840 and buy a separate grinder.

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    I noticed someone on FB marketplace selling breville coffee machines at reduced prices and she claims that her husband services them and brings them back to working order (that’s why they sell them)
    They look like they’re brand new. If that’s really the case then there’s a hell of a lot of faulty machines that people are leaving at the repair shop as it’s too expensive to fix.
    This doesn’t sound right to me, does anyone else think it sounds dodgy?
    I wonder where the machines are coming from...

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    Harvey Normanís old product care (ext warranty) was replacement rather than repair, so all the old machines went to be fixed & resold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shauno View Post
    Harvey Norman’s old product care (ext warranty) was replacement rather than repair, so all the old machines went to be fixed & resold.
    So who is someone allowed to get these machines for free, fix them and sell them?

    I don’t think I could trust this type of thing. It only comes with a 3 month warranty.

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    Then buy a lower model new from a shop? Thereís been a lot of good advice given so far - you donít seem to want to go down the harder Rancilio/etc path, so the best option would probably be one of the Brevilleís

    Get the Barista Express on sale, which has the built-in grinder and can be purchased close to your target price of $500 - itíll be cheaper than buying bits separately.

    Or get the smart grinder and a cheap machine to start (the Bambino?), and upgrade the machine later if youíre enjoying the process...

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    Quote Originally Posted by shauno View Post
    Then buy a lower model new from a shop? There’s been a lot of good advice given so far - you don’t seem to want to go down the harder Rancilio/etc path, so the best option would probably be one of the Breville’s

    Get the Barista Express on sale, which has the built-in grinder and can be purchased close to your target price of $500 - it’ll be cheaper than buying bits separately.

    Or get the smart grinder and a cheap machine to start (the Bambino?), and upgrade the machine later if you’re enjoying the process...
    I’ll go and have a look at the Brevilles tomorrow and see what I think.

    The advice has been great on here, thankyou everyone!

  39. #39
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    Once you realise you like great coffee, and can tell the difference, all is lost.
    You are on the slippery slope to having to get your own Espresso machine, grinder and source quality bean.
    I don't think a Pod-machine is going to satisfy you. There is NOTHING like good/great Espresso.
    The BES 820 is no more so the BES 840 would be the one. You don't want one with the grinder on the top.
    Some folks focus on how long the machine will last. It's like a car - you can get a dud and you can get a good one. It's a punt.
    Chances are that by the time it has had it's day you will be ready for a step up the line anyhow.
    Get the Breville, a grinder you can afford, find the best bean you can source, and learn to work with the limitations of your tools to get the best result you can.
    Good Luck.
    Quality bean is SO important, start looking here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    Once you realise you like great coffee, and can tell the difference, all is lost.
    You are on the slippery slope to having to get your own Espresso machine, grinder and source quality bean.
    I don't think a Pod-machine is going to satisfy you. There is NOTHING like good/great Espresso.
    The BES 820 is no more so the BES 840 would be the one. You don't want one with the grinder on the top.
    Some folks focus on how long the machine will last. It's like a car - you can get a dud and you can get a good one. It's a punt.
    Chances are that by the time it has had it's day you will be ready for a step up the line anyhow.
    Get the Breville, a grinder you can afford, find the best bean you can source, and learn to work with the limitations of your tools to get the best result you can.
    Good Luck.
    Quality bean is SO important, start looking here.
    Finding beans might be hard.
    I like an Italian style taste.
    Nothing fancy, floral or fruity. I’ve always been attracted to the type of coffee you get at places like pellegrini’s in Melbourne. Basic coffee that is not bitter or burnt and is a caramel colour with condensed froth!

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarrenK View Post

    And if you are served burnt and bitter tasting coffee use your consumer rights, protest and or go elsewhere.

    .
    Gees- there wouldn’t be many cafes left in Sydney if we were all to apply this principle.

    Most days I’d rather make a Portaspresso coffee in the office than spend ten minutes getting one from one of 4 nearby cafes.

  42. #42
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    Carmen, I think your taste in coffee - i.e. bean - would be met by 'WOW' from the Beanbay on this site.
    There are also several other varities of bean on Beanbay that are not light nor acidic roasts that I think you would like. Have a look at the descriptions that come with them.
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    Hi Carmen,

    You don't like the coffee that many cafes make. I agree with you. Most cafes have thousands of dollars worth of equipment; maybe up to $40k, and people whose full time job is making coffee. You want to do better with minimal time input and $500 of equipment. I salute your optimism.

    At any budget, you have to make compromises. You can rank what is important to you and focus on getting that as much as you can within your budget and knowingly sacrifice things that are less important to you, or you can take a punt and risk that the compromises that you buy will not be the ones you would have made had you known better.

    You seem to have three main options; pod machines, new machines or second hand (the compak/macap/silvia I was referring to are in the coffee hardware for sale part of this forum now and at steep discounts from new; of course, caveat emptor). All have advantages and disadvantages. You should collate the pros and cons of each and weigh them and make a decision based on it. There is a lot of good information in this thread, but I feel that you run the risk of being influenced by one main observation about something without considering all of the pluses and minuses. I was going to have a go at setting this out, but I tried to hit the quote button to quote you, stupidly lost part of this post and don't really have time to work it all out again - sorry! I think I already made my point that my experience with breville stuff was that the new and repaired stuff didn't last long.

    I'll make a few non-machine observations that might be helpful, though:
    1) Be very wary that people's opinions are shaped by their frame of reference. You will read a lot of stuff on the internet where people declare something to be the "best". It probably is the best that they have ever tried. They might never have tried anything good. Or their frame of reference might be different from yours. They might like fruity and acidic coffee. Most people probably won't write what their frame of reference is, so you won't know.
    2) It looks like you like big bodied, low acid, sweet coffees, in the nut type flavour spectrum and you don't like bitterness. A few tips. First, most roasters think that dark roasts achieve this. They do not. At a certain roast level, coffee becomes bitter and ashy and, incredibly, loses body. Second, buy coffee that is roasted from green coffee that actually has these characteristics. Brazillian and El Salvadorean coffees are good bets. There is a trend for roasters to buy coffees that are inherently fruity, medium to low in body and high in acidity and to try to roast them to make them big bodied and low in acid. I spent probably 15 years thinking that they must know something that everyone else doesn't, but I'm yet to taste a roast that has done a better job at this than buying coffee that inherently has those characteristics to start off with. Third, lots of commercial roasters suck. You should try a few different ones to find something you like. There is no substitute from trying yourself: to be blunt, lots of newbies get into roasting and copy/paste marketing jargon from everyone else, so if you're a regular human being as opposed to a total coffee nerd, you won't be able to sort the sheep from the goats, plus lots of the "reviews" online are from people with poor frames of reference or are drivel from people who make money from it and therefore can never call a spade a spade. Generally, the hipster kid roasters will roast stuff that is grassy and sour, the old fogey roasters will roast stuff that is ashy, baked and bitter and the geniuses will engage in enough navel gazing that they do a poor job of actually marketing the fact that they exist.
    3) Check the hardness of the water where you are. If you are somewhere with hard water and are ignorant of that, I can imagine you might end up turfing a new thermoblock machine every year or two due to scale buildup.
    4) If you buy coffee roasts that are properly developed (ie. absent of roast defects) and keep your machine clean, it is actually pretty hard to end up with coffee that tastes burnt. That said, it's actually pretty hard to buy coffee roasts that are properly developed.

    All the best. Maybe there's some great EOFY sale around that will help.

    Cheers,
    Luca
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  44. #44
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    Thanks Luca, that was very informative!

    You’re so right about the hipster coffee that tastes sour and bitter! Does anyone really like that?!!

    I know it sounds that I’m asking for the impossible. A decent machine (not the best in the world!), not too fiddly or too time consuming that makes non burnt ashtray like coffee but instead a smooth rich coffee.

    It’s kind of disappointing to me when I go to a cafe that has the 40K worth of equipment, full time barista and it produces a grey looking dishwater style coffee with white airy foam. I get the feeling that it comes down to skill as surely they can’t blame the equipment and probably not the beans. So I wouldn’t be surprised if I could produce something decent in a $500-$600 machine in time!
    I hate to say it but I’ve has Nescafť at work in a paper cup that has tasted better than some cafes and I hate Nescafť!!

    I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert in all things coffee but I know what I like. I also like a barista that is consistent!

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    Thanks Luca, that was very informative!

    Youíre so right about the hipster coffee that tastes sour and bitter! Does anyone really like that?!!

    I know it sounds that Iím asking for the impossible. A decent machine (not the best in the world!), not too fiddly or too time consuming that makes non burnt ashtray like coffee but instead a smooth rich coffee.

    Itís kind of disappointing to me when I go to a cafe that has the 40K worth of equipment, full time barista and it produces a grey looking dishwater style coffee with white airy foam. I get the feeling that it comes down to skill as surely they canít blame the equipment and probably not the beans. So I wouldnít be surprised if I could produce something decent in a $500-$600 machine in time!
    I hate to say it but Iíve has Nescafť at work in a paper cup that has tasted better than some cafes and I hate Nescafť!!

    Iím certainly not claiming to be an expert in all things coffee but I know what I like. I also like a barista that is consistent!
    G'day Carmen

    I have been following this thread without commenting so far as most comments are on the money.

    A couple of posters stated that the most important part is the grinder. Too true - a poor grinder is early enough in the coffee making chain to nuke any possible later improvements. The Breville Smartgrinder / SB EM500 is roughly $200 out of your budget. To get a significantly "better in the cuppa" grinder is way, way over your total budget and they are largely aimed at coffee that is not really to your taste anyway (yet - who knows the future), so that bit is easy. Appliance grinders often come with an extended warranty, however I reckon by the time your get through year one you will either be on the way "up the coffee quality chain" and replace it anyway, or it is good enough and you will keep it "medium term". Grinders are improving at a huge rate nowadays, so any direct replacement "down the track" may well be cheaper and better.

    The type of coffee you prefer is available on virtually any "real" espresso machine after about 1980. As a busy nurse (yep, I also know quite a few of them) you also want fairly fuss free operation. Low maintenance would be an issue, as is longevity.

    I will go out on a bit of a limb here and suggest that makers like the Miss S (i.e. Sylvia, with or without a PID) I lived with for 9 years are too way much faffing around to do what you want. Your first post actually ruled it out: "I love coffee and I usually drink a strong latte." - any gender will probably be able to grow a beard in the time it takes to do both milk and coffee in any single, small boiler machine. Shudder (at my memory of staring at the thing waiting, waiting, waiting). For about the last 6 years I just used it to froth milk while the "real machine" next to it handled the coffee.

    The issue with the proper commercial machines are their warm up time (my La Pavoni 2 group takes 240V @ 18 amps for 35 minutes) and their heavy power consumption - so they are also not an ideal option for you either (mind you the "single button press factor" is appealing).

    So I feel your machine options come down to finding a secondhand repairer you can trust (some are on this site as sponsors, and are also in Melbourne - if they were not trustworthy they would not be on this site for long) and buy a secondhand appliance machine. Probably the SB6910 / 7000 or the Brevilles - anything that can take a standard 58mm basket - usually about $200. They are fairly light on power, fast(er) to warm up and will deliver what you want in a cuppa for a (hopefully long) while. Also they are pretty easy to master. Once again, by the time it dies you will be able to make a much more informed choice due to the increased options available (and possibly cheaper as well).

    Now to the beans - you can still get properly roasted beans from many places in Melbourne. The earlier suggestion of bean bay is your best easy option - Andy is the "non intrusive / does not promote himself" owner of this site who is arguably Melbourne's best roaster - certainly in the top few. https://beanbay.coffeesnobs.com.au/H...hippingOptions will reach him.

    Good luck with your quest - I reckon you will get there.

    TampIt
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    You’re so right about the hipster coffee that tastes sour and bitter! Does anyone really like that?!!

    I know it sounds that I’m asking for the impossible. A decent machine (not the best in the world!), not too fiddly or too time consuming that makes non burnt ashtray like coffee but instead a smooth rich coffee.

    It’s kind of disappointing to me when I go to a cafe that has the 40K worth of equipment, full time barista and it produces a grey looking dishwater style coffee with white airy foam. I get the feeling that it comes down to skill as surely they can’t blame the equipment and probably not the beans.
    Hi Carmen,

    We are getting into fascinating and obsessive territory here, which might start to give you a window as to why there is so much written in forums like this ...

    The most important concept for your purposes is probably this: the total potential of what you can get in the cup is determined by the producers at the origin and basically can only be preserved, but not lifted, by each person in the chain. If the people in the producing country produce an A+ coffee and the roaster does a C+ job, you get a C+ result. The barista can't lift it above a C+, but they can certainly bugger it up to get a D. Equally, the producing people and the roaster could make it an F and then no amount of work the barista can do can recover it.

    But what is an A+ and what is an F? The answer is a fascinating mix of the objective, the subjective and people's capacity to have their taste preferences change over time, but the short answer is that as long as you like it', it's fine and, as you say, a lack of consistency is always a problem.

    If you think about wine for a second, there is red wine, there is white wine and there are people who usually have preferences for one or the other, but generally people who like one won't think of the other as bad; they will accept that it simply isn't supposed to be the drink that they like. No one would be surprised that someone who loves sauvignon blanc doesn't want to drink shiraz or vice versa. But the coffee world is full of people who basically want to take shiraz grapes, press them immediately so they don't pick up red colour, and then somehow make the resulting wine taste like sauvignon blanc. In the world of wine, this would be pretty obviously crazy. In the world of coffee, it's just another day in the office.

    So when you get to coffee, it's worth remembering that all of it is bitter in the sense that if you give espresso to a kid under 4 years old - ask the parent's permission if you are borrowing someone else's - then they will tell you it's bitter and they don't like it. So we all get acclimatised to a certain natural level of bitterness. It's sort of like all tonic water is bitter. It's kind of supposed to be. Similarly, we can get used to, and start to enjoy, other traits of coffee if we get used to them. So on some level, all coffee is subjective.

    Filter coffee is very different from espresso, but the beans are all the same colour and they're all called "coffee". Unfortunately for you, this confuses things, because things that most people really like in filter don't perform as well for a lot of people in espresso. Fine for you, I hear you say, you won't buy that. But you're not the first customer. The roaster is a customer ahead of you, and they have to buy beans that will produce espresso that you like. They might not. "Specialty coffee" has somehow become a marketing slogan that is everywhere, but that whole grading system is really about filter coffee. Lots of acidity is great in filter coffee. You will take 14g and dissolve it in 250mL of water and it will taste nice and crisp and clean when coffees with less acidity taste bitter and dull. Dissolve that 14g in 30g of water to make an espresso, though, and all of a sudden you have a tonne of acidity in not much liquid; it's probably 5-10 times more concentrated. Many people will not like this. This is why roasters try to roast a lot of coffees dark; to try to roast out this acidity. Then they end up making it bitter.

    As for does anyone really like hipster coffee; the question is is it well done within its style? That sort of requires some lines to be drawn that are kind of subjective, but probably fairly objective. There are plenty of people that like or don't mind acidity. Shiraz drinkers don't tell riesling drinkers that riesling is bad wine; both just accept that one wine has a tonne more acidity than the other and that whether or not you like it is a matter of taste. So some acidity in and of itself is pretty legitimately a question of taste preference. However, I'd argue that that does not forgive grassy flavours, a lack of sweetness and excessive bitterness (think tonic water type bitterness), which are to some extent choosing the wrong green for the job and to a large extent not knowing how to roast it properly. Unfortunately, all of these things are fairly common in specialty coffee roasters and if they don't do that, they probably bake or burn their coffee. Baristas can also make all of these things worse by how they extract.

    People think that burnt and ashtray flavour characteristics can be made by how the barista extracts coffee. However, if the coffee is well developed but not overdeveloped by the roaster, this is actually quite hard for the barista to do. Those problems are likely to be due to bad roasting, or quite stale coffee.

    So now you get to the lightning round grab bag of what flavours are good and what flavours are bad. I like to think that there are some flavours that are clearly bad, but the truth is that there's a market for more or less everything, even things that would surprise you, and sometimes they even command a premium. For example, there is a taste defect that disqualifies coffees from being graded specialty that's sort of like a strong bandaid type smell. Any green producer with lots of that would ordinarily be mortified to learn that they had just lost a lot of money in not having coffee with a grade that satisfies their purchase contracts, but apparently they can get premium prices for it in certain Belgian markets! Equally, imagine going to the beach with a bunch of friends in the height of summer, having a massive feast with lots of pineapple and other fruits. A few days later, you come to the terrible realisation that someone left the bin out in the scorching heat. As you carry the garbage bag to the wheelie bin, you can smell the juice that drips out of the bottom. Even that finds a market in coffee (it's called "natural" coffee - you should try some at some stage; lots of people like it). Finally, there are lots of taste taints and defects that disqualify coffee from being specialty coffee and it looks like lots of consumers drink commodity/exchange grade coffee, in the technical sense, all the time without the world ending ... even at a lot of places that call themselves "specialty coffee roasters".

    I spent a lot of time learning to taste coffee within the orthodox specialty grading system and this may have shaped my taste preferences. Personally, I like properly roasted coffee with lots of acidity, lots of fruit and floral flavours and I don't care if they have much body. But I respect that you, and a lot of people, don't like this style of coffee. You would probably hate the coffee I drink in the morning and I would probably hate the coffee you like. All of that is fine. What's a problem insofar as the dumpster fire of internet writing is concerned is people blindly asserting that one style is good or bad without the reader being able to understand that - if either of us steered the other towards our own definition of good coffee, the other person would likely be disappointed.

    ... all of which is just background that boils down to "try a lot of different stuff and buy the stuff you like." I guess what I've added is "don't be steered in the wrong direction by people with taste preferences different from yours."

    Cheers,
    Luca


    PS. I missed that you are in Melbourne. So am I. Most of our water is pretty soft, so limescale shouldn't be as big a problem for us, but you should still check - you can do that on your local water distributor's website; they should have some water quality analysis available. Spare a thought for our friends in Perth, where teachers who run out of chalk just pluck it out of a glass of water and espresso machines are sold by the six pack.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    I do like a good coffee and itís getting harder to find good coffees at cafes. They seem very inconsistent and Iím sick of taking it back. So yes, Iíd really like a machine. Iím happy to practice and make a few crap coffees until I know what Iím doing. Of course Iíll be using it at other times and probably a few times a day.
    Iím thinking maybe the breville bes820 or 840 and buy a separate grinder.
    An entry level Breville combo of the BES840 and BCG820 should be able to be bought new on sale from a big retailer for around your budget. I think itís probably the best option for you. Theyíre both easy to use and capable of producing pretty decent coffee if you put a little time into learning how to go about it. They are way more user friendly than something like a Silvia, especially for someone like yourself that has time constraints. Itís true that theyíre probably not as reliable as a machine from say Lelit or Rancilio, but if you look after them and clean them regularly it makes a big difference. Iíve reconditioned lots of small home espresso machines and I usually get them because theyíve Ďstopped workingí and always find them in the most disgusting filthy state. You can kill a Silvia just as quickly as a Breville if you donít clean it. You will get at least a 12 month warranty with the Breville and may be able to upgrade to 2 years for a small extra fee which is probably money well spent if itís say $50 or less.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmen00 View Post
    I’ll go and have a look at the Brevilles tomorrow and see what I think.

    The advice has been great on here, thankyou everyone!
    HN onlline shows the BES840 on special at $399 at the moment (26/6/2019 9:09).

    Also Breville smart grinder showing at $190.
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    Thatíd be a good starting combo - should be able to get both for $550ish

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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    You won't go wrong with the Breville BES 920 double boiler. At $788 (Harvey Norman) it's an absolute steal and the best machine you can buy for the price and not much more expensive than the BES 840. The BES 840 will be ok, however, you will grow out of it very quickly indeed. The Bambino only comes with pressurised baskets. These are your main options with Breville. Although though the learning curve on the 920 is a little steeper, you're nurse and if you can operate hospital equipment, you can master a coffee machine with ease.
    Also you drink latte's so you need to be able to steam and brew together. The 840 will only do one at a time which will become annoying after a time and then you'll want to upgrade.
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