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Thread: Breville BCG450 v Sunbeam EM480/490 v Other?

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    Breville BCG450 v Sunbeam EM480/490 v Other?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    We have a Rocket Giotto bought from a Coffee Snobs member. Currently we buy our coffee from Commercial non-sponsor link removed per the http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-ne...icy-rules.html our local coffee experts. They grind it for us.

    Been researching grinders and came up with 2 options for our current budget:
    - Sunbeam EM480/490 > $100-$200
    - a second hand grinder > approx $200

    Told my wife and a week later she came home with the Breville BCG450. Good intentions, she couldn't remember the exact grinder I had mentioned and the Breville was available at our school fete in a silent auction. The Breville had been donated by our local Harvey Norman (kudos to them) so I went to see them and asked politely if I could swap/upgrade to the Sunbeam. No dice (and not particularly nice about it; undoing any good karma they had previously earned!).

    So now I'm wondering what to do:
    - use the Breville
    - sell it and buy something else ... maybe the Sunbeam

    Having read lots of CS threads on these grinders (for example Sunbeam, Breville, Breville mod) I'm worried that the Breville will not grind fine enough for the Giotto. And I don't want to have to mod it. Will the Sunbeam grind fine enough?

    I also like the idea of grinding straight into the basket (Sunbeam). Is that a big deal?

    Appreciate any insights!

    Cheers
    Richard
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    Is the Giotto known for needing especially fine grind?

    The Breville seems to have mixed reviews out in the normal world, although they seem more concerned with the build quality than the fine grind issues so maybe check out what people think of it on here? I've got both Sunbeam EM0540 and EM0480 and both do fine for fresh beans as well as some Vittoria I got from COles for the people who think Nescafe is just fine.

    I'm not sure what the 'Mod' is for the Breville but the only Sunbeam mod I have heard of is adding a shim to bring the grind level back from 2 or 3 to a more reasonable number so there is some play in the settings for different beans. And that is as simple as taking the top off and undoing one nut.

    Give it a try and see how it goes - there is always Gumtree to sell the Breville on if you decide you want something better. And the money you get could offset the cost of a better grinder.

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    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ancible View Post
    We have a Rocket Giotto bought from a Coffee Snobs member. Currently we buy our coffee from Commercial non-sponsor link removed per the http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-ne...icy-rules.html our local coffee experts. They grind it for us.

    Been researching grinders and came up with 2 options for our current budget:
    - Sunbeam EM480/490 > $100-$200
    - a second hand grinder > approx $200

    Told my wife and a week later she came home with the Breville BCG450. Good intentions, she couldn't remember the exact grinder I had mentioned and the Breville was available at our school fete in a silent auction. The Breville had been donated by our local Harvey Norman (kudos to them) so I went to see them and asked politely if I could swap/upgrade to the Sunbeam. No dice (and not particularly nice about it; undoing any good karma they had previously earned!).

    So now I'm wondering what to do:
    - use the Breville
    - sell it and buy something else ... maybe the Sunbeam

    Having read lots of CS threads on these grinders (for example Sunbeam, Breville, Breville mod) I'm worried that the Breville will not grind fine enough for the Giotto. And I don't want to have to mod it. Will the Sunbeam grind fine enough?

    I also like the idea of grinding straight into the basket (Sunbeam). Is that a big deal?

    Appreciate any insights!

    Cheers
    Richard
    Hello Richard. Neither grinder is appropriate for a machine of this level.

    If you put garbage grind into it, you can be assured to get garbage out! The Sunbeam is 2/10 quality marginal.

    Chris

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    While I understand the urge to ensure all CS members have the best possible equipment, I do wonder what other characteristics a grinder must have apart from regularity of particle size and grinding slowly enough to not heat the beans. I am fairly sure neither of my Sunbeam grinders deliver 'garbage' grinds and from the reports online, fairly sure the Breville doesn't either. In fact lots of posts on here make it quite clear the major difference in quality of coffee out of most of the systems is not to do with grind nor machine, but the operator.

    I have been drinking barista coffee since the 70's in Carlton and across Melbourne and even overseas. Some of those places, and some of them are sponsors here, have multi-thousand dollar machines to grind coffee and to make my espressos... and as said recently on my thread, I can name 3 of them who make better coffee than I get in my first 2 weeks of owning a 2nd hand Sunbeam EM6910 with a Sunbeam EM0480 grinder.

    Either I am a genius with Sunbeams or there is a discrepancy with the idea that only thousands of dollars can make a good coffee. I doubt I am a genius... but maybe I listen and see REAL GOOD when people tell me how to make coffee.

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    it's very easy to make bad coffee with a multi-thousand dollar machine.

    it's a fair bit harder to consistently make great coffee with an inadequate machine.

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    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    While I understand the urge to ensure all CS members have the best possible equipment, I do wonder what other characteristics a grinder must have apart from regularity of particle size and grinding slowly enough to not heat the beans. I am fairly sure neither of my Sunbeam grinders deliver 'garbage' grinds and from the reports online, fairly sure the Breville doesn't either. In fact lots of posts on here make it quite clear the major difference in quality of coffee out of most of the systems is not to do with grind nor machine, but the operator.

    I have been drinking barista coffee since the 70's in Carlton and across Melbourne and even overseas. Some of those places, and some of them are sponsors here, have multi-thousand dollar machines to grind coffee and to make my espressos... and as said recently on my thread, I can name 3 of them who make better coffee than I get in my first 2 weeks of owning a 2nd hand Sunbeam EM6910 with a Sunbeam EM0480 grinder.

    Either I am a genius with Sunbeams or there is a discrepancy with the idea that only thousands of dollars can make a good coffee. I doubt I am a genius... but maybe I listen and see REAL GOOD when people tell me how to make coffee.
    Hello Journeyman,

    Some learn with experience, some choose not to.... I had my first coffee at 5 and I continue to learn every week.

    An example for you: A recent break put a VBM Domobar Junior and a $300 test grinder which we were evaluating on the bench in a borrowed beach shack. Fresh coffee and all of the usual caveats on process. I found that a finer grind was required due to inconsistency in particle size. The resultant shots lacked body and blonded prematurely. On a run of 4 doubles back to back, the grinds were also getting pretty warm. Apart from being noisy, the grinder was also very clumpy. It lasted a day and was then binned.

    This grinder was replaced with a SJ-E. Same coffee, same environment, same technique. Vastly different results in the cup.

    I don't propose to be a genius. What I do know is that with grinders, you gets what you pay for. Low end Sunbeams and Brevilles do not do justice to high end HX or dual boiler machines. I'm happy to provide real world results to any CS'er who wants to front at the warehouse with their chosen cheapy grinder.

    Chris
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    What I do know is that with grinders, you gets what you pay for.
    In going from an EM0480 to a Compak K3 (rebadged as Wega), I second Chris's comment. There is a noticable difference in the consistency of the grinds and as a result the quality of the brew.

    Chris, the one thing I did notice with the Wega was that the exit chute from the grind chamber seemed to be horizontal on the bottom and tapered upwards at the top. As the chute doesn't fall downwards there is always a little grind retention there. To me it almost seems upside down? Have you shone a torch up there and had a look? What do you think? Only a small niggle that doesn't really effect the overall performance of a really good grinder.

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    So Chris, if I am reading you correctly, you are saying the difference is in consistency in grind? Or do the more expensive machines also grind more slowly to keep the heat transfer down? I don't know enough of machines to know what the ones you mention are like, nor even what they cost.

    I'm not trying to say that it isn't worth investing in a good grinder, but if I can with my el cheapo Sunbeam, in my inexperience, make coffee to a complexity of taste and smoothness of flavour that is getting close to as good as the 3 best places I have had coffee, then the relationship is much more complex than just 'lotsa money make good coffee.'

    Hildy's comment makes it more clear, but there would seem to be an opposite as well - that a good barista can make good coffee with almost anything while a bad barista will always make 'spit it out' level. OK, exaggerating a bit, but I have had a lot of poor coffees from professionals using excellent machines.

    I'm not sure of their reputation on here but there's a coffee place up the top end of Lygon St, just down the hill a little in Faraday St where they run out thousands of coffees per day - they have a 2nd place in the city if that helps. Large place, well trained baristas, twin 4 group machines constantly working... they don't make my top 3 for great coffee. It's good but usually tastes slightly burned and bitter - not hugely so or I would never have gone back.

    I've had several coffees so far from my cheap set up that I would rank above that place in quality. I'm not consistent yet because I am still settling in with bean/grind/tamp pressure etc.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    So Chris, if I am reading you correctly, you are saying the difference is in consistency in grind? Or do the more expensive machines also grind more slowly to keep the heat transfer down? I don't know enough of machines to know what the ones you mention are like, nor even what they cost.

    I'm not trying to say that it isn't worth investing in a good grinder, but if I can with my el cheapo Sunbeam, in my inexperience, make coffee to a complexity of taste and smoothness of flavour that is getting close to as good as the 3 best places I have had coffee, then the relationship is much more complex than just 'lotsa money make good coffee.'

    Hildy's comment makes it more clear, but there would seem to be an opposite as well - that a good barista can make good coffee with almost anything while a bad barista will always make 'spit it out' level. OK, exaggerating a bit, but I have had a lot of poor coffees from professionals using excellent machines.

    I'm not sure of their reputation on here but there's a coffee place up the top end of Lygon St, just down the hill a little in Faraday St where they run out thousands of coffees per day - they have a 2nd place in the city if that helps. Large place, well trained baristas, twin 4 group machines constantly working... they don't make my top 3 for great coffee. It's good but usually tastes slightly burned and bitter - not hugely so or I would never have gone back.

    I've had several coffees so far from my cheap set up that I would rank above that place in quality. I'm not consistent yet because I am still settling in with bean/grind/tamp pressure etc.
    Morning Journeyman,

    I seriously doubt anything that others say in criticism of the Sunbeam would be well received by you, equally you have little or no chance of convincing those who choose to use what they perceive to be superior grinders to downgrade to a Sunbeam.

    You've been going on about Sunbeam in a number of threads now, I think everyone has well and truly got the message that you're well pleased with your gear and within a short space of time are coming across as a bit of a guru http://coffeesnobs.com.au/blending-r...-blending.html post 8, or a novice http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...w-machine.html post 112, not sure which, why not do a little more reading and practicing with your new equipment and a little less typing, it's all starting to wear a bit thin.

    You seem convinced that you Sunbeam is the equal to or better than any of the higher quality grinders on the market, that's fine, I suggest you continue enjoying the coffee your making and leave it at that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    Hildy's comment makes it more clear, but there would seem to be an opposite as well - that a good barista can make good coffee with almost anything while a bad barista will always make 'spit it out' level. OK, exaggerating a bit, but I have had a lot of poor coffees from professionals using excellent machines. I'm not consistent yet because I am still settling in with bean/grind/tamp pressure etc.
    Good technique can make up for a lot, but it can't make up for everything.

    For example - if the thermostat on a machine was off such that it always kept the water at 60C, or if the heat flows were sufficiently inconsistent that temperature surfing was impossible to do accurately, even the world's best barista can't necessarily compensate for that.

    In addition, there are inherent design considerations in certain machines which may affect the ability to compensate. For example, the only PID thermoblock machine I know of (at the moment) is the EM7000. In a non-PID thermoblock machine, the temperature of the water is inversely proportional to flow - so a ristretto will have hotter water than a lungo. The temperature of the water in the reservoir also makes a considerable difference - ice cold vs almost hot.

    I own a sunbeam and I still use it - my Wega "K3T" stays dialed in for espresso next to the silvia while the sunbeam does everything else. If you look at the track that the burr carrier sits in, it's made of plastic and doesn't mate supremely accurately with the little ears. Every time that jiggles up and down in the track, you get inconsistency in grind size.

    Many BCG450s, apparently, do not grind fine enough for espresso out of the box, and I haven't seen their burrs, but if you look at the pictures of burrs in some of the super cheap grinders, you can see why they may have problems with coffee.

    As I said, it's hard to do good things with an inadequate machine, and what a great machine gets you over an adequate machine is better control over the inconsistencies, such that your godshot-to-sinkshot ratio improves. people who claim that their n=1 trial proves any other point than an existence proof need to think more about what they are saying.

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    @Yelta - sorry if I come across that way - it's how I ask questions and learn. By giving my epxerience it leaves things open for people to point out my misconceptions, errors or shortcomings without having to start at the 'This is a coffee bean' level.

    @Hildy - thanks, that is exactly the kind of info I can use. Now I begin to understand why people go for the higher end equipment. I'll try not to piss off the old hands so much maybe enthusiasm from ;late comers is a bit much?

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    Anna Karenina principle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    How do you know that what you're blaming on technique isn't your machine? I have access to (and regularly make coffee on) a high end domestic machine (a v2 giotto) as well as a proper commercial machine, so I know what my hands can do. I know what I can make on particular low end domestic machines (sunbeams and saecos) as well, and how my sunbeam grinder performs paired with each.

    the sunbeam is acceptable, but spending $2k on a machine to pair with it is pretty wasteful.
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    How do you know that what you're blaming on technique isn't your machine?
    Hildy - I don't. I have some brief experience providing coffees from a 2 group to a commercial environment, a little doing similar to a more refined clientele and the experience apparently looked down on by some with my recent home purchase. And actually, at no point have I pretended to anything else - my posts tend to be verbose precisely BECAUSE I try to give full detail about where I am coming from.

    That's WHY I have spent time on these threads. Part of it is a trust in people who have way more experience than me, so I post my thoughts and wait to be corrected. But if I have a lifetime predilection it is seeing when pontification happens and working to puncture it. I'm not big on 'Authority' and being delivered the gospel from on high, so I prod.

    I'd appreciate it if anyone could show me a place onsite where I even suggest my equipment is better than the high end stuff, or even where I imply I cannot be swayed in my view I got a good deal. I think I have made it very clear where I am at, I doubt very much I could be shown to be an Authoritarian and I have not in any way derided other products.

    So far Hildy, you are one of the few who have bothered, in any of the threads, not just in response to me, to provide a reasoned response. Mostly questions about low-end machines get responses about how much more you should spend. I doubt the Karenina principle applies to someone like me - all I have tried to do is point out that perfectly acceptable results can come from choosing the right machines to use. I used my experience with both professional machines as an operator, as well as 40 years experience as a consumer, as well as my very recent experience as a home barista, to address questions I saw and where I felt I could do with some help.

    Apparently, asking such things, awkward though my style might be, triggers in some the AUTHORITY button - that's OK, my shoulders are broad, my appetite for learning is large and my vocabulary is ginormous.

    And I have never yet found an Authoritarian who could debate worth a damn.

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    you obviously don't understand what I meant by the anna karenina principle.

    to make a perfect coffee, you need everything to be right - but to make a bad coffee, you just need something to be wrong (enough).

    is the coffee you make on your sunbeam as consistently good, in your hands, as the coffee you make on a professional machine?

    to the OP: why did you buy a $1700 machine and budget $200 for the grinder?

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    It is hard to equate the two - in both cases of pro machines I was not allowed to change the grind - it was 'checked' once a month when the providers came and serviced the machine.

    I stepped away from the Karenina principle based on my taste buds. I wasn't trying to work out why high end machines DON'T work, I was trying to say that I get good results at the low end and only 3 times have I found places suing high end machines who pleased my palate better. I don't figure I am so shit hot - so therefore I was querying the ongoing (across the site) presumption that not spending thousands prevents people from pouring good to great coffee.

    And given how many threads there are for people spending $1500 or more on machines, and then being disappointed, I presented who I am, what I have and how it is going.

    For once, in your response, I found an answer that provides a possible reason for spending the extra money. It has not really explained why people with what are apparently reasonable skills, fail to get consistently good to great results after spending thousands on hardware. Being the kind of person I am, I investigate. I would like to know and I have a hyper-sensitive button for Authoritarians. Telling me 'this is so' ain't gonna cut it. Giving me rational reasons why something might be helps me understand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    It is hard to equate the two - in both cases of pro machines I was not allowed to change the grind - it was 'checked' once a month when the providers came and serviced the machine.
    Red flag!

    It has not really explained why people with what are apparently reasonable skills, fail to get consistently good to great results after spending thousands on hardware.
    What may well be apparent to some, may also present glaring deficiencies to others! Nevertheless, if those deficiencies are not identified, they don't count.

    I mentioned earlier that I am happy to run a comparison on our bench for any owner of these less expensive grinders- same machine, same coffee and as close as the grinder will allow me to replicate same pour. Journeyman, if you are in Melbourne, you're welcome to make a time to swing by.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    It is hard to equate the two - in both cases of pro machines I was not allowed to change the grind - it was 'checked' once a month when the providers came and serviced the machine.
    QED. So you are comparing the Sunbeam to the use of a high end machine, where that use was constrained by an inability to change the grind (and who knows what else....beans from the 'big V'?).

    And if you have a thorough browse through the forum, you'll go crazy the number of times you'll see people recommend a Silvia / Rocky combo (or maybe diff grinder), and several times those very advocates are site sponsors...hardly a perspective that says that you have to spend $1500 or more on machines to get a good coffee. Granted, there will always be cases where the OP says 'I've got $500 max to spend', and others will respond 'if you could just stretch that to $2k'.....but that is hardly standard practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    It is hard to equate the two - in both cases of pro machines I was not allowed to change the grind - it was 'checked' once a month when the providers came and serviced the machine.
    You say this...

    It has not really explained why people with what are apparently reasonable skills, fail to get consistently good to great results after spending thousands on hardware.
    and you really have to ask this?

    as for said place on faraday st... they're very hipster and hipster coffee may not be to your taste.

    it is possible, with good equipment and technique, to produce consistent, technically flawless coffee. it is impossible to produce coffee that everybody agrees is perfect.

    what sort of coffee do you drink?

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    Hey Chris, we are planning to be in Melb early April. I am happy to bring in my machine and learn. I don't have a big budget for upgrades but if I have a reason I can work on it... Do I just check your location in the Sponsors thread?

    EDIT: You are in Northcote? When we have a firm date for our travel (looking at somewhere between April 2nd to 6th - will know more next couple of days) I will PM with a request for some time. Thanks for the offer.

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    @BO'S - I do realise the problems with being unable to alter the grind. In the end the inability to change things to improve the coffee I was producing was why I turned down the offer of work. But I have a red wine drinker's palate - I do tend to trust my taste buds and nose,. I have been comparing the Sunbeam output to the search across decades to find good coffee. I have 3 places in mind that provided a smooth, richly flavoured macchiato on a regular basis.

    I was gobsmacked at how easily I produced nice coffee with my purchase - having spent time on here and considering what I paid, I was expecting at best I would improve on Moccona instant but still be heading down the street for my long strong machs...

    So I asked, in my apparently inimitable fashion that gets people's hackles up, about the situation.

    @Hildy - you may be right - it would fit that the Faraday st place doesn't let their baristas change grind. To be honest I hadn't made that connection - to me they were professionals who would adjust their equipment to match the day, beans and demands of the crowd. It was an assumption. My bad.

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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    @Hildy - you may be right - it would fit that the Faraday st place doesn't let their baristas change grind. To be honest I hadn't made that connection - to me they were professionals who would adjust their equipment to match the day, beans and demands of the crowd. It was an assumption. My bad.
    I didn't say that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    I was gobsmacked at how easily I produced nice coffee with my purchase - having spent time on here and considering what I paid, I was expecting at best I would improve on Moccona instant but still be heading down the street for my long strong machs...
    you've just revealed your lack of taste. (-:

    (asking for a long strong mach is asking for trouble - you're going to get rubbish 99% of the time. to make it properly you will have to change basket and change grind - and what cafe has the time or propensity to do that?)

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    basket = PF? Or is it to do with roasting?

    That might explain why I have such a problem getting a good coffee. I always figured a Long Strong Mach was just an extra shot in a macchiato. T'Hooft here in Bendigo is one of the few places where they suggested I change beans to get my coffee. It also offers a reason why some of the old Italian places would give me my LS M in a picco cup...

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Will someone pass the popcorn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Will someone pass the popcorn.
    I don't know whether to laugh or cry... but please pass the popcorn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    basket = PF? Or is it to do with roasting?
    Are you sure you don't want to do some barista training? knowing what the bits of your machine are called is useful when talking to other people, or, for example, when asking for help disassembling grinders.

    That might explain why I have such a problem getting a good coffee. I always figured a Long Strong Mach was just an extra shot in a macchiato. T'Hooft here in Bendigo is one of the few places where they suggested I change beans to get my coffee. It also offers a reason why some of the old Italian places would give me my LS M in a picco cup...
    strong means different things to different people, and long means different things to different people. if what you wanted was an extra shot in a macchiato, that's what you should have asked for.

    if i was to make a long strong mach, I would change the 15gm basket to an 18gm or 20gm and grind coarser, with an aim to get maybe 100ml through it before blonding. i would then throw it away and make a ristretto to drink.

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    The course I did was a while back. I asked about basket to make sure I was thinking of the right thing. Thanks for the explanation. *grins* I take it you're not a mach drinker?

    Seeing I am apparently providing the entertainment have some on me...

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    Thanks All for your responses. Clearly there are many different views and I appreciate you all taking the time to respond.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hildy View Post
    to the OP: why did you buy a $1700 machine and budget $200 for the grinder?
    The original intent was to buy ground coffee until we could justify a grinder. The intent then changed to maybe buying a reasonable consumer grinder. The appearance of the Breville meant I need to decide on what to do now ... a bit earlier than planned.


    I'll update the thread when I've made my decision!

    Cheers,
    Richard

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    *grins* I take it you're not a mach drinker?
    I'm a mach drinker, I'm just not a lungo drinker. I think it's filthy bitter stuff.

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    What is lungo?

    EDIT: Ah, found it - from the 'Is there a FAQ' thread in General Coffee...
    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta
    I grind 2 or 3 steps coarser than I do for a shot, depending on the age of my beans, load and tamp as normal, start the flow and allow it to run for 30 seconds, when finished it is flowing lighter but nothing like clear/over extracted, what I end up with is approx 90 to 100ml of coffee with excellent viscosity/mouth feel, lots of flavour with no hint of bitterness or acidity and great crema, technically not a long black, most certainly not a shot but most definitely better than any cremaless full cup of long black (more often than not swill) I've ever had in a cafe.
    That sounds what I'd like, with just the macchiato hint of milk in it. Something to practice.

  30. #30
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    you can see, though, how to do it properly would take too much effort in a cafe and you're likely to just get swill if you ask for it from the wrong sort of place.

    anyhow, if i'm going to drink something that dilute i'm going to aeropress it.

  31. #31
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    I know swill... :I had a laugh: Had it quite a few times. In the past I have found asking for a double shot with an extra shot, no water and hot milk on the side gives me the best chance. Then I go out and do 50 things in 5 minutes while the buzz wears off...

    And to keep OT, I seem to have found my settings on the 480, but I have a puzzle. From my reading I was expecting my nice yummy beans from the local grinder would require a finer grind than the Vittoria ones I got from Coles. (I got them because I have friends that drink Nescafé 43 and I have grave doubts about the condition of their taste buds ) But the ideal grind for the V seems to be about 10 on the 480 and I'm out about 13 for the finer beans. If I come under that with the good ones they start undoing my handle even with a pretty light tamp.

    Maybe it is my variation in tamping. I might go find the old scales from the back room and do some practicing and train my muscles to deliver the same tamp consistently - also it might help me to get the feel of the difference between a 10lb and a 15lb tamp pressure.

  32. #32
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    I found that my own home roasted beans require a slightly coarser setting when they're fresher (about 5-7 days old). As they age over the next week (or 2 if they make it that far), the grind is adjusted slightly finer. If I use the same setting at 1 week as I do at 2 the brew will be bitter.



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