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Coffee Brewing

Old 11-25-18, 11:10 AM
  #101  
Tamiya
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There's plenty of home sized burr grinders that'll do a decent job today.

Mazzer Mini and Rancilio Rocky comes to mind if you're looking at spending $400+... sure the top end machines look great and should last a fair while, but doesn't mean they won't need servicing every now & again. They're also big & heavy, unsuited for portability.

Whitegoods brandnames like Sunbeam & Delonghi downunder offer some usable units around $100-150ish. Ones I've played with have done ok for espresso fine; they usually survive fine for a couple of years single drinker home usage even if the coffee snobs diss their plastic parts. Biggest issue down at this end is the models keep constantly changed regularly, hard to find parts to fix & hard to buy "similar" model to buy again new after you've loved one particular unit.

When I first looked, the machine that best suited my needs was a tiny little thing called Solis Maestro. Looked like a toy but once it got tuned in... it grinds finely, it grinds evenly, not so noisy it'll wake the dead. Better still parts are accessible, it's been made/sold for years and it's perfectly compact & lightweight - which is great because I clean it out by flipping it over & shaking out loose crumbs!

Grinders are never perfect out of the box either, you need to tune & experiment to find the best sweetspot. Some heat up and the fineness changes, so it's best to do short batches with cool down in between. Different beans, different roast - it all affects the grind output.

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Old 11-25-18, 11:20 AM
  #102  
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^ Good points. Espresso machines like my La Pavoni can make stellar espresso, but do come with their own set of challenges. However, replacement parts are easy to get and affordable. They've been around since the early 60's. And as long as you've got a good head on your shoulders, you can service them yourself. And there's a decent market for used machines...kind of like Harleys. So if you decide to parts ways, you'll recoup more of your investment as compared to the [cheap] plastic machines.

Even the best grinders take a bit of dialing in with bean variety changes (source, roast level, etc). It's crazy how much a person can spend on espresso related gear. It can make biking look very affordable
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Old 11-25-18, 12:24 PM
  #103  
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I only "diss" plastic parts in grinders when they're integral to the operation. One of my $100 grinders did an okay job for a handful of months, but then it started spitting out chunks - the adjustment collar that held the top plate was (stupidly) plastic, so when it broke the plates couldn't maintain the gap between them and it was toast. I get that there are budget concerns, but I'd rather take the long view and go with something built more robustly and repairable (which is one reason why I went with an E61 grouphead espresso machine - the design is decades old and parts are easy to find).

In terms of dialing in grinder performance, well, yeah, that's an almost daily thing. Over the course of a pound of coffee, the changes in things like freshness and relative humidity mean that I'm making small adjustments to the grind, the tamp or both, even with the same beans.

Originally Posted by skijor View Post
Even the best grinders take a bit of dialing in with bean variety changes (source, roast level, etc). It's crazy how much a person can spend on espresso related gear. It can make biking look very affordable
I did my research, got the gear that I thought would do right by me for a long time and then I got the hell out - I didn't want to keep looking at coffee forums and be tempted to stay on the gear merry-go-'round.
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Old 11-25-18, 03:52 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by Catsharp View Post
Lots of good advice here. I generally do pour over, but much prefer espresso.
Any advice on a good home espresso machine? I could spend up to $500 for the right one, have been contemplating a semi-automatic but not sure that’s the best. Currently use an older model Krups, which works, but only so-so.
$500 is gonna limit you to something like the Brevilles. The better semi-autos like Quick Mills, ECMs, Rockets, etc are well beyond $500.
If you don't have a proper grinder for espresso, then definitely budget for that first. A good grinder can make a fair espresso machine perform well. But not vice versa.
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Old 11-25-18, 05:21 PM
  #105  
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I don't have any experience with it, but the Rancilio Silvia has always been one of the "budget" espresso machine darlings - street price is ~$700, so north of $500, but not absurdly so.
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Old 11-26-18, 06:56 AM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by skijor View Post
$500 is gonna limit you to something like the Brevilles. The better semi-autos like Quick Mills, ECMs, Rockets, etc are well beyond $500.
If you don't have a proper grinder for espresso, then definitely budget for that first. A good grinder can make a fair espresso machine perform well. But not vice versa.
yes on the good grinder- I have a Cuisinart burr grinder and assume it works well.
But if perfect uniformity of grind for espresso is the standard, I'm not certain its that good.
A local coffee shop owner told me he has to recalibrate his grinder throughout the day, multiple times (!) perhaps to account for humidity or other factors. Wow.
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Old 11-26-18, 10:29 AM
  #107  
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You guys are funny. When I get a hand grinder it will be under 20 bucks, and I will never try to make espresso, and I'll be happy because coffee fresh-ground with a cheap grinder will be better than ground in the store and then sitting on my counter for a month. Someday I might even get that hot air popper from a thrift store and step up to fresh-roasted, and that will be the end of the road for me, the final destination.
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Old 11-26-18, 11:16 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
You guys are funny. When I get a hand grinder it will be under 20 bucks, and I will never try to make espresso, and I'll be happy because coffee fresh-ground with a cheap grinder will be better than ground in the store and then sitting on my counter for a month. Someday I might even get that hot air popper from a thrift store and step up to fresh-roasted, and that will be the end of the road for me, the final destination.
If that's good enough for you, well, good for you.
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Old 11-26-18, 11:24 AM
  #109  
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Indeed. I specialize in not becoming a specialist. I'm fanatic about not becoming fanatic. I always like to stay within that knee-in-the-curve beyond which returns are diminishing. Less is more. etc etc.
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Old 11-26-18, 10:18 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Indeed. I specialize in not becoming a specialist. I'm fanatic about not becoming fanatic. I always like to stay within that knee-in-the-curve beyond which returns are diminishing. Less is more. etc etc.
Probably easier for me than you as by this time next year... I'll be 70. Cheers!
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Old 11-27-18, 06:46 AM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Indeed. I specialize in not becoming a specialist. I'm fanatic about not becoming fanatic. I always like to stay within that knee-in-the-curve beyond which returns are diminishing. Less is more. etc etc.
I'm glad to hear that you've magically determined the the point of diminishing returns, not only for yourself, but for others, too! Kudos!
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Old 11-27-18, 07:03 AM
  #112  
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And for those of us who are truly obsessive about our espresso:



$2400 + actual shipping.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:18 AM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I'm glad to hear that you've magically determined the the point of diminishing returns, not only for yourself, but for others, too! Kudos!
Hey, I'm always glad to help. Vote for me for King-of-the-world, then I can tell everybody exactly what to do.
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Old 11-30-18, 07:07 PM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by KraneXL View Post

As stated vacuum containers work for me, since I sip my coffee over time. I use a Zojirushi bottle which keep beverages hot all day.
I think the day after you responded the seal on my contigo stretched and failed. I grabbed a Zojirushi and it probably keeps things hot 50% longer, maybe more. Great suggestion, thanks! I also liked the McCafe medium, but it didn't quite have the kick I wanted, so I'm enjoying a big tub of the medium-dark.
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Old 12-01-18, 07:26 AM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I don't have any experience with it, but the Rancilio Silvia has always been one of the "budget" espresso machine darlings - street price is ~$700, so north of $500, but not absurdly so.
i do Miss Silvia was my first serious relationship 12yrs ago... have had multiple brief affairs with other machines but Silvia is always there as backup, haven't found any better companion for A$900mark.

Its a great little machine for pulling espresso, it's a single boiler (vs thermal block) so it's best kept for just doing espresso. (Tell your guests milk drinks are bad, mmmkay?) Cranking the temp up to run the steamwand spoils the espresso workflow.

ok I lied... there's some new LaMazarco mini machine I saw earlier in the year... (FYI LaMazarco & Rancilio mostly make proper barista commercial machines. Their little machines are just an byline hobby for them, they're built with metal discrete parts & nicely fixable/serviceable.) ...tempted to go check it out.

If one really must make milk drinks aim for a Double Boiler (can pull shots & steam at same time) machine with E61 grouphead (just means it's a popular portafilter size, easily interchangeable with somebody else's part). Downunder they used to go for A$2-3k but these days there's various China machines for cheaper... whether they're any good or not I haven't bothered looking yet.
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Old 12-01-18, 07:49 AM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by Tamiya View Post
i do Miss Silvia was my first serious relationship 12yrs ago... have had multiple brief affairs with other machines but Silvia is always there as backup, haven't found any better companion for A$900mark.
Yeah, that seems to be a common sentiment - good to hear.

Originally Posted by Tamiya View Post
If one really must make milk drinks aim for a Double Boiler (can pull shots & steam at same time) machine with E61 grouphead (just means it's a popular portafilter size, easily interchangeable with somebody else's part). Downunder they used to go for A$2-3k but these days there's various China machines for cheaper... whether they're any good or not I haven't bothered looking yet.
My Quickmill Anita is an E61 heat exchanger design - I would have liked a double boiler but didn't think it worth the price difference for my use at the time. Now, 12+ years later, I still think that I made the right decision - I make milk drinks every day, but typically not more than 3 per day and I'm okay with a little bit of temp surfing. Maybe one day I'll upgrade to a double, but I don't think that I'd do that unless the Anita completely tanked... and I just don't see that happening. I have replaced the pump on it and some valves, but the parts were affordable and in my hands less than two days after ordering, which is the beauty of an E61.
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Old 12-01-18, 10:29 AM
  #117  
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The Anita looks pretty cool-- a Breville with built-in grinder for <$600 is a great value tho… Enjoy using it every morning.



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