I've got to say, while I'd love to have a Cimbali Jr or some such (and I WILL in the near future!), I've been complaining about my Starbucks Barista (with the Barista Burr Grinder) for years! Lousy coffee, 12 second doubles, crappy espresso! I went to pods for a while (the ONLY way I was able to get SOMETHING almost drinkable) but was just figuring I was going to have to wait until I could drop $1500 or so for a machine and grinder before I could get something decent! WELL, I've got to take that BACK now. I recently purchased this grinder http://www.espressoparts.com/product/CLIP_TGR_LG
for just over $30 shipping included and, FINALLY, I'm getting some quite good espresso out of the SBUX Barista machine! Nice dark red/brown crema (about 1 to 1.3 inches @ 30 seconds, settles to about .5 inches w/2oz of espresso underneath), decent flavor, etc. I bought the grinder to take with me on vacation trips so I could have fresh ground coffee while sitting in either of my camping trailers (one coleman "pop-up" which I tow, and a 31 foot Jayco which I leave in storage @ a campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. The Jayco is the reason I don't have the espresso system I want!).
I've only had it for a few days (UPS ground from Olympa, WA to Salem, VA 'tain't the fastest!) and I'm finding that adjustment is , shall we say, critical, but it made the WORLD of difference in my coffee!
On the adjustment front, the initial setting it had when I received it was a good starting point, but 1 turn of the adjustment screw coarser made for 15 second blond gushers and 1/2 turn tighter made for 1) a 3 minute grind jumped to 45 minutes! and 2) after 30 seconds of pump on time, there was NO coffee coming out of the barista! But, that's just the learning experience!
The coffee coming out appears to be fairly consistent (much better than than the Barista burr grinder AND MUCH finer as well). IF I get the chance I intend to take some pictures of the grind (drop directly onto a white paper background and spread out a bit) so I can get a better idea, but right now I'm HAPPY! $30 has turned my espresso BACK into something I can enjoy (I'm sure it's NOTHING like I could get from Silvia, Alexia or any good HX machine, but it's DRINKABLE!).
I'm currently using some fairly fresh Larry's Beans Malabar Triple X (Full City + and it's starting to age a bit) and enjoying my espresso once again!
I'm having an out of coffee experience!
LMWDP # 164