New buyer of espresso machine and grinder, budget $500

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
Rayme
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Postby Rayme » Jan 14, 2016, 12:50 am

So i have been doing research for a few weeks now and think I have decided on a purchase but would like some input (basically I'm just trying to hear I'll be happy with my purchase :D ) I've researched all the tools needed as well as some techniques. I've read most of the materials on this website and watched some of the videos as well.

Between my wife and I we spend roughly $100 a month at Starbucks. I'd also prefer a latte every day rather than coffee on the days we don't go so that's a nice bonus. We are also not very "picky" when it comes to coffee/espresso. I'm prepared to take time to learn. I've decided on both the Breville Duo Temp Pro and the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder. Both seem to be "entry-level".

I've picked the Duo Temp Pro because it seems like its well built entry level machine and has great reviews. The steaming wand on it also seems to be better than most others in the same price range. I like the look and feel of it as well.

I picked the grinder because mainly its in my price range, but also because it has good reviews and seems like it will grind beans fine enough for espresso.

So does this seem like a good purchase? My total budget is about $400-500.


Here is a link to each item a well:
http://www.amazon.com/Breville-Stainles ... 00OS5MTCA/
http://www.amazon.com/Capresso-560-01-I ... 0000AR7SY/

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TomC
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Postby TomC » Jan 14, 2016, 1:06 am

I would pass on that grinder and double your investment on a better grinder, either a Lido E or something from Madebyknock. Both will do a better job and last much longer. And both will grind well enough to pull double duty as a drip grinder if need be. And for folks on very tight budgets, I always suggest looking second hand (Craigslist) if possible.

The unfortunate downside to espresso at home is if it's cheap, it aint going to be easy or consistent. If it's easy and consistent, it aint going to be cheap.

Intrepid510
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Postby Intrepid510 » Jan 14, 2016, 1:49 am

I would buy yourself a Nespresso, it will taste better than what you are going to make with that set up.

The infinity is a good grinder but only for brewed coffee, it won't go fine enough for espresso. There are some worm drive grinders for two hundred that will work well if you want to make espresso. BUT since you mention trying to save money I doubt you are looking for excellent espresso.

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Postby forbeskm » Jan 14, 2016, 2:02 am

TomC wrote:I would pass on that grinder and double your investment on a better grinder, either a Lido E or something from Madebyknock. Both will do a better job and last much longer. And both will grind well enough to pull double duty as a drip grinder if need be. And for folks on very tight budgets, I always suggest looking second hand (Craigslist) if possible.

The unfortunate downside to espresso at home is if it's cheap, it aint going to be easy or consistent. If it's easy and consistent, it aint going to be cheap.


Well said. The lido e will set you back 195, a great investment that will help make some damn fine espresso. I be tempted to lean you towards a used lever such as a LaPavoni, depends how much work one wants to do. That budget will burst even with a used Pavoni , 600-1000 is more accurate after scale, tamper, funnel, lever, seal kit, lido e. One would be all set, still pays itself off in 8 -10months. Levers are more work but not really with a lido e.

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drgary
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Postby drgary » Jan 14, 2016, 2:11 am

Vince,

The reason for this unanimous response is that brewing espresso is a precision method, despite what passes as espresso gear in department stores.
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Rayme
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Postby Rayme » Jan 14, 2016, 2:14 am

Most of what we drink is flavored latte's. I'm not a perfectionist and it's hard for me to say a drink is "bad". Reviews of most entry level machines are good, but when you come to a dedicated forum for espresso most everything seems to immediately shy you away from anything "entry-level". I'm not looking for the best tasting drink, i'm looking for something acceptable that will taste good. I'd prefer to shy away from the pod machines. Most everyone has responded about the grinder, but what about the espresso machine?

I can hold off on the grinder for a little while if I can get a decent one for a bit more, I'd prefer to not have a manual one though.

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TomC
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Postby TomC » Jan 14, 2016, 2:32 am

Rayme wrote:Most of what we drink is flavored latte's. I'm not a perfectionist and it's hard for me to say a drink is "bad". Reviews of most entry level machines are good, but when you come to a dedicated forum for espresso most everything seems to immediately shy you away from anything "entry-level". I'm not looking for the best tasting drink, i'm looking for something acceptable that will taste good. I'd prefer to shy away from the pod machines. Most everyone has responded about the grinder, but what about the espresso machine?



We're not trying to beat your decision up either, but don't worry about getting the best tasting drink with the above gear, you'll never get it.

None of those budget devices hold up over frequent use. Now granted, some vendors (Breville being one) are quite good with after purchase support. But if you want something that tastes better than a pod machine (or object to their overall place in the world), it's not going to be with that grinder.

A moka pot and stand alone steamer will likely produce a better beverage at that price range.

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drgary
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Postby drgary » Jan 14, 2016, 2:52 am

TomC wrote:A moka pot and stand alone steamer will likely produce a better beverage at that price range.


That was my next thought. I use and like my moka pot. It's the favorite way to brew coffee in Italy. If you dip the bottom in a bowl of water before it sputters out the inner pipe you don't burn the coffee and get good, rich coffee flavor.

But to what you're really asking, I suggest taking our advice on the grinder because that's more important for consistency than the espresso machine. Then maybe go to a store that can demo the Breville against a Gaggia machine in your range. See what you like for steaming. Find out what you like by trying it. Used Gaggia Classics go for good prices online too.

I would suggest using better beans than Starbucks dark roast espresso to taste if there's a difference. If not quality gear may not be worth the spend.
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vilseiprairien
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Postby vilseiprairien » Jan 14, 2016, 3:12 am

The best advice I can give to anyone looking for an espresso setup is to try and find someone with a setup like the one you're considering, see it in action, ask about their experiences with it. This would apply just as much to someone looking for a two hundred dollar machine as to someone looking at a two thousand dollar machine. Or, as drgary said, at least try to find a store where you can see a demo model.

I think it's going to be really difficult for the folks on this forum to recommend low-end equipment, because by its nature it draws people who are very picky, and probably would not be pleased with it themselves. That doesn't mean you won't be satisfied with it. I have a relative who has been making lattes with the same Starbucks Barista machine and a whirley-blade grinder (now replaced with a Baratza Encore) for I don't know how many years, at least three, probably more like five, and seems to be quite pleased. I don't drink her coffee though. :twisted: These Starbucks/Saeco espresso machines seem to be fairly solid, from what I can tell, and are very plentiful, so they go cheap and replacement parts are easy to find. One option if you're willing to go with a used machine.

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peacecup
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Postby peacecup » Jan 14, 2016, 5:02 am

A good hand grinder as recommended (knock or lido) plus a decent entry level espresso machine will make very good espresso easily and within your budget. So, easy and (relatively) cheap. Gaggia, Saeco, and probably the Brevelle (I have no experience with them) are fine starter machines, and paired with a good hand grinder will make better espresso than you get at Starbucks 99% of the time.
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