$1500ish budget for new or used semiautomatic espresso machine

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by seinfeld11 »

Looking for a nice home setup semi auto machine for brewing a couple shots each morning. Only must have is that it needs to have a water reservoir/can't be plumbed in. I've had super autos in the past but time to fully upgrade. Loved my old school lever machine but would like something easier. Got a Niche Zero grinder and need something to pump out nice shots and the rare milk drink for the wife on the weekend. Talking to one person nearby who has an Rocket Appartamento with accessories for $1300 which I'm leaning towards.

If anyone has any recommendations or other machines that I should look at in this price range, I'm all ears. A bit overwhelmed with all the research and reading. I do like buying used/discounted which has made the journey a bit more complicated as I love finding a good bargain. However, don't mind waiting a bit if the machine is that neat. Thanks for any suggestions!

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#2: Post by Jeff »

If you're set on a used, E61-style machine, I'd keep your eyes open for a double boiler or a Lelit Mara X -- it is basically the only HX machine that I can recommend considering new these days. It manages the group temperature with its PID, which no other generally available HX machine does. There are all kinds of claims about PIDs and HX machines, most of which are little more than marketing. I've see a few show up on the used market.

For me, an Appartamento isn't a machine I'd consider, new or used at that price. New, it's an HX and an expensive one at that. Used, why buy an HX when you can get a Mara X, an E61 double boiler, or a La Spaziale double boiler for that kind of price?

New, in that range, some of the additional ones that I would consider include the Quick Mill Silvano, Lelit Elizabeth, and Breville Dual Boiler.

If you're not looking for steam for multiple drinks and want an E61, one of the Quick Mill or ECM single-boiler E61s may be a reasonable option. The ECM Puristika is a new offering in that field that might not show up on people's lists from years prior (no steam, but there are battery-operated frothers, Nanofoamers, all the way up through things like a Bellman steamer).

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#3: Post by TigerStripes »

Jeff suggested some good options. It's tough to make a recommendation without knowing what kind of coffee you enjoy and what drinks you plan to make with the mew machine. You might also look at the breville dual boiler. It's a very capable machine within your budget.
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#4: Post by gobucks »

I agree Jeff's list is pretty good. I'd probably add the Rancilio Silvia Pro X as well.

As for the rocket, it's probably not the direction I'd go. It looks nice but the feature set is awfully sparse for the price, and an HX isnt ideal if you don't do a lot of milk drinks, since you don't have good temp control (the Mara X is the exception here). It's a compromise to get on demand steam for cheaper than a double boiler in exchange for brew control.

Speaking of, how rare are we talking for milk? If your milk needs are really basic, a high end single boiler like the ECM classika PID would be a better fit than a HX without PID, and maybe you can get one used. Quick Mill Silvano gives you on demand steam for even cheaper via a thermoblock, but the power isnt great.

seinfeld11 (original poster)

#5: Post by seinfeld11 (original poster) »

Gobucks, my milk usage is really really sparse, but my wife would kill me if I picked something without basic frothing options for her random endeavors lol. I exclusively drink espressos and americanos. Beyond a nice machine, I sip on black drip coffee at work.

You guys are right that Jeff gave a very nice list, he also helped on my grinder hunt awhile back. From the suggestions, I really like the lelit elizabeth. That temp control feature is very nice and not too out of my budget. Definitely don't feel at all interested in that appartamento anymore, pickup being local was too enticing.


#6: Post by gobucks »

Just to be clear, the ECM Classika PID does have steam, it just requires some waiting around for the boiler to heat up. That being said, if your wife is the one who will be using milk, it's probably best not to skimp on milk performance. Especially since there are several double boilers at a similar price point.

The Lelit Elizabeth is an excellent machine that can almost do it all, at a great price. The pressure preinfusion and PID are extremely useful if you like lighter roasts, and it's generally just a very intuitive machine to use. I have had some minor quality control issues with mine (leak in a steam boiler nut which required some sealant, and a defective power switch that needed replacement), but I was able to pretty easily get them sorted out with the seller. I would def buy from a reputable buyer, locally if possible, just in case anything happens. Also, I'd search for Dave Corbey's PID settings, they seem a bit more temp stable.

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#7: Post by Jeff »

I'd look into the proven, well-regarded La Spaziale dual-boiler units and understand their current line up. As it isn't a 58 mm group, there are a range of opinions on if that is a "problem" or an "advantage".

Once you've made a decision based on the merits of the machine, iDrinkCoffee has several on sale right now. They ship to the US and the prices are generally quoted in CAD.


#8: Post by klee11mtl »

For variety, here's some less known options for a new machine in that range based on your criteria.

Diletta Mio. Be aware it's a brand new gen 1 machine designed by Seattle Coffee Gear but is apparently manufactured by Quickmill. Your location shows as Seattle so you have the benefit of direct local support. You can visit their Kirkland store and try it out if it looks interesting to you. The only non-SCG review I have seen is from lifestylelab and they were given the machine for review by SCG so take it for what it's worth.

The Ascaso Steel UNO PID is another option; that's a thermoblock which isn't always a popular choice but if the machine looks interesting, I'd research the technology and come to your own conclusions. SCG also sells this one but the last time I visited, they did not have one to try out.

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#9: Post by Chert »

You could find a Livia 90 for a lot less than $1500. And the Olympia Maximatic which preceded the Livia 90 in Pasquini's rebranded home line-up also can be found used at less than $1000.

The Livia 90 I refurbed 3 years ago and sold to a friend is still in service, working well.
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#10: Post by SJM »

Chert wrote:You could find a Livia 90 for a lot less than $1500.
I even happen to have one available
Plus a Compak K10 which makes a sweet pair :-))))