Advice on espresso machine/grinder for a newbie, budget sub $1000 - Page 3

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

#21: Post by BaristaMcBob »

Don't bother with a single boiler machine such as the Gaggia. I used to own one. Then I "upgraded" to a Rancilio Silvia. Bother are single boiler systems. Now I have a Bezzera BZ10 (very nice).

The single boiler only has one advantage. They're inexpensive machines. Otherwise, not a whole lot better than Nespresso IMHO.

The issue is timing, which results in terrible lattes and cappuccinos. If you make the espresso shot first, you have to wait for the boiler to reach steam temperature. Pressure will be mediocre and this results in about 60 seconds to properly froth a pitcher of milk. By the time you milk is done, all the crema from your espresso shot will have dissipated.

If you start with steaming the milk first, you then have to cool the boiler down to espresso temperatures. By then, all the foam in your milk would have separated. Again, you end up with a crappy cappuccino.

You can certainly get into the 'espresso game' for $1,000, but it will be a stepping stone.

A good kit you can grow with and own for a lifetime would be Ceado E37J grinder and Bezzera BZ10 machine. Together that might cost you $2500.

Eurka grinders have good specs, but when you look under the hood, the engineering leaves a lot to be desired. The grind setting is achieved by lifting/lowering the entire motor using what I think is a rather flimsy mechanism. Sales reps have told me that as a result, the motor (and therefore the lower burr) wobbles a bit.

BaristaMcBob

#22: Post by BaristaMcBob »

Coffee shops use espresso machines with rotary water pumps. Those pumps deliver sufficient water flow at 9 bars of pressure. The big commercial machines also have virtually unlimited steam power. When you hear people say, "espresso should be pulled at 9 bars of pressure" they are only half-correct. The 9 bar concept typically applies to big commercial machines.

The vast majority of prosumer home machines use tiny plastic vibratory pumps. They are simply not capable of delivering sufficient volume at 9 bar. Thus, those machines tend to operate best at 11 - 13 bar.

Sorry for the digression, but my point is that there are some fundamental differences between commercial and home machines. If you want to replicate a commercial coffee shop's latte at home, you have to consider spending twice your budget. If you spend $5 per day at Starbux, that works out to almost $2,000 per year. So, why is your budget only $1,000? My rig cost me $3,500 back in 2014. Yes, that was outrageously expensive, but it still functions like it was new, I have no desire to "upgrade" and I've saved $14,600 since 2014 by not having to go to Starbux every day.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#23: Post by Jeff »

BaristaMcBob wrote:The vast majority of prosumer home machines use tiny plastic vibratory pumps. They are simply not capable of delivering sufficient volume at 9 bar. Thus, those machines tend to operate best at 11 - 13 bar.
Perhaps this is worth splitting off for further discussion. If so, please flag this post and ask to have it split.

I haven't found vibe pumps to have the limitations described.

Ulka E5-series pumps are spec-ed against 9 bar for around 3 mL/s minimum and 4 mL/s nominal. These are comfortably above the flow rates that are typical for a 36 g shot in 25 seconds or so.

Additionally, virtually all pump-driven machines but the least expensive of them have an OPV†, which limits the pressure supplied to the brew head to around 9 bar, if reasonably adjusted.


† A rotary pump will limit pressure with a bypass valve

gabeholloway

#24: Post by gabeholloway »

BaristaMcBob wrote:Don't bother with a single boiler machine such as the Gaggia...

The issue is timing, which results in terrible lattes and cappuccinos. If you make the espresso shot first, you have to wait for the boiler to reach steam temperature. Pressure will be mediocre and this results in about 60 seconds to properly froth a pitcher of milk. By the time you milk is done, all the crema from your espresso shot will have dissipated.

If you start with steaming the milk first, you then have to cool the boiler down to espresso temperatures. By then, all the foam in your milk would have separated. Again, you end up with a crappy cappuccino.
It depends on the boiler size of the single boiler machine as to timing. A small machine like the Gaggia Classic Pro will move from brew to steam temp more quickly (in my use ~30 sec PID'd) than a Silvia with its larger boiler. As far as losing crema, I've not found that to affect the quality of the shot or the ability to pour latte art. I do agree that steaming first is more finicky with keeping the milk incorporated while you brew the shot. That's why I much prefer the Gaggia's small boiler workflow - brewing first and then steaming.

And personally, even with a double boiler, outside of working behind the bar of my cafe, I've never brewed and steamed simultaneously at home. So a SBDU isn't a hassle for me.

engh (original poster)

#25: Post by engh (original poster) »

rsn4534 wrote: A suggestion I will make is to "get you into the game" and allow you to develop skills and experience so that you can understand how you might evolve in the espresso/hobby. To learn how to make great espresso, develop the skills you need in grinding, tamping, pulling shots and steaming milk can all be done on the Breville Infusion. This machine has a PID (better control and information gathering of pressure and temp), it comes with four portafilter baskets (two pressurized and two non-pressurized, this is more than almost any other machine recommended in this thread). Its a decent machine that will allow you to do everything you want. Its possible you will never move on beyound this machine, but if you do you will then have opinions and why you reached them to inform your next purchase. This machine also has pre-infusion, every machine at its price point will not have this option. Its a feature rich espresso machine.
Any reason you recommend the Breville over the Gaggia? I'm not familiar with the Breville Infusion machine