Advice - second espresso setup for cabin

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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#1: Post by chaffshaker »

I am shopping for a second espresso setup for a mountain cabin. Currently I drink French press when I'm there, but I certainly miss being able to pull a shot or a morning milk drink.

My setup at home is a QM Vetrano 2B with an H1G grinder, which has been serving me well for nearly 9 years.

Countertop space at the cabin is at a premium, but I have an appliance garage that currently houses my Breville Smart Grinder and a drip machine. I've looked at the Lelit Mara X for the space (width 9"), but have also considered something like the Breville Bambino (width 7.6"), which is significantly cheaper. I'm likely to pull one morning milk drink and one afternoon double shot each day, and not much more.

I haven't given much thought to my grinder but would likely go with something like a Eureka Mignon. I don't care to fiddle with the Breville that I already have.

Thanks for thoughts.

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#2: Post by Jeff »

If the objective is "tasty espresso, especially in a cap or latte" with minimal space, mess, and fuss, the Bambino or Bambino Plus and a solid hand grinder would be what I'd look at first. Maybe something like the 1Zpresso K-series or Kingrinder K6?

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#3: Post by chaffshaker (original poster) replying to Jeff »

Thanks. Good advice. I'm already accustomed to hand grinding with my HG-1 but the smaller grinders will be a little more work. Still, for just a 18-36g of coffee a day, smart.

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#4: Post by LBIespresso »

If you can handle the height, the CT2 has a smaller footprint and I am sure would look great in a cabin! :wink:
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#5: Post by MNate »

I'd prize zero maintenance in a unit I leave for a while and avoid anything that leaves water in the internals. So a Robot (which is great) or its Flair counterpart or the no-boiler levers, maybe even some of the other levers where you can easy dump out all the water before you store it would be nice. Plus something different than what you have that is fun to play with and relax as you are away would be nice. That's the kind of thing my take-to-the-rental has evolved into and I'd do the same if it were left there, except with a nicer non-hand grinder if I could.

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#6: Post by NicoNYC »

I agree with the others who are suggesting a lever of some sort, honestly mostly for the silent and more meditative experience that in my mind suits a cabin getaway.

My first thought was a PV Export - compact, low maintenance, and silent. Or a Cremina if you want to splurge and don't want the tiny doses of a PV. A Robot or Flair would be more versatile if you prefer light roast and larger doses/shots - one of those with a little frothing pitcher like the Aeroccino would make for a zero-maintenance setup.

Doesn't hurt that with the exception of a Cremina, any of these options are well under a thousand, and easy to resell at a minimal loss if you decide it's not for you.
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#7: Post by chaffshaker (original poster) »

All great advice and much appreciated. I didn't even consider a lever, even though I have friends with them that pull great shots. Just didn't occur to me, and the advice about ensuring that water isn't sitting for weeks on end is excellent. I'm back and forth there frequently, usually with 1-3 weeks between visits, and I have an entire shutdown procedure that I do (especially in winter), so adding a machine flush to the list is probably a bad idea.

That said, vertical space is also at a premium and I'll have to do some measuring when I go back this week to see how much space is in the appliance garage and whether the slide out shelf that comprises the base could handle the pressure. I am also looking for a little bit of convenience/speed since some days I do just hang out and read there, but most winter days I'm out doing something active in the snow and usually quite early.

I'm eyeing the 1Zpresso K-Ultra as a very nice space conserving option that I can also take places with me (thanks Jeff). Since I am not grinding a ton of beans there, I suspect it'll be a nice fit.

Thanks again.

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#8: Post by lancealot »

You haven't mentioned what kind of coffee you are trying to pull. If your preferences are easy to extract medium to darker roast SO's or blends, you can get away with a fairly simple setup. I'd say a bambino is better than a Robot / Flair for you because you want a milk drink. The Bambino will allow you to do this with one appliance vs. a manual lever (Robot, Flair) which would require you to add some kind of steamer. If you paired this with a conical grinder like the Niche, you could have a very user friendly setup. The Niche has a pretty large sweet spot so dial in would be simple. Single dose seems great for a cabin because you would not have to empty a hopper when you leave. Pair these with a supply of Cartapani, Saka or Lusso's GMC in the freezer and its easy livin'.

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#9: Post by chaffshaker (original poster) replying to lancealot »

Thanks. I roast my own SO beans and they're generally on the medium/dark range, always finishing 1C and approaching or even touching 2C. So yes, they're a much easier extraction. And my morning drink is usually what I think would be called an American macchiato - basically an 18.2g double shot extracted to about 36-40g and an equal amount of steamed milk on top. Please do correct me if there's a more consistent name for this. I know a legit macchiato is truly just a touch of milk, which I love, but it's not enough of a drink for my morning. I need something that lasts through my breakfast...

Niche is a grinder that wasn't on my radar; I was paying a lot of attention in 2015 but less so once my setup was dialed in. Very cool design and single dose is solid (like my H1G, which has near zero retention after a static rest).

I've decided to order the Bambino at "cyber week pricing" of $399. That's a ridiculously cheap price compared to what I was planning to spend, and I feel confident I'll manage with it. A lever is incredibly appealing but worries me with the space constraints and the way my pull out shelving is built. Grinder TBD.

You are all really great and I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I already feel a bit like a clown, worrying about my espresso drinks while I'm in a cabin in the mountains, but thankfully this is the right place to find people who aren't going to shame me for the concern. Thanks!