Beginner With Espresso Machine Options

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.

#1: Post by fiechtl5 » Oct 07, 2019, 1:13 pm

Hello my overly caffeinated friends,
I have been reading for a few months now, and have decided to move forward the acquiring an espresso machine. I currently am enjoying brewed coffee from a behmor brazen at home and a plastic V60 at work. My current grinder is a Vario with steel burrs. I believe I am going to keep this on brew duty. I have experience with a French press and chemex as well, but I want to move into espresso now.

I have found a pretty descent deal on a Sette 270 that I think will be a good fit, unless a M47 Phoenix (or other single dose affordable grinder) comes along between now and purchase.

This brings me to my question. I have had information overload and am confused as the the right direction to move forward with. I have narrowed down my options to 4 very different machines. I plan on drinking 2 doubles in the morning and probably a decaf after work, I drink straight and americanos, but the girlfriend would enjoy an occasional cap. I am an avid tinkerer and enjoy messing with my toys. All of this to say, what are your recommendations from the following group with my information provided.

Silvia (used)
La Pav Pro (used)
Zacconi Riviera (used)
Cafelat Robot Barista (new)

These were selected as they are all around the same pricing. I have a PID kettle for the Cafelat, and could purchase a stovetop steamer separately. I have read until my eyes hurt, so I would love to hear some responses from you guys

I would love to find a cheap Peppina or Caravel, but they don't seem to stick around long when they do come up.

Thank you for sticking through this long post, as well as any additional insight you may have.


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#2: Post by Elliot » Oct 07, 2019, 1:18 pm

Hi Lukas!

Have you looked at Francesco's site? He has a couple of the ones you mentioned up there right now :mrgreen:

I have eyed the Caravel with good intentions on more than one occasion. However, that would make the cappuccino's a small issue.

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#3: Post by Nunas » Oct 07, 2019, 2:35 pm

If you're going to do a lot of milk based drinks then I suggest you won't be happy with a separate stove top steamer; that would put an SBDU high on the list (where you have it). The Silvia, if in good shape, is an excellent beginner's machine with good availability of parts. If you're doing mostly espresso shots, then by all means put a traditional lever machine higher on the list...they certainly have the "cool factor". As for the Robot, I'm not a big fan of minimalist, manual machines, except for travel, cottages with no electricity and the like.


#4: Post by fiechtl5 » Oct 07, 2019, 5:04 pm

I took a look at Francesco's site and sent him an email! I cam across this some time ago, but did not see anything that struck my fancy last time I checked. Thank you for brining it to my attention again!

I will be doing very few milk drinks, likely 1 a week, maybe 2. I will also not be drinking them, so they do not have to be perfect :lol:

I have read much about the levers, but little about which is easier to make good shot with. Would that be a robot or one of the levers i mentioned?

Thank you for the assistance!

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#5: Post by Elliot » replying to fiechtl5 » Oct 07, 2019, 5:14 pm

Well, I will preface with the fact that I am by NO MEANS an expert, so please take anything I say accordingly. I don't want to push one way without you knowing that.

That being said, based on what you have outlined, I think a LP would be a good fit, assuming one thing: You're OK with it being an entirely manual lever. No spring assistance, so it's just you and the lever. In my opinion, it's a wonderful experience and my main machine is in fact a manual lever. I enjoy the feeling quite a bit.

It also gives you some steam power, unlike Caravel, so that you can make your girlfriend good drinks. Be careful not doing that :mrgreen:
As I like to say, "Happy wife, happy life." Stands for serious girlfriend as well.

And, not to be overlooked when sourcing an older machine, LP's are everywhere and parts and accessories are pretty regularly available.


#6: Post by fiechtl5 » Oct 07, 2019, 5:29 pm

I think the LP seems like a great fit. I slightly worry about temperature inconsistency and becoming frustrated with continuous lower quality shots than I would like. I have read that LPs are tricky to learn in themselves, let alone when paired with a new espresso puller.

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#7: Post by Elliot » replying to fiechtl5 » Oct 07, 2019, 5:31 pm

That is absolutely a fair concern.
My very first "good" machine is an Olympia Cremina, so I definitely struggled as well.
Re: temperature, I use the strips from Orphan Espresso and find them to be absolutely ESSENTIAL: ... _2133.html


#8: Post by fiechtl5 » Oct 07, 2019, 5:40 pm

I am not familiar with these strips. I will dive into some more research. Thank you for the information!


#9: Post by LObin » Oct 07, 2019, 7:59 pm

The Zacconi group makes really sweet tasting ristrettos. It's not overly difficult to learn to pull a good shot on this spring assisted group but shot volume is limited. Hard to pull shots that are 20g +. We're talking 6 (8 max) ounces lattes.

A Europiccola will give you more control over your extractions but the learning curve is steeper and temperature management is the biggest challenge.

The Robot is most certainly your best option for espresso only. Definitely not the machine you want to be using for the morning daily wifey's latte though.

The Rancilio Silvia is ..... well, a Rancilio Silvia. It's alright. I guess.
LMWDP #592


#10: Post by fiechtl5 » replying to LObin » Oct 07, 2019, 8:21 pm

Thank you for your input. I have done some research and the support for the Zacconi doesn't seem to be very strong. Out of curiosity, why do you say the Robot is the best espresso option? in theory shouldn't the Robot and the Europiccola pull a similar shot if all else was equal (ratios, timing, proper grind, temperature) because they are both fully manual? I think I would be disappointed with the Silvia, but could be convinced otherwise. It will remain on the back burner.