Budget under $1000, drink mostly straight espressos

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

#1: Post by Loic_G »

Hi, trying to get back to a proper espresso machine after 10 years of Nespresso usage. Looking to stay around $1,000 for the machine as I have already ordered a Eureka Mignon Specialita.
I'm drinking mostly straight espressos, so steaming performance is not critical, although I still want to be able to do occasional milk-based drinks.
My selection criteria were as follows:
- No E61 group - looking a quick heating and want to avoid the complexity of this group at least initially
- PID - want consistent performance without temperature surfing and would like to explore different roasting levels
- 58mm - ease of getting accessories
- Manometer - to help dialing my shots
- Single Boiler - steam performance and flexibility is not critical (with the understanding that the Silvano is an hybrid system with a dedicated thermoblock for steam)

After quite some reading, I came out with two units, the Lelit Victoria PL91T and Quick Mill Silvano Evo.
I'd appreciate any thoughts, experience or feedback on these two units, and obviously I'm open to other suggestions meeting my criteria.
Obviously, any current deals could shift the balance to one of the unit.

Thanks all!

Loic

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jgood

#2: Post by jgood »

I would suggest reconsidering the blanket E61 rejection -- you can get a timer or just get into the habit of turning it on 1st thing and then turning it off after your last coffee. Just a thought.
If you did reconsider, then the Quickmill Carola with a Bellman Steamer for the occasional milk drink is a little over budget but not by much. You'd be at 1300 for both -- not counting a good tamper and an inexpensive scale.

K7

#3: Post by K7 »

Looks like you did your homework hunting down the only two such models sold in the US that I know of that check those boxes. (I went through the exact same search a while back but decided to stick with my Robot in the end)

Maybe you already ruled it out because it's not available from a US retailer, but La Pavoni Casabar PID also checks all those boxes. You can buy the 110V version direct from LP website or Canadian/Italian retailers. Goes for around the same price but comes with a bottomless portafilter which is nice.

Loic_G (original poster)

#4: Post by Loic_G (original poster) »

jgood wrote:I would suggest reconsidering the blanket E61 rejection -- you can get a timer or just get into the habit of turning it on 1st thing and then turning it off after your last coffee. Just a thought.
If you did reconsider, then the Quickmill Carola with a Bellman Steamer for the occasional milk drink is a little over budget but not by much. You'd be at 1300 for both -- not counting a good tamper and an inexpensive scale.
I actually did consider this option, and certainly can take another look. To be honest I started with a budget of $500, went to $750, and now $1000. I know myself and I'm afraid that with an E61, I'll be looking at adding tons of accessories....

Loic_G (original poster)

#5: Post by Loic_G (original poster) »

K7 wrote:Looks like you did your homework hunting down the only two such models sold in the US that I know of that check those boxes. (I went through the exact same search a while back but decided to stick with my Robot in the end)

Maybe you already ruled it out because it's not available from a US retailer, but La Pavoni Casabar PID also checks all those boxes. You can buy the 110V version direct from LP website or Canadian/Italian retailers. Goes for around the same price but comes with a bottomless portafilter which is nice.
Thanks, I'll take a look. I remember reading about safety concerns about some units, when left on unattended...does that ring a bell?

jgood

#6: Post by jgood »

Loic_G wrote:I actually did consider this option, and certainly can take another look. To be honest I started with a budget of $500, went to $750, and now $1000. I know myself and I'm afraid that with an E61, I'll be looking at adding tons of accessories....
I think the only accessories that you need are - a good tamper (Cafelat or similar) and a scale (I use a $15 model from Lee Valley Tools). A bottomless portafilter will definitely be useful - not sure why they make the spouted ones. I use a tool made of a few wires and a wine cork to stir the grounds. A tamping mat is handy, as is a knockbox - but not essential. I don't think E61 or non E61 will change the need for a few accessories.

Jesse.F

#7: Post by Jesse.F »

I would second the checking out of the Carola. I only do espresso, and it's a great machine. PID, and optional flow control. If you're only doing milk occasionally, there are a few cheap options. I know a lot of people like the nano foam thing.

It heats up fairly quickly, I picked up a cheap wifi plug from lowes, and just have it turn on a half hour before I wake up.

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K7

#8: Post by K7 »

Loic_G wrote:Thanks, I'll take a look. I remember reading about safety concerns about some units, when left on unattended...does that ring a bell?
Not really as far as these machines go.

If you rarely make milk drinks, you might also want to consider Flair 58 or Cafelat Robot. You can always use the Nanofoamer or something similar for an occasional milk drink or two. These manual levers have a long list of advantages over pump machines... Getting the temp up used to be their main (and rather significant) shortcoming but the Flair 58 ($529) pretty much solves it with the built-in heater. Robot works as well with some manual preheat steps.

Loic_G (original poster)

#9: Post by Loic_G (original poster) »

jgood wrote:I think the only accessories that you need are - a good tamper (Cafelat or similar) and a scale (I use a $15 model from Lee Valley Tools). A bottomless portafilter will definitely be useful - not sure why they make the spouted ones. I use a tool made of a few wires and a wine cork to stir the grounds. A tamping mat is handy, as is a knockbox - but not essential. I don't think E61 or non E61 will change the need for a few accessories.
Sorry, I wasn't referring to the standard accessories you listed, but to updates I understood you could do to the group head (thermometer, flow control, etc).

jgood

#10: Post by jgood »

Re: Carola -- You don't have any need for a thermometer as it's PID controlled, which keeps the temp wherever you set it to. In terms of the flow control, no rush to add that, especially if you like darker roasts. I tried adding flow control and removed it and sold it to another HBer. For me it added nothing but a complication - but some folks swear by them. In any case I would avoid it at the start - there's enough to master. But it's nice to have the option to add one if later you decide to try it out.