"But I don't want to become a barista" - Page 2

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

#11: Post by Bluenoser »

If you want "ease of use" stay away from HX designs, with the exception of the MaraX which appears to be well designed, but it is a brand new product. In HX designs, the hype about a PID making the brew water rock stable for temperature is not true. You'd need an external group thermometer with HX designs and you'd need to learn to flush. (The Lelit MaraX is a new HX design that *is* easy to use and doesn't require an external thermometer, or flushing from reviews here).

You'll need a good grinder.. another good choice would be the Niche Zero. Likely one of the best in price/performance category.

The Breville DB (920 model) is highly rated .. but for a simple, reliable DB, the Profitec PRO 300 has everything you need. Nice stable brew temp and good steaming for milk.

cccpu

#12: Post by cccpu » replying to Bluenoser »

This. +1
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CarefreeBuzzBuzz
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#13: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

I have no recommendations on machines. I do have one though that might change your entire experience. As you make coffee in the morning, grinding, prepping, pulling the shot, making milk etc, reflect on 2-3 things you are grateful for that happened in the last 24 hours or might happen that day.

This will transform your entire experience from not wanting to become a barista to becoming a provider of a daily gift of joy.

Today I am grateful that our family has arranged for a video call at noon, that my mother is still with us at 94. Simple things. Coffee prep will never be the same.
CarefreeBuzzBuzz
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haven_seeker

#14: Post by haven_seeker »

In that budget range I'd consider a Rocket machine.

I just bought the Appartamento machine late last year - best purchase I ever made. I came from a commercial Keurig B155 machine.

I brought in a trained barista to dial in the grinder and to setup the machine - best money I could've spent all things considered. After a couple of hours we had as good of a coffee as she serves in her local coffee shop!

I even buy the same beans from her so as to replicate the experience as best as can be expected from a home setup.

The cleanup and daily maintenance is a breeze, too.

I very highly recommend the Rocket brand - and this is only a personal recommendation, but based now on a few months' experience and an extensive, EMBARRASSINGLY huge time commitment online prior to my purchase to make sure I had the right product in my sights.

From initial point of research to actually pulling the trigger - it was just over two years.

YMMV.

Best,

Haven.

cccpu

#15: Post by cccpu » replying to haven_seeker »

I wouldn't recommend the Appartamento over what is being said about the Mara, but specifically since I still have an Appartamento at work and "upgraded" to a BDB at home late last year, I would say the Appartamento is not in the same league as the Breville Dual Boiler as far as user-friendliness, capacity for easy modification as your skills improve, and overall base technical capabilities... the only thing using the Appartamento has done is shown me how much better the dual boiler workflow and user experience is in general.

The Appartamento has shiny metal that has to be kept on top of to look clean, no temperature controls, no preinfusion, no group pressure, needs flushing, has a steam wand that isn't as easy to use as the Breville Dual Boiler...

The BDB, while... not the most... attractive looking machine... makes up for it in everything else...

Not to disrespect Haven, I got the Appartamento based off of a YT video review a couple years about it, coupled with a Baratza Sette 270 being "the best value" duo back then.

I would say many would after these past few years have augmented that set to now be based on a combination of the Niche Grinder and at least in some circles a BDB/Name another good performance machine + $1200-1500.
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tom

#16: Post by tom »

I have the Mechanika V Slim, and I like it a lot. I wrote a review here in case you are interested: ECM Mechanika V Slim, review

That review was written with a different audience in mind, so I'll supplement here with relevant perspective for your situation. I regularly used two super-automatics at work (ones that would be considered "high end" office-environment-type machines). In short, I think you can expect *much* better coffee from a HX machine vs. a super-auto at the same price point. Is that worth it to you? Or do you value the convenience more? I think this is the key question with different answers for different people.

Anyway, if you warm up the Slim ahead of time (e.g., put it on a timed wifi switch, like most people do for their machines), you can expect pretty fast workflow (compared to, e.g., SBDU machines). I am not particularly speedy, but I can make two cafe-quality double cappuccinos in 10 minutes from start to finish, including all clean up. Honestly, I don't think I could do more than a few minutes faster with a super-auto if I included time to warm the cups and do all clean up. There will be a learning curve with a HX machine, but it isn't as complicated as it is often made out to be. With a bit of practice and attention, you can get damn good coffee without much fuss, especially if you stick with traditional espresso roasts (medium to medium-dark) which can be quite forgiving in terms of brew parameters.

Same as with super-auto machines, you can use good water to avoid maintenance issues. I use the rpavlis water recipe, which is essentially no-fuss. HX machines are simpler in their operation than super-autos, so fewer things to go wrong, which is a plus for longevity.

I don't have experience with the Eureka Mignon Specialta, but people seem to like it. I saw someone above mention Niche Zero, which is also well-liked here. However, since convenience seems to be a priority, you may not want a single-dosing grinder.

If you've got any Slim-specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

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Bluecold
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#17: Post by Bluecold »

Making good coffee at home requires at least some skill.
There are no shortcuts, as it is for most things in life. If someone offers you a shortcut, they're probably trying to sell you something.
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haven_seeker

#18: Post by haven_seeker »

cccpu wrote:I would say the Appartamento is not in the same league as the Breville Dual Boiler as far as user-friendliness, capacity for easy modification as your skills improve, and overall base technical capabilities... the only thing using the Appartamento has done is shown me how much better the dual boiler workflow and user experience is in general.

The Appartamento has shiny metal that has to be kept on top of to look clean, no temperature controls, no preinfusion, no group pressure, needs flushing, has a steam wand that isn't as easy to use as the Breville Dual Boiler...

The BDB, while... not the most... attractive looking machine... makes up for it in everything else...
No problem - the internet is a great place to offer discourse, banter, and bounce ideas around on most topics - coffee is definitely no exception to this. :D I'd considered the Breville Dual Boiler briefly in my extensive search. It would've saved me a lot of money, there's no question on that!

You mention that you have personal experience with the Appartamento but I'm wondering if you're perhaps not happy with it because you're not utilizing the machine to its full potential? Although it can be a pain to keep clean (so is a nice Ferari!), it DOES let you do preinfusion, and the steam pressure is amazing on it. I can't speak to the user friendliness of the wand compared to the BDB as I only ever tried the Breville Barista Express, but the wand on the Appartamento is pretty straight forward and has lots of power. Being a HX setup you can also steam and brew at the same time - not something I've ever been tempted to do, but it is capable.

I'm not knocking the BDB, but I don't think you give the Rocket enough credit. And with the right training, the Rocket is more than enough to replace my daily trip to the coffee shop, and the counter real estate it takes up is perfect.

Just my nickel of input. :lol:

cccpu

#19: Post by cccpu » replying to haven_seeker »

lol, we have used our Appartamento probably beyond it's conventional capacities... using it for espresso drinks at events and definitely experimenting with its 'preinfusion' capabilities (only partially activating the brew cycle but deactivating the pump by manipulating the lever, which is far from an "automatic approach"- one of the more resonant factors being considered in this topic, wouldn't you concede?) And don't forget the lack of temperature control, nor the presence of a group pressure gauge as in the BDB... but again, it's up to the buyer to determine their key features here!

Also worth mentioning, the Barista Express and Dual Boiler are not really comparable on any level I would say, superficially sharing only a brand name at best.

I can tell you, coming from the Appartamento's wand to the BDB's is a revelatory experience... the BDB producing an end result that is to be envied at its ease and the quality of microfoam that it is able to consistently replicate time and again...

Anyway... there is much more written on this topic by others on this forum that have pioneered the way for us that were once skeptical of the humble Breville Dual Boiler- but, thanks to them, I cannot think of another more affordable, accessible, scalable espresso machine, worthy of more praise.
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Sactogeoff

#20: Post by Sactogeoff »

tom wrote:I have the Mechanika V Slim, and I like it a lot. I wrote a review here in case you are interested: ECM Mechanika V Slim, review

Anyway, if you warm up the Slim ahead of time (e.g., put it on a timed wifi switch, like most people do for their machines), you can expect pretty fast workflow (compared to, e.g., SBDU machines). I am not particularly speedy, but I can make two cafe-quality double cappuccinos in 10 minutes from start to finish, including all clean up. Honestly, I don't think I could do more than a few minutes faster with a super-auto if I included time to warm the cups and do all clean up. There will be a learning curve with a HX machine, but it isn't as complicated as it is often made out to be. With a bit of practice and attention, you can get damn good coffee without much fuss, especially if you stick with traditional espresso roasts (medium to medium-dark) which can be quite forgiving in terms of brew parameters.
Thank you for this insight. This is the kind of reasonable information I'm after.

If I wind up buying a semi auto machine. I think I'm going to post a web page called "how to set up your espresso machine and workflow for the easiest results" and then sell the rights to espresso retailers!

This can't be the rocket science that some enthusiasts make it out to be. Although it allows for that. If someone wants to go all the way down the rabbit hole. Just like photography or cycling. There has to be a level of "very good" that I hope can be achieved by using best practices. Right?

Here's what I think I've learned so far:

Warmup times an issue? Get a Wemo outlet
Dosing? - high quality, flat burr grinder with a timer.
Use a scale to fine tune weight
Tamping - if all else fails, get a cheater tamper.(like a Sant Anthony New Levy Tamp) or at least a pressure regulated tamper
Water volume measurement - use glasses with a volume line
"correct" temp? Use a high quality machine. A lot of the machine's design is to ensure the temp falls within the acceptable range. I find it hard to believe a quality machine like an Apartmento or ECM V doesn't fall into this category.
Use a water softening pouch in the tank

Bonus round - Plan to use the same beans and get a coffee subscription so they're fresh. To help minimize fiddling with the grind settings.

Steaming technique - figure it out

Is it fair to say the above principles are a solid start?