"But I don't want to become a barista"

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

#1: Post by Sactogeoff »

^ Direct quote from the Mrs.

We are on our 4th super automatic. Current dying patient is a Jura Ena4. Good machine for what it is. It's dying. it's time to end the misery. So down the rabbit hole I go. Here's what I'm aiming for: Ease of use + reliability. I do not plan to become a master shot maker. Just "good" or very good. With quality froth for lattes.

Currently flirting with the ECM Mechanica Slim + Eureka Mignon Specialita.

For anyone who's gone from any super-auto machine and moved up to a real espresso machine, how hard was it to learn and adapt to the new process of making coffee? - does it add measurable time to your morning routine? Is it more of a nuisance/chore than it's worth?

I plan to buy a scale and measure. Following along with the best practices I've learned watching a painful amount of YouTube vids. Temp monitoring and flow control are things I'm not very interested in. I view them as extra complications reserved for purists. I do like the shot control on the Lucca A53. But it really only removes monitoring of that one thing. Shot timing. Thanks for your feedback!

P/S - also considering hedging my bets and buying a Moccamaster to go next to the ECM. If I we wind up hating the espresso process, we can save the espresso for weekends.

Jonk

#2: Post by Jonk »

Perhaps Breville's the Oracle could smooth the transition? As close to a super auto it gets, but still a real espresso machine, you get to choose how manual you want it to be.

Sactogeoff

#3: Post by Sactogeoff »

Agreed. However Oracle and the Breville's in general don't appear to be all it's cracked up to be. Considering the failure rate noted on so many reviews. I've checked it off my list. I can't bring myself to buy a $3k electromechanical device with a potentially short shelf life. I do subscribe to the "cry once" mantra. But spend the money right the first time. Or in our case, the 5th time...

ira
Supporter ♡

#4: Post by ira »

You don't mention money, but I'd consider a Swift Mini as a grinder, La Marzocco Swift Mini Review and a LM Linea Mini. It's not an inexpensive choice, but that pair will make it about as close to a superauto as you can reasonably get in a home kitchen. You could consider changing the Linea Mini for a Decent which can be set up to completely control the shot and the steaming if you weigh the milk each time. With either of those, I'm sure you could learn to match what you've been use to in the first day or maybe even the first hour. You may also have to pay more attention to the quality and freshness of the coffee, though the Decent may be more forgiving of that if you choose the correct profile.

You'll also need to learn a bit about ongoing maintenance and make sure you feed the machine good water. FWIW, it's probably easier to find someone to service the LM every year or two if that's your preference.

Ira

Sactogeoff

#5: Post by Sactogeoff »

Money is a concern. I guess I'm trying to stay under about $3k for the gear. I actually called La Marzoocco about the Swift Mini. I spoke with the West Coast rep. It's unavailable due to understandable manufacturing delays in Italy. With no guidance on US pricing. But I love the idea of what it's trying to offer.

pcrussell50

#6: Post by pcrussell50 »

Jonk wrote:Perhaps Breville's the Oracle could smooth the transition? As close to a super auto it gets, but still a real espresso machine, you get to choose how manual you want it to be.
And as your tastes and progress, you don't have to use the built-in grinder, which is probably the weak point in that system. Also, the Oracle will not be as maintenance intensive of scrupulous cleaning as a super auto, because you are the one moving the portafilter from grinding and tamping, into the group. Good suggestion, Jonk.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

ragdoll serenade

#7: Post by ragdoll serenade »

If i were looking for something simple and easy to use, I don't think I would be looking at an HX or E61 machine. Just the warm up time alone would make planning a touch more complex. That may work for you (and many others) but simple for me means I turn on the machine and am ready to go in under 10 minutes. You could do that with a single boiler such as a Lelit Anna or Victoria or double boiler like the Profitec Pro 300, Breville Dual Boiler or a Lelit Elizabeth. Any of these machines with a nice grinder would come in under 3k I think.

Also, for grinding, something with a digital timer would be required. Dial in the grind and time to achieve a desired weight for a certain coffee and the digital timer will be fairly consistent. A grinder that grinds to a given weight would be even easier.

cunim

#8: Post by cunim »

I came off a super auto (Saeco Xelsis Evo) into an ECM Synchronica/Eureka Mignon and then a Decent/Kafatek. Here's what I learned.

1. That Saeco made terrible coffee, which I adapted to.
2. Your new gear can make swill that is worse than what you were getting with the SA. It's up to you.
3. Your skills are more important than your gear. Good skills can make good coffee with most any gear. Expensive gear without good skills = swill.
4. Temperature, pressure and flow control, puck prep etc. matter. Most people start with the "It's only for tweakers and purists" attitude. It doesn't last.
5. The grinder is more important than the machine. I know, it's a truism, but this bites so many of us who buy a "good enough" grinder.
6. Preinfusion is essential with anything other than dark roasts.
7. It's cheaper and easier to adapt than to seek improvement. Refurb the SA unless you want some added complexity in your life.

LObin

#9: Post by LObin »

If you're considering the ECM Mechanica Slim, keeping in mind you're looking for a no fuss walk and pull machine, I would give the new Lelit MaraX some serious thoughts.

It's similar in every way except one: The group stays at the proper temperature. Every single heat exchanger design requires a cooling flush in order to lower the group temperature and avoid burning the coffee with super heated water. The longer the flush, the cooler the group gets. You can put a thermometer on the group or get a machine with a PID for repetitive flush durations.
To me, it a sounds like something you're trying to avoid.

The MaraX is a revolution in group temperature management in my opinion.

Jim's review has all the details:
Lelit MaraX Review

*Can't go wrong with the Specialita

Cheers!
LMWDP #592

baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#10: Post by baldheadracing »

Sactogeoff wrote: For anyone who's gone from any super-auto machine and moved up to a real espresso machine, how hard was it to learn and adapt to the new process of making coffee? - does it add measurable time to your morning routine? Is it more of a nuisance/chore than it's worth?
The process of dialing in (adjusting) the coffee's grind, dose, and yield in the morning (and with every new bag, etc.) is the hardest skill to learn, and is the same for a super-auto or a semi-auto. It has to be done for great-tasting coffee, and even an Eversys super-auto can't dial in by itself (but it does assist). If you don't do dial-in with a super-auto, then you may still get drinkable results. That's not the case with a non super-auto; there is no pressurized basket to save you so results can be undrinkable (although pressurized baskets are available separately and come with some machines).

In your situation, I would perhaps consider a commercial super-auto - starting with, say, the Quick Mill Monza Deluxe. (The Monza isn't commercial, but has commercial innards.) While I would want an Eversys, the Quick Mill is about the least-expensive super-auto that I would consider. Commercial machines do have their disadvantages in home use, though.

In non-super-auto's, I think that the easiest machines to give great results with minimal learning are spring lever machines, whether a home machine like an Elektra Micro Casa a Leva designed for two, or a prosumer machine using a commercial lever group (Bezzera Strega, Profitec Pro 800, etc.). Also I would stick to a grinder with big conical burrs (68/71mm or 83mm), as I have found that the bigger the conical burr, the easier it is to dial-in.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann