Buying advice for first espresso machine

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
orbarya

Postby orbarya » Feb 14, 2019, 3:32 am

Hi everyone,

I wish to purchase my first espresso machine, I'm looking for something that I can learn and practice on but that I will not outgrow and will satisfy my needs for at least several years.

Most days I will probably make 3-4 cups of cappuccinos and on the weekends maybe 6 cups.

It seems pretty important to me to not have to get up each morning and wait 20-30 mins to get the machine heated before I can use it, so I guess a timer function is important to me.

I live in Israel so I would either buy the machine here or order from Amazon UK, can't order from the US. My budget if I order from the UK is about 500 pounds because of the added taxes and shipping costs.

I'm currently mostly looking at the Breville Barista Express, what would you prefer between the Barista Express and the Rancilio Silvia?

I would love to hear other suggestions as well.

Thanks alot!
Or

greggers89

Postby greggers89 » Feb 14, 2019, 11:18 am

It is pretty rare for the machine to have a timer function itself, but usually people use a $20 timer plug to turn it on/off through a schedule or an app on their phone.

While some people use a single boiler dual use (SBDU) machine for many years, I grew tired of it quickly and I was only making 1 milk drink per day. I think you would tire of it quite quickly, especially making 3-6 cappucinos per day. Do you have a grinder already? At this stage, you should probably spend more on the grinder than on the machine if you want consistent results that are easy to dial in.

I know I haven't recommended a machine, but if all you wanted was a machine recommendation you could have just searched the numerous other "first machine" posts. I think you are asking if a cheap SBDU machine will keep you happy and frustration free for many years, and I think the answer is no.

orbarya

Postby orbarya » Feb 15, 2019, 10:01 am

Hi Gregory,

Thank you for your help, I understand that the HX or dual boilers are much better than single boilers, but it would help me a lot if you could mention several actual machine names with HX or dual boilers that are recommended so that I can check prices here in Israel or in Amazon UK.
I don't have a grinder yet.

Tried looking back in the buying advice forum but couldn't find anything that is in my price range.

Also I would appreciate it if someone could give some sort of review of the Breville Barista Express, it has a PID so doesn't that mean that it will provide consistent brewing temperatures? How is the milk frothing capability on it? How do you compare it to the Rancilio Silvia?

Thanks again

vizia

Postby vizia » Feb 15, 2019, 5:08 pm

500 GBP is a pretty limited budget for a good machine. Up your budget to around 1.5-2k if you can and get a good HX or DB from ECM, Profitec, Rocket or Lelit. At least you won't need to upgrade for at least 5 years. I saved for around 18 months before I got an ECM Mechanika IV Profi which I am enjoying very much.

Edit: also check out bellabarista. Good prices and they supply almost everything you need

Sander1981

Postby Sander1981 » Yesterday, 3:43 am

What about a solid single group commercial machine on the second hand market? They may not look the part but they give a lot of bang for your buck.

Sander

JayBeck

Postby JayBeck » Yesterday, 9:49 am

The Barista Express is a fine machine and is hugely popular given its price and performance. The built in grinder is going to be a huge limiting factor. This machine will be enough to make decent drinks but if you get deep into the hobby you will outgrow it fast. My first real machine was the Breville Infuser. Same machine other than the built in grinder.

Breville Infuser / Barista machines aren't SBDU machines in that they don't take 2-3 minutes to go from brew to steam. They use a thermoblock so they heat in a few seconds from cold (you'll still want to heat portafilter though), and they seamlessly transition from brew to steam in around 10-15 seconds and auto run cold water to cool off after steaming. They are, IMO, the best way to get into a real machine on a tight budget.

I went from my Infuser to a Profitec Pro 500 and if I had to do it again I would have gone Breville Dual Boiler. The BDB can be found discounted too. BDB is a much better espresso machine than any HX machine in that price category. No temp surfing, great steam, fast heat up time with built in timer (ready to pull shots in 5 minutes).

See if your budget can stretch to a BDB and Baratza Sette 270 (look for a refurbished). That set up is the best starting point IMO to making not just drinkable, but exceptional espresso that will be better than most coffee shops. If you can't stretch then the Barista Express will serve you fine for a few years.

You're on the right track IMO.

The other option is a simple lever. Not sure if you've thought about those or not. Might could find a good used La Pavoni in your price range. Then buy a hand grinder (like Lido). There is a stovetop steamer as well if you find a lever that doesn't steam. https://prima-coffee.com/equipment/bellman/50ss

Levers can make some of the best espresso and can last decades. But they may not be for everyone.


orbarya wrote:Hi everyone,

I wish to purchase my first espresso machine, I'm looking for something that I can learn and practice on but that I will not outgrow and will satisfy my needs for at least several years.

Most days I will probably make 3-4 cups of cappuccinos and on the weekends maybe 6 cups.

It seems pretty important to me to not have to get up each morning and wait 20-30 mins to get the machine heated before I can use it, so I guess a timer function is important to me.

I live in Israel so I would either buy the machine here or order from Amazon UK, can't order from the US. My budget if I order from the UK is about 500 pounds because of the added taxes and shipping costs.

I'm currently mostly looking at the Breville Barista Express, what would you prefer between the Barista Express and the Rancilio Silvia?

I would love to hear other suggestions as well.

Thanks alot!
Or

User avatar
Moka 1 Cup

Postby Moka 1 Cup » Yesterday, 10:22 am

Recently I purchased my first machine and I was leaning thoward the Infuser but at the end I decided to buy a Gaggia Classic. Among other reasons because of the infuser's 54mm portafilter. I thought that a standard 58mm could gigive me more flexibility.
Just arrived.

goalerjones

Postby goalerjones » Yesterday, 2:01 pm

Image

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Yesterday, 2:55 pm

I second the BDB (#920, I think) and a Sette 270. I wouldn't get an older 270 as they had a long 'proving-in' process to get manufacturing kinks worked out.. I have a 270 and it has worked great for me. Look for a deal on the 2 units, many places often have sales. I went for an HX design and they are going to take much more learning to get consistent results. They are great machines, but I think the learning curve is steeper. Also if you get an HX unit, I believe you really can't use one effectively unless you have a group thermometer and that is another $110 or so. Don't think that just because a machine has a PID showing temperature that will allow you to predict the brew water temp right at the puck. It is all related to temperature of the group head (E61), a warm portafilter and other environmental variables. A DualBoiler or thermoblock with probe near its output requires less effort and knowledge to get consistent brew water temp, which will affect your taste in the cup. Most owners are very happy with the Profitec Pro 300 from what I read. I think the BDB has more capability. There are lots of other great brands out there. I've only used Profitec.

Some question whether Breville has long-term reliability, but after 3-5 years you'll have learned enough to know what will be the next step. The quality of water you use can help the longevity of your machine. Too much scale will hurt any machine in short order. Putting really good quality water in your machine from day 1 might be the best thing you can do for long life.

If you go much cheaper and are, at all, fussy, on your espresso taste, you will do what many of us have done. Upgraded within a year. :)