Cafelat Robot as first espresso machine. Good for learning technique?

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

#1: Post by mzaiya »

I'm deciding on a first setup and I'm leaning to Cafelat Robot, Niche Zero, and Fellow Stagg (matches the black aesthetic). I think I'm pretty set on the grinder unless there's a good argument for another one like the DF64. Although, for the my first machine would the Robot be fine as far as teaching good technique? If I ever get a high end machine like the Linea Mini would it have been better to begin on a Gaggia Classic Pro? Would a modded Gaggia be a better bang for buck if it performs like a mid/mid-high end machine or is there really not much difference to solid technique on a good manual lever machine?

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#2: Post by ira »

All 3 of those are great choices. You will also need a kettle, so don't forget that. You will learn more from a Robot than you likely ever will from any low end machine. There are a number of users here who have mostly stopped using their electric machines in favor of a robot. Even a Linea Mini, while being a really great machine will end up being less flexible than a Robot. Certainly easier and better for groups, and maybe more consistent if you have perfect puck prep, but not necessarily better. The only other machine I might mention, though it's not a beautiful as the Robot is the Flair 58. And I only mention it because it has a group heater which might be a slight advantage, but not having that does not seem to get in the Robot's way. I would certainly choose the Robot because I consider it almost art and it makes great espresso.


#3: Post by mikelipino »

A Robot for sure pulls great shots and will teach you a lot about extraction. It's also more forgiving than a flat 9 bar machine as you'll naturally decline pressure during the shot and they won't blow out. And if you include cleanup into TCO, the Robot might have an edge on the Flair because it has fewer parts that are easily cleaned. The Flair 58 gives you easier access to light roasts, but light-med through dark are easy enough on the Robot.

Less repeatable, sometimes harder to tie successes and failures to any one variable, and might be a chore if you're pulling 4 shots at a time, but I'd venture an average manual lever shot can be as good or better than an average shot from an entry level machine. Steaming milk will be an issue if you prefer milk drinks, but the Gaggia Classic doesn't quite excel at that either.

If by Stagg you mean the Stagg EKG kettle, I'd actually recommend against it for the Robot. The stream is very thin and pointy and can easily disrupt the puck on fill. For the longest time I could not figure out why my shots would channel until I realized I had switched my kettle from an Amazon special with a wider, more gentle stream to the Stagg EKG

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#4: Post by ira »

There is a Corvo tea kettle with a large spout that should work just fine. ... 0961832051


#5: Post by jgood »

No experience with the kettle but the Robot and Niche are solid choices. I use the Hario electric kettle and it's fine, and I think less expensive. I would get the Robot with the pressure gauge as you'll understand more using it. If you want to steam milk get a Bellman and a small steaming pitcher. And of course a scale. I have a Joe Frex scale which fits the small space under the Robot nicely. And cups that fit -- the Ancap 6.1 oz cups fit well for a short cap. (Prima has them and the Bellman)

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#6: Post by another_jim »

mzaiya wrote:... would the Robot be fine as far as teaching good technique? If I ever get a high end machine like the Linea Mini would it have been better to begin on a Gaggia Classic Pro? ...
There's lab and shop.

The Robot, especially coupled to a single dosing grinder like the Niche, will teach you about the variables of espresso prep -- dose, grind, temperature, pressure -- and how they affect taste. But this is more like an espresso lab then a cafe. Technique is about making very good shots and milk drinks fast. The LMLM certainly is an excellent tool for this, especially when coupled to an on demand grinder like a Mahlkoenig or Eureka (rather than a single dosing one). Using a Niche and Robot will teach you nothing about that workflow.

But it will tell you if the people banging out shots and milk drinks are any good.

Before buying anything, you may want to decide whether your coffee home is going to be more lab or more shop
Jim Schulman


#7: Post by Smitward »

My first machine was a robot and I absolutely love it. I paired it with a niche initially. I ended up getting a decent because my wife wanted something with push button programability so she could make shots when I was gone. I also love the decent and that's why I use both of them every day. The decent is my home machine with a niche and the robot is in my office with a kinu m47 for my late morning or afternoon shot.

For the most part, I would say that the robot makes just as good of espresso as my decent does. Admittedly, the robot takes a little bit more fuss with light roasts and with steaming milk.

The robot is fun, looks cool, is a conversation starter, and makes amazing coffee. Have fun with it!



#8: Post by jgood »

If you want a black kettle Espresso Parts just sent an email about one they're offering on sale -- it's inexpensive and might be worth a look -- no idea if it's good but I have bought stuff from them in the past without any problems.


#9: Post by Corgo »

First was a robot and also used the fellow Stagg ekg kettle without issue. I did try to pour the kettle on the red rubber tip of the shower screen. Never had any issues with disturbing the puck. One unique aspect of the robot from my experience was that it felt like I was getting better results using the shower screen to press/ramp the puck than the actual tamper.

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#10: Post by MNate »

I'll agree with everyone, haha.

A good grinder to me is more important for a beginner. Niche is 100% perfect for that (a very consistent conical that is easy to adjust).

And yeah, the kettle. I also have a Stagg and didn't have trouble with the pour but preferred a cheap non-gooseneck because it was just faster- faster at getting to the boil (Stagg slows down as it reaches temp to be more accurate but if you're just going for boil, which I think we all do for the Robot, then this is just slower, and the faster pour of non-gooseneck means the water cools less in delivery). Of course I like the Stagg better for lots of other things and it looks great so that keeps its spot on the counter regardless!

Have fun! And remember, drip coffee is less work and less expensive (and I'm disappointed by how many guests just want drip anyway and aren't impressed by my hobby :( )