Feedback My Espresso Setup

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

#1: Post by dsc106 »

Hi, I am trying to make sure I don't miss anything as I put together my espresso package, particularly in accessories. I need to make sure I've accounted for all when getting budgetary approval from the wife powers that be ;) And yes, I am good on waiting for the NZ shipment later this year.

Main Setup:
- Niche Zero Grinder (delayed shipping is fine)
- ECM Synchronika (no wood, just chrome & black standard)
- TBD flow control valve for ECM (from WLL, or Clive's upcoming version?)
- TBD water filtration system for direct plumb-in (whatever makes sense for the very good Portland, OR water)
- Acaia Lunar espresso scale, silver
- Not Neutral LINO, 4/ea of: 3oz Espresso, 6oz Double Capp, 8oz Small Latte, 12oz Large Latte
- Not Neutral VERO, 4/ea of: 4.25oz Cortado

- ECM angled bottomless portafilter (for triple shots? and?)
- ECM 3 & 4 hole steam tips (for varying steaming power)
- IMS e61 portafilter basket and grouphead shower screen (I hear this is a worthy upgrade?)
- Caffewerks Silicone gasket head (to accompany the IMS shower screen)
- Rattleware 12oz + 20oz Pitcher (I heard this is best shape for pouring latte art?)
- 2x Rattleware 3oz Shot Pitcher
- Grindstein Knockbox (small, simple)
- Espresso Parts 5X12 Inch Tamping Mat by Barista Basics (is this one any good?)
- Misc: Distribution Tool? Auto Leveling Tamper? Milk frothing thermo, WDT stirring tool, cleaning supplies, etc. - anything else I am missing?

Feedback/additions/subtractions very much welcome! Thank you for all the help here thus far in steering me along :)


#2: Post by Jeff »

A couple of thoughts...

The Acaia scales are closed protocol, so you're stuck with their app or iOS drivers. While I understand them to be good scales, the lack of an open protocol means they won't integrate with a Decent Espresso DE1 or open-source applications that utilize the scale.

Cups are very personal. Here's one exploration of all the options out there Are cup size and shape too often everlooked factors? I've wanted a set of Lino cups since I first saw them at Verve many years ago. I may grab aa few of the denim-colored ones. Make sure you subscribe to their mailing list for a discount code.

Personally, I like a heavier porcelain cup for espresso than the Lino. Good espresso shouldn't have to "taste hot" to taste good. A heavier cup cools the espresso more quickly and, for me, is an advantage.

Make sure you get a feel for the cups' sizes. For me, the 8-oz cup is already "big" and the 12-oz one is more like a soup bowl.

For me a bottomless PF is a combination of a learning tool and a diagnostic tool. It lets you know, at least to some extent, what is happening with the extraction.

I'e used Espresso Parts ("EP") "precision", VST, Strada, IMS/E&B, and now DE baskets. I prefer the VST over the IMS for most of the coffees I've pulled (SO/blend, medium, light, or "nordic" roasts). I prefer ridgeless for my single-dose, E61 work flow as I weigh into the basket and funnel alone. I use an IMS B702Th26,5M occasionally. For me, "18 g" and "20 g" are the sizes I most often use.

Yes, add a funnel to the list! I have both an old Orphan Espresso one, as well as one of the on-sale DE funnels. Even a cut-down yogurt tub works.

I think multiple steam tips are overkill. I can't imagine anyone changing them on the fly to vary the pressure. Steam goes on, milk gets hot, steam goes off.

I've used the EP $4 screens for years. Nobody has convinced me that a delicate, nano-coated screen makes my coffee so much better.

I like the Cafelat silicone gaskets. $4 at Espresso Parts (their parts ship "free" to the US). In general, I think Paul Pratt does great design and execution. Unfortunately Espresso Parts doesn't seem to carry his tamping mats. My E61 workflow was using a folded, white washcloth as tamping mat and general rag, that then got a hot wash with bleach. Right now I'm using a hockey puck as a tamping base.

I had a Grindstein many years ago. Nice, compact knock box, almost too compact. As I recall, I lost some of the rubber feet. I wish that I had known that they could be replaced. Can't comment on the commercial offerings past that. I use a rectangular, 4-qt, poly, restaurant-style, food-storage tub with a long 1/4-20 bolt and a piece of rubber fuel hose over it. Not pretty, but dishwasher-able and functional (and almost too big).

For a milk thermometer, speed is important. I've used the CDN DTQ450X thin-tip one and it's under $20 through Amazon or the like. Model numbers may have changed in the last 5-10 years. The DE milk thermometer is another option, though more expensive.

Cafiza, or similar, and a brush like the Pallo are my go-to for cleaning (along with a blind basket, which many machines already come with). More of those white, bleachable washcloths too. You should be prepared with cleaning supplies and good ("non-scaling") water from the day you plug in the machine.

My shot shot glasses haven't been near my espresso machine in years. Shots go from the bottomless PF into the cup. Done. Weigh the shots? Yes. Measure their volume, meh, it fit in the cup.

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#3: Post by Randy G. »

I like the Lino cups. They are my choice when I set up again.
Save on the scale. So long as you get one that can tare and fit nicely (and be waterproof) it will suffice. You are going to be mentally overloaded for a while anyway, and more than that will just be a mental overdose.
Look into the ForceTamper with the Leveling base. It's my fav, anyway.
Check the reviews on my website to further confuse yourself. :wink:
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#4: Post by dsc106 »

The DE thermo looks great, I think I'd go with that one. I also saw their milk frothing jugs and those look very good - better than rattleware - recommended? Maybe I'd get the thermo and both jug sizes (350ml + 600ml (12/20oz).

For baskets, would it be worth getting the set of 7 from DE for $119 (it's $50 for just the 18/20g baskets, so the discount is bigger to just get a full set). How do they stack up vs the VST or IMS baskets? Is it ok to mix/match, IE, having the IMS precision grouphead shower screen + a DE basket? As well, I can use the DE baskets in the ECM portafilters?


#5: Post by Jeff »

Milk pitchers, to me, aren't worth obsessing about. As long as the stainless is food grade and the welds don't come apart, they all have about the same functionality. They're gonna get dinged and scratched. Sure if you're a professional barista you might have favorites for each pour in competition, as well as getting those "technical" points, but until you can match

Latte art tutorial from a 12 year old.

I don't think any of it matters much.

As far as I know, the water doesn't know it went through an IMS screen on the way to a VST basket or anything like that. A new screen isn't going to make your coffee magically better compared to the one it ships with.

I'd keep the number of variables low until you are pulling consistent shots that you like. Then you can start <strike>bleeding money on accessories</strike> trading things out to see what changes they make.

From what I can tell, the DE and VST baskets are very similar. At least for me and the roasts I tend to pull, I'm dosing in the 17-20 g range into an "18 g" basket. One particularly "fluffy" roast (Josuma Malibar Gold) had me using a "20 g" basket for a bit. With EP offering free US shipping on parts and DE offering free shipping with three or more accessories, I'd start simple; an "18 g" basket of your choice, maybe a "20 g" as well. That gives you the basket(s) that come with the machine and at least one very similar in capacity. If you can't taste the difference (and be reasonably certain it's the basket, not the dose, grind, puck, or extraction parameters), throwing another $50-100 on baskets probably isn't worth it yet.

I can't comment on the clearance inside of a spouted PF handle. With a bottomless PF handle for a standard group (nominal 58 mm tamper), within reason, any of the 58-mm tamper baskets will fit. IMS lists ECM with the "standard" B70 line, though calls out ones with a hair narrower rim (B68) for La Cimbali, Gaggia, and Caramali,

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#6: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

2 cents here.

Do love the DE Therm. Didn't like their pitchers. Love the Motta pitchers. I use the 20oz ones in white. You have a great list and great feedback so far.

Also still appreciate my Lunar scale even though expensive. I use it for making my water and espressos. It's reliable and sturdy.
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#7: Post by HotLava »

That's quite a list.

Speaking on cups, the crowd you plan on serving will dictate their use. For example. I bought a set of 8 oz Sweese Cap cups. They are thick and retaraunt quality. I will serve Americano's in them to people who take them black I had to get 10 oz cups just for my wife due to creamer use. They are deemed "the princess cups". 3 oz espresso cups are ok. I like the not Neutral cups. They are very thick. I prefer a little larger cup 3.5 to 4 oz. I personally thing the wider mouth cup changes crema to coffee ratio with first sip. Especially with a swirl. Does not matter much if you stir.

+1 for the Lunar scale. I just got one and love it. I was tired of buying a new scale every 3 months.


#8: Post by pdx-climber »

If I were spending that kinda money on a setup, I'd probably include a Jack Leveler... or at least play with one and find my preferred method.

What is your experience level on home (or pro) setup?

If you want some help with anything or a shot taster in PDX hit me up.


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#9: Post by Bluecold »

I'd keep everything much much more simple. You don't need three steam tips and 8 baskets when you're starting out. You'll find out what you need when the time comes. I would get:
-a bottomless pf to help you check distribution
-a scale
-basic tamper, you'll find out what you really want after using one for a while
-some cloths if you don't already have functional small cloths.
-basic, small (35cl) steaming pitcher, suitable for a single capp. You will find out which other sizes you want rather quickly.

Similarly, replace your pf gasket when the old one wears out. No need to toss perfectly functional gaskets.
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#10: Post by johnX »

A Super list... but I would slow down.
The equipment sounds great though.
For cups, measure cups & pitchers, maybe start with less.
The cup choice for our setup: we were gifted a lot, Judy liked thin walled, I liked thick, shapes and size needs change as your hobby evolves.
All that said, you can just go for it as is, you'll enjoy, have fun and get tasty beverages!
Best Regards,