First espresso machine, budget around $400 - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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#11: Post by Jeff »

The K-Max should work for you. I don't recall how fine its adjustments are, but the K-series grinders are well regarded for grind quality.

I'd recommend a Robot (which I do own) or a Flair 58 (which I haven't used) and then figuring out something for frothing milk. The Robot can go toe-to-toe with multi-thousand gear in terms of quality in the cup, across a range of roast levels from classic Italian espresso through modern roasts. My understanding is that the Flair is similar in its abilities.

Plenty of options for frothed milk beyond the simplest, "drink straight espresso". A steam-powered "espresso machine" from a thrift store, a Bellman copy off an auction site, a battery-powered frother, French press, a new Bellman, ...

The Breville Bambino, with a "real" basket (non-pressurized) as an accessory, is considered a reasonable starter machine. If all you want is a reasonably simple cup of medium-dark or darker espresso with some foam that is probably better than your local chain, it is an "end game" machine. If you're considering espresso as a hobby or suspect that you might want more than the basics, you'll probably outgrow it quickly.

wormraper (original poster)

#12: Post by wormraper (original poster) replying to Jeff »

sorry for the delay, I sleep during the day (grave yarder...ugg).

yeah, that was kind of my thought process. I have the K-max which supposedly does solid for espresso (though not as great as say the Jmax).... it's got 22 micron adjustments so it's reasonable, but not super great. I honestly plan on getting a JX-pro or Jmax in the future anyways because I'm an obsessive collector of grinders lol.

being that I LITERALLY will only be pulling like 2-3 pulls a week from it, I was thinking of something like a nano foamer or bellman for making milk drinks. And I have zero problem hand grinding as I hand grind for filter 2-3x a day already and have zero problems with it.

I thought about the Gaggia or DeHlongi but I don't want to mess with descaling boilers, panicking about water hardness etc.... something simple that I can manually clean out like a lever arm so I can pull shots on the weekend is all I really wanted. I just didn't want to hamstring myself TOO much by getting the cheapest or the lowest tier model out there and am not sure where the "sweet spot" is. I honestly had forgotten about the Robot until you guys mentioned it, as the Flair is the one that gets advertised all the time, but the more I look at it the more I like what I'm seeing

as I said, I know I'll be getting a more "espresso oriented" grinder in the future anyways, so I figured I'd focus on the machine for now as I have something that will at least get me pulling decent shots

EDIT: After watching James Hoffman's video on the Robot I'm really liking what I see. However, is there a recommended place in the states to buy? Asa I noticed the official webstore of Paul's has like $100 shipping to Arizona

wormraper (original poster)

#13: Post by wormraper (original poster) »

ragdoll serenade wrote:If you go with a Flair or Robot you could add a Bellman steamer for your lattes. I would also consider a Breville Bambino or maybe a Solis Perfetto in your price range. Disclosure, I've owned none of these devices.
yeah, I looked at the bambino and the reviews seem rather favorable. My only hesitation's Breville. Their machines are notoriously hard to get repaired if they break and I've been burnt by breville products in the past. Still an interesting thought though

wormraper (original poster)

#14: Post by wormraper (original poster) »

well, after chewing it over, I decided to go with the Robot Barista (professional basket) edition... due to the weak canadian dollar in comparison to the USD, I got it for $376 shipped WITH an extra filter screen (I hear it's a weak spot) from .... through in a Commandante Mk4 in there for $240 since they're freaking $325+ here in the states. appreciate the help and after hitting up video after video I'm glad I went with the robot over the flair