First Espresso Machine - Lighter Third-Wave Coffee

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.

Postby Seanmells » Jun 13, 2019, 4:16 am


As someone who has participated in many different types of forums, first off let me apologize for what I imagine is a fairly typical first question. I've done a bit of reading though and I think my question is slightly different than what I've been able to find.

Quick background since I'm new here and its maybe pertinent:

30 year old, started drinking coffee quite young but didn't start thinking about it critically until I left home for college. Worked in restaurants constantly growing up, attended culinary school and graduated with a concentration food science. Got sick of restaurant life and started brewing beer which I've been doing for nearly 10 years. All of this is to say I'm generally a little more intense than the average when it comes to food & beverage.

Didn't really get the espresso bug until probably 5+ years ago. Had always thought it was "fine", but was much more into various brew methods like pour-over. What maybe be fall for espresso was some of the 'new' third wave very light roasted stuff, single-origin and such. Basically rather unusual. While I have learned to love good classic Italian style espresso, I'm most interested in the more crazy and interesting beans.

Well now I've decided to finally time to get my own setup. Narrowing down grinder right now and hoping to make a purchase within the next week (heavily leaning toward the Kinu M47). That means it time to start thinking about machines! :D

I clearly don't know that much yet, but I gather I may have different requirements than the typical brewer if I'm hoping to pull lighter roasted single origin coffees. Please guide me!

Budget hasn't been considered that much yet. I maybe do this sort of stuff different than most people. I like to learn and find out what it is I need, then find out if I can make it work financially. That said I don't (think) I need professional level equipment.

2 coffee drinkers in our house, I'll most likely have 1-2 shots a day while my partner MAY make herself one during the week, but will definitely be involved on the weeks.
She'd like the ability to steam milk, but its not necessary every time.

That was a lot of words, but hopefully it'll help you help me.

Thanks and looking forward to this!


Postby Seanmells » Jun 14, 2019, 12:18 am

No bites yet? Guess everyone else doesn't have to stay up all night long.

Cremina? DE1+?
Hope for a deal on a La Marzocco, which is what I know my buddy at my local roaster will probably tell me to get?


Postby Mrboots2u » Jun 14, 2019, 4:22 am

I'd be looking at the Bianca , this is good value in the UK versus other dual boilers , not sure of it's price in the USA.
There is a review here on HB.
You have mentioned a couple of machines there , that do totally different things Cremina and Decent , so perhaps you should expand down what functionality you are really after which will hope narrow down the choices on offer. In terms of LM machines , cafes and roasters love em, they are premium price , whether they have the functionality you want is hard to say, as that needs to be expanded on a bit.
If you have a ton of cash to spend on the likes if LM etc, then perhaps id be looking at your option of grinder as well, have you considered a flat burr grinder or are you tied to the KInu .
So do you want to flow profile or pressure profile or neither?
Do you want a machine that you can play with on the fly or will jut do the same thing every time .
Do you ( and your partner ) actually want or have room for a lever machine ...


Postby Seanmells » Jun 14, 2019, 11:30 am

I know I was spitballing a bit with the machines. I think they just represent the two things I'm always finding myself torn between; simple/romantic & robust/techy.
I also know I was somewhat open ended and therefore misleading, but money is certainly a consideration. La Marzocco is most likely too spendy for me right now, I just have noticed as you mentioned that roasters and cafes seem to love them. I look at it more as I know I like quality things so I try to make sure I get something I will be satisfied with and not immediately regret/have to upgrade.

Grinder wise I'm not totally set on the Kinu, it just seemed to check many boxes. I'd love something like a M68 or HG-1, but would rather not pay full price for them right now. I keep getting pulled towards the hype of the Niche Zero. I think I could make that work into my budget.
Since it seems like a number would be helpful rather than dancing around it, I think I could go up to $3k give-or-take on my setup. I'm hoping for quality and value, so probably second hand.

Answering your questions, I would like to be active and involved in the brewing. I am a fiddly person who likes tweaking things. Anedoctally, I have two centrifuges in my kitchen if that helps give some more insight.
As I haven't pulled many shots on my life, I like the idea of pressure profiling. I know the Decent would satisfy my more scientific expiremental itches, but I also understand much can be done with a level machine.
Spacewise I think we can make it work with cabinet height being the one obstacle in the kitchen (just under 18" of clearance.)

Thanks for getting back to me and helping me dig into what it is I might want.


Postby mountmustache » Jun 14, 2019, 1:26 pm

that do totally different things Cremina and Decent

I actually don't think it's too crazy to be looking into those two machines! For as different as they brew and look, they can both make great espresso and do similar things with profiling. Granted the Cremina being a manual lever is user controlling (input) pressure profile affecting (output) flow while the Decent is computer controlled and can adjust (input) flow and pressure. But I think if you're looking at pulling SO light roasts, those machines are both capable and worth considering.

And I'm another vote for looking into the Bianca. A couple weeks ago I installed the Bianca paddle on my Alex Duetto III and it works great. BUT! I recently bought a used '74 La Pavoni Europiccola for our travel espresso kit and holy smokes does it make amazing espresso. Something I've never come close to replicating yet on my Duetto. If I was starting all over, I'd probably be looking at a lever.

As far as grinder, I got the Kinu for our travel kit too and it's awesome. Great grind, great finish. Even with less than a pound of beans through, I've never had trouble on light beans for espresso. My wife did have a hard time though. For me, I wouldn't hand grind long term though. I like the ease of on-demand (as opposed to single dosing) electric grinding. I have no experience with the niche, but they look very nice and are well reviewed. There's also a Monolith Conical for sale for a very good price in the buy/sell forum. If you're as obsessive about science and quality, you may get grinder upgraditis pretty quickly and the monolith is seen by many as the end-all be-all. I wouldn't worry about conical vs flat, I feel the differences can be overblown, especially when written down and coming across as more definitive. Burr alignment and grind distribution are much more important in my opinion. And as always preached on HB, within your budget, grinder first then figure out machine


Postby lsun22 » Jun 14, 2019, 3:34 pm

i don't recommend spending 1000s unless you're sure you're into espresso (ie upgrading).

for first machines, i would a crossland cc1 or lelit anna. they are the best single boiler dual use machines and are reasonable, you can get used/refurbs for ~$500. i've seen 1st line sell the anna used/refurb for ~$400, and seattle coffee gear as the used/refurb cc1 for ~$450 on ebay. the anna is a 57mm portafilter so it won't carry over and accessories can be harder to find. i've also seen breville dual boilers on ebay for ~$500.

alternatively, you can go manual with a flair, rok, robot, etc. flair is probably the cheapest.

for grinder, i would recommend a manual grinder to start to keep things cheap such as a kinu m47 traveller or a lido. or a sette 270. they're cheaper and easier to resell if you upgrade/decide you're not that into it after all.


Postby Seanmells » Jun 15, 2019, 12:31 pm

Thanks for everyone's advice. There is a Cremina somewhat locally to me for sale on this board. I'm hoping to go check it out tomorrow. I know eventually whatever route I head down I'll probably end up wanting a lever machine as well so why not start there.
That Monolith Conical looks the business, but is probably a little more top end than I want to go right now. Besides what would I upgrade to in the future once I have the itch :lol:


Postby Davidm » Jun 15, 2019, 11:21 pm

I started my espresso journey last year with a Kinu M47 and a Decent DE1+. For the money, I think you would have a tough time doing better than the Kinu. I have since upgraded, but still also use the Kinu, it is a great grinder.

I am biased towards the Decent (as everyone else on this forum is biased towards their machine). It sounds like your "all in approach to things" you would rather enjoy the Decent and also the interactions on the private basecamp forum.

Wishing you all the best in your choices.


Postby ira » Jun 16, 2019, 2:06 pm

You're needs are far away from mine, but I'd also think a Kinu and a Decent would tick all your boxes. Given that's slightly out of your price range, I'd suggest either a used machine that you can resell for what you paid for it or a Robot or Flair so you'll always have coffee when you travel and then save till you can afford a Decent. The Decent will let you experiment in a reasonably scientific way to learn about brewing espresso. And reading between the lines, it sounds like that's what would make you the most satisfied.



Postby Seanmells » Jun 16, 2019, 5:59 pm

Well, I'm happy to report I know own a '82 Cremina. While I'm still drawn towards the Decent, I decided it could wait for the future. We are hoping to build a vacation home this year, and after that is finished it seems like a great excuse to move the lever up that way and get a DE1+ for home.
Now its time to get the other necessary accessories. Kinu M47 seems like a great start, and will allow me some flexibility in the future. I'm heavily considering a Niche, but I like the romanticism of a manual grinder with a lever machine. The Niche seems like a better future partner for the Decent.
Also need to order up a tamper and dosing funnel. The Orphan Espresso products both seems like they'll do the trick.
Thanks everyone for your feedback!