First espresso machine, please help!

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

#1: Post by DoNoHarm »

Hello,

Looking to buy my first espresso machine and based on the information I found on this forum I narrowed it down to the next 4 models (I am not planning on customizing machine myself, so no self installation of PID) :
- Gaggia classic ($450)
- Lelit Anna ($630)
- Rancilio silvia ($660, there is a 10% discount at SCG)
- Crossland CC1 ($630, there is a 10% discount at SCG)
I am leaning towards Crossland CC1 due to built in PID and pre-infusion. I have no previous experience in making espresso myself and looking for a reliable machine that can serve for 2-3 years before I decide if I want to upgrade or if I am getting what is enough for me from an entry level machine. I will pair it with an entry level grinder at a price point of $250 - $300 depending on what I will find in stock / on sale. My weekly consumption is between 5 - 10 espresso shots and maybe 1 - 2 cappuccinos if I want something with milk (no sugar, no creamer if it makes a difference). I know that each machine has it own drawbacks, but would highly appreciate any suggestions for complete newbie.

Thanks!

luvmy40

#2: Post by luvmy40 »

So, you have a coffee habit. Not up for debate. the question is this; Will you enjoy making great coffee drinks with your own equipment, or will you find that the Cafe experience is part and parcel with the habit?

Obviously, you will have to buy some gear and find out.

I, personally after close to 30 years of dealing with this addiction, would recommend skipping the "Entry Level" stuff. There are a few reasons for this attitude.

1. You will not learn how to make great coffee with entry level equipment. You will learn how to make mediocre coffee and spend a lot of time and money and deal with lots of frustration in the process.

2. When you find out you like the process and cannot achieve the level of quality you want, you will inevitably need to upgrade and will take a huge loss on your initial investment in "Entry Level" equipment.

3. When you discover that you really don't like the process and decide to sell your "Entry Level" equipment, you will take a huge loss on your initial investment.

The corollary to #3 above is that because you went with "Entry Level" equipment you never had a real chance to determine if you like the process because you spent all your time and money trying to polish a turd.

I would highly recommend buying quality at the start. This does not mean you have to spend several thousand dollars. It does mean you will probably spend around $2000.00 at the get go. But, keep in mind, If you decide to stay in the game, you have started at the "Next level" and will not NEED to upgrade for a while. Also, if you decide you do not want to continue down this rabbit hole, you will be able to sell your gear for a much better return, i. e. a smaller loss than with the "entry level" stuff.

My personal choice would be a Breville Dual Boiler or a Lelit MaraX and a Niche Zero or a Baratza Vario. Far from cheap but all high quality and very resalable.

$0.02, YMMV
★ Helpful

Jeff

#3: Post by Jeff »

What is your total budget?

If sufficient, I'd agree and skip all of those machines. None are ones I'd want to be trying to pull shots from anything more than comfort blends with on a regular basis. At a minimum, if I were going for an entry-level single-boiler, I'd want PID temperature control and standard-size components. Anything less than that is going to be frustrating to use and you'll throw away all your accessories with the machine. That seems to push you to machines like the Quick Mill Silvano or Lelit PL91T at around $1,000.

At that point, if you can still find one at $1,200, the BDB far exceeds their performance.

If not sufficient to buy a BDB or better, I'd buy a Robot and a good grinder (and one of many inexpensive ways to steam or froth milk).

In my opinion, the Robot is going to be easier to learn how to pull good shots with, and easier to be able to pull good to excellent shots with consistently than any of the entry-level single-boiler units. It also seems to be tolerant of low-end espresso grinders.

Your grinder should be a very conscious, explicit choice, not "what's on sale this week". What happens to be on sale may seriously hamper your ability to ever get consistently good espresso from any machine. The grinder is generally considered second only to the coffee in importance on what ends up in the cup.

Edit: I'd take a Niche Zero and a Robot at around $1,100 total over any of those single-boiler with Rocky-class grinder options in a heartbeat. I'd take a C40 w/Red Clix (or similar class, espresso-proven hand grinder) and a Robot at around $700 over those same options if I was only making a shot or two a day.

DoNoHarm

#4: Post by DoNoHarm »

Thanks for your comments luvmy40 and Jeff. I can afford BDB and a better grinder but at that point of time I don't know if I want it. My loss on entry level equipment will be no more than $400-$500 if I were to sell it which is comparable or less to a loss of a mid range prosumer set up. At this point I will probably get a better coffee than from a super automatic machine or my Bialetti Moka Pot. In regards to PID temperature control and standard sized components Crossland CC1 offers it all (58mm + PID). I don't mind taking a loss on a smaller initial investment, it's more about giving it a try and trying to understand what is the most consistent machine among entry level.

Alan Frew

#5: Post by Alan Frew »

Forget the Anna (57mm pf) and the Gaggia (insides aren't what they used to be.) Buy the Crossland and try to spend more on the grinder; for some reason people upgrade their grinders far less than their machines, but all the machines you've listed can pull excellent shots given a decent grinder.

In my somewhat extensive experience shot quality between reasonably capable machines is far more affected by the grinder than the machines. Higher end machines do make things easier, but don't make up for inferior grinders.

Alan

tennisman03110

#6: Post by tennisman03110 »

I'd recommend the route I took in a similar position just under a year ago.

Get a used espresso machine that will make something drinkable... the Breville Duo Temp, for example. Try to find a used grinder that can last a machine upgrade. I went with a used but good condition Sette 270.

You might not like the hobby. I realized I did, recently upgraded to a Breville Dual Boiler.

Or just skip the first year if you're sure about it. The machines you listed will all leave you wanting more. Plus buying new, you're going to struggle selling them for much. Hence buy used.

P.S: If interested in my now retired Duo Temp, send me a PM. It's lightly used even as a second owner.

forbeskm
Supporter ❤

#7: Post by forbeskm »

I'd spend more on getting a good grinder, as you'll make better espresso on an entry level or used machine with a good grinder than wih a low end. With that budget, electrics will be hard to come by though there are a few. Hand grinders like a lido 2 or e will make good espresso on most any machine for just under 200.

Then you could go with what you have listed or say something a step or so up from the used market a few years old from someone upgrading.

ragdoll serenade

#8: Post by ragdoll serenade »

I have an Anna with the PID and a Sette 30 with the 270 micro adjust ring. I have used these items on a near daily basis for about 2 years and couldn't be happier. I have NOT been frustrated trying to make satisfying coffee NOR have I had the desire to buy expensive machines or a bunch or accessories. My experience so far with my basic equipment has actually convinced me that I never will even though I can afford it.

My needs are simple though. I do not make drinks for parties, just myself and my wife or an occasional friend. I don't make giant lattes, just espresso shots or small milk drinks. One thing that is not negotiable for me, I need a fast warm up. I do not use my machines at regular times. I want to come home for work, turn the machine on and make a shot in 10 minutes and then jump on my bike. I don't care for light roasted coffees except for an occasional diversion at a local coffee shop. I like Redbird, Peet's, Lavassa etc. I am happy with shots that are very good generally. I do not need perfection each time I make a coffee. I have not discarded shots since the initial week or 2 of learning to grind.

I fuss with the grind weight (get a scale) and find the timer on my Sette works great but I check it with a scale every few days and adjust time and grind accordingly. I use good non-scaling water. I keep my machines clean, inside and out.

My friends that do not have espresso machines as a hobby think I am actually quite mad at the fuss I have gone to and the money I have spent. While on this board I have been assured that I should be quite unhappy for owning "frustrating" and "entry level" equipment.

So there is my perspective. Of the machines you listed I can personally recommend the Anna. I also liked the Crossland when I was shopping. I have a friend with a Silvia and while I admire the robust build of that machine, temp control is something you will need to work with.

Someone mentioned The Lelit Victoria or a Silvano, I would consider those machines also if you wanted to stretch the budget a bit. Given your light milk steaming needs I can't see the point of spending more on a double boiler.

User avatar
slipchuck

#9: Post by slipchuck »

“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

pcrussell50

#10: Post by pcrussell50 »

DoNoHarm wrote:Thanks for your comments luvmy40 and Jeff. I can afford BDB and a better grinder but at that point of time I don't know if I want it. My loss on entry level equipment will be no more than $400-$500 if I were to sell it which is comparable or less to a loss of a mid range prosumer set up. At this point I will probably get a better coffee than from a super automatic machine or my Bialetti Moka Pot. In regards to PID temperature control and standard sized components Crossland CC1 offers it all (58mm + PID). I don't mind taking a loss on a smaller initial investment, it's more about giving it a try and trying to understand what is the most consistent machine among entry level.
The BDB has multiple PIDs and all standard sized equipment: Solenoid, pump, 58mm portafilter that holds all the glam baskets, Cafelat group gasket etc... All of it standard.

There is a lot of negative urban legend surrounding this machine. Enough so that it's best to confer with people who have owned them for some time, to get the straight scoop.

-Peter
LMWDP #553