First espresso machine upgrade with $700 budget - Pros/Cons

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
iamnew1990

#1: Post by iamnew1990 » Dec 04, 2019, 11:59 am

First post!

I've had an entry level machine (Delonghi EC702) for a couple years now and looking to upgrade to a nice(r) semi-automatic machine. My machine now pulls ok shots, but is a bit finicky, only has a 51mm pressurized basket, and the steam wand is pretty lackluster.

While I'd love to spend $1-2k on an upgrade, I just can't do that right now. So, my budget is somewhere in the ballpark of $700 or so. I've done quite a bit of research, and it seems like the Rancilio Silvia is probably the best option. Seems super reliable and the "industry standard" for entry level semi-pro home machines. A downside would be no PID.

Are there other pros/cons for the Silvia? Are there other machines worth considering (with a full 58mm basket) in this approx price range?

Also, I have a tendency to nerd out on stuff like this, so I'm willing to spend some time learning the machine to hone on in the perfect pulling techniques, etc.

Thanks!
-Ian

User avatar
TomC
Team HB

#2: Post by TomC » Dec 04, 2019, 12:56 pm

Welcome to HB!

You should also take a look at the Crossland CC1, if you haven't already. If I had to choose between it and the Silvia, I'd probably go with the CC1.

https://prima-coffee.com/equipment/crossland/cc1

And if you're bargain shopping and willing to buy used, your dollar stretches much further.

baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#3: Post by baldheadracing » Dec 04, 2019, 1:20 pm

Besides the Crossland, the Lelit Glenda: https://www.1st-line.com/buy/lelit-pl41 ... o-machine/

Both the Crossland and the Glenda offer PID control which the Silvia lacks. The Crossland also offers a separate thermoblock for steaming; the Lelit offers the look of shiny stainless steel and Italian construction.

I'd certainly get either over a new Silvia if you are stuck paying the MAP (minimum advertised price) of $715 for the Silvia.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

iamnew1990

#4: Post by iamnew1990 » Dec 04, 2019, 3:45 pm

Thanks! It looks like the Lelit Glenda PL41PLUS-T is pretty sweet! There's not really too much online about it though (obviously, the internet is flooded with Silvia stuff). Is that something to be worried about? I found a brand new one for $674, which is even cheaper than the Silvia, so I'm now leaning towards the Glenda.

Any other thoughts, suggestions, things to worry about before I pull the trigger?

Thanks!

chipman

#5: Post by chipman » Dec 04, 2019, 4:01 pm

It's not that the Silvia is bad, or that it is unreliable. It isn't. It's just that it does not perform as well as some of the newer machines on the market around the same price points.

baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#6: Post by baldheadracing » Dec 04, 2019, 4:42 pm

iamnew1990 wrote:Thanks! It looks like the Lelit Glenda PL41PLUS-T is pretty sweet! There's not really too much online about it though (obviously, the internet is flooded with Silvia stuff). Is that something to be worried about? I found a brand new one for $674, which is even cheaper than the Silvia, so I'm now leaning towards the Glenda.

Any other thoughts, suggestions, things to worry about before I pull the trigger?

Thanks!
In the past, Lelit has made multiple versions of the same "name" with differing details in different markets, different vendors, etc. Compare carefully. If I were in the USA, then I would buy the Lelit from 1-st Line just because of their reputation and long history distributing Lelit. FYI, Lelit has a showroom Glenda for $699.

The Glenda uses the smaller Anna chassis to reduce costs. (Smaller compared to, for example, the Lelit Victoria or the Silvia.) The smaller chassis will probably be noisier. The vibrations from the pump will probably be enough that you will have to hold your cup in place at least at the start of the extraction.

The obvious next question is what will you use for a grinder. There is no use getting a better machine without addressing the grinder (and you will get a better price if the grinder and machine are bought together).
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

iamnew1990

#7: Post by iamnew1990 » Dec 04, 2019, 4:50 pm

Thanks for that! I've found the same thing... seems like all sources point to them for being the #1 trusted Lelit distributor in the US. They have a 10% off code ("SNOW") that can be used on the new version, but not the floor model. It actually comes out cheaper than the floor model, which is pretty sweet.

As far as a grinder, I have the Capresso conical burr grinder. I know that's not close to the best out there, and I could do better if I pay more... but it's been VERY good for me so far. Super consistent grind, quite a few grinder settings, etc. I'm sure I'll upgrade the grinder in the future, but looking to stick with it for now.

baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by baldheadracing » Dec 04, 2019, 6:57 pm

iamnew1990 wrote:As far as a grinder, I have the Capresso conical burr grinder. I know that's not close to the best out there, and I could do better if I pay more... but it's been VERY good for me so far. Super consistent grind, quite a few grinder settings, etc. I'm sure I'll upgrade the grinder in the future, but looking to stick with it for now.
I apologize in advance if what I have written below is harsh, but I can't think of any nice way of saying this.

This is your future:

You get up in the morning.
You turn on the machine.
You do whatever for 30-40 minutes until the machine has warmed up.
You weigh out your beans, RDT, grind them, WDT until the grounds are as flat as a practice putting green in the basket, tamp perfectly level, and pull a shot. Your prep and technique are as good as a World Barista Champion's.
Perfect.
You want a second shot.
You weigh out your beans, RDT, grind them, WDT ..., tamp perfectly level, and pull a shot.
Everything done exactly the same as the first shot. Prep and technique as good as a World Barista Champion's.
The coffee comes flying out of the portafilter spouts. You almost puke at how sour the shot is, and pour it down the sink.
You try again.
You weigh out your beans ...
Everything the same as the first shot.
This time, nothing comes out of the spouts; the machine has choked.
... and it is time to clean up and go to work.

Next morning, you try again, but nothing works.

The next morning, one good shot ... but two sink shots.

Repeat until you are so frustrated that either the Lelit goes on Craigslist or you spend $200-$300 on a hand espresso grinder like a Lido E or E-T or a Pharos, or twice that on a powered one like a Niche Zero or Baratza Vario. (There are lots of others, these are just examples.)

The first point that a decent espresso grinder offers is consistency between shots. The Capresso (or Breville SGP or Bodum Bistro, etc.) is more than adequate at producing a grind that can make an enjoyable espresso ... but will it do it consistently? Well, every time you try to make an espresso, "... you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?'"

Good luck :)
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

TigerStripes

#9: Post by TigerStripes » Dec 05, 2019, 2:01 am

For your $700 I don't think you can do better than a gaggia classic + auber PID mod kit. Also worth considering, it will be a waste of time upgrading to a non-pressurized basket if you don't have an espresso grinder. You'll quickly get frustrated if you're trying to use a regular coffee grinder for espresso. I tried with my baratza virtuoso, so I'm speaking from experience.

Here's what I have with prices, and I pull shots good enough that I can't justify upgrading to a nicer machine :D

$160 - gaggia classic (craigslist)
$140 - Auber PID kit
$300 - Mazzer super jolly (craigslist)

It's not the sexiest setup out there, but it pulls excellent shots.

iamnew1990

#10: Post by iamnew1990 » Dec 05, 2019, 10:40 am

@baldheadracing haha I totally hear you. Don't get me wrong... I fully plan on upgrading my grinder. The espresso machine is just the first step in the process to help create the illusion that the $$$ isn't as much. What'll most likely end up happening is that I experience exactly what you're predicting, and then I'll want to get a grinder even sooner (and likely be willing to spend a bit more money on one too)!

@TigerStripes I've heard some good things about the Gaggia Classic, but haven't looked into it too much. If you were to compare the Lelit Glenda and the Gaggia Classic (other than the PID on the Lelit and the plastic build on the Gaggia), do you have thoughts on buld quality, shot quality, etc.? The Gaggia definitely doesn't look as nice (to me at least) as the Lelit... but if it'll give me really good results (understanding about the lack of a PID) without breaking the bank as much... I could be convinced.