First prosumer espresso machine / grinder - help!

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

#1: Post by ashfanman »

Hi all. I've visited the forum quite a bit over the past few years as my coffee geekery has grown, but this is my first post.

I know you get a lot of first-time posters asking for buying advice, and while I've done a fair amount of reading and think I have a pretty good understanding of what I'm looking for, I apologise in advance if I ask any stupid questions!

So, I've currently got a Sage Barista. I've had it for a few years and actually think they get a bit unfairly panned - I've got to the point where I get pretty decent shots out of it and have learned how to get the best out of the admittedly pretty underpowered steamer. I know it's a world away from a proper machine, but for the money, I've got a lot of enjoyment out of it and have learned a lot about making coffee. (And probably picked up a load of bad habits along the way!)

That said, I do find it a bit limiting - particularly the single boiler - and I'm ready to upgrade to my first proper machine.

I'm pretty sure that I'm looking for a dual boiler, rather than a HX, as I'd rather not be messing around with flushing. I'm also leaning towards not having an E61 group, as I think the heat-up times would probably annoy me after a while, but I spoke to a shop yesterday and they said they'd always rather have a HX with an E61 than a dual boiler without, which did make me wonder if I'm getting this all wrong!

My budget is pretty tight - I'm trying not to spend much more than £1,700, including grinder - so I appreciate that I'd be looking at the bottom end of the dual boiler market, much as I'd love a Linea Mini!

I'm therefore struggling to see much beyond the Profitec 300, which seems pretty unbeatable at that price? I know the boilers are a bit on the small side, but counter space is at a premium for me, so that's a trade-off I'm willing to accept for something relatively small. I generally only do 2-4 milk drinks per day (mix of caps and flat whites) and only two at any one time anyway. (I do occasionally end up doing more drinks in one go when I have friends or family over, but that's pretty infrequent, so I'm not going to let that influence my choices. They can just wait a bit for their drinks!)

My only real question mark is the lack of pre-infusion - I've not used a machine without pre-infusion before, so I don't know how much of a big deal it is to not have it?

In terms of grinders, I was thinking of the Eureka Mignon Specialita, which seems a good choice at good value? I won't ever need to grind for anything other than espresso.

But I've got to the point now where reading more is making me more, rather than less confused, so I'd really welcome any thoughts and advice, and suggestions for alternative machines.

My priorities are reliability, ease of use and maintenance, and overall quality rather than flashy features. I'm based in the UK and would ideally want to buy from a UK-based store.

Thanks in advance!

symbology

#2: Post by symbology »

Sage BES920UK and a Niche Zero hits your price point and gives you all you need. Programmable preinfusion, the ability to make some simple mods to use the water dispenser valve as a flow control valve. (there is a lot of info on this machine on this site).

Another option is the Lelit Elizabeth. It will probably cost you a little more than the BDB/SDB, but it will have a smaller footprint. It also will have preinfusion that you can adjust (not as flexible as the SDB though).

If you want a double boiler with decent preinfusion abilities the SDB and Elizabeth are two great choices.

Fore a grinder you can go with the Niche, Eureka Specialita, Ceado EP5/6. I like single dosing, so I went with the Niche and I also have a Vario. I have jars that I fill up with 18gr of beans and leave those in the freezer. I just pull out however many I need to pull my shots. Then every other day or so I refill them. Grinding into the Niche Zero's doser cup then putting that onto a 58mm PF is so easy.

baristainzmking
Supporter ♡

#3: Post by baristainzmking »

Check out Lelit Elizabeth, it is in the same price range and looks similar to Pro 300, but has preinfusion and really good steam power.

There a couple of videos on Youtube from 1st-line equipment, one talks about the machine and the other about how to get the maximum steam pressure.
Julia

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Jake_G
Team HB

#4: Post by Jake_G »

The MaraX seems to be an up and comer worth looking at, as well. It is an E61, and an HX. But it behaves like a docile non-E61 dual boiler. It has 3 temperature settings for everything from darker Italian roasts to 3rd wave and nordic roasts and pulls consistent shots without needing a flush.

That's a big deal and worth having a solid look at. The funny thing is that to achieve steady brew temperatures, the MaraX does exactly the opposite of what all the other E61 HX boxes do. The latest of the competition tout their rock-solid boiler temperatures and it is up to the magic of the flush to nail the ever unknown brew temperature. I played that game for a long time. Got pretty good at it, too. The MaraX instead floats the boiler temperature all over the place un order to regulate the temperature of the group and the water that is feeding it during a shot. The result is that you walk up and pull a shot. No muss, no fuss.

Cheers!

- Jake

thirdcrackfourthwave

#5: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

I know nothing about this machine. I've never seen one. If I was in your spot I think I would investigate. E-61 and double boiler with good steaming capability from reports. 1200 GBP https://www.coffeeitalia.co.uk/acs-minima.html. As far as the warm up time on an e-61--put it on a timer.

ashfanman

#6: Post by ashfanman »

thirdcrackfourthwave wrote:I know nothing about this machine. I've never seen one. If I was in your spot I think I would investigate. E-61 and double boiler with good steaming capability from reports. 1200 GBP https://www.coffeeitalia.co.uk/acs-minima.html. As far as the warm up time on an e-61--put it on a timer.
The Minima probably would be perfect for me, but I just really don't like how it looks. I know that shouldn't matter, but it's going to be sitting on my counter hopefully for a long, long time, so I want something that I find aesthetically pleasing.

Same thing that puts me off the Niche Zero - not a fan of the wood and retro design at all.
Jake_G wrote:The MaraX seems to be an up and comer worth looking at, as well.
I was actually just reading about that - very interesting indeed. Seems that it's only just been released (and I'm not sure there are any in the UK yet), but I'll definitely be interested in some real-world views a few months in.

Scott2.0

#7: Post by Scott2.0 »

I was in a similar situation and ended up with the Profitec Pro 300 and Eureka Mignon Specialita. If pre-infusion is important, I think it would be hard to go wrong with the Lelit Elizabeth. I gave the edge to aesthetics and possible better build quality over pre-infusion. My shots have been good, but I can't say if they may be better with PI or not. I'm happy with this combo.

Image

ashfanman

#8: Post by ashfanman »

That's the exact combo I was looking at. Looks great. What did you have before? Anything you don't like about the Profitec?

Did you consider the MaraX, or did you buy before that came out?

Scott2.0

#9: Post by Scott2.0 » replying to ashfanman »

Thanks! I'm a newbie and just had a crappy DeLonghi before. The PP300 has exceeded my expectations. It's incredibly solid, has a beautiful finish which makes clean-up easy, and I liked being able to dress it up with the wood accents. It heats quickly and I never have to wait for it to rebound in between pulls. If I were to nitpick, my only (very minor) complaint is that there are no rails along the top to keep cups from spilling off the side. Even the tamper that it came with seems high quality.

The MaraX wasn't out yet. I love the old school look and the improvements made on the HX machine. I would have considered it. The Elizabeth was the strongest alternative, and is more feature-rich, I just couldn't sell myself on the looks.

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greggers89

#10: Post by greggers89 »

ashfanman wrote: That said, I do find it a bit limiting - particularly the single boiler - and I'm ready to upgrade to my first proper machine.

My only real question mark is the lack of pre-infusion - I've not used a machine without pre-infusion before, so I don't know how much of a big deal it is to not have it?

In terms of grinders, I was thinking of the Eureka Mignon Specialita, which seems a good choice at good value? I won't ever need to grind for anything other than espresso.

My priorities are reliability, ease of use and maintenance, and overall quality rather than flashy features. I'm based in the UK and would ideally want to buy from a UK-based store.

Thanks in advance!
Hi there, welcome to the forums! I've stripped down your original message to the points I'd like to address.

Machines: There are only a couple dual boiler machines that fall around the 1000 GBP price target. (Assuming you put a decent amount aside for the grinder). The ones that come to mind are the Sage Dual Boiler, Lelit Elizabeth, and ACS Minima. Of those I'm only familiar with the Sage Dual Boiler. It is definitely a high performing machine, and you will not find a better mix of temperature stability and features at this price. My only gripe is that it goes into hibernation mode after 1 hour, and you cannot use a wall timer with it.

The Lelit MaraX is an HX machine that is being touted for its ease of use (i.e. no flushing ritual). You can read another_jim's and DaveC's reviews on that topic. It hasn't reached the US yet, but the UK coffee forums have some owner experience already. A quick google search shows that it might be hard to even pre-order that one right now though.

Grinders: this depends on how meticulous you want to be and what kind of workflow you like. I love the Niche Zero for its single dosing workflow. (Weigh the beans before grinding). If you want to fill a hopper up with beans, the Eureka Mignon looks pretty good. People seem pretty happy with Ceado grinders as well.

Pre-infusion: I general prefer medium to dark roasted coffees. I've played around with pre-infusion and usually favored the shots without it. However, I have had a couple bags of lighter roasted coffee that tasted incredibly sour to me, and the pre-infusion really allowed me to grind finer and get rid of most of that sourness. If you prefer light roasted coffees, or just like to tinker, then you will appreciate pre-infusion capabilities.

Reliability: Make sure to use water that does not produce scale. You can remineralize distilled water, or find some other filtration method that gets you in the right ballpark. Check out the "Water" subforum before putting anything into your new machine.