A Forgiving First Espresso Machine

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

#1: Post by thatbrian »

I would like recommendations for a first espresso machine that will lesson the learning curve as much as possible. ***That does not necessarily mean I want a pushbutton machine***

Budget is $2,000, but would rather spend less, if this "hobby" is short-lived because it's too frustrating. (My experience so far has ben nothing but frustrating)

Frothing milk is a secondary issue, as I prefer Americanos, but that may change with time.

Thanks for your advice.

Edited to clarify: I don't foresee frothing milk much, but I will need a steam wand.

thirdcrackfourthwave

#2: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

Maybe you could tell us a little bit more about the specifics on why things have been so frustrating?

Step one: get a good grinder. Several different routes you can go. An espresso hand grinder can help with the budget.

Step two: if you really don't need steamed milk the Cafelat Robot is a forgiving way to pull a good shot without breaking the budget.
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tennisman03110

#3: Post by tennisman03110 »

I have a hard time thinking a lever machine will be forgiving. There's more variables. You've got to get water temperature correct (as opposed to using a machine with PID), get lever pull time and pressure correct (as opposed to using an electronically controlled pump). That combined with getting grind size dialed in, puck prep, etc. seems like a headache.

At $2,000, you can afford a single or dual boiler with PID. Plus an espresso only grinder. You can start with something cheaper, either the Robot or Gaggia Classic Pro, e.g.. But I'd say invest your max cash. Selling nice stuff isn't hard.

BruceWayne
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#4: Post by BruceWayne »

Step 1: If you don't know the basics of making espresso, try to find a class nearby or watch the espresso newbie series here.
Step 2: You're likely going to be cleaning constantly, if you don't want to do that, stop now. The main reason I put off buying a machine was this.
Step 3: Pick a good grinder. (I sort of skipped that step and am searching for one now. I had settled on a Niche, but I changed my mind.)
Step 4: Pick the best machine you can buy that fits the rest of your budget.

I'm still in the process of setting up my first machine/grinder.

fiu-bździu

#5: Post by fiu-bździu »

BruceWayne wrote:Step 2: You're likely going to be cleaning constantly, if you don't want to do that, stop now. The main reason I put off buying a machine was this.
That's an interesting comment...I used to think that BTC machines require a lot of cleanup. I clean mine thoroughly weekly and it takes me about 30 minutes. Plus tray cleaning, another few minutes a weak. I used to think that espresso machines would require less of that.

tennisman03110

#6: Post by tennisman03110 »

BruceWayne wrote: Step 2: You're likely going to be cleaning constantly, if you don't want to do that, stop now. The main reason I put off buying a machine was this.
Completely disagree. The idea that owning an espresso machine is lots of work, high maintenance, or even "hard" are all items that don't make this hobby more approachable.

Use good water, do a clean water back flush.That's about the required daily cleaning. Sure, there's a little more that needs to be done weekly or monthly, depending on use. Not including machine warmup, I can make a single shot and have my machine off in 3 minutes tops.

BruceWayne
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#7: Post by BruceWayne »

fiu-bździu wrote:That's an interesting comment...I used to think that BTC machines require a lot of cleanup. I clean mine thoroughly weekly and it takes me about 30 minutes. Plus tray cleaning, another few minutes a weak. I used to think that espresso machines would require less of that.
I'm mainly referring to coffee grounds everywhere. I think a good single dosing workflow with portafilter funnels will reduce that a lot, which was why I initially picked the Niche as my grinder. I'm probably getting a Key grinder, since I think it'll have a really clean workflow. I learned how to make espresso fifteen years ago, which is also when I discovered that coffee didn't have to taste like bitter dreck that had to be buried in milk and sugar, but there were no funnels and the grinder dumped into a bin you had to transfer to the portafilter. I'm trying to be as clean as possible now, but I'm finding random piles of coffee here and there on the counter that need to be wiped up.

Also, a dirty group head either won't work or will make bad espresso. After trying to make espresso on an abused machine in the office, I'm a big fan of keeping it really clean. I agree incremental cleanup is best, but if you don't do that constantly, it'll pile up, IMO.

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SandraF

#8: Post by SandraF »

Here's a Quick Mill 'Silvano Evo' from Chris Coffee that gets good reviews. This would be a good one.

https://www.chriscoffee.com/products/qu ... ilvano-evo

Then get a Eureka Mignon Specialita which is a capable espresso grinder.

https://www.chriscoffee.com/products/eu ... so-grinder

You could also get the Quick Mill 'Corolla', but this will not allow you to steam.

megamixman

#9: Post by megamixman »

Breville Dual Boiler, preferably used. Easy to learn, easy to get great shots on all sorts of beans, dependable, and will suit even advanced espresso afficiandos.

MNate

#10: Post by MNate »

I'll second the Robot or Flair vote, especially if you don't absolutely have to have milk all the time. It really does easily get very good results and the maintenance is zilch. Spend your extra money on a very good grinder!