Have water line, need espresso machine

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

#1: Post by johnpinetree »

Hi all, I've been poking around this forum and others or a couple months now, trying to study up and ready to pull the trigger on a machine. My wife and I are hoping to get some more educated advice than what the 'sales' folks online have said.

Our needs are a machine that makes a consistent espresso/americano with minimal nuance on required from the operator since...well since we'll be making these before having had any coffee! We do not drink cappuccinos/lattes. Also, we've remodeled our kitchen, and set things up for a water line to hook up to an espresso machine and want something that leverages the water line pressure. Finally... I'm a scientist, so I'd probably be a little sad to get a machine with no PID loop... but that's a preference and not a need.

I've convinced the wife that these machines hold their value and this will be sort of a lifetime purchase, so I think we can afford to go straight to a prosumer type machine. We were hoping that having no latte-love would help keep the cost manageable. I've been looking on ebay and craigslist for something used to fit the bill, but not a ton of machines come up.

Thanks for the help. Wonderful website and resource!

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#2: Post by Nunas »

Unless you also want to buy a digital kettle (or already have one), I suggest that your new machine include a steaming function. Since you want to make americanos, you'll need hot water. As counterintuitive as it seems at first glance, the last place you want to get this is from the boiler in the espresso machine. Here's why. First, unless you buy a commercial machine, there isn't a lot of water in the boiler. Americanos take quite a bit of water compared to shots. Second, The temperature you want for the water to add to the shot to turn it into an americano isn't necessarily the same as the temperature that you would get out of the brew head. Bear in mind, that a proper americano is not just a shot with a whole bunch of water pulled through the grinds; you need to pull a proper shot and add hot water. Even with a heat exchanger (HX) or double boiler (DB) machine, you still don't want to pull the water from the steam reservoir. That water is way too hot; it comes out superheated and flash-boils as it exits. To get the proper water, one should fill a foaming jug with water and steam it, just as one would milk, with a thermometer (or use a digital kettle). Also, should you ever decide to sell or trade up to another machine, one with a steam wand would likely appeal to a much larger market. So, bottom line, even though you are not making milk drinks, I suggest you consider a quality HX or DB. Of the two, since you wish to have the least amount of bother (just push a button and get coffee), the DB would be the better bet. Since foaming milk isn't important to you, have a look at the Quick Mill Silvano. I'm not a big fan of these for most people because they don't make the best steam (it uses a simple thermoblock for steam technically making it a DB machine).


#3: Post by nguye569 »

johnpinetree wrote:ur needs are a machine that makes a consistent espresso/americano with minimal nuance on required from the operator since...
unless you get a super-automatic machine, most machines will require interventions fro grinding beans and pulling shots. you can get a machine with volumetric capabilities so you can just push a button to start and stop the shot, but you'll still need to grind a tamp. With these machines, the users would still need to dial in the beans every few days or so to make sure the shots are still good.

Is this ok for minimal effort or did you just want something that grinds and brews with the touch of a button?
johnpinetree wrote:I've convinced the wife that these machines hold their value and this will be sort of a lifetime purchase, so I think we can afford to go straight to a prosumer type machine. We were hoping that having no latte-love would help keep the cost manageable.
It's true that you can get a good prosumer machine and save money if you just do espresso. The issue you're going to run into is that machines capable pf using a water line are going to be on the higher end and have great steaming capabilities, so you're paying for more options that you want. I don't think this a bad thing, I just wanted to put this out there since you didn't mention a budget.

You didn't mention how much experience you have, what your budget is for machine, and budget is for a grinder. Having this information may help for recommendations.


#4: Post by maxbmello »

You'll also need to factor in the cost of good water softening/filtration to keep your machine running for a long time.

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#5: Post by Plinyyounger »

Hi and congrats on the new adventure. It is my understanding and I could be wrong in some instances, but a plumbed machine requires a rotary pump. So that would lead me to believe the machine you will choose will be at the better end of the spectrum. Machines that have this capability will normally have the extra abilities that do not (at this time) excite you much referring to the milk streaming.

Some will also note the steam boiler water may have a different taste (metallic) but this is something I have never experienced with the machine I chose. The water is very hot out of a steam boiler, so I pour mine first then add it after a small cooling period, not a big deal at all.

Being you are a scientist, I would suggest a Decent DE1, it is made for people like you, lol. It's a great machine, has no boilers, and can do all types of coffees with or without milk.


#6: Post by Jeff »

As wisely noted above, this is an adventure, a hobby, one that is potentially addictive. Want something quick, easy, and predictable? Gift card and delivery service or some superautomat that your chain of choice/last resort uses.

Yes, there are machines and grinders that can turn out a great cup of espresso with minimal thought in a wide range of budgets. The problem is that it's easy to think, "if I only changed this thing I do a tiny bit, it would be even better".

With a technologically advanced machine in my counter, I also have a fully manual one next to it that reminds me of how you can make espresso without thinking, just doing. Both produce fantastic espresso, just completely different in their interaction.


#7: Post by johnpinetree »

Budget wise, lower the better, obviously. Most of this will be about convincing my better half, so if we can keep under the $2k threshold that would be a much easier sell to wifey. If there is a compelling reason to go above 2k its not out of the question, but will require more political capital on my end.

As far as how streamlined the americano making process needs to be, a grinding step is fine. What is not workable is multiple flushing steps. Ideally its a grinding step, followed by shot prep, a straight forward espresso extraction, and then adding the hot water to get to an americano.

Interesting point about getting the hot water to get the espresso to americano. I'd like to keep it all on the machine and move away from the kettle we are using now.


#8: Post by maxbmello »

I believe the Breville Oracle has an automated americano function that even dispenses the amount of hot water you want. It also grinds and Tamps for you - about as close to a superauto as you can get while still having good quality. The grinder is still the choke point on that machine though.

It is not plumbable, and I think is right at your $2k budget preference.

Most plumbable machines will be north of $2k, then you would need a separate grinder, water system, etc.


#9: Post by Jeff »

With a $2k budget, or close to it, I'd suggest a Breville Dual Boiler ("BDB") and a Niche Zero for both quality in the cup and ease of use.

Plumbed-in machines tend to fall into the $3k and up range, plus $700 and up for a grinder.


#10: Post by johnpinetree »

Sounds like we need to bump up to the $3k price point. More options there? The budget isn't so much a hard cap, but more a hard conversation. Thankfully my wife loves dogs, coffee and me... perhaps in that order?