I told you so...

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

#1: Post by dmj »

After a few weeks of searching, I think many of you can now accurately state, "I told you so."

I can't find a cheap superautomatic worth owning, even temporarily. I read all the Amazon ratings, looked in all the eBay auctions, etc. But all I could find was poorly made, plastic stuff with a reputation for breaking.

I'm waiting for the SCAA show here in April before I make any big purchases. I figure that I'll be able to get some hands-on time there, and see first-hand the subtle differences in machines. In the meantime, I've bought a Rocky, and an Aeropress. That should give me something with which to play for the next 5 months.

But I have a new question, is it possible to get a "nice" mid-range superauto, that I can later pair with a really nice espresso machine? To be more specific, I think my wife will always want milk drinks. If I get a "better" superauto now, one which will steam well, would that be a reasonable purchase? My thinking is this: If I get something like a Solis 5000, I could then get an espresso machine with no thought to its steaming capability. I could use the Solis for steam, and get an espresso machine, maybe even a high-end single boiler, since I'd have no need for the espresso machine to froth milk.

Am I losing my mind, or does that even get close to making sense? The Budget has gone away...

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Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

Yes, you may be losing your mind, but stop by the "Hottop" booth in Atlanta and I will help you find it... I will be working the booth a lot f the time with the Hottop folks...

There are reasons to get a superauto, but none I can think of to get a cheap one. They are complicated machines, so considerations include warranty and service. They are heavy and if you need to mail the thing a few times it becomes an expensive matter. Some are easily opened for maintenance and repair, and others not. For example, if a foreign object gets into the grinder in some of them the machine has to go back to the repair facility for removal of the object.

Many of the folks here are quite serious about espresso (I am one of them, and at the low end of it at that). With that in mind, many have grinders that sell for around $600-1000 or so... a number have grinders that sell for well over $1000 (like me) when you put that into perspective, a machine-grinder combo that sells for less than some grinders cost is, indeed, cause to pause.. at least.

Decide how committed you are to the entire espresso thing, then reconsider the budget. Maybe look for a used commercial grinder (like a Mazzer Super Jolly) then spend the rest on a "proper" espresso machine. Why buy two mediocre machines instead of one good one?
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

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peacecup

#3: Post by peacecup »

I spent $400 on a proper espresso machine, and $25 on a proper conical burr (hand) grinder (now they're $50), and I've been very happy with the combo for years. If you want something for the interim that costs less than a used car visit Doug's orphanespresso site.

PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

dmj

#4: Post by dmj »

Randy G. wrote:Yes, you may be losing your mind, but stop by the "Hottop" booth in Atlanta and I will help you find it... I will be working the booth a lot f the time with the Hottop folks...

There are reasons to get a superauto, but none I can think of to get a cheap one. They are complicated machines, so considerations include warranty and service. They are heavy and if you need to mail the thing a few times it becomes an expensive matter. Some are easily opened for maintenance and repair, and others not. For example, if a foreign object gets into the grinder in some of them the machine has to go back to the repair facility for removal of the object.

Many of the folks here are quite serious about espresso (I am one of them, and at the low end of it at that). With that in mind, many have grinders that sell for around $600-1000 or so... a number have grinders that sell for well over $1000 (like me) when you put that into perspective, a machine-grinder combo that sells for less than some grinders cost is, indeed, cause to pause.. at least.

Decide how committed you are to the entire espresso thing, then reconsider the budget. Maybe look for a used commercial grinder (like a Mazzer Super Jolly) then spend the rest on a "proper" espresso machine. Why buy two mediocre machines instead of one good one?
I WILL stop by the Hottop booth and I'm looking forward to it.

I don't have a budget anymore. My initial desire to stay under $1000 is gone, so forget any budget talk.

As for grinders, I bought the Rocky because I didn't have ANY grinder. I needed something to put in the Aeropress, so that's why I got the Rocky. I paid $100 for it, and it can go on the back shelf later. I expect to get a better grinder. I don't know which one, I'll decide after I see them in person, in April. So end of grinder talk.

Soooo... On to the superauto. I really AM listening. I understand that I do NOT want a Superauto to make espresso. And I do NOT want a Super to grind beans. Got it. But it will be April at the earliest before I get a proper espresso machine. I've been reading and re-reading the FAQs and older threads about single-boilers, HX machines, e61s, and double-boilers. It strikes me that the main problem with many espresso machines is temperature control and the fact that espresso and steam need to be made at different temperatures. With that and only that in mind, is there a mid-range superauto like the Solis 5000 or the Saeco Spidem Villa that does a great job at frothing milk? The fact that I might make espresso with the machine is merely a secondary consideration. I am thinking that having a good alternative way to froth milk might give me more options when I finally purchase a proper machine in April.

An analogy if you will allow it: Say I want to learn to fly. The best machine is a 747. Perhaps it's not the best machine in which to learn... (I know, it's a stretch, humor me) I think I want something with which to experiment while I wait for April. I no longer have a budget for this process. I finally found a good local shop near my house. I had two espressos, and a cappuccino, and half of my wife's latte there this morning. The owner was delightful. The first espresso was too hot, but we discussed it at length, and she made another which was very good. My wife and I then tried the cappuccino and a latte, just to see the process. I think I might be able to accelerate the learning curve by playing with something at home.

Another analogy (I know, sorry again, keep humoring me): I have 5 cars. They are all completely different. But I like them all. I drive them for different reasons. Aren't there different espresso machines that you would use for different reasons? I've read all the debates about the perfect machine, and there doesn't seem to be one. Soooo.... Having said all that, I think I want a superauto for the occasional time that my wife will make a cappuccino in my absence, and for the singular purpose of steaming milk on the side. Not to grind beans or primarily make espresso...

Which one would be best suited for that? I'm leaning towards the Solis Master 5000, just because it has been suggested as a quality machine.

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Randy G.

#5: Post by Randy G. »

dmj wrote:Soooo... it will be April at the earliest before I get a proper espresso machine. I've been reading and re-reading the FAQs and older threads about single-boilers, HX machines, e61s, and double-boilers. It strikes me that the main problem with many espresso machines is temperature control and the fact that espresso and steam need to be made at different temperatures.
Let's take a step back for a second. Yes, temperature is important, but there are a lot of other factors to consider. Some are easy to understand and others not so much. I can only speak from my own experience: My Vibiemme Domobar Super is far superior to my Silvia with PID. On paper, the Silvia had far better temperature stability with the electronic temperature control, but in real life, the HX VBM makes such superior espresso that it is amazing.
Another analogy (I know, sorry again, keep humoring me): I have 5 cars. They are all completely different. But I like them all.
That might be a difference between us. I have owned one motorcycle bought in 1981 and I love my one, basic car- a 4 cylinder Volvo with 205,000 miles on the clock. How many marriages have you been through? :wink: You might want to take a look at user reviews on coffeegeek for superautos, but I would recommend the better Jura machines. You will learn little to nothing using a superauto, but at least the Juras are generally dependable, albeit expensive.
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

dmj

#6: Post by dmj »

That might be a difference between us. I have owned one motorcycle bought in 1981 and I love my one, basic car- a 4 cylinder Volvo with 205,000 miles on the clock. How many marriages have you been through? You might want to take a look at user reviews on coffeegeek for superautos, but I would recommend the better Jura machines. You will learn little to nothing using a superauto, but at least the Juras are generally dependable, albeit expensive.
Only one wife for me, and a very tolerant one at that. She is also the reason I'm willing to spend some money in the interim in order to make her a cappuccino. But I don't consider that I can only make one final purchase of one machine and be bound by that for life, like a marriage, so I'm considering getting two. Machines, not wives...

I'll have a look at the Juras.

thanks,dj

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networkcrasher

#7: Post by networkcrasher »

No budget, AND you like cars? Don't bother waiting for April and check this guy out:

http://www.keesvanderwesten.com/at-the- ... ster3.html :mrgreen:

dmj

#8: Post by dmj »

No budget, AND you like cars? Don't bother waiting for April and check this guy out:

http://www.keesvanderwesten.com/a...ew-speedster3.html
I shouldn't say NO budget. There is always a budget. My espresso budget just went up after spending time here and realizing I was asking the impossible. I still seem to keep trying to find a way to do what I want but by taking a path that not everyone else takes. I belong to two other forums, one for cars and one for computers, and it strikes me how similar the advice is for three such different things: Perfection can't be done cheaply, but you can be happy with less if you keep your expectations in check...
Considering the whole car thing, part of the reason for having 5 cars is 4 drivers. I had a budget for cars, but I needed to get my kids transportation to college, so the car budget went up as well. :mrgreen:

That machine is pretty, for sure. I'd hate to ask how much it costs. I looked at one of the distributer's websites, and they didn't even dare to list a price. I suppose it falls into the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" category...

Cathi

#9: Post by Cathi »

Get a Bialetta Mukka pot (a stove top or electric moka pot that also steams milk concurrently) for the wife or buy a second hand Gaggia (espresso, gaggia, evolution) or a Solis, learn to use it and teach the wife. Virtually goof-proof. By April, you'll have learned the basics, will be ready to upgrade and will appreciate the differences in both taste and convenience.

To further muddy the waters, you might want to take a look at the various lever threads. Like your spouse, I'm intimidated by techno stuff and really like the simplicity that levers have to offer. Very little adjusting on the fly (concentrating on grind, dosing and tamping). Yeah, its more complicated than pushing a button, but not really too much more.
Cathi
LMWDP #113

dmj

#10: Post by dmj »

To further muddy the waters, you might want to take a look at the various lever threads. Like your spouse, I'm intimidated by techno stuff and really like the simplicity that levers have to offer. Very little adjusting on the fly (concentrating on grind, dosing and tamping). Yeah, its more complicated than pushing a button, but not really too much more.
Thanks Cathi. I'm considering all of that. I actually like the idea of getting a good lever, especially if I end up buying a superauto in the near future. I hope to get a foothold on a final decision after a few more months of looking, some instruction, and a convention!