If you had to start over with espresso and buy an entire setup with a budget of $5000, what would you buy? - Page 2

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

#11: Post by another_jim »

Carter wrote:This is mainly a thinly veiled request for help as I'm trying to figure out what accessories to get to pair with a Synchronika with flow control and a Niche Zero, but I figured it could spark some interesting discussion.
The first question is what are you looking for?

If it's coffee as a hobby, buy a sample sized coffee roaster, a good brew grinder, and start roasting and cupping. If it's coffee as a profession, ditto. Once you get a feel for roasting and cupping, you can start on espresso and be endlessly frustrated that you aren't getting the same coffee tastes undistorted. 10K or so later you'll start muttering to yourself "I'm getting closer."

If if's getting the big, syrupy, berries and chocolate shot, or the fancy wine or whisky shot, you got at a cafe or friends house, or that you've heard about, or the equivalent in a cappa, you're on the right track.
Jim Schulman

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Randy G.

#12: Post by Randy G. »

mathof wrote:I'd go over budget (everyone does) and get these two items:
Monolith Kafatek Flat $2650
Decent DE1+ $2999 (comes with a bottomless pf)
After that I'd buy the cheapest necessary accessories with an eye to upgrading them
That would be a winner, and the flat is well respected, but to stay closer to budget, the Kafatek conical ($2150) and the DE1+ ($2999)
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mathof

#13: Post by mathof »

Jeff wrote: Bravo Tamper

A square-to-basket, force-indicating tamper takes a lot of prep variability out for beginners, as well as bleary eyed of any experience level. The Bravo is one of the few that is both square-to-basket and manages the tamping force.
I have been puzzled for some time about the many references to degrees of tamping force in these pages. It seems to have been established by numerous experiments that beyond initial compaction of the puck, extra force makes no difference to extraction behaviour. Yet people speak of using more or less force in their tamping and even buying special equipment to specify exactly how much force they want to apply.

As for me, I press until the tamper stops and leave it at that. What additional benefits would, say, the Bravo or Puq Press provide?

Jeff
Team HB

#14: Post by Jeff »

I tend to agree that once you're over "enough", differences in tamping pressure don't make big difference in taste. In the realm of reasonableness, I don't think most people know what 15# or whatever the number of the year feels like. I only found a bathroom-scale check marginally useful in learning what "enough" felt like. Some people also have strength or dexterity challenges so knowing "ok, you're done" or having something like The Force Tamper's comparatively gentle cock-release mechanism is helpful there as well.

You don't "need" square-to-basket or force-indicating to make good espresso. I'm dubious that reducing the tamper-basket gap by 25 or even 50 microns makes a significant difference. I made espresso with a "58" tamper for years. However, at this budget level, I find enough things about the Bravo tamper to be benefits for both a beginner and an experienced user to include it on my list.

foam2

#15: Post by foam2 »

As someone with experience with the equipment you're asking about I think the machine is very capable. I would consider the grinder and figure out what you prefer there - conical or flat as they tend to emphasize different flavors with the conical more fruit, and the flat more chocolate/caramel. There are several single dosing flats available that are really impressive.
On the machine, the synchronika is great and if you have others in the household it is probably the most straightforward to use. If however you're the only one going to be using it I think you should also take a look at a lever machine. There are a lot of options out there and if you like the idea of "making espresso" and don't mind the extra work they can be worth the effort.

Jasper_8137

#16: Post by Jasper_8137 »

Funny, I asked a similar question in 2018 (I had a Rancilio Epoca, a commercial 1 group, and Mazzer SJ)...

This was one of the replies I received:

"Buy a commercial spring lever (Londinium R or Profitec Pro 800). There is a nice Londinium L1P in buy/sell that is an absolute steal. It will wipe the floor with anything below a Slayer or GS3."

I did not take the advice and purchased a LMLM. I then upgraded grinders (first a Mazzer Major, then Compak K10, then monolith conical). I then started playing with levers (after getting a Flair to travel with) getting a Cremina, then Oly Club. Last spring, I had the fortune to find a commercial Gaggia Orione (lever). It's been 6 months now with the Gaggia. I've used my LMLM maybe 5 times since, but always go back to the lever.

So after a bit of a rambling post, if I could do it over again with a budget of 5K, I'd get a commercial size lever and a NZ or MC3 (if I could find one), as I was recommended to do a few years back.

Carter

#17: Post by Carter »

First off I want to thank you all for your thoughtful responses, this forum has been so helpful and it means a lot

There's a lot of love for the Decent. Part of me feels like it's the best choice, part of me isn't in love.

On one hand the level of control is incredible, the warmup is quick, and the community is amazing. On the other hand I don't love the sound of the machine or the aesthetics, and worry that I won't like the amount of information I'm getting back from it. I want to enjoy the coffee rather than analyzing graphs, despite them being a huge help in becoming a better barista.

In general I'm more of a cook than a baker. I celebrate variation when I cook, and don't mind when things come out differently. I'm not sure if that would be as welcome with coffee, and I know most enthusiasts will say it's not. I presume I wouldn't feel good about pulling a sink shot just due to the machine having fluctuations that I can't control

I do want to flip levers and have a chuck of chrome in my kitchen, and I do also want the ability to make a bunch of milk drinks if the situation calls for that.

On the other hand I might like the repeatability and ease of the Decent when I have beans dialed in with a program I like. I also don't foresee making more than two milk drinks at a time 99.9% of the time. I'm also not sure if I'll be drinking more espresso or milk drinks in general, as I enjoy both but might default to espresso most mornings when time is limited.

My heart tells me to go for the Synchronika, but my brain says the Decent is the smarter choice.

I thought about a lever as well, and really like the ease of maintenance with them, but I feel like a Synchronika or Decent gives me more control and can imitate a lever profile whilst not being locked into that as the only profiling available

Thanks again to all of you!

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BaristaBoy E61

#18: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

If you had to start over with espresso and buy an entire setup with a budget of $5000, what would you buy?
If I were to start again & stay somewhat within budget, I'd buy again the current iterations of the equipment I still have that was purchased 6-years ago - including accessories. Perhaps the grinder might change in that a lot has happened in the last 5-years regarding grinders.

What I would do differently and highly recommend is not wait to direct plumb & drain. I would do that immediately! I would also recommend the immediate installation of a high quality water filtration system such as a BWT Best Max Premium along with a water line pressure regulator & gauge, a flow counter meter and a water leak detector with automatic cutoff to avoid plumbing disasters.

These are things I would budget for straight out of the gate. Once you already have a great grinder it might be possible that the next thing that would have the greatest impact on improving the taste of your espresso might not be an even better grinder but 'improved' water taste. This would also protect your investment but might mean descaling less often as well.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

Carter

#19: Post by Carter »

another_jim wrote:The first question is what are you looking for?

If it's coffee as a hobby, buy a sample sized coffee roaster, a good brew grinder, and start roasting and cupping. If it's coffee as a profession, ditto. Once you get a feel for roasting and cupping, you can start on espresso and be endlessly frustrated that you aren't getting the same coffee tastes undistorted. 10K or so later you'll start muttering to yourself "I'm getting closer."

If if's getting the big, syrupy, berries and chocolate shot, or the fancy wine or whisky shot, you got at a cafe or friends house, or that you've heard about, or the equivalent in a cappa, you're on the right track.
I don't think I'm interested in roasting or being able to differentiate different single origin coffees based off of their tasting notes, mainly due to time constraints. I just want to make espresso that tastes good, not looking to get into coffee as a profession or anything of that nature.

I should learn cupping though

Carter

#20: Post by Carter »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote:If I were to start again & stay somewhat within budget, I'd buy again the current iterations of the equipment I still have that was purchased 6-years ago - including accessories. Perhaps the grinder might change in that a lot has happened in the last 5-years regarding grinders.

What I would do differently and highly recommend is not wait to direct plumb & drain. I would do that immediately! I would also recommend the immediate installation of a high quality water filtration system such as a BWT Best Max Premium along with a water line pressure regulator & gauge, a flow counter meter and a water leak detector with automatic cutoff to avoid plumbing disasters.

These are things I would budget for straight out of the gate. Once you already have a great grinder it might be possible that the next thing that would have the greatest impact on improving the taste of your espresso might not be an even better grinder but 'improved' water taste. This would also protect your investment but might mean descaling less often as well.
Water is a huge toss up for me currently. Our tap water is decent so I probably should go that route, I'm just not sure if I'll be able to immediately plumb the machine. Lots of things to think about in that regard, and I'd prefer to never have to descale the machine