Is a consumer-level espresso machine a waste of money?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
Stevec

#1: Post by Stevec » Jan 29, 2015, 4:18 pm

Hello,

I wanted to buy a Prosumer machine, I was looking at the Quickmill Alexia with a PID.

It turns out I really can't afford a pro machine. Is anything less just a waste of money? I could probably afford the QuickMill Silvano, but that's as high as I could go and I have a Baratza Virtuoso grinder.

Maybe that $1000 would just be better spent getting coffee in a café.

Thanks for any comments.

Steve

erik996

#2: Post by erik996 » Jan 29, 2015, 4:27 pm

Maybe I'll get flamed for this, but I've gotten machines off of eBay and craigslist. CG has a good buy/sell section too. My latest score was a La Valentina for $830 delivered just last week. I took the housing off to adjust the brew pressure and inspect the internals, and it looks brand new. Granted, I had to spend another $100 on stuff (new steam arm to replace the 'cappuccino master arm', vst basket, cafelat silicone group gasket, precision group screen), but it's a $2k machine. It's definitely buyer beware with online auctions, but there are deals to be had. I'm trying to get rid of an Expobar Office Control right now, so people are selling used prosumer machines. If you look around, you can get a Mazzer Mini for $300-$325, or a Baratza for a little less. I scored a Mazzer SJ for $100 locally, but you have to be patient.

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Eastsideloco
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#3: Post by Eastsideloco » Jan 29, 2015, 4:33 pm

erik996 wrote:Maybe I'll get flamed for this, but I've gotten machines off of eBay and craigslist.
You won't go down in flames alone, my friend. I have purchased most of my espresso gear used. In addition to the venues you've mentioned, the Buy/Sell threads here and on Coffee Geek are a good source of used equipment.

To the OP, you might want to keep an eye out for a used (or deeply discounted new) Breville Dual Boiler:

Breville Dual Boiler (BES920XL) Review

It's a good value. And I've seen several offered used in good condition.

EspressoForge

#4: Post by EspressoForge » Jan 29, 2015, 5:15 pm

I've purchased many machines used, but most were beyond consumer level. Either way, I don't think anyone would say that a cheap machine is necessarily bad, but they do need to be capable of a few minimums. A steam-toy like the common Krups machines don't make real espresso, but assuming you're talking about real espresso machines and above...most can be made to work pretty well with an above average espresso grinder.

You'd be much better off buying a used Gaggia (or other cheap machine that means the minimum espresso standard) and upgrading your grinder, than just spending $1k on an HX machine and keeping your current grinder. The Virtuoso can work, but again, you'll get way more for your money another way.

From there...upgrading your machine gets you more nice features that make life easy. Easier steaming, more convenience, easier temp management...etc.

baldheadracing
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#5: Post by baldheadracing » Jan 29, 2015, 5:59 pm

I am interested in this question too. A local store has the BDB on for about $900US (all taxes included) - until the end of this month. With my credit card I will be able to get the warranty doubled (4 years total). Sounds good, but I wonder about the build quality relative to what I would sell to get the BDB (PID'd Silvia and an MCaL).
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

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Marshall

#6: Post by Marshall » Jan 29, 2015, 6:45 pm

Stevec wrote:Hello,

I wanted to buy a Prosumer machine, I was looking at the Quickmill Alexia with a PID.

It turns out I really can't afford a pro machine. Is anything less just a waste of money? I could probably afford the QuickMill Silvano, but that's as high as I could go and I have a Baratza Virtuoso grinder.
One of the most unfortunate results of the upward drift of hardware on this site is that it discourages people from ever starting on this path. Obviously, I'm as guilty as anyone. But please be assured that excellent shots can be had on a regular basis from prosumer machines. It just takes a little more effort.
Marshall
Los Angeles

EspressoForge

#7: Post by EspressoForge » Jan 29, 2015, 6:48 pm

baldheadracing wrote:I am interested in this question too. A local store has the BDB on for about $900US (all taxes included) - until the end of this month. With my credit card I will be able to get the warranty doubled (4 years total). Sounds good, but I wonder about the build quality relative to what I would sell to get the BDB (PID'd Silvia and an MCaL).
I think the BDB has been mentioned that the internals are pretty good. BBB and Breville have great customer service as well. Main downside to the BDB I've heard is just the small steam boiler which I think people have reported steams pretty slow with wetter steam than would be ideal.

But personally, I wouldn't sell your Elektra to get it, the Silvia I'd sell in a heartbeat. Why not just save a bit more and wait around for the good deal again? They always come up occasionally, you may even be able to stack some coupons if you collect those as well.

The MCaL is a great secondary machine, of course if you never use it then things could be different.

James Mulryan

#8: Post by James Mulryan » Jan 29, 2015, 9:07 pm

Does Breville carry forward its warranty on used purchases? Seems like it might be risky to buy a used Breville if they don't.

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Eastsideloco
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#9: Post by Eastsideloco » Jan 30, 2015, 12:08 am

Remember the "these are not the droids you are looking for" scene in Star Wars? That is how you get warranty support on used gear. You can tell based on the date of manufacture whether the item should still be under warranty. If it is, then you call tech support like any other customer. No one ever asks for your invoice. (Who has that lying around, anyway.) Companies that with a reputation of providing good warranty support don't get that reputation by giving customers a hard time when they are having problems with the vendor's product.

It is a risk/reward situation, though. If you have the money, then why save $300 buying used when you might have a problem down the road. But if money is tight—and you can buy a used Vario for that $300—then maybe it's worth it.

nuanced

#10: Post by nuanced » Jan 30, 2015, 1:24 am

YOU might look at the BEZZERA UNICA PID at 1st LINE EQUIPMENT ........... $1000 WITH WINTER DISCOUNT '''''''''''''''''''