Looking for a cheap(ish) but decent starter espresso machine - Page 4

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
aindfan (original poster)

#31: Post by aindfan (original poster) »

Hello everyone,

I noticed that this was posted on the FAQ list so I wanted to give a follow up of my experience. Reading through my posts in this thread makes me cringe knowing what I know now (most notably telling this forum that I would use pre-ground). Having played around with fresh beans from Porto Rico, Paradise Roasters, and soon some Counter Culture (I hear the Aficionado needs 4-6 rest days, I'm on day 3), I now understand the importance of fresh beans (I don't think I can ever go back to preground Lavazza or Illy) and a good grinder; I no longer see a problem with dropping $500 or so on something like a Mazzer Mini. Due to dorm room size and portability constraints I will probably start with a Rocky or the Le'Lit grinder, but I have certainly learned to dial in a new blend with the hand grinder that I have. I have modded my Gaggia Espresso with the Silvia steam arm and now I can pour a decent rosetta. Because most of my friends have seen very little of this art, it is VERY easy to impress them with a fresh cup of coffee and a mediocre design on top.

The coffee has accomplished the main goal: keep me awake in class. Espresso somehow gives me a caffeine high that I did not get with the school cafe's coffee (read: drek) that keeps me much more interested in the lectures. Looking back on what I've spent on espresso, I don't regret any of it because it begins to taste better and better with each shot that I pull. I have a bit of learning left on getting the most out of my machine and learning to temperature surf for better flavors, but at least I've gotten this far. Another little achievement I was proud of: seeing that my first naked extraction came out deliciously and perfectly distributed. It confirmed for me that I was doing something right. As a technical person my espresso journey started with perfecting the technical aspects: I wanted my shots to look good and time well, and now I can move on to concentrating on taste.

I suppose this should also serve as a big thank you to everyone at this forum, especially those of you who have replied to my questions or written the great guides. I'm looking forward to where this hobby will go, as it seems the only direction is discovering better and better coffee. The next immediate destination would be to play around with the temperature variable (trying to make drastic changes) so I can personally learn what effect a hotter or colder extraction has on the taste of the shot. I have also played around with an ibrik and a french press and now understand what a huge difference there is between my hand grinder and the whirly (which happens to be collecting dust in the cabinet).

Looking forward to better and better shots,

Dan
Dan Fainstein
LMWDP #203
PSA: Have you descaled lately?

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aindfan (original poster)

#32: Post by aindfan (original poster) »

A short note, now that I've been on this espresso journey for about a year. When I made my first posts here, I never imagined that I'd end up with espresso equipment that is as expensive and shiny as a Gaggia Achille - I definitely didn't think that I'd be pulling lever shots by hand. As I read through the posts in this thread a moment ago, I realized that I missed a very important step in the process suggested by Timo:
timo888 wrote:If you tell us what city you're in or visit, someone here can recommend a good place where you can get a good espresso, cappuccino, and latte. Then you can decide whether you like coffee, or steamed milk with coffee in it.
Getting this out of the way earlier in the process would have decreased the amount of time I wasted on the pre-ground Lavazza that I got with the Gaggia Espresso from WLL.

Once again, a big thank you to the members and moderators of this forum for steering me in the right direction.

Dan
Dan Fainstein
LMWDP #203
PSA: Have you descaled lately?

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HB
Admin

#33: Post by HB »

Thanks for taking the time to update us, it's interesting to revisit the discussion that led to the report of the espresso you're enjoying today. :)
Dan Kehn

aindfan (original poster)

#34: Post by aindfan (original poster) »

Not a problem. I should also mention that my re-reading of my posts and others' replies was filled with gasps and sighs. I'm glad you all were able to bring me to your ways of thinking!
Dan Fainstein
LMWDP #203
PSA: Have you descaled lately?