Newbie asks: How to choose an espresso machine?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
Tia93

Postby Tia93 » Feb 07, 2015, 12:14 pm

Hello there, thank you for reading this. First of all, pardon my English, I'm not a native speaker and I haven't used it frequently for a while, so I may use strange words or non-existing or so, so please forgive me. Second of all, I'm sort of new in the Espresso world. I've been using for a while a Bacchi Espresso (http://www.caffemotive.it/bacchi_espresso , putting this link just 'cause I've never read about it in my years of lurking this forum), and a Hario Skerton, so not actually anything awesome, but I get some results, once in a while.

I don't have upgraditis, but I'm planning on a Mazzer Mini in a while and, and, that's the problem. I don't really know what could be next, I've been reading here and there, I read some guides, etc, but I'm not sure how to go on. I've got some problem on the HX (Heat Exchanger, is that right), I ain't sure what does that mean, what's the difference between that and a single boiler (I get the difference with a DB - it took me three days to understand that DB meant Dual Boiler, at first I thought of Dragon Ball and later some strange way of making Dibiemme brief -, though).

My major problem is: how do I get if a machine is SB, HX or DB? For example, I'm in love with La Pavoni and maybe that's going to be my next machine, but I don't know if that's good enough for making also cappuccino - one of my great love - (I'm talking about the Europiccola, but maybe there's a bigger version of the lever machine that is able to do espressos and cappuccinos in a great way and I don't know how o understand that). I also love the Elektra Microcasa, and that maybe be the upgrade after the La Pavoni. And another future upgrade, for the grinder, could be the HG-one, or maybe another one with ceramic burr; I havent' really been into that a lot.

So, here's my actual question, to make it clear: is there a way to understand how a machine is before reading a review? 'Cause it shouldn't work like it has for me up to now: getting to know a machine, loving the design, understand how it can do and cannot. Besides that, if anyone has a guide about the HX thing and how it relates with flushing and with steaming and all of that, I'd love that.

A sort of unrelated thing: is there anyone from Europe that can tell me where to buy a brush for the grinder? I'm from Italy and I don't really know any shop that sells them, (e.g. Amazon has some shipped from the .com site that cost a fortune).

Thanks a lot to anyone who has the patience to read and to reply.

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drgary
Team HB

Postby drgary » Feb 07, 2015, 2:22 pm

Hello Mattia, and welcome to Home-Barista!

All of the questions you are asking have been answered here, but I don't think you found the place where that is. Please look at the top of the listing this link pulls up.

Buying Advice Forum: FAQs and Favorites
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

Tia93

Postby Tia93 » Feb 24, 2015, 5:19 pm

Thank you for your welcome and sorry it took me a lot to reply, but I got caught in a lot of stuff, I had an important exam and all of that. You were right about some of the FAQs: I hadn't find them. Now I have. I actually have changed a lot of ideas in this two weeks, I'm also going from shop to shop to take a look at machines and all of that.

So, I may be decided to get an E61 machine, not sure which one, now I narrowed it down to the Faema Carisma (I'm really in love with it) and some Vibiemme (Domobar, Jr. or Super), I'm not sure I can understand if there are any differences between those (besides, for example, boiler capacity or similar). I found a review of the Super, some on the Faema, very few about the Domobar and the Domobar Junior.
Also, connected to this, but maybe not: how far can I got with the Mini with a machine like this? Or else: if not something excellent, would I be able to pull some good shots or the Mini just won't be enough?

Then: when people say they have a machine on a timer, is it something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Woods-50006-Indoor-24-Hour-Mechanical/dp/B006LYHED0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424812687&sr=8-1&keywords=timer+plug
I mean: the switch on the machine is on all the time (e.g., before going to bed at night) and the plug is off and then an hour or so before the alarm is set, the plug comes on? Is that how it works or I got it all wrong? Doesn't it hurt the machine to have the switch on all the time?

Thanks a lot for your patience.
And thanks again for everything.

EspressoForge

Postby EspressoForge » Feb 24, 2015, 5:47 pm

Hi There, you're right about the timer. You leave your machine switch on, plug into the timer, then program the timer to go on/off at your scheduled times. This works great if you have the same routine every morning. Some also allow you to over-ride the timer with a button so that you can switch off or on until the next scheduled event. I believe these are usually the digital ones, but they may have mechanical ones that do the same.

I see you're in Italy? Why not have a look at some local shops and ask around? I was under the impression that espresso machines grew on trees there...but I suppose it's possible I could be mistaken. :)

For E61 machines, there's a lot of them, so getting something locally that a shop there can support may be a good idea.

Also, in addition to planning your machine, don't forget about budgeting for your grinder. Getting a good grinder up front will save you a ton of hassle down the road.

Tia93

Postby Tia93 » Feb 25, 2015, 2:05 pm

EspressoForge wrote:Hi There, you're right about the timer. You leave your machine switch on, plug into the timer, then program the timer to go on/off at your scheduled times. This works great if you have the same routine every morning. Some also allow you to over-ride the timer with a button so that you can switch off or on until the next scheduled event. I believe these are usually the digital ones, but they may have mechanical ones that do the same.

Allright, thanks. I'm getting one of those, since they all do here (most do, let's say), I guess that doesn't hurt the machine.
I see you're in Italy? Why not have a look at some local shops and ask around? I was under the impression that espresso machines grew on trees there...but I suppose it's possible I could be mistaken. :)

For E61 machines, there's a lot of them, so getting something locally that a shop there can support may be a good idea.

Quite mistaken ;) You'd be actually surprised to see how many baristas (those that have their own coffee shop) here don't know nothing about coffee. It's miserable. I live in Milan and I'm pretty lucky since it seems that everyone that does espresso machines (VBM, Faema, Cimbali, Rocket, etc) is from here, so I'll be able to visit some factories, but, and this is something I envy to the rest of the world, there's no one that sells espresso machines, like a lot of them or so; there are just distributors for a certain producer. So they just tell you to sell their product and you don't really get to know where a machine is better or where it lacks. So I need HB to have an idea. Tomorrow I'm going to see a Faema Carisma, the guy that could sell it to me seemed to me pretty trustworthy, but you never know. I don't want to end up with something that in two years is trash (about this: the fact that chriscoffee sells the Carisma is good to me.
Also, in addition to planning your machine, don't forget about budgeting for your grinder. Getting a good grinder up front will save you a ton of hassle down the road.

Are you implying that the Mini is not good enough for an E61?
Thank you again. I hope my English is at least understandable.

EspressoForge

Postby EspressoForge » Feb 25, 2015, 2:12 pm

Bummer about Italy, but I see what you mean. Many machines are manufactured there, but you just have reps of each brand to sell that machine. At least the good news is that once you decide what you want, you should be able to get a good deal. It may be a bit difficult to find someone who's had so many different E61 machines to help you with a comparison, but I think most of the major brands make one that would be great. Friend of mine has a Vibiemme that he likes.

Tia93 wrote:Are you implying that the Mini is not good enough for an E61?


I guess you mean the Mazzer Mini? I didn't catch that in your previous posts. I don't have any direct experience with a Mini, but I have heard the new ones were improved slightly. If you already have it, I would definitely use it. But once you get your machine, if you can demo other grinders at a Mazzer rep lets say, I would try that out to see if you value any improvement that a Super Jolly, Major, Kony...etc can give.

Tia93

Postby Tia93 » Feb 25, 2015, 2:28 pm

EspressoForge wrote:Bummer about Italy, but I see what you mean. Many machines are manufactured there, but you just have reps of each brand to sell that machine. At least the good news is that once you decide what you want, you should be able to get a good deal. It may be a bit difficult to find someone who's had so many different E61 machines to help you with a comparison, but I think most of the major brands make one that would be great. Friend of mine has a Vibiemme that he likes.

Yeah, basically. I'm taking my grinder to the seller tomorrow: if he can pull a decent shot, I'll consider the Carisma bought (it has a big pro, that's being a Faema, so way more used value than all the other - at least here, not sure how that works abroad -; also the E61 is the original, although VBM states that they have it - not sure here, 'cause they say that someone who worked at Faema went to work with them, I guess that everyone could say so, so I don't know who to believe); but we'll see. VBMs are pretty good looking, but I can't really say where they're better than the Faema (if equals, I'd go with the Faema for the reason previously written); Rockets are awesome, but more expensive and, not sure what else. Would you suggest to me a DB for a home environment or is it just too much (or maybe it would be a future upgrade)?

I guess you mean the Mazzer Mini? I didn't catch that in your previous posts. I don't have any direct experience with a Mini, but I have heard the new ones were improved slightly. If you already have it, I would definitely use it. But once you get your machine, if you can demo other grinders at a Mazzer rep lets say, I would try that out to see if you value any improvement that a Super Jolly, Major, Kony...etc can give.

Yep, sorry, Mazzer Mini Manual (not Electric). So, you say that the Mini would be ok, but I could do better with a better one, am I right? For now, I just want to be able to pull decent shots and some cappuccinos, and if the Mini is ok for that, then it's definitely what I'll use. In the future I'd like to get a Pharos (we'll see the redesign) and a HG One (I'm definitely one for manual grinding), considering that it should compete with Kony/Robur models, so if the Mini is enough, I'll stick with it.
Thank you!

EspressoForge

Postby EspressoForge » Feb 25, 2015, 2:46 pm

Tia93 wrote:Yep, sorry, Mazzer Mini Manual (not Electric). So, you say that the Mini would be ok, but I could do better with a better one, am I right? For now, I just want to be able to pull decent shots and some cappuccinos, and if the Mini is ok for that, then it's definitely what I'll use. In the future I'd like to get a Pharos (we'll see the redesign) and a HG One (I'm definitely one for manual grinding), considering that it should compete with Kony/Robur models, so if the Mini is enough, I'll stick with it.
Thank you!


Since you have the Mini, I would definitely try it instead of upgrading right away. It should be adequate, but if it was me personally I would probably look to upgrade at some point in the future.

Tia93

Postby Tia93 » replying to EspressoForge » Feb 25, 2015, 4:29 pm

Allright!, thanks a lot for your help :)

pacificmanitou

Postby pacificmanitou » Feb 25, 2015, 11:01 pm

EspressoForge wrote:Since you have the Mini, I would definitely try it instead of upgrading right away. It should be adequate, but if it was me personally I would probably look to upgrade at some point in the future.

You could do the SJ carrier mod pretty cheaply and get much more grinder for a little expense.
LMWDP #366