Newbie "buy once, cry once" espresso setup, budget $2500 - Page 3

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

#21: Post by Jeff »

While "evenness" is important everywhere, there seems to be a forming consensus that with the "burrs of the month", those seemingly with the narrowest grind distributions, significantly higher flow rates are providing more pleasing espresso than the more conventional cuts and conicals.

Edit: As that can be taken two ways, the intent is that faster flow rates are required for the newer burrs to get the best in-cup quality with those burrs as compared to the point of best quality from other burr cuts. Preference between burr cuts is just that, preference.

That becomes a triple whammy for a newcomer. Fast shots are just "weird" if everything out there says 25 seconds, they're more sensitive to grind, and your prep has to be spot on.

You sort of need a magic decoder ring to say which burr set is which cut. Even within SSP, a 64 HU and a 98 HU are different things, as are the original and current cut on the Lagom 64 burrs. (As I recall, they were recut due to complaints that they were too hard to dial in and people couldn't choke their machine.)

PIXIllate
Supporter ♡

#22: Post by PIXIllate »

Jeff wrote:While "evenness" is important everywhere, there seems to be a forming consensus that with the "burrs of the month", those seemingly with the narrowest grind distributions, significantly higher flow rates are providing more pleasing espresso than the more conventional cuts and conicals.
Jeff - I ended up getting a Monolith Flat with the new 75mm Shuriken Sweet burrs. Due to the curved nature of the grind path these are suppose to behave like burrs around 80-85mm. There's precious little hard data about the grind size distribution as Denis is of the opinion that there are very few ways of REALLY measuring it accurately so he does not talk in those terms. Personally I wish he would engage with this a bit more but.......

All I can tell you from first hand experience is that grinding a standard 18g dose at 600RPM (which is on the high side for this grinder) takes pretty much 60 seconds once everything has stopped grinding and there is nothing but motor noise. So far I'm having no issues adjusting to the puck prep required and I'm back to getting shot after shot of bottomless pours that fill in quite evenly and they all pretty much develop into that nipple shaped, spritz-free extraction cone while running all the way to the end of my 30-40 second 8.5 bar E61 shots. These are all with medium-light roasted coffees. I know you are more into the ultralights and I don't have any experience with those on this grinder as of yet.

All in all I'm very happy with the usability, repeatability and shot quality. I can switch between two coffees that I've previously dialed in and get VERY close without wasting any shots. I'm going to hold out for a longer period of drinking the shots before I try to summarize the difference it made but my initial impression is that I'm somehow getting more clearly defined flavours while at the same time a more homogeneous taste profile. I'm aware this sounds at odds with itself.

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PeetsFan
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#23: Post by PeetsFan »

ijustwantespresso wrote:Based on what I've read so far, I think the robot is the best fit for me, even over the new flair. I don't mind spending a bit more time per shot (including boiling water in a separate kettle) and the manual design seems like it would have very little room for failure. I thought the sette was more of a reach grinder than a compromise... looks like I have to restart my grinder search.
I have a different set of opinions.
First, are you sure you want to deal with all that... stuff which you need to put up with to get a cup of espresso out of the Robot? To me, it looks like a huge pain compared to a dual boiler or HX with PID. And there's no milk steaming. If you just want an E61 without milk steaming (IOW, a basic single boiler machine), they cost a lot less.

Second... think about what these guys told you about the Sette grinder: Over the past several years, some have broken. But Baratza will sell you parts. They got bought by Breville. And you can get these parts and fix the thing. The alternative is Niche? Nothing wrong with Niche, but it hasn't been around years, so nobody knows how reliable it is. And they are having manufacturing and inventory issues, so what happens if you need parts?

All I'm saying is that it's nonsense to conclude that a machine with unproven reliability is more reliable than a machine that's been on the market. It might be more reliable, but we don't know.

I have an E61 dual-boiler. I used to have a Pavoni Europiccola lever machine. Would I use it today instead of my E61? Hell no! Sure, it's a retro hipster gadget that was in a James Bond movie. But the real problem is you have one sealed boiler. You wake up, fill it, turn it on and wait 5-10 minutes. Then you bleed off some steam and let it heat some more. Now it's ready. You pour 2 or 3 shots. There's no solenoid, so after each shot, you either wait or you very carefully tug on the portafilter to release pressure before you remove it. If you forget, or if you didn't release enough pressure, it will blast steaming hot grounds all over. And it's a huge mess.

THEN, if you have company and need to make more, you have to switch the machine off, wait for it to cool, bleeding steam to speed up the cool off. Then you carefully open the boiler, hoping you don't burn yourself. You refill the boiler, close it up, turn the thing on again and wait for it to heat up, purge, re-heat.

To me, it's like guys who walk about with an old film SLR because it's retro hipster. The newer technology is way better. I had company over and banged out six cappuccinos in a row with my E61. It was easy... grind/dose/tamp/pull shot/steam milk (in ten seconds!) and serve.

What do I suggest?
I have the Sette 270 without the W feature. I would LOVE to have the W feature. 16 grams.... BAM! Nobody else can do that. Sette 270W would be fantastic. Or a Niche, although they cost more and lack the weighing feature of the Sette.

For a machine, personally I LOVE the Italian E61 machines. For your budget, look for an HX (heat exchange) model with a PID. For your wishes, look at dual-boiler, rotary pump, plumbable machines. The honest truth is you can get a great cup out of a Rocket, ECM, Crem, Bezzera, Lelit, or Profitec. They all make excellent HX and DB machines. Or, if milk steaming doesn't matter to you, get a single boiler PID machine. Such machines have to switch temperature between brewing and steaming, but if you only brew, it doesn't matter.

Jeff
Team HB

#24: Post by Jeff »

I've lost track of the number of times I've said it, with only one notable exception, a PID is little more than a marketing gimmick on an HX machine. You still need to manage the brew temperature through a flush routine. Been there, done that, when there weren't viable alternatives at the price point of an E61 HX. Now there are.

Unless you're a lover of vintage machines, it's hard for me to consider an HX machine a "buy once" choice.

The MaraX is that exception, which seems reasonable if you really insist on the appearance of an E61 group without getting into the price range of the Bianca or its peers.

LObin

#25: Post by LObin »

PeetsFan wrote:
What do I suggest?
I have the Sette 270 without the W feature. I would LOVE to have the W feature. 16 grams.... BAM! Nobody else can do that. Sette 270W would be fantastic. Or a Niche, although they cost more and lack the weighing feature of the Sette.
Niche Zero has the most reliable weighing feature out there. You put 16 grams in and you get 16 grams out. Boom. Every single time! :lol:

Btw, the Niche Zero's been out since at least august 2017. I think it's safe to say it's a reliable product.

My previous comments on the Sette were maybe a bit harsh considering the most recent improvements to the model and the often praised Baratza (Breville now) customer service and parts availabilities.

Cheers!
LMWDP #592

Coffcarl

#26: Post by Coffcarl »

The thing is, you have a profitec 600 and a monolith flat. The OP is talking a budget of $2500. Over 10 years of espresso machines I have spent a total of about $2000 to get somewhere satisfying, and it would be ni e to give the OP the benefit of our experience and get them quickly to a place where they understand what the potential is. The robot and a sette will get them there.

The Europiccola or the robot or the flair will help the OP figure out what they really like for the long run. I have had semiautos but am truly excited to play around with the LPE. I also know that I appreciate having both.

I do agree that the sette is probably fine and that the niche would just be a lateral move. I don't think the niche will experience any reliability issues. No gearbox, high quality burrs, what could go wrong?

As far as I know a pid does not belong on an e61, except perhaps as an easy way to adjust final temp instead of removing the cover to access the pstat.

I too like the Italian e61s. Not the same as a sbdu however.

If you are relatively careful, the portafilter does not explode on you on a LPE. However, I don't think the LPE is in the picture for the OP anyway. It is not just a nostalgia thing. The e61 tech is almost as old as the lever tech. The basic principles of espresso extraction have not and do not change. I'm sure the OP will end up with some kind of semi auto, but in the meantime, the robot is a great choice, designed by someone who has a deep understanding of the process.

As far as semiautos are concerned, I wouldn't know how to even begin to recommend them. They all have different pre infusion models, restrictors, heated and non heated grouphead, etc. Etc. You could say, buy the one I have (profitec 600), or I could say buy the one I have (grimac mini), and then there is the Bianca, yadayadayada. Is that helpful?

PIXIllate
Supporter ♡

#27: Post by PIXIllate »

Coffcarl wrote:The thing is, you have a profitec 600 and a monolith flat. The OP is talking a budget of $2500. Over 10 years of espresso machines I have spent a total of about $2000 to get somewhere satisfying, and it would be ni e to give the OP the benefit of our experience and get them quickly to a place where they understand what the potential is.

You could say, buy the one I have (profitec 600), or I could say buy the one I have (grimac mini), and then there is the Bianca, yadayadayada. Is that helpful?
I don't believe you're accurately portraying the comment/advice I offered. The OP was looking for a "buy once" setup.

I in no way suggested that the OP should buy any of the equipment I own. What I did say is that depending on the type of person you are and the level of taster you are it may be unrealistic to enter this endeavor with the idea that you can spend $2000 and not feel the urge to upgrade. While that may well be true for some people (even most people) I was simply offering MY personal experience as someone who, 2 years ago, thought buying a Gaggia and a Vario would get me to that place. It didn't. I'm not even sure I'm there now.

Espresso is an expensive hobby any way you slice it. The cost of a fantastic grinder, top of the line kettle and a V60 pale in comparison to even an entry level serious espresso setup. It's not good or bad, just something to be aware of.

Again, I was just trying to offer my experience as someone who likes to "buy once, cry once". Which usually turns out to buy 2-3 times and then live with the limitations you now understand.

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Jeff
Team HB

#28: Post by Jeff »

Chris' points are spot on.

Purchases over the decades that weren't long-lived:
  • Saeco Rio Vapore with probably a Braun or Krups burr grinder of the day
  • Rancilio Miss Audrey
  • Two Rocky and two Silvias (with reason for the second set being a second location many years ago)
  • Mazzer Mini
  • Vario (original)
  • Pharos (original)
Some were because my desires for quality and available budget changed, my arm didn't get along with the Pharos, and others because the better alternatives weren't yet on the market.

Purchases that were long-lived, but only because there wasn't anything providing a significant step up in usability and performance at a reasonable price until recently
  • HX machine (Anita)
Long-lived purchases
  • JScale 600 x 0.1 g scale
  • Compak K10 WBC

PeetsFan
Supporter ♡

#29: Post by PeetsFan »

LObin wrote:Niche Zero has the most reliable weighing feature out there. You put 16 grams in and you get 16 grams out. Boom. Every single time! :lol:

Btw, the Niche Zero's been out since at least august 2017. I think it's safe to say it's a reliable product.

My previous comments on the Sette were maybe a bit harsh considering the most recent improvements to the model and the often praised Baratza (Breville now) customer service and parts availabilities.

Cheers!
Lots of people love the Niche, but you still have to weigh your dose. I have no reason to say it's bad at all. With the Sette 270W, you don't, and that's very cool. I don't think there's any other grinder that does that.The 270 without the W is like the Niche, a good single-dose grinder, although Niche costs almost double and I assume it's better in some ways.

My 270 sometimes holds 0.2g, although +/-0.1g on a scale is within its margin of error. I weigh after grinding and if it's light I run it a second to get out another 0.1 ~ 0.2g. Not 100% perfect but not a problem. I'll probably keep it another four years-ish and then upgrade. Unless I'm convinced that a better grinder will make my espresso taste better.

Bottom Line: With a total budget of $2,500, the Sette 270, at $400 USD, is probably a better choice than a Niche at $700 USD, particularly if paired with a solid E61 Heat Exchange machine. Example: Crem One HX PID. A dual boiler, HX with PID. $1,700. Or Profitec 500 PID, HX with PID, about $1,800. There are a lot of machines in this range.

Bluenoser
Supporter ♡

#30: Post by Bluenoser »

In espresso, there is no "Buy once" scenario.. and unfortunately we learn most from things that don't work rather than when everything is easy.. My experience over the last 3 years is exactly opposite of the previous poster..

As a 'newbie', I went with the Sette 270 and a Profitec HX PID design, based on lots of research on HB and manufacturers promo videos. The Sette lasted only 2 years, and my HX design did not perform up to the standard it was portrayed on vendor's videos.

If you look at the multitude of posts dealing with the construction of the Sette and the Niche, you can predict longevity based on quality of parts and design. The Sette is quite loud due to the strain on its plastic gear train. This is its weak point. But it has an excellent grind quality for its price. The Niche has more robust construction and is certainly the machine I'd recommend. Both are conical burrs, and that is the easiest to start on. Even cheaper is a manual grinder like the Kinu Phoenix.. More work, but as good a grind quality as most sub-$1k electric grinders.

The maintenance on an electric 9-bar espresso machine is quite extensive. Chemical cleaning, boiler flushing, parts replacement (you can't send these beasts in if you need to ship them because it is prohibitive expensive.. if you have a local repair shop that is great..) In 3 years, I've managed to have some extensive scale buildup (even though I though I was using very good water chemistry), an SSR failure, and a pressure gauge failure due to the scale buildup. All E61 designs require about a 30 minute warm up (so you can't make espresso if a friend drops in quickly).. and my HX design is pretty slow to recover between shots.

However, the electrics have one large bonus.. they steam milk quickly and rather well.

Since I've had a manual espresso machine (the Robot), I've been able to experiment more with extraction pressure and my shots are easily as good as on my expensive HX machine. Some might consider the Robot a bit 'fiddly', but it is light-years easier to use, overall, than an electric 9-bar machine when you factor in the repairs and maintenance.

In a manual, you have a stainless steel construction that will last forever.. No worries about water chemistry.. little cleaning. You'll need to replace a gasket occasionally.

I almost exclusively drink milk-based drinks, but I likely won't buy another traditional 9-bar machine. For their price, IMO, it just does not provide value over a manual. I've used a Bellman steamer and I've microwaved and used a NanoFoamer.. and both are acceptable.

I spent my money on a great grinder (Kafatek) which will last forever.. but I have a friend that has had a Kinu grinder and a Flair Pro V2 and he has created superb espresso over his year of ownership.. There is no more work to a manual, it is just a different kind of work.