Newbie considering used Astoria Argenta espresso machine

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
75coupered
Posts: 10
Joined: 10 years ago

#1: Post by 75coupered »

Hi all. Been doing a lot of reading here and at other sites for a while, and been drinking espresso (al-be-it bad espresso) for a long time. I'm ready to step up to a nice home machine and was initially focused on acquiring a Silvia for home use, but now have come across a good opportunity to buy a Astoria Argenta Heat Exchanger unit on the second hand market and wanted to get some insights from you as to whether this would be a good route to follow.

What I understand is the machine is in fine working order, owned by an espresso aficionado who had it for home use and is stepping up to an even better machine. I also understand this to be a single head compact model but from what I'm reading a bit of a step-up from the Silvia in that it is a commercial quality machine build for small scale or home/office use. Outside of reviewing some of their new line of equipment, I'm not finding much info on this brand and or model.

Questions:
Is this truly a high-quality machine capable of pulling great shots for the next 20+ years?
Is this a commercial quality machine with plenty of parts availability to keep it running for the next 20 years?
Lastly is there anything in particular that one should know in terms of usage in how this maker may differ in operation from say a Silvia?

TIA

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drgary
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#2: Post by drgary »

75coupered wrote:Outside of reviewing some of their new line of equipment, I'm not finding much info on this brand and or model.

Questions:
Is this truly a high-quality machine capable of pulling great shots for the next 20+ years?
Is this a commercial quality machine with plenty of parts availability to keep it running for the next 20 years?
Lastly is there anything in particular that one should know in terms of usage in how this maker may differ in operation from say a Silvia?
Bill:

Have you tried the Search function on this site for Astoria Argenta and Rancilio Silvia? If you do you'll find comments about the quality of both machines and maintenance issues too. Search is in the top menu bar.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

75coupered (original poster)
Posts: 10
Joined: 10 years ago

#3: Post by 75coupered (original poster) »

Gary,
Thanks. So far seems like part support is decent, 10 pages of rebuild information came up, so people are investing the time into repairing the Astorias to keep them going. Other than being crazy, I assume people are doing this because they deem the investment into the Astoria's is worthwhile.

Initially I wanted to step into a quality machine like the Silvia, but as with everything it has its limitations, and many move up from that to either HX or double boiler machines. My thought was to skip this intermediate step and just get into an HX or double boiler space, although from a current perspective the HX is where I'm leaning towards.

Astoria was one of those brands that I have known about in the commercial space, but was not as familiar with the quality of their single group or compact machines and whether or not their commercial build standards carried over to the smaller machines.

Olympia is another maker that I'm interested in, and generally would consider these machines along with the Astorias as attainable on the second-hand market in working order for around the price or slightly lower than a New Silvia.

Are these assumptions reasonable/ Is the logic sound, or are there hidden "gotchas" that other have experienced and can share?
TIA

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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 17 years ago

#4: Post by boar_d_laze »

Argenta:
The Argenta is a true-commercial, single group, HX. As far as I know there are no reservoir models -- and that means that you'll have to plumb-in. Also, as far as I know, the Argenta's group does NOT pre-infuse. The lack of pre-infusion combined with a rotary pump, will put an extra premium on your barista skills. However, with good beans, good skills, and a good grinder there's no reason an Argenta can't make consistently exceptional coffee.

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
You're going to need -- at minimum -- an espresso capable grinder. If you buy an espresso machine with Argenta level capabilities you'll need something better than merely adequate to partner with it, or you'll end up wasting a big part of those capabilities.

Silvia:
If the Argenta falls through, do yourself a HUGE favor and forget about the Silvia. It's overpriced for what it is, and obsolete.

Because I know you're going to ask:
The best deal in espresso for $1000 has got to be the CC1 + Vario combination.

Rich
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

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drgary
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#5: Post by drgary »

Bill,

That all looks right. Silvia these days is considered a past entry level standard. If you search the Buying Advice thread on Silvia you'll see lots of comments about that. A good place to start is the Buying Advice FAQ area for your budget.

I have the Olympia Express Coffex aka Maximatic that I purchased used and refurbished. I'm very happy with it and expect it to retain its value. The footprint is much smaller than others you mentioned, and I consider this a plus. Some of the Pasquini Livietta versions of that machine with a 54mm group instead of a 49mm group may leave you unable to find an extra portafilter if you want to have one of those bottomless. There is one of those machines offering last I looked in the Buy/Sell forum.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

75coupered (original poster)
Posts: 10
Joined: 10 years ago

#6: Post by 75coupered (original poster) »

Rich, Gary,
Thanks for the info, good insights. I have to see the Argenta to see if it is plumbed, from the pictures I have seen of it so far it seems to have a reservoir in it, some of the literature indicates possibly a few litres. Will have to take off the cover to know for sure but the pictures did not show anything coming out of the case other than the power plug.

I understand that the Silvia is yesterday's baby, good way back when, and other makers have now caught up and surpassed at the same price point. The CC1 seems like a very nice machine, but I'm not finding much usage information regarding long-term reliability on these units, although a lot of current owners seem happy with them. Any experience with these over the long-haul?

The Olympia Maximatic is surely another contender to consider. Although my wallet is not like a bottomless group head, I am indeed interested in purchasing a life-long machine, something that has the build quality of a tank and respectable reliability with at least good parts support behind it for the next 20+ years. I would imagine that my next foray into the espresso world after a good semi-automatic will be to get a good manual lever machine when my barista skills have been honed to that point. Build quality, reliability and of course great pulls are what I'm looking for. IS that too much to ask? :roll:

I'll look at the buying advice section further to get some additional ideas. Question to those who've been around for a while. Like the Silvia was at a time before, is there a brand/model around today that has been touted as the hallmark standard today? The one by which other are compared to? Granted the Silvia is an old design and not held in super high regard today, but it seems that since the late 80's early 90's this was one of the models most often compared against, and still gets decent reviews today. So what is the new benchmark?

JimH
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Joined: 13 years ago

#7: Post by JimH »

It would further the discussion if you asked the seller for the model number. You described it as a compact, which would make it a CK, CKX or CKXE. The information Rich gave was for the SAE and AEP, which were true commercial machines. The compacts were also marketed as the Wega Mininova and Lyra, which have a lot more hits when you do a search.

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drgary
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#8: Post by drgary »

75coupered wrote:So what is the new benchmark?
It depends on your budget. Dan (HB) has also reviewed machines for Wired magazine and he likes the Bezzera BZ07. Check out this link, which may also help.

Best of Buying Advice Forum
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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boar_d_laze
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#9: Post by boar_d_laze »

BDB. Great performer; un-great build quality; feature loaded; extremely friendly; great performer; huge value; great performer. Did I mention that it's a great performer?

Any one of about a zillion $1500, E-61 HXs.

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER

The best way to maximize your bang for the buck with a new setup is to start with the grinder.

Rich
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

IMAWriter
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Joined: 19 years ago

#10: Post by IMAWriter »

boar_d_laze wrote:
GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER

The best way to maximize your bang for the buck with a new setup is to start with the grinder.

Rich
A HUGE + 1.
Did I say a HUGE + 1?
Bill, I would seriously allow at least $300+ for your grinder. A Baratza Vario would be a good choice, and occasionally a used Mazzer SJ can be found. The latter is a battleship, not nearly as home friendly as is the Vario. A refurb, with full warranty can save you more than a few bucks.
As to the machine, I believe skipping the "Silvia step" and moving to a HX type is a good mover So many excellent machines have been mentioned. I'd add the NS Oscar to that grouping. The insides are heavy duty. It's not going to win a beauty contest, but those who own one seem really pleased with the results in the cup.

Remember to allow at least $100 extra for a couple of steaming pitchers, a knock box, a Stainless steel tamper, and some cleaning supplies. Better make that $125. if you purchase new, haggle with your vendor to throw in a better than good tamper and maybe the cleaning supplies.