Newbie with $1,000 budget for espresso machine and grinder for lattes

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

#1: Post by Alice_fell »

Hey there!

This forum is amazing. I've learned so much in the last week that my brain hurts.

Because I've spent a fortune at my local cafés (Joe Coffee, Stumptown) and I like not having to go outside for my morning coffee, I'm ready to take the plunge to Espresso Wonderland. I dipped my toe into DeLongi's ECP3630 and a porlex mini ii (Clive suggested the porlex). The machine is going back because it stinks. It was refurbished. The grinder is going back because using it bothers an old injury. But in my newbie mind, I thought it did an okay job.

I'm a latte drinker. Steaming and frothing easily is important. It's just me. Also, if it matters, I drink decaf (I miss trying out different beans, but body can't tolerate caffeine).

Very little space in my studio's "kitchen," so small footprint needed. Open to used, but nervous about it.

Here's what I'm thinking regarding the espresso machine. I was thinking I should chose the grinder once I've settled on the machine?

Advice welcome and very much appreciated!

1. I found a Rancilo Silvia with PID used on FB for $500 (can probably negotiate for less). Haven't seen it yet.

2. Lelit Anna

3. Solis Barista Perfetta

4. Ascaso Dream Espresso Machine

Many thanks in advance!

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#2: Post by baristainzmking »

Welcome to HB!

$1,000 budget for both grinder and the machine. I would start with the grinder first, as that (if you haven't heard) is the more important part of the purchase. I would look at Baratza settle 270 or Eureka Mignon Facile Espresso Grinder.

For the espresso machine, I would skip Lelit Anna, as it had a non-standard 57 mm portafilter , instead of the industry standard 58mm. Skip the used Silvia for $500 and consider Gaggia Classic Pro which sells for $449 for stainless steel and colors are $499. You can find them all at Whole Latte Love and they do package deals on the machine and grinder.

There is also a Breville Bambino that can be packaged with the Breville grinder or any of the above mentioned ones. Bambino is currently on sale so may look at that one, as you mentioned that you are tight on space.

Happy shopping and welcome to the rabbit hole

Alice_fell (original poster)

#3: Post by Alice_fell (original poster) »

Thank you!

I'll check out the Gaggia. Any thoughts on the Solis?

To complicate matters, I'm going to check out a used Rancilio Silvia and Rocky grinder (both purchased in 2012) that I found on CL for $400. Which seems too good to be true. Apart from some ugly cosmetic damage, he says the Rancilio works perfectly. Grinder, too.

Thank you!

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#4: Post by GregoryJ »

Just a word of caution, while you may start down this path to save money, it often doesn't work that way :)

A lot of people get hooked (especially the ones on HB) and end up buying nicer equipment fairly quickly. If you're really looking to save money, I'd suggest a moka pot and a milk frother. You'll still need a good grinder, something like the Sette 30 or Virtuoso would get the job done nicely.

If you're very interested in starting the hobby of being a home barista, then you can definitely get a good setup for $1k. The Silvia is pretty well regarded for durability, it doesn't come equipped with precise temperature control. (This is often referred to as a PID, which is the logic controller that maintains the temperature setpoint). If you're OK maxing out the budget, I'd go for the Lelit Anna and Sette 270. If you want to save some money with that used Rancilio Silvia, I'd take only the Silvia and get a Sette 270 grinder. Breville Bambino also looks compelling, and the "plus" model is supposed to automate the milk frothing.

Whichever machine you get, make sure to use good filtered water (usually Brita pitcher is not good enough). This will ensure you don't build limescale, which is one of the most common things that can go wrong in an espresso machine.


#5: Post by SandraF »

Years ago that combination of espresso machine & grinder was supposed to have been a good combination. If you search this site you'll find posts about people seeming to have "challenges" with this combination. More modern machines & grinders seem to have improved over the years.

I would recommend what was recommended first.

Alice_fell (original poster)

#6: Post by Alice_fell (original poster) »

Thank you!

I have tried the moka in the past and didn't care for it. But it's definitely something to look into again, especially with a good grinder. I've also tried pour overs, French presses, nespresso and keep running back to my café. When I drank caffeine, I loved my Technivorm Moccamaster. But decaf is not as good in drip form and ... lattes!

Do you think the Rocky grinder is too old to buy used? Curious why you suggest passing on it.

I was just getting sold on the new Gagia, but I really like the Anna/Sette 270 suggestion. Oy. Decisions!

Thank you!

Alice_fell (original poster)

#7: Post by Alice_fell (original poster) »

Thank you, SandraF!

I am so happy to have found this site. The Gagia looks great. I'm glad it's been around forever, that says a lot. Love having the upgrades steam wand.
Now to check out the Sette 270! And water...

Thank you!

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#8: Post by Jeff »

The Porlex is unsuitable for espresso. I traveled with one for years for pour-over, for which it worked well, but it isn't either consistent enough or adjustable enough for espresso.

I've used several Rocky grinders over the years and, while they were OK in their day, their lack of adjustability can be a challenge. I think there are better options out there today. I haven't used the Baratza Sette 270, but there are reports from very experienced users that they are a solid grinder at their price point. Baratza often has refurb units available that, in my experience, are top notch.

Below US$1,000, there are always some significant tradeoffs in machines. It comes down to which ones you can live with the longest until you either accept that the espresso is usually good enough (shot-to-shot variability is a challenge in that price class), or that you want to pursue espresso as a hobby and trade up. In general, machines that come with a pressurized basket are lower-end and may not be suitable for conventional espresso. These models with pressurized baskets have a pressure gauge since you need one to have a clue of what's happening in the basket, not because it is a "feature" that indicates higher performance. Any machine that advertises "15 bar" in big, bold letters is probably one to avoid, as most espresso extraction is done somewhere in the 6-9 bar range. (The pumps on most machines under $2,500 or so are all around 15-bar peak, but better machines control that to the desirable extraction-pressure range.)


#9: Post by luvmy40 »

There is a Breville BDB in the Buy/Sell/Trade forum for $750 [FS] Breville Dual Boiler

That and a high quality hand grinder will be a fantastic $1000.00 espresso rig. If you could come up a couple hundred, you could probably find a lightly used Eureka or the G-Iota 64mm flat grinder.


#10: Post by luvmy40 »

[FS] OE Pharos 1.1 upgraded to 2.0

Also in the Buy/Sell/Trade.

I've never used the Pharos but it is highly regarded from what I hear.