Option Paralysis: First espresso machine, budget $2-5k, what's most important? - Page 2

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

#11: Post by Scheissami (original poster) »

Thanks for all of the thoughtful replies so far.

I have a Niche Zero currently, which is what I intend to pair with the machine for the foreseeable future. The single-dosing workflow works great for me now (with pour over), as between us my wife and I change coffee several times per week (if not day). Definitely will consider an upgrade down the road, but for now I plan to stick with the conical burrs of the NZ; likely flat burr unimodal in the future to focus more on pour over.

I have visited Clive, the staff there were very helpful. With the pandemic, I could only spend 30 minutes there going over the machines and discussing my options with the salesperson. Taking the recommendation of the more expensive machine with a grain of salt, he steered me towards the LM over the Bianca for some of the reasons I mentioned above (simplicity, durability/longevity, build quality, repeatability). To be fair, he also recommended against the more expensive LM GS3, suggesting that the added cost/benefit ratio was low.

Supporter ♡

#12: Post by trimona »

If you choose the LM GS3,keep in mind that is very "grinder " sensitive. You have to match it with really high end grinder, like Monolith,Versalab. You can check James Hoffmann comparison of single dose grinders.

User avatar
Scheissami (original poster)

#13: Post by Scheissami (original poster) »

Stavey wrote:Pretty simple , I'll make it easy for you.
Fact is under 5k you simply can't beat a Decent DE1.
I now have a DE1XL in my shopping cart, may pull the trigger tomorrow :P

User avatar
Randy G.

#14: Post by Randy G. »

Scheissami wrote: Decent DE1XL: options galore for flow/pressure profiling, preinfusion, everything. Small footprint. Lots of capability for the cost. Lots of data to analyze, theoretically allowing me to learn faster from my mistakes and to repeat my successes. I worry, though, that this would simply end up with my constantly fiddling with parameters instead of focusing on technique, preparation, and *the coffee*. Also, not keen on the aesthetic/UI, don't want to program my coffee, I think I would enjoy the more traditional/analogue vibe of the other machines.
Risking sounding like a fanboy, I would say that it has unmatched capability at any cost as it is, to my knowledge, the most advanced machine in that regard. But beyond that...

I am a relatively new user of the DE1XL and have been experimenting with my home roast. I am finding that its main attribute is delivering the same flow rate and temperature and such parameters through a range of grind settings so that subtle differences in grind, temperature, etc. can be easily tasted in the cup. For example: a recent roast did not develop very well (or at least, not as well as other roasts and blends I have done). over a few days I went through a range of about 10 'ticks' on my Kafetek MC3 grinder while not making changes to the brew program. I took a small taste of the espresso before making our morning capps each time. I hit it really well one morning, and my wife (who has two descriptions for her coffee- "bitter" and "Yummm") could taste the difference in her cappuccino the morning I hit the target. So having that level of control in the machine can supply a situation where honing your skills as a barista more productive.

My point is that the machine can be set to brew from a range of brew parameters unmatched in the industry and repeat them with an accuracy which was impossible just a very few years ago.

I am not trying to talk you into that machine, but if parameter control is something you can appreciate and would feel comfortable using, it is a machine that should be seriously considered. BTW- Before the Campfire in California at the end or 2018, my wife and I had some half dozen bicycles including a Landshark Tandem I designed with John Slawta, my 40 year old Trek 770/Campy road bike, our Fat Chance mountain bikes which we bought the year before index shifting, two 1971 Schwinn Super Sports, and a '79 Schwinn cruiser. I built nearly all my own wheels and had a well-equipped set of shop tools. So, ya, I am into that sort of control level thing. Someday we can talk about my Saras Tower speakers I lost. :cry:
* 22nd Anniversary 2000-2022 *


#15: Post by kinum47 »

Espresso is just pushing hot water through coffee. Most machines do it worse than manual levers. Get a Flair 58, couple of full sets of VST baskets, and a pair of naked portafilters. There is nothing like getting your hands on it, the tactile feedback, responsive to resistance, flow rates, channeling remediation. Then put all the money into the best grinder, KafaTek Monolith Flat MAX.
Oh, and a 100ml volumetric cylinder, and use density.coffee


#16: Post by boshk »

If you got $5k to spend just on machine, how much do you have for the grinder?

Are you being honest with yourself, Niche is a great grinder for the majority of people, myself included BUT if you spent $5k on a machine, I'm willing to bet your next thought is going to be ....'hmm...maybe I need a even better grinder'

Your budget range is huge.....2k to 5k is a massive difference....


#17: Post by boshk »

kinum47 wrote:Espresso is just pushing hot water through coffee. Most machines do it worse than manual levers. Get a Flair 58, couple of full sets of VST baskets, and a pair of naked portafilters. There is nothing like getting your hands on it, the tactile feedback, responsive to resistance, flow rates, channeling remediation. Then put all the money into the best grinder, KafaTek Monolith Flat MAX.
Oh, and a 100ml volumetric cylinder, and use density.coffee
4-8 shots a day, with additional milk drinks. That's roughly 240 perfect pulls a month, it would get old very quickly with Flair 58.
What he should do is set aside a budget for an additional machine....Flair 58 with all the stuff you mentioned above....so he can play with shot pulling on the weekend or evening.

User avatar

#18: Post by MNate »

If you don't mind the looks and tablet approach of the DE1, it really ends the confusion of which options are most important as it can do anything. I've loved playing with my shots and have learned a lot along the way.

If you like the look or appeal of another machine though, espresso is part show piece, so there is nothing wrong, in my mind, of getting something you'll love on the counter. It will make great espresso if you learn well.

My order of importance in a machine is:
-double boiler (more for workflow than anything)
-temp control that's easy and accurate
-preinfusion ability
-flow control
*and actually a lever can do all that!

Maintenance and general home considerations are significant too, don't forget. A unit built for the home makes much of that so much better!

And yes, a really good grinder makes everything so so much better! Taste, workflow... move your grind just a tiny bit and have it right where you want it is so so helpful. So I'd spend more on a grinder, if money is ok. The Niche is capable though, but if you're talking better machine, a better grinder may make more day to day difference.

Enjoy the journey! Get what you like without worrying about "best." There is a lot of great equipment these days all within a hair of each other to the extent that it doesn't matter compared to your enjoyment of it.

User avatar
Scheissami (original poster)

#19: Post by Scheissami (original poster) »

I think at this point I've settled on the DE1XL. I like the smaller foot print and increased variables. I can keep the workflow simple (-ish) to start, then get more complicated as my skills/knowledge grow. Even with all of the necessary accessories (tamper, milk jugs, etc) it's still >$1k cheaper than the LMLM.

I may indeed look at other grinders down the road, though I'm looking forward to exploring what I can get out of the Niche. I think I would look at a high uniformity or unimodal flat burr set to improve my pour over coffee, but I suppose that would also be fun to experiment for espresso.


#20: Post by Espressoman007 »

I would do the same if I was searching again for my first next level upgrade. My first upgrade was a grinder that majority recommended, and soon after buying it I wasn't satisfied, because I missed playing with the machine "properly". Almost instantly I've regretted that upgrade (because I also had a decent grinder) and I was again looking for a more suitable machine for me. I think that in my view you did great. You have a decent grinder and you will certainly have lots of fun playing with the machine. I just don't get the idea of saving money on one thing to buy something else, when you'll spend that amount of money anyway? When you have 5k to spend on one espresso machine as a hobby, I doubt your life depends on that money. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, always saving?
And I'd like to add that guy who makes Decent machines is making great videos on YouTube. I am surprised how his videos are being avoided and not mentioned by majority of the "coffee community", almost like he doesn't exist unlike that other dude, who is mentioned all the time like there is no one else there to be watched.
Hm, even though Decent machines are not my cup of tea, not completely, I wish you a great time with it and lots of fun!
And to all...go subscribe to the channel, Decent's dude videos, all of you, right away! :)