Reality check before I upgrade espresso machine

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
daedalus2
Posts: 8
Joined: 1 year ago

#1: Post by daedalus2 »

So, I've had a GCP (with the 9 bar OPV mod) paired with Niche Zero grinder for a couple years now, and I want to upgrade. Before I start down this path, at the end of which a Linea Micra is glittering temptingly, I want to talk about my experiences so far and diagnose how likely it is that my machine is the gating factor in getting the results I want.

We drink mostly oat milk cappuccinos here, with the odd espresso shot now and then. My ideal outcome is to consistently get the kind of cappuccinos I get at a good third wave local place - that sweet, smooth and balanced profile where the character of the coffee still comes through strongly and meshes perfectly with a great foam.

The top 10% of the drinks I pull with the GCP come fairly close to this, but I have to do a lot of temperature surfing and it's still inconsistent and I particularly have a lot of trouble with the steam wand (the valve is dying there as well, which is another story). When I am pulling pure espresso, more often than not the shot is a little on the sour side, without the sweetness that a lot of folks talk about from a truly great shot. I think my puck prep and general technique is reasonably good, all things considered.

So, I guess what I'm asking is - is the machine a primary barrier to consistently achieving the kind of consistent results I want, or am I likely to end up in the same place even if I radically upgrade to something like the Micra?

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jrcdzn
Posts: 23
Joined: 4 years ago

#2: Post by jrcdzn »

I am by no means an authority here.

Over 10 yrs, I went from a machine(E61, no PID) where I had to surf quite a bit. To a PID-controlled machine and, ultimately, the LMLM. There is a lot of distance between the GCP and the Micra. I would say there is a benefit to an upgrade in the machine, and you could settle on something that is still quite an upgrade before laying out for the Micra. Don't get me wrong, I fully support going to your end-game machine.

One counterintuitive thing in my experience is the 'more' machine you have, the more diligent you have to be about the prep and all the steps before you execute the pour. The machine will expose any weak point before the shot.

In the end, with a great deal of trial and error, you will get closer to the product you get at a quality coffee house, but it won't be automatic because of the upgrade in the machine. There is still a lot of work to be done.

Upgrade and enjoy the journey.

poison
Posts: 474
Joined: 18 years ago

#3: Post by poison »

An espresso machine has 2 jobs: heat water to the right temp, and apply it with the right pressure to the puck. GCP does not do this, hence your issues. Once you get a machine that does both, you'll be much happier. Any good E61 Hx will provide the right temp (with some easy manipulation) and pressure, and paired with a good grinder can pull shots on par or better than your local cafe; a Micra is NOT necessary to do so. Get the E61, you'll be set for some years, and then upgrade if you feel you need to.

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mrgnomer
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Joined: 18 years ago

#4: Post by mrgnomer »

Upgrade paths usually go from beginning machine like a Gaggia Pro to an e61. I've never used a Niche but from what I've read it is a good grinder that will follow you.

The e61 is good, capable and common. They vary mostly by single boiler HX and double boiler. Double boilers tend to have extraction parameter controls like PIDs, infusion control, preinfusion times...making them more expensive. A stock single boiler HX with no added features would be the most hands on and the least expensive, used even more so. The e61 engine in an HX or double boiler is pretty much the same. A no bells and whistles e61 HX is a hands on machine that would be good to learn maintenance and extraction on.

The Micra is a saturated grouphead. An upgrade, IMHO, to an e61. Solid end game machine with more potential to grow into. It's hard to know how into espresso you're going to get but if your working towards the best espresso extractions with the best roasts you may eventually end up with a Linea type machine.
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Dtkoffee
Posts: 13
Joined: 1 year ago

#5: Post by Dtkoffee »

I have had a GCP for several years now and upgraded to a Profitec Pro 600 a week ago. It's only been a short time, but this machine is a HUGE upgrade in performance and workflow. I always hear that term discussed but it's hard to appreciate until you have a nicer machine. With the Profitec, a timer starts automatically. I don't have to temperature surf the coffee or steamer side. I don't have to refill the boiler after steaming. The purge from the solenoid valve doesn't splash water. I don't have to refill the water tank as often, and the drip tray also is much larger. Etc., etc.

That's a long way of saying I would definitely upgrade to a double boiler machine. Once you get up over $2K, it's really about some minor differences and personal preferences. I think all of the machines will perform well.

poison
Posts: 474
Joined: 18 years ago

#6: Post by poison »

The profitec is great, but you don't have to spend $2k to get the performance this guy wants. Somewhere around $1500 new is the minimum now, but used is far less.

daedalus2 (original poster)
Posts: 8
Joined: 1 year ago

#7: Post by daedalus2 (original poster) »

The Profitec 600 is exactly the machine I'm looking at right now. Close to pulling the trigger, but my wife would be happier with a $1500 option. What did you have in mind, poison?

PIXIllate
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#8: Post by PIXIllate replying to daedalus2 »

I've had my Profitec 600 for a few years now and I have very little desire to upgrade. In that same time I've bought two Kafatek grinders and never once have I felt the machine was a limiting factor. Just my first hand experience.

Also, I got the flow control with the machine and I'm glad I did. Didn't use it much for the first year or so but now I use it for every shot.

Dtkoffee
Posts: 13
Joined: 1 year ago

#9: Post by Dtkoffee »

daedalus2 wrote:The Profitec 600 is exactly the machine I'm looking at right now. Close to pulling the trigger, but my wife would be happier with a $1500 option. What did you have in mind, poison?
Not sure what this $1500 machine is, but IMO get a double boiler, skip a heat exchanger, and don't look back.

daedalus2 (original poster)
Posts: 8
Joined: 1 year ago

#10: Post by daedalus2 (original poster) »

Just pulled the trigger on a Profitec Pro 600 :)
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