I am new to this board, but after having lurked a bit, I think it is time to dive in.
I've had my Gaggia Classic for about 4-5 years, which coupled with my Baratza Vario-W grinder has served me mostly fine as a caffeine delivery vehicle. Performance has grown more variable over time, however, and I think I'm ready to upgrade. We pull about 3-4 espressos & americanos per day to soothe our craving, with the occasional milk drink thrown in when we have guests. So, I am guessing you could argue that our needs are modest, but I like good coffee and would like to up my game. And what's the difference between "need" and "want" anyway?
On the espresso maker side, these are things I like:
- After reading about the grand battle of HX vs DB, I'm leaning towards DB, mostly for ease of use and to minimizing flushing.
- Rotary also seems the way to go for me over vibration, as I prefer less noise in most things.
- It's probably stupid to list PID as a requirement, since all higher end machines seem to feature this, but it is probably the one thing that I think Gaggia should have included (and I don't want to build/solder my own).
- I like my coffee on the hotter side, so ease of temperature fiddling would be nice.
- Pressure profiling seems interesting. For day-to-day life, I may not go down that rabbit hole too often, but Thanksgiving and other holidays seem perfect to geek out with this. Not sure it is worth the tax, however.
- Time between shots. Normally I don't brew that many at a time, but recovery time could be important with guests over.
- We've been using bottled water from DrinkMoreWater due to the unacceptable level of carcinogens in DC's drinking water, but with a larger machine, I think I'd like to tap it in and use a filter. Is BWT the ticket?
- The Baratza grinder is nice in that the weight function delivers a consistent amount of grinds. It is not step-less, however, and the two different type set points give a sense of false accuracy in my book. Service has been amazing, though, as I've sent it back for adjustments. (As it should be when it costs more than the espresso maker. )
- I suspect I will want Eric's thermometer, since I am a geek. Why is it called this? And when I google for it, I get a bunch of options - none of them labeled Eric. Price also appears to fluctuate between $80 (ebay) and $220 (some store). Is there a best source for this?
Apologies for not knowing more already, and thank you for reading this far (if indeed you did). Any advice and input will be greatly appreciated.