Spend my espresso upgrade money, budget $3000-$5000

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

#1: Post by tgk »

Hi everybody,
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.
For other stuff, here are some thoughts:
  • 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. :P )
  • 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?
I like the Rocket design, which with everything except for Pressure Profiling lands me at $3K (R58). Then adding that, shoots up to just under $5K (R60). That is an insane jump for something small, but I guess it is hard to run a business - particularly in low-run specialty items. I still have not locked in on a brand or model, so please just take the preceding as additional background/color.

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.

Gobble, gobble

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#2: Post by sweaner »

As I mentioned on another thread, you could buy a Lelit Bianca AND a Monolith.

Or, get what I now have, a Bianca and a Niche Zero...AND, much coffee!!
LMWDP #248


#3: Post by LObin »

If you like the Rocket look, how do you feel about the Profitec Pro700? They kinda look alike, no?
You could simply add the flow profiling kit and have a solid "geeky" machine! :P

I, myself, prefer the look and internal of the ECM Synchronika, which is an another solid option.

It could be wrong but it seems like recent Rocket owners are having all sorts of issues with the newer models.

Grinder wise, if you can afford a monolith within your budget, go for it!
Otherwise, you can't go wrong with a Niche Zero or the Atom Specialty 75. There's also the Lagom P64 which is set to hit the market very soon...

My advise would be to check if any machine you fancy is on sale on cyber Monday and then take your time to decide if/what grinder you want.
LMWDP #592


#4: Post by prust »

I would strongly consider a Decent machine. I have a commercial HX Elektra T3 and looking at upgrades. I have added a temperature probe at the group and can get within 2 degrees of a target but cannot preinfuse, pressure or flow profile. I considered all of the suggested machines in this thread, plus the Rocket R Nine One. The Rocket has a saturated group which gives you better temperature control but it costs $6750. The other machines have PID control of the boiler but that is not measuring the temperature of the shot. If the machine is at equilibrium, then there is a strong relationship between PID temperature and shot temperature but you cannot really go from one temperature to another to try and dial in a bean. The E61 group has a lot of thermal mass and does not change temperature quickly. Some of the machines suggested allow you to pressure or flow profile but not both. The only machine that really gives you total flexibility and control of the shot is the Decent. Temperature is instant and measured at the point the water meets the coffee and it is measured for each shot over time. You can create pressure or flow profiles or you can select a number of standard profiles. The machine's software can be upgraded so you get additional capabilities over time without having to purchase a new machine. There is also a user community where you can exchange profiles and get help. If you consider this machine, you should wait until January when they are releasing a new version that includes real time control of flow during the shot. I plan to order one in a few months.


#5: Post by tgk »

Thanks all for your advice. I went with the R58, and I have to say it is a joy both to behold and use. Rabbit holes here I come!