Trying to avoid the espresso machine upgrade bug

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
tomy2

#1: Post by tomy2 »

Hey everybody, first post. I've searched for some answers for my question but haven't found anything specific to what I'd like to hear. So, I have a GCP with the PID mod and replaced the stock spring with a 9 bar. I current have a Niche Zero but do have a DF64 on the way to see how it goes with lighter roasts. I primarily drink straight espresso and rarely use the steam wand for lattes unless the wife asks for one.

Was hoping maybe there are some here who have had a modded GCP before and have bought a machine as an upgrade that could give an honest assessment if the new machine did increase the overall enjoyment of straight espresso. I've thought about the ECM Special Edition Classika w/PID and flow control as a possible upgrade but keep going back and forth if it will actually yield a better cup.

Any help is much appreciated.

baldheadracing
Team HB

#2: Post by baldheadracing »

Welcome to H-B! 8)

A 'better' machine is typically easier to use - the machine makes it easier to pull shots and also easier to consistently pull those shots.

A machine can also offer additional features such as variable flow/pressure control, better steaming, higher capacity, etc.

Will the espresso taste better? That mainly depends on you. What I mean by that is ... for example, an expert on the GCP can consistently pull great shots without a PID and with the stock OPV pressure. I've seen it done. However, I have no desire to invest the time to get to that level of skill, nor would I enjoy the learning process, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the talent, either.

Good luck!

ETA: to clarify, I would 100% upgrade from a Gaggia. If I was doing it today, I would probably get a Robot or find a better used machine. However, what I would do may well be different from you should do.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

tompoland

#3: Post by tompoland »

"trying to avoid espresso machine upgrade bug" ... resistance is futile (and upgrading is way funner :D)
Some people drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.

Ypuh

#4: Post by Ypuh »

Baldheadracing kind of already answered it for you. Anywhere from a Gaggia/Rancilio Silvia and up should be able to provide you with the best espresso out there. Anything beyond that will just add some extra button's, but most importantly improve the ease of use and consistency.

From my own experience the LMLM did not improve my best espresso shots compared to the Rocket Evo R it replaced. It just decreased the number of bad shots, and it does so with far more ease/consistency and style. Is that worth 3x the cost? Tough to answer, but to me it was because I'm a perfectionist and only have few other hobbies.

Considering what you already have and what's on the way, I'd say you're a lost cause already.
I don't want a Decent

Howard Alan Treesong

#5: Post by Howard Alan Treesong »

I came to the same conclusion, so in my attempt to avoid the upgrade bug, I went down the rabbit hole of 'go big or go home' and 'buy once, cry once'. I tell myself these little axioms in the hope that this time, it will it work, who knows, but as I'm heading for retirement in a couple of years, I had to ask myself...if not now, when?

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#6: Post by Jeff »

If you're pulling mainly classic espresso, you can gain consistency, but probably not a lot of quality by moving up. Your better shots probably won't be significantly better with another pump machine, but they'll land much more often (or, at least with less effort to compensate for machine inconsistency).

If you're interested in exploring classic espresso, I'd consider a Robot to see if you might prefer a different extraction profile.

If you're wanting to pursue light-roast espresso, that takes you into high-end pump and lever machines and is another discussion.

bgnome

#7: Post by bgnome »

Howard Alan Treesong wrote:I came to the same conclusion, so in my attempt to avoid the upgrade bug, I went down the rabbit hole of 'go big or go home' and 'buy once, cry once'. I tell myself these little axioms in the hope that this time, it will it work, who knows, but as I'm heading for retirement in a couple of years, I had to ask myself...if not now, when?
You could always add on to the Gaggia and go full Gaggiuino, which will give you an almost "Decent-like" experience: https://github.com/Zer0-bit/gaggiuino

jgood

#8: Post by jgood »

No experience with the Gaggia but I have a QM Carola (espresso only E61) -- very consistent, as is my Robot.

caeffe

#9: Post by caeffe »

tomy2 wrote:Hey everybody, first post. I've searched for some answers for my question but haven't found anything specific to what I'd like to hear. So, I have a GCP with the PID mod and replaced the stock spring with a 9 bar. I current have a Niche Zero but do have a DF64 on the way to see how it goes with lighter roasts. I primarily drink straight espresso and rarely use the steam wand for lattes unless the wife asks for one.

Was hoping maybe there are some here who have had a modded GCP before and have bought a machine as an upgrade that could give an honest assessment if the new machine did increase the overall enjoyment of straight espresso. I've thought about the ECM Special Edition Classika w/PID and flow control as a possible upgrade but keep going back and forth if it will actually yield a better cup.

Any help is much appreciated.
Thomas-
I've had 3 Gaggia Classics and a Saeco Barista.
Currently have a NS Oscar (HX pump) and 2 levers (manual Europiccola and elektra microcasa) and a Mazzer Major

TL/DR: depends on your capacity to spend $. you have the basics tools and I'd spend more time with what you have along with the new DF64 before you spend more $

Since you mainly drink straight espresso you already have the tools: grinder, machine, human.
Knowing what I know now with the machines I've had and have - and you'll read it here over and over: Grinder, Grinder, Grinder. I don't have Niche so can't tell you if its good or not but from what I've read here it sounds like its more than adequate.
And really, even before grinder, its ingredients: beans and water. Garbage in - Garbage out

If you want to upgrade the machine; how much do you want to spend? Notice it's want not need; IMO you already satisfied the need with the Gaggia and the Niche.
If you only want to spend $ (<$500 USD), I'd highly consider getting one of the manual/spring levers: Robot/Flair/Microcasa/ etc...
If you're willing to spend $$$ you're in the >$1.5K USD region probably; I'm not knowledgeable about the ECM Classika but I think its in this region.
Note that I skipped the $$ region - I'm not aware of any machine out there in this price range that will give you appreciable changes; at least off the shelf or new. Maybe used, possibly with modifications.
LMWDP #162

macal425

#10: Post by macal425 »

Howard Alan Treesong wrote:I came to the same conclusion, so in my attempt to avoid the upgrade bug, I went down the rabbit hole of 'go big or go home' and 'buy once, cry once'. I tell myself these little axioms in the hope that this time, it will it work, who knows, but as I'm heading for retirement in a couple of years, I had to ask myself...if not now, when?
I was the same, so went ahead an bit the bullet and splashed down a decent amount of money in what I consider will be my end game setup. Once I got over the initial cash outlay, I started to realize that I get numerous hours of enjoyment each day when preparing coffee, drinking coffee and thinking about my next coffee/experiment. For the actual enjoyment I will hopefully continue to get over the next 10 years, it really is a bargain. You're born, you live, then you die. If something gives you great pleasure during the part in the middle, then find a way to make it happen.