What espresso machine would you buy (used) for $1000 budget?

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

#1: Post by Barberdolan »

Hi guys, I am a former barista turned home barista and I think my obsession with coffee has just gotten stronger as I have gotten older. I purchased my first machine over a year ago which was a Gaggia Classic. I am now ready to upgrade to something better. Unfortunately I don't have a big budget and will be looking for something used. I figure I can spend around $1000 max and I am looking at the Breville Dual boiler as it seems like it is probably be best bang for my buck. However I am also very curious about some of the E-61 machines. Just wondering what people would recommend if you were in my position? The grinder I use is a Baratza Sette 270.

Thanks!!!

VoidedTea

#2: Post by VoidedTea »

I was in a similar situation about a month ago, although my budget was even slightly less. My one year old Dedica was refusing to produce hot enough water, so I decided to upgrade. My choice was Gaggia Classic but I was reading that temperature control in this model is also not ideal. I didn't want to have another disappointment and decided to buy something more professional used. But I almost got conned as the seller lied about the age of the machine (by like 10 years). Likely i was able to get out safe and decided that buying used appliances is not in my foray and went for a brand new Cafelat Robot. Couldn't be happier as me and my wife only drink americanos and don't need steam. I also have very limited counter space, which, apart for cost, was another big point for the Robot.

Oskuk

#3: Post by Oskuk »

I'd say the used commercials are the ones which have lost most of the price. So if it sits, then it is the best and cheapest option.

Jeff
Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

I've been scratching my head on if and, if so, how to respond to this one.

First, the "safe" option. If you'd enjoy the process, a Cafelat Robot and using your Gaggia to steam milk would be a great setup for under $500, even with a stack of extras.

Used machines are tricky, hence my hesitation. A lot will depend on how well cared for the machine was, especially the kind of water used. I'd generally expect to have to at least rebuild an E61 group, if not descale the machine as well. As a result, I wouldn't go for a used E61 box unless you were comfortable in learning the relatively simple processes around their maintenance. There's plenty of help here around basic maintenance and repairs for E61 boxes and the BDB both.

Asking open-ended questions like "What kind of water did you use with it?" can provide some insight:
"What do you mean?" -- Think twice, especially if coming from an area that isn't known to have "non-scaling" water
"Oh just tap" -- Perhaps OK if the water in the area is non-scaling. Still, not a great answer
"Brita filter" -- Hmmm, some realization of the need for care of the machine (but Brita and similar filters don't address scaling minerals)
"I use an RO system, then remineralize with XXXX" or "Only Crystal Geyser from the XXXX source" or "Filtered tap here is XXXXX and it is non-scaling"-- shows an awareness of the issue

I got lucky in searching for a unit for my kids, finding an E61 DB at less than a new BDB, then walking in and seeing next to it a DE1, Monolith grinder (both high-end pieces) and a case of water that I recognized as being non-scaling. I'd have had a lot more questions without the belief that the owner knew how to take care of espresso machines.

Down to specific sub-$1,000 classes of used machines:

Silvia-esque SB, with or without a PID -- These aren't very stable/repeatable or a lot of fun to use. People think that "Silvia" and/or "PID" make their machines worth more than perhaps they should be. With your budget, I'd stay out of this category.

E61 HX -- These are workhorses that can stand a lot of abuse. Virtually any HX will require some kind of flush ritual before every shot. For best-quality espresso and ease of use, I'd strongly recommend an EricS group-head thermometer, a bit over $100 right now. Group rebuild parts are in the $20-40 range. A replacement Ulka pump is somewhere between $25-60 (they can get weak without completely dying, 5-15 years?). Any E61 takes around 40 minutes to heat up, HX or DB, PID or otherwise.

E61 DB (or La Spaz DB) -- If you can get one in the price range, these are also very solid machines. Parts prices are comparable. It may be challenging to find one below $1,000. I had the Quick Mill E61 DB on my counter for a couple months and it was great to use, especially in that I didn't have to flush between shots, just a quick one before I started to get everything filled and stable. With my experience, I'd prefer an E61 DB to an E61 HX at a comparable price, or even a few hundred dollars more.

BDB -- Perhaps the best in-cup quality and flexibility among these options. They heat up a lot faster than an E61 box. For me, I'd want to really understand the history of the machine. It could be anything from "I got it as a gift. I just poured water into it and never cleaned it." to one that was cared for as any espresso machine requires. It isn't that the machine itself is less robust, it is more that many people seem to treat them like disposable appliances. As they have several high-precision components in them, I'd be wary of needing to descale one. I'd suggest reading the various BDB owners' threads to make your own determination on that.

Commercial machines, in general, can sometimes be obtained at shockingly low prices, especially with the number of small cafes and restaurants that are suffering right now. They can be quite large on a home counter, as well as often needing plumbing (and appropriate filtration/softening) and 240-V power with neutral.

nsuster

#5: Post by nsuster »

I was about to reply but agree with what Jeff said.

I've been using a Profitec Pro 500 (HX), no PID and have enjoyed it so far for 3 years. I'm just getting to the point where I will likely upgrade. HXs will be great for milk but require some dancing around with temp. flushes. I think they will give you a good indication over time what or if you would like to upgrade too due to the limitations and what they do well. For me, the group temp. thermometer is a necessity to pull consistent shots. If you're patient, you could find a used HX machine for less than $1k. I would prefer to have a DB but we had concerns in our kitchen with space and it would be tough to find one even used for $1k or under (that was worth buying).

I don't have any experience with the BDB but I've heard good things. I second what Jeff said that you should be careful with who you're buying it from. Since Breville is a common name, people could tend to treat them as appliances or just got it as a gift, etc. The gift thing could work in your favor if they didn't use it much.

The Robot recommendation with the Gaggia for steaming milk is an interesting option and would give you flexibility for a low cost.

Barberdolan

#6: Post by Barberdolan »

Thank you Jeff, that was super helpful, much appreciated.

User avatar
bcrdukes
Supporter ♡

#7: Post by bcrdukes »

Go with the Robot and use the Gaggia for steam, like the others mentioned.

I bought a Robot a few months ago just for laughs and the novelty factor, but nobody is laughing, and I've come to learn that it can be a serious machine because I really enjoy making espresso with it more than (dare I admit) my Rocket Giotto. :shock:

Barberdolan

#8: Post by Barberdolan » replying to bcrdukes »


I am definitely intrigued by the Robot. It has been recommended now a few times and have watched some convincing vid reviews on YouTube. I guess I just sort of defaulter towards an automatic machine (or semi automatic). The only thing that turns me off is it taking too much time to pull a shot and dialing in. But maybe it is more simple than I am making it out to be.

Barberdolan

#9: Post by Barberdolan »

I also saw this and may be willing to save up a little more money since it is not too far above my budget. It seems like this is similar to the Rocket Apartamento machine.


https://www.wholelattelove.com/collecti ... iFEALw_wcB

Jeff
Team HB

#10: Post by Jeff »

Appearances can be deceiving...

If you do decide to go with a higher budget, it's a subtly different set of options.

It's also been said that a 20%-off coupon and a warm smile can be used on a BDB in the stores of a national bed and bath chain.