Who do you trust for unbiased advice?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
Jasper_8137

#1: Post by Jasper_8137 »

In addition to all the opinions on HB, who do you all feel gives knowledgeable, unbiased opinions regarding the purchase of new equipment? SCG, WLL, Chris Coffee, Clive Coffee?

CwD

#2: Post by CwD »

Nobody, ever. Just have to understand what biases a person holds when evaluating their advice.

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BaristaBoy E61

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I had really great advice from Chris at Chris' Coffee. He talked to me like I was his kid brother and told me what I didn't need on my purchase 'Wish List' that I was prepared to buy. He set me straight - in no uncertain terms regarding what I should buy and what I shouldn't.

I wound up spending much less money and got much better equipment than I was originally going to purchase. I didn't fully appreciate it then but I sure know that now - almost 4-years later!

Chris has always been a really decent person whenever I've had an interaction with him. The same goes for the rest of the staff at Chris' Coffee.

On a different note, whenever we were at Chris' Coffee and had to wait a few moments for an order to be processed or for a particular person to become available, every single person that walked by - including warehouse staff, acknowledged us with a hello, a nod, a "Can I be of any help?" or a "How is you day?"

Chris' is the first call or click I make regarding espresso purchases.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

Abecker

#4: Post by Abecker »

CwD wrote:Nobody, ever. Just have to understand what biases a person holds when evaluating their advice.
Completely agree. Even on HB, if someone just got the machine they could have a positive bias because it is new. The best thing is to look through many reviews and find a common theme about an item.

mdmvrockford
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#5: Post by mdmvrockford »

+1 to BaristaBoy E61. If you are just starting out with espressos (or any other hobby) it is hard to form your own opinion. I frequently tell and again will here: Chris Coffee talked me out of LaMarzocco GS3 and steered me towards a much cheaper E61 PID SBDU machine. And they sold both machines. I'd suggest you do a little homework on your end before calling Chris Coffee for equipment advice.

As who to follow/read on home-barista.com for newbies/novices. An easy suggestion is the moderators (who are identified as "TeamHB").

Once you get more knowledgeable with coffee and espresso then you can follow CwD advice: trust no one except yourself (and most importantly your own palate). You will develop your own biases (e.g. I like levers and was former E61 pump machine evangelist) and find members here who share those biases. Still like my other interests, I always try to read the opposing viewpoint. Also avoid anyone who speaks or recommends dogmatic views.
LMWDP #568

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AssafL

#6: Post by AssafL »

Isn't total avoidance of dogma - a dogmatic approach itself?
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

Jasper_8137

#7: Post by Jasper_8137 »

Thanks everyone for the replies! I'm in a place where I can make a substantial upgrade and do have some experience with a number of machines but am not sure which is going to be best for my needs. I have certainly read a ton of reviews here on HB - I think the issue is that most people are happy with their current setup and are willing to "pound the table" for their preferred kit, whether that be the GS3, LMLM, Londinium...making an unbiased opinion (not necessarily in a negative way), difficult to find. I like the opinion of figuring what my needs are, then matching a machine to them - the trick is identifying what exactly those needs are above wanting a great espresso.

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AssafL

#8: Post by AssafL »

Which is more important to you: making the right decision? Or avoiding the wrong decision?

If I look at my two "big" espresso components - the GS3 and the VL grinder - the former was a slam dunk (it was the fire sale so for under $5k it was rather easy decision).

The latter however was not as easy as it went contrary to public opinion (and one of the most prominent and knowledgeable people here!). It was the right decision but could also have ended up as a failure. It was a much harder decision and one which was never regretted (albeit needed tough love at times).

Today a KvdW or a GS3 or an LMLM or a Slayer and a Monolith are an easy decsision to make if money isn't an issue. Or a better lever for a bit less.

A Mina or a Decent or a LM Strada single group and an EK or an EG or a VL - that is a wee bit out there - there is a risk involved.

The big question is - are you the sort willing to take the risk and willing to invest the time resources to make the path less taken work? Or do you need some (if only a tiny bit) of handholding.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

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Spitz.me

#9: Post by Spitz.me »

The choice is incredible when it comes to both grinders and machines. There are so many good choices to make. Opinions online are only ever really expressed when they are either a)passionately positive or b)incredibly negative. So, even just skimming the internet for user reviews is hardly going to give you anything unbiased. Heck, even 'objective' rating systems are prone to reviewer bias.

One thing I've learned to go by is to ask people with whom I share a bias. I do this with just about anything I can because then I feel like I'm getting advice from someone with similar requirements/tastes. You'll see this kind of stuff a lot on here where someone will qualify their bias and then ask for equipment recommendations. At the very least, you shrink your ballpark and then you can probably do the rest of the work yourself.

AssafL wrote:Which is more important to you: making the right decision? Or avoiding the wrong decision?
Great questions! With all of the information on H-B, I think a lot of the recycling of questions is based on avoiding the wrong decision while not making what you feel would be the obvious right decision due to limitations.
I know I've pulled a great shot when the flavour is 'like a beany taste that tastes like a bean'.

Jasper_8137

#10: Post by Jasper_8137 »

AssafL wrote:Which is more important to you: making the right decision? Or avoiding the wrong decision?
Making the right decision is the driving factor. When dropping 3-7k on a new machine, you want to make sure it's the right fit, and hopefully last a good ten years without developing an acute case of upgradeitis.