How much espresso machine is enough?

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cu_gator

#1: Post by cu_gator »

Okay i have been lurking for quite awhile and reading all the reviews, posts, etc (awesome site, community pat yourself on the back). I finally have the nerve to ask a questions, so my question is how much machine is enough?

Basically, i am willing to pull the trigger on an Elektra A3, get the electrical worked out, and it all plumbed in. But before i do that and spend the money i guess i am looking for some validation of my logic. See i dont mind spending the money as long as it makes sense (although does it make sense to an outside person spending 4K+ on an espresso set-up?:)). I mean will i be able to appreciate this machine, and discern its difference from a more "economical" machine or to put it another way as a complete novice i do not have the expertise to appreciate such a fine piece of equipment? Right now we have a super-automatic and i have never made an espresso in my life. And i certainly do not have the palate to describe espresso like wine, but i can/do appreciate great taste and i am convinced that these machines will provide superior coffee and i have that romantic notion of the espresso ritual (I also use a straight razor to shave as an example).

So my logic, based upon the countless posts here, is that the Elektra appears to be the most forgiving machine for a novice such as myself. Everyone seems to rave about the taste of coffee that it produces and its temp stability and steaming ability(also have to consider the spousal factor since there would be an off chance that she would use the machine and she would be upset if we spent alot of money on any machine and she couldnt make a decent shot). Its rotary, so it will be quiet. The plumbed in eliminates some of the hassle of filling the machine and cleaning drip tray. All things being equal, i.e. forgetting about price, it appears to be the best machine available. Again based upon the self-reporting feedback on this site which i know creates some bias. So is my logic sound or does a complete novice have no business owning a machine such as the Elektra? Thanks!

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cafeIKE

#2: Post by cafeIKE »

Please choose the grinder first.

The machine is third in the 4M hierarchy : Coffee, Grinder, Machine, tu

SteveM

#3: Post by SteveM »

cu_gator wrote:Okay i have been lurking for quite awhile and reading all the reviews, posts, etc (awesome site, community pat yourself on the back). I finally have the nerve to ask a questions, so my question is how much machine is enough?
It's hard to say what is enough, but . . .
You know you bought too much machine if Starbucks opens a competing facility in your driveway. :P

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Bex

#4: Post by Bex »

cu_gator,

despite the fact that you have the wrong SEC loyalty :D , I think this might help. Cannonfodder and others have pointed out that in the world of home espresso, "beginner machines are not." Which means that the entry level "beginner" machines are actually much harder to use well than the more expensive machines. My sense from doing a lot of research - and from owning both a $400 "beginner" combo and now a $2300 combo - is that once you get close to the $2000 barrier for the machine + grinder (I'm assuming the grinder is at least $700-$800), it's going to deliver good coffee.

Whether a machine like the A3 is too much is another matter entirely - one that really comes down to you looking at the differences in specs in the reviews here and seeing whether it makes sense for you.

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Psyd

#5: Post by Psyd »

cafeIKE wrote:Please choose the grinder first.

The machine is third in the 4M hierarchy : Coffee, Grinder, Machine, tu
Too true. I can pull shots on Silvia that rival the shots on my $7800 machine. Easily a 10x markup. Once you've passed the Silvia quality of machine, all the rest of your money (with some notable exceptions) is really going to ease of use and looks. Espresso machine simply heat water and provide some method of pushing that hot water through your puck. Timing, waiting, 'hold-your-mouth-right' techniques, and fuss start to fall away a bit as you climb the ladder (or, graduate to the escalator) of espresso machines.
If you like it, and it is as convenient as you'd like it to be, and you can afford it, it will probably make you happy.
Personally, I'll never, ever, go back to a machine that I have to wait on. I've been spoiled by having espresso on tap, 24-7. Plumbed, 220V, 14 liter boiler HX. I've no where to go except a Synesso or a GS3!
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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Randy G.

#6: Post by Randy G. »

SteveM wrote:It's hard to say what is enough, but . . .
You know you bought too much machine if Starbucks opens a competing facility in your driveway. :P
You know you bought too much machine if Starbucks opens a competing facility in your BATHROOM.
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

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Randy G.

#7: Post by Randy G. »

Psyd wrote:Too true. I can pull shots on Silvia that rival the shots on my $7800 machine.
I once went for a tool selling job that ended up being a boiler room operation. I listened to one operator trying to sell a few dozen small socket sets with ratchet in a little metal case to an auto garage, telling them that they could give them away free with a lube or tune up: "Oh, the quality. Sure. These are comparable to S+K..." He turned to me and quietly said, "you can compare them all day... They're just not as good." I walked out.

I would say that in my experience with Silvia (6.5 years of near-daily use) and 10 months with the VBM Domobar Super, sure the Silvia was capable of pulling shots comparable to the VBM-maybe one in 50 shots would be equal to the average or above-average VBM pull, but on a day-in, day-out situation, Silvia can't hold a candle to the VBM, and that is a comparison made using a PID'd Silvia. A stock Silvia is a paperweight compared to a good quality, properly set up and operated HX machine like the VBM. And the VBM sells for around 20% the price of that better machine of which you speak.

Without knowing the details of you, the machines, or any other factor, if someone said that to me, and meaning no insult to you whatsoever, I would tell them there is something wrong with the $7800 machine, the coffee, the water, the operator or some other factor. Either that, or they got ripped off for about $7300, +/-200.

Maybe it was an early GS3 that didn't work...? :wink:
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

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cafeIKE

#8: Post by cafeIKE »

Randy G. wrote:I would say that in my experience with Silvia (6.5 years of near-daily use) and 10 months with the VBM Domobar Super, sure the Silvia was capable of pulling shots comparable to the VBM-maybe one in 50 shots would be equal to the average or above-average VBM pull, but on a day-in, day-out situation, Silvia can't hold a candle to the VBM, and that is a comparison made using a PID'd Silvia. A stock Silvia is a paperweight compared to a good quality, properly set up and operated HX machine like the VBM. And the VBM sells for around 20% the price of that better machine of which you speak.
Did you forget that you used to use a Rocky and now have a Kony :?:

Dogshot

#9: Post by Dogshot »

There is certainly a sizable sweet-spot in the $1000 - $3000 range, starting with the Anita and ending with the Elektra A3. I think that below that you give up too many useful features (like a vacuum valve, not present in the Oscar), and beyond the price of the A3, the returns are pretty much zero in the home environment.

Within that range, the challenge is basically to choose a machine that suits your needs and tastes. After 2 years of using a machine in the $1500 - $2000 range, I would never go back to something more basic, and I think that my espresso would gain absolutely nothing by going much above it.

Mark
LMWDP #106

cu_gator

#10: Post by cu_gator »

Thanks for the comments. It sounds like in the range that i am looking at, all machines can pretty much perform admirably. Its just a matter of getting to know the machine and improving your skills. And ultimately its a personal decision as to what i feel best meets my needs. Well what i feel are my needs are something that is quiet, easy to maintain, can be used by other family members and can help as much as possible to eliminate or reduce the impact of other variables that influence shot quality.

BTW, i do plan on buying a comparable grinder (definitely learned that from all the other posts). I am leaning towards the M4 electronic. Again, the ease of use and other than the clumping from all the comments it appears to be very consistent.

BTW II, alas the year(s) of the gators has come to an end, but at least the SEC is still on top :)