Minimum equipment to produce good espresso - Page 3

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#21: Post by peacecup »

I completely agree that milk in any reasonable quantity will not hide bad espresso.

Some very-entry level machines often reviewed by consumers on coffeegeek are readily available:

If you Ebay Saeco Classico ($139 factory refurbished) Gaggia Coffee ($180 reconditioned), Starbucks Barista ($220-300 new) you'll find a few at any given time.



My first pump espresso machine was a Saeco Via Venetto purchased new from 1st-Line in 2000. Seven years later it still works, though I'll admit the plastic case is a bit cheapo, and I did have to replace the stream valve after about four years of use.

A lot of HB's like to refer to Italy and Italian design and intentions in our threads. Have a look at Ebay Italy sometime - most of the machines are Gaggia and Saeco. I doubt many home users in Italy spend 500-1000 Euros for home espresso equipment.

None of this is to say that one should not spend more money and have a great machine/grinder combo. But, if one simply does not have the money to spend, my opinion is that they can very much enjoy the espresso experience on a budget.

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#22: Post by Psyd »

peacecup wrote: I doubt many home users in Italy spend 500-1000 Euros for home espresso equipment.
You'd be right, as most of the coffee made in the home is out of a moka pot. The other influencing factor is the ubiquity of espresso available, and the habit for Italians, and most Europeans, to go out and get something rather than keep it in the house. Most European refrigerators are not much larger than what we'd expect to see in the mini-bar of a decent hotel. When I lived there, it wasn't more'n a few minutes walk to the post office, the bakery, the candy store, the butcher, the grocer, church, medical care, the drugstore, the shoe store, you name it.
It really isn't an orange to orange comparison.

And speaking of the handle side of the PF, I'd suggest that the newbies get into something that won't need too much faking it. I've made baristi (and an Italian actor that does impressions of a certain Catholic Priest on Saturday Nights...) espresso and cappuccini with a Krups 963 and had them be amazed at the results. Was it 'real espresso? I dunno, but it regularly beat anything I'd ever gotten from anything with a mermaid on the door in front of it. It required that I push the K93 beyond design parameters (but not safety parameters) and learn my own technique. While I could get it to do something that so closely resembled espresso as to be nearly indistinguishable from what came out of my Silvia at the same time, and do it for under $100 with used kit, I'm not sure that I would suggest that this cat send all of his friends searching the internet for used kit to hurt in the name of coffee.
While your answers are effectively correct, their use in the stated application by the OP isn't really workable.
Espresso Sniper
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#23: Post by boar_d_laze »

I find myself in nearly complete agree with Psyd, reserving comment on the Don Novello roman a clef riff. My European experience, more Spanish than Italian parallels (and probably precedes) his. I.e., moka pots and hanging around in bars, emphasis on the latter. My American experience also tracks his. That is, for most people Rancilio/Rancilio, is the first step into consistently"better than Starbucks" espresso at home.

Allow me to further observe: Below a certain price level two problems loom especially large. One is lack of thermal mass with a consequent lack of thermal stability -- compromising both the intrashot temperature curve and intershot reproducibility; second is the prevalence of certain "helper" technologies like pressure filters and 'turbo" frothers which hide information from the barista making it difficult to diagnose problems in such variables as grind and stretch/roll time. As has been oft remarked the nut on the handle end of the portafilter is the most important link in the chain.

Good espresso can be made with something less expensive than Silvia + Rocky, but for most people those cheaper combinations require a steep learning curve, are hit it or miss, and (usually) wildly compromised in terms of steam. As its own hobby cheap espresso is undoubtedly fun and rewarding. Utility is a better indication of value than price, and for the madding crowd least expensive is not most utile.


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#24: Post by Jacob »

boar_d_laze wrote:... That is, for most people Rancilio/Rancilio, is the first step into consistently"better than Starbucks" espresso at home.
Find (suggest) a used 'first step' would make sense.

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Randy G.

#25: Post by Randy G. replying to Jacob »

Or put together a loner set up. Let any curious friends borrow it for two weeks. At the end of that time, if they still think they want to make espresso at home they can move on as they desire and the loaner can go to the next victim...
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#26: Post by cafeIKE replying to Randy G. »

It's easier to call a pal with a setup similar to what the victim intends to expend and arrange a caficiando hang.
1. Presumably the host is capable and can demonstrate what is possible.
The neophyte may become discouraged at the first few kilos of sinkers from a loaner. :cry:
2. Somebody might learn something. :roll:
3. The loaner never suffers from neglect. :wink:

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lsf (original poster)

#27: Post by lsf (original poster) »

Well, for one of my friend, we found the best solution!

1) For him, 300$ was too much
2) He didn't have the countertop space
3) He already owns a moka pot !

So I suggested him to take his moka pot out of storage and put his money on a hand grinder. That's the best coffee he can afford to brew!

One more happy guy :)


#28: Post by bukaeast »

Psyd wrote:It's these puritanical prejudices about espresso and about decaf and about all the other things coffee that are better than others that amazes me. If you put a great shot in my cappuccino, I'll know it from a good shot, and if you put a bad shot in my capp, I'll make that face.
There is nothing wrong with putting milk in coffee, and it doesn't cover up the taste of a bad shot. Agreed, if what you are drinking is a large, warm, sweet milk with a shot of espresso in the bottom, then the shot isn't as important, but two ounces of espresso in three or four ounces of microfoamed milk isn't hiding anywhere.
It seems a bit remarkable that folks (unless they live under a rock) who explain why they go through what they go through for coffee on a fairly regular basis (I know I do) need an explanation for why I have two grinders, one for caf and one for decaf.
OK, your palate is more refined than mine. I could tell the difference between bad and good shots, but not between good and great when mixed with milk. (Not macchiato, but cap or latte. ) My wife doesn't care, she wants the sweetener. As such, If I didn't prefer the straight espresso, I would be content with starting with a basic pump machine. Did the basic Gaggia, upgraded the steam wand with a Silvia wand and it produced good milk drinks. But not the straight espresso I wanted. I upgraded because of that. So I made the distinction that if someone wanted to get a basic set up and mostly what they wanted was milk drinks, they could, could that is, look at a lower priced level machine. (understanding that more money gives a more reproducible product and ease of use.)

So let's agree to disagree on the based on our relatively educated palates. (Mine isn't)

I envy your two grinders, but need only one 'cause all I can drink is the decaf.

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#29: Post by Psyd »

boar_d_laze wrote:I find myself in nearly complete agree with Psyd
I knew we had something in common! ; >
Randy G. wrote:Or put together a loner set up.
Ah, that's a telling and Freudian typo! ; >
bukaeast wrote:OK, your palate is more refined than mine. I could tell the difference between bad and good shots, but not between good and great when mixed with milk.
I dunno about 'refined', but how about 'trained'? I've been drinking at least one cappu a day each morning for about two decades now, ever since I gave up perma-coffee*! If it helps, I get good espresso nearly every time I leave my machine. Sometimes I drink the second attempt, sometimes the third, but I make sure that they're good. Every third or fifth attempt, I get great. I spend less time attempting great than I do good, so usually it's a bit of a happenstance combined with good habits. I feel that if I can get consistently good, and afford to toss my screw-ups, I should expect no less for someone that is doing this for me for money.

*You know, I was the guy that had a permanent crook in his hand, and an astonished, fearful, and lost look on his face if there wasn't a coffee cup jammed in that crook.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175