Worth keeping Starbucks Barista espresso machine?

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Dr. Coffee

#1: Post by Dr. Coffee »

Hey guys,
So I just acquired a Starbucks Barista for very cheap (free) and I was wondering if these machines are of a decent enough quality to keep around. Is it worth my time to clean it up and keep it as a backup machine/ sell it? If I were to sell it after I cleaned it, would I get a decent amount of money for it?

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#2: Post by peacecup »

Worth around $100-200 in good working order I guess - you can check ebay. They can make a pretty decent espresso in my opinion - better than what you get at most cafes. So if it was a Barista or drip/press I personally would keep it.

They are quite sturdily built and pretty easy to maintain.

LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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#3: Post by erics »

Ditto what Jack said and parts are available here: http://www.partsguru.com/default.html

Eric S.
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com

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#4: Post by LaDan »

I have one from 15-20 years ago. I don't use it, but it is surprisingly good especially for what you find at places like Bed Bath and Beyond, etc.


#5: Post by jdomg »

I'm using an older one right now and it's what got me into espresso/capps. It is a remarkably durable little machine. It's not the greatest thing since sliced bread but it's simple and consistent (in usage). It's not that strong and will bind up the pump if you have too fine a grind over-tamped.

The best way I've found to use it is as follows:
1) Let it warm up at least 20 mins with the port filter in (I depressurized mine)
2) Run a little water through before you start to make anything
3) Turn the steam element on
4) Take the PF out and do your grind/dose/tamp
5) Turn off the steam element and run the hottest water out (the steam will shoot out and begin to lessen)
6) Put in PF then run the pump for a few seconds to soak the puck. This can vary
7) Do the shot!
8) Remove PF, run water and clean group
(CONTINUE IF MAKING A MILK DRINK - otherwise dump the puck)
9) Press steam button
10) Dump the puck from the PF
11) Turn the steam on full-bore into the tray (will explain why)
12) Go pour your milk
13) The steaming power on this machine isn't great and the initial burst is actually terribly short. The goal here is to trigger the boiler to fill and kick the element to stay on. You'll know because the pressure will die and then rise until it's steady.
14) Close steam
15) Immediately steam milk. You should still hear the pressure building as you're doing this, but it will stay steady the duration of the steam.
16) Pour drink and enjoy! (don't forget to purge and wipe the steam wand!)

It looks like a lot of steps, but I make a drink in about a minute and a half to two mins on this machine once all the steps are overlapped right!

Bonus: since it's a simple plug, it was easy to just plug it into a wirelessly-timed outlet.

It's holding me over as I finish rebuilding an Astra Mega 2C I got for a crazy deal along with an Astra grinder! (basically a Pavoni Zip)
I have no intention of selling the SB because it will store just fine and be a backup if the bigger machine ever needs repair.


#6: Post by mauijer »

My experience is contrary to what others are saying. I bought a Starbucks Barista Athena when I was just starting out. I still see them on eBay for $100-200 but idk if they actually sell. I got mine for around $40, shipped. Gifted it to a friend years ago. I thought it made decent macchiatos if I used Lavazza or illy but that was only because I didn't know what good espresso tastes like. As my friend has now started getting into espresso I thought the SB machine would be a good opportunity to prove that grinder is more important than the espresso machine. We pared it w a Baratza Vario W and .... Still watery, under-extracted, sink shots ( imo). Btw we did remove the pressurized portafilter, use fresh roasted coffee and did the temperature surfing dance like above. The big problem seems to be that it sends a jet stream thru the center of the screen which created a crater every time. No trouble shooting I could do to give him a decent shot. Who knows maybe mine was an exception, or some tinkering could fix the problem, but in my experience it's a POS and not worth anyone buying; hence the gifting. If anyone knows how to overcome my experience I would be happy to pass on your recommendation to my friend (until he upgrades).


#7: Post by jdomg replying to mauijer »

That happens with mine as well sometimes. It's pretty sensitive to grind size and tamping because that little pump tries so hard.


#8: Post by biznus97 »

For the water flow issues it sounds like the your machines may have the screen made for PODS:

https://www.espressoparts.com/saeco-esp ... pod-screen


Here is a precision one that looks fairly new. My friend actually turned down an IMS La Spaziale basket last year and made a screen for me:

http://www.shop.partsguru.com/Saeco-IMS ... qscsfapp01


Older models often came with a non POD screen.

Other ideas

Add a cheap PID to avoid the temp dance routine. I keep my shots in the 1 to 1.5 oz range since the boilers are small. These are solid machines with a non pressurized portafilter and good grinder. The machines are often sold cheap and make fun project boxes. As others have mentioned they last forever and parts are easy to find.


#9: Post by thm655321 »

While I wait to buy a "proper" machine, I took my 15 year old Starbucks Barista and added a PID, light dimmer to control the pump, naked portafilter from Seattle Coffee Gear, IMS shower screen from Parts Guru, and I got the 53mm IMS triple basket for the La Spaziale (sold by Chris' Coffee) and trimmed the rim of the basket with pincers so that it would fit. I think that is about all you can reasonably do to improve it. I did this in large part to learn, especially the PID, as I realize that this is basically lipstick on a pig.

In short, the difference from the stock machine is remarkably better. Can it rival a "proper" machine? Occasionally. The biggest problem is that the boiler is so small that inevitably the temp drops precipitously when the pump runs. I try to control that by preinfusing using the dimmer switch and then going full when the temp is back in range. I also dose 21 grams in the triple basket and tend to run the shots longer than 30 seconds. That said, it is keeping me somewhat satisfied until I pull the trigger on either the Alex Leva or the Profitec Pro 800 later this year. I also acquired an HG One and that did make a large difference as well.

Steaming however is a chore, very slow and it runs out/dies down quickly, so I basically just use it for straight shots.

BTW, the IMS shower screen (only place that seems to sell it is Parts Guru) makes a large difference for water distribution. I replaced the original shower screen (which may or may not have been geared to pods, I didn't bother or know enough at the time to check) with a screen that I received in a tune up kit. The screens in the tune up kit are definitely for pods and are horrible for distribution.

Hope that helps.


#10: Post by mauijer »

Thanks Everyone for the information. I will definitely give the IMS screen a go. I've got to restore my friend's trust lol.