Advice on getting advice

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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Joined: 15 years ago

#1: Post by ailevin »

Many thanks to every who contributes here and also to those who helped me via off-board email.

I wandered in here six months ago for help with a steam valve repair on Silvia. I hadn't been in touch with what my wife calls "the coffee crazies" for several years, and I found that there was much to learn. This led to an upgrade from Rocky to Macap M4 stepless in December and an upgrade from Silvia to Vetrano just this week. Because I had a PID on Silvia I was interested in doubler boiler machines as well as HX and I quickly narrowed the field to Vetrano and Vivaldi since I wanted to plumb in as part of my upgrade. I described elsewhere why I chose what I did in Why not double boiler with PID? . BTW, during all of this upgrading my espresso was improved more by getting a bottomless portafilter and adjusting dose/distribution than anything else.

I upgraded only my machine--I am using the same grinder, beans, portafilter, basket, and so on I've been using for months. I also kept the same dose, distribution, tamp ritual. Dialing in my machine was no more than a typical morning grind adjustment. I was able to immediately move on to trying out different brew temps; haven't really played much with profiles yet. Needless to say I am a happy camper. The shot quality is excellent, but the shot consistency is the real news. I feel that I have much more control over the variables than I did before, and I can make smaller adjustments and taste the difference. It is as if there is less noise in the system.

Advice re Advice
  • Most of the answers really are here but it can be overwhelming at first using search. I recommend starting with reviews and the threads that follow the reviews in the bench section. Reading about a number of machines gives you a sense of why one upgrades and what capabilities or features are important to you.
  • As you read about the different possibilities, ask yourself why you are upgrading and what your top couple priorities are. You can't optimize everything at once so it helps to know what you want.
  • Once you have the field narrowed down, it becomes much easier to search and find answers to more specific questions or to ask more specific questions.
  • Good advice is often hard to hear because it is not necessarily an answer to the question that you pose. I am familiar with this from my other hobby, astronomy. Someone who is clearly a newbie will ask whether he should get this or that high end equipment. The question is not only unanswerable without more background information, but it is very likely the wrong question.

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Joined: 16 years ago

#2: Post by CoffeeOwl »

On the topic of getting advice, from my own perspective after some time spent on the forums and by the coffee and coffee stuff:

Searching for machine for the first time one can have plenty of ideas which machines are better then the other ones and why, but in real sense, that has nothing to do with reality nor one's own rationale of making the choice. It's important to be able to step back for a moment and gather some knowledge of the espresso preparation and on different machines and the difference in the actual using of them, not only their operation and theory behind it; then, with that knowledge one can look closely and honestly at oneself to find out what kind of machines will suit oneself best to make the espresso coffee. This will help to determine what one really needs, not from the perspective of the bunch of available machines, but from the perspective of the user. Then with this in mind the search in the wide ocean of models begins, and then it will yield a choice of a few machines which resemble the rationale beyond this search, and it will be much easier to pose a concrete, rational questions, for which the answers will help to finally decide.
And there is always the issue of wants vs needs. But if one has done the effort to determine the need from user's perspective as I described, then the want vs need case boils down to just technical specifications of particular machines and eventual overkill for the specific planned use, and to aesthetics, and then it is not really a problem to go after what one wants, because it will be in the reasonable rational scope of the user. Otherwise anyone can want a GS/3 or Robur any other something just because of thinking that this something is better then something else. Then this kind of wanting doesn't even have anything to do with one's pleasure nor desire, it is some kind of useless abstract concept.

These my thoughts do not apply to the case of upgrading the coffee setup, I think if someone was using a certain machine for some time and now searches for upgrade one already knows why one wants to upgrade and what is that one wants to change.

And another part of the espresso setup is to not limit oneself due to being too practical; remember it's supposed to be fun after all. There is enough limitation in money, in time, in place of living, so let's not limit ourselves in our dreams and realisation of them. If you want and can and it is good to you, then go for it and be happy.

'a a ha sha sa ma!

LMWDP #199