How Much Effort and Money Does Home Espresso Take?

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Martin
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#1: Post by Martin »

An acquaintance glanced a my Bianca sitting beside my HG1 and the usual tools--really, quite a modest set of (visible) coffee gear. Sez he, "Espresso. I like espresso. Does that take a lot of work--like, money, time?"

My answer, which I'm offering here, was to rely on a metric I first thought of when asked a similar question about my wood hot tub by someone similarly clueless. (I say that without judgment but I wasn't prepared to get this person up to speed--starting from zero.)

Answer: Do you have a dog? Did you ever? Once the initial investments are made, at a minimum maintaining well-behaved espresso is at least equal to caring for a puppy. (The hot tub is a puppy and a half. The path up my hillside--1.3 puppies.)
Heat + Beans = Roast. All the rest is commentary.

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BaristaBoy E61
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#2: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Ask you friend, "how much trouble and effort are you willing to endure to produce an exquisite cup of coffee?"
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

PIXIllate
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#3: Post by PIXIllate »

I tell people I like they should be prepared to initially invest $10,000 and 2 years of practice. After that it's relatively inexpensive and easy.

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baldheadracing
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#4: Post by baldheadracing »

I tell people to get a Breville Oracle Touch at a minimum ... and to read this article: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog ... o-at-home/

I was surprised at how many people I know that have a Breville Barista Express. What didn't surprise me is that they're essentially making Moka Pot coffee with that machine (with pressurized portafilter 'crema').

Regardless, it seems that most people are content with coffee-flavoured hot milk using Lavazza from Costco, and Moka Pot coffee is just fine for that.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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Jeff
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#5: Post by Jeff »

For consistently good home espresso, a good hand grinder ($100-250), any of a number of open-boiler or pour-into machines (La Peppina, VAM/Caravel, Baby, Robot, ... , $150-500), your existing kettle, and a $20-a-week bean budget for a quality espresso blend for two shots a day. A Bambino probably fits the role as well.

As soon as you call it a hobby, then it is different.
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Jonk
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#6: Post by Jonk »

Jeff wrote:For consistently good home espresso, a good hand grinder ($100-250), any of a number of open-boiler or pour-into machines (La Peppina, VAM/Caravel, Baby, Robot, ... , $150-500), your existing kettle, and a $20-a-week bean budget for a quality espresso blend for two shots a day.
This. Especially a Robot, with almost no required maintenance, can make pulling espresso about as simple as Aeropress. Of course, just like the Aeropress it can be complicated for those of us who wish 8)

coyote-1
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#7: Post by coyote-1 »

It all depends on what you are willing to invest. Money? Time? Thought?

Considering that for a typical person who tries to buy their way to goals, $2500 on gear could instead be 800 double espressos served up to you by a local barista. If you have one or two of those a week, that more than seven years of espresso pleasure. Hardly worth your money to invest in the gear, and then still have to invest the time and effort to learn how to do it.

My feeling is this. As long as you have to invest the time and effort anyway, why not invest just a tiny bit more time and effort - and utilize gear others have left behind? That way you can do this on a relative shoestring where money is concerned, while still enjoying pleasurable espresso. The resources are out there for anyone sufficiently interested.

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HB
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#8: Post by HB »

Making espresso at home does take effort, but it's far, far less today than years ago. That's because (a) equipment has become more home-friendly, and (b) there's lots of online help, which eliminates most of the "newbie punishment" of years past. Before anyone gets into espresso at home, I first recommend they consider just a good grinder and French press or pourover and good coffee. Much smaller investment in time/money.
coyote-1 wrote:...why not invest just a tiny bit more time and effort - and utilize gear others have left behind?
If someone just wants to experiment, buying used higher-end equipment can make a lot of sense. In most cases, you can buy today and sell a year later if it doesn't work out and get all your money back; you could even make a small profit. You can't say that for many home appliances.
Dan Kehn

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Spitz.me
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#9: Post by Spitz.me »

It's some proportion of what you're willing to do and how much you'd like to invest initially, at least.

Chris' advice is horrifying - lol - but makes sense for expectation setting.

I'm not so different though. I ask them how much they might spend. If they say anything less than a thousand dollars I tell them the gear they can get is either really hard to use or doesn't make espresso. The conversation is almost always over after that answer. Nearly everyone who's flippantly curious isn't actually that interested.

If it's not going to become a hobby or a part of your lifestyle then you just invested in something that just sits there - no differently then that treadmill purchased with a new year's resolution in mind. If you want to love coffee and just buy whatever you can get at the local bakery, great. But buying the coffee and making it are world's apart. One is mindless and the other needs you to be mindful.

If the conversation ever gets interesting, then maybe a manual and complicated cheap process could come up. But I find this to be some of the worst advice in general for a newbie. I've never run into someone that is genuinely interested in having the most difficult time trying something new. IMHO
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SutterMill
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#10: Post by SutterMill »

Martin wrote:Answer: Do you have a dog? Did you ever? Once the initial investments are made, at a minimum maintaining well-behaved espresso is at least equal to caring for a puppy. (The hot tub is a puppy and a half. The path up my hillside--1.3 puppies.)
So many people with poorly trained dogs. I shudder to think of what their espresso would taste like.