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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020

    Espresso machine: which one

    Hi everyone! I'm quite new in coffee making.

    I think many of you like drinking espresso. I'm not an exception and I want to buy my own espresso machine (I have never had this before).

    The main question is which one to buy. If I'm not mistaken, there are at least two types of these machines: automatic and semi-automatic. Which one is better? I've read some articles already and now I'm thinking about semi-automatic espresso machine with cappuccino function (because I love cappuccino too) Did someone use this machine? Or could recommend another one? My budget is $170 now but if there will be a really good machine for higher price I'll think about to rise my budget.

    All thoughts and suggestions are appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    New Jersey
    Given your budget you may just want to continue buying your capuccinos from your local coffee shop. First, the most important piece of equipment for making espresso is the grinder. You can have the best espresso machine in the world but if you grinder is not good, you won't be able to make a drinkable cup of espresso. And a quality grinder for espresso will easily cost you your entire budget that you provided us. Second, there are "espresso" machines out there that cost as little as $100 but many would say they won't provide you with the ability to make real or quality espresso. In my own research to buy an espresso machine for myself I have realized that the cheapest option for me to get a good quality espresso in the cup is a manual lever machine such as the Cafelat Robot which runs about $460 paired with a quality grinder such as the Niche Zero which runs about $700 with shipping. If I could afford to spend more money I really like the Lelit Mara which is a semi-automatic single boiler machine and runs around $1,400. And if I were to go really crazy I'd spring for a Lelit Bianca which is a double boiler machine that costs almost $3,000.

    There may be some much better advice from others who have experience making decent espresso with less expensive equipment. For that reason I'm following this thread.
    Last edited by MntnMan62; 02-27-2020 at 09:57 AM.
    Absurdity is the only reality - FZ

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Central North Carolina
    Thing is there are quite a few types of machines if you want to get technical. A typical 'semi-auto' is pump driven and requires you to control the pump. The 'auto' version typically usually some type of flowmeter to measure how much water goes through and stops automatically and most can be programmed. Likely some work on a time based method as well, but I personally have never relied on a machine telling me when an extraction is done as that machine doesn't know what's going on with the puck, etc. Even when we ran a commercial mobile setup with a 2 group machine I still controlled every extraction manually as espresso was the primary focus and deserved the most attention. Then you have the most basic machines like levers, some having boilers and some requiring parts to be heated and water added manually. Then there are spring and manual levers. Not to leave out the classic debated topic of boiler type as in single, heat exchange and double boiler. Of course there are some with no boilers as they rely on thermocoil/block heating systems... it does get technical and does go on and on and on...

    For your stated needs I would say look for something like a Gaggia Classic as you can get great espresso and nicely textured milk with one with some practice dialing it all in. If you're OK with buying used Classics can be had at great prices if in decent shape. For the grinding aspect you need something decent. I'd recommend a quality hand grinder if you're OK with that as you can spend say $150 or so on a hand grinder and it will likely be on par with an electric grinder costing in the $500 range. Also lots of used hand grinders floating around to snag. Same can be said for electrics as well. A bit over 3 yrs ago I scored my barely used Silvia/Rocky for $250. It needed quite a bit of cleaning due to the laziness of the original owner as the grinder was full of molded coffee tar, but didn't bother me as that was a steal of a deal with a bit of driving, time cleaning/dialing in and still cranking out fantastic espresso every single day. I no longer have the Rocky grinder, but it's still working great for the guy I sold it to. Quality items will last indefinitely with a bit of cleaning, preventive maintenance and proper use.

    After you get the equipment sorted you will need a decent tamper and a scale that weighs in .1 gram increments. Now I'm not anal retentive on weighing every single variable, but weighing your dry coffee doses is rather important for espresso. Don't forget quality/FRESH coffee and balanced water as those are the two most overlooked variables with espresso. It can seem costly, overwhelming, etc., but doesn't have to be. My entire home setup with the Silvia (modified), a Cimbali Jr. grinder, a few high quality hand grinders, the accessories I have for it, the kitchen cart I bought and refurbished as well as my home devised/built roaster I have spent around $1,500 for everything. What I get from this setup is easily on par with the best coffees I've had anytime in the past and I've used LOTS of different coffees for home/commercial use previously coming from equipment costing over $10K. It's not so much about what is spent, but how it's utilized as nothing will trump skill/determination.

    Edit... thought I'd add that if you're open to buying used as mentioned you can find something quite usable in your stated price range as people often get frustrated with the time/effort involved with espresso and sell stuff rather cheap. In my area recently there was a deal on OfferUp selling a used Capresso Infinity for $10... yes, TEN dollars and new it'd be close to $100. Not the most ideal for espresso use, but I had one for some time and it worked just fine for my intended purpose.
    Last edited by shadow745; 02-28-2020 at 01:35 AM.
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by MntnMan62 View Post
    First, the most important piece of equipment for making espresso is the grinder. You can have the best espresso machine in the world but if you grinder is not good, you won't be able to make a drinkable cup of espresso.
    I was able to make a really good espresso with a Capresso Infinity and a cheap weigh scale. It wasn't as easy as it is with a more precise grinder, but it worked for me until I was able to upgrade. The espresso machine was what made all the difference. Going from a cheap Delonghi espresso maker to an entry level consumer espresso machine (Gaggia Classic Pro) is what made the biggest difference for me.
    A day without coffee is like... just kidding. I have no idea.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    East Coast USA
    Way more than what you want to spend but the Breville Barista Express can pull some very good shots, has pre-infusion and comes with a built in grinder. Its a great place to start if you want an all in one.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    I got one for $200 and it's absolutely perfect for my needs (number 4 on this list) my buddy got the Gaggia classic for almost double the cash I paid and I honestly didn't notice much difference at all.
    Last edited by riverbill; 05-04-2020 at 02:13 PM. Reason: source



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