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  1. #1
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    Newbie seeking advice on what entry-level machine to buy! :)

    Hi everyone!

    I'm really happy to have found this forum! I've been meaning to get into the espresso world for a while already, but only now I have a minimum budget to at least get my self a basic, entry-level machine. It's quite basic, I know, but better than nada.

    Anyway, the thing is I've been having a hard time choosing, especially between different models of Delonghi and Breville machines, which all seem to have their potential downsides.

    So here are my main questions:

    - De'Longhi ECP3220R:
    my favorite at first... but I've read that it won't go well with an espresso grind because it's too fine? Does that mean that if I buy a previously ground coffee, say a super basic one like Lavazza Premium or Lavazza Crema and Gusto, is it going to be too fine for it? Is the pressure-based portafilter a very negative thing in anyway?


    - De'Longhi ECO310R Icona: if the answer for the first question is yes, than is it also true for this model? Also, I've read reviews on Amazon saying that this machine, though robust-looking and more expensive than the previous one, seems to be more prone to technical problems and failure. Is that really so? There is a sale now and they are BOTH the same price, so I'd be inclined for this one, but... should I?

    - Breville Roma Machine
    : is there any advantage on the Breville compared to those too? Does the fact that it's not a pressure-based portafilter make its crema any better?

    My main concerns
    :
    - not the frother, but really the crema quality, the reliability of the machine, and being able to use typical espresso brands, pre-ground, that we find in the supermarket.

    Thanks so much in advance and feel free to suggest any other machine on the same price-range (I'm in Canada btw, so some European models may be unavailable..)

    Rafael.

  2. #2
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    Hi Rafeal and welcome to the forum... one thing to be aware of when you are using pre-ground coffee it's going to be tough to get great quality crema/espresso. You would greatly benefit from purchasing fresh whole bean coffee and grinding just before use. If that's not an option look for an espresso machine with pressurized portafilters. It's a way to kinda 'cheat' the process and produce better quality espresso when the grind is out of your control. I have no feedback or experience with those type machines.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musicphan View Post
    If that's not an option look for an espresso machine with pressurized portafilters. It's a way to kinda 'cheat' the process and produce better quality espresso when the grind is out of your control. I have no feedback or experience with those type machines.
    Thanks for the reply and for the welcome!! So, hmmm... interesting. I have a follow-up question in that case. Buying a grinder is def on my plans, but not on the short-term. Now, the DeLonghi machines I mentioned DO have the pressurized portafilter, but I feel somewhat suspicious of it.

    I guess my question is: do you think someone like me, who loves espresso and its crema but is not a connoisseur, would be frustrated with this fake crema? Like, from 0 to 10, if 10 is perfect and 0 is horrible, how bad is the fake crema lol? That might actually be THE thing to help me decide

  4. #4
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    Well.. like I said I don't have any experience with those machines. I do know that pressurized portafilters help but without fresh coffee, it's going to be tough to get about a 5-6. I can tell when my whole bean coffee gets 5-6 weeks old ... it starts to lose that lovely crema. I can't imagine you could get anything great with pre-ground, you simply don't know how old it is. At a minimum, if you're forced to go pre-ground find a local roaster and get it from them. At least you know its fresh...

    Here is a better explanation of the two: https://youtu.be/vB2bOZ1V99M

    Something to also consider is a good quality manual grinder... much less expensive than an electric grinder. I'm not a fan of the effort but people here on the forums seem to like them.

  5. #5
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    I'll be honest and say that although I'm a huge proponent of making the best of what you have (or will have) and can afford, none of those machines will give decent results and the longevity is seriously questionable. Pressurized systems (baskets or portafilters) can give decent results, but good relatively fresh coffee is still necessary. Yes you can use supermarket pre-ground, but the end result will leave a lot to be desired. My first machine had a pressurized basket and I paired it with a Capresso Infinity, which is a decent conical burr grinder. I did source quality/fresh coffee though and did get some pretty decent extractions. The extractions won't come close to the flavor depth/heavy texture typically found in a quality extraction though, but drinkable no doubt. For lower budget I often mention going the moka pot route as although it's not 'true espresso', it's close enough and easily on par with the best pressurized systems. Pair the moka with a good hand grinder/fresh coffee and you can have great espresso-like results for no more than you would spend on one of those machines alone and of course the moka/hand grinder will last indefinitely. I mention that as you said steaming wasn't as important. There are also manual levers like the Flair, ROK, etc. that offer solid espresso for a fraction of a pump machine. Of course a decent grinder is needed, but a quality hand grinder isn't crazy costly. I look fwd to hand grinding pretty much daily even though I have a very capable/large electric sitting next to it.
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow745 View Post
    For lower budget I often mention going the moka pot route as although it's not 'true espresso', it's close enough and easily on par with the best pressurized systems.
    Thank you SO MUCH for the input! I'm liking this forum already!

    And yes, I totally understand your whole point and by now I'm aware that with my 200$ budget, anything I get will be somewhat dissatisfying even for my standards.

    That said... all my life I've had mostly the MOKA POT-made coffee. And though coffee made with it is pretty good, having ZERO crema is frustrating for me. The crema itself IS important for me btw, what I meant was the milk-frother part, not so much

    I'm really leaning towards the pressurized portafilter for now, buying good, freshly ground local coffee whenever possible, and saving money for a grinder in the future.

    But I still have this one (final?) question, maybe you can help answering it to me: will the supermarket espresso-grind, which is quite fine I guess, CLOG the pressurized portafilter? I totally get the supermarket coffee is not the best, but sometimes I do want to at least have the option of using it with the machine. But... will it clog it? I've heard comments in pointed in that sense, but maybe I've misunderstood it.. ?

  7. #7
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    It's really difficult to try guessing how fine those machines can handle. Only pre-ground I've tried was Gevalia many years ago and Cafe Bustelo for a moka pot. Don't recall trying anything other than fresh ground/dialed in with the pressurized setup I did have. You could also source local/quality fresh coffee and ask the shop to grind to see how that goes. You'd need something along the lines of what's used in a moka pot, maybe a touch finer, but not typical 'standard' espresso range fine.
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  8. #8
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    Shadow as usual gives great advice...

    One other option that I hadn't considered Aeropress with the possible option of the Prismo attachment. You can find the Aeropress for $25 / Prismo is $25 and a quality hand grinder ($75-100?... I'll defer to Shadow he is the expert on hand grinders). I think you would actually get a better quality product out of that solution than a low-end machine. The low-end machines simply don't generate enough pressure to get a good espresso w/ crema.

    https://youtu.be/jVZVIr14b-g

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musicphan View Post
    One other option that I hadn't considered Aeropress with the possible option of the Prismo attachment. You can find the Aeropress for $25 / Prismo is $25 and a quality hand grinder ($75-100?)
    Now that's also a REALLY INTERESTING idea (!). I hadn't realized how much cheaper these were. I def would not buy a manual grinder, but I guess buying the Aeropress would leave me the budget to get a good (?) 150$ electrical grinder...

    And then, that leaves me to another question (sorry for all the questions!!!)... you see, I have a chronic pain issue and applying some level of force on things can trigger it, unfortunately. Now... to give you a reference point, I can totally deal with the French Press for instance. How much force do I have to apply on the Aeropress? Same as the French Press? Double the French Press?

    I know it's hard to say, but just to give me an idea And thanks again for the awesome suggestions!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musicphan View Post
    Shadow as usual gives great advice...

    One other option that I hadn't considered Aeropress with the possible option of the Prismo attachment. You can find the Aeropress for $25 / Prismo is $25 and a quality hand grinder ($75-100?... I'll defer to Shadow he is the expert on hand grinders). I think you would actually get a better quality product out of that solution than a low-end machine. The low-end machines simply don't generate enough pressure to get a good espresso w/ crema.

    https://youtu.be/jVZVIr14b-g
    Thanks for that as I only chime in where I have a fair amount of experience and try to give honest/unbiased feedback. The Aeropress did come to mind, but that's one thing I've never used. A TON of enthusiasts love them though.

    Regarding quality hand grinders... based on the market now a really good unit with long lasting build quality, precision burrs, etc. typically start around $175 and go up. Now I do think some are a bit overpriced for what they are and of course there are cheaper options that are likely OK, but not great for finer grinding. The JE-Plus from IZPresso is what I have and it's easily on par with my 64 mm flat Cimbali electric. Of course hand grinding isn't for everybody and I can relate to chronic pain as rotator cuff tendonitis in both shoulders is why I gave up the manual lever years ago, but I seriously miss it. In that case a decent electric grinder is the only solid option for great coffee/less pain.
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

 

 
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