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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Apr 2010
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    1

    Can you help a newbie?

    I am looking to get my first ever espresso machine. My girlfriend has a higher end Breville machine that makes a good espresso. I was looking into that particular model but after searching I hear most people tend to not like Breville. The online search seemed to only make matters worse though. I heard a ton of names and just got over whelmed. I was hearing god things about the Gaggia Classic model. I also heard good things about the Rancillio, but a friend of mine has it and it just makes awful coffee. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Member
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    Sep 2008
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    New Zealand
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    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    Firstly, I'm not an expert on various machines. secondly, most people will always advocate the particular machine they own without necessarily knowing much (or anything) about the others.

    For the purposes of my comments below I'm going to make an assumption here and that is that as a newbie, you are not familiar with a few basics.
    I think it safe to say that most people agree the grinder is more important than the espresso machine. What this means is that (all other things being equal) an average grinder and an excellent machine will generally not produce as good a cup as an excellent grinder and an average machine.
    Thats a pretty blanket kind of statement and there could be exceptions, but I think its fair and I'm stickin' by that.
    A good rule of thumb is to spend at least 30% of your machine budget on your grinder. Spice blade grinders are fine, if you are not interested in getting the best out of your beans. A low end conical burr grinder is a good place to start.

    Many other variables are also very important for ending up with great espresso, thats the art of espresso and perhaps why forums on coffee like this one exist, but these may not be as important as the two above, but without them, money spent on a great machine could be wasted. Illustration:
    How many times have we all walked into a cafe with high expectations and the first thing we notice is what kind of machine is sitting on the counter ? Only to discover once the coffee arrives..... drats.... another very average cup of coffee... again
    And yet, there it is... staring you in th face... an 8000 buck coffee machine, and yet a two bit cup of coffee.
    Its clear there is more to it than 'which machine'.

    That said, I appreciate your original question has not been addressed, I'm just raving on because you did use the term "newbie" so a few thought provoking comments might not go amiss.
    My advice is to invest in a good grinder first if you are indeed interested in the quality of the coffee you want to make. Then purchase an espresso machine that fits your budget.

    Perhaps you could provide your budget for members to then recommend machines within that value.
    Paul.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2005
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    Central North Carolina
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    1,551

    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    Avoid any machine that utilizes a thermoblock (think Breville any others) because they simply don't achieve proper brew temperature or pressure needed for proper espresso.

    What do you want a machine to do? Primarily straight espresso or more milk based drinks? This will determine if you'd benefit from a SBDU (single boiler double use) or a HX (heat exchange) machine.

    Definitely invest in a proper grinder. There are many fine choices for home use for $150-300. DO NOT ever even think about a blade type "grinder" as they are hardly that. Not even for drip if you ask me.

    The Gaggias are great starter machines as is the Silvia by Rancilio. The reason your friend cranks out awful coffee with the Silvia could be one of many reasons. Lousy grinder, stale beans, improper temperature during extraction, which the Silvia is known for. Most people don't realize fresh is what counts most. By fresh we mean 3-4 days out from the actual roast date, not when the bag was opened. Most espresso roasts I've tried needed to rest 4-5 days after being roasted then were great for about 2 weeks, then must be used for drip, sold to customers in bulk or simply be written off as a loss.

    BTW a simple home machine creating quite a stir lately is the newest Le'Lit espresso machine. I think it costs around $400 and is easily on par with the Gaggia Classic or Rancilio Silvia. Later!
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2009
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    5

    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    I have the breville 800esxl and I very happy with it. Everyone that has had espresso from my machine thinks it's the best they've ever had. I'm sure there are many other brands that are better (and worse), but overall it's a nice machine (a nice looking too). I bought mine online at macys.com. Nice price and free shipping.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
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    Jun 2009
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    24

    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    Nespresso Citiz is a good Espresso Machine. It's pretty maintenance free too and it has 19 bar pressure so it makes a lovely crema on top. There's a good selection of coffees that comes with the machine and you can also pot your own containers with your own coffee if you get bored of the huge selection.

    If you're looking for something a bit more oo la la, you should definetly check out some machines from Jura, they create some fantastic espresso coffees!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Central North Carolina
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    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    19bars of pressure is highly overrated. Problem is these cheaper machines use pressurized brew systems to create false crema. Crema is overrated if the taste is of garbage.

    As for Jura, I suggest not going this route as pretty much all super autos give mediocre results at best. Later!
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Jul 2010
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    3

    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    My advice is to go with a good brand name first. I first chose Krups, because I was new to espresso machines and I wrongly assumed that what used to be made-in-Switzerland Krups would be a good name. The machines are good for novices, but they lasted on average 2-3 years. I just now bought a Gaggia Classic(o) and I absolutely love it. I went with Gaggia because they are supposed to have a 5-10+ years service record and it makes the best coffee I have ever tasted. I read the reviews about the Rancillio and as a poor graduate student, I couldn't really rationalize the $200 difference. I felt that money might be better spent on a burr grinder, which can also make a big difference.

    That being said, I figure it depends on your budget and needs. I stay away from Jura and other automated machines because I grew up making my own shots, and I don't like the machine doing all the work. The automated machines are easier to use...when they work. They are a pain to debug and fix. Manual machines are the easiest to use, although making a cup can take a bit longer maybe. Although, for me, that's really the fun part. But I would say it depends on what you really want and need, and especially your budget. I personally try to stay away from the cheaper brands and buy from the better quality brands where I can be assured the machine will last longer, rather than choosing features like semi-automated machines as a priority.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2005
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    Central North Carolina
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    Re: Can you help a newbie?

    I agree with ysaletore... go with a good brand name and don't be thrown off by touted features that might be worthless when actually utilized.

    Also agree Gaggia is a great machine for home use. Basic no-nonsense machines with good build quality and are quite capable of great espresso. Later!
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    2
    I've had a Nespresso machine since Christmas and I love it. If you want a good quality coffee every morning without the mes go for a Nespresso. I have the citiz.

 

 

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