Espresso Machine: help, please: home use, semi-auto...


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Jun 21, 2013
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Hi all,

I've been searching through the forums for about the past year (so as to get relatively current info), but haven't really seen Q&A for my specific needs. Sure could use some help...

Looking for an espresso machine for home use. Budget is less than $400, but I've seen recommendations all over the board as to price ranges. From what I've read, a semi-automatic machine should work for my needs, do NOT want a pod machine (although I've seen ones that can do pods as well as regular).

When I go to Starbucks, I order an iced Doubleshot: 5 shots of espresso, with just a kiss of milk.

*Don't need an espresso machine with a milk frother on it, although from what I've seen that is often included. Just don't care about it.

*Do need something where I can pull multiple shots.

In reading the forum, I've seen everything from the De'Longhi EC155 (only $86.67 on Amazon) to the Gaggia 14101 Classic ($399 on Amazon) mentioned and I'm really confused.

Don't know what other info you need to make a recommendation. I might be able to be pursuaded to go to a slightly higher price point if there is a compelling reason to do so, but would rather not. However, good coffee is a quality of life issue, after all ... :)
Hello "EsspressB"

Welcome to the Coffee Forums!

So, it sounds like you're looking for an espresso machine, so you can brew 5 shots of espresso to make an Iced Doubleshot at home.

Will you be needing the machine to make hot espresso too, or will it be for iced coffee only?

I wonder if there are other alternatives, such as an iced-coffee concentrate brewer that would work better for you.
I'm not familiar with those machines, but I remember reading about them on this Forum.

I'm sure some of the other Forum members will have some suggestions for you.

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Hi Rose,

Sure, I like a hot espresso as well.

I currently have an AeroPress that I use most days, but I just love the flavor of the real espresso. It would be great if I could have it everyday instead of just as an occasional treat.

Thank you,

P.S. I tried the inverted AeroPress method this morning after reading about it here: pretty good!
Welcome aboard. I always was impressed with Rancilio Silvia for the espresso machine. They are around 650 brand new but if you look into used on ebay, you should be able to purchase one for around 300 - 350 including the shipping. I think that is the only home espresso machine I would buy under 500 dollars.

Good LUck
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CoffeeJunky, thank you for your response. I see some older models on eBay, but being a novice, I'm very uncomfortable buying an old, used, machine for that much money. I have no way of evaluating the model/purchase price. Are they really worth $300 after 13 years of daily use? Seems like it would be getting within a couple of years of end-of-life at that age. Unless, of course, someone with experience could point me to a specific item.

If you have a bit of time, I surely would appreciate you pointing out what makes this a superior machine. I'm here to learn.

Thank you,
I don't think 13 years old machine is worth 300. I would look and wait little further. I would think few years old machine would be around that price. I have seen few of them. Maybe 350 or so. This Rancilio Silvia works just like commercial espresso machine for home use. It has many great features and made perfect for home coffee Aficionado. There are many out there with similar features but you will end up paying 1000 dollars or more.

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine 33311133310 | eBay

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine 33311133310 | eBay

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine V2 w Bottomless Portafilter and 4 Baskets 33311133310 | eBay

Check these three out. They are version 2 but I would try to get version 3.
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I just watched this video on the Rancilio Silvia on the Seattle Coffee Gear site (I don't have enough posts to do a link). I'm a little confused. If I'm not going to steam milk do I need the PID? Do I need to worry about making the pump run in between shots?

Thank you,
Actually the PID would be more useful for brewing as it will help keep boiler temperature stable, which is otherwise done via temperature surfing/timing. I'm a fan of being hands-on with espresso and shun PIDs or anything else to make the process easy, but guess they do have their place for those wanting to remove some of the work/skill from the equation. Running the pump between shots is definitely needed as it flushes the group, which helps to clean and regulate temperature. After steaming on any Single Boiler Double Use machine you want to run the pump to replenish the boiler water as machines such as this have no auto-fill. Running the boiler dry will usually sour your day by burning the heating element out. Common problem with the Silvia.
I agree with Shadow about the PID. But as i have stated above, if you want to make 20 cups of espresso, you will need PID but if you are making few cups at a time, I don't really think you need to have PID installed. Also, this is very bias opinion. I love Silvia for its durability and proven liability. Of course there are many other espresso machines out there that can be very reasonably priced and does great job.
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Shadow745 and CoffeeJunky, I'd really like to hear about other possible machines that you all might recommend as the Silvia is quite a bit higher than what I really wanted to spend. I'm just not very keen on a used machine, either.

Perhaps you could give some pros and cons of each?

I was browsing Amazon the other day and saw a machine that seemed to be getting some really good reviews until I got to a review that said it came with an envelope that strongly warned about lead poisoning! Yikes!

Thank you so much!
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Bumping this, hoping to get a response as to specific machine recommendations. Key points:
5-6 shots for one drink - one drink per day (maybe two drinks on tough days! :))
Budget less than $400.
No milk involved (that is, milk frother not a concern at all.)

As a secondary matter, it would be really nice to know WHY you are recommending a particular machine, but it is just frustrating to see people say there are good machines out there that make good espresso, but not mention any specific brands/models.

Thank you!
IMBHO there are better home machines for less $ than the Silvia. The Achilles heel with it is the offset boiler/group, which causes temperature fluctuation that can be difficult to master for many.

Preach on, brother. I hate Silvia with a passion, for the reason stated. She's a cold hearted, temperamental hussy who will rake you over the coals without compunction.

Think I'm kidding? I owned one for 4 years, and hated every minute of it. I, too, bought it because the coffee geeks said I should, but oh how they were wrong. My recommendation? The cheapest gaggia you can find for around d $200, the Gaggia color or pure. Why? It's better designed and easier to work with and learn on.

Something I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is grinders. I'd much rather see you buy a cheap gaggia and better grinder, than some half-assed excuse for an espresso machine like Silvia. The cheapest option is a baratza virtuoso. Baratza is an outstanding company with excellent company service, and great grinders. If you can step up to the preciso, you won't need another grinder for a very long time. The regular season virtuoso is just fine though. The difference is the preciso has virtually unlimited adjustment capability, whereas the virtuoso has fewer 'steps'. Why is e grinder so important? Because espresso requires a uniform grind, and ability to adjust in the smallest increments possible. The more expensive the grinder, the more tight the tolerances, the more uniform the grind. This equals less fines and better extraction with better flavors and less bitters.

Anyway, the virtuoso and gaggia combo at whole latte love would do you great, for just a bit over your $400 budget.
By the way, Becky, there is a wide range of espresso machines, from a $50 Krups to a $10k speedster. Imo, and in my (pretty vast) experience, the only machine to start with is a gaggia. The next step up from the Gaggia is a $1200 astra pro (and I have very specific reasons for saying this). And beyond that would be one of the $2k dual boilers, like the izzo or Vivaldi, and beyond that the gs3, then speedster. In between all those is a bunch of white noise, very little worth looking at.