Home Espresso Question

mikevinw

New member
Jul 27, 2006
1
0
Hello All,
Long time lurker first time poster. I have been home roasting for a while now and my wife and I have decided to try our hand at espresso. We are now in the market for a home machine. I've read through forums and tried to do research but it does get confusing. My budget is only about $300. I've been looking on ebay and have been watching 3 models. The Saeco Classico, Briel ES-160, Breville 800ESXL. Any pros or cons or other suggestions.

Thanks,
Mike
 

dollar_girl

New member
Jul 27, 2006
1
0
I don't know what area you are from, but i'd recommend browsing second hand, industral, single group machines that once belonged to coffee shops etc, at auctions where you can actually go and browse... then physically bid. Generally you can get a good deal if you 'shop' around. Just a suggestion!
 

mrgnomer

New member
Jan 22, 2006
149
0
Canada
mikevinw said:
Hello All,
Long time lurker first time poster. I have been home roasting for a while now and my wife and I have decided to try our hand at espresso. We are now in the market for a home machine. I've read through forums and tried to do research but it does get confusing. My budget is only about $300. I've been looking on ebay and have been watching 3 models. The Saeco Classico, Briel ES-160, Breville 800ESXL. Any pros or cons or other suggestions.

Thanks,
Mike

Gaggia Espresso, Solis Crema SL 70 Semiautomatic or a Starbuck's Barista have been said to be capable of making good espresso. The Gaggia Classic is more expensive but it has a 3 way valve which makes unlocking the portafilter after making an espresso possible right away.

I haven't used any of these machines but I'd say they are all about equal in terms of capability. I don't think you'll be getting fall on the floor drop dead good espresso on any of them nor will steaming be as good as better machines. I'd say avoid machines that force you to use crema enhancers if they can't be fitted with a non pressurized portafilter. Turbo frothers are also a cheat so a machine that's powerful enough to develop good steam without the need for frothing cheats is a better deal frothing wise.

Look for the quality of the components. Gaggia and Solis, I believe, use commercial grade brass portafilters and maybe more brass or denser metal in their machines making them more robust and capable of holding good temps for longer. To save money at a lower price range all cut costs by cutting corners on design and parts. Some of the ways to save costs is using either thermal blocks to heat the water or cheaper boiler material or heating elements integrated right into the boiler walls (you have to change the whole boiler if you melt a heating element letting the boiler run dry while it's on), or fit the machine with cheats like crema enhancers or turbo frothers that claim to assist you in making the perfect espresso drind but really make up for the machines woeful inadequacies...

One good machine that offers no assistance but is an excellent commercial grade entry level machine is the Rancilio Silvia. I started with one and it was a chore to get good espresso from her, not because she's not capable but because my skill in making espresso was so lacking. After researching, using a good grinder and home roasting I got quite good at making decent to very decent espresso with her. She's an excellent steamer, a little wet but lots of power when you get to know her. She's also a tank and is probably the best no nonsense starter machine by virtue of her design, commercial grade parts and capability. She also retails for about $500US but you can probably pick up a used one for less, although, because of her quality, her resale value is higher than I'd say all other machines in her price range and category.

Do some research on other forums like coffeegeek or home-barista and see how the machines you're interested compare and get a good idea of how the machines are designed and how that design compares to lesser or greater machines. Excellent espresso is not hard but it requires an investment in time and equipment for capabiltiy of both operator and machine.
 
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