Need Advice, help and suggestions on a serious coffeemaker for life

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Not much time to finesse morning coffee...

Finessing too much up front for starters is probably a bad idea on forums in which someone is not familiar with. You could spend a lot of time typing out stuff and not get much feedback. Yes, since Americans are stuffing a Big Mac in their mouths on the fly while driving past a animated billboard of "The Army Wants You", posts like mine on the fly are quite common and seem to be fishing with 10 rods mounted to back of my speed boat.

I was thinking about playing the game. Taking the dive, and possibly could be sorry for it later, but I just might have fun and end up enjoying a super multi-purpose auto maker. At least I can say I tried one. Add to that, my Chemex ritual is starting to wear me down. I'm not willing to go back to my automated Mr. Coffee. My French Press was kind of cool, but I hated dealing with the grounds every time.

I used to make Espresso Mochas from an old Krups steam toy, but with a little practice and care, I was able to make many enjoyable Mochas. I have gotten away from Espresso Mochas a little in the last few years and pretty much just like a great cup of coffee, which my Chemex provides. However, since I am not a fussy as I used to be, perhaps an automaker can make coffee every morning which will suit me fine. I certainly have decent beans in which I like, and it intrigues me that a automaker can grind the beans, heat the water very hot, and make the coffee all at once, plus the steam wand if I want it. I might make an occasional Mocha, but my main thing is coffee.

A stainless steel machine that uses as little plastic as possible is good start. Also I have read a few machines have been able to make a good cup of coffee or espresso which rivals a decent shop in Italy. Yeah, I got many friends in Italy, but I don't live there, in fact no where near there. I am about as far away as you can get, so I can at least pretend by obtaining a marvelous machine that makes a great cup many times over, and will stand the test of time. I saw someone took a jab at Jura, but I am seeing that it gets many solid reviews with few complaints.

Others have said Saeco is very good, but others dumped their Saeco for a Jura and say it's a superior product. The Delonghi and Gaggia have had fair reviews but seem to have more complaints. For over performance with fewest complaints, it seems Jura wins hands down at Wholelattalove. Of course I have not read quite enough yet from other forums on super-autos or reviews, and that is partly why I came here. The Dutch one looks good of course, but I think it lacks other features I might want in a super-auto. I also like the self cleaning feature of Jura, since I have hard water in the mountains where I live. I filter mine, but it's far from perfect water to use. Some like machines that can be broken down and cleaned easily, others like self cleaning machines that don't have to be broken down. I'm not sure, but if a self cleaning machine works well that way, then it's less work for me!

The best shot of Espresso closest to me is probably San Francisco. However, I am willing to compromise on both Espresso and the Coffee. I don't need or expect the best from a nice machine, but something I can be a happy camper with. I have read most of these machines produce very good coffee or Espresso. Cappuccino and Lattes are somewhat interesting and a change on occasion, but I like Coffee mostly. The idea that these machines can make all of the above, and do so reasonably well is what compels me to take the plunge. As far as the machine for life, if it fits, then I will just keep sending it in for repairs. Sometimes the older models are better then the new ones!

On the method, I am used to drip pour method, but my main problem I yearn to have an auto maker again, and this time perhaps I can get something very nice, a super-auto combination drip/espresso machine would be interesting but it seems the pressure machines can make great coffee, although I have never owned one outside of a steam toy. Again, I would like to make Espresso Mochas, coffee, lattes, etc. with a multi-purpose machine. If I was a perfectionist and only drank coffee, I guess I would stay with the Chemex, use great beans with an excellent bean grinder.
I firmly believe we all need to travel that road of learning...well, at least I did?

Bruce..... thanks for the response. Just so you can appreciate my respect for "learning through trial and tribulation", know that I went through at least 4 years of basic training in coffee. I pulled a 20 year old Krups mini-single boiler machine out of the closet in '05, (2005, not 1905, OK? ;-)), and made what I thought was a pretty good cappuccino. I even got the milk to sorta' froth and everything! A week later I bought a refurbished Gaggia Synchrony Super-Auto from Whole Latte Love in NY. Two weeks later, after getting frustrated over the poor steam wand frothing, the crappy tasting coffee, the mess that I had clean up after every couple cycles...... well. I returned it. Luckily, Whole latte gave me all my money back as a credit, although they were going to cut me a check. I asked them what it would take to make a decent espresso, and they sold me the Expobar Pulsar heat-exchanger machine. I shortly thereafter quit trying to grind at home with my $30 Cuisinart burr-grinder, and bought a Gaggia MDF. For six months I actually was cranking out great espresso. I should add that I found Malabar Gold, a trademark blend of Josuma Coffee in the Bay area. I later developed a relationship with the owner, and we've been coffee-friends since. I still use Malabar to this day, although I buy small amounts of green for my own consumption and roast at home.

But even with the Expobar, a great machine for the price, my obsession led me to investing around $3k, and I bought the La Spaziale S1, along with a small commercial grinder, the Macap stepless, doser. From there, and for the past 6 years, I've become more and more embedded in the industry. I've done my coffee trips back to Brasil, and have many friends who are roasters, shop owners and vendors to specialty coffee. Early on I also joined SCAA, which expanded my view of the specialty coffee industry. It's been like getting another Bachelors degree, with lots'a field trips to just about every type of business that participates in this industry. So for me to criticize anyone's progression through any coffee gear decisions would be unfair. I've owned, played with, and brewed on just about every general type of machine out there. And the only reason I'm so adamant in my opinion, is because I've had more failures in coffee than successes. But the successes I've had are winners. And their foundation includes purchasing and using gear that I'd never want to fiddle with again. Super automatics would certainly be high on my list. And that includes the current stock of commercial machines.

At home, we also brew our Brasilian cafes "Tropiero Style." That's simply boiling water in a pot, adding sugar, bringing off boil, adding our coffee grounds, stirring, and then filtering through a simple plastic Melitta filter into a serving carafe or thermos. That's how it's done in Brasil, and the coffee kicks ass! But unfortunately for anyone thinking they need to spend huge bucks for the gear, the entire setup is well under $10.... and it's far better brewing than even in our Capressa MT500, which cost us $200. That's a high end drip machine that, like the Technivorm, boasts 200 degree brewing water. I think I spoke to that in my earlier "diatribe?" So it's not the cost of the equipment, it's the results. And even more important, it's whatever we enjoy. I was more a coffee snob five years ago than today. All I ask of myself and others, is to have a background in the subject, humble up, and remember that taste is a personal thing, and usually an ongoing result of our continuing education in life. So maybe you need to try a super auto? If you do, check out the refurbished ones, and make sure your vendor gives you a respectable "return period." Chances are high that you'll not be satisfied. My background includes loving anything electro-mechanical. So the idea of the "whizzing, clunking and whirling" of the Gaggia was intriguing for a short while. But after that one week trial period...... thankfully, I moved on. You might, or you might not?

My home test espresso bar now includes a small commercial Macap stepless doser grinder and a La Spaziale dual boiler one-group. I installed a two-stage water filter under the counter, and use a Hottop roaster for evaluating, and consuming, my green bean inventory. I still get sample lots of coffees from our family and friends back home in Brasil. I roast blends for both drip and espresso brewing. And having done many time-motion studies, I now realize that after doing dutiful audits of time invested, the decentralized preping and brewing takes no more total time that using a super auto. And even when we were able to tweak the super autos, the quality of our beans was lost either in the poor grinder operation, and/or in the terribly inaccurate brewing cycles. It just wasn't/isn't worth it. And that includes large commercial super auto machines. If i were able to settle for mediocity, I'd say fine. But..... "I've been to the mountain and back, and the journey has spoiled me for anything that promises less labor for better results." So in summary..... Bruce.... buying the super auto may actually be a good thing. Try it. Make sure your dealer will take it back! Heck, you may actually enjoy it? But check into the refurbished units from Whole Latte Love. Regardless, good luck..... really, Al
al photo insert w-espresso bar.jpg
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  • #18
Going to the Mountain...

Thanks for the Photo!

Yes, of course I am feeling like I am being suckered in. Everyone wants or needs to be a sucker at least once, hey? However, I guess one way to put it, and a good example is Gail from Seattle Coffee Gear. She likes to walk into her shop in the morning, hit the switch and not long after she's got a coffee drink she can live with for starters in the morning.
YouTube - Crew Review: Jura Impressa C9

My take is somewhat like hers. I don't have the acquired taste you have, nor do I have time to cultivate such a hobby. Being a professional, this is your life. My life is split all day long between six of one, half a dozen of another duties. As you say, you time in the industry has allowed you to make a great cup in a very short amount of time, but I don't have the training, equipment or knowledge about how to put all those resources together very quickly.

Perhaps in time, maybe, but maybe not. I'm not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel yet, as far as freeing up more time in my life to expand my coffee hobby. In fact the super-auto was an attempt to save time in the morning. I am getting more and more like I just want someone else to shove a great cup under my nose after I get out of bed just to get on my feet, and a six mile trip to the local coffee shop won't work for me. Just smelling the coffee in the morning coming out of an auto-maker would be enough to get me out of the friggin bed, and then once out and have drank the intoxicating elixir, my feet would then start to move, one foot in front of the other. Right now, the Chemex ritual is starting to become a beatdown. It's like the movie Groundhogs day.

I knew these machines would probably not be as good as my Chemex cup of coffee, but if it's decent, I might revel in it for a while, and at least it would give me a break from Groundhogs day. In fact I can still do my chemex thing on some days for a superior cup of coffee. Maybe I could use the machine for down and dirty days. You know like drinking coffee in the trenches kind of thing. Days where you just need to get going, no time for finessing.

I appreciate your art of the coffee thing, but I think I fall into the average mode of coffee lovers who love toy coffee machines and like to see automated things work for them, so they can do other things at the same time. My kitchen is full of gadgets, too many gadgets in fact. I am a sucker for gadgets. I believe in the road of learning too, but coffee is not my profession, and as a hobby, I have very little time to learn more or time to finesse it. Wish I could and maybe someday I can when my auto-maker dies. However another problem is that perhaps I have too many hobbies already, and if I had only one hobby like coffee, I could devote more to it.

Let me go to the mountain first, then at least I can also say I went to the mountain. Then by that time, maybe I can get angry, drop my other hobbies and devote all my hobby time to coffee. Right now, I can't. However, I'm guessing super-autos are going to get better and better. The end is not in sight yet. Look at all the devices and gadgets which are better then what we can do by hand anymore? It's scary!

In my personal opinion I would go with a really traditional machine and stick with a Bunn-O-Matic brewer. They are time tested and extremely easy to work. Also they come with a decent warranty and millions of sites for service and support.
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Maybe if it was just coffee, but I like Lattes and Caps, even hot coca sometimes, mochas, etc. But I've got my Chemex for just great coffee and nothing beats that with a good grinder and beans. For down and dirty thrills, the Jura might fill the bill, along with giving me a decent cup of morning coffee.
Hate to rain on your parade, but great coffee nevers come from anything that is "One Touch", but no worries as we will be here when you need advice on how to make it better. Just busting your stones a bit and have fun with the new machine.
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  • #23
Not really a one touch

It's not really a one touch at all, but many touches. In fact it loaded with touches. So many, that it will take quite a while reading the manual before I even get it up and running, and the startup operations in reailty requires a number of touches. However, my main point, at least for me is it's said to create coffee closer to real Italian coffee then any of the others. It is after all the top Italian machine, just came out last year. It is indeed built like a safe too.