01-05-2019, 02:05 PM
#1
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Hi guys. This is my first time in the java forum (I’m a vet of the shaving side of the house), so pls forgive me if this has been discussed before. I love my morning Americanos and need a machine for my home that makes great espresso shots for my Americano. I tried the Nespresso original pods, but they seem too small in quantity and not very hot (perhaps I’m doing something wrong?). My budget is $500 or less. Should I go for fully auto (e.g. Delonghi Magnifica refurb???) or some other type of machine or style? For reference, I also love making French press at home. Just looking for a no fuss way to get great espresso shots. Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated. Thanks friends!

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 01-05-2019, 03:11 PM
#2
  • Barrylu
  • Senior Member
  • Portland OR
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Got time for a story. A man heard his neighbor torturing his dog every night. Every night the dog would scream in pain. Finally, he could take it no longer. He pounded on the neighbor's door and demanded he stop torturing his dog. The man explained that he wasn't torturing his dog. Instead he loved the dog so much he didn't want to hurt him. However, the dog needed to have his tail cropped. So as to minimize the pain he just cut a small piece of the dogs tail off every night.
The moral of this story is that ; you are starting on a very slippery expensive slope. Anything you buy in the 500 dollar range you will quickly outgrow and want to replace. Eventually, you will find you have spent a lot more money if you started with a bigger budget than 500.
Finally, the rule is grinder first. in order to make good espresso. your grind must be near perfect. Grinders which perform well for espresso are up close to or well above the 500 dollar range.

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 01-05-2019, 03:22 PM
#3
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I’ll agree with Barrylu. I too wanted to add an espresso machine. I ended up buying a grinder for about $230 and have used for french press only. Lately I’ve been hemming and hawing about an espresso machine again. I’ve decided if I go for any kind of espresso machine at all I’ll need a new grinder for espresso as the one I have excels at french press but not espresso. Probably a Baratza Vario. As for machines, budget is my issue. If I only spend roughly what you want to spend I decided that the Cafelat Robot manual espresso machine fits my requirements.. But if I want a quality semi automatic machine that will fit my small spot in the kitchen, it will be a Lelit Mara which costs almost 4 times as much. Either way, my research indicates that if you want good quality espresso, there is no such thing as “no fuss”. Others may have different thoughts on the subject.

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 01-05-2019, 03:34 PM
#4
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Hmm, this is somewhat discouraging so far. Am I to surrender and simply stick with my French press?

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 01-05-2019, 03:38 PM
#5
  • Barrylu
  • Senior Member
  • Portland OR
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Nothing wrong with French Press and access to a good coffee bar. After the kids graduate college re-evaluate

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 01-05-2019, 03:51 PM
#6
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You might want to consider a moka pot - see http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=37822

It makes a cup similar to an espresso, but with no crema... and is quite affordable.

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 01-05-2019, 04:53 PM
#7
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I vote Gaggia Classic and Baratza Sette. You will be slightly over your budget but you will have delicious espresso!

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 01-05-2019, 05:54 PM
#8
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I also agree that there is nothing wrong with French press. That’s all I’m doing right now. No matter what brew method you choose, you want to perfect that method. I recently watched a couple French press videos on YouTube and it resulted in a huge improvement to my coffee. And get this. You don’t plunge your french press. Anyway, I also have a Moka Pot. It’s not espresso. It’s very strong coffee. A Moka Pot can’t produce the number of bars of pressure to make espresso. I haven’t been able to make coffee in my Moka Pot that isn’t bitter. So I’ve been sticking with my french press. Go onto YouTube and search “how to make french press coffee”.

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 01-05-2019, 05:59 PM
#9
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https://www.amazon.com/Rancilio-Combo1-s...o+Machines
I have the older model of the espresso machine and except for a gasket, it has served me perfectly for almost 15 years. The grinder is amazing and I haven't felt the need to "upgrade". I completely agree that $500 isn't going to cut it. 

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 01-05-2019, 07:25 PM
#10
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(01-05-2019, 05:54 PM)MntnMan62 Wrote: I also agree that there is nothing wrong with French press. That’s all I’m doing right now. No matter what brew method you choose, you want to perfect that method. I recently watched a couple French press videos on YouTube and it resulted in a huge improvement to my coffee. And get this. You don’t plunge your french press. Anyway, I also have a Moka Pot. It’s not espresso. It’s very strong coffee. A Moka Pot can’t produce the number of bars of pressure to make espresso. I haven’t been able to make coffee in my Moka Pot that isn’t bitter. So I’ve been sticking with my french press. Go onto YouTube and search “how to make french press coffee”.
Very interesting. Just watched the Hoffman video. Will give that a try tomorrow morning. Who would have thought - no plunge!

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 01-06-2019, 12:28 PM
#11
  • Sully
  • Super Moderator
  • Cedar Park, Texas
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(01-05-2019, 03:34 PM)shaveser Wrote: Hmm, this is somewhat discouraging so far. Am I to surrender and simply stick with my French press?

No, but the advice Barrylu and MntmMan62 gave you is spot on.  

Also, the learning curve for quality espresso at home is long.  And by long I mean it can take several years depending on how many espressos you are making everyday.  You can achieve fanstastic espresso with entry an entry level machine, but you will need to spend a decent amount of money on the grinder.  The higher end equipment doesn't guarantee that your espresso will be better, what it will do is give you much more consistent results which leads to better espresso.

(01-05-2019, 04:53 PM)happydaze Wrote: I vote Gaggia Classic and Baratza Sette. You will be slightly over your budget but you will have delicious espresso!

I have a refurbished Gaggia Classic that I picked up four and a half years ago for $300 . I've lowered the pressure to about 8 bar, and paired it with a Ceado E37S and I get very nice espresso at home.  
I've looked into a PID mod for my machine but I don't think it would be worth it.

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 01-06-2019, 02:14 PM
#12
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take a serious look at the bialetti brikka.  I have it and it is wonderful.  At $50, it does not break the bank or take any counterspace.

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 01-06-2019, 06:05 PM
#13
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(01-05-2019, 07:25 PM)shaveser Wrote:
(01-05-2019, 05:54 PM)MntnMan62 Wrote: I also agree that there is nothing wrong with French press.  That’s all I’m doing right now.  No matter what brew method you choose, you want to perfect that method.  I recently watched a couple French press videos on YouTube and it resulted in a huge improvement to my coffee.  And get this.  You don’t plunge your french press.  Anyway, I also have a Moka Pot.  It’s not espresso.  It’s very strong coffee.  A Moka Pot can’t produce the number of bars of pressure to make espresso.  I haven’t been able to make coffee in my Moka Pot that isn’t bitter.  So I’ve been sticking with my french press.  Go onto YouTube and search “how to make french press coffee”.
Very interesting. Just watched the Hoffman video.  Will give that a try tomorrow morning. Who would have thought - no plunge!

Looking forward to hear if following the approach has any impact on the coffee in your cup.

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 01-06-2019, 09:01 PM
#14
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After looking through this thread, I would have to say I have no advice in regards to suggesting a price range or espresso machine model. BUT, I will back the advice given on how important your grinder is. As a former barista, I really came to understanding espresso shots when I learned how to read, adjust, and use the grinder. We had a very nice, adjustable high end grinder and as mentioned above, the grinder doesn't make the coffee good. But the better the grinder, the smallest adjustment you may desire to expose the taste notes will be more easily attainable with a QUALITY grinder. This comes down to reading reviews of grinders and what the people who have them mention about the consistency of grinder at the finest settings.

If I had a couple grand to blow, I would get a nice grinder and then see where I was with money and then check my options within budget. But again, you may be best to not buy too cheap as you may end up making 1 or 2 additional and more expensive purchases. You may want to avoid that.

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 01-07-2019, 12:58 PM
#15
  • Barrylu
  • Senior Member
  • Portland OR
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[quote='zaclikestoshave' pid='901422' dateline='1546837307']
After looking through this thread, I would have to say I have no advice in regards to suggesting a price range or espresso machine model. BUT, I will back the advice given on how important your grinder is. As a former barista, I really came to understanding espresso shots when I learned how to read, adjust, and use the grinder. We had a very nice, adjustable high end grinder and as mentioned above, the grinder doesn't make the coffee good. But the better the grinder, the smallest adjustment you may desire to expose the taste notes will be more easily attainable with a QUALITY grinder. This comes down to reading reviews of grinders and what the people who have them mention about the consistency of grinder at the finest settings.

If I had a couple grand to blow, I would get a nice grinder and then see where I was with money and then check my options within budget. But again, you may be best to not buy too cheap as you may end up making 1 or 2 additional and more expensive purchases. You may want to avoid that.


Which was exactly the point of my dog parable

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 01-07-2019, 04:06 PM
#16
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All of the advice is much appreciated. I’m still tempted by the convenience and size of something like a Saeco Vapore, but the fear of it turning out dishwater or just malfunctioning is ever present. That being said, even the high end devices break frequently, it seems. I like good espresso, but I’m no connoisseur.
I’m getting the feeling I will either stick with French press, or succumb to the Saeco if it falls in price.

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 01-07-2019, 04:09 PM
#17
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(01-06-2019, 06:05 PM)MntnMan62 Wrote:
(01-05-2019, 07:25 PM)shaveser Wrote:
(01-05-2019, 05:54 PM)MntnMan62 Wrote: I also agree that there is nothing wrong with French press.  That’s all I’m doing right now.  No matter what brew method you choose, you want to perfect that method.  I recently watched a couple French press videos on YouTube and it resulted in a huge improvement to my coffee.  And get this.  You don’t plunge your french press.  Anyway, I also have a Moka Pot.  It’s not espresso.  It’s very strong coffee.  A Moka Pot can’t produce the number of bars of pressure to make espresso.  I haven’t been able to make coffee in my Moka Pot that isn’t bitter.  So I’ve been sticking with my french press.  Go onto YouTube and search “how to make french press coffee”.
Very interesting. Just watched the Hoffman video.  Will give that a try tomorrow morning. Who would have thought - no plunge!

Looking forward to hear if following the approach has any impact on the coffee in your cup.
So I tried this technique with bad beans I’m trying to finish off. I see promise in the method and it improved an otherwise forgettable cup with less sludge. It did, however, make clear to me that I need a burr grinder of decent repute...

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 01-07-2019, 06:29 PM
#18
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(01-07-2019, 04:09 PM)shaveser Wrote:
(01-06-2019, 06:05 PM)MntnMan62 Wrote:
(01-05-2019, 07:25 PM)shaveser Wrote: Very interesting. Just watched the Hoffman video.  Will give that a try tomorrow morning. Who would have thought - no plunge!

Looking forward to hear if following the approach has any impact on the coffee in your cup.
So I tried this technique with bad beans I’m trying to finish off. I see promise in the method and it improved an otherwise forgettable cup with less sludge. It did, however, make clear to me that I need a burr grinder of decent repute...

As others have said, a decent grinder is essential for elevating your coffee game above the ordinary. Even if you stick with french press, a good grinder will definitely be tasted in the cup. Good luck as you enter yet another journey.

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 01-08-2019, 08:22 AM
#19
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Get a Nespresso machine. Pull a “cleaning shot” before you pull your first espresso. Water quantity for an espresso is pretty well defined, but newer machines for the American market are more flexible with that.

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 01-09-2019, 02:20 PM
#20
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(01-08-2019, 08:22 AM)lloydrm Wrote: Get a Nespresso machine. Pull a “cleaning shot” before you pull your first espresso. Water quantity for an espresso is pretty well defined, but newer machines for the American market are more flexible with that.
I took your advice this morning and pulled a clean, pod-less shot from my lil Mueller Nesspresso machine and. . . Wow, what a difference! It was a pretty darn good shot! I guess the cleaning and heating of the machine resulting from the pod-less shot really helps. Thanks for the advice! It may not be the best espresso in the world, but it is quite serviceable for my novice needs. Just wish there wasn’t so much plastic waste...

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