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Old 03-08-2016, 09:45 AM
bcroslin bcroslin is offline
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Originally Posted by Clancy View Post
I would love to make my own expresso at home, but every time I start shopping machines - and grinders - I get so overwhelmed I give up. Uber expensive and highly confusing.

I can't see dropping $2,000 to be able to make expresso at home. And! Then be frustrated I can pull even shots.

Doing research on the web is confusing as hell with all kinds of conflicting info.

Is there a book out there "Expresso Making for Dummies" or a non commercial website where someone breaks it down?

If I could shell out $500 or so, and know I can make a good expresso, I'd jump.

A couple of grand - I'll hit the local
Hit up Youtube and check out Seattle Coffee gear and Prima Coffee Equipment's channels.

Also, start watching craigslist and looking around at restaurant equipment suppliers for a used Nuavoa Simonelli Oscar. IMO it's the best unit that can be had for under $1k if you can find one that's been properly maintained. I picked one up for $300 and then had to put about $80 into it on a rebuild and it's awesome.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:05 AM
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oldfatslow oldfatslow is offline
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Posts: 745
We started with a Rancilio Sylvia (machine) and Rocky (grinder) probably 15 years ago. About 10 years ago I got the Expobar Office Lever and the Sylvia was moved to the weekend house (where it still gets use).

I looked at what I was paying for coffee outside and it easy to justify. My wife has a latte every morning and I have a couple of espresso's. Let's say those three drinks are $6 a day -- assuming we have them 300 days a year at home that's $1800 avoided. Yes, we have to buy coffee beans and milk and spring water but that's nominal (I'd say we're still $1500 in the black each year with the machine). I think it paid for itself in less than a year.

Now for the coffee making. Yes, it takes a little ramp but with a good machine and grinder you can consistently make great coffee no problem. Are you going to win a barista contest for art -- maybe not. Can you make a drink every bit as good as your coffee shop? Sure.

If you can get a refurb or buyer's remorse machine by all means do it. Craigslist can be good too but be sure to thoroughly test the machine before taking it home.

We've had our machines for 10+ years and they work great. I've never had the grinder serviced and the Expo has been in the shop a couple of times for minor things beyond my mechanical capability (nice to have a Sylvia as a back-up).

Espresso is exactly like bikes. You can spend as much money as you like. At some point you get very diminished returns for your dollar but if you are really into it that incremental betterment can make sense to you. There are some who claim you have to roast your own beans a day or two before grinding them in order to get the best outcome. There are those that say a bike from Sacha at Vanilla is the only way to get truly sublime cycling experience. The reality is that you can do both for far less once you reach a certain level of competency in your tool (espresso machine/grinder or bicycle).

My advice is to get a decent machine AND grinder. Make your coffee. You won't look back.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:10 AM
echappist echappist is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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my only complaint has been that it's been exceedingly hard to pull single shots as i almost always get very watery stuff. THe doubles are a lot more consistent in that regard. I've given up on trying to dial the grind settings for the single as i either get nothing out or just get watery stuff, which suggests that my grinder (Baratza Virtuoso) may be lacking an in-between setting.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:15 AM
JamesEsq JamesEsq is offline
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Location: N.E. Ohio
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We've had the Rocket Giotto Evoluzione (probably the "best looking" machine) and two Compak K2 grinders (wifey only drinks decaf) for the past 6 years, both work great if maintained.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:22 AM
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paredown paredown is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: New York Hudson Valley
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Cold filtered water, good coffee, good grind and tamp, (roughly) time the shots, everything squeaky clean to start--it is not that hard, but it takes a little practice.

Pull an empty shot first into your cup to heat it, then fire away.

I know that I would love a better machine and a usable grinder, but I make do with a cheap Capresso and preground espresso.

I know this horrifies the gear heads--a bit like entering the local crit on your 1990s hard tail, but even with this setup, I can produce a better shot than I would get served at any restaurant that I can currently afford, and better than the local coffee place.

Last edited by paredown; 03-08-2016 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:31 AM
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ntb1001 ntb1001 is offline
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Location: Toronto, Canada
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Espresso machines

I use a saeco's all in one. It grinds the beans and then pours the shot.
I don't know how it ranks up...but it works for me.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:48 AM
CDollarsign CDollarsign is offline
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Single group Slayer or don't even bother.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:58 AM
estilley estilley is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
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La Marzocco Mini?

Are we referencing the La Marzocco Linea Mini? The $4,000+ one? Huge fan of La Marzocco machines, just wondering if there is a cheaper one out there...

To add my two cents, I've been using two versions of the Rancilio Silvia with a Rocky Grinder and then Baratza Encore. You can put this together for under $1K.

I've had the best results with the older Silvia (V1) and the cheaper (Baratza Encore) grinder!

If going to go with a Rocky I would definitely recommend doing the doserless. The doser version isn't the best design and you also end up leaving a lot of grinds out to turn stale.

It might not be the most expensive or technologically advanced setup but it's like the old car you feel so at home with.
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Old 03-08-2016, 11:41 AM
bcroslin bcroslin is offline
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Originally Posted by CDollarsign View Post
Single group Slayer or don't even bother.
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Old 03-08-2016, 12:03 PM
stackie stackie is offline
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Originally Posted by miguel View Post
According to my experience
You will pay more money and waste more coffee by buying a nice machine and nice grinder than if you went down to the shop and paid $2 every time. On top of that, if your shop is good, they will have their pulls dialed before you enter and you won't have to worry about relative humidity, temperature of the machine/water, and provenance of the beans - that is already taken care of. Stop worrying about status and drink good coffee. Pourover/French press is for the home.

Miguel. You live in Portland. It would almost be accurate to use the old cliche about not being able to throw a stone and not hit a good coffee shop. From my friends who lived in DC, that is not the case there.

$2 for an espresso? Around here, it is $2.50 to 2.75 and throw in a tip. You've just dropped $3. 3 x 365 = over $1000 a year, not including time and travel. Now what if you want a second spro?

I'm a coffee fiend. Between my wife and daughter, we are at 5 espresso drinks a morning before I leave for work at 0700. Weekends...more.

So, ya, for me a super nice quality machine and grinder is a huge money saver and makes great coffee possible for me at my convenience.

Sure, can espresso be frustrating? Absolutely. It is both and art and science. You need to figure out how to be predictable in your technique so that you can isolate individual variables. This allows you to locate a change or problem in your technique quickly. It is absolutely impossible without a precise machine and grinder.

Does everyone need a LM Linea? No. The baseline machine is a PID Silvia if you are only doing espresso. If you want to make the jump to milk drinks, then you need to jump to a heat exchanger or double boiler. But, with the number of nice PID double boilers on the market, it's hard to recommend the heat exchanger. Easy to get a nice PID double boiler for 2-2500.

Baseline grinder is Mazzer Mini. Maybe a Baratza Vario. Go up from there.

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Old 03-08-2016, 12:18 PM
stackie stackie is offline
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Originally Posted by flydhest View Post
Any reason (besides cost) not to get a La Marzocco Mini?
Two reasons not to get a Linea Mini.

1. You have the disposable income to get a Slayer.
2. You do not have the disposable income to get the Linea mini.

It's a great machine, as are most LM machines. Will last forever. Will be predictable and stable. Can be easily repaired. (here is my plug for buying the machine from Chris Coffee - Their service is excellent. Always willing to help you pinpoint a problem and offer repair advice and easy access to the parts). I had GS3 for 5 years and it was amazing as was Chris' service. I sold because a guy at work kept bugging me to upgrade so he could buy mine. One day, he asked me for the hundredth time and I was feeling a bit cheeky, so I agreed. Went home that afternoon and called Slayer.

If you can swing it financially ( and still afford a nice grinder) , I'm sure you will be happy with the machine. BTW, in my previous post I did the math on home espresso vs cafe. It is definitely a money saver for me once you make the jump that you desire excellent espresso on a daily basis.

Happy to make grinder recs. Off the bat, I love my Compak K10. Compak grinders are every bit as good as Mazzer and usually come in a bit cheaper than the equivalent Mazzer.

The HG one would be amazing. Unfortunately, they are no longer taking orders. Maybe SoCalSteve has one he would like to sell? Steve, if you're listening, I'm first in line.

Feel free to PM if you have specific questions wrt to machines and grinders. I'm happy to offer my opinion on machines and I have had a fair amount of experience with several machines and grinders over the last 20 years. Although, I am by no means a professional.

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Old 03-08-2016, 12:55 PM
crankles crankles is offline
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Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 1,547
Rule #1: when buying a commercial machine, buy which ever machine has the best local service. These things need some work every once and a while. Do a little research, talk to some of your favorite baristas. There a some decent shops in DC.
Rule #2: Like Slackie says...Buy a slayer cause, well, ferchrissake just look at it. looook at IT!!!!. I love the "sleep mode".
Rule #3: Buy a linea: I don't know much about the mini, but the standard linea 1 group is a dressed down fb80. A real workhorse of a machine.
Rule #4: if you can afford the linea, i wont even bother will lesser options, so forget rule #4.

and If you are like stackie and me, it pays for itself in no time. I've made my wife and I caps *every* morning for 15 years (more on the weekends). In the bay area, that works out to 15*365*2.75 (average cap price over 15 years...they are now about 3.75) less the estimate cost of coffee/milk/electricity/water/repairs, say $600/yr.
That's a net savings of about $400/yr. In addition, I pull better shots than the vast majority of *decent* shops in town....and I get to pick my beans. I'm not a fan of the many of the bay area roasters current taste profile trends.
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Old 03-08-2016, 01:46 PM
stackie stackie is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,242
I would disagree with buying machine because of local service. My closest espresso servicer is 40 minutes away and I would have to leave my machine with him for a couple of weeks. He's a great guy and I had him refurbish my GS3 before I sold it. Just for piece of mind when selling to a friend. That might be different in DC. But, trust me, you're going to be hooked on your espresso fix. Down time must be avoided.

Most pro machines are fairly easily serviceable by someone with a basic mechanical knowledge, a decent set of screwdrivers and a metric socket set. They have to be. A shop cannot afford to wait for a service call. They need that bad boy up and running. Some machines allow service on one group while the other groups are being used. Obviously, you're looking at single group, but I just think that is cool.

There is a huge support base on the web that is available 24/7.

Finally, again, Chris Coffee service rocks. I've sent them a picture with an arrow pointing to a leak and they send me back another email with instructions and pictures of what to do and a link to buying the parts from them. I always buy two for the next time.

Certain things you should just buy in quantity. Brew group gaskets, screens, and vacuum breakers. Never be without those things in your spare parts bin. Kind of like having spare tires and chains.

Finally, imagine how much better a rider you will become when you knock back a quick espresso or cappa before each ride. Caffeine helps with recovery also.

Pull the trigger and join the club. You'll have a ton of fun and be super wired.

Gotta go. Tasks finished. Having a cappuccino and heading out to ride!

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Old 03-08-2016, 01:47 PM
livingminimal livingminimal is offline
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Old 03-08-2016, 01:55 PM
stackie stackie is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,242
Darn it. Web sucked me in.

BTW, I should correct my earlier statement about the HG-one grinder. It is now available from Lyn Weber. And that have a new electric model coming out which looks similarly awesome. I may have to work some more call. :|

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