Author Topic: Espresso Machine  (Read 2671 times)

jonoliver

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Espresso Machine
« on: February 19, 2017, 01:53:18 PM »
After listening to MMM on Tim Ferriss' podcast last week, I was reminded of the fact that an espresso machine is a thing you can actually have at home. I did a quick search of the forum for any recommendations and only found one for Saeco machines, and it looks like all of their more affordable models are discontinued. Any one have a recommendation for espresso machines? Not sure what's realistic for price range, but probably don't want to spend more than $200.

Thanks!

spooky105

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2017, 06:11:16 AM »
Short of a manual grinder + stove top setup, I don't think you'll find something that will produce a quality espresso and last at that price point.

A solid burr grinder (Baratza Virtuoso) will run you $200-$250 new (I bought mine used on eBay for about $125) -- these are pieces of equipment that last and are repairable, unlike most things these days. Control over the grind size and consistency are huge factors in espresso quality...definitely not a place to cut corners. I've also used Hario manual grinders when I'm on the road, though my experience is only with French Press/Pour Over with these -- should work fine, but you'll be cranking for a while to grind up the fine coffee required for espresso.

Rancilio Silvia is a well-regarded, no frills espresso machine that comes in around $700. This paired with the Virtuoso grinder produces a top-notch espresso / latte / cappuccino (comparable to what I've had at your niche premium coffee joints). Of course it takes time and practice to get everything dialed in just right. And just as the grinder quality is huge, so is the quality of coffee you're using.

I reckon the payoff for a $1,000 investment is about 1 year, assuming you replace 5 espresso beverages per week per year at $4 a pop. After that, a quality cup is costing you pennies on the dollar (coffee and milk).

https://www.seattlecoffeegear.com has a number of youtube videos that provide a lot of education and product reviews.



boognish

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2017, 04:22:18 PM »
I bought a cheap Krups espresso machine for around $50 a few years ago and it's been great to this non-discerning poster.

I use a regular blade grinder, and heat up milk in a stainless steel pitcher - works for me.

I'd balk at dropping $1000 on a coffee setup, but I suppose it depends on how fancy you want to get.

Rufus.T.Firefly

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2017, 04:42:30 PM »
I've been perfectly happy with our Mr Coffee espresso maker ($40). I like coffee and am moderately picky, but not on the connoisseur level. I suggest dipping your toe in on the "cheap end" before sinking several hundred dollars. If you really don't like an inexpensive model, you've only lost $40-50 instead of overspending by $100s.
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trollwithamustache

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2017, 05:27:59 PM »
Rancilio Silvia is a well-regarded, no frills espresso machine that comes in around $700.



Oh sweet Rancillio! how I enjoy romancing you every morning.

Seriously the Rancillio is finicky about grind size. But with a good burr grinder and some experimentation you won't be able to go back to bad café coffee.

lisa_mustache

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 10:35:29 AM »
I've been perfectly happy with our Mr Coffee espresso maker ($40). I like coffee and am moderately picky, but not on the connoisseur level. I suggest dipping your toe in on the "cheap end" before sinking several hundred dollars. If you really don't like an inexpensive model, you've only lost $40-50 instead of overspending by $100s.

+1

https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Coffee-Espresso-Frother-ECM160/dp/B000U6BSI2/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1487957438&sr=1-1&keywords=Mr+Coffee+4-cup+steam+espresso+system

I got the linked Mr Coffee machine in November 2015 (on sale for $27 before Christmas), and it's still going strong for my almost-daily lattes.  I did splurge on a $5 stainless steel "frothing pitcher" which, by MMM standards, was unnecessary (but not included with the machine).  You can just steam the milk in the mug you're going to use.  I didn't buy a "tamper" and haven't needed one of those either.

fuzzy math

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2017, 07:59:42 PM »
Breville. We had a cheaper ($300) model, then found a $700 model at a garage sale.

The sub $100 espresso machines do not make true espresso. If you look up the pump /steam / shot pouring methods, they do not compare at all. If you don't care about how your coffee tastes, they're ok, but in that situation you could just brew coffee and microwave milk.
I could tell a big difference between my $300 and $700 machine's quality of product. Now the $300 latte tastes gross in comparison to the $700.

lhamo

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 08:14:04 PM »
I am currently on my second Delonghi Magnifica --the first one I bought used in China(it had been lightly used for about a year by the previous owners) for around $700 (imported machines were extremely expensive there) and used for 3-6 cups of coffee almost daily from 2009-2016.   We left it in China because it runs on 220v.   The current one is a refurbished unit I got off Craigslist for $325.    I had some issues with error messages about a month in, but took to Seattle Coffee Gear and the tech told me it was because I had been using beans that had too much oil, which gunks up the insides.   He helped me clean it out and reset it, and I switched to Lavazza beans (these machines do best with Italian roast-- I find Lavazza Crema Suprema beans to be dark enough for my tastes) and it has been working fabulously since.
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hyla

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2017, 08:07:11 PM »
While not a true espresso machine, stovetop moka pots ($15 - $25) make coffee which is pretty darn close to espresso.  I have one and like the coffee it makes a lot.  And unlike actual espresso machines, moka potsthey have no electrical parts so they'll last forever.  And then if you also bought one of those handheld milk frothers ($5 - $10) you could also make a close approximation of cappuccino. 

GrumpyPenguin

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2017, 11:28:37 AM »
About 7 years ago I threw down $550 on a new Gaggia Classic and MDF grinder.  I have averaged 7 to 10 lattes a week for all seven years with those machines since.  It was a luxurious expense at the time, particularly since I was a grad student then.  But, what can I say, I love my homemade lattes.

I've used a fresh Costco roast (they roast their own beans in-store here) for years. Love those beans. Cheap too.

sparkytheop

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2017, 10:25:22 PM »
Breville. We had a cheaper ($300) model, then found a $700 model at a garage sale.

The sub $100 espresso machines do not make true espresso. If you look up the pump /steam / shot pouring methods, they do not compare at all. If you don't care about how your coffee tastes, they're ok, but in that situation you could just brew coffee and microwave milk.
I could tell a big difference between my $300 and $700 machine's quality of product. Now the $300 latte tastes gross in comparison to the $700.

I wouldn't try to talk someone out of a cheaper machine if that's what they really wanted, but I can say that for me, the $50 machines didn't do what I wanted, so they ended up getting used a couple times then never used again.

I bought one of the $700 Breville machines after a trip to Europe, and I have no intention to go back ever again.  Years ago, I'd made espressos at work (a cafe), with the real nice commercial espresso makers, and the only thing I see "lesser" about the one I have is that I cannot froth the milk and brew the espresso simultaneously.  I'm not willing to spend more though, so I just do the milk, and then the coffee, and am happy enough with that.  It does pull a pretty shot of espresso.

JJ

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2017, 12:42:37 AM »
The "Muscle over Motor" version is Portaspresso - manual grinder and manual espresso machine. A bit pricey and a PITA if you want frothy milk, but for great espresso shots and something you can use in a motel room it can't be beaten.
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triangle

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2017, 01:02:01 AM »
For less than $200 the only one I would recommend is the "ROK Espresso Maker".  You will need some way to heat the water and you will want to pair it with a quality (hand) grinder with the ability to make small adjustments which will increase your overall setup price if you are just starting out with no equipment. The Rok/Presso is not the easiest machine to use, but once you get things figured out, it will make very good coffee. The other variable which is often overlooked by the beginning home espresso brewer is that you need freshly roasted coffee which does not come cheap. Buying coffee in bulk or off the supermarket shelf will not give good results, if that is your plan then I would recommend skipping espresso and using other brewing methods.

taiwwa

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2017, 05:33:20 AM »
For coffee, the mmm pick really can only be the aeropress. It is under $30, and for the price produces good home coffee. For a grinder I think my burr grinder cost $35. It isn't the best, but for home use it is enough.

Good coffee at local coffee shops is probably something you should budget for. Home machines probably result in you drinking too much coffee, and with a local shop you also are buying the atmosphere.

HelinaHandbasket

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2017, 02:31:45 PM »
We've had assorted filter pots, stove tops etc over the years. When our last pot died, we bought a gaggia Brera on special offer. You can use it with ground coffee or beans - we use beans - there's a proper steam wand, and a tea setting that's much faster than boiling a kettle! It's very much an investment piece, but as its easy to maintain and can be serviced if it breaks down (I despise the fact that so many things are cheaper to replace than repair now.)

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2017, 12:36:39 PM »
For coffee, the mmm pick really can only be the aeropress. It is under $30, and for the price produces good home coffee. For a grinder I think my burr grinder cost $35. It isn't the best, but for home use it is enough.

Good coffee at local coffee shops is probably something you should budget for. Home machines probably result in you drinking too much coffee, and with a local shop you also are buying the atmosphere.

Disclaimer: I love coffee. Perhaps too much.

+1 for the Aeropress! It's cheap, portable, doesn't use plastic earth-killing pods, and makes a decent espresso shot.

Prior to the Aeropress I bought a $200 espresso machine and found it wasn't powerful enough to produce good espresso, and it was hard to clean. Before I bought my $200 machine I'd heard you need to drop $500-700 to get a good quality espresso machine, and that seems to be true.

Because I'm too cheap to spend that kind of $$ and *also* because I love coffee shop atmosphere, we've adopted this system:

1. A daily "good enough" latte in the morning at home. (Aeropress, Costco espresso ground at Costco for free, Hand-Held Frother)
2. Occasional excellent espresso at one of our many great coffee shops in Seattle. (awesome coffee, plus an outing!)

This works really well. I'd recommend not trying out a cheap espresso machine with the intent of upgrading. I did that, and I just ended up not wanting to use it because it made crummy espresso.

SIS

gardenarian

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2017, 04:38:43 PM »
I seriously think caffeine is poison.
I disturbs your sleep. It increases anxiety. It can increase blood pressure. I worsens menopause symptoms. It irritates the stomach and gut.
Caffeine addiction can bring on headaches. It is addictive. It increases risks of heart attacks in young adults.

On top of the health issues, coffee is expensive and much of the coffee grown is detrimental to the environment. Coffee machines take up space, are expensive, and make you more invested in your addiction.

I would seriously consider how much you need coffee. I grow more herbs that I can consume, and they make lovely healthful tea.
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triangle

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2017, 01:37:57 AM »
Caffeine is a poison when taken in extremely high dosages, higher than what could be consumed naturally through tea or coffee. That said everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine, and some people are quite sensitive to it. Every few months there seems to be another study reporting that a few cups of day are not harmful and in fact beneficial to one's health; but we all know to be skeptical of limited study groups.

The Aeropress is a great choice for making a single cup of coffee. The inventor was aiming to brew at lower temperatures to reduce acidity, but I believe most people brew at more normal temperatures. Another alternative for those wanting to make milk type drinks is to Vietnamese filter pot or any non-paper filter drip pot to make a stronger concentrate. Then use a separate milk frother in order to whip the milk. It will not be the exact same experience as using a shot of espresso but it will produce an enjoyable cup of coffee.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2017, 08:27:59 AM »
Any one have a recommendation for espresso machines? Not sure what's realistic for price range, but probably don't want to spend more than $200.

As others pointed out, if you really want espresso, you'll probably have to pay way more than $200 for a home machine (unless you're willing to go used -- see below), and more yet for an adequate grinder.

Maybe try Aeropress or pour-over first and see if that scratches the itch?  We're talking ~$30, plus ~$50 for an adequate grinder (e.g., Hario Skerton).  You can make really great coffee with these.

If you're still sure you want to make home espresso -- and let's say you spend $2-3 for a double espresso 5 days a week, or ~$650/year -- then you can certainly save money making your own at home.  IMO the cheapest machine you can make good espresso with is a Gaggia Classic.  I prefer the pre-2017 models with aluminum boiler.  You can often find them on e-bay used for ~ $250.

You will eventually get frustrated with temperature control (this affects basically all cheaper espresso machines), and spend another ~$100 for a budget PID temperature controller, or roll your own for half that.

You'll also need an espresso-capable grinder.  You can arguably get marginally acceptable results for ~$100 by modifying a used Gaggia MDF.  If you want to make better espresso, you'll have to spend more.  You could spend a few hundred on a Baratza, but I'd argue that the most Mustachian option is to get a quality hand grinder.  I'd recommend the OE Pharos for ~$300.

You're looking at $350 (used Classic + used MDF) up to $650 (used Classic + PID + Pharos) in startup costs.  A double espresso made at home will cost you ~$0.50/cup for quality beans from a good roaster like RedBird.  You could pay less for (probably) worse beans, and significantly more for fancier beans.  I pay about $180/year for ~daily double shots, using a moderately priced quality roaster like RedBird.

I wouldn't recommend going down this rabbit whole on a whim.  It's been a great hobby for me and I don't regret it, but if all you're after is some good tasting coffee, Aeropress or pour-over are far better Mustachian choices IMO.

iluvzbeach

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2017, 08:45:47 AM »
We have a DeLonghi model that retails for $250 ($200 after 20% off at Bed Bath & Beyond - ordered in store & shipped to house.) It's 5-years old now and running strong. We use it daily to make two espressos and two cappuccinos. We use a separate burr grinder for the beans. We're happy with the quality of the drinks.

Prior to this had an even lower end Saeco machine that lasted 5-7 years. I dream of a fancy all-in-one machine, but my MMM ways prevent me from making such a splurge.
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CutTheFat

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2017, 07:15:55 PM »
I love my Mr. Coffee pump machine https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Coffee-Automatic-Cappuccino-ECMP50/dp/B001EU9UTM  I use it 2-3 times a day and I have had it for a few years.  I did have to replace the frothing wand.  The part with shipping was $8 and change.   

yyc-phil

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Re: Espresso Machine
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2017, 09:24:28 PM »
A used Gaggia Classic and an MDF grinder, you can't go wrong. I have owned both for 20 years and except for a regular cleaning and replacing a few leaky seals over the years, they will continue to serve me well for a few more years. If your budget allows it, next up would be a Rancillo Silva and a Rocky grinder but in my opinion, it's not worth spending a few extra hundred bucks for pretty much the same thing.
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