Author Topic: Espresso Machine Redux  (Read 1958 times)

Sanitary Stache

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Espresso Machine Redux
« on: September 15, 2023, 11:21:22 AM »
Note that I am not reviving this thread old because there is some controversy in doing that and I don't want to wade into it.

I also thought this would be a good opportunity to remind/introduce posters to the google search process "text" where you replace "text" with the phrase or word that you want to search the forum for, which is how I found the initial Espresso Machine Thread.

Thanks everyone who posted in that last thread, especially @englishteacheralex @Bird In Hand and @grantmeaname . This was a very helpful thread for me and DW.  We are considering a coffee upgrade.  I'll try to be succinct.

Our coffee has been great and we aren't completely unhappy with it.  We use a locally brewed bean, but I don't know what variety or any specifics of the roast.  Mild? We grind in an A9 kitchen aid grinder, but aren't happy with the consistency or how fine the ground gets.  We brew in a knock off moka pot that is stainless steel and works well on the induction burner.  We froth milk with a Bodum heating/frothing cup with the whisk at the bottom of the cup.  Part of the motivation to switch to an espresso machine is the unreliability we have experienced in our high quality goat milk supply.

We are thinking of upgrading our coffee experience. I want the creama we sometimes achieve with the moka pot. DW wants real foam, not inconsistent froth.  DW wants to drink true espresso shots.

From the previous thread, we are taking away that there is a minimum spend on at home (contemporary?) espresso which is probably around $600 and likely closer to $750. (I have also searched for the Gaggia classic/evo and MDF grinder and come to this price point even though the older thread is from 2017/2018 and the MDF grinder isn't easy to find).  We also gather that our priorities might not actually be for at home espresso and might be more of whatever you want to call coffee from a moka pot (vintage espresso?), aero press or french press which can maybe achieve a consistent creama.  Suspecting that we don't require or desire full the espresso experience we are attempting to figure out which elements of the coffee brewing we do like.

Here I'll also thank @gardenarian who pointed out the downside of coffee.  A headache I had yesterday possibly related to coffee, possibly related to dehydration, possibly related to lack of sleep reminds me that the coffee habit isn't exactly good for me.

In summary, DW and I are going to start our journey by buying some ground espresso beans from our local coffee shop and try them out in the moka pot.  If this coffee is good then we will try to get a burr grinder that can grind espresso fine and source an espresso bean.  That might lead to the Bellman coffee maker which seems similar to the moka pot but also has a steam wand for foam.

If the properly ground espresso beans in the moka pot is no good, we might spend the $700 on the grinder and Gaggia classic/evo. 

We are also leaving space for deciding this is a habit which is not worth this kind of money.


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2023, 11:51:15 AM »
I'm a big Moka pot fan.  I've been doing it that way for years, and that's how I enjoy it.    A good burr grinder is an excellent accessory, however you don't want to grind the coffee espresso fine.  It works better with a grind that is somewhere between drip and espresso grind.

I love my Souvia frother (which is apparently not available anymore?).   I resisted for a long time, but now I have one I can't live without it.


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2023, 02:27:40 PM »
A few years ago, I replaced my Gaggia Classic and MDF grinder with a De Longhi Dedica machine and stand-alone grinder. My wife was working for De Longhi at the time so the discount was a no-brainer. Compared to my Gaggia, the Dedica has a pressurized filter so there are fewer chances to screw up or need to tweak. We are happy. It also helps that we get our coffee beans from a small family-run plantation a few kilometres from our place. They also produce café de capomo, or Mayan coffee, a coffee substitute and superfood that has all the benefits of coffee and more, without the negative effects. As a side note, I've been completely off coffee for three months now after experiencing very severe side effects from a new medication I had started. For whatever reason, one of the side effects was that I have no desire or interest in coffee anymore, especially espresso, but I started to develop a liking for Tim Horton's double-double which I used to make fun of...What a bummer, and I am of Italian descent...


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2023, 03:25:28 PM »
I'm also a huge Delonghi fan.  We are on our second Magnifica machine -- first one bought used in Beijing in 2009 eventually kicked the bucket in 2019 IIRC (it was only getting light use by that point at the inlaws -- 220 voltage meant we left it in China when we moved back to the US) and the second one bought refurbished off Craigslist as a birthday present to myself in 2015.  I learned shortly after I bought that one that for best performance/longevity you need to use medium roast beans that aren't too oily -- dark roasts/oily beans clog up the grinder and ruin the machine quickly.  I switched to SuperCrema beans from Lavazza and haven't had problems with the grinder since.  We did need to replace something -- the heat pump, maybe?-- at a local repair place sometime in 2017 or 2018, but it was only around $200 and we haven't had any issues since. 

They aren't the most sophisticated machines but for superautomatics with longevity they are pretty good choices.


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2023, 09:19:35 PM »
We have a delonghi la specialista maestro that we've named Bruce. I found him on eBay at about a 25% discount. Bruce is a workhorse.  In the past two years, he's made us somewhere around 2000 double shots.  The grind size can be fiddly to figure out with new beans and it does clog up with dark, oily beans.  We don't actually use the automatic milk brother. Turns out we both like manually frothing the milk.  When we downsize, will probably go with a stand alone grinder and a smaller machine.  Bruce is huge.  I'd get another delonghi, need on our experience with this one, though.

We have a flair manual espresso machine that is great fun, but I think you have to spring for the pressure gauge to really get your shot dialed in.


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2023, 09:31:27 AM »
We use a DeLonghi Dedica machine, like another poster above and use a burr grinder for the beans. It’s critical the beans not be too oily and not ground too finely. Lastly, I use a Secura Automatic Milk Frother for foam as I make cappuccino (DH drinks espresso). We usually get 5-7 years per machine but we aren’t spending $700 either. When we travel, one of the things I most enjoy about the return home is drinking my own cappuccino.


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2023, 09:39:15 AM »
I tried a Delonghi semi for about six months but it gave me too many problems. Now it is on backup duty in the basement and we use a fully automatic Jura. Great machines that easily last a decade. Not cheap but great coffee.

Just Joe

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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2024, 01:12:26 PM »
Still using the Moka pot I was gifted in 1992 when I was working in Italy for several years.

Back then Naples had the best espresso in cafes of anywhere I traveled in country. Everyone I knew that made it at home used a Moka pot. 

Sanitary Stache

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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2024, 01:45:36 PM »
We ended up getting a Breville barista with an integrated grinder. We have been using it for three months or so and find it to be reliable and what achieve what we were looking for. We paid $250 and found it through marketplace.

The foam is probably the thing that we really wanted.

The barista has “dual wall” cups which make it so we don’t need to learn how to grind and pack the espresso thing a ma Jung. Hmm. The word for where the grounds go escapes me. We use the single insert and pre set grind amount for it and then we lish the button for a double twice. So we get 4x as much water going through the grounds. There is still a slight crema on the coffee. I have been practicing my latte art. I can make some blobs.

We did buy an espresso blend and are watching it to see if it is too oily for the grinder, but nonissue yet.

I went back to the monotone so far for a to go cup and it was also fine. The breville uses less grinds on a daily basis than the moka pot was using.


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Re: Espresso Machine Redux
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2024, 01:56:15 PM »
"portafilter" is the word you're after I think.