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  1. #1
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    Need New Espresso Machine!

    My machine, a single-basket Saeco machine branded as Starbucks "Barrista" is blowing the power circuits in my kitchen. We have had it about 5 years and it has been used 5-10 times a day. I may be able to get it repaired (and I would welcome advice!)

    But, I know some of you coffee passion crazy people are on this board. The wife and I have been jonesing for a fancier machine anyway, so . . .

    What's the best deal for a sturdy hard-working machine that will last a long time? My dream machine would grind, measure, tamp and dump beans automatically, but price is probably a deal breaker on that end. My only local shiny products retailer is Williams Sonoma.

    Please send me some links.
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  2. #2
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    I just shopped around quite a bit and ended up with the Nespresso Citiz. I got a lot of data points and it seemed to be the best combination of ease of use and good coffee for hundreds, not thousands. It's a pod machine so you have to buy pods (which are 50 cents each) but it is fool proof and the espresso is really really good.

    My office has the fully automated and $2k Juro Capresso Impressa and the Nespresso is better coffee, IMO.

    If you have some barrista skills you may be able to do better but I didn't want to worry about the perfect grind, tamp, etc. I just wanted really good coffee consistently.

    Caffeine!!
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  3. #3
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    I'd avoid any of the fully automatic machines that grind/tamp/dose for you... lots of moving parts to break, expensive, and they don't pull particularly good shots.

    The best quality espresso for minimal investment is a La Pavoni Europiccola or the larger La Pavoni PC-16. These are lever machines, so there is no pump to fail. The only electricity involved is to boil water- you do the rest. The downside to these machines is they overheat after you pull 2-3 shots. They're good for singles or couples, but not for entertaining. They are also pretty demanding in terms of coffee freshness and grind. The design has changed very little over the years, so I'd suggest picking up one used.

    Unless you spend big money or are willing to spend some focused time with a lever machine like a la pavoni or Ponte Vecchio Lusso, there's not much else out there that's under $1000usd which will be an improvement over your current machine (which is actually a re-branded saeco). Another thing to consider is that fresh coffee and a good grinder will make a bigger difference in the quality of the espresso than your machine ever will. So you might consider getting your current machine cleaned/fixed up, and upgrading your grinder if you don't already have a good one. First thing to do with your current machine is thoroughly descale it with citric acid.

    I have heard good things about the mypressi's, but it seems a bit fiddly to me with the Co2 cardridges....


    FWIW, I found a "problem" commercial E61 machine on craiglslist locally for $500. The machine retrailed for nearly $2k, and all it needed was a thorough de-scaling and some new seals, gaskets & teflon tape. Cost me about $50 to totally overhaul it, which I spent about 6hrs total on. Similar difficulty to changing the seals in a fork. Unless money is no object I would not look at new machines. Likewise, the "prosumer" E61 machines are very cheap to repair/maintain if you DIY, whereas the cheaper machines (unfortunately, including the barista) tend to be very expensive and hard to find parts for.
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  4. #4
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    Nespresso

    I think I saw that at Williams Sonoma. I know there is one machine that allows you to fill your own pod. At 50c a shot, how much does that come to per pound? For instance, I pay $10.95 per pound at Starbucks for ground espresso. I think their pods are $1.00 a piece. I'm just not sure how many shots I get out of a pound. More that 22?

    Where do you get the pods?
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  5. #5
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    Look at it this way: theres 453 grams per pound, and a commercial double espresso is 17-20 grams. So you will get about 20 double shots out of a $10 pound of coffee. That would be a wash with the pods, but the pods will never be as fresh as that $10 pound of coffee, ground right before you pull your shots.

    If you are considering the mypressi, don't forget the cost and environmental impact of a Co2 cartridge for every shot.
    You could easily pick up a La Pavoni for the cost of a Nespresso, and the La Pavoni will pull much better shots and not require pods. It will take a little practice to figure out though.

    Pulled with my old La Pavoni (crappy cell pics)
    IMG_5312

    You're not gonna get crema like this with pods...
    IMG_5314
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  6. #6
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    Ouch! La Pavoni $600+

    I just looked at that and, honestly I AM a little bit charmed by the elegance of it. I think I first saw that in a Hugh Grant movie.

    1) what does it do when it overheats? We usually do 2-4 shots in the morning and then again at around 6 (on the way to the gym!) Is that alot or a little?

    2) Yeah, we have a crappy grinder. We've been meaning to buy a better one, but we usually get beans ground at Starbucks and use them within a week. Too long?

    3) If all I have to do is descale the machine that would be good, but I think my wife did that in the last few months. I'm not sure why it keeps blowing the circuit. The GFI pops as soon as I turn on the machine.

    4) I think were hoping to spend about $500 and hope it lasts about 10 years.
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  7. #7
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    My wife just purchased a Mr. Coffee one and she loves it! I am too young for coffee.
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  8. #8
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    Oh no, not CO2

    This is the machine I was thinking of:
    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produ...r/?cm_src=hero

    We use CO2 to make Whipped cream (nitrogen actually, CO2 makes HORRIBLE whipped cream, ask me how I know ). I actually dislike throwing away the cartridges even for that and they cost $1 each. I figure that is less waste than buying a can of Redi Whip, though, and better.

    A lot of the "pod" machines e.g. Green Mountain seem to make pretty crappy coffee. I have found the Starbucks pods, while expensive, are good in a pinch.
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  9. #9
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    M-cashstash, thx for the tip on the la pavoni. That is the type of machine i've been thinking about getting. My Sbux tab would pay for it in a year and i'm pretty fed up with the declining service there anyway.

  10. #10
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    God bless you

    Quote Originally Posted by Cajun Rich
    My wife just purchased a Mr. Coffee one and she loves it! I am too young for coffee.
    That stopped being true for me when I was a freshman in college. Now I'm starting to feel like I'm too OLD. Actually, like my taste for beer, I can no longer drink the commercial-industrial stuff. So, no diner coffee; no frat-house beer. But I still like both products.

    We had a Mr. Coffee we blew up years ago, but they might have gotten better.
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  11. #11
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    $350 seems to be the going rate for a used on in "brand new condition". You should be able to pick one up a nice one for $275. The design hasn't really changed in 40 years on these, and there's not much to go wrong, so I would not buy a "new" one. But you will want a burr grinder (The Baratza grinders are excellent for the money)

    Here's one to watch
    and another
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    answers below...

    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    I just looked at that and, honestly I AM a little bit charmed by the elegance of it. I think I first saw that in a Hugh Grant movie.

    1) what does it do when it overheats? We usually do 2-4 shots in the morning and then again at around 6 (on the way to the gym!) Is that alot or a little?

    After around 3 shots, each shot will start to taste increasgly bitter as the machine gets too hot and loses it's abolity to cool boiling water before the water hits the coffee. The best shots will be the first ones you pull when the machine has only been on for 5 minutes.


    2) Yeah, we have a crappy grinder. We've been meaning to buy a better one, but we usually get beans ground at Starbucks and use them within a week. Too long?

    This will be the biggest improvement you can make! Use fresh beans and grind only what you need just before you pull the shots. Try and find a local roastery who puts the actual roast date on the bag.

    3) If all I have to do is descale the machine that would be good, but I think my wife did that in the last few months. I'm not sure why it keeps blowing the circuit. The GFI pops as soon as I turn on the machine.

    Hard to say. Probably not an issue with the Pavoni since it's a simple machine.


    4) I think were hoping to spend about $500 and hope it lasts about 10 years.

    Used La Pavoni in good condition and a Baratza Virtuoso grinder should be do-able for $500. Capable of making better coffee than you can buy in %95 of commercial cafe's. It will take a little practice but it's not that tough.
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  12. #12
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    Oh no you diddnt!

    You're not gonna get crema like this with pods...
    IMG_5314[/QUOTE]

    That's not a pro picture? I'm impressed. I didn't see the photo the first time U read this.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    That's not a pro picture? I'm impressed. I didn't see the photo the first time U read this.
    Thanks... nope that's a saturday AM at home, made with my previous machine (La Pavoni)
    My new machine is "fancier" but really the coffee isn't any better.
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  14. #14
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    You will be amazed by the quality of the coffee in the Nespresso pods. It's pushing 19 bars of pressure. The foam is incredible and the coffee is great. Way better IMO than Starbucks espresso (or Peets for that matter) even made there. It's seriously good.

    I am having the pods shipped to me, they arrive in about 2 days. Also, ease of use matters....at least to me. It's worth considering. I didn't want something that was going to not work if I wasn't gentle with it, or if I over/under tamped. Or that my wife wouldn't use.

    But at the end of the day, the coffee in the Nespresso is insane. I'd go check one out. The guy at Sur De Le Tab made me a few coffees before I pulled the trigger.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    My machine, a single-basket Saeco machine branded as Starbucks "Barrista" is blowing the power circuits in my kitchen. We have had it about 5 years and it has been used 5-10 times a day. I may be able to get it repaired (and I would welcome advice!)

    But, I know some of you coffee passion crazy people are on this board. The wife and I have been jonesing for a fancier machine anyway, so . . .

    What's the best deal for a sturdy hard-working machine that will last a long time? My dream machine would grind, measure, tamp and dump beans automatically, but price is probably a deal breaker on that end. My only local shiny products retailer is Williams Sonoma.

    Please send me some links.

    We have went through several automatics and other varieties. We decided to go with a real unit (much cheaper than auto) and could not be happier with the quality of the product. The reviews are excellent and the espresso is excellent. Better yet, the unit is very modular and can practically be rebuilt.

    Rancilio Silvia with Rancilio Burr Grinder-

    http://www.1stincoffee.com/rancilio-silvia.htm

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    3) If all I have to do is descale the machine that would be good, but I think my wife did that in the last few months. I'm not sure why it keeps blowing the circuit. The GFI pops as soon as I turn on the machine.
    GFCI's can get weak over time, I would try the machine plugged in to a regular receptacle and see if it blows that. If not, replace the GFCI.
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  17. #17
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    Gaggia Classic

    I make one latte at the start of EVERY day, and have done so for the last 15 years.

    I have been using my Gaggia Classic with Gaggia MDF grinder for the last 6 years and have been really happy with it.

    As stated in other replies: Fresh roasted beans, ground with a good grinder, right before pulling the shot is where to start for good espresso.

    Check out wholelattelove.com. Excellent site for research with good prices and excellent service. I bought my machine and grinder from them, and I would absolutely do it again.

    The Rancillio Silvia is a good reccomendation as well. Same price point and probably the direct competition to the Gaggia that I have.

    Spend the money to get something good, and it will pay off in the long run. That is true with most things you get in life.

    Good luck.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 29ftw
    M-cashstash, thx for the tip on the la pavoni. That is the type of machine i've been thinking about getting. My Sbux tab would pay for it in a year and i'm pretty fed up with the declining service there anyway.
    Right on- hey in case you or gthcarolina end up getting one, here's the clifnotes on dialling in espresso on a la Pavoni:
    • Turn the machine on 5-10 just minutes before pulling shots, and turn it off once you're done. You want to keep the grouphead cool (a cool grouphead helps cool down the boiling water, which is a bit too hot for good espresso otherwise)
    • Once the machine is warm, fill basket with ground coffee, level, tamp, pull the lever up 3/4 of the way until you hear the "slurp!" then lower just a bit and lock the portafilter and basket in. Then pull the lever slowly up to the top, count to 10, then pull down (here comes the crema!). The reason for all this: you don't want to pull air upwards through the coffee puck. Pulling the lever up before locking the portafilter in keeps the dry coffee puck intact.
    • You can do whats called a "fellini move": after pulling the lever all the way down and getting a shot, you can slowly pull it up half way, then down again a second time. This is where the term "double pull" came from.
    • After pulling your shot, let things sit for 30+ seconds (good time to steam milk) before removing the portafilter, then ...slowly twist it out. There may be some pressure behind it which can "sneeze" hot coffee grounds if you just yank it out too fast.
    • Tune your grind so that you can just barely pull the lever downward with 2 fingers. If the machine "chokes" and you can't pull the lever down with 2 fingers, the grind is too fine. If you can easily pull the lever down quickly with 2 fingers, the grind is too coarse.
    • Rinse the portafilter and basket under cold water between shots, then wipe dry. This helps prevent overheating.


    Of course the coffee will be much better than Starbucks! No contest!

    I know that sounds like a lot but it's really a very simple system. Great espresso once you figure out the routine. The lever action is pretty fun
    Last edited by MoustacheCashStash; 01-04-2011 at 08:34 PM.
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  19. #19
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    what bsieb said +. Depending on how hard your water is you might have to descale like once a month.

  20. #20
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    Blowing the circuit might be caused by a burned out heating element. I had a different brand of machine that would do that. Changing it out isn't very hard unless you just really want a new machine. To help prevent burning out the element I always run water through the brew head when I first turn it on to make sure the boiler is filled.

  21. #21
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    Listen to MoustacheCashStash. He's been giving good advice. Plan on spending a nice chunk of change on a quality espresso grinder, perhaps even more than you spend on an espresso machine. You can't really make good espresso without good coffee and a good grind. Espresso ain't cheap.

    You might want to see about repairing your machine first and invest in a grinder. Baratza grinders are fairly inexpensive and popular. You probably wouldn't want to go lower than the Virtuoso.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoustacheCashStash
    You're not gonna get crema like this with pods...
    IMG_5314
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus
    You can't really make good espresso without good coffee and a good grind. Espresso ain't cheap.

    .
    This also brings up the roast, go over to Sweet Maria's and learn about home roastin.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by auto
    This also brings up the roast, go over to Sweet Maria's and learn about home roastin.
    Word. This morning, I drank a cup of Kenya AA Peaberry I roasted on Monday. It was fanastic in the Aeropress. The beans might even benefit from a little more rest.

  25. #25
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    My favorite coffee maker ever. Makes dang fine espresso. Cost $10.

  26. #26
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    I thought of that

    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb
    GFCI's can get weak over time, I would try the machine plugged in to a regular receptacle and see if it blows that. If not, replace the GFCI.
    It blew several GFCIs in different places in the house. (I could set it up in my bedroom, but then i would have to take down the Budweiser sign!)
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214


    My favorite coffee maker ever. Makes dang fine espresso. Cost $10.
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  28. #28
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    If you want to save your steam for pressing or just dont have a steam wand you HAVE to checkout the Nespresso Aeroccino...works great for the moola it costs..yes it heats. The new model is faster and larger capacity than the original.

    Last edited by TraxFactory; 01-05-2011 at 10:15 PM.

  29. #29
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    I have a used Barista and a Rocky grinder that I'd let go for just the price of a rocky grinder if you are interested
    "It looks flexy"

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipRoar
    If you want to save your steam for pressing or just dont have a steam wand you HAVE to checkout the Nespresso Aeroccino...works great for the moola it costs..yes it heats. The new model is faster and larger capacity than the original.

    best froth for the buck.....well 2 bucks........

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10076320
    b

  31. #31
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    I recently bought this. It makes a very nice double espresso and pretty good latte/cappucinos.

    http://www.amazon.com/DeLonghi-EC155...N%3DB000F49XXG

    This was the cheapest "real" espresso machine I could find through my web research. All the other cheaper ones are steam driven. The super expensive ones (and this one) are pump driven. I'd recommend it.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianc
    best froth for the buck.....well 2 bucks........

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10076320
    2 bucks is hard to beat but, no heat and you have to stand there...

  33. #33
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    Maybe

    Quote Originally Posted by gticlay
    I have a used Barista and a Rocky grinder that I'd let go for just the price of a rocky grinder if you are interested
    I sent you a PM

    BTW: do you have a gti? I have a 2007. That's not what my user name references, though.
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  34. #34
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    I'll second that!

    Quote Originally Posted by auto
    We have went through several automatics and other varieties. We decided to go with a real unit (much cheaper than auto) and could not be happier with the quality of the product. The reviews are excellent and the espresso is excellent. Better yet, the unit is very modular and can practically be rebuilt.

    Rancilio Silvia with Rancilio Burr Grinder-

    http://www.1stincoffee.com/rancilio-silvia.htm

    I have the exact same set-up at home and have been pulling 2 doubles twice a day for almost 4 years. No problems at all with the machine and great tasting espresso. I went this route over that automatic because I wanted more control over the process and hence the taste. Great machine and would recommend to anyone that wants more than push-button caffeine.
    Good luck!
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by auto
    We have went through several automatics and other varieties. We decided to go with a real unit (much cheaper than auto) and could not be happier with the quality of the product. The reviews are excellent and the espresso is excellent. Better yet, the unit is very modular and can practically be rebuilt.

    Rancilio Silvia with Rancilio Burr Grinder-

    http://www.1stincoffee.com/rancilio-silvia.htm

    I'm using this same setup....I researched the heck out of semi-automatics under $800 for machine + grinder and it came down to this and the Gaggia Classic. I ended up going with the Silvia and matching grinder. Once you get the grind down, you'll never again crave going to a coffee shop. 18 months and I've had zero issues (used 1-2 times every day)

    Brett
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  36. #36
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    I too have been rolling with the Ms Silvia and Rocky grinder combo for the last +6 years. Ive only had the Silvia in for one minor repair during that time and pulling 3-5 double lattes per day. I found the grinder on sale for $200 and the local company had Silvia marked down since a customer had returned it. $300! These are solid machines and if you care for them...should last a good long while.

    Cheers
    Mike

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