espresso machine recommendation

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espresso machine recommendation

Postby gfoster » Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:48 pm

I have a crappy Krups espresso machine that I've retired (gave it to my stepdaughter). After having to-die-for cappuccino constantly while in Italy, Roxane and I are going through major withdrawals and we've decided to go ahead and cave and buy a fairly decent espresso machine (we're both coffee addicts, although not nearly as geeky about it as Casey, heh).

I have been looking around at different makes and models and have tentatively settled on the Solis SL-90 (runs about $450) with the aftermarket unpressurized filter basket upgrades. I'm interested in suggestions though, in case anyone has some experience and opinions.

I'd like to keep it in the $500 range if possible although I've got a little wiggle room. I'd like an automatic (with shot timers) or a semi-automatic (no shot timers) but I don't want a super automatic (one that grinds, tamps, ejects the puck, all that crap). No lever machines either, Roxane doesn't have the patience to master the learning curve for one of those and I don't want to be the only one in the house pulling shots heh. Oh, and I want one with a real boiler, not one of those thermoblock things. Pump driven, of course.

Anyone have any recommendations on favorite machines within those params?

-- Gary F.
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Postby mjrice » Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:07 pm

Gary, I have two machines; a semi-automatic at work that isn't made any more, and a super-automatic Gaggia (compact) at home. But, like you said, you aren't looking for one of those so not much help there. My suggestion is to check out http://wholelattelove.com/, as that's where I got both my machines and they have always given me good service. I just hopped over there and in your price range they have the Gaggia baby-d on sale - nice looking machine. I don't know much about Solis, but I have one of their grinders and it's worked ok.
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Re: espresso machine recommendation

Postby Bob259 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:57 am

gfoster wrote:Anyone have any recommendations on favorite machines within those params?

-- Gary F.


Gary, Talk to Chris at Chris's Coffee ( http://www.chriscoffee.com/ ), great guy and help and GREAT service before, during and after the sale...
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Postby gfoster » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:47 am

Well, I settled on the solis after a lot of reading, and went ahead and ordered it. Come to find out, everyone has the solis backordered and I couldn't get one for several weeks, and nobody was really sure *when* I could. All they could do is give me a best estimate. Seems like all the shipments are held up.

So... I called around a couple of places and talked to some people and went ahead and got the Rancilio Silvia (and a rocky grinder) instead. That seems to be the "gold standard" setup, although I was warned repeatedly that the silvia is a finicky beast to master. Didn't really want to put that much effort into mastering the machine but guess I'll go for it. It should be here monday.

I might look at modding it with a PID controller to even out the temps on it if I get geeky enough into it, or I might just be happy learning to "surf" it and put in the time and effort to master it, dunno.

Now I just need to get a good blend for espresso beans. There's a roaster right down the street from where I work (for one more day heh) at eBay, so I picked up a bag of their espresso "downtown" blend that was roasted on sunday. It's Orchard Valley Coffee in downtown campbell and I'm pretty pleased with their coffee in general. We'll see how I do, if I end up grinding through them and pouring sour nasty shots or whether I can get a nice sweet caramelly espresso with a bit of practice and effort.

Anyone have any favorite espresso blend suppliers? Bear in mind I'm not roasting my own (yet). I fully intend on getting Roxane so hooked on good coffee that *SHE* will geek out on roasting, but not me... I have enough time-consuming geeky hobbies as it is heh. Until that happens, I need a good suggestion. If it's something I can pick up in san francisco at a local roaster that'd rock too, since I start my new job in the city on wednesday.

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Postby cjv85vmax » Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:20 am

Gary,

I am also an espresso guy. I love to stop by the local homegrown coffee bar and get a Cap with an extra shot. I did a ton of reading about the home espresso makers, but I never bought one. I just don't drink enough shots per year to justify the price of a top shelf grinder and espresso maker. What I can say is that the local coffee shop here in Lincoln that I prefer uses comericial Automatic Rancillio espresso makers, and the shots that come from those machines are fab. I think you made the right decision. As for coffee...I suppose you have already heard of this website. But I would check out http://www.sweetmarias.com

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Postby Eric Ennis » Thu Nov 23, 2006 7:20 pm

I've been brewing with Ms. Silvia for almost 3 years now. Great machine. I did order the 3 hole tip for the steam wand though.

The Rocky is a good machine too but If I had it to do over again I would get the doserless one or get a grinder with an adjustable doser.

For coffie I have used Illy, local store "gourmet" brands, Starbucks and Costco "Seattle Mountain Colombian". I like the Costco the best and its 1/3rd the cost. But the Costco I buy at has their own huge roasting drum. So the roasted coffie is as freash as you can get.
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Postby Theosophist » Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:59 pm

I just received my Rocky/Silvia combo, came with a tray. Three hole is on the way but I've been lucky 70% of the time with the stock tip. Temp surfing and a proper warmup can produce a great creama. I would second Eric about the doserless Rocky. With the doser you sort of have to grind a little more than you need and the excess sits there losing flavor. Damn package was 65lbs!
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Postby Eric Ennis » Sat Nov 25, 2006 6:48 pm

Theosophist wrote:Damn package was 65lbs!


Yea but the whole combo still fits on my desk in my cubicle at work. Only thing better than an espresso machine on your desk is a coffie IV attached to your chair. :shock:
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Postby gfoster » Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:05 pm

I still haven't really mastered Ms. Silvia but I'm getting better at the temp surfing that's required. I have Americanos in the morning before work and I can say that the flavor of the espresso shot is a lot more telling in an americano than it is in a cappuccino heh.

When I pay attention and properly temp surf the shots are fabulous. She definitely rewards you when you pay her the proper homage.

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Postby maybock » Sun Dec 31, 2006 11:04 pm

My Parents own a coffe shop here in my town. They have 4 $15,000.00 Franke espresso automatic machines.... They are beautiful, and work beautifully. You probably make enough money to buy one.
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Postby borny » Tue Jan 16, 2007 11:26 am

I just picked up the Rancilio/Rocky combo. I don't hav the Rocky yet, but I do have a burr grinder. First time using the machine on saturday. I'm still getting used to the tamp let alone the time surf. I'm getting better at making the shots, right now I average right at 20 seconds for a double... I roast my own beans so I went ahead and ordered all three preblended espresso beans from sweetmaria's along with a seris of other green beans to try blending.... The current espresso blend I'm using is Intelligentsia Black Cat blend. It's mighty tasty!!!!
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