PDA

View Full Version : Grinder first, Machine second :-)



lookseehear
19-07-10, 03:50
Hi All, looking to get my first grinder and machine, fairly modest budget but hopefully enough to get something I won't want to replace in 6 months.

I have an aeropress, cafetiere and my flatmate has a cheap delonghi espresso machine, so my plan is to buy a grinder then use what I have and save for an espresso machine of my own.

For a grinder I'm hoping to spend not much over 100 but could stretch if a really good ebay deal came around. My options seem to be (mostly second hand):
Iberital MC2
Rancilio Rocky
Gaggia MDF

with the Rocky being a bit more premium than the other two (I think). I have heard of people getting second hand Mazzer super jolly's for around the 150-180 on ebay so if one of those came around I would probably go for it, but what do you think out of the three listed above?

Any others I should be considering?

In terms of a machine, in a few months I'd be looking at a second hand gaggia classic or rancilio silvia (although I'm leaning towards the classic as I've been hearing the silvia is tough on newbies like myself!).

I look forwards to hearing your advice.

DonRJ
19-07-10, 06:08
The Iberital MC2 gets the vote from some of us as a good value espresso grinder, I am very happy with mine. However if you have any intention of switching between different preparation methods it`s not the best choice due to the worm drive adjustment so no quick clicking round to adjust as with the Rocky for example. Rocky is quoted as the slightly better grinder but I have not been tempted away from the very fine adjustability of the Iberital. Skys the limit really on price with grinders so set a budget and go with it. Mazzer is in a different league by every account I have read though to any of the above.

As for machines, I don`t personally think the learning curve is very different between the Classic and Silvia, decent grinder, good beans and some practise will get you there with either. I would say all of us here have over time developed espresso making and maintenance rituals which will not differ dramatically apart from HX machine users with the essential cooling flush before brewing.

Personally I would say Silvia and MC2 but then I would wouldn`t I



Don

vintagecigarman
19-07-10, 06:30
I've also owned an MC2 and they are a good, honest grinder that can't be beaten at the price. I've also owned a Classic in the past and can recommend them. But the Silvia would seem a more sensible purchase, that will not see you looking for an upgrade too soon! I wouldn't worry too much about a steep learning curve with the Silvia. You've recognised the importance of fresh beans and a good grinder, so you're more than half way to making good coffee! You'll soon adapt the grind from an MC2 to tame any of the alleged quirks of the Silvia.

All are just my own opinions - there are others on the forum much more experienced than me who will advise.

...and welcome to the Forum!

DavidS
19-07-10, 07:04
What about a second hand mazzer mini? They can't go for more than 100 surely?

sandykt
19-07-10, 08:11
Welcome to the Forum. You will find you get "upgraditious" extremely quickly - I did!! I would recommend the Silvia as a first purchase.

BanishInstant
19-07-10, 08:33
The MC2 and Rocky are both minimums for an electric grinder. There is not enough flexibility in the MDF so I would rule that one out.

Ideally if you can stretch to a Mazzer on ebay, that is in pretty good nick, or be prepared to replace the burrs which I don't believe are too expensive but ensure you budget for them.

lookseehear
20-07-10, 12:32
Thanks for the replies. I'm leaning towards the MC2 now, mainly as it's cheap enough to be bought new, which I would prefer over getting something off ebay.

I have set up saved searches on ebay for Mazzer mini and super jolly but they don't seem to come up very often and are usually out of my price range. If I get lucky and see one before I buy an MC2 then I will likely bid on it, but I'm not holding out much hope! A Mazzer Mini would be perfect I think but the likelihood of getting one at a decent price seems slim.

Any tips as to where to buy an MC2 from?

BanishInstant
20-07-10, 01:05
I bought mine from Happy Donkey (http://www.happydonkey.co.uk), and they replaced it when it developed a fault. The price quoted is exclusive of VAT so bear that in mind.

vintagecigarman
20-07-10, 01:05
Happydonkey always used to be by far the cheapest, and they are reliable:

http://www.happydonkey.co.uk/iberital-mc2-grinders.html

vintagecigarman
20-07-10, 01:08
OOPS, Banishinstant beat me to it!

I'd suggest that for domestic use you get the doserless version and grind on demand

Glenn
20-07-10, 01:45
Another vote for doserless. You can set the throw by time so can easily set a rough dosage for single or double with 1 or 2 pushes of the dose button

+
Worm screw
Price
Reliability
Grind consistency for the price is great

-
Not easily repeatable settings

lookseehear
20-07-10, 01:55
happydonkey is pretty cheap! I'll probably wait until pay day to buy one but it isn't too long to wait :-)

I was definitely thinking of getting doserless, even at weekends if everyone in my flat is using it, probably won't see more than 8-10 shots a day, plus I've heard dosers can be quite messy!

lookseehear
29-07-10, 11:10
So my Iberital MC2 arrived yesterday, very pleased with it!

I've made a few shots of espresso in my flatmates little delonghi treviso, already they're a lot better than what I'd been making with pre ground.

I'm not too sure how fine I should be grinding and how hard I should be tamping though, I've wound the adjuster on the mc2 what seems like a hell of a lot (and wasted a lot of beans testing it!) but I think it's still too coarse.

Is there an indication with the mc2 when you get to the 'end'? Ie will the burrs touch or will it stop me from winding the adjuster?

My shot this morning took under 20 seconds so it looks like either it isn't fine enough or I'm not tamping hard enough. Any tips?

Edit: I think I should probably get a couple of espresso cups/glasses as the small cup I'm using doesn't have any measures on so I'm not sure whether I'm extracting the right amount either.

DonRJ
29-07-10, 02:52
If you keep winding the burrs will touch, possibly jam and cause problems. However if you adjust with the machine running you can hear the burrs just beginning to touch and then back off. TBH you will be grinding so fine by then that you should never have to flirt with that danger.

When I set mine up, I gradually wound finer, testing with some el cheapo beans until I got close to the grind I wanted, repositioned the hopper so the scale on it was at zero facing me, changed to my good beans and tweaked from there. Now I adjust between 3 and 6 on the scale depending on the beans I am using.

Yes do get some shot glasses it really helps judge the extraction volume and you probably need to tweak the grind setting a little to lengthen the pour, on the hopper scale probably by about a half and test. to see if you are close as you are not far away at around 20 secs. Don`t get too hung up on the 25 second pour rule, its reference point not an absolute. I vary between 20 and 30 secs extraction time to get 2oz / 60ml of espresso.

lookseehear
29-07-10, 04:16
Thanks for that Don, I'll reposition the hopper so I have some kind of idea how far I'm moving it, it's so hard to tell otherwise. I was sent a free bag of beans by happy donkey so I've got some spare to play with. For the mean time I've set the throw time to as short as I can so I don't waste too much. I don't think I can be too far off so I'll be making much smaller adjustments now.

I was ready to write this little delonghi machine off when I was using pre ground, I'm realising now that while I do want to buy myself a Silvia or similar fairly soon I think this is ok to learn on now I can get a decent grind from fresh beans.

I'll try and pick up a couple of shot glasses in the next couple of days, it's that much harder to try and improve when I'm not even sure how much I'm supposed to be extracting!

Glenn
29-07-10, 05:26
You may also want to pick up a set of pocket scales.
This will allow you to weigh your grounds in the basket and adjust the dose to taste.

lookseehear
26-08-10, 12:04
So since I started this topic I've done a lot of reading and thinking.

I'm thinking that instead of miss Silvia I might go straight for a HX machine, and I've been hearing good things about the Fracino Cherub.

My logic is that even if I got a Silvia I'm the kind of person that gets the upgrade bug quite quickly so in a couple of years I might be looking to get something bigger anyway. I've got a credit card with 12 months interest free, and whilst I don't advocate the use of credit in general, for the purposes of spreading it over 6 months I don't see why not if it's interest free :-)

Does anyone here have experience with the Cherub? I'm wanting a machine that will last indefinitely (well no upgrade for at least 10+ years!) and I've heard great things about Fracino service and support so that doesn't look like it'll be a problem. The other alternative for similar money would be the Expobar Office Pulsar but I just don't like the look of it.

I know the e61 on the Fracino isn't a true e61 but a copy, isn't this the case with most machines nowadays? Are there any issues with it being an e61 copy?

Also it feels like it could be a bit of a mismatch with my Iberital MC2 but I figure now I've got it I'll wait and maybe upgrade in a year or so.

Any opinions would be great :-)

vintagecigarman
26-08-10, 12:25
The Cherub seems to get amazingly good reviews, and the service from the manufacturers also appears excellent. Business appears to be booming for them, and I would expect it to be a long-lived company, so spares should be no problem. At the price that they are going for, I think that missing out the Silvia is a really good option.

Only problem that I would personally have with one is that the group is without the classic E-61 lever, and I just love the tactility of using that. If you can cope with a press-button substitute, then no problem.

And don't worry about the Cherub out-gunning the MC2. I ran an MC2 successfully with my Giotto for a while, only replacing it because my wife didn't like its appearnce!

lookseehear
26-08-10, 12:33
Wow you mean your wife actually encouraged you to spend more on coffee gear?! Lucky man!

My other half is away in Africa on her medical elective for 8 weeks so it'll be a nice surprise for her when she gets back (not!).

I also love the look of the e61 lever. Does not having one affect the brewing at all ie can you use the lever to pre infuse or is it just a nice way of switching the pump on and off?

One negative review I found of the Fracino Heavenly was here (http://www.thecoffeemachine.co.uk/22). While the original post doesn't make any sense (comparing it to an Ascaso Uno?!) there's a comment by 'Andrew' further down that says this:

"I just think the price differential was very high, It a lot of money to pay- especially for a machine with a vibration pump -which I am sure that you are aware averages 8.5 bar ie vibrates between 0 and 15 bar and this tends to over extract coffee oils – you can never get a really good espresso."

Is there any truth in this? Surely all machines below a certain amount have vibration pumps anyway so is he making a mountain out of a molehill?

sandykt
26-08-10, 01:48
I have been tempted by the Cherub in the past but whilst most reviews are good, I just can't stop looking at the shiny machines on the BB website (no affliation to C4's Big Brother BTW!!!). The absence of the good old E61 is a major thing for me, I have to say. If I had a credit card with 12 months interest free and other financial commitments were not a factor, I would probably go for an Vivi Mark II or VIVI PID or even a Duetto.

vintagecigarman
26-08-10, 02:04
...mmm. If you can't make good coffee with a machine with a vibration pump, then an awful lot of us here (me included with a 1100 Giotto) must be deluding ourselves about the quality of the coffee we are drinking!!

Yeah, rotary pumps have advantages, but you'll be able to live with a vibration one.

lookseehear
26-08-10, 03:15
I have been tempted by the Cherub in the past but whilst most reviews are good, I just can't stop looking at the shiny machines on the BB website (no affliation to C4's Big Brother BTW!!!). The absence of the good old E61 is a major thing for me, I have to say. If I had a credit card with 12 months interest free and other financial commitments were not a factor, I would probably go for an Vivi Mark II or VIVI PID or even a Duetto.

Don't try and get me to spend more money! I've already gone up 4 or 5 times what I was originally planning to spend!

I've seen this (http://www.toomuchcoffee.com/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&t=8740&sid=e29b169e41986cd36fde32beb601f2fc) on the TMC forum, I don't know much about the mk1 Izzo Alex but 500 looks a fairly good price.

The problem is that I couldn't buy it on credit card so I'd have to try and work that bit out, but do you think it might be better than going for the Fracino?

vintagecigarman
26-08-10, 05:03
Looks like a good price to me, if it's been looked after, and I must admit that I would prefer it to the Cherub.

Provided that you can still get interest free, a 500 cash advance would only cost around 15!!!

RisingPower
26-08-10, 05:22
Don't try and get me to spend more money! I've already gone up 4 or 5 times what I was originally planning to spend!

I've seen this (http://www.toomuchcoffee.com/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&t=8740&sid=e29b169e41986cd36fde32beb601f2fc) on the TMC forum, I don't know much about the mk1 Izzo Alex but 500 looks a fairly good price.

The problem is that I couldn't buy it on credit card so I'd have to try and work that bit out, but do you think it might be better than going for the Fracino?

Far, far, far better machine than the cherub. I've got one so if you have any questions about it. For 500 it's a bargain.

RisingPower
26-08-10, 05:25
Actually, well ok, maybe it isn't far far better, but the fact it is a true e61 would sway me, the design of the internals would sway me and the rotary pump would also sway me.

lookseehear
26-08-10, 05:32
Does anyone know what the differences between mk1 and mk2 are? I'm definitely keen on it.

vintagecigarman
26-08-10, 05:46
It's all here:

http://www.bellabarista.co.uk/pdf/IzzoAlexMKIIcloserlookv1.pdf

ChiarasDad
26-08-10, 06:18
Ohhhh, that's pretty. I want, but will not get.

sandykt
26-08-10, 07:22
I, too, have been thinking about the advert and my only reservation is why so cheap? Some questions need to be asked I think.

sandykt
26-08-10, 07:25
Just checked link and it says "provisionally sold" - anyone here bagged it?

lookseehear
26-08-10, 07:37
boo, I couldn't even contact him as I'm not a member there!

Ah well, cherub it is I guess!

RisingPower
27-08-10, 05:18
I, too, have been thinking about the advert and my only reservation is why so cheap? Some questions need to be asked I think.

Why? I picked up my alex mk2 dual water for 600.

RisingPower
27-08-10, 05:35
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/GRUPPO-IZZO-ESPRESSO-MACHINE-/130422204116?pt=UK_BOI_Restaurant_RL

sandykt
27-08-10, 09:33
I think the auction will probably finish at around the 600/620 mark. Shame I'm too far away. What I would pay in petrol, I would be better off buying new from BB.

vintagecigarman
27-08-10, 10:23
May be just me, but I'm always suspicious of someone 'selling for a friend' and who purports to know nothing of the item they are selling. Seems strange that an unused machine has watermarks on the front of the casing and comes with a wooden-handled tamper. But, like I say, that may just be my suspicious mind.

lookseehear
28-08-10, 01:05
May be just me, but I'm always suspicious of someone 'selling for a friend' and who purports to know nothing of the item they are selling. Seems strange that an unused machine has watermarks on the front of the casing and comes with a wooden-handled tamper. But, like I say, that may just be my suspicious mind.

I agree completely. I'm totally not sold on the 'I don't know anything about this item', it's just too convenient. In the same way I wouldn't ever buy anything on ebay which is 'sold as seen' or untested as it seems just to be a way to flog something which is broken.

The Alex from TMC however is from a fairly active member who seemed to know what he's doing and seems to therefore be a low risk as it's likely to be well maintained.

lookseehear
30-08-10, 09:00
So I'm starting to get a bit silly about getting a new machine.

I've worked out my tax rebate that I should receive next month should be about 400, so I'm looking at machines around the 1000 mark. My logic is that if I'm getting a 'machine for life' then why not go the whole hog. My other half definitely wouldn't forgive me if I was to spend that much on something that essentially 'makes coffee'.

Just say that if my budget was to go up a bit then what could I get for under a grand that would be better than the Fracino Cherub? By better I mean it would have to justify the investment I guess. I like the idea of a Vibiemme Domobar Junior HX but can't for the life of me find a UK supplier. BB have the Expobar Leva Dual Boiler for 960ish at the moment which looks pretty good value.

Essentially, if you had 1000 to spend on a machine, what would you get?

RisingPower
30-08-10, 09:27
It would have to be the izzo alex mk2 from bellabarista at slightly over budget for me or maybe the izzo vivi, but I feel the added manometer, rotary pump, bigger boiler would sway me to spend the extra 169.

RisingPower
30-08-10, 09:28
However, all that is essentially pointless unless you have a decent grinder like a mazzer imo.

sandykt
30-08-10, 09:35
I'm with Rising Power on this one in every respect. Go for the Izzo Alex II. Paired with a Mazzer and you will have the forever set up and be the envy of quite a few members here.

DonRJ
31-08-10, 08:00
Having just had another peep at the Bela Barista site (any excuse to drool), I would also vote for the Izzo Alex at the 1k ish price point. Grinder wise I go with the concensus too of the Mazzer with the small hopper ideally. Rather more than the budget for the pair but when I reflect on my own espresso machine purchase costs over the years of 570 altogether taking off selling on income and the exchange.

Krups in Comet sale 30, Gaggia Coffee in House of Frazer sale 120 exchanged for the Baby due to a fault, Gaggia Baby in HOF sale 200 sold on for 100, DeLonghi in Argos sale 40 (my office ESE pod machine) and 300 ex dem Silvia.

All that was never once paying the usual selling prices (that would have been around 1065 with no exchange or selling on), the Alex probably would have cost me little more if I had started at that machine level. How much was an Alex eight years ago?!!! which is the sort of purchase I will be making in a couple of years.

Don

lookseehear
31-08-10, 02:27
Hmm, I think a grinder upgrade would have to wait a little while (only just got the MC2) and whilst it isn't really a match for an Izzo I think it would have to do for a while.

This is turning into a really hard decision! As much as I would love an Alex II, there are accessories I need to buy as well (nice tamper, cups etc) and spending over 1200 isn't something I think I can justify. My reasoning behind setting a budget at 1000 is that I had worked out I could happily pay off the Fracino Cherub (600) over 6 months or so, and with my tax refund coming that would be 400 I could knock off the cost straight away, bringing the 1000 back down to 600 that I had already justified to myself.

I need to do some thinking.

sandykt
31-08-10, 03:14
If I were you, I would go for the Alex and keep an eye on ebay for a Mazzer. If you settle for something less than what you really want, you will find yourself upgrading again in about six months time. That's what happened to me. I'm saving so that when I upgrade, I know it will be for that "forever" machine.

vintagecigarman
31-08-10, 04:23
I'm saving so that when I upgrade, I know it will be for that "forever" machine.

Such dangerous words! 'Forever' is only until the next upgrade!

lookseehear
02-09-10, 04:43
Okay so I've seen another machine which looks pretty good for the price, anyone have any experience with the Isomac Tea II?

I don't think I'll be able to stretch to an Alex, but for less than 900 the Tea II seems to have everything I want (apart from a rotary pump but I think that will have to wait for the upgrade that comes in 10 years or so!).

Thoughts/opinions?

sandykt
02-09-10, 07:21
I recall reading one review which said it had "moderate steaming ability". I have googled Isomac Tea Two and MyEspresso are selling for 919. Before everyone jumps on me, probably best if you stay away from them because, unfortunately, recently they seem to have had some problems with their customer service department (!). If you're looking at around the 900 mark, I would spend that sort of money with BB - their reputation is excellent. For an extra 99 you can get an Izzo Vivi for 999.

lookseehear
02-09-10, 07:34
Coffee Italia have it for 844, but having just googled them they don't seem to be too reputable either.

The thing I like about the Tea II is having the second pressure gauge for the brew head which the Vivi doesn't have. I assume for the price difference the Vivi must be superior? It's hard to tell the differences when they're all essentially pretty e61 machines!

Edit: BB also have the Expobar Leva Dual Boiler for 969, reduced from 1019, how does this compare to the Vivi II? Am I opening a big can of beans on the whole 'HX vs double boiler' argument?

sandykt
02-09-10, 07:52
Coffee Italia - a definite "no, no". They give the impression they are UK based but they are in Italy.

On the BB website there is a detailed "closer look" PDF document for each machine which should help narrow your search.

DonRJ
02-09-10, 08:11
Izzo machines have a reputation for build quality and performance that seems to be borne out by the user feedback wherever you look which is why a lot of us on here put them high on our wish list.

Which is better between HX and dual boiler machines is one I have no idea about due to lack of experience with either yet I suspect either is equally capable of producing quality espresso once the user has got used to the machines characteristics. The Expobar certainly is tempting and has had rave reviews in the States where it is called the "Brewtus".

You pays your money and just enjoy the ride as they say.

I reckon many of us here would love to test some of the 1k machines back to back to decide which we liked best.

Don

BanishInstant
02-09-10, 08:28
The Expobar Leva Dual Boiler was on my wishlist until my TS purchase on ebay. Perhaps not quite the same quality as the Izzo but it has everything that you need. This machine has been through a couple of generations so hopefully is a great machine.

vintagecigarman
02-09-10, 09:09
HX vs Dual Boiler: I only have experience of HX (Rocket Giotto) but have no issues about consistency at all. I'm virtually exclusively an espresso drinker, so didn't see the need for a dual. I make cappu for SWMBO and friends, and there's never an issue of steam power - it's magic - and brewing and steaming simultaneously isn't a problem. (Got to admit, though, that though I'm deeply in love with the Giotto, I've recently got a real buzz from going back on the tools and working my old Pavoni Pro again!)

This may be heresy, but I really believe that once you get into the 1k range of E61s there are no bad machines, but that they may each require a slightly different skill set. The guy who writes the detailed reviews for BB tells it like it is, warts and all, but none of the machines get condemned. You pays your money and takes your choice - and the subtle differences in their external appearance are often (as in my case) the final clinching factor. I'd never tell the owner of any of these machines that another choice would be better - it would be like saying that thy could have chosen a much better spouse if only they'd spent a bit more!

BanishInstant
03-09-10, 09:25
I'd never tell the owner of any of these machines that another choice would be better - it would be like saying that thy could have chosen a much better spouse if only they'd spent a bit more!

I liked that comparison ;)

lookseehear
04-09-10, 08:12
So I think I'm reaching a point where I might have made my mind up more or less.

What I'd really like if BB supplied it (not that anyone in the UK does)is a quickmill anita but failing that I think that the hx expobar office leva at 815 from BB looks a really good deal. I think considering where I was at originally (re read my first post if you will :-) ) that even another 200 for a vivi would be pushing it a bit too far.

The leva hx seems to have everything I want/need apart from a brew pressure gauge but I can live without that. The most important things are the e61, hx and decent size boiler whilst looking nice (ie not like the pulser) and not costing too much.

Sound reasonable?

sandykt
04-09-10, 08:36
Sounds logical to me.