View Full Version : Advice wanted on buying a new espresso machine and grinder

14-09-10, 12:22

I'm new to this site, so apologies for asking the questions that I'm sure every new member has already asked.

I am a coffee fanatic (some would say addict) about to buy my first real machine (I had a cheap Kenwood before and bought my girlfriend a basic Gaggia which I use extensively every time I visit). I now want to treat myself to a really good machine that makes great coffee but also looks fantastic (I only drink espresso or very strong black americano so not really bothered about milk frothing or any of that).

I have done some basic research online for a decent machine and lots of people seem to recommend the Rancilio Silvia. I can't find any shop that sells it (I'd quite like to see it first rather than just buying it online) - does anyone know of any?

Also, as well as the taste of the coffee I love the ritual and the look of the machine is important - ideally I'd like it to make me smile every morning when I walk into the kitchen. In that respect the Rancilio Silvia looks quite formal, and I wondered if anyone could recommend a machine that produces the same or better quality coffee but has more shiny chrome, knobs, dials, etc (I know I'm shallow, but I want a "sexy" machine!).

I will also need to buy a grinder and have seen people recommend the Iberital MC2 or the Rocky. Any suggestions for what is best?

In terms of budget, ideally I don't want to spend more than 800 in total, but would go higher if I saw something that I fell in love with (last weekend I tried to convince myself I was being over-indulgent and should just buy a Baby Gaggia for 250, but couldn't bring myself to).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

14-09-10, 01:09
Hi and welcome, I'm a fellow newbie, they were very kind to me :-)

If you aren't that fussed about steaming, then something like the Isomac Zaffiro might suit you, very pretty and makes really great espresso. It's basically a Silvia that's a lot prettier and has a bigger boiler. The downside to having only one big boiler (and no heat exchanger) is that if you want to switch from brewing to steaming it takes a while. Not sure about suppliers for the zaffiro but should be around 650 ish.

Above a Silvia you start to get into HX machines quite quickly, quite a few people have been impressed with the Fracino Cherub as an entry level HX machine. This again goes for 650 i believe.

14-09-10, 01:54
Hi, and thanks for the quick reply.

I did actually follow your journey a little earlier this evening when I joined the forum, and that's partly where I saw that many of the people who replied to you themselves owned the Rancilio Silvia. I had also come across this machine through my own online searches. I had also come across the Isomac Zaffiro, but one review seemed to suggest that it needed 30 mins warm up time before it was at its best (maybe I misread or misinterpreted the review). It certainly looks good (I love those types of grouphead).

What would be really nice is to be able to visit a shop and see some of these machines (I am a sceptic when it comes to pictures on the web - they can make ordinary machines look great), but I haven't come across anywhere where I can do that (I'm based in London).

I will probably give myself a few more days of online looking before making the final decision.

Thanks again.

14-09-10, 08:49
Hi Carl and welcome to Coffee Forums. If you're looking for the Rancilio I believe there is a showroom in London (Fulham, I think but I'm not sure) which stocks the Rancilio. Also, take a look at the demonstration video on Myespresso.co.uk which is helpful. Probably best not to buy from them as their customer service department is a "off colour" at the moment. You Tube is also another place to look but remember that sometimes people use their machines incorrectly and so the results are not as they should be.

14-09-10, 05:01
I wouldn't let long warm up time of the Zaffiro put you off, if it takes a while to warm up it's likely to take a while to cool down too, and greater temperature stability means better espresso!

It's possible to 'cheat' miss silvia into warming up more quickly but it requires constant hands on (cycling the boiler and flushing hot water through steam arm and group). Personally I'd prefer to get a timer plug socket thing and just set it to come on 30 mins or an hour before I get up, then when you come to use the machine there's no waiting at all.

The e61 grouphead on the Zaffiro and a slew of other machines is undeniably very pretty and constantly flushes hot water through to keep it warm so it has functional use too. Mark Prince at coffeegeek did a detailed review (http://www.coffeegeek.com/proreviews/detailed/isomaczaffiro) of the Zaffiro and was really impressed. If you aren't bothered about milk drinks there would be little need to buy anything else (he even claims he had three elusive 'god-shots' in a row!).

Depending on where you are in London, there is a Silvia on display at Drury Tea and Coffee in Covent Garden, although they don't sell them any more. They're pretty friendly in there so I'm sure if you went in they'd let you have a look, although I'm not sure if it's connected up or ornamental!

14-09-10, 05:37
The Zaffiro is essentially a Silvia on steroids and certainly would give you the E61 look with improved thermal stability as stated, I am thoroughly pleased with my Silvia and it does not take long to get into the warm up routine, I switch mine on at 6am when I get up for a cuppa tea and make espresso at 6.45 once showered etc. But for 600 ish you could go for a full HX machine eg the Fracino Cherub if you have space or the Expobar Office which is smaller as alternatives to the undeniably attractive Zaffiro.

14-09-10, 09:50
Hi Carl and welcome. For shiny it is worth looking at the Bella Barista (http://www.bellabarista.co.uk/) website - its a forum favourite. Although mail order it may open your eyes to the options are out there, and easy for your wallet to be thumped!

15-09-10, 11:16
Hi Carl

I bought a Silvia from myesresso last year. The boiler stopped heating after 7 months and the proprieter (a 'charming' Mr Redl) accused me of mis-sue before even inspecting the machine and refused to honour the guarantee. Drury coffee in London used to supply the Silvia but apparantly had a number of returns with similar problems and no longer sell it. It is a superb machine when it is working but whatever you buy, I urge you to stay clear of myespresso. The customer service is shocking.

15-09-10, 01:41
As an owner of the Rancilio Silvia, I can vouch for her and say she is a cracking machine. I usually come down in the morning around 7am to switch her on, go and have my shower and then sit down for my cappuccino at about 7.30m.

I have no issues with my machine even though I purchased from myespresso. Unfortunately, myespresso have not had a "good press" lately.

As Banish says, Bella Barista is a Forum favourite website and I can say that they will be my next stop when upgrading. Until then, I'll stick with the Rancilio.

Also, check out ebay if you're interested in the Silvia. They do up for sale on there and usually hold their value quite well. It may be possible for you to get a bargain.

16-09-10, 05:05
I sell the Fracino Heavenly and Cherub, both cracking little machines! Take look at http://www.thecoffeebean-vanandroaster.co.uk/Heavenly--amp--Cherub.html if you are interested

16-09-10, 10:10
Thanks to everyone for the replies. I'm sure this has happened to everyone on the forum, but the more I look into different machines, the more money I think I'm going to end up parting with. The Rancilio Silvia seems by common consent to be a very good machine and reasonably priced but lacks that "wow" factor I'm also craving (it looks solid but doesn't have the curves or the chrome). The Isomac Zaffiro has that, but I'm not sure about the top of it (those 3 switches and lights look a little strange on the pictures). The Cellini Classic looks good, but that's close to 1,000.

What would be really useful is to be able to go to a shop and actually see the machines to get a feel for which one to buy. Apart from the Silvia, does anyone know of a shop or bar where I could see any of these machines before parting with my hard-earned cash?

16-09-10, 10:18
Unfortunately not. You could hunt down the machines in question on YouTube. I find the Seattle Coffee Gear videos show numerous machine while demonstrating various techniques. There is a tour (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdJ8Va1Eh1Q) which might help with the look and dimensions of some. I am sure the Silvia appears on one or two of their videos.

17-09-10, 12:12
You seem to be in a similar place to me at the moment then! I'm fairly settled on the Expobar Office Leva Dual Boiler (http://www.bellabarista.co.uk/coffeemachines/expobar-leva-dual-boiler-coffee-machine.asp) or Brewtus III as it's called in the rest of the world. Seems like a great machine for the money.

If I wasn't steaming milk much I think I'd probably get a Zaffiro, just because I know it's one of the best machines for pure espresso and shouldn't break the bank, but as you said you aren't too keen on the details. Do any of the machines at Bella Barista catch your eye?

17-09-10, 08:53
Carl, you could travel to Northamptonshire to visit Bella Barista but you would need at least 1,000. If I had that sort of money in my pocket that's what I would do.

17-09-10, 01:11
I meant to say earlier that if you're going to go for the Silvia, a good place to buy from would be hasbean (http://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/Rancilio-Silvia-Espresso-Machine-(New-Model).html). I've only ordered beans from there before but they arrived quickly and the guy who runs it is really really passionate about coffee so you would have no worries when it comes to warranties and support. I'm sure a lot of people on here can vouch for them!

Getting something better than a Silvia is a slippery slope! Within a few weeks I'd doubled my budget, but the logic is simple, if you are going to buy something that you plan to keep for a good while then you need to be happy with it. If you think about life of ownership, it might only be 50 per year difference to get something you're really happy with.

18-09-10, 07:58
Sound advice from lookseehear. You want to make the right purchase given your circumstances, which are never the same for each person. Personally I have gone for function over style much to Mrs Banish's dismay but she was keeping a tight hold on finances!