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Hi,

Have been looking at buying an espresso machine and looking for some advice on the best entry level option. Our budget is around £500-£800.

Currently we don’t own a machine at all, just use a bialetti moka pot, a milk frothing jug and a we have this Cuisinart grinder:

https://www.johnlewis.com/cuisinart-dbm8u-auto-burr-coffee-grinder/p230858168?sku=230858168&s_kwcid=2dx92700044582398773&tmad=c&tmcampid=2&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIq72R75Dm4gIVmK3tCh28QgyxEAQYASABEgL2hvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Initially we were looking at something like the sage barista express:

https://www.johnlewis.com/sage-barista-express-bean-to-cup-coffee-machine-with-milk-jug-stainless-steel/p3495241

but we’ve found quite a few bad reviews of these on amazon and are worried that they may be a pricey ‘style over substance’ option? As well as this the general consensus is that an integrated grinder is a bad idea (if it breaks it can’t be repaired and they don’t tend to be as good as a separate). Or is it the case that this might be fine for our needs and the online reviews/opinions can be taken with a pinch of salt? We aren’t really connoisseurs.

One concern we have is the heat-up time on whatever we decide to go for. On weekends especially we tend to drink coffee throughout the day, so waiting 30 mins for a machine to heat up isn’t ideal…

Having trawled through some forums the gaggia classic and rancilio silvia seem to be the most mentioned entry level machines for best ‘coffee shop’ results. We’ve been looking around though and have seen a few others that catch our eye (a lot of this is mainly down to aesthetics, as my girlfriend wants one that looks nice on the bench too):

https://www.bellabarista.co.uk/brands/ascaso-versatile-dream-pid-polished-wood-5.html

https://www.bellabarista.co.uk/brands/ascaso-versatile-dream-pid-polished-wood.html

https://www.thecoffeemate.co.uk/p/refurbished-traditional-espresso-coffee-machine-lelit-anna-pl41tem/

https://www.thecoffeemate.co.uk/p/traditional-coffee-machine-lelit-grace-pl81t/

https://www.thecoffeemate.co.uk/p/coffee-machine-lelit-victoria-pl91t/

Does anyone have any experience with the ones above and how they compare with the gaggia classic or rancilio silvia? The ascaso ones in particular look very nice.

Finally (and I think I already know what the response will be here) – should we think about getting a new grinder too? And any recommendations on those?

Thanks in advance!

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I had one of those grinders  (in the loft now), which I used with a Gaggia Baby Twin and a converted silvia wand. I think from memory the grinder never really went fine enough. The coffee was ok but wanted more...So I progressed to the Barista Express. 

To be honest, if I hadn't then stumbled across this site I would still have it - lovely machine! I got great coffee and textured milk from it...only changed because I caught the bug on something a bit more extravagant :)


Vesuvius • Hario VST-2000B • Distributor • Push Tamper • Niche Grinder

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disclaimer first - I haven't owned any of the machines on your shortlist so I wont try and compare them.

 

 I have had a Sage DTP (most of the Barista Express just without the grinder)  for about 18 months now.  I use it with an ugly industrial grinder.  My cleaning regime wouldn't keep DaveC happy but I do take off and clean the shower screen most weeks, descale it every couple of months, replace the filter every 2 months as directed and I use it with fridge filtered water.  We make one to 3 doubles a day and drink them with milk, so the steam wand gets as much use as the brewer.  The machine works well, has been reliable to date (I include the cleaning notes for comparison) and we thoroughly enjoy the coffee we get from it.  I've made coffee for plenty of visitors and all have commented on how nice it was (and plenty of them would tell me if they didn't like it!).  Its faff free to use, I think it looks good and from Lakeland you get a 3 year warranty.

 

 

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Sage DTP | Santos #4

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The DTP to me looks like the Rancillio Silvia / Gaggia classic of modern times. It’s simple, small, solid build and manually operated 15 bar espresso machine that it’s easy to use, clean, has the needed PID and auto purge to keep the right temperature, all accessories to get you started and it’s fairly cheap while on offer. It’s a stand alone machine which gives you the freedom to choose the best grinder for your needs. I also own of those and always get complements when I have visitors and they had try some hot drinks. Can’t recommend enough. 

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And there is a well looked after DTP in the for sale section
The seller is probably open to offers too...


Pre-millennium La Pavoni, Sage Duo Temp Pro, Niche Zero

Aergrind + Aeropress for travelling

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Thanks for the replies and advice. Think we’ve decided to go for the sage dtp and get a separate grinder. Bit pushed on the budget for that though. Might just get the sage separate grinder (presumably better than the one we have?) and upgrade when can afford a better one if needed. 

Quite interested in the bottomless portafilters I’ve seen for observing the extraction - can you get these for the dtp?

ive heard lots of talk about the ‘niche’ grinder - can’t seem to find any prices or availability online though? What price range are these?

and thanks for the heads up on the used dtp - think we’re keen to get one with the full 3 year warranty etc though, probably from Lakeland or something. 

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Posted (edited)

Niche is on here here

 

And is over your budget, there is a White one in the for sale area

Edited by Jony

SAGE IS NOT A UPGRADE

 

 

:)

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A good offer or well priced DTP and you could afford the Niche. It seems expensive when you first look at the cost of some grinders. But believe me, without a decent grinder it's irrelevant how much moneys worth or how extravagant your espresso machine is, it will not perform as well as intended.

The Niche will do you well and still be competent with future espresso machine upgrades.

Plenty of people start with a Sylvia or Classic. But if you require something that is a bit more friendly in the kitchen THE DTP is probably you're best bet. It was my first machine and worked well.

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Machine - Currently a Londinium R. Grinder - Niche. Tamper/distributor - Puqpress and Pullman Distribution and Big Step Palm Tamper.

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41 minutes ago, picalilli said:

Thanks for the replies and advice. Think we’ve decided to go for the sage dtp and get a separate grinder. Bit pushed on the budget for that though. Might just get the sage separate grinder (presumably better than the one we have?) and upgrade when can afford a better one if needed. 

Quite interested in the bottomless portafilters I’ve seen for observing the extraction - can you get these for the dtp?

ive heard lots of talk about the ‘niche’ grinder - can’t seem to find any prices or availability online though? What price range are these?

and thanks for the heads up on the used dtp - think we’re keen to get one with the full 3 year warranty etc though, probably from Lakeland or something. 

You can't buy bottomless PF's for the DTP direct from sage. They're also an odd size (54mm), so people end up modding their own with a 50-51mm hole saw and a dremel. Pillar drill should work with a vice. 

Niche grinder is good for single dosing and worktop friendly. It also easily switches between pourover and espresso. I would suggest getting the smart grinder pro over the dose control if you would like to go for the Sage grinder. I would urge that you wait until you can either buy a Niche and get that straight away, or buy a good second hand grinder, maybe an Eureka Zenith or Atom? Mazzer Super Jolly would be quite good as well if you're looking for something a bit cheaper.

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Can’t seem to find the used section - do I need a certain amount of forum activity? Anyone know how many posts needed? 

Those grinders look great but are well out of budget now. Initially thought £800 but seems more like £500 now, so after the dtp that only leaves £200. Might save for the niche though - seems to be over $900 on that site, which is massively over budget. Anyone know if other grinders around the £200 mark would be better than the sage, or at that price band are they much of a muchness? (Francino tranquilo for example)

thanks for advice on the bottomless, might look at that as a project 

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17 minutes ago, picalilli said:

Can’t seem to find the used section - do I need a certain amount of forum activity? Anyone know how many posts needed? 

Those grinders look great but are well out of budget now. Initially thought £800 but seems more like £500 now, so after the dtp that only leaves £200. Might save for the niche though - seems to be over $900 on that site, which is massively over budget. Anyone know if other grinders around the £200 mark would be better than the sage, or at that price band are they much of a muchness? (Francino tranquilo for example)

thanks for advice on the bottomless, might look at that as a project 

You should be able to pick up a second hand Mazzer Super Jolly, or maybe a Eureka Mignon that would work. There was a discount code floating around for 35% off on here somewhere I think, back in April. Not sure if it would still work?

Also I believe you need 5 posts to access the sales section of the site.

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Posted (edited)

John Lewis and AO have the DTP for 250 at the moment, and Bella barista sells Eureka mignon manuale for 239. Should be within budget.

Also AO do smart grinder pro for 160 if you want to go that route 

Edited by ciaran
Omitted price
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The Mignon specialtia is on for £350ish as well. Could get the DTP and the Specialtia for just a bit more than £600 and have a very decent starter set-up.

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The eureka Mignon specialita is actually what I was just looking at! 

Leaning towards the dtp and one of those now. Could probably stretch to that - especially now the dtp is £250

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go for it.  The big commercial grinders are amazing value, but aren't as user friendly to get started with.  You want something you'll want to use when you first start so the Eureka, or a Sage grinder unless you can stretch to a Niche.  It'll all go downhill pretty quickly anyway if you spend much time on here.... :D  You will need to buy scales (cheapy eBay ones will get you going) but the sage tamper works well enough, you'll get a nice jug with it 


Sage DTP | Santos #4

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Yeah - think we’ve decided on the eureka specialita. I’ve been wondering about the scales - I do have some as part of my kitchen scales that go to 0.1g level, but do people advise weighing the beans for each shot?

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yep.  its termed 'single dosing' (although most people brew doubles just to confuse things).  So something like 17-19g of beans into the grinder, confirm you have the same amount once ground (so either grind into a pot and weigh that, or grind into the portafilter and weigh that).  Then you weigh the brewed espresso as it comes out of the machine and stop the extraction when you have something like 2 times as much (there are loads of thread son recipes etc that explain all of this) but mainly its about consistency - if you grind the same weight of beans, at the same grind setting and make the same amount of espresso you should get the same taste.

 

That's a nice looking grinder, but its not much less than a Niche which seems to be viewed as on a par with many commercial grinders.  (mine is not that pretty)


Sage DTP | Santos #4

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Cheapest I can see the niche for is $634, which is about £500. Bit over budget I think - have already really stretched for the eureka.

understand what you mean about the weighing now. All gets very specific!

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Maybe buy the niche to go with your mocha pot and keep an eye on here, evilbay etc for a cheap machine when you have the money again?  You can sell the niche for what you paid for it at the moment so its pretty low risk.  The danger of buying a big used grinder is the faff puts you off and you don't get the benefits to outweigh the hassle.  Not everyone wants making a coffee to be a chore.

 

I think it's hard starting out.  You don't want to (or cant) spend too much so you end up with less-good gear which can put you off.  The DTP is great.  Its dead easy to use, easy to look after and looks nice.  It isn't as well built as an early Gaggia Classic but you don't have to modify it or learn to temp surf to get good drinks.  Its a similar story with grinders - the Sage grinders or the Eureka etc are domestic kit, they wont last forever but they are aimed to be easy to use etc..   So you spend 5,6,700 pound and get a decent starter setup (still not cheap but not daft).  Odds are the Sage will last the 3 years of the Lakeland warranty OK, but after that if it goes wrong it will probably be landfill (I hope not as I like mine but we'll see).  So then you'll need to replace it - but by then you'll more than likely want something bigger and better which will be a lot more than £300....  Ditto the grinder, however the Niche seems to be as good as anything this side of over £1000 new, its faff free and it'll look nice in the kitchen - if you've seen some of the other grinders people have (myself included) they are far from pretty.


Sage DTP | Santos #4

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Yeah. I think I’d be quite disappointed to just get a grinder and wait for a machine. Dtp and the specialita seems like a decent starter? Can always upgrade in future. 

Anyone have thoughts on the lifespan of a eureka Mignon grinder? I was hoping I’d get a long time out of it for that kind of money (kind of hoping it would last forever tbh, accepting burrs might need changing etc)...

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4 hours ago, picalilli said:

Cheapest I can see the niche for is $634, which is about £500. Bit over budget I think - have already really stretched for the eureka.

understand what you mean about the weighing now. All gets very specific!

Are you actually in Newcastle or in USA?


ACS Vesuvius DBPP, Izzo Duetto DB, Minima DB, Lelit Bianca Prototype DB (paddle flow control) BTC Machines: Roasters: Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster, other failed roasters: Grinders: Ceado E92, Niche US and UK: 145kg assorted greens: My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/

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I'm in Tyne and Wear - just for some reason when I go to the IndieGoGo site to look at the niche it's priced in dollars. I just assumed that you had to order from the states

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It does the same for me, recently started doing it even if I change the currency to English,  they charge in gbp and ship from the UK.

 

I'd give yourself a few more weeks looking and learning before deciding on what to get!


ACS Vesuvius DBPP, Izzo Duetto DB, Minima DB, Lelit Bianca Prototype DB (paddle flow control) BTC Machines: Roasters: Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster, other failed roasters: Grinders: Ceado E92, Niche US and UK: 145kg assorted greens: My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/

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yep.  its termed 'single dosing' (although most people brew doubles just to confuse things).  So something like 17-19g of beans into the grinder, confirm you have the same amount once ground (so either grind into a pot and weigh that, or grind into the portafilter and weigh that).  Then you weigh the brewed espresso as it comes out of the machine and stop the extraction when you have something like 2 times as much (there are loads of thread son recipes etc that explain all of this) but mainly its about consistency - if you grind the same weight of beans, at the same grind setting and make the same amount of espresso you should get the same taste.
 
That's a nice looking grinder, but its not much less than a Niche which seems to be viewed as on a par with many commercial grinders.  (mine is not that pretty)
If the Specialita is anything the the Mk2 mignon it won't like single dosing witout modifying with a tube & weight. I just use a half loaded hopper & weigh the ground coffee.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

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Not sure what you mean - from what I’ve seen there’s a timer on the specialita that you can set at 0.1 second intervals? What do you mean by tube and a weight? 

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