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christm

Need new machine

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Hello

1st time poster - looking for some help and advice.  I'm a fairly experienced coffee maker - have had a lovely Grimac at home for the last 12 years which has been a great machine but had sadly decided enough is enough and packed in.

So, I'm needing a new setup - make a variety of coffees - espresso, cappuccino, macchiatone, macchiato etc....so need to be able to produce good espresso and steam milk well.

I like and enjoy the manual aspect of it so not looking for any automatic milk frother etc....I will need a new grinder as well.

Tempted by the Sage Barista Express as a quick fix - would mean I don't need a grinder on top of it and seems to get decent reviews.

That said, I'm really not looking for an 'easy' machine - I'm happy to learn the machine and have been doing coffees for over a decade so happy with my own skill level to produce quality coffee.  However the Sage is still the one standing out to me.

Any thoughts/suggestions on others would be welcome.

Given the Sage is £450 online just now, it seems like a bargain as I was thinking more like £1000 to get anything approaching decent.

Thanks

Martin

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Comes down to your own budget. If you can afford to buy a separate grinder and machine then do it. 

Are you looking only at new machines or is second hand an option?

 

Edited by lake_m

GS3 MP, Ceado E92 and E37s, Feldgrind. Niche.

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4 hours ago, christm said:

Given the Sage is £450 online just now, it seems like a bargain as I was thinking more like £1000 to get anything approaching decent.

Thanks

Martin

I think your first thought might be one to go with. Take a bit of time some used bargains may pop up, if not something brand new like a Lelit Mara is only £850 ish. it is an HX machine, but a nice little machine. For a bit more than your budget you can move into dual boiler territory and then for more still e.g. starting at £1850 ish you can get into a dual boiler rotary pumped machine with manual profiling.

If a quick fix means upgrading in a year or so...make the leap now.


 My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/ - Various Machines and grinders, Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster: YouTube channel at https://tinyurl.com/szhgxzl .......

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When I was looking a few months ago I considered a 2nd hand gaggia classic / rancilio silva plus a niche zero grinder. The idea being to upgrade the machine in a year or two (at little to no loss) without needing to upgrade the grinder. And it should make good coffee straight away. That's probably £650-700 with £150-200 paid back when you upgrade. The trick I imagine is finding one that has been taken care of. 

In the end budget made me go for a cheaper grinder but I did get a good quality 2008 classic with no scale and it's wonderful (for a beginner at least).

The Sage Barista Pro tempted me a lot but in the end I decided against as it would be harder to upgrade from, not too much known on build quality (fairly new). Also from a hobbyist perspective the Classic/Silvia had more community info on upgrading (e.g. PID kits). 

Edited by Michael87

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On 13/10/2019 at 15:11, christm said:

Given the Sage is £450 online just now, it seems like a bargain as I was thinking more like £1000 to get anything approaching decent.

Thanks

Martin

A good point and a big attraction for the machine so in real terms a lot depends on how much you can and are willing to spend. it doesn't crop up so often now but one take on the machine was to buy a duo temp pro and a separated grinder often the Sage smart grinder pro as it has more steps. Misleading really as the one built into the BE is restricted to cover the espresso range so the separate grinder is only really of interest if some one wants to brew coffee using other techniques.

The smart grinder pro and probably the one on the Barista Express variants that have the same knob style adjustment does offer smaller grinding steps making tuning a bit easier. Having used both personally I don't thing there is that much in it but more use of  grinds dose adjustment is likely to be needed.

Once things move away from a Sage grinder a budgets of £450 gets difficult as  a serious improvement in grinder is likely to bust that all on it's own. A used grinder probably about 1/2 of it or so. Or even more of it in some cases.

My main criticisms of the BE are.

Hot water being a little cooler than I thought was ideal. However I was used to making coffee via a kettle so in some ways that is unfair. I tend to allow drinks to cool these days as taste is more apparent however I did switch to borosilicate mugs. Our usual crock mugs did cool too much. Going on comments on the themrojet models things are still much the same with them.

Main problem for me was available filter basket sizes. In some respects this applies to all Sage machines. They just come with a single and a double. That basically boils down to only being able to use either sub 10g or sub 18, or mins of about 8 or 16g. I found that rather limiting but some one who just drinks milk based might not. Another make of machines baskets can be modified to fit. The rims are to large so have to be reduced somehow.

Some people say don't use an espresso machine as a kettle but having paid for a hot water outlet I do. There are alternative if some one doesn't want hot water. The Bambino for instance - read BE without hot water. Reviews suggest that they offer exactly the same internally. They come with pressurised / dual wall filter baskets though so serious drinkers will want to change to standard baskets as used on the BE and the DTP and maybe the portafilter for these machines as well.

So in real terms yes they will make good coffee. All Sage machines have that reputation but I have my doubts if anyone new to espresso machines will get things right on day one. I also feel that the small portfilter models favour higher brewing ratios over the usual 1x grams in to 2x grams out. In fact Sage suggest a factor of around 3 not 2.

Some one mentioned HX machines. Single boiler machines in practice can be any of 3 types. One where the boiler temperature is altered to suite either brewing or steam. One where the boiler is always run at steam temperature and that water is used directly for brewing. Then the other a true HX where brew water is run through a heat exchanger in a boiler at steam temperature. Discounting the first one both types will have some flow that is too hot and this can make use more tricky than  either a dual boiler and also termothingy machines. These are more similar to the dual temperature type boilers in operation but do change temperature pretty quickly. Sage fit PID to all of them. All of their machines heat up quickly. An important factors for some. My DB for instance is only on when I want to make a drink.

The catch with all new machines really is upgrades and loss when they are sold. It's usually pretty severe. Bought used resale price is likely to be pretty similar providing all is ok and it's been looked after.

:) I try to not make budget busting replies to posts like this. In real terms there are some limitations with budgets like this so in some cases it boils down to the ability to make decent coffee or stick with what ever some one already does. My BE improved the coffee I drink, mostly americano style a lot when I finally got to grips with it. I still have it and at some point will see how it compares with a Sage Dual Boiler with a Niche grinder. Also using a Niche grinder with it. Unfortunately I haven't got round to it yet.

John

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  • Like 1

In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A,. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

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FWIW, I have a BE and I'm perfectly happy with its espresso/latte capabilities until such time as I upgrade to a Niche/Lelit Bianca combo (I'm currently thinking), and I can make better tasting coffees than 90% of cafes I go into.

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Hello.  Just to update this - having looked a bit closer into BE - while obviously a good machine at a good price point, it's not really what I'm after.

I've decided to go significantly up in budget to get one that will last me a good bit longer and be more what I have dreamed of which is more of a traditional Italian cafe style machine - currently considering the ECM Synchronika.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?

 

Thanks

Martin

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4 hours ago, christm said:

Hello.  Just to update this - having looked a bit closer into BE - while obviously a good machine at a good price point, it's not really what I'm after.

I've decided to go significantly up in budget to get one that will last me a good bit longer and be more what I have dreamed of which is more of a traditional Italian cafe style machine - currently considering the ECM Synchronika.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?

 

Thanks

Martin

What grinder do you have?


LR, ZM

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It might also pay to wonder about what water you will be using in it. How hard is your tap water, that will invariably mean a need to descale and at some level of hardness the tap can be a none starter and certain brands of bottled water are the best option. Scaling up is something that needs considering on any espresso machine. Some go as far as using reverse osmosis filtered  water and add things to reharden it in a machine friendly way. Some regularly change a filter built into the machine that really does soften water.

Then any machine needs a grinder to go with it. Lots can be spent on those. Views on that vary. Might range from 1/3 of the machine cost to equal or more spent on the grinder.

Not sure about all water suppliers but if you go to your's web site and probably have to enter your post code and address it will tell you how hard your tap water is likely to be

John

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Edited by ajohn

In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A,. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

SageBanner_v01.jpg.a45786743a4eb401969788b45ae7f893.jpg

 

 

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Thanks for replies

I do have hard water - I currently use bottled water for my current machine so no change likely

I need to get a grinder too - was thinking Mignon or possibly an ECM one?

 

Martin

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What's your budget for machine and grinder - this will help people suggest some options for you 

You definitely won't get the best out of the ECM with a mignon


LR, ZM

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Hahahaha. You need to be more specific about mental. Your mental and my mental may be very different. So I suggest giving a price range if you want helpful suggestions.

Do you prefer to single dose or do you prefer running a hopper full of beans? Do you prefer lighter or darker roasts? Does it have to be new or would you consider secondhand? Do you have any space(particularly height) restrictions?

 


LR, ZM

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It somewhat depends on how you intend to use it. Grinders are a bit of a compromise for home us.

For instance.

1)Do you want to use a selection of beans and pick and choose which one to use shot by shot.

2) Do you want to simply have a hopper full of beans and place the portafilter under it, press a button and the grinds come out. The weight will vary and from time to time the grinder time setting will need adjusting to keep the dose in bounds. Some people just accept the normal shot to shot variation.

3)Beans can be weighed into  a grinder and what went in can be close to what comes out. Many need modifications to be used like that. Some are rather tall which can be a problem as they usually finish up in the kitchen.

For a relatively simple life if 1 and 2 I used 2 grinders as setting them up may not be trivial. It can be feasible with one grinder if when the bean is changed the grinder is run until empty after the hopper has been emptied. There will probably be a certain amount of taste carry over from the previous bean. Where I did this 2 shots were enough to get rid of it.

Many people go for 3 eventually as it gets one thing constant. If 1 is thrown in ease of adjustment can become more important.

Then type and size of burrs. Flat burrs are often said to produce a better drink the larger they are. Never used one ( ;) yet) but I read richer tasting into that. Conic are said to change the taste profile. I'm not convinced from using one that this is that marked but wouldn't argue that there is one. Only the drinker can decide if it's good or bad and there is lots of scope for changing the taste of any bean via the dose and brew ratio used.

Lastly there is the new grinder factor. Burrs need to be run in. So some may buy 2kg of beans and just run them through at various setting hopefully at espresso levels for a goodly proportion of that watching that the grinder doesn't overheat. It can help a lot with clumping especially when the hopper is on. If used for weighing in I suspect they eventually give a more even grind and may not clump from day one. It's not really possible to just run 2kg through a Niche. The above often leads to people buying a Niche but it's not the only option depending on how some one wants to work.

John

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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A,. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

SageBanner_v01.jpg.a45786743a4eb401969788b45ae7f893.jpg

 

 

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OK well I'm guessing the espresso machine itself I'm looking at will be around £2k.

I was thinking maybe £500 ish for the grinder?

Happy to be led otherwise though.

What I would say is that I'm looking for a quality, Italian cafe experience in my home - not so much the Hipster UK cafe experience of a different bean every week type thing and playing with the most minute details of coffee.

I get my coffee from a tiny cafe in Lucca, Italy who roast their own blend and they send me it over - so I'm using the one variety of coffee all the time.

 

Thanks

Martin

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3 minutes ago, christm said:

OK well I'm guessing the espresso machine itself I'm looking at will be around £2k.

I was thinking maybe £500 ish for the grinder?

Happy to be led otherwise though.

What I would say is that I'm looking for a quality, Italian cafe experience in my home - not so much the Hipster UK cafe experience of a different bean every week type thing and playing with the most minute details of coffee.

I get my coffee from a tiny cafe in Lucca, Italy who roast their own blend and they send me it over - so I'm using the one variety of coffee all the time.

 

Thanks

Martin

I'd assume that it's therefore a dark roast. Look into big conical burr grinders. You'll still need to mess about/tweak with settings as beans vary between batches. Maybe a Mazzer or I think Ceado do some conical burrs. Niche is also a conical grinder and uses Mazzer Kony burrsets.

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The good news is Italian roasts are very easy to use. You don’t need a top end grinder. Any conical or flat around the budget you stated will do very well. A large conic will give you a deeper bolder taste profile which may suit Italian roasts better.


GS3 MP, Ceado E92 and E37s, Feldgrind. Niche.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

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Was in a similar position 6 months ago, considering the Sage BE, but ended up going for a 2nd hand Classic + PID, for many of the reasons mentioned above. For £2k I imagine you will be spoilt for choice, especially if you go used.

My budget for the grinder was similar, and I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the options. Ended up pairing a Mignon, which has worked well. The other likely contenders I believe would be a used ex-commercial machine (probably better grind if aesthetics/space are amenable) or a Niche (if single dosing works for you).

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Sorry to confuse matters more but if I’m consudering the ECM machine at roughly 2k, would I better with one of the Vesuvius mentioned on the selling board?

 

thanks

martin

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If it was me personally then that would be. ‘Yes’.

Only downside is you wont be Getting the Bella Barista warranty which may be a deal buster for some.


GS3 MP, Ceado E92 and E37s, Feldgrind. Niche.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

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I am in a similar situation but without having 12 years of coffee experience. So I am a complete Newbie.

Here my thoughts and where I am so far:

Based on everything I read and got from discussions with other coffee nerds the Grinder is (much) more important than the machine.

As I want to be able to switch between espresso and pour over coffee I bought a Niche.

Concerning the machine I learned that temperature stability is (very) important therefore I will go for a dual boiler. Budget for the machine is around 2k. This leaves me with the following options:

ACS Minima, Profitec Pro300, Profitec Pro600, Lelit Bianca & Vesuvius (forum offer).

The reason why I don't consider e.g. Pro700, ECMs, etc is the fact that (in my opinion) they don't offer more value than the Bianca and the Bianca is at 1850.

Basically there are now two decision criteria:

1. design, do I like the look of the machine (I think it's important because I will see it every day)

2. VP vs. RP, regarding funcionality or "end result in the cup" I don't think there is a difference so it's only about the noise

Honestly, I don't like the look of the ACS Minima and the Pro300. So I only have to choose between Pro600 and Bianca. And for me the main difference is VP vs RP. I don't consider the pressure profiling capability because I guess I won't use it for the next couple of years.

If you don't want to use the pressure profiling the only reason to buy the Vesuvius would be the great offer. But I do not like the look of the machine.

So it is very likely that I will buy the Bianca.

 

 

Edited by Johey

Lelit Bianca, Niche Zero & Comandante C40 Mk3

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43 minutes ago, christm said:

Sorry to confuse matters more but if I’m consudering the ECM machine at roughly 2k, would I better with one of the Vesuvius mentioned on the selling board?

 

thanks

martin

Honestly if you're just after italian style espresso with fairly dark roasted beans, I don't see pressure profiling from the vesuvius doing much for you. Adding more electric components just means more to go wrong and whilst I personally will only buy a machine that pressure profiles, the benefits of that are not really seen unless you drink quite light roast coffees (like the hipster cafes you mentioned before :p).

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Yeah I understand I might not use all the features of the Vesuvius at the moment but it also seems odd to spend more on the ecm if the Vesuvius is the better machine and available at a great price just now?

 

thanks

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Hi Guys

Thanks for all the answers so far.  So I'm not hugely further forward in what is right for me, machine wise.

I did have it pretty much down to ECM (although the Vesuvius offer was tempting).

I've now seen the Lelit range and also the Cime range - are these viable alternatives to the ECM?

I'm also trying to work out if, for what I'm using it for - around 5 coffees a day, mix of milk and black drinks, using Italian beans, it's really worth getting a dual boiler or PID?

I notice on the Lelit forum on an old post about Lelit Mara, Dave says that the PID isn't worth it on this machine.

Happy to take thoughts/advice

Martin

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