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Hi folks, newbee question...probably asked 100 times before!

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Hi all

I'm new to here but not to coffee or coffee making. I currently use a Delonghi Scultura partnered with a Sage Grinder Pro and OCD-copy leveller bought from Amazon.  I have read enough to know that a lot of the coffee scene is smoke and mirrors and that many machines for home use, at least single boiler machines, are pretty much the same, varying mainly in pressure and temperature control.  OK, you get better or worse groupheads or portafilters but it's all relatively minor stuff as you can still optimise these things on a budget.

I have learned to "surf" my temperature control for the Delonghi and yes, it is possible to get excellent results from it (or at least that became a reality once I started using the Sage grinder which by the way I really rate....just buy one!).  However, it's messy in use and to get acceptable results it's a right faff.   My routine is to fill the water tank right up, switch on and wait for the boiler light to come one whereupon I run a shot through the grouphead and portafilter to warm them up, wait for the light to come back on, and then run another 5 second stream into a cup, also warming the cup up.  I then grind straight into the filter basket and brew a large single shot (8 to 9 gr from Lavazza Espresso beans to a fine grind) and then run a brew until my cup has about 100ml in it, just adding a little milk.  

This is followed by the clean up which entails removing the portafilter, usually containing a soupy mess of saturated grounds (no solenoid on these cheaper models) which needs scooping out with a tea spoon, followed by cleaning up the drip tray and counter.  It's a chore but the coffee genuinely tastes great and way better than I usually get in the usual chain cafe's.

My simple question (please answer honestly!) is this:  Would me spending £475 on a Rancilio V6 or a little less on a 2019 Gaggia Classic be worthwhile in terms of less mess, less fuss and better tasting coffee?  Would it result in a machine which with regular cleaning and descaling, run to say 10 years old no problems?  

The issue I have with most arguments in favour of the Classic is that it's a great machine, stands the test of time etc etc and there's loads second hand at under £150 BUT here's the thing. Most will need new gaskets, seals and a service if more than 5 years old, most (on here anyway) seem to get stripped and modified as soon as they're bought with things like different valves added, PID controls, stainless pipes etc etc so become something of a "Trigger's Broom" with what many regard as necessary modifications.  I think if dropping £475 on something, I would reasonably expect it not to need any modification and to work properly out of the box!  I suspect though this is a throw back to a very old design which manufacturers (including Rancilio) just haven't listened to customers and continue to produce the same basic machine.

That given am I mad to consider spending on the Rancilio as at the moment, I'm leaning towards one just for the better quality on offer?

It's such a minefield out there that I'm unsure where to go if upgrading my current machine, or indeed if I should just stick with it, mess and all?  I have also considered the Sage Duo temp but some report that brew temperature is too low.

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I'm new to this forum as well, though i've been lurking for quite a while; I wasn't going to reply but i have experience that may be valuable to you. I recently stopped using a Scultura after two years (it's getting repaired) and moved to a Sage Barista Touch, the Sage was a fine machine for what it was but i had to send it back as the brew temps were too low to be acceptable. I then got myself a Eureka Mignon Specialita and a Gaggia Classic 2019. I haven't made any mods on the Gaggia, though i may do in the future. 

If you expect getting the Gaggia to be less messy I'd say slightly so, there'll be less soupy pucks to deal with assuming you get the grind right, temp surfing can make a difference here too i've noticed. Getting accustomed to using the commercial filters/baskets takes some getting used to since the Scultura only uses pressurised baskets but once you're adjusted the espresso is better. Not night and day better just somewhat better, i think the OPV mod would help this out a lot but haven't done it yet. The one area the Gaggia *is* night and day better is in steam power. The Scultura is very weak here and not only will the Gaggia bring the milk to temp significantly faster it'll produce a much finer/richer microfoam. The Gaggia in terms of build quality is definitely a step or 3 above the Scultura.

The Gaggia generally is a much silkier machine than the Scultura, more of a joy to work with - once you're used to it. 

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Thanks for that.  I do use non pressurised baskets with my scultura (one chinese after market double one and one Edesia Express single basket which fits a treat).  Truth is, you often get better results using the pressurised baskets as temperature variation is still an issue with such low thermal mass within the design.  I did consider a Sage Duo Temp machine but lots of feedback on this and other Sage models said the same as you....brewing temperatures are too low, so I'll avoid them.  I'm also after a machine rather than an appliance which to my mind won't hope to compete in terms of longevity with a proper machine even if an entry level one.  Whilst I have evening coffees after work using the weak "hey...that's not "proper" coffee!" I also use the double basket and 14gr of coffee for my morning shots but the trouble I have is at 14gr, it's too much by volume as the puck is pressed tight to the group head and this gives very poor results.  I had to cut back to closer to 12.5gr and only give a light tamp to get acceptable results...on fine grind the machine chokes up otherwise.  It's fine as a convenient ese machine and to be honest, a lot of the ese pods provide great tasting coffees but their flavours aren't a patch on a decent bean grind when I am lucky enough to get it right on my current machine.

I'm still undecided between the Gaggia and the Rancilio.  What may swing it for me is that new, there's actually not that much between them and the Rancilio 2020 model does at last have some real improvements including the stainless heater element which is replaceable, unlike the old copper one (new boiler I understand if that goes South).  Not fussed on PID control as long as temperature surfing, with practice can swing consistent results. I'd rather put my money into a better grinder at some stage down the line than on a more expensive machine.

Still welcoming feedback if there are any other serious contenders in this price bracket. I did enquire about a few Lelit models but the vendor put me off saying that they'd had a lot of issues with those machines (ie not reliable).  His advice was the Silvia all day long at this budget, but I'd be happy I think with the Classic as well.


Edited by Bica60s

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Yeah i was in a similar boat regarding the GC vs the RS. This was before the new Sylvia was announced of course but the boiler design and the fact that you can't easily see the water level in the tank without physically opening the upper lid and looking in (not the end of the world but an inconvience) sent me in the direction of the Gaggia. So far i'm happy. Lattes/Caps are much silkier than either the Sage or the Scultura, once i got my frothing technique sorted.

FYI i'm able to use 16gr in the standard Gaggia double basket without an impression being left on the puck, any higher dose and i was always getting a mark.

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