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BeanToCup or not BeanToCup


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Hi All

Been a lurker for many a months, mostly for reseach as most people tend to have the same first question. 

Ever since Lockdown i do miss my morning Costa Coffee....im more of a latte drinker as opposed to espresso drinker.  I have been having debates with my brothers for a while now about how to best replace this coffee experience as we all have nespresso machines, dont get me wrong i think they are great but i dont feel like its the same experience as a coffee from a barista regardless of what George Clooney thinks. 

As a beginner i now understand the most important part of a good coffee is in the grinding of the beans.  So one of my first questions would be do beginners jumpstraight in with a niche zero or maybe a grinder that is almost but not quiet as good as the niche zero in my head im thinking sage grinder pro ...or something like that. 

Iv decided on the gaggia classic pro/2019 or whatever they call it for my coffee machine as it seems to be the go to for most beginners.  Also as it has the potential to be still in existence for atleast a good few years, and plenty of mods available.

My Borthers are saying im wasting my time and money with the faffing around with the grinding etc.. they are saying just go straight to bean to cup machine.  My brother has just bought himself a mellita solo without the steamer.  He thinks this will be a better setup than my niche zero and gaggia classic......

The bean to cup cost him £300 so in terms of money he would be saving money compared to what i had in mind. 

After lots of research im now worried he may be right, or is all this coffee drinking down to personal taste.  If i was to like a particular coffee bean and i then took it to my brothers house he tried the same beans and it taste horrible would that be becasue of his machine or just down to personal taste. 

I guess the question im asking is would people prefer bean to cup and are bean to cup machines any good? everyone seems to lean towards sage bean to cup machines but if im looking at spending almost £900 on my setup should i be considering a sage setup ? because i drink Lattes would the steam wand be ok on the sage machines? has anyone converted from BeanToCup to seperate grinder/machine? or has anyone converted from grinder/machine to BeanToCup?

Many thanks  

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Ask yourself what you're really looking for from this experience. Are you looking for a hobby? Something you can refine to your taste? The best possible cup of coffee? Or do you want something quick, simple and easy? At the trade off of quality in the cup. The first 3 = What you were considering. The latter 3 = B2C. 

I've had a couple of £500 B2C's before I got into pour over. My personal opinion is that they're much more forgiving in milk drinks so I wouldn't discount it. In terms of quality in the cup, I really can't entertain the notion that B2C could be possibly as good as a Niche Zero/Gaggia etc. For starters, as you've said most of the quality is in the grind so most B2C's are limited in comparison to a dedicated higher end grinder. More importantly, manual is much more customisable and precise. 

If you did go with a grinder, whether you go all in for the start depends on how you're planning to immerse yourself. I'd say go with the best you can afford if you're planning to really get into it. Decent grinders do tend to hold decent residual value though so you could always sell and reinvest if you did want to go in at the lower end. 

Bottom line: figure out which bracket you fall into. Quality or convenience. 

Edit: Welcome!

Edited by Rapid
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ok so im kind of getting the point of BTC to be a more convenient for poeple but does that mean i have to be a coffee expert to appreciate grinder/machine.  Baring in mind iv only really had the likes of Costa/Starbucks.

Does it really take a long time to use a grinder/machine.... this was another debate i had with my brothers it cant take more than 5 minutes to make a latte surely even if you were grinding beans seperately. 

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my whole coffee making routine is as follows:
pick up coffee dosing cup

grind into coffee dosing cup (10seconds, sometimes 12 seconds!)

empty into portafilter and prep my puck probably a further 10 seconds

put portafilter into coffee machine

switch it on for 30seconds

turn it off

drink

 

if im being slow and particular the whole process takes 90-120seconds all in.

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16 minutes ago, spasypaddy said:

my whole coffee making routine is as follows:
pick up coffee dosing cup

grind into coffee dosing cup (10seconds, sometimes 12 seconds!)

empty into portafilter and prep my puck probably a further 10 seconds

put portafilter into coffee machine

switch it on for 30seconds

turn it off

drink

 

if im being slow and particular the whole process takes 90-120seconds all in.

Now thats what im envisaging for myself however with the added process of milk steaming

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10 minutes ago, Raakesh76 said:

Now thats what im envisaging for myself however with the added process of milk steaming

so then you'll have a longer wait, but its probably not going to be much more than 5mins in total. the longest part will be waiting for the steam boiler to come up to pressure/heat

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https://www.johnlewis.com/dualit-milk-frother-black/p231706525?sku=231706525&s_ppc=2dx92700055386134542&tmad=c&tmcampid=2&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4rmiofXt6wIVArTtCh3ErwuZEAQYASABEgKc1fD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

That and your Nespresso machine will produce a latte as good as Costa.  

Unless you pay decent money for a BTC they are pretty dreadful.

If you want to learn then a Classic and Niche will beat any BTC machine on the market if you put the time in.

Edited by davril
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I'm playing about with a Miele 5100 BTC and a ECM Giotto HX machine in the workshop at the moment (and a Londinium in the kitchen). I am surprise at just how convenient the Miele is, just switch it on and it's ready in a minute, so definitely wins on convenience. It's a faff if you want to make milk drinks as the dispensing apparatus needs taking apart and rinsing after every use, the steam wands on the others just need a wipe and quick blast. 

The coffee is definitely much better with the prosumer machines but warm up times (about 40 mins, you can switch it on with a timer for the morning coffee but this doesn't apply during the day if you just fancy a quick cup of coffee and the machine is off), mess with loose grinds and constant adjustments all have to be factored in. The prosumer machine are also much easier to fix so are a better long term prospect.

As has been said, it depends on whether you want a hobby and the best coffee you can get, or just need a decent cup of real coffee at home. I buy £7 bottles of wine at the supermarket and am happy with it. I realise that others think that is rubbish and I need to spent at least £20 to get a decent bottle, we all have our own standards and expectations.

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Londinium L1, Compak E8, Gaggia OWC, Kitchenaid Artisan, ECM Giotto, Gene Cafe 101.

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Bean to cup is pretty much just a low end "espresso" machine with automation. It'll be simple, quick, just set it up, turn it on, and push a button for an acceptable quality espresso-like drink. They are a good solution for those in a hurry or those who don't demand the best quality coffee or aren't willing/able to put in the time and effort to get the best. It's definitely a quick and easy solution.

A proper espresso machine is capable of making far better (and far worse if you get something wrong) shots, but it is a lot more time and work.  

There is the middle ground of things like the Sage Barista Pro, which is a more hands on machine with some automation. 

The Gaggia will get you a better cup of coffee if you have the time and effort to put into getting the coffee dialed in and letting the machine warm up before your first coffee of the day. Especially with the Niche to provide high quality grounds for it.

Sage equipment is good, but it doesn't have the longevity you'd want for the cost. That goes for the grinders as well as their brewing equipment. While it works, it's fine, and some folks have gotten lucky and their gear has lasted a long time. Other folks have not been so lucky and threads detailing servicing nightmares for Sage gear pop up regularly.

The question is: What do you value most? Time or quality coffee?  If Time wins out, then either the Barista Pro or a Bean2Cup machine are your answers. If it's the coffee, then a good machine like the Classic, or other options paired with a good grinder will give you the best coffee.

Recommended low end machines: Gaggia Classic, Rancilio Silvia, Bezzera Hobby.

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Gear:

Gaggia Baby 2001, Gaggia Color 2007, Delonghi Dedica, Severin grinder, Marcfi badged Compak K6 2004

Sent from my grinder using smoke signals.

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That’s interesting feedback.  I thought the warm up times of a gaggia classic were around 20 mins or so.  Didn’t realise it was around 40 min mark.  That could destroy a moment of oh I fancy a quick coffee to take with me.  Do most machines that are not BTC take that much time to warm up ? Are there any machines that say take around 5 min ?   Or does that not exist ? 

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15 minutes ago, Raakesh76 said:

That’s interesting feedback.  I thought the warm up times of a gaggia classic were around 20 mins or so.  Didn’t realise it was around 40 min mark.  That could destroy a moment of oh I fancy a quick coffee to take with me.  Do most machines that are not BTC take that much time to warm up ? Are there any machines that say take around 5 min ?   Or does that not exist ? 

Forget the Classics, Silvia's etc. They are yesterday's technology and should have been carted off the to the knackers yard years ago.

I think perhaps something like a Sage Barista Pro with its thermoblock  may be your best bet tbh as it ticks most of your boxes but there is still some learning/effort to be done. 

If you are the sort of consumer who struggles with mental or physical effort of any kind, just buy a B2C machine and be done.

Edited by Blue_Cafe
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3 minutes ago, Blue_Cafe said:

Forget the Classics, Silvia's etc. They are yesterday's technology and should have been carted off the to the knackers yard years ago.

Just know that BC's posts can often be seen as..... 'controversial' to say the least 😂

Speaking of machines.....1000 posts in 3 months BC. oooosh. 

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50 minutes ago, Raakesh76 said:

That’s interesting feedback.  I thought the warm up times of a gaggia classic were around 20 mins or so.  Didn’t realise it was around 40 min mark.  That could destroy a moment of oh I fancy a quick coffee to take with me.  Do most machines that are not BTC take that much time to warm up ? Are there any machines that say take around 5 min ?   Or does that not exist ? 

If you are after super fast warm up then yes look at the Sage machines. You are possibly trading fast warm up times for reliability although the jury is still out on that one.

The likes of the Classic, Silvia, Hobby etc can be ready to use in 10 minutes or so if you pull water through the group once the boiler is up to temp to warm everything through.

I think the 40 minute figure is in reference to Hx and dual boiler E61 equipped machines and similar.

Edited by BlackCatCoffee
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www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk

Coffee | Equipment | Accessories | Service & Repair

Fracino | Eureka | Motta | IMS

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My 2 cents. I bought my very first set up in June. Sage Bambino Plus (£229 from Curry's at the time with 2 year warranty) and Sage Smart Grinder Pro (£199 from Lakeland - 3 year warranty) - the bank account I have will give me a further year warranty on each. A separate espresso machine and grinder for £428. The thermojet system on the Bambino means it is ready to make coffee within 3 seconds of turning it on plus it can be either an automated or manual pulling of shots and frothing of milk so you can let the machine do the work (pretty well imo) or if you want to take more control, learn to pull shots on weight ratios with scales plus steaming milk yourself.

On the weekend, I went to my brother's house. He recently purchased a Jura E8 - I  think he paid around £900 or so - pretty much double what I paid for my set up. I asked him to make me a cappuccino to see what it was like and there was no comparison between the two. Admittedly, I am using far better beans than he is - he buys supermarket beans so it is maybe not a fair comparison in that respect, however the milk in the drink was far worse than the standard automated frothing on the Bambino, which I think it is fair to make a comparison on. Essentially, it tasted like a coffee you would get from a machine whereas the drinks I am getting out of my Bambino - even within a couple of weeks of getting it are far superior, despite me paying half what he paid for his. 

I am also really enjoying the learning process as well. As a gift, I did bring my brother a bag of Black Cat Signature Blend - I only wish I'd got him to use those beans to make a fairer comparison between the 2.

A lot on here are not fans of the Sage machines, and I get that, but as a person with zero experience in making espresso, the Bambino has been absolutely spot on for my needs and at a great price for the kit. You can find your feet with the machine settings, which are actually pretty good and then as you gain in confidence / experience start to use it more manually as I am starting to do now.

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48 minutes ago, dutchy101 said:

My 2 cents. I bought my very first set up in June. Sage Bambino Plus (£229 from Curry's at the time with 2 year warranty) and Sage Smart Grinder Pro (£199 from Lakeland - 3 year warranty) - the bank account I have will give me a further year warranty on each. A separate espresso machine and grinder for £428. The thermojet system on the Bambino means it is ready to make coffee within 3 seconds of turning it on plus it can be either an automated or manual pulling of shots and frothing of milk so you can let the machine do the work (pretty well imo) or if you want to take more control, learn to pull shots on weight ratios with scales plus steaming milk yourself.

On the weekend, I went to my brother's house. He recently purchased a Jura E8 - I  think he paid around £900 or so - pretty much double what I paid for my set up. I asked him to make me a cappuccino to see what it was like and there was no comparison between the two. Admittedly, I am using far better beans than he is - he buys supermarket beans so it is maybe not a fair comparison in that respect, however the milk in the drink was far worse than the standard automated frothing on the Bambino, which I think it is fair to make a comparison on. Essentially, it tasted like a coffee you would get from a machine whereas the drinks I am getting out of my Bambino - even within a couple of weeks of getting it are far superior, despite me paying half what he paid for his. 

I am also really enjoying the learning process as well. As a gift, I did bring my brother a bag of Black Cat Signature Blend - I only wish I'd got him to use those beans to make a fairer comparison between the 2.

A lot on here are not fans of the Sage machines, and I get that, but as a person with zero experience in making espresso, the Bambino has been absolutely spot on for my needs and at a great price for the kit. You can find your feet with the machine settings, which are actually pretty good and then as you gain in confidence / experience start to use it more manually as I am starting to do now.

That’s really informative thanks. It’s funny because the bambino was the original machine I looked at in June too.  But after dithering and researching I decided against it mostly something to do with baskets and not getting the right baskets with the purchase and also the size of the baskets are not standard if I remember right ?   Should the basket size be a concern as everyone talks about 58m and the sage are different right ? 

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Some Bambinos in the past have only come with the pressurised baskets but mine came with both pressurised and unpressurised baskets.

I think all the Sage espresso machines use 54mm baskets. I wouldn't be put off by that. Lots of espresso machines come with different size portafilter baskets. The Bambino double basket is designed to take a 19g dose.

I have zero regrets in my machine and grinder choices - in time I may wish to upgrade one or the other or both but having them as seperate units gives me more flexibility in doing so.

What puts me off machines like the Gaggia is that they seem less intuitive than the Bambino Plus, whilst also requiring modifications such as a PID to make them perform as reliably. Plus I don't like the look of them either. 

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I own the Melitta Barista TS Smart B2C. Have had it for nearly two years after I decided that I do not have time for my Silvia anymore. Times change, corona comes, plenty of time now and I am ready for Niche (still uhming and ahming about that) and some simple machine to go with that, Bambino being one possibility having experienced that milk system through Nespresso Creatista machine. Silvia was lovely, however temperamental. Melitta makes very good milky drinks and long coffee, however the espressos are not to my taste. The convenience is great though, but I got into filter coffee and that is convenient enough for the mornings.

Rancilio Silvia & Rocky

Melitta TS Smart

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@Raakesh76

Most people on this forum don't rate bean to cup machines. There are some I've seen mentioned by experienced people but they don't rate them compared to machine set ups. They seem very expensive for what they are.

Another two cents from someone coming up to a year in the 'real coffee' world - if you decide to go machine plus grinder either Gaggia + grinder or Sage + grinder (or Sage Barista Express), be prepared for a couple of months learning at least. It took me (and many others!) a bit of time - with help from forum members - to get a nice consistent drink. It's not like a bean to cup where you press a button and bam, get your drink. It's slow and sometimes annoying but after a few months it clicks and you're very glad you made the effort.

As for machine, £900 is right in middle. Choice for machines is:

Bring it down, maybe wait until Black Friday and get a BE for £350ish from John Lewis. There's a lot of hate on here for Sage, most of it it's safe to ignore. They're sold in numbers where you're always going to hear more about them going wrong. The issue is after the warranty runs out, if they do go wrong your options are very limited, you're stuck with fix yourself or one particular company I think. For £350/finding out how much you like the coffee game, you may not care, for £550+ you might.

The Gaggia Classic gets a lot of love but I'm inclined to agree with Blue_Cafe, it's old, second hand and needs at least two mods to make it viable. I am not one for tinkering with old machines and went for the cheap Black Friday deal. Personal choice for me of course, you may be into the tinkering.

Be aware though, the grinder is as important if not more, than the machine. Most BE users spend time with the machine, learn on it and the next stepping stone is new grinder. BE + Niche is very popular, people also get Eureka Specialitas.

Other choice is: up your budget to something like the Mara X at £950 and a decent grinder (around £350 say). That's the next logical set up from the entry level and what many people recommend, the 'buy once, buy right' philosophy. Means you don't spend Gaggia/Sage and decide to upgrade in 12 months, you're set for much longer. Again though there's a learning curve. And that's an option if you are sure you want to go down the real coffee path, it's a fair amount of money.

Don't worry about the Sage basket size thing, that isn't really a big deal. Yes options are more limited but I've been able to get all the accessories I want - a naked portafilter, a Motta tamper, a PUSH palm tamper, dosing funnel. A VST basket (a better kind of basket) is the only thing it's hard to get as they have to be made especially. That's not something you'll care about until down the line and even then it's not needed, (just something I would try if one came up).

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Sage Barista Express.

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Thanks for the above however would you really buy a Sage Barrista Express plus niche if the BE already has a built in grinder.  Why not just get a bambino plus niche.  
i guess this would happen on any forum.  Different points of view and I appreciate them very much.   It’s made me think twice about the gaggia.  As a starter it might be a good idea to try and pick up a bambino plus and then spend the extra money on a grinder.  Learn a bit with a cheaper machine then decide further down the line.  This way I get speed and also the ability to use beans and experiment 

thank you all for your advice.  Greatly appreciated.  

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4 minutes ago, Raakesh76 said:

would you really buy a Sage Barrista Express plus niche if the BE already has a built in grinder. Why not just get a bambino plus niche.

Not at the start, no. You don't buy a BE and Niche together, day one. BTW Bambino has different tech to the BE I think, I can't remember the differences but check the Sage forum. Especially steam as that's important to you if you're a latte drinker.

The BE built in grinder is OK, it's basically a Sage Smart Grinder and it's fine for learning on. If you've only paid £350 (on Black Friday) for your BE, I'm saying a Niche a year later that will go with your next machine is a logical upgrade (or a £350 Specialita maybe). Maybe one decides with the Niche there's a good improvement and that's all good, no need to get another machine. But if you do, you have your Niche.

A Bambino (£330) and Niche, both new is £830. I didn't see the Bambino on sale last Black Friday but it probably will be this BF. If you're happy spending that (say tomorrow) then go for it, that'll be a good combo, just for me it was too much as I wasn't sure I would 'get into coffee'. So £350 was an acceptable initial outlay to risk. Now I know I am into it, a year later I'm looking at a Niche. Then depending how that goes maybe new machine some time in 2021.

However for £830 you're in between beginner machine budget (my £350 Black Friday BE) and £1450 MaraX+Niche/£1300 MaraX+Specialita budget, some go for this as a first set up (ie: skipping the BE or Gaggia Classic 'Level One' and going straight to 'Level Two') and some of the more experienced people on the forum would say if you know you're into coffee for the long haul and you don't mind learning (which the BE will require anyway), 'spend once and spend right', get the level two set up now and you're sorted.

Sage Barista Express.

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Just to add my somewhat novice experience. I recently bought a new gaggia classic and a mignon specialists grinder. I'm loving it. I mostly drink lattes and the quality I get from my humble set up is pretty spot on for my taste buds at least. Yes it's a bit of a faff, but I really enjoy the grinding, puck preparation, watching the espresso decant from the head, steaming the milk. It's great!

ff5cf219a1aa2a4bd813a292196e5146.jpg

Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk

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