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Choosing my first espresso machine


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Hi everyone, 

I am looking to buy my first espresso machine. I hope you can give me some advise.

I would drink lattes and espressos. I have been using a coffee pods machine for a long time. I am not too picky but I have been dreaming for a good coffee for a while now!ūüėāūüėā¬†

My buying plan. I reckon that at the beginning I was just looking for a (appliance typeūüėÖ) machine. Reading your expert comments I realised that I better plan¬†getting a good grinder too. My plan is¬†to buy a starter (reasonably priced) machine¬†and use a pressurized filter first. I would keep looking for a grinder and eventually buy it so I can use the proper baskets. I haven't thought about performing any sort of modding¬†in the short run.¬†

Budget. I will put myself a budget of around £500 machine + grinder. With this budged, I feel inclined to buy second-hand. Although with my current knowledge, it may be risky. ( I hope you can give me a hand!)

Which coffee machine? Reading you, it is clear that a Gaggia Classic is the usual newbie choice. I am aware that pre 2015 models are the ones to go for, unless you target the Classic Pro. If I am not mistaken, I understand that other decent newbie Gaggia machines are the Gaggia Baby and the Gaggia Cubika. I have no idea if there is any precaution to take into account If you came across some of these options.

Which grinder? What I understood is that the grinders that seems to resonate the most in the community are the Mignon Specialita and the Niche Zero (although I think it is a bit too expensive for my initial plans). 

 So, I guess my questions are:

Would you recommend me a Baby or Cubika as a newbie machine? Or I should target a Classic/Classic Pro? Should I take something into account if I find a G Baby or Cubika?

Is there any other Grinder I should have a look at a part from the Eureka Mignon ?

Also, any advice about where to buy it would be much appreciated. 

Thank you for you time in advance!

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Used is a gamble but offers better vfm  may be waiting a while for the right kit to come up  £500 is a great budget but won’t go far in new gear these days ! 
 

get the grinder then look for a machine you can afford some bargains can be found sage machines have gained popularity don’t have the reputation yet of gaggia but can make decent coffee and may have better used options 

 

that's my 2 cents 

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Thank you @HDAV!

As far as I know, Sage machines are trickier to fix if something goes wrong, that's why I was initially targeting Gaggia. But if they are easy to find (good ones) second hand, as you suggest, it may be worth trying. Which ones would you recommend for a newbie? 

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@Hopebrewer

Your budget is £850ish it seems. Bit 'in the middle' (between beginner and mid tier), but you could do a lot with that second hand. New you'd maybe be looking at something like a Lelit Grace + Specialita from Bella Barista (£870). Read up on this forum about the Grace, it seems to get mixed reviews but I haven't followed it that closely. I rarely see anyone recommending new Gaggias.

The old Gaggia Classic (fully modded) or something else second hand under £350 is always an option, you'd then have a very healthy grinder budget. You could then get a Niche that would do you for your next machine if you went down that route. I ruled out a Classic for myself but many on this forum back it.

A consideration if you want bang for buck/save money - Black Friday is approaching. I got my Sage BE from John Lewis for £375 last year. Food for thought.

If you rule out a BE, while the machine wants to be decent (ie: something people on the forum would recommend), focus on grinder rather than the machine. New the minimum (unless you go good hand grinder) is a Specialita probably. Second hand you see tanks like the Mazzers  (Super Jolly and Major and Mini), those are popular. A SJ just went for £160 I think (check the for sale section). That and a fully modded Gaggia Classic (£250ish in today's market?) would get the thumbs up from a lot of people on this forum.

Don't forget you need to budget ~£80-£100 for accessories.

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I see you mentioned that first you would like to use a¬†pressurised basket but believe me, I did try the stock pressurised basket with my Gaggia Classic back then and the result was¬†a horribly tasting mess full of air. Creating fake crema does not improve anything taste-wise.¬†¬†I would also highly recommend to look for a decent grinder and, then, whatever is left of your budget, should go towards the machine¬†ūüôā

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1 hour ago, Ozzyjohn said:

https://coffeeforums.co.uk/topic/55810-red-bezzera-hobby/

Worthy of consideration, perhaps?

@adamkovacs1126 @Hopebrewer

Regards,
John

I have seen the post. It looks like a very nice machine. I had a look at the Whole latte love review and it seems to have higher specs than the G Classic. 

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3 minutes ago, adamkovacs1126 said:

I see you mentioned that first you would like to use a¬†pressurised basket but believe me, I did try the stock pressurised basket with my Gaggia Classic back then and the result was¬†a horribly tasting mess full of air. Creating fake crema does not improve anything taste-wise.¬†¬†I would also highly recommend to look for a decent grinder and, then, whatever is left of your budget, should go towards the machine¬†ūüôā

Yes, @adamkovacs1126, I intended to use the pressurised basket initially to delay the grinder purchase while getting used to the machine. 

I saw your post, it is a nice machine. Which grinder works for the Bezzera Hobby? 

 

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7 minutes ago, Hopebrewer said:

I have seen the post. It looks like a very nice machine. I had a look at the Whole latte love review and it seems to have higher specs than the G Classic. 

If you are thinking about that @BlackCatCoffee could hook you up a deal: https://blackcatcoffee.co.uk/collections/domestic-coffee-machines/products/bezzera-hobby-stainless-steel-and-eureka-mignon-manuale-package-deal

He'd know more about the actual machine and is trusted on the forum. I'm not affiliated.

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53 minutes ago, CocoLoco said:

@Hopebrewer

Your budget is £850ish it seems. Bit 'in the middle' (between beginner and mid tier), but you could do a lot with that second hand. New you'd maybe be looking at something like a Lelit Grace + Specialita from Bella Barista (£870). Read up on this forum about the Grace, it seems to get mixed reviews but I haven't followed it that closely. I rarely see anyone recommending new Gaggias.

The old Gaggia Classic (fully modded) or something else second hand under £350 is always an option, you'd then have a very healthy grinder budget. You could then get a Niche that would do you for your next machine if you went down that route. I ruled out a Classic for myself but many on this forum back it.

A consideration if you want bang for buck/save money - Black Friday is approaching. I got my Sage BE from John Lewis for £375 last year. Food for thought.

If you rule out a BE, while the machine wants to be decent (ie: something people on the forum would recommend), focus on grinder rather than the machine. New the minimum (unless you go good hand grinder) is a Specialita probably. Second hand you see tanks like the Mazzers  (Super Jolly and Major and Mini), those are popular. A SJ just went for £160 I think (check the for sale section). That and a fully modded Gaggia Classic (£250ish in today's market?) would get the thumbs up from a lot of people on this forum.

Don't forget you need to budget ~£80-£100 for accessories.

Thank you for your detailed answer @CocoLoco, I was thinking about £500 including the grinder. Sorry, the reading of my post is a bit misleading.  I wasn't taking into account the accessories!! Thanks for the reminder

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6 minutes ago, Hopebrewer said:

Which grinder works for the Bezzera Hobby? 

I used to have a Lelit Fred with my Gaggia Classic which I was quite happy with - relatively cheap, 38mm conical burr grinder, stepless adjustment although not the best build quality. It is not really popular here but I do think it is a great starter although you will definitely have to upgrade it.

So I guess that could work. By the time I got the Hobby I upgraded to a Fiorenzato F64evo (flat 64mm burrs)¬†and those two together did produce some pretty tasty shots.¬†¬† I used the Lelit for flour milling afterwards which was too heavy on the plastic gear so now it is sitting in a box waiting for me to order the spare part¬†ūüėĀ

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So i wrote all this and forgot to hit "Submit" so sort of out of context now @CocoLoco Black friday tho i hate it is certainly a potential to save some £££ but only if you already know what machine you need don't get caught it the hype and buy the wrong one as it was £100 off, but buying a sage from JL new parts shouldn't be an issue for a good couple of years at least! Have a read here

Could just about get a duo temp and a Eureka grinder for £500 brand new......or a smart grinder and have change for some beans..........

 

 

When i did all the research in 2012 ish Sage weren't an option then its stuff you don't here about now (Francis Francis, for example) apart from the Classic Silvia and Francino 

Gaggia Classic was THE machine under £200 (yes £200!) things move on, inflation, yada yada.......

Then sage spotted a gap (well breville realy, i think) and created SAGE range of machine to fill the gap Gaggia or Philips or whoever owned them left when they made a big mistake in 2015 taking the classic more consumer and less pro-sumer.....assuming everyone was going to pods........ im sure there are threads about pod wars........ Tassimo anyone? Something about lots of faulty not faulty units after people messed with OPV valves....all caused by nasty people on the internet......

So i cant comment directly on the sage machines except 90% of people would be more than happy with one, 95% of people cant bet bothered with the faff anyway.... Im glad i bought my classic when i did but spent 4 years in the shed and only came back out after SWMBO started WFH......

Do some reading dont get the one with the built in grinder try to buy one from a soft water area (NOT LONDON)  try and get one from someone who is upgrading to a £500+ machine not giving cause its too much faff. Parts for Gaggia are silly money but available sage less so but newer machines a growing community pulling them apart finding parts and hacks etc 

Edited by HDAV
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For £500 new i would probably look for a deal on https://www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk/collections/espresso-grinders/products/eureka-mignon-manuale-50mm-flat-burr-on-demand-grinder and https://www.johnlewis.com/sage-the-duo-temp-pro-espresso-coffee-machine/p1749201 

 

Used the bezzera looks interesting  @ratty might have a classic for sale or the and you could get a higher spec grinder like https://www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk/collections/espresso-grinders/products/copy-of-eureka-mignon-brew-pro-55mm-flat-burrs possibly or look to add a PID to the classic....

Grinders are tricky as market more limited mid range is mostly the mignon (when i bought mine there was 1 mignon now a whole clump of them) Rancillio rocky, Francino (Ascaso mini clone) and a few others around £200 mark http://www.myespresso.co.uk/product/rancilio-rocky-non-doser-coffee-grinder-free-1kg-beans-2015/?gclid=CjwKCAiAtK79BRAIEiwA4OskBmWkC8ESYfhQlrOLxSX7vQrU1lNIhqLffazrKlca92tUMGBQCkuE7BoCk7YQAvD_BwE

https://www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk/collections/espresso-grinders/products/copy-of-mazzer-mini-on-demand-grinder-1?variant=31494590496835

£500 is undoubtly a chuck of cash, but realistically wont get you a complete set up without some compromise, don't forget he law of diminishing returns........

Edited by HDAV
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6 hours ago, HDAV said:

Used the bezzera looks interesting  @ratty might have a classic for sale or the and you could get a higher spec grinder

I'm putting four Classics in the For Sale section on Saturday. Been working on these a couple of months now. The last one took me longer than I was hoping, with delayed postal parts arriving, etc. Final testing today on the last one, all others fully tested. I do not charge for labour costs being a retired engineer,  just for the cost of parts and mods, and initial cost of machines. All fully refurbished and a diverse bunch of machines on offer. Will give a full run down on them all on Saturday.

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the huge advantage of a classic is that nearly everyone on the forum has owned one at some point, spares are plentiful, and it's a simple machine to learn on. A pid modified one is hard to beat, even by machines costing a lot more, unless you want to do a lot of steaming.

as for grinders, while retention is the latest fad, and the only grinder anyone should ever buy is a Niche Zero, which you can't buy because there are no stock or stockists, what you really really need is stepless adjustment. I have a rancillio rocky and between the two steps I find myself on is a difference of 25 seconds to 55 seconds for a pour. 

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11 minutes ago, GrahamS said:

as for grinders, while retention is the latest fad, and the only grinder anyone should ever buy is a Niche Zero, which you can't buy because there are no stock or stockists, what you really really need is stepless adjustment. I have a rancillio rocky and between the two steps I find myself on is a difference of 25 seconds to 55 seconds for a pour. 

Iberital MC2 is a cheap option that can grind for espresso if you stick to one bean and don't expect to use it for anything else. It has retention, it's noisy and ugly, but it is step-less and can do the one-bean espresso grind on a budget (£127 new from Happy Donkey or ~£75 used) for anyone who can't get a Niche.

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I started off with a Classic and a super jolly. Was a great pairing and the Mazzer really is a great bullet proof grinder. You could easily get this paring within your budget with enough left over for a few nice accessories (tamper, scales, milk jug etc) 

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13 hours ago, ratty said:

I'm putting four Classics in the For Sale section on Saturday. Been working on these a couple of months now. The last one took me longer than I was hoping, with delayed postal parts arriving, etc. Final testing today on the last one, all others fully tested. I do not charge for labour costs being a retired engineer,  just for the cost of parts and mods, and initial cost of machines. All fully refurbished and a diverse bunch of machines on offer. Will give a full run down on them all on Saturday.

I will keep an eye on the for sale section then!

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10 hours ago, Doram said:

Iberital MC2 is a cheap option that can grind for espresso if you stick to one bean and don't expect to use it for anything else. It has retention, it's noisy and ugly, but it is step-less and can do the one-bean espresso grind on a budget (£127 new from Happy Donkey or ~£75 used) for anyone who can't get a Niche.

I had heard about this grinder. I agree, not the prettiest one!¬†ūüėāūüėā¬†I read the reviews and it seems a very good option for me. It seems a sensible way of starting the espresso journey to me (and I saw they are made nearby my hometown!!)

 

Thank you everyone for your views about grinders. I reckon I was completely lost! I will look for second hand options and if I don't find anything better I will go for a new Iberital MC2. I don't think I will change beans often (I haven't got much time!) and the grinding quality seems very solid (please, correct me If I got it wrong)

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2 hours ago, OliG said:

I started off with a Classic and a super jolly. Was a great pairing and the Mazzer really is a great bullet proof grinder. You could easily get this paring within your budget with enough left over for a few nice accessories (tamper, scales, milk jug etc) 

Thank you @OliG for your thoughts. It seems like a big piece of equipment this Mazzer Super Jolly! I read that you can find this grinder second hand for a good price. Is there any place/shop I should keep an eye on for this?

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1 minute ago, Hopebrewer said:

Thank you @OliG for your thoughts. It seems like a big piece of equipment this Mazzer Super Jolly! I read that you can find this grinder second hand for a good price. Is there any place/shop I should keep an eye on for this?

It is a pretty big piece of kit (designed as a commercial grinder) but without the hopper it will still fit under a standard kitchen wall unit. 

Best place to look for them is probably the for sale section of the forum or maybe ebay. 

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I agree a used Classic is a good option and by the sounds of it you are going to have some excellent ones to pick from.

I would say though unless you are trying to keep the budget as tight as possible I would look at a better grinder than the MC2 if you intend to really get in to this as a hobby. The MC2 is fine but that is about it. Step up to the base model Mignon Manuale and you will get a far more consistent, faster and less clumpy grind. It will hold its value better and for build quality there is just no contest. It will also pair nicely with a heat exchange machine if and when you decide to upgrade.

I appreciate I am a seller so I would say that wouldn't but I am sure others would agree.

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www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk

Coffee | Espresso Machines | Grinders | Accessories

Izzo Vivi, Alex and Alex Duetto in stock now!

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12 hours ago, BlackCatCoffee said:

I agree a used Classic is a good option and by the sounds of it you are going to have some excellent ones to pick from.

I would say though unless you are trying to keep the budget as tight as possible I would look at a better grinder than the MC2 if you intend to really get in to this as a hobby. The MC2 is fine but that is about it. Step up to the base model Mignon Manuale and you will get a far more consistent, faster and less clumpy grind. It will hold its value better and for build quality there is just no contest. It will also pair nicely with a heat exchange machine if and when you decide to upgrade.

I appreciate I am a seller so I would say that wouldn't but I am sure others would agree.

Thanks for your view @BlackCatCoffee I though that the grinding quality was not that different. I appreciate that you pointed it out

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