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Espresso machine upgrading advice


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Hi all,

I've decided it's time for an upgrade and would appreciate your advice and guidance. 

 

Current situation

I currently have the following set-up:

  • Gaggia classic w/ Silvia Steam Wand (pre-2015)
  • Niche Zero 

Both bought from @Hasiabout a year ago :) 

Super happy with the niche zero so not looking to upgrade my grinder. 

 

Reasons for upgrading 

The Gaggia has been a great machine to introduce me to the world of home espresso but looking to upgrade because of:

  1. inconsistent shots probably due to varying temperature as I have not tried to learn temperature surfing or install a PID.
  2. weak-ish steaming 

 

Upgrade budget & criteria 

  • I think ~£1,000 is a reasonable amount to spend but open to flexing (or reducing...) my budget if you think it makes more sense for what I am looking for. 
  • I'm happy to consider both new and used machines.
  • I currently use my machine on a daily basis for a couple drinks a day of which half are milk based
  • I've got limited space so prefer something more compact
  • That's it really, don't have a strong view for any other features 
  • A few options that stood out from my research included the Lelit MaraX and the Rocket Apartamento 

 

Other thoughts

Some other thoughts that crossed my mind for context:

  • I've initially explored getting @MrShades PID kit but concluded a new machine is more exciting but I may be wrong...🐒
  • I was also veeeeeery tempted of going straight to the top end of prosumer machine aka DE1, E1 prima, LMLM but I decided it's better to get a mid-range machine first and upgrade in a couple of years if I still have the 🐛

 

Looking forward to you feedback and hopefully I've used the right forum section 😅

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If you can spend £1k then do. Especially if you think you might itch for another upgrade down the line. Especially if you can pick something awesome preloved on the for sale section.

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Did someone say coffee?

:Gaggia Classic--> Nuova Simonelli Oscar--> Fracino Cherub—> La Pav Europiccola:

:Mazzer SuperJolly:

:Hario V60+aeropress:

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I'm a cheapskate so not your ideal guide. (I've just gone from a fracino cherub to a la Pav and couldn't be happier!) Though I did just spot the MaraX in the sales thread... That's being talked about a lot here.

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Did someone say coffee?

:Gaggia Classic--> Nuova Simonelli Oscar--> Fracino Cherub—> La Pav Europiccola:

:Mazzer SuperJolly:

:Hario V60+aeropress:

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For the budget you have I think you have identified two good options. The Rocket is a decent traditional Hx machine. Perhaps a little bit on the pricey side for what it is but I think the Rocket branding bumps the price. They certainly score highly in the style stakes.

The Mara X is the forum darling and is good value for money. The looks aren't for everyone but it packs a lot of tech in. You may or may not like the way it operates depending on your routine. Take a look at the DaveC review.

You may also wish to consider the ECM Mechanika V Slim. ECM machines are extremely well built and the V slim will fit in well with your space constraints. Personally I would take this over the Rocket.

We have the Izzo Vivi PID Plus that would fit the bill spec wise and also offers the flexibility and stability of PID control but it is a touch wider than the other machines due to the cool touch double wall construction. If you could fit it in though they are definitely worth looking at. They are real lookers imo!

For what it is worth I would dodge the LMLM if you do decide to really go for it. Perhaps take a look at the Vivi's big brother as a great half way house.....

David

 

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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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Thanks David, appreciate your suggestions!

I guess you would pick the MaraX over the Rocket Appartamento if looks and branding are not in the criteria?

Both the Vivi and the ECM Mechanika V Slim look amazing but want to explore options at the £1k range before moving up.

What more do you get from these machine than say the MaraX? To help me evaluate whether it's worth the extra ~£400. 

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Why spend 1k now only to upgrade again that's a pricey upgrade without benefits. Have  a good read around and look what suits you. Maybe the Minima will suit you.

Edited by Jony
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I would get the best upgrade you are able to afford so the DE1 Vesuvius Crem One  etc

I bought a Mara in January the year and will be upgrading in January.  Not sure what to yet maybe the crem one or DE1

If I was not limited for space I would be straight to Jonys Vesuvius in the sake section but it’s just too big for my kitchen 

may as well make the jump once as it’s much cheaper 

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@Flamingo ^^^^^^ - this!!!

you want to avoid future upgrades. so, find out what you value the most in an espresso machine. Whether it’s lever, pressure profiling, flow profiling, etc...

Define a budget - think long term here - and then select the machines you really like. Bella barista is a good starting point. @BlackCatCoffeehas a good selection of good machines too.

as an example, size (damn you! 😂😂😂😂😂) is a big restrictor for me. And, at the time, heat up time. Not so much now we are all stuck inside our own homes... 

 If it wasn’t for that constraint, I’d be potentially looking at other machines... so I narrowed down to something within my budget which satisfied my requirements. And that was the Elizabeth. If size and heat up time is not a biggie, Jony’s Vesuvius will give you many years of happiness. And, when you think about the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much more expensive IF, and big IF here, this is what you’d like in the long run.

Rocket Machines... meh. Why bother. I don’t see the appeal. I owned an HX Cellini Evo V2 in the past and.... meh... don’t really rate it. Pure hype and branding.

 

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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I am/have been in the same situation. I’d recommend installing a PID on your Gaggia to “scratch the itch”, plus that’s an investment and you’ll get the money back when you sell it. Plus, it’s a great educational thing to do, I learnt loads from @MrShades fantastic guide. Use the time to save and wait patiently for a second hand machine.

I thought my options were as followed, ranked in cost:

- MaraX

- ACS Minima (+/-) profiling kit

- Bianca

- 2nd hand Vesuvius

I don’t want to jinx myself, as I am awaiting delivery, but I will say I am pleased I listened to the advice on the forum that was to try and go “all in” and get the best machine you can to avoid future upgrades.

Hopefully, I will be posting in the “what did postie bring....” very soon.

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17 hours ago, Flamingo said:

Reasons for upgrading 

The Gaggia has been a great machine to introduce me to the world of home espresso but looking to upgrade because of:

  1. inconsistent shots probably due to varying temperature as I have not tried to learn temperature surfing or install a PID.
  2. weak-ish steaming 

Both of these can be addressed to a large degree with a PID as @sjm85 mentions - it makes a difference.  It's quick and easier than you think , reversible, low cost, and probably the best VFM upgrade.  The machine knowledge you learn, is part of the espresso process, and this may affect your next decision.  That said all of the machines above i'd splash cash ...   👍

 

edit: I'd add -  machine excitement, in my experience (cars, bikes especially etc) is short lived, and then it starts again.

Edited by Agentb
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2 hours ago, Flamingo said:

Thanks David, appreciate your suggestions!

I guess you would pick the MaraX over the Rocket Appartamento if looks and branding are not in the criteria?

Both the Vivi and the ECM Mechanika V Slim look amazing but want to explore options at the £1k range before moving up.

What more do you get from these machine than say the MaraX? To help me evaluate whether it's worth the extra ~£400. 

The differences mostly come in terms of design choices, materials and build quality. The Izzo also adds things like a digital PID, dual manometers, dual wall casing, shot timer etc. There is a premium on machines like the ECM and Izzo but in the flesh you can feel where the extra goes.

David

 

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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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2 hours ago, Agentb said:

machine excitement, in my experience (cars, bikes especially etc) is short lived, and then it starts again.

And the consequence of this is called “upgraditus”. There’s no known cure yet. 

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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4 hours ago, Cuprajake said:

Theres a few machines 

Marax 

Elizabeth

ACS minima

Those would be my top 3 

Problem is, at this price range theres so much choice

@Cuprajake- I've looked into the Elizabeth and ACS minima and both look like great options. What further criteria or factors should I use to choose between them?

3 hours ago, Jony said:

Why spend 1k now only to upgrade again that's a pricey upgrade without benefits. Have  a good read around and look what suits you. Maybe the Minima will suit you.

@Jony - I can afford a more pricey machine but I've decided something around £1k is a more reasonable amount to spend for a new machine to test the longevity of my recent home espresso interest before jumping to the top-end of prosumer machines. 

After I upgrade I'll reconsider in a year or so and if I am still keen I'll just sell my machine and upgrade again. As the machine will only lose ~20% of its value I'm fine with effectively paying £200 to find out if I made the right choice. I'm also thinking that going through the journey slower would be more rewarding as I've only been making espresso at home for just a year. 

I might be thinking about this the wrong way so please tell me if you disagree

3 hours ago, Mark70 said:

I would get the best upgrade you are able to afford so the DE1 Vesuvius Crem One  etc

I bought a Mara in January the year and will be upgrading in January.  Not sure what to yet maybe the crem one or DE1

If I was not limited for space I would be straight to Jonys Vesuvius in the sake section but it’s just too big for my kitchen 

may as well make the jump once as it’s much cheaper 

@Mark70 - see my response to Jony above.

What were the main reasons you were not happy with the Mara?

Also, which crem one model are you referring to? I've looked it up and cafe italia has model ranging from £1.2k - £2.3k.

3 hours ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

@Flamingo ^^^^^^ - this!!!

you want to avoid future upgrades. so, find out what you value the most in an espresso machine. Whether it’s lever, pressure profiling, flow profiling, etc...

Define a budget - think long term here - and then select the machines you really like. Bella barista is a good starting point. @BlackCatCoffeehas a good selection of good machines too.

as an example, size (damn you! 😂😂😂😂😂) is a big restrictor for me. And, at the time, heat up time. Not so much now we are all stuck inside our own homes... 

 If it wasn’t for that constraint, I’d be potentially looking at other machines... so I narrowed down to something within my budget which satisfied my requirements. And that was the Elizabeth. If size and heat up time is not a biggie, Jony’s Vesuvius will give you many years of happiness. And, when you think about the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much more expensive IF, and big IF here, this is what you’d like in the long run.

Rocket Machines... meh. Why bother. I don’t see the appeal. I owned an HX Cellini Evo V2 in the past and.... meh... don’t really rate it. Pure hype and branding.

 

Thanks @MediumRoastSteam. Check my response to Jony earlier on avoiding future upgrades and let me know if I'm thinking about it the wrong way around!

My kitchen is relatively small hence size is an issue. 

Besides that, my main annoyance with the gaggia is lack of shot consistency. 

I've not played around with pressure or flow profiling before so have no idea if it should be something I should be valuing at this stage of my coffee journey. 

What's a reasonable heat-up time? I read that the MaraX needs 25' but a smart plug lets you work around it. I usually commute to work and so time is precious in the morning! 

What made you choose the Elizabeth over the MaraX?

Noted on rocket machines but can't deny that they look great! 

3 hours ago, sjm85 said:

I am/have been in the same situation. I’d recommend installing a PID on your Gaggia to “scratch the itch”, plus that’s an investment and you’ll get the money back when you sell it. Plus, it’s a great educational thing to do, I learnt loads from @MrShades fantastic guide. Use the time to save and wait patiently for a second hand machine.

I thought my options were as followed, ranked in cost:

- MaraX

- ACS Minima (+/-) profiling kit

- Bianca

- 2nd hand Vesuvius

I don’t want to jinx myself, as I am awaiting delivery, but I will say I am pleased I listened to the advice on the forum that was to try and go “all in” and get the best machine you can to avoid future upgrades.

Hopefully, I will be posting in the “what did postie bring....” very soon.

@sjm85- do you mind PMing me the option you've decided to go for in the end so I have it in mind?

Good shout on the PID - I though about it too but wasn't sure how to compare the PID Gaggia classic with the MaraX to assess whether the extra £850 would be worth it. You are probably right though

2 hours ago, Agentb said:

Both of these can be addressed to a large degree with a PID as @sjm85 mentions - it makes a difference.  It's quick and easier than you think , reversible, low cost, and probably the best VFM upgrade.  The machine knowledge you learn, is part of the espresso process, and this may affect your next decision.  That said all of the machines above i'd splash cash ...   👍

 

edit: I'd add -  machine excitement, in my experience (cars, bikes especially etc) is short lived, and then it starts again.

@Agentb Thanks! I enjoy the process so this is a probably a good idea but not sure if I want to wait longer.

 

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3 minutes ago, Flamingo said:

What's a reasonable heat-up time? I read that the MaraX needs 25' but a smart plug lets you work around it. I usually commute to work and so time is precious in the morning! 

What made you choose the Elizabeth over the MaraX?

Noted on rocket machines but can't deny that they look great! 

The Elizabeth is ready in approx. 17-19 minutes. The MaraX will take approx. 35m to stabilise due to the E61.

chose the Elizabeth due to size, heat up time. That’s it. The E61 also requires maintenance every month or so to lubricate it. It only takes 10 minutes when you get the gist. Also, the MaraX wastes more water due to diverting the OPV outlet to the drip tray and not back to the tank. Here’s a mod for that now, so a non-issue. MaraX is a top level HX machine. Elizabeth is an entry level dual boiler.

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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Is the marax not solenoid? As in doesn't need greasing? 

Must admit the Elizabeth in the skin of the marax would be the best of both worlds 

For me, and id still own one in a heart beat te Elizabeth is very appliance/sage looking 

Way too early for this sh...

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No the Mara X is a traditional E61.

You might be thinking of the Minima.

Just a word on retailers @Flamingo - have a look at the review section on the forums before you pull the trigger.

David

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Coffee | Espresso Machines | Grinders | Accessories

Izzo Vivi, Alex and Alex Duetto in stock now!

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@Flamingo

i don’t dislike the Mara I love it  mines not the x version so does need more flushing but makes wonderful coffee

its Upgraditus and irresistible 

Its the same reason I’m buying a new car in January  I have gone from doing 25k miles per year to less than 1k but I’m still going to upgrade   Makes no sense but it’s upgraditus 

If I go for the Crem One it would be the top version which davecuk reviewed

 

ps search on Cafe Italia before making any buying decision 

Edited by Mark70
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2 hours ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

The MaraX will take approx. 35m to stabilise due to the E61.

Lelit say Mara X is ready in 24 minutes. My experience is that it is ready even faster than that (never measured it tbh), but I am sure it doesn't take 35 minutes.

 

7 hours ago, Jony said:

Why spend 1k now only to upgrade again that's a pricey upgrade without benefits. Have  a good read around and look what suits you. Maybe the Minima will suit you.

The idea of buying the end game of everything right from the start sounds nice, but can't be justified for everything and isn't right for everyone, for many reasons. To mention just two reasons - 1. You don't always know how you will feel in the future and what your interests and circumstances will be. You might like the hobby, or might not. Your taste and preferences might change. You might get into profiling, or geeking on the process, or super light beans, or levers, or get tired of the hobby altogether and just want a quick coffee.... you just don't always know if and what you will want down the road. 2. The market develops, new things come up. Machines that are 'end game' now didn't exist in the past. Future 'end game' machines and technology might not exist yet.

So while it might be better to not under buy something you already know you won't be satisfied with very soon, a machine that satisfied all your current (and possibly future) needs, and lets you dive in and learn, isn't necessarily a bad idea just because you can afford more. I thinks spending ~£1,000 on a coffee machine gives plenty of room to play with espresso. Some (hopefully me) will never need anything more, and for the ones that will want to upgrade, it will give a chance to see what else they want, while drinking great coffee. 🙂  

 

Edited by Doram
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7 minutes ago, Doram said:

Lelit say Mara X is ready in 24 minutes. My experience is that it is ready even faster than that (never measured it tbh), but I am sure it doesn't take 35 minutes.

Fair enough. I’m wondering if the group E61 is stable in 24 minutes. I doubt it. But I don’t have one, so I can’t say much. 👍

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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2 hours ago, Cuprajake said:

Is the marax not solenoid? As in doesn't need greasing? 

Must admit the Elizabeth in the skin of the marax would be the best of both worlds 

For me, and id still own one in a heart beat te Elizabeth is very appliance/sage looking 

You mean this, same size as MaraX, with Elizabeth steam boiler, 400ml or 500ml brew boiler and all the Elizabeth programming?

image.png.0afc0ef56050b59a275277e85d7c1de7.png

Edited by DavecUK
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Nothing here...

 

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@DavecUK

That reminds me of the layout and config of the Bezzera BZ07 although that was an Hx machine.

Sadly they discontinued this model which seems a shame to me as it had a lot going for it.

Bezzera BZ07 Review - Espresso Machine Ratings 2020

 

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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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