Espresso Maker 2019

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smackboy1
Posts: 1133
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:41 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by smackboy1 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:11 am

Alf 101 wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:56 pm
my budget would be less than $500 -- and maybe considerably less
I hate to be a party pooper, but for that budget I don't know if it is realistic to achieve good espresso that you will enjoy for very long. Like most things in life there are 3 choices to be made: Good; Fast; and Cheap. A person can only have 2 and will have to sacrifice the 3rd. My fear is that for that budget, it may result in: 1) bad tasting espresso, or 2) a finicky and time consuming chore to make drinks.

I became an espresso enthusiast 5 years ago with a Breville Dual Boiler and Baratza Vario (~$1,700 investment). It's been very rewarding and I can pull shots that rival the best 3rd wave coffee shops. But the question is do you want a potentially time consuming, new hobby? Unfortunately equipment cost is directly proportional to ease of use. It can be very frustrating to consistently dial in good shots with inferior equipment. It's like learning to cook. BTW the poster that said you will need to buy a scale w/ accuracy +/- 0.1g is correct. After the initial thrill wears off, it can become a PITA to make just 1-2 drinks. The effort of setup and cleanup become an annoying chore. Also, a prerequisite to good espresso is good fresh roasted beans (~$20/lbs). The poster that said it is like buying a bread making machine is exactly correct. Even though I like bread, it makes more sense for me to buy it from a local artisan baker than try to make it myself.

The other thing is that cheaper equipment is unreliable. My BDB has been repaired at least 4 times and the Vario has needed parts too. My experience is pretty typical. Go to these forums for further advice:

home-barista.com
coffeegeek.com
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

international001
Posts: 1163
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by international001 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:39 am

caffeperfavore wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:40 am
TN_Boy wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:45 am

Laughing a little. I'll get right on and "Try to learn the difference." So my life can change. :oops:

It's hard for me to drink much from a Nespresso machine since I don't have one. I have a basic setup -- Gaggia Classic and a Rancillo Rocky grinder. Beans from both local roasters and national chains (Peets for example). I am happy with the results and prefer this to nespresso.

But I find the nespresso drink pretty decent as do many. Nespresso claims they send the water through the grounds under pressure and seem to imply they have crema. Of course, they are biased. I'd have to research it more before concluding that what they call crema is completely different from what a "real" espresso machine provides.
Yeah, it has it's place as do Aeropress and stovetop brewers. Maybe it's not true espresso, but it can make an enjoyable brew for in it's own right. It's all about what you like. It's not my first choice, but it's certainly better than nothing. I'll happily drink it if I find one in my hotel room. A lot of people (myself included) would take a cheeseburger over filet mignon (which is a "better" meat) and that's ok.
international001 wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:29 pm
Everything in life is an acquire taste. But there are tastes that are based on empirical measures. Crema is an emulsion of coffee oils and brings reach flavors. Try to learn the difference. If you can't, then keep using nespresso. I switched from pressurized to non-pressurized and life was never the same for me.
Cheap robusta beans produce tons of crema, yet an all-robusta brew is pretty nasty stuff. Meanwhile, there are a number of single origins that produce little to no crema at all, yet are still delicious.

I don't think anyone is advocating for machines that use pressurized baskets here and everyone seems to be in agreement that those cheap thermoblock style/pressureized portafilter type machines aren't worth the trouble. It sounds like the OP is sold on a Gaggia Classic.
Once you master those $150 cheap machines with pressurized portafilters, it gives you the same quality of nespresso, for much less $$ over the long term. In favor of nespresso, they have pregrounded to the right grind. Against nespresso, not fresh ground coffee.

international001
Posts: 1163
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by international001 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:42 am

yatesd wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:05 pm
Personally I bought my setup at Chris Coffee https://www.chriscoffee.com/Default.asp

My suggestion, stick with French Press (which we still use for our "to go cups" and a less expensive grinder set to course https://www.capresso.com/infinity-conic ... eel-1.html

Or go all out if you like long blacks (strong Americano's) and go for something like what I have, which is a rabbit hole:

- bar sink
- plumbing for water
- Dual boiler, plumbable expresso machine https://www.chriscoffee.com/Vetrano-2B- ... evoled.htm
- Commercial grinder https://www.chriscoffee.com/Mahlkonig-K ... 0vario.htm

I can attest that a cheap grinder doesn't work for expresso (I tried making it work with a $100 grinder and it led to disapointment) and it also won't work without fresh coffee. For our French Press we use Sam's Club/Costco good 3lb coffee at around $6lb and for espresso it requires us to buy roast on demand and freeze 5lb bags for about $10lb.

My espresso coffee is usually from Redbird or Paradise Coffee.

Another good resource: https://www.home-barista.com/forums/

Such a waste. You got a expensive setup, and yet you freeze the coffee? This adds moisture and makes coffee taste worse.

smackboy1
Posts: 1133
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:41 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by smackboy1 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:34 am

international001 wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:42 am
Such a waste. You got a expensive setup, and yet you freeze the coffee? This adds moisture and makes coffee taste worse.
That's a debunked myth.

https://www.home-barista.com/store-coff ... eezer.html

I freeze freshly roasted beans for periods up to 2-3 months with no problems. The flavor and quality of the beans are not perceivably negatively affected for pourover, drip, French press or espresso extraction. The only negative I have found is that defrosted beans stale at at a slightly accelerated rate (maybe twice as fast) so that for espresso I have to tighten up the grind a bit more after 2-3 days in the hopper.

Buying 4-5 lbs of beans at a time helps defray shipping costs and means I can try 4-5 different beans at the same time.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

TN_Boy
Posts: 1265
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by TN_Boy » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:11 pm

smackboy1 wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:34 am
international001 wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:42 am
Such a waste. You got a expensive setup, and yet you freeze the coffee? This adds moisture and makes coffee taste worse.
That's a debunked myth.

https://www.home-barista.com/store-coff ... eezer.html

I freeze freshly roasted beans for periods up to 2-3 months with no problems. The flavor and quality of the beans are not perceivably negatively affected for pourover, drip, French press or espresso extraction. The only negative I have found is that defrosted beans stale at at a slightly accelerated rate (maybe twice as fast) so that for espresso I have to tighten up the grind a bit more after 2-3 days in the hopper.

Buying 4-5 lbs of beans at a time helps defray shipping costs and means I can try 4-5 different beans at the same time.
Here is another link with some references to testing frozen versus non-frozen beans:

https://www.huladaddy.com/articles/free ... -beans.htm

It references the home-barista test plus a couple more.

I store beans frozen and am quite happy with the results -- I think it is the best way to handle the problem. I don't just stuff the opened bag of beans in the freezer though. I put the beans into an airtight ziploc, and then that into a larger ziploc, so it's double bagged. Then I take out about 5 to 7 days of beans at a time, which I keep in an airtight container at room temperature and grind when I run the shot.

I drink both caffeinated and decaf espresso, and I can't get through 2lbs of beans fast enough to avoid a freshness problem if I don't do something like freeze them.

international001
Posts: 1163
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by international001 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:56 pm

Touche.. it looks that the new tests overrule old research, and you can freeze coffee (properly), without affecting its 'rating'.

Doc Holiday
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:09 pm

Re: Espresso Maker 2019

Post by Doc Holiday » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:56 pm

Great to see this lengthy thread about espresso! I read one recently where there was a multitude of $20 drip coffee maker lovers. I almost didn’t want to chime in that I have an E61 double boiler and enjoy roasting (and some times ruining) great coffee.

My background: I came from the wine world where tasting groups showed me that a) there are indeed earth-shattering wines from the world’s best producers b) there are some unbelievable values available that can easily start to compete c) there is no end to winos that can indeed be fooled by a fake label or Parker score and d) we all love the things we love. I always had a penchant for raspberry aroma in wine because of fond memory of my grandfather’s huge raspberries when I was five.

Wine, pizza, beer style, Mac and cheese, whatever. We grow up creating associations of flavor with experience/memory. Italian espresso is no different. Not only is it different dose (often 9g vs. my 21g double) but the beans are often very well roasted, sometimes into second crack in roasting terms. Some might say charred and oily (IIRC it harkens back to dark roast during war time to cover up flaws in lower quality coffee). But if that is the flavor you are used to and love then that is your reference point. I’m personally not a fan of medium roast third wave coffee which gives you more overall flavors and varietal/origin info but tends to be fairly bright (acidic). But I respect people that do.

Most importantly, Italy is a staggeringly cool country with a sense of cuisine and design combined with a pace and decorum from millenia of honed perfection.
To be sure, almost nothing will match the experience of drinking a proper espresso in Italy.
The wine corollary is the people that buy a case of the wine they drank in France or Italy and think it’s a different wine because...they aren’t having a picnic with their lover in a scene out of Room With a View now that they are back in Hackensack.

With respect to answering the OPs questions, the board has done a damn good job. My sense is that you should, like any potentially expensive hobby, start cheaper and see what your own values and levels of discernment are. Then upgrade if not satisfied. Be honest with yourself that you are making what tastes good to you. Don’t drop a lot more money once you are there. I agree that the aeropress and Moka pot can make some good coffee (and don’t require an expensive espresso grinder).
That being said, a good espresso machine with attention to your style of coffee, ground properly can produce a thing of beauty after much trial and error. Is it worth it? To each his own. Try a bunch of variables (coffee origin, roast levels, water temps, etc) to discover your own palate preferences. Like my grandfather’s raspberries.

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