Espresso machine

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
I think I am in the market for a new espresso machine. Semi automatic. Simple. Not spending $1000 or so.
Any recommendations?
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
When I was looking, I was aiming to keep the budget for the expresso machine closer to $600, as I was also trying to stay near $1000 while buying a spendy new grinder at the same time. So my search basically came down to the two machines that have dominated this market for 20 years:

1. Gaggia Classic
2. Rancilio Silvia

The Gaggia has been the go-to machine by which all others are generally compared (and notably used in just about every darn "how to" expresso video ever made on YouTube), and while it's recently lost some of it's adoration overseas due to the new model they now sell in Europe, we still get the beloved old model here in the US of A.

I debated between these two machines for some time, but eventually went Gaggia, just on sheer popularity. There are a million parts and well-documented mods out there for this machine, probably more than any other.

Both give you a full-size group head, completely interchangeable with any pro equipment, in a relatively inexpensive single-boiler. Both lack a PID, which would be the next step up, if you're willing to spend more (eg. ECM Classika = $999.99). But I'm convinced my taste buds wouldn't appreciate the extra coin for that. Besides, if you want to get real geeky about it, you can easily temp surf the Gaggia (and likely the Silvia, as well).

I do wish I had a double boiler, and would be willing to spend money for the convenience of that long before any other "feature", but that puts you straight into $2000+ territory. I'll deal with a little inconvenience for the one or two morningsper week I use
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Many of the most popular Commercial machines run $7000+/-.
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
When I was looking, I was aiming to keep the budget for the expresso machine closer to $600, as I was also trying to stay near $1000 while buying a spendy new grinder at the same time. So my search basically came down to the two machines that have dominated this market for 20 years:

1. Gaggia Classic
2. Rancilio Silvia

The Gaggia has been the go-to machine by which all others are generally compared (and notably used in just about every darn "how to" expresso video ever made on YouTube), and while it's recently lost some of it's adoration overseas due to the new model they now sell in Europe, we still get the beloved old model here in the US of A.

I debated between these two machines for some time, but eventually went Gaggia, just on sheer popularity. There are a million parts and well-documented mods out there for this machine, probably more than any other.

Both give you a full-size group head, completely interchangeable with any pro equipment, in a relatively inexpensive single-boiler. Both lack a PID, which would be the next step up, if you're willing to spend more (eg. ECM Classika = $999.99). But I'm convinced my taste buds wouldn't appreciate the extra coin for that. Besides, if you want to get real geeky about it, you can easily temp surf the Gaggia (and likely the Silvia, as well).

I do wish I had a double boiler, and would be willing to spend money for the convenience of that long before any other "feature", but that puts you straight into $2000+ territory. I'll deal with a little inconvenience for the one or two morningsper week I use
Thanks. Espresso is my daily drink, so it will be well used. I don't do milk, so those features are totally not important to me. I know about the brands you mentioned and I was already looking at those.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Thanks. Espresso is my daily drink, so it will be well used. I don't do milk, so those features are totally not important to me. I know about the brands you mentioned and I was already looking at those.
If no milk, then I’d definitely go Gaggia, as the only complaint anyone ever lobs at this machine is the goofy frothing wand they ship with it. It’s designed to be more forgiving for beginners, but anyone who really knows how to froth milk hates it.

I just replaced the stock wand on my Gaggia a week after buying it, as many do with that machine.

Since you don’t do milk, there is absolutely no reason to invest in a double boiler, these semi auto single boilers are definitely the way to go. The reason I only make time to use mine on weekends is because I do like a little milk (macchiato style, 2 oz shot with 1/2 oz milk), and switching the boiler temp, then bleeding back down, and the cleaning routine all make it a hassle. That’s why I kinda want a double boiler.
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
If no milk, then I’d definitely go Gaggia, as the only complaint anyone ever lobs at this machine is the goofy frothing wand they ship with it. It’s designed to be more forgiving for beginners, but anyone who really knows how to froth milk hates it.

I just replaced the stock wand on my Gaggia a week after buying it, as many do with that machine.

Since you don’t do milk, there is absolutely no reason to invest in a double boiler, these semi auto single boilers are definitely the way to go. The reason I only make time to use mine on weekends is because I do like a little milk (macchiato style, 2 oz shot with 1/2 oz milk), and switching the boiler temp, then bleeding back down, and the cleaning routine all make it a hassle. That’s why I kinda want a double boiler.
I currently have a Saeco which I bought refurbished. A great machine with an active cup warmer. It shows some hick ups and considering the age (and it is a beginners machine) I consider a new on. Single boiler was all I am looking at. I also like Ascaso (from Spain) and the Breville Infuser looks nice too.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
I currently have a Saeco which I bought refurbished. A great machine with an active cup warmer. It shows some hick ups and considering the age (and it is a beginners machine) I consider a new on. Single boiler was all I am looking at. I also like Ascaso (from Spain) and the Breville Infuser looks nice too.
Do these machines both take standard pro 58mm portafilters? I believe the Saeco does, but have never looked at the Ascaso or Infuser. That would be an absolute minimum requirement, for me.

Also, do you plan on going all-out with a non-pressurize portafilter, or just running the pressurized rig for pre-ground coffee? What grinder do you use?
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
Do these machines both take standard pro 58mm portafilters? I believe the Saeco does, but have never looked at the Ascaso or Infuser. That would be an absolute minimum requirement, for me.

Also, do you plan on going all-out with a non-pressurize portafilter, or just running the pressurized rig for pre-ground coffee? What grinder do you use?
I have a Capresso grinder, I roast my own beans. I use a non pressurized filter, of course. Ascaso has 58 mm filters. I also look at Capresso that comes standard with a bottomless filter which I really like.
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
If no milk, then I’d definitely go Gaggia, as the only complaint anyone ever lobs at this machine is the goofy frothing wand they ship with it. It’s designed to be more forgiving for beginners, but anyone who really knows how to froth milk hates it.

I just replaced the stock wand on my Gaggia a week after buying it, as many do with that machine.

Since you don’t do milk, there is absolutely no reason to invest in a double boiler, these semi auto single boilers are definitely the way to go. The reason I only make time to use mine on weekends is because I do like a little milk (macchiato style, 2 oz shot with 1/2 oz milk), and switching the boiler temp, then bleeding back down, and the cleaning routine all make it a hassle. That’s why I kinda want a double boiler.
Well, I just bought a refurbished Gaggia Classic PRO from Whole Latte Love for $375. This is the version with upgraded pump. Not bad IMO.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Well, I just bought a refurbished Gaggia Classic PRO from Whole Latte Love for $375. This is the version with upgraded pump. Not bad IMO.
Yeah, that’s a solid machine, and probably $100 cheaper than new? They didn’t have the “Pro” version back when I bought my classic, but it looks like it’s the regular Classic with the Silvia wand conversion. I did that conversion on my own, so I guess mine is a “pro” now. Gaggia apparently got the message, no one liked their goofy classic wand.
 
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Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
It arrived a few hours ago.
 

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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Nice! I think the switch configuration on yours is the newer model, which you may want to check. I never looked into it, but there was something that really bothered the crap out of folks about that new model, when it was introduced in Europe. I suspect they may have fixed it before releasing it in the States, as it was something unique to Euro energy conservation directives, but I just made sure I was still getting the old model when I ordered mine.
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
Nice! I think the switch configuration on yours is the newer model, which you may want to check. I never looked into it, but there was something that really bothered the crap out of folks about that new model, when it was introduced in Europe. I suspect they may have fixed it before releasing it in the States, as it was something unique to Euro energy conservation directives, but I just made sure I was still getting the old model when I ordered mine.
Correct, the EU versions have a 20 minute auto switch off function. It is in the manual, but my machine doesn't have that. Mine is the 2019 model with a 2019 serial number and manufacturing date. It says refurbished, but it looks brand spanking new.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Correct, the EU versions have a 20 minute auto switch off function. It is in the manual, but my machine doesn't have that. Mine is the 2019 model with a 2019 serial number and manufacturing date. It says refurbished, but it looks brand spanking new.
Excellent! So, when do you start dialing in your shot timing? ::-)
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
Excellent! So, when do you start dialing in your shot timing? ::-)
Tomorrow, playing with my grinder now to get the right setting while surfing to see if I can find another one for not too much. Maybe even a manual burr grinder.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Tomorrow, playing with my grinder now to get the right setting while surfing to see if I can find another one for not too much. Maybe even a manual burr grinder.
I'm running a Baratza Virtuoso, which is a fantastic grinder, but I hate changing it back and forth between pour-over and expresso settings. It is a PITA to clean all of the chaff out of it before my first expresso shot, and it's not super convenient for loading a portafilter from the output bin. If you find a nice price on a proper expresso grinder, I might jump on it, too!

Of course, my wife is not past criticizing another appliance on the counter that has now become my coffee bar. ;lol
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
I'm running a Baratza Virtuoso, which is a fantastic grinder, but I hate changing it back and forth between pour-over and expresso settings. It is a PITA to clean all of the chaff out of it before my first expresso shot, and it's not super convenient for loading a portafilter from the output bin. If you find a nice price on a proper expresso grinder, I might jump on it, too!

Of course, my wife is not past criticizing another appliance on the counter that has now become my coffee bar. ;lol
I just missed a Breville Smart Grinder Pro last night on Ebay. Could have gotten it for $100 (refurbished). They get excellent reviews.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
I really don't know much about Breville, but their prices are so low that it makes me wonder if they can really be of sufficient quality for non-pressurized expresso grinds. I've really only studied the Baratza line, and they have some fantastic options... but the prices!
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Did a little looking at the Breville grinders I'm seeing for sale, and none appear to be flat burr, they're all conical designs. Reviews elsewhere seem to indicate they're great for pour-over, probably not great for a dedicated expresso grinder. None appear to be even as good as the Virtuoso I'm already running today.

Here's a nice flat burr machine, if you're just a finger skimmer, and don't care about exact dosing. About $150 less than their most popular machine with timer-based dosing:

https://www.wholelattelove.com/products/ceado-e5p-electronic-coffee-grinder

Of course, the Baratza Sette 270 is $200 less, with dosing control... but then you're back into conicals. The Sette has the 2-step macro/micro adjust, though... probably works well enough for home use, where heat is a non-issue.
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
Did a little looking at the Breville grinders I'm seeing for sale, and none appear to be flat burr, they're all conical designs. Reviews elsewhere seem to indicate they're great for pour-over, probably not great for a dedicated expresso grinder. None appear to be even as good as the Virtuoso I'm already running today.

Here's a nice flat burr machine, if you're just a finger skimmer, and don't care about exact dosing. About $150 less than their most popular machine with timer-based dosing:

https://www.wholelattelove.com/products/ceado-e5p-electronic-coffee-grinder

Of course, the Baratza Sette 270 is $200 less, with dosing control... but then you're back into conicals. The Sette has the 2-step macro/micro adjust, though... probably works well enough for home use, where heat is a non-issue.
Depending who you ask, but many espresso "experts" say that flat burrs getting too hot and taking away flavor of the coffee. BTW, the Breville grinders seem to be excellent for espresso, according to coffeegeek.com and others.
 

Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
Did a little looking at the Breville grinders I'm seeing for sale, and none appear to be flat burr, they're all conical designs. Reviews elsewhere seem to indicate they're great for pour-over, probably not great for a dedicated expresso grinder. None appear to be even as good as the Virtuoso I'm already running today.

Here's a nice flat burr machine, if you're just a finger skimmer, and don't care about exact dosing. About $150 less than their most popular machine with timer-based dosing:

https://www.wholelattelove.com/products/ceado-e5p-electronic-coffee-grinder

Of course, the Baratza Sette 270 is $200 less, with dosing control... but then you're back into conicals. The Sette has the 2-step macro/micro adjust, though... probably works well enough for home use, where heat is a non-issue.
I am looking at a Virtuoso (refurb) for $176 and a Gaggia MDF (refurb) for $128.
 
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Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,736
South Jersey
I'm running a Baratza Virtuoso, which is a fantastic grinder, but I hate changing it back and forth between pour-over and expresso settings. It is a PITA to clean all of the chaff out of it before my first expresso shot, and it's not super convenient for loading a portafilter from the output bin. If you find a nice price on a proper expresso grinder, I might jump on it, too!

Of course, my wife is not past criticizing another appliance on the counter that has now become my coffee bar. ;lol
Just bought a refurbished Baratza Sette 30 with a full year warranty directly from their web site.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Just bought a refurbished Baratza Sette 30 with a full year warranty directly from their web site.
Nice! I was looking at the Sette 270 the other night. Great machines, and this might sound stupid, but I just hate the way they'd look on my counter. They look like they'd be at home in a modern Euro kitchen, but they just can't fit in this old American house:

baratza_sette_wi_2_-_1.jpg
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,292
Philadelphia
Here's a little review on the Sette 270:


The other one I've been looking at is the Rancilio Rocky... maybe the most popular flat burr for home. But reviews are mixed... not all good.

rocky-black_1_1.jpg