New Espresso Machine

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Larry P
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#1 Post by Larry P » December 26th, 2014, 10:19 pm

As luck would have it, my Jura/Capresso machine bit the dust just before Christmas, so my wife asked me what I wanted with which to replace it. I seriously considered the Rancilio Silvia, but mixed reviews online and reports on how finicky that machine can be, plus lack of PID temperature control, pushed me towards this slightly lower priced Breville BES840XL instead:
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For some this is probably not serious enough a machine, but hopefully it hits the sweet spot for me. I like the pressure gauge, which, after my first pull this morning, barely ticked the proper range for espresso. I was using the 2nd finest setting on my grinder, so I'll try finer as well as tamping a little harder. Even so, my first shot blew away what I'd been getting from my Capresso which was probably a little tired.
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#2 Post by ybarselah » December 27th, 2014, 9:06 am

breville has single-handily reinvented the home espresso market and left traditional companies in the dust from a price and feature standpoint. their customer service is also excellent.

i strongly recommend replacing your grinder with something better. it's a small investment that will result in better espresso than you can imagine. seriously.
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#3 Post by Larry P » December 27th, 2014, 9:57 am

Thanks for chiming in Yaacov. You've confirmed the impression I reached in my research of the Breville.

Can you explain what's wrong with my grinder? Other than It's been with me for a couple decades, maybe the burrs are dull, but it grinds. What more can I expect? If "quieter" is possible, the purchase would definitely be wife-approved! And I admit looking at this pic I'm already thinking how pretty a stainless Breville grinder would be sitting next to my new baby.

FWIW I switched to the finest grind today, tamped really hard, and the pressure gauge shot instantly into the "over extracted" range, and tasted that way too. Hopefully tomorrow is Goldilocks!
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#4 Post by M Hudson » December 27th, 2014, 11:42 am

Yaccov got me going the right direction this time last year.

I have a few suggestions after a year of pulling shots. First if one step went from runny to not dripping you need a better grinder. There are other variables to consider such as dose, and tamp.

Those of course you can play with, with no investment.

I would start by finding out how many grams your basket is designed for and then weighing your doses. Mir you are keeping your dose and tamp strength constant, then it's all in the grind.

Buying very fresh beans is also a real key. As the beans age, I can never dial in my shots. I find i like my beans from that 3-15 day window after roasting.

Find a local roaster that time stamps his beans.

Also one other little trick. Find a yogurt cup or sour cream cup and cut the bottom out and then cut it again about an inch and a half high. It makes a nice cone to put in your basket to help collect the grounds from the grinder. You can also take a something and stir them to reduce clumping and to evenly distribute the grinds. With the cone still installed try bumping the pb down onto the counter (( I have a rubber mat to hit). And tamping that way a few times, then remove the cone and hit it once more. Then do your traditional tamp. I would also recommend oscillating the handle around the perimeter of the basket a few times to even out your grinds, then doing your final perpendicular tamp.

All this sounds like a lot, but actually only takes seconds once you get use to it, and it will really help you get a handle on your pulls.
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#5 Post by ybarselah » December 27th, 2014, 12:32 pm

mark nailed it on the technique (i feel like a proud pappa), but i fear that nothing will overcome the limitations of that grinder.

folks tend to focus on the machine, beans, etc., but the weakest and most important link always tends to be the grinder (as far as equipment is concerned - the barista is the actual weak link but that just requires practice). the better the machine, the better the *potential* espresso, but that potential is mostly locked up in the grind.

your machine is now very much in the more-than-good-enough camp and unfortunately, a krups grinder will never allow you to achieve what the espresso machine is capable of.

also unfortunately, a good-enough grinder isn't cheap and typically can be as much as the espresso machine. this is a reality that cannot be overcome.

you should seriously consider the baratza vario. it's a great machine and a QPR hero. they are good people, very responsive and provide great customer service. they also sell them refurbed for a great price.

http://www.baratza.com/cgi-bin/commerce ... n&key=885R
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#6 Post by Larry P » December 27th, 2014, 3:04 pm

Thanks Mark and Yaacov.

You're preaching to the choir regarding fresh beans and fine grind, etc. I crossed that bridge when I first started making espresso at home, about 25 years ago.

So, I know grind is important, but not exactly sure exactly what a new one can do that my Krups can't. It's a burr grinder with a pretty precise control over the grind. What's the criteria I'm looking for besides that?

Edited to add: I watched the Whole Latte Love video for the Baratza Vario on youtube and went ahead and ordered one...
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#7 Post by ybarselah » December 27th, 2014, 6:07 pm

yeah, you're good now.
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#8 Post by Larry P » December 27th, 2014, 6:36 pm

ybarselah wrote:yeah, you're good now.
Should have an updated photo by the new year champagne.gif

Thanks again!
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#9 Post by Michael Martin » December 27th, 2014, 7:52 pm

I had one of these. I ended up replacing it with a Nespresso. I found the clean up and constant plugging of the screen a pain which resulted in less frequent use. The Nepresso is soooo easy to use and I can vary the flavor easily. I sold the Breville on eBay. You'll thank me in a year.

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#10 Post by ybarselah » December 27th, 2014, 8:27 pm

Michael Martin wrote:I had one of these. I ended up replacing it with a Nespresso. I found the clean up and constant plugging of the screen a pain which resulted in less frequent use. The Nepresso is soooo easy to use and I can vary the flavor easily. I sold the Breville on eBay. You'll thank me in a year.
the goal is great espresso, not ease of use.
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#11 Post by Michael Martin » December 27th, 2014, 8:33 pm

ybarselah wrote:
Michael Martin wrote:I had one of these. I ended up replacing it with a Nespresso. I found the clean up and constant plugging of the screen a pain which resulted in less frequent use. The Nepresso is soooo easy to use and I can vary the flavor easily. I sold the Breville on eBay. You'll thank me in a year.
the goal is great espresso, not ease of use.
I know. I sought that too. Go try a Nespresso. I was shocked. It matched anything I got in Italy.

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#12 Post by Brent C l a y t o n » December 27th, 2014, 8:38 pm

And any mention of 'nespresso' in a coffee thread is pretty much a non-starter for the serious coffee folks... [smileyvault-ban.gif]

Clean up, and the occasional minor at-home maintenance such as cleaning your screens, lines, etc. is pretty much par for the course.

The best 'no fuss' machine that I've had decent espresso out of is a Gaggia Brera, and I'm sure some of the higher-priced super-autos can deliver similar quality. But the ritual; prepping the machine, grinding, weighing, tamping, pulling a shot and then savoring it makes any extra time and effort worthwhile.
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#13 Post by Michael Martin » December 27th, 2014, 8:43 pm

Brent C l a y t o n wrote:And any mention of 'nespresso' in a coffee thread is pretty much a non-starter for the serious coffee folks... [smileyvault-ban.gif]

Clean up, and the occasional minor at-home maintenance such as cleaning your screens, lines, etc. is pretty much par for the course.

The best 'no fuss' machine that I've had decent espresso out of is a Gaggia Brera, and I'm sure some of the higher-priced super-autos can deliver similar quality. But the ritual; prepping the machine, grinding, weighing, tamping, pulling a shot and then savoring it makes any extra time and effort worthwhile.
Don't believe me. Go try it yourself, Mr Non-starter [snort.gif]
I love espresso. Nespresso is a game changer, a killer app, if you will. It blows anything I got from my Breville out of the water. I would not have said that a year ago until I tried it.

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#14 Post by M Hudson » December 27th, 2014, 9:05 pm

Michael....hum...believe that if you want, but trust me, there is no comparison to what I can pull out of my machine vs my nespresso.

No comparison.

None.


Zero.

Well, you get my point.
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#15 Post by M Hudson » December 27th, 2014, 9:08 pm

Yaccov can probably tell you all the fancy names for those techniques I mentioned and link you some videos....after a year, I just remeber how to do them....but it does help to see them.


I always find it funny that people on the west coast buy from vendors in New York and not from Seattle coffee gear.

I will admit on my large purchases I buy from Chris coffee, but I just trust them for some reason.
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#16 Post by Michael Martin » December 27th, 2014, 9:17 pm

We'll agree to disagree. All I know is I love my Nespresso way more than my Breville.

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#17 Post by Alan Rath » December 27th, 2014, 9:52 pm

Michael Martin wrote:We'll agree to disagree. All I know is I love my Nespresso way more than my Breville.
I can definitely understand the ease-of-use perspective. I have a Nespresso, and we use it quite a lot - but never for espresso, only when I'm going to add milk for a latte. There is absolutely no chance a Nespresso can come close to the best espresso pulls from a real machine. I found I couldn't do it at home (though probably didn't try hard enough). When I want a *real* espresso or macchiato, I head to my nearby coffee house, where they do it all day and have it fine tuned. They even taste what's coming out pretty regularly, adjust temperature, grind, pressure, etc. to get it right. I'm not sufficiently dedicated to do that at home.
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#18 Post by Craig G » December 27th, 2014, 10:21 pm

Nespresso is 90 point espresso. It works perfectly for me but there's a lot of room above it and I get why people want more.
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#19 Post by M Hudson » December 28th, 2014, 7:07 am

If you spent any time on coffee geek forums you will quickly find most there do not have respect for "most" local coffee shops.

It took me months to dial in my shots, and tons of wasted beans, but you can do it. I can say that on average I agree with the geeks, in that most shops i visit has some unskilled kid calling themselves a barista.

When you learn to watch timing of the pulls and amount in the cup, you can easily spot who knows what they are doing and who does not.

From a wine perspective, if you are in healdsburg, drop by the barn....they know coffee.
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#20 Post by alan weinberg » December 28th, 2014, 7:44 am

and start roasting your own beans!

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#21 Post by M Hudson » December 28th, 2014, 8:42 am

We ran out over the holiday and my wife is screaming at me. I have to do a marathon roasting session today, or its my azz.
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#22 Post by Phil Smith » December 28th, 2014, 10:37 am

Not to hijack the thread but I've been toying around with my new Compak F10 Conic OD and what a difference (replaced a Macap M4, which I'll now use for decaf)! No doubt overkill for the 3-4 shots/day I make but incredibly fast, easy to dial in, and amazing grind/dosing consistency already (after an hour or so) translating to a better shot than I could previously get.

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#23 Post by Larry P » December 28th, 2014, 11:49 am

Michael Martin wrote:I had one of these. I ended up replacing it with a Nespresso. I found the clean up and constant plugging of the screen a pain which resulted in less frequent use. The Nepresso is soooo easy to use and I can vary the flavor easily. I sold the Breville on eBay. You'll thank me in a year.
Like I said upthread, I've been brewing my own espresso for 25 years. This is my 6th machine. I don't imagine this would be the year I decided it's too much trouble. More likely, as Alan says, I'll start doing my own roasting.
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#24 Post by ybarselah » December 28th, 2014, 12:08 pm

i always wait and see when someone posts about nespresso or aeropress, etc. on an espresso thread and i find it so confusing in the context of a wine board where we typically discuss the top 0.0001% of wines produced in the world. yet plenty of folks are (1) happy with very mediocre other food products, and more confusingly (2) try to convince the rest of us.

i've tasted nespresso many times, it's pretty terrible coffee and barely recognizable as espresso. i can't imagine a situation where i'd go for it over any other type of coffee, or tea, or even a coca-cola.

if you didn't get good results from your breville or any other proper machine, that's 100% your fault. but don't project your inadequacies on the rest of us! ;-)



now, that's not to say you're not thrilled with the results, but please don't try and preach nespresso as the holy grail of coffee to people that are ready, willing, and able to actually make good espresso at home.
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#25 Post by ybarselah » December 28th, 2014, 12:11 pm

Michael Martin wrote:
ybarselah wrote:
Michael Martin wrote:I had one of these. I ended up replacing it with a Nespresso. I found the clean up and constant plugging of the screen a pain which resulted in less frequent use. The Nepresso is soooo easy to use and I can vary the flavor easily. I sold the Breville on eBay. You'll thank me in a year.
the goal is great espresso, not ease of use.
I know. I sought that too. Go try a Nespresso. I was shocked. It matched anything I got in Italy.
i can actually believe this claim, because the great majority of coffee in italy is terrible.
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#26 Post by Larry P » December 28th, 2014, 12:16 pm

Phil Smith wrote:Not to hijack the thread but I've been toying around with my new Compak F10 Conic OD and what a difference (replaced a Macap M4, which I'll now use for decaf)! No doubt overkill for the 3-4 shots/day I make but incredibly fast, easy to dial in, and amazing grind/dosing consistency already (after an hour or so) translating to a better shot than I could previously get.
Not a thread drift at all Phil, unless you tell me you're using that beast for refillable K-cups [tease.gif]

This morning I went back to one-click off finest on my Krups grinder, tried to tamp harder, and ended up under-extracted. Pretty much puts the nails in the coffin for the Krups. I wonder if I can get it clean enough to use for grinding dry spices, or maybe just keep it for cold brew & French press. The Baratza Vario is in the post and won't be here for a couple days, but can't come soon enough!
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#27 Post by ybarselah » December 28th, 2014, 12:35 pm

i covet the compak grinders!

larry - make sure to buy some grindz or whatever and use it regularly. same thing with the backflush cleaning function on the breville. both are very easily cleanable and should be done often. on the breville, it probably came with tablets but you don't have to use those when they run out. you can use the regular powder just fine.
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#28 Post by Sean Moore » December 29th, 2014, 10:57 am

Phil Smith wrote:Not to hijack the thread but I've been toying around with my new Compak F10 Conic OD and what a difference (replaced a Macap M4, which I'll now use for decaf)! No doubt overkill for the 3-4 shots/day I make but incredibly fast, easy to dial in, and amazing grind/dosing consistency already (after an hour or so) translating to a better shot than I could previously get.
Great to hear! (as I await delivery on a F8 OD)

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#29 Post by M Hudson » December 29th, 2014, 6:35 pm

ybarselah wrote:i covet the compak grinders!

larry - make sure to buy some grindz or whatever and use it regularly. same thing with the backflush cleaning function on the breville. both are very easily cleanable and should be done often. on the breville, it probably came with tablets but you don't have to use those when they run out. you can use the regular powder just fine.

Damn a f10

I hate you, really. :)

I have a k 10 and almost bought the f when It went on sale Black Friday, but I just can't justify replacing the k.

I waste some coffee each day, but I roast my own, so it's not all that expensive.
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#30 Post by Larry P » December 29th, 2014, 7:14 pm

Mark, do you roast on your kitchen stove? I had a friend who did that, but it made his house so "aromatic" his wife banned him to the backyard and now he does it on the grill.
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#31 Post by Phil Smith » December 29th, 2014, 7:57 pm

M Hudson wrote:
ybarselah wrote:i covet the compak grinders!

larry - make sure to buy some grindz or whatever and use it regularly. same thing with the backflush cleaning function on the breville. both are very easily cleanable and should be done often. on the breville, it probably came with tablets but you don't have to use those when they run out. you can use the regular powder just fine.

Damn a f10

I hate you, really. :)

I have a k 10 and almost bought the f when It went on sale Black Friday, but I just can't justify replacing the k.

I waste some coffee each day, but I roast my own, so it's not all that expensive.
I like it even more than I thought I would... flirtysmile

I wanted a doserless conical and it's a pretty clear upgrade from the Macap which, while a fine grinder, was the weak link for me. Not sure I would see the sense in moving to an F10 from the K10 PB either.

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#32 Post by M Hudson » December 29th, 2014, 8:43 pm

I roast on a huky 500 in my garage
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#33 Post by Craig G » December 29th, 2014, 8:49 pm

I helicopter the beans directly from the plantation to my yacht and I roast them there.
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#34 Post by Kenny H » December 30th, 2014, 7:17 am

Larry I have that machine and looooove it. Get this grinder and you are all set!

http://www.brevilleusa.com/the-smart-grinder.html
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#35 Post by Kenny H » December 30th, 2014, 7:17 am

Craig G wrote:I helicopter the beans directly from the plantation to my yacht and I roast them there.
But do you do that before or after landing at Screagle?
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#36 Post by Larry P » December 30th, 2014, 11:52 am

Kenny H wrote:Larry I have that machine and looooove it. Get this grinder and you are all set!

http://www.brevilleusa.com/the-smart-grinder.html
That was at the top of my list, in fact I went to Sur la Table to check it out. I probably would have gotten it except they couldn't find their one in stock, then Yaccov recommended that Baratza...
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#37 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » December 30th, 2014, 12:55 pm

Regarding the importance of the grinder: I was a skeptic at first. I love a good espresso, but do not consider myself a geek about it, so figured I was doing well with my Capresso burr grinder, which was a definite step up for what I'd had before. Then my husband set up a blind test between my old Capresso and his Mazzer. Same beans, same awesome espresso machine, same barista (him) - only the grinder was different. The grinder, and the results, that is. Not even close. It made a huge difference, even to my less-refined palate.

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#38 Post by Larry P » December 30th, 2014, 5:37 pm

Thanks Sarah, that helps. My Baratza should be here tomorrow!
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#39 Post by ybarselah » December 30th, 2014, 6:54 pm

yeah, espresso machines have gotten so good over the past 10 years that there's a certain base level that's very high. but you really do need a very good/great grinder to unlock that potential. i haven't tried the breville grinder, but i'd opt for something more serious.

the grinder is basically your tool to get to the last mile, the barista.

after a lot of time and energy, you'll finally realize that tamping is the real thing. which is as manual as it gets. just you and the coffee. good luck...
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#40 Post by alan weinberg » December 30th, 2014, 9:21 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:Regarding the importance of the grinder: I was a skeptic at first. I love a good espresso, but do not consider myself a geek about it, so figured I was doing well with my Capresso burr grinder, which was a definite step up for what I'd had before. Then my husband set up a blind test between my old Capresso and his Mazzer. Same beans, same awesome espresso machine, same barista (him) - only the grinder was different. The grinder, and the results, that is. Not even close. It made a huge difference, even to my less-refined palate.
my Baratza Vario-W grinder from Whole Latte Love arrived today.

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#41 Post by ybarselah » December 31st, 2014, 8:45 am

alan weinberg wrote:
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:Regarding the importance of the grinder: I was a skeptic at first. I love a good espresso, but do not consider myself a geek about it, so figured I was doing well with my Capresso burr grinder, which was a definite step up for what I'd had before. Then my husband set up a blind test between my old Capresso and his Mazzer. Same beans, same awesome espresso machine, same barista (him) - only the grinder was different. The grinder, and the results, that is. Not even close. It made a huge difference, even to my less-refined palate.
my Baratza Vario-W grinder from Whole Latte Love arrived today.
curious to know how you like the weight aspect. i bought that one first but it wasn't as good as i thought and just got the regular.

also, i need to contact Baratza and send them all the espresso threads - i deserve a kick back!
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#42 Post by AlbertH » December 31st, 2014, 8:53 am

Love this thread. I've been running a Rancilio Silvia for 4 years now (non-PID) paired with a Mazzer Mini.

As long as you cruise the coffee forums you can pick up really top notch equipment at very reasonable prices.

The mazzer for sure was a solid investment since it is not a stepped grind system and I can make adjustments millimeters at a time. I've wanted to upgrade the Silvia for quite a while now but the next stage would probably be a $2k drop for dual boiler, PID'd Expobar just for increased consistency. I've just gotten used to cycling the boiler and timing shots/steam on my Silvia.

Agreed on dialing in shots. Every new bag of beans I end up having to pull at least a couple of shots before I get the grind set up right and then adjust over time as the beans continue to mature.

One day when we are getting a house built, I'd love to get a GS3 plumbed in, but that dream may have to wait for a while.
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#43 Post by ybarselah » December 31st, 2014, 8:56 am

Albert - you owe it to yourself to check out the breville dual boiler machine. has all the functions and more of a much more expensive machine.

i had the expobar machine and it was fine, but not amazing considering the price.

i have had actual dreams of owning a gs3
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#44 Post by AlbertH » December 31st, 2014, 9:12 am

ybarselah wrote:Albert - you owe it to yourself to check out the breville dual boiler machine. has all the functions and more of a much more expensive machine.

i had the expobar machine and it was fine, but not amazing considering the price.

i have had actual dreams of owning a gs3
I will! After this thread I've been browsing coffeegeek (wineberserker...coffeegeek...). Would love to get a mechanical/electronic upgraded system without having to cough up the equivalent of a La Tache!

Thanks for your thoughts on the Expobar as well. The problem with the next level machines is that a lot of them all look quite similar, have similar features and the pricing is quite variable so it gets a bit muddled.

Hahaha, actual dreams of a GS3 are definitely next level!
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#45 Post by ybarselah » December 31st, 2014, 9:35 am

agreed. the main things that i think folks need for truly great espresso at home is a double boiler (to avoid HX temp issues) and a good PID; things like variable pressure, pre-infusion, etc. are very handy, but not absolutely necessary. those machines worth buying really start at $2500 while the breville is half that (and easily returnable, better customer service, etc.)
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#46 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » December 31st, 2014, 9:35 am

ybarselah wrote:
i have had actual dreams of owning a gs3
Jonathan was on the wait list for one of the 30 that were scheduled to come into the country in '07 - wait list while the US government determined whether it was military grade equipment! Not joking. He ended up not being able to wait any longer, and got an S2 Spaziale Vivaldi with the Chris Coffee modifications. It plus the Mazzer Mini are a great combo, but we may breakdown and get the GS3 once the new kitchen is built.
Last edited by Sarah Kirschbaum on December 31st, 2014, 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#47 Post by Phil Smith » December 31st, 2014, 9:51 am

I'm running a plumbed Duetto III right now that I like quite a bit, but expect that I'll eventually look to upgrade that. I'd love a Speedster but, not being particularly mechanically inclined (i.e., I'm not able to maintain/fix it on my own), would probably go with a GS3.

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#48 Post by M Hudson » December 31st, 2014, 9:13 pm

I am a bona ride gadget geek, but can't imagine I want more than my R58. The cost benefit has to fall off somewhere.
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#49 Post by ybarselah » January 1st, 2015, 8:04 am

M Hudson wrote:I am a bona ride gadget geek, but can't imagine I want more than my R58. The cost benefit has to fall off somewhere.
well, it never falls off, just tapers. i will say that at that level, the consistency of temperature, pressure, etc. are unrivaled and that's really what anyone is chasing.

but far more important...it looks like this.... flirtysmile flirtysmile flirtysmile

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#50 Post by ybarselah » January 1st, 2015, 8:09 am

but what i rellay want is....

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