Finally Pulled the trigger. My new espresso machine

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by nicko, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    You will think I am nuts but it has been literally 2 years of insane research and frustration. The fact is there are just tooooooo many choices when it comes to espresso at home. Single boiler, double boiler, heat exchanger, pid controlled, non-pid, e61 group head, pre-infusion, etc etc etc. It literally can make your head spin. Especially when if you are really looking for a serious machine (not the 200.00 job from Kohls) you are making a serious investment.

    I decided that the best option was to invest in a great machine I would have the rest of my life and really enjoy. Here it is.

    I went with a double boiler machine which I purchased from Chris's coffee. Nice people to work with.

    Alex Duetto II by Izzo

    [​IMG]
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It looks like something from a 1930 Sci-Fi serial. Have fun with it.
     
  3. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I really wavered Phatch on whether I should of gotten the optional "Steam Punk" upgrade.
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I've heard nothing but good things about the Duetto, and ChrisCoffee is a dream retailer.  You can keep them on speed deal until everything is dialed in just so.  The Baratza was another great choice.

    Now all you need is the coffee, a few weeks to work on your latte art skills, and you're there.  I'm looking forward to your questions and contributions on home-barista.com.

    How long, do you think, until the home-roasting bug bites?

    Congratulations Nicko.  Use it in the best of health.  Enjoy.

    BDL
     
  5. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Been roasting my own coffee for the past several months so I am good to go on that front. I am very excited about this machine it literally has been 2 years of research. Sounds goofy but this is a huge investment for me and not something I plan on upgrading for a long long time.
     
  6. postmaster

    postmaster

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    You will really enjoy this for many years. I bought my first home professional machine 15 years ago,Elektra microcassa leva, and have never looked back. Took me two months to pull the trigger on what was $800 back than, but worth every penny. I did have to upgrade my grinder to a Mauser for the consistent grind my machine required. If you don't have a high quality grinder you will want to get one.
     
  7. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Thanks I think the baratza is perfect for me. I want to be able to grind not only espresso but also regular drip coffee when I need to. I truly hope I will have the machine for the next 20 years.
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I hope Mazzer, not Mauser. 

    The amount of time and research you (Nicko) put into this don't seem goofy to me.  Maybe they would to a sane person, but not to me.

    The Baratza's versatility is a very good thing.  The La Cimbali is on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to making large changes in grind conveniently.  We may have to buy something else for French press, which we've stopped drinking for that reason.  I love the looks of the KitchenAid but can't recall ever hearing anything good about it from anyone who knows about those things.

    I've been roasting a blend of two Klatch greens; (El Salvador) San Juan de Bosco and (Guatemala) Antigua Covadonga in a 3:2 ratio to FC.  Makes a great espresso blend, if you care to give it a try; chocolate with notes of almonds and apricots. 

    What kind of roaster?  If you're using a HotTop Programmable let's compare notes.  I'll be happy to PM you the profile for the SJdB and AC blend.  I graduated from a Behmor after effing it up beyond all recognition to the HT-P; but am thinking I should have got either the non-programmable or a Quest M3. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
  9. fish boy

    fish boy

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    My Solis grinder finally broke beyond repair this weekend, it's always been a bit inconsistent but it's 10 years old.  (the $150.00 model)   I make two shots of espresso a day and need to be able to grind coarser for paper filter and drip.  Any suggestions in the $200 dollar range?

    I've been using a Rancillio Silvia for about 10 years now.  It's still going strong. Originally bought both machines from 1st-Line Coffee in NJ.

    Matt B
     
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Posted by Fish Boy  
    Baratza Virtuoso, $200, from lots of good retailers.

    It's as good as you can get for the price, but in the greater scheme isn't particularly good. Grinding for filter and drip isn't a huge challenge, but to grind espresso well is very expensive.  The Virtuoso has 40 "steps," about 5 of which are anywhere near acceptable for espresso.  5 steps doesn't allow much fine control, and fine control is the name of the game.  Grind, dose, brew temp, brew time and brew ratio are the most important parameters for consistent, quality espresso.  Fail to control and adjust those as needs be, and a good cup is pure luck. 

    Grind and dose are the most sensitive, and grind is the one you adjust most frequently as your beans change with age and as the weather changes too.  For the others, close is good enough.

    At $300, the Baratza Virtuoso Precisio is much better than the Virtuoso -- especially for someone who does a lot of grind changing.  As an espresso grinder, it's adequate for Silvia but by no means overkill; and well worth stretching your budget to get it.

    Good luck,

    BDL

    PS. For some reason, a lot of people want to know your rig:  La Cimbali M21 Junior Casa; La Cimbali Max Hybrid with Gralab 451 Timer; HotTop KN-8828P-2; 1 gram scale, 0.1 gram scale, Concept Art  tampers, other tampers, Strada baskets, other assorted tweaks and money wasters.

    PPS.  Silvia is not an easy mistress, ten years is a long time to live with her.  As someone who spent more than 20 years with Livia (Pasquini Livia 90), not nearly as demanding or inconsistent a machine, I don't know whether congratulations or condolences are in order. 

    If you're thinking of upgrading your machine, and there are many out there better than Silvia, you'll probably want more grinder than the Precisio.  If you can afford it, it's easier to buy everything together.  If you can't, buy the grinder first.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  11. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I agree the baratza is the way to go. 

    BDL how are you liking your cimbali?
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    La Cimbalis plural.  The espresso machine is a Junior DT/1 Casa, the grinder a Max Hybrid and I love them both.  I taste clearly defined characteristics I never even knew were there until stepping up to Cimbali level equipment.  The equipment combination offers a nearly infinite degree of control for the factors I consider most important. 

    Linda -- who only drinks huge double-double lattes -- is as enthusiastic as I am, maybe more.  One of the surprises of the purchase is how well her palate cuts through all the milk and sugar.  Who knew?  Worth saying perhaps, that she's just as enthusiastic about the switch from a Behmor to a HotTop.  We've got a few national class roasters in the Los Angeles area but we (she, especially) prefer our home roasts.  Huge surprise.   

    Cost aside, my impression is that your Duetto is a better choice for you than the Casa would have been.  Did Chris Coffee help you make it?  They -- specifically Mary -- sure helped with mine.  Before calling Chris, I was leaning very strongly towards a double boiler.  I was thinking either the La Marzocco GS3 or the La Spaziale Vivaldi II, but knowing me probably would have panicked and bought the uber expensive La Marzocco.  But after a long talk with Mary (blessed is she among sales people) ended up choosing the Casa.  I am so darn happy with the Cimbalis, I think I'll give her a call just to say thanks again.

    BDL
     
  13. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I did talk with Mary (and Chris). Mary is very patient and very knowledgeable. Basically she asked me what type of drinks I like and I like pulling shots and for my wife the milk based drinks. She said the pid based double boiler (especially the duetto) ensures consistent shots every time. It also gives you the flexibility to try temp variations to try different flavor profiles with a particular coffee. I did tell both Chris and Mary that I wanted a machine that would last me for the next 20 years so I am surprised they did not offer the Cimbali junior. 

    Of notes my plan is to plum it in and set it up with a filter. Lets start another thread BDL to talk more about descaling (see you on the other thread). I have many questions.
     
  14. paul alfred

    paul alfred

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    Ohh!  Shiny!!  Very nice machine.  I am looking for something like that for myself, and am wanting to begin researching them here soon.
     
  15. Iceman

    Iceman

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    WOW. I become more of a dinosaur every day. This is what I use: 

    [​IMG]

    Hey Nicko, if you don't mind, how much did your machine set you back? Oh yeah, by-the-way ... are we ever gonna get together for some eats/conversation? 
     
  16. paul alfred

    paul alfred

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    IceMan,

    I've been eyeing those recently...  How well does it work?  I've seen them at the stores and online, but I don't know anyone who has used one or even owns one.  I've been considering my options for personal use at home, and as I am back on a college budget again I've been trying to find something to use between now and when I can afford a larger more expensive machine.
     
  17. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Mine works like a charm. It's maybe 50 or so years old. The technology hasn't changed. It's not the "master steam blaster" type like Nicko's, but it's really tasty. Here is the best "explanation" link:  Espresso Stovetop Makers   I hope that helps. Keep it clean and don't crank on it like a gorilla and it'll give you some nice espresso Joe. 
     
  18. paul alfred

    paul alfred

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    Thanks IceMan!
     
  19. Iceman

    Iceman

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    I've never been to a big garage sale or a flea market where you can't find one of these for around $1. All you've gotta do is clean them out. 
     
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    They're called "Moka Pots."  They don't actually make espresso, which requires more pressure than a moka pot can muster.  That's a "just is," not a criticism.  They make good, strong, espresso-like coffee, if you use them right.

    BDL