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Thread: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by OwP View Post
    From a few years of fiddling with a variety of ways of making coffee, if I was starting from scratch it would be a Niche grinder to cover all the grinding needs. Its designed to have as near to zero retention as possible, the concept was to make the best home grinder that's not insanely expensive. It uses the same burrs found in expensive commercial machines, but is designed or single dosing.

    For filter I really wouldn't bother with a machine, just get a good pouring kettle and a V60 or Clever Dripper. I have a MoccaMaster and wouldn't pay the the new price for it, but worth the £75 I picked it up for.

    Expresso and variations of, difficult one. If I was working at home I could probably justify a Sage Dual Boiler. With my current work setup which involves leaving the home early, so no noisy coffee making kit, I have settled on an old Gaggia Classic with a self installed PID temperature controller. Cost me about £200 to get the machine and do a DIY service and install the PID controller. Also a few other cheap mods. Only external things to add are milk jug, temptags, and scales.

    A set of scales are really important in learning how to make most types of coffee, with scales you can weigh the coffee / water and then time the extraction.

    Just noticed the Sage B2C Barrister Express was on sale earlier on amazon (£399), might be worth seeing if that drops down in price again.
    All Good points. My situation is a bit different though .... and I assume you're replying to my recent hijack of this thread, the original one being almost three years ago.

    Oh, and yeah, it's really espresso-based drinks I'm after, primarily Americano and Cappuccino, though sometimes Latte and even the odd Mocha, or weird recipes.

    On that assumption, I'm effectively retired, and some health problems give me some mobility issues. The wife works from home and says she's not bothered, "instant will do", but she generally really enjoys "proper" coffee when we get one out, somewhere (though neither of us are Costa fans).

    The machine I'm currently trying to convince myself not to indulge in is a step up from the Sage Dual Boiler, with a LOT of extra ease of use. It still has the dual boilers, still has accurate PID control but is pretty heavily automated. Kinda.

    There is a decent (not top end but it appears good enough) burr grinder built in. You can set it for about 18g of grounds though factory default is a bit higher. But it grinds and tamps into a puck for you. Minimal effort suits me.

    The manual bit is to move the portafilter from grinder to head myself, and empty grounds out afterwards. That removes one of the trickiest bits to automate. Makes cleaning pretty easy, too.

    But everything else, pretty much, is automated. You can fine tune and adjust, but everything down to milk temp, and frothing for cappuccino to latte, is automated. You can, of course, tweak defaults. Want an Americano (which I usually do), you select Americano as the type and it adds the relevant hot water, After doing the double-espresso rubbishrubbishrubbishrubbish. You can also add your own custom 'recipes', with non-standard defaults.

    The idea is to get most of the quality of Barista machine coffee, with far less effort, or even knowledge. Though, the more you learn, the more you can tweak.

    In other words, little sacrifice in quality, maximum increase in convenience and ease of use, but it comes at a steep price. Yeah, I could look second-hand, but then your taking a gamble on some numpty having mangled a pricey piece of kit. And yeah, I could buy all sorts of other kit and start modding, but like I said, restricted mobility. I don't want the hassle of second-hand, let alone nodding PUD's etc. Years ago, yeah, sure. Now, no.

    I know what appeals to me. Well, between two models, one less automated that the other (and about £400 cheaper). What doesn't appeal is the price but hell, I can't take it with me.

    This thread has been useful, though. It's pointed me in several directions, focussed my thinking and really it comes down to .... am I prepared to spend that much?
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    old thread...

    i drink mainly tea and growing up the only coffee we had was instant. i got a filter coffee thing and a stovetop thing and they were much better but for one person it was a lot of hassle so i eventually got a tassimo which is great, especially as i like cappachinos and lattes and stuff. it's not that cheap for the pods but not drinking many it's not that bad

    but with the lockdown and working from home i found myself drinking a lot of coffee, and whilst i had a huge stash of pods pre lockdown due to the amazon offers meaning you get about 80 pods at a time, i quickly got through them with 3 or 4 cups a day. i had been thinking about nespresso for a while and got a machine for £50 which had an offer that basically worked out that for a £10 spend i got about 225 pods "free" with a voucher scheme, and there's loads of offers on those pods and loads of "own brand" compatible versions. i usually get the starbucks house brand pods for £2.50 for 10 in a deal. i have a load of different types so i don't get stuck with the same taste and get over used to it. nespresso don't do milk pods so it's just coffee but i think the coffee is better than the tassimo, so i got a milk heater frother thing for £18 the other week and that lets me do the fancy stuff. i even got some glass mugs to show off the froth so it looks like cafe stuff

    i did see a bargain "proper" coffee machine thing on amazon, like a £400 machine for £80 that looked the business and did everything, but the video showing it off was about 15 minutes long. i want to make a coffee in a minute not take half an hour and spend an hour cleaning up afterwards. this thing heated the mugs, ground the beans, did the milk heating and frothing, but was just over complicated for me. probably made great coffee, but the tassimo and nespresso tastes fine to me and is quick and easy without making much mess. i'm not afficinado of coffee. it's nice to have both machines as they are quite different in the types of drinks they make, but nespresso is the main one for now

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    I keep considering getting a Nespresso for work, have had one in the past (small capsule version) and liked it a lot. But back then you were locked into Nespresso capsules, since then the patent has been nullified and "surprisingly" Nespresso changed to the new capsule design. I currently use a clever dripper at work and grind at home.

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    I'm watching this thread with interest as I'm genuinely not sure where it will end. Could be anything from a £10 French press and a grinder up to buying a branch of Starbucks.

    That said, I've been there. Not with coffee but I've certainly done copious research into something to discover there are more options (and thus less certainty over which is best for me,) than I imagined.

    It has a name, option paralysis.

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    ... as I'm genuinely not sure where it will end.
    Me neither, pal. Me, neither.

    Hmmm.

    Starbucks???

    Hadn't thought of that.

    BRB.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by OwP View Post
    .... I currently use a clever dripper at work ....
    Sage?

    Or capital C Clever? The little plastic thingy? If the latter, never used one but I hear pretty good things for a quick and easy method provided you get th grind right. Or, Hario Switch?

    Quote Originally Posted by OwP View Post
    .... and grind at home.
    At risk of TMI there.

    Oh, coffee. Silly me.
    Last edited by Saracen999; 27-12-2020 at 12:32 PM.
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    Sage?

    Oh, coffee. Silly me.
    That too


    Clever dripper is a simple filter holder with a vale in the bottle that opens when you put on top of a cup. So you can use it as an emersion brewer (French press / Aeropress) or as a filter brewer. Think I have most of the filter brewer methods covered including Chemex and Aeropress, but have settled on the Clever Dripper.

    I do have an itch to scratch which is syphon / vacuum, havent tried one yet

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    I was aware of a "Clever" but it doesn't look quite like that. More like a conical filter with a valve in the bottom. Variation of the same principle, perhaps?

    I've never tried the Chemex, but it looks interesting, if old school. Very old.

    Not really what I'm after, though, which is very simple, very easy espresso-based drinks, minimum fuss, minimum (but not no) expertise. Don't mind a bit of initial setup for a specific bean, and I know even on the very smart machines, I still have to get to work out (and/or adjust for) factory variations, like dose from a supposedly fixed dose grinder, and that having got what I want as dose, I still need to get the grind size right for a given bean, to avoid under/over-extraction.

    But, once I get my head around the machine's quirks, I should be able to zero in on roughly what to expect for certain roasts, and fine-tune quickly and easily.

    In other words, I don't mind some work and sorting out, but am not looking to be a home barista every time I want a cuppa.
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    In other words, I don't mind some work and sorting out, but am not looking to be a home barista every time I want a cuppa.
    We have a more expensive DeLonghi B2C machine at the office than my cheap (now discontinued) £180 one at home, where I believe the grinder is supposed to be a part of the increased cost (and the integrated water filter which when I fill from a filter jug seems pointless).

    Honestly, I don't think I can taste any difference, I'm really happy with my cheaper one. I suspect you have to be *really* into your coffee to need that top of the range grinder built in, in which case you will know that you need it.

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    We have a more expensive DeLonghi B2C machine at the office than my cheap (now discontinued) £180 one at home, where I believe the grinder is supposed to be a part of the increased cost (and the integrated water filter which when I fill from a filter jug seems pointless).

    Honestly, I don't think I can taste any difference, I'm really happy with my cheaper one. I suspect you have to be *really* into your coffee to need that top of the range grinder built in, in which case you will know that you need it.
    I hear you, but I'd point out a couple of things. First, the grinder is probably better described as "good enough", but certainly isn't top end. Grinders can get very expensive indeed.

    Secondly, on the machine I'm looking at, it's not just a grinder. You stick the portafilter into the grinder output, and what you get is ground, distributed, suitably tamped ready to go directly into the brewing head. Getting that distribution, and tamping pressure, right is central to getting a high quality output, consistently. You then stik the portafilter under the head and brew.

    If you know what you're doing, you can do a lot of this manually but getting it all right, nearly all the time, automatically, saves both coffee and, more importantly (to me) time, and hassle. And that logic applies pretty much to the whole process, right down to getting the right milk foam for cappuccino, or latte art, or even just a straight Americano. Most common coffee types have saved presets with grind settings, brew time, brew temp, milk temp, foam type and so on, but you can override the standards, or create (and save) your own custom recipes.

    Once you do, and assuming you've tuned correctly for your beans, it's pretty much a case of sticking portafilter under grinder and starting, then moving it to brew head and starting, while meanwhile, the foamer is heating and foaming the milk to that recipe's needs, automatically. It's actually, in usage terms, nt much harder than sticking instant in a mug, pouring water from a kettle, and adding milk. You just end up with espresso-based coffee, not instant, very easily and pretty consistently. You do need some knowledge to tweak for bean variances, etc, but it's a lot less effort than typical B2C (according to a variety of experts, like James Hoffman) and less mess too. It's aimed at getting closer to "proper" espresso, for people that don't want an extra hobby.
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    I hear you, but I'd point out a couple of things. First, the grinder is probably better described as "good enough", but certainly isn't top end. Grinders can get very expensive indeed.

    Secondly, on the machine I'm looking at, it's not just a grinder. You stick the portafilter into the grinder output, and what you get is ground, distributed, suitably tamped ready to go directly into the brewing head. Getting that distribution, and tamping pressure, right is central to getting a high quality output, consistently. You then stik the portafilter under the head and brew.
    OK, you seem to be really getting into this which is a leap beyond where I went. I think just jumping both wellies first into buying the on sale bean to cup machine as I did short circuited all that for me. I have learnt far more about coffee than I did before, but for me the people who made my machine understand the finer points so I don't have to.

    A £250 B2C machine will burr grind coffee, tamp it and brew it in a very consistent manner. Automatic milk frothing sounds really nice, but I need convincing that the cleaning of something that has had milk in it is worth the effort vs just quickly making a white coffee and walking away from the machine.

    If you can afford it, then it sounds like you are looking at one heck of a nice toy, and maybe that will give you a grin every time you use it. Much though I like my toys, I think in this case I am a bit more utilitarian. The 80/20 rule seems to apply well here, you are getting 80% of the result for 20% of the outlay. For everyday coffee making the cheap machine is awesome. It usually gets to make simple white & black coffees, occasionally an espresso so I can make Irish coffee. It looks smart and doesn't take up too much kitchen space.


    Edit: OFC if you want time saved, I would say get the cheap B2C machine and spend some of the savings on a Roomba. I got a cheap one on Black Friday sales and wish I had got one years ago. Which leads me to an interesting thought: When the B2C machine dies as these things all eventually do, would I get a more expensive one? Maybe, if the money was not an issue, but I suspect like now there are more important things I would spend it on. When the Roomba dies, I expect I will get a higher end model. The cheap one does an decent job, but it doesn't build an internal map so it can't find its way back from the kitchen if it is there when it gets low on charge.

    Hopefully that hasn't convinced you to buy a £1500 PC, £1600 coffee machine and now a £900 vacuum cleaner on top
    Last edited by DanceswithUnix; 28-12-2020 at 11:58 AM.

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    OK, you seem to be really getting into this which is a leap beyond where I went. I think just jumping both wellies first into buying the on sale bean to cup machine as I did short circuited all that for me. I have learnt far more about coffee than I did before, but for me the people who made my machine understand the finer points so I don't have to.

    A £250 B2C machine will burr grind coffee, tamp it and brew it in a very consistent manner. Automatic milk frothing sounds really nice, but I need convincing that the cleaning of something that has had milk in it is worth the effort vs just quickly making a white coffee and walking away from the machine.

    If you can afford it, then it sounds like you are looking at one heck of a nice toy, and maybe that will give you a grin every time you use it. Much though I like my toys, I think in this case I am a bit more utilitarian. The 80/20 rule seems to apply well here, you are getting 80% of the result for 20% of the outlay. For everyday coffee making the cheap machine is awesome. It usually gets to make simple white & black coffees, occasionally an espresso so I can make Irish coffee. It looks smart and doesn't take up too much kitchen space.
    Again, I hear you. I regard the £250 price point as not-insignificantly expensive, but at 8x that, it is very significantly more considered. That's what, so far, is stopping me and might yet derail the idea. I'm having trouble getting past that.

    I hear you on the milk and cleaning issue, too. First concern? Bacterial build-up. Second concern, fats build up, blocking things.

    But .... cleaning. Keep a cloth near the machine. I mean, who doesn't with any espresso machine, if you don't want drips, splashes, coffee grinds, etc, everywhere. So, having frothed, wipe the steam wand Take about 5 seconds. Then, as you push it back down into standly mode, it auto-purges 5 or 6 bursts of steam through the want into the drip tray. You you give it that level of cleaning every use. There is then a cleaning regime for the machine itself, from (depending on use) a quick daily wipe with a cloth, to a more intensive routine maintenance, including backflushing through the group head, cleaning crap out of the grinder and cleaning the burrs etc, descaling the watery bits and, yeah, taking the steam wand tip off and rinsing. But then, and grinder needs cleaning, and any B2C machine requires similar, and most, more because this machine uses the human to transer grinds in, and spnt coffee out, not a machanism. Want latte or cappuccino? There's going to be a frother involved somewhere, and it's going to need cleaning or .... bacteria, fats build-up, etc. It's unavoidable, IMHO, and part of what espresso machines involve.

    Agreed on 80/20 too. I have the same utilitarian concerns. This undoubtedly is an indulgence. Itr's an out and out luxury, and I still can't qiite believe I'm seriously considering it. Fact is, I can afford it, but, it's still a chunky sum and whie I can afford it, it's an expensive toy for making coffee. Two grand is not an impulse buy. £250? Maybe. Hence, trying to research the beggary outof it before buying. I certainly understand far, FAR more about coffee, and various brewing processes, than I did before I started, and "over-extraction" (or under), "channelling", etc no longer produce a "huh?" response.
    Last edited by Saracen999; 28-12-2020 at 11:45 PM. Reason: Typos
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    But .... cleaning. Keep a cloth near the machine. I mean, who doesn't with any espresso machine, if you don't want drips, splashes, coffee grinds, etc, everywhere. So, having frothed, wipe the steam wand Take about 5 seconds. Then, as you push it back down into standly mode, it auto-purges 5 or 6 bursts of steam through the want into the drip tray. You you give it that level of cleaning every use. There is then a cleaning regime for the machine itself, from (depending on use) a quick daily wife with a cloth, to a more inensive routine maintenance, including backflushing through the group head, cleaning crap out of the grinder and cleaning the burrs etc, descaling the watery bits and, yeah, taking the steam wand tip off and rinsing. But then, and grinder needs cleaning, and any B2C machine requires similar, and most, more because this machine uses the human to transer grinds in, and spnt coffee out, not a machanism. Want latte or cappuccino? There's going to be a frother involved somewhere, and it's going to need cleaning or .... bacteria, fats build-up, etc. It's unavoidable, IMHO, and part of what espresso machines involve.
    TBH the machine gets minimal cleaning. If I use the frother, then that needs cleaning straight after, but I seldom use that. Every two or three days the machine asks to have its drip tray and grinds bin emptied, so they get a rinse out and wipe. Maybe once a month I take out the core part of the machine to back flush it because you are supposed to, but it always looks pretty clean when I take it out so I guess the machine self rinse is pretty effective. One of the things I am very happy with is the lack of overall faff per coffee.

    The bin with the disks of spent compressed coffee are ideal conditions for growing mold, some care is needed there that they don't get left if you are going out for a few days. Not that anyone gets to go anywhere these days.

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999
    (depending on use) a quick daily wife
    I should be so lucky...

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Oops. Bit of a typo. WiPe, obv.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Nearly made up my mind back there, and committed.

    Nearly. Very nearly, actually.

    But I can't quite help but feel that either, I'm going to detect a sour taste in every cuppa, knowing what the damn machine cost, OR .... I'm going to end up really getting into the home barista mindset and wishing I'd gone fully manual. Argh.

    Anyone recommend a good .... psychiatrist?

    So, I decide, spherical objects to it, buy a Nespresso. But, there's a HUGE range of the damn things? Classic or Virtuo? And what's the difference? So, in finding out about them, I end up finding out about their Aero thingy, too. And, it kinda grates every time I see manufacturer videos describing them as "espresso", though to be fair, some presenters do say espresso style, which is fair enough. But, while they may (opinions vary) produce decent coffee, espresso they aren't.

    Then again, discussions above about V60, Aeropress, Clever Dripper, Chemex and many more are all capable of pretty good coffee, very good indeed, but they aren't espresso euther so if I'm to consider Nespresso again, I really need to question exactly what it is I'm trying to do? If it's just a good cup of coffee at home, then a half-decent but non-espresso grinder, and a good coffee filter machine, plus a Cemex/Clever, etc, will do it. And be a hell of a lot cheaper.

    But if I speifically want espresso, and espresso-based drinks be it my standard Americano, or a latte, cappuccino, or, hell, afrogatto for a change, then I'm back at B2C machines like the 2800's mentioned above .... of which the closest variant seems to be the 4200. But that De-Longhi Elette then starts calling, and is about £500, and will give a decent cappuccino, etc, at a couple of button presses. Somecleaning and maintenance, for sure, but so does anything.

    Trouble is, it's then close to the cost of a entry-level "okay" barista-class espresso machine and a modest espresso grinder.

    If nobody's going to, as previously requested, put me out of my misery, will somebody kindly shoot that damn groundhog instead, 'cos I'm getting very, very dizzy, going round and around like this.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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