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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 DanceswithUnix View Post
    Wow, good effort!

    I have to keep the beans quite mild around here, I got complaints at the recent strong ones.
    That reminds me of a tactic I adopted at Uni, seeing as I was one of the few to show up with a decent filter coffee machine. Soon, I acquired several friends. Good. Then I acquired loads more, who always seemed to be thirsty.

    Hmmm.

    So I had a chat with my friendly, local bean supplier and he provided me with some "special" beans he assured me would resolve the freeloader problem. They had an .... ummm .... unique flavour.

    Turns out I wasn't quite as popular (except among those I had chosen to warn) as it had seemed. But it resolved the issue. Except, one individual seemed to have a cast-iron gizzard. Eventually, I treated him to a double-strength dose of my "special" beans. His gizzard might have been cast-iron but apparently his bowels weren't. They also weren't flame-proof. He developed a taste for tea after that. And we all avoided that loo for about a week.
    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?

    Did you get your machine fixed/replaced @Saracen999 ?
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
    Did you get your machine fixed/replaced @Saracen999 ?
    Sorry, Neon. I missed this. Assuming that's the Nespresso, yeah. They collected mine and it came back fixed about 10 days later. Sort-of. It works, but is noisier than it was. Still working several months later, though I have .... ummmm .... upgraded somewhat.
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Haha, what do you have again now, I do think I remember reading about it not so long ago?

    I have a Gaggia Magenta in the kitchen. I really like it and I've got quite good with the steam wand.

    However, I need a coffee machine (that takes fresh beans ) for the cabin in the garden. Budget is only about £300 ish. Needs to be relatively easy to use for my wife.

    Would mostly be used for lattes. Any recommendations folks?
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
    Haha, what do you have again now, I do think I remember reading about it not so long ago? ...
    Pretty sure I haven't mentioned getting it before, and it's pretty recent. So much so that part is yet to arrive. I did say I was thinking about the Sage (Breville outside UK and/or some of Europe) Oracle Touch, but in the end I went for the standard Oracle (i.e. no touch-screen controls) and a Niche Zero grinder (the bit I'm waiting on). Yes, for those that know the machine, the Oracle has a grinder built in, but the Niche is distictly and upgrade on that, and is for V60, Clever Dripper and Aeropress too.
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    That is a nice machine. I nearly got one in an offer for around £600, but couldn't justify it haha. How do you find it overall? Have you tried the built in grinder to compare?
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Any other good suggestions for beans? We use the Aldi ones or occasionaly the ASDA own brand, they're ok but I ordered a bag from 'somewhere' online years ago and I still think about them fondly!

    I've tried the Red Brick beans and they're better but not so much that I'd pay the extra, square mile any good? They seem very expensive but I guess James Hoffman has to support his hair gel addiction

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    Any other good suggestions for beans? We use the Aldi ones or occasionaly the ASDA own brand, they're ok but I ordered a bag from 'somewhere' online years ago and I still think about them fondly!

    I've tried the Red Brick beans and they're better but not so much that I'd pay the extra, square mile any good? They seem very expensive but I guess James Hoffman has to support his hair gel addiction
    I'm currently drinking this and love it: https://unionroasted.com/collections...cion-guatemala
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
    I'm currently drinking this and love it: https://unionroasted.com/collections...cion-guatemala
    I've ordered a bag and a couple of light roasts too, will see how they taste!

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
    That is a nice machine. I nearly got one in an offer for around £600, but couldn't justify it haha. How do you find it overall? Have you tried the built in grinder to compare?
    It's arriving today.

    If you saw one at £600, you missed out by not grabbing it. These are usually around £1700-£1800, and even with a Black Friday deal and a manufacturer rebate, it's north of £1300. Currently (two mins ago) they're £1399. I got it in black, not stainless steel which often (but not alwyas) adds £100 or so, for some reason. The silvery one is often discounted but not the black one for some reason. That's strange, 'cos I'm pretty sure the case colour doesn't affect the taste of the coffee.

    My guess on your £600 model is either it wasn't the Oracle, or it was very much second hand, and a bit ropey second hand at that. There is quite a range of Sage machines that are all styled similarly. The really small ones stand out, like the Bambino or Dual Temp, but when you get to the Barista, Barista Express, Barista Pro, Dual Boiler etc, they all look similar .... in photos. The Oracle is the big borther, both physically and in feature set, to all those. There are two variants (colour aside) - Oracle, and Oracle Touch. The latter includes control via a touch screen and the former uses buttons, dials and a lever. I was going for the Touch initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt I wanted simple buttons, not menu options.

    The main difference between the Oracle machines and the lowerones is the degree of automation. For example, both auto-tamping, and auto-milk frothing. You can use manual control, but don't have to. So, for example, I can use the Niche to grind, select my bean type, manually tamp and use the Oracle to brew then manually froth milk. The wife, or guests, can use the built-in grinder, auto-tamp, brew, auto-milk froth, pour in the milk and they're done.

    In other words, the extra grinder is about increasing versatility, and different users.

    No, I haven't tried the built-in grinder directly, but it is supposed to be an integrated version of the standalone Smart Grinder Pro, and that I have tried and it is .... okay. It is certainly good enough to get a nice cup (assuming decent beans).

    But my experience is that grinders follow the same principles as most items of technology, which is :-

    - in general, spend more = get better quality, but
    - law of diminishing marginal returns applies.

    Somewhere, and it depends on both your level of pickiness over results and your budget, there is a 'sweet spot'. For me, that's around the £500 mark, give or take. There were several reasons for the Niche. One is a like the look of it. More important is grind quality. It is MUCH more amenable to fine degrees of adjustment, in other words, stepless not stepped.

    Another major point is retention. I distinctly want to be able to switch from one bean to another quickly, andwant from espresso to pourover, dripper, even French press, according to both what I fancy, and how many people I'm making coffee for and what they want.

    So, retention. First, the principle that getting the best out of beans means grinding them carefully for the bean itself, and the brewing method intended. You'll grind a fair bit finer for espresso than, say, French press. So, when you grind, how much of what you grind gets caught up it the grinder? Because, next time you grind, you'll get that at the start of your grind. R?etention on the Niche is around 0.1g or 0.2g. It is apparently several grams on the built-in grinder. That's not that much of a problem if you're grinding b=oth frequently, and using the same beans, for the same brewing method. But, if you're having espresso (or espresso-based) drinks first thing, but then a pourover or dripper next, you really need either multiple grinders, or one that can be adjusted quicly and easily, can be set back to where it was accurately and consistently, and has very low or zero retention. Hence the "Zero" in Niche Zero.

    The Niche has really started something in the grinder world. It is designed, ground up, as a "single dose" grinder, i.e. you put in a measured quantity of beans as there is no bean hopper, and get out almost exactly what you put in. Zero retention. In reality, it's not quite zero, but very close to it.

    Oh, and by the way, next? A PuqPress standalone auto-tamper.
    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 Rob_B View Post
    Any other good suggestions for beans? We use the Aldi ones or occasionaly the ASDA own brand, they're ok but I ordered a bag from 'somewhere' online years ago and I still think about them fondly!

    I've tried the Red Brick beans and they're better but not so much that I'd pay the extra, square mile any good? They seem very expensive but I guess James Hoffman has to support his hair gel addiction
    I can tell you the conventional perceived wisdom among coffee enthusiasts .... never, ever, EVER buy a supermarket coffee that doesn't have a "roasted on" date. Note, NOT "sell by" or "use by", but the date it was roasted. And you'll do well to find coffee with a roasted on date in a supermarket. You might get lucky with Union, but ....

    Coffee loses it's flavour pretty quickly once roasted. Even more quickly omce ground. Most coffees are best left to "rest" for a few days after roasting, say, 3 or 4, up to about 7. Then used within a few weeks, maybe a month, month and a half. After that ....

    That is why lots of those "specialty" coffee places, usually online, roast to demand (more or less). Some take orders until late morning, roast for those orders and ship late afternoon. You should get it next day, maybe day after. Hence the importance of the "roasted on" date.

    That may well be what accounts for those fond memories .... using beans that weren't half stale before you even got them.

    And yeah, it isn't cheap, and it isn't convenient. So it depends if you're prepared to jump through the required hoops, and pay the price, for good quality beans. Most people aren't. And fair enough - it's their taste buds.
    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 Rob_B View Post
    Any other good suggestions for beans? We use the Aldi ones or occasionaly the ASDA own brand, they're ok but I ordered a bag from 'somewhere' online years ago and I still think about them fondly!

    I've tried the Red Brick beans and they're better but not so much that I'd pay the extra, square mile any good? They seem very expensive but I guess James Hoffman has to support his hair gel addiction
    Ridiculous though it may sound, Tesco's own Italian Blend beans are pretty nice. Stupidly cheap too at just £4-30 for 500g !! Wife loves it.

    Me ? Im on decaf now, and cant find any reasonably priced decaf beans So Im using Machu Pichu ground decaf, which is tolerable. Cafetieres all round here.
    Cheers, David



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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    Any other good suggestions for beans? We use the Aldi ones or occasionaly the ASDA own brand, they're ok but I ordered a bag from 'somewhere' online years ago and I still think about them fondly!

    I've tried the Red Brick beans and they're better but not so much that I'd pay the extra, square mile any good? They seem very expensive but I guess James Hoffman has to support his hair gel addiction
    Go to your local independent and try lots of different ones until you find ones you like

    Failing that, tomorrow, buy discounted coffee advent calendars that have a range of beans and roasts.

    You should be able to roughly narrow down your preferred roast level. For me, that's light, which is unusual. I also don't mind very smooth medium, but I prefer light. Supermarket/Taylors light however usually doesn't do it for me. Starbucks blonde is almost OK as a cheap fall back when on offer, Waitrose no.1 beans are pretty good though. Best of all sadly are beans my indie gets in and that are roasted just up the road. Only difficulty is stock!

    If you prefer dark or med-dark then I think you'll have more luck as there's more choice and/or it seems easier for big brands to get right. Italian style is unbelievably cheap and it seems most places get it right (I guess because it'll end up in a latte being smothered by milk so needs robusta to cut through) - M&S are my favourite for this style if I go for that.

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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    It's arriving today.

    If you saw one at £600, you missed out by not grabbing it. These are usually around £1700-£1800, and even with a Black Friday deal and a manufacturer rebate, it's north of £1300. Currently (two mins ago) they're £1399. I got it in black, not stainless steel which often (but not alwyas) adds £100 or so, for some reason. The silvery one is often discounted but not the black one for some reason. That's strange, 'cos I'm pretty sure the case colour doesn't affect the taste of the coffee.

    My guess on your £600 model is either it wasn't the Oracle, or it was very much second hand, and a bit ropey second hand at that. There is quite a range of Sage machines that are all styled similarly. The really small ones stand out, like the Bambino or Dual Temp, but when you get to the Barista, Barista Express, Barista Pro, Dual Boiler etc, they all look similar .... in photos. The Oracle is the big borther, both physically and in feature set, to all those. There are two variants (colour aside) - Oracle, and Oracle Touch. The latter includes control via a touch screen and the former uses buttons, dials and a lever. I was going for the Touch initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt I wanted simple buttons, not menu options.

    The main difference between the Oracle machines and the lowerones is the degree of automation. For example, both auto-tamping, and auto-milk frothing. You can use manual control, but don't have to. So, for example, I can use the Niche to grind, select my bean type, manually tamp and use the Oracle to brew then manually froth milk. The wife, or guests, can use the built-in grinder, auto-tamp, brew, auto-milk froth, pour in the milk and they're done.

    In other words, the extra grinder is about increasing versatility, and different users.

    No, I haven't tried the built-in grinder directly, but it is supposed to be an integrated version of the standalone Smart Grinder Pro, and that I have tried and it is .... okay. It is certainly good enough to get a nice cup (assuming decent beans).

    But my experience is that grinders follow the same principles as most items of technology, which is :-

    - in general, spend more = get better quality, but
    - law of diminishing marginal returns applies.

    Somewhere, and it depends on both your level of pickiness over results and your budget, there is a 'sweet spot'. For me, that's around the £500 mark, give or take. There were several reasons for the Niche. One is a like the look of it. More important is grind quality. It is MUCH more amenable to fine degrees of adjustment, in other words, stepless not stepped.

    Another major point is retention. I distinctly want to be able to switch from one bean to another quickly, andwant from espresso to pourover, dripper, even French press, according to both what I fancy, and how many people I'm making coffee for and what they want.

    So, retention. First, the principle that getting the best out of beans means grinding them carefully for the bean itself, and the brewing method intended. You'll grind a fair bit finer for espresso than, say, French press. So, when you grind, how much of what you grind gets caught up it the grinder? Because, next time you grind, you'll get that at the start of your grind. R?etention on the Niche is around 0.1g or 0.2g. It is apparently several grams on the built-in grinder. That's not that much of a problem if you're grinding b=oth frequently, and using the same beans, for the same brewing method. But, if you're having espresso (or espresso-based) drinks first thing, but then a pourover or dripper next, you really need either multiple grinders, or one that can be adjusted quicly and easily, can be set back to where it was accurately and consistently, and has very low or zero retention. Hence the "Zero" in Niche Zero.

    The Niche has really started something in the grinder world. It is designed, ground up, as a "single dose" grinder, i.e. you put in a measured quantity of beans as there is no bean hopper, and get out almost exactly what you put in. Zero retention. In reality, it's not quite zero, but very close to it.

    Oh, and by the way, next? A PuqPress standalone auto-tamper.
    You're right. I mixed up the models. It was the Barista Touch! You will have to give us a review of the machine. I would love one of those but I think my wife would leave me. She doesn't drink any hots drinks, so no common goals there...

    Maybe in a few years i can post back having needed an 'upgrade'....
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  18. #143
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Out of interest, which beans?

    The house favourite is the Sainsburys blend, strength 3. It's pretty cheap, I think a 250g bag is £2.30, and as it isn't just me drinking the stuff I don't try other beans that often.
    Bit of a delayed response sorry. Mostly Rave and Redber these days, works out as £20-25 a kg typically with shipping. I'm not a fan of supermarket beans as they're pretty much all over roasted. I like a medium roast south american bean.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    Pretty sure I haven't mentioned getting it before, and it's pretty recent. So much so that part is yet to arrive. I did say I was thinking about the Sage (Breville outside UK and/or some of Europe) Oracle Touch, but in the end I went for the standard Oracle (i.e. no touch-screen controls) and a Niche Zero grinder (the bit I'm waiting on). Yes, for those that know the machine, the Oracle has a grinder built in, but the Niche is distictly and upgrade on that, and is for V60, Clever Dripper and Aeropress too.
    I have a Niche Zero. It's amazing. 10/10 would buy again.

  19. Received thanks from:

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  20. #144
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    Re: Coffee machine for an occasional user?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    I've ordered a bag and a couple of light roasts too, will see how they taste!

    How did you get on with these Rob? Are they to your liking? it's always hard to recommend coffee as it is so personal!
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