Espresso Machine Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Drink, Smoke, and Fine Dining' started by John B Williams, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. John B Williams

    Apr 3, 2021
    Full Name:
    John B Williams
    Hello there..

    I do very much like espresso and coffee. Now I want to buy my first espresso machine. Could anyone recommend some best machines at the beginner level? I have read a lot of reviews on google but am still confused. Thanks for the suggestions so far. If anyone has any others, it would be appreciated as well.
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  3. flash32

    flash32 Formula 3

    Aug 22, 2008
    Central NJ
    Full Name:
    Best is hard to say

    First what is your budget ? How involved do you want to be in making coffee
    Do you want a fully automatic machine ( which are usually not the best cup of coffee but makes it easy to make cup)
    A balance would be semi automatic where you grind your own beans and then tamp them into a portafilter and make your espresso

    If you thinking anything under 200 dollars - get yourself a brand new "older version" of ( not new version) of the Nespresso. If your adjust the water dispensed and buying a quality pod ( e.g. Cafe barbone) you will have a decent cup ( better than most places in US make)

    If you want a cup like the one you get in a cafe in italy - you are going to need to go close to and over 1000

    There are some in between

    Read thru these websites

    I have/had all three levels .. and end up using the Jura fully automatic because it is easy and fast and less clean up
    John B Williams likes this.
  4. arizonaitalian

    arizonaitalian F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Oct 29, 2010
    suggest trying the search function in this section and in the silver section (although being on a ferrari chat site and your 1 and only post being about a coffee maker leads me to think you might not want to subscribe). Anyways, there have been some detailed discussions on this recently here and in silver.
  5. vjd3

    vjd3 Formula 3
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    Jun 3, 2005
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    If you really like espresso and buy an entry level machine, inevitably you will wind up upgrading. There are some very good machines available around the $2-3k price point ... this is the one I graduated to, think I paid $2400 or so.

    You also need freshly roasted beans and a decent grinder that you can make fine adjustments with, I use a $450 Baratza Vario grinder. You can spend a lot more, though.

    It's nice to have a dual boiler machine so you can pull shots and steam milk with no pressure worries. Take good care of it -- I have used nothing but bottled spring water (in the big dispensers) in mine since it was new in 2016 and have never had to descale it or had any issues whatsoever. I just backwash it occasionally.

    The thing to understand is it's an equation, you want to pull a double shot of espresso in about 30 seconds. The more variables you can remove from the equation, the easier it is to get consistent results. I weigh the beans before I grind them -- I use 19 grams of beans. Run them through the grinder, put them in the portafilter. The tamp is where you can be erratic, especially if you are new to it, so I use an Espro calibrated tamper -- it's like a torque wrench, you push down and it clicks, so you have the exact same tamp every time.

    Then I weigh the shot as it comes out with a scale (I use an Acaia Lunar scale which times the shot at the same time), shooting for twice the weight of the beans in 30 seconds. 19 grams of beans, 38 grams of espresso.

    If it takes longer, make the grind slightly less fine. If it comes out too quickly, make the grind a little finer till you dial it in. Once I got the weights and the tamp consistent it became easy to "dial in" for each new variety of beans, and adjust as the beans got a little older. You can also experiment with a longer extraction, or shorter one, or adjust the temperature on the machine if you want to get really detailed with it. But once you get the hang of it it's easy to get consistent shots.

    It's expensive to get the good equipment -- I would like a La Mazorcco machine someday but they start around $7k -- but if you multiply the cost of a couple espressos a day at your local coffee place, it pays for itself pretty quickly. And you can have some fun experimenting with different beans. La Mazorcco does have a subscription service where they send you 2 bags of beans per month for $40, every month it's a different roaster, mostly in the US but some from overseas, and they give you their recommendation on how to extract it -- weight, temperature, pressure, etc.
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  6. Pis7a2020

    Pis7a2020 Formula Junior

    Dec 17, 2019
    Depends on your price range. I’ve had a La Spaziale for 3-4 years and it’s pretty good.

    My dream machine is a La Marzocco.

    Having said that, you can get a really good Nespresso, which is turn key, for relatively cheap and they make great coffee.

    The bigger machines are more complex and allow you to really tweak the espresso as you would like by having a certain amount of extraction from the grounds. This will require a good grinder and some training to dial in.

    So the answer is, it depends. Depends on what you are trying to do with the machine. For some, espresso is like a hobby. If you just enjoy coffee, I would say go with the nespresso.

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  8. ttforcefed

    ttforcefed F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Aug 22, 2002
  9. flash32

    flash32 Formula 3

    Aug 22, 2008
    Central NJ
    Full Name:
    Kinda what I said above .. at least two of us thing the same

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  10. Jo Sta7

    Jo Sta7 F1 Rookie
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    Oct 13, 2015
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    Bump, I’ve had a condo at Faena for the last 3 months (rental) and it came with a Nespresso and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the espressos and coffee in general.
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  11. flash32

    flash32 Formula 3

    Aug 22, 2008
    Central NJ
    Full Name:
    3 votes so far ..:)

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  13. Pis7a2020

    Pis7a2020 Formula Junior

    Dec 17, 2019
    It’s good stuff. I will never complain about a nespresso.

    However, it is an experience to grind your beans and pull a good shot. Also, to make a beautiful cappuccino with perfect micro foam that has been nicely integrated.

    Here is my humble setup.

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  14. Alcav5

    Alcav5 F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Silver Subscribed

    Jul 28, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    Full Name:
    I have a few machines at home and in the office.

    For ease and size I like Nespresso , have one in the office and one at home, can't go wrong imo, you just become hooked into their pod gimmick-try , but the coffees are varied and all very good.

    For fresh beans (which I found is cost effective over the pods) I like super automatics , as I'm too lazy to perform the steps my self .

    For high volume , I like our Jura giga W3 in the office. Consistent crema , many options and choices, great temperature, quick turn around, no mess.

    I thought for sure Jura's new model WE8 would work similar at home , unfortunately I'm disappointed . Lacking crema , I can't get it strong , limited adjustments, milk froth is cold , doesn't get warm.

    Good luck , let us know what you decide.
    flash32 likes this.
  15. George Vosburgh

    George Vosburgh F1 Rookie

    May 26, 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I had a completely manual Pavoni for about 12 years. Great machine but not very consistent unless you were really paying attention. Now I have a Breville semi-automatic and I love it. I've also started using LaVazza extra crema beans which seems to work well with this machine.
  16. ssgharkness020147

    ssgharkness020147 Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Jun 12, 2006
    I guess I’m slumming it with a Gaggia. Wow. You can spend quite a mint on espresso makers, I’ve never really thought much about espresso machines. I just want an easy cup of go juice when I wake up.
  17. Frank_C

    Frank_C Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2004
    El Campo, Texas
    Full Name:
    Frank Cavallo
    #14 Frank_C, Apr 5, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
    It's all about the grind(er). You need to spend good money there to be able to have total control of your coffee.

    I kick it old school- I have two La Pavoni's, currently using a pre millenial with the smaller group head. Using a lever can be tricky, the same time fun as you
    have total control over your coffee. I pull a double every morning, which can be long or short depending upon my mood. I've got my grind down so that I can control the shot through volume and tamping. Again, tricky at first but you have total control.

    I don't have a pic of the pre, this is the newer millenial and the grinder. (I modded both by adding a pressure gauge). I prefer the pre millenial one, makes a better double.

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  18. Jdubbya

    Jdubbya Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Dec 28, 2003
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  19. TexasF355F1

    TexasF355F1 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Feb 2, 2004
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    Here's a girl I found randomly last week. Her voice is so soothing for some reason. She's a barista and reviews different kinds of makers, coffees, etc.

  20. vandevanterSH

    vandevanterSH Formula Junior

    Jan 27, 2005
    Full Name:
    Stephen Van Devanter
    After price range, IMO, the next decision is how involved you want to be in the process. Years ago, I went through the "process" stage with grinder, scales, Pavoni, etc.....a year a go I decided to go full automatic with a Jura S8...couldn't be happier with ease of use, including cleaning. Swiss made and reputation for excellent customer service.
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  21. jdlegg

    jdlegg Karting

    Dec 22, 2009
    Full Name:
    James Legg
    +1 on the Breville. Very economical choice and provides good consistency. Requires a little work but clean-up is easy.
  22. Jdubbya

    Jdubbya Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Dec 28, 2003
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    It can take a little fiddling with grind and dose to get it pumping just right, but once dialed in it's really solid. I've said it before, I had a superauto before and while it made great coffee it made mediocre espresso. This thing makes great espresso. As good as a $5k+ machine? Dunno but I'd be willing to bet it would stand right up there.
    jdlegg likes this.
  23. AdWassi

    AdWassi Karting

    Jul 3, 2019
    Full Name:
    Love my Breville! I may not be a connoisseur but breville made me realize coffee shop coffee is terrible
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  24. RoseRed

    RoseRed Rookie

    Jan 29, 2021
    Full Name:
    Rose Flesher
    Sounds like you want a good starter machine. Maybe my suggestions can help point you in the right direction and make it a consistently fun and enjoyable experience. My qualifications for creating this response are
    -Former (non-chain) coffee shop barista in college
    -Italian espresso academy intermediate level standard training
    -Owner of an espresso machine
    -Personal barista to the very hot owner of a 488 (my husband) every day for the last 7 years
    Despite all my experience, I can say you don’t need an incredibly expensive machine to start with made in Italy crafted from the finest carbon fiber (though wouldn’t that be kickass?!). Most people, in my experience, who start with a complicated, expensive machine end up frustrated with their investment. Start with a good, solid, (relatively) inexpensive machine that doesn’t require too much maintenance, a plumbed water line, or a separate grinder. Simple...sort of.
    For the money, the best starter machine is a Breville analog espresso maker. (The pricier digital touch screen version of the same machine takes away from the art of pulling shots, IMO).
    But purchasing the machine is the beginning. This machine comes with a frothing pitcher, portafilter, hopper and grinder.
    You will need additional supplies.
    -espresso beans (So many choices on the market. Buy a couple or three bags of whole espresso beans to sample variety)
    -milk (whole is standard, but heavy. 2% is fine. Hubs likes Lactaid 2%, and it froths like whole milk)
    -syrups (Ghiradelli chocolate/caramel, Torani)
    -cocktail mixing spoon
    -bar towels
    -shot glasses

    For the best experience, you can also learn the art of how to pull shots. (You can really geek out over all the variables here.) So, I suggest watching some YouTube videos on how to froth milk, grind espresso beans, pack a portafilter, and pull shots depending upon your taste. Then practice! It can be so much fun working all the variables (even down to the humidity effecting the grind which effects the time for the shot pull) that go into a simple latte. And remember, “it’s just coffee”.
    Keep the machine clean (I.e, purging the steam wand after each use). This dramatically extends the life of your machine.
    Best of luck to you!!

    Owner of an espresso machine
    Jdubbya likes this.
  25. lojs

    lojs Rookie

    Mar 12, 2010
  26. Andrew McLaren

    Aug 21, 2020
    Full Name:
    Abdrew McLaren
    Another vote for the Pavoni, but you have to love the process. Add a manual grinder for the full romance of making coffee!
  27. Cars_n_Guitars

    Mar 28, 2021
    Full Name:
    If your committed the. I suggest
    La Marzocco GS/3 1 Group Mechanical Paddle. Don’t get caught up in a great machine, spend the money on the grinder. You can make a great espresso with an average machine & great grinder. You will never make a great espresso with a cheap grinder and great machine. Check out coffee geeks also. Only grind what you will drink as ground beans start going bad in 20-30 minutes. My 2cts
    alex likes this.
  28. timwu12

    timwu12 Formula Junior

    Oct 31, 2014
    Houston, TX
    I've had a number of machine through the years from automatics like a Jura or Nespresso to manual pulls like a La Pavoni and now have a La Marzocco Linea Mini. I love the look of my LM on my counter and was waiting in line for one when the Linea Mini came out.

    However, despite all the money you put into a machine, if you want a great cup, invest in a grinder and not one of those cylindrical spice grinders. You need one with grind size adjustability for you to experiment on as each bean, or even the temperature and humidity changes in the house, will requires recalibration of the grind size for perfect extraction. It's also super important to have a scale to weigh out your grinds and your espresso output during an extraction. Some grinders have preset outputs but they're never accurate.

    There's a ton of stuff to nerd out on in order to pull that perfect shot but when you do, the taste and satisfaction is second to none!

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