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View Full Version : I Need An Espresso Education


Jenady
12-09-2010, 05:02 PM
To start, I am not a coffee drinker. Over the years I have tried to drink coffee in many forms but just could not develop a taste for it. Then I had an espresso after dinner at a good restaurant. I really enjoyed it. It makes no sense to me either.

Now I am interested in being able to make a small dose of espresso at home. I do not want to go overboard with a big fancy machine. I do want a modest setup that will make small batches of passable espresso.

My biggest problem is total ignorance of what it takes. I spent quite a bit of time searching the subject. I quickly became more confused than I started out.

Is there anything I can do on a small, say $100, budget?

I appreciate any advice.

AlohaStyle
12-09-2010, 05:12 PM
If you just want good espresso and don't want to spend money on a good automatic machine... look at the link. If you want to froth milk to make a cappuccino etc, this pot will not do that for you.
http://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-Express-Espresso-Maker-06799/dp/B000HVC9JW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1291936061&sr=8-2


I haven't used this company before, but they show good prices and have a lot of info:
http://www.espressozone.com/bialetti-moka-express-stovetop-espresso-makers-7857.aspx


You won't find a decent automatic machine for $100 unless you get very lucky. And I mean lucky... knowing someone and buying their used one, taking a chance on Craigslist etc. You won't find a new one for that price.

floydpink
12-09-2010, 05:14 PM
To start, I am not a coffee drinker. Over the years I have tried to drink coffee in many forms but just could not develop a taste for it. Then I had an espresso after dinner at a good restaurant. I really enjoyed it. It makes no sense to me either.

Now I am interested in being able to make a small dose of espresso at home. I do not want to go overboard with a big fancy machine. I do want a modest setup that will make small batches of passable espresso.

My biggest problem is total ignorance of what it takes. I spent quite a bit of time searching the subject. I quickly became more confused than I started out.

Is there anything I can do on a small, say $100, budget?

I appreciate any advice.

sadly, no.

A good grinder is an absolute requirement and unfortunately your budget puts you 1/3 of the way there at bare minimum.

The Bialetti would work great and fit well within your budget, but you'd be buying preground coffee.

Fresh ground coffee is the basis of a great espresso shot and the starting point for a machine up to the task of grinding for espresso, in many people's opinion is the Rancillio Rocky. I agree.

AlohaStyle
12-09-2010, 05:24 PM
sadly, no.

A good grinder is an absolute requirement and unfortunately your budget puts you 1/3 of the way there at bare minimum.

The Bialetti would work great and fit well within your budget, but you'd be buying preground coffee.

Fresh ground coffee is the basis of a great espresso shot and the starting point for a machine up to the task of grinding for espresso, in many people's opinion is the Rancillio Rocky. I agree.

I agree you need to use fresh ground espresso. Why do you say he'd be buying pre-ground espresso using the Bialetti? He can buy the Bialetti and a basic, but decent grinder under his budget price.

CigarNut
12-09-2010, 06:41 PM
I purchased a Nespresso machine; they use capsules and make perfect espresso every time. This is the unit I have:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519LQv3KiEL._SS420_.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/Nespresso-D120-US-BK-NE-Automatic-Single-Serve-Limousine/dp/B002NGNHBS/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1291941418&sr=8-7

You can find them on sale -- I paid about $170 for this unit on sale from Amazon a few months ago.

You order the capsules from Nespresso; they have a large variety and they run about $0.55 each in boxes of 10. They arrive in a couple of days.

Before this I had a grinder and a Barista machine which I loved. When it was time to replace the machine I opted for convenience and I have no regrets.

floydpink
12-09-2010, 07:53 PM
I agree you need to use fresh ground espresso. Why do you say he'd be buying pre-ground espresso using the Bialetti? He can buy the Bialetti and a basic, but decent grinder under his budget price.

Probably could get a grind to work in the Bialetti from a decent burr grinder.

I got off track thinking he was looking to make espresso from a machine, thus my comment that at his budget, he would be buying preground coffee. (pods for example)

I haven't spent a lot of time with Moka pots but believe you need to have a consistent grind in the espresso range for it to produce "crema" and don't know of any grinders in the 50-60 dollar range that do this. Are there?

Jenady
12-10-2010, 11:49 AM
Thanks to all of you who are helping me out.

Is the Bialetti better than the super cheap machines like this Mr. Coffee?

http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Coffee-ECM160-Espresso-Machine/dp/B000U6BSI2/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1292003158&sr=8-4

I came across this grinder which has very good reviews on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Capresso-560-01-Infinity-Grinder-Black/dp/B0000AR7SY/ref=sr_1_sc_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1292000267&sr=1-3-spell

Any chance it would be OK?

Thanks guys.

Blueface
12-10-2010, 12:45 PM
Thanks to all of you who are helping me out.

Is the Bialetti better than the super cheap machines like this Mr. Coffee?

http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Coffee-ECM160-Espresso-Machine/dp/B000U6BSI2/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1292003158&sr=8-4

Any chance it would be OK?

Thanks guys.

In 30 years, I have been through countless of these espresso machines in this price range and up to $100 or so or a bit more.
They will work.
For a while.
HOWEVER, please understand the following:
For over 30 years the wife and I wondered what it would take to get that same taste we loved so much from Cuban coffee shops in Miami.
Our home system could never replicate that.
As long as you go in knowing this, that your coffee can and will be significantly better when you graduate from these (stupid me, took me 30 years), go for it, as they will work.

Mister Moo
12-10-2010, 02:30 PM
I think a well-strummed Bialetti 1-3 cupper for $12-$20 makes a way sweeter sound than any hundred dollar (not-hardly)espresso machine. It's all about the grind. The one you linked to, Jenady, will suit a Bialetti Express just fine.

Bialetti Espress rocks... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-ISSFtxI6U

Jenady
12-10-2010, 03:57 PM
I think a well-strummed Bialetti 1-3 cupper for $12-$20 makes a way sweeter sound than any hundred dollar (not-hardly)espresso machine. It's all about the grind. The one you linked to, Jenady, will suit a Bialetti Express just fine.

Bialetti Espress rocks... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-ISSFtxI6U

Thanks for the link. I watched a bunch of videos.

I have a 3 cup Bialetti Express and the grinder in my shopping cart.

Now I have one more big question. Which beans to buy?

BloodSpite
12-10-2010, 03:58 PM
To start, I am not a coffee drinker. Over the years I have tried to drink coffee in many forms but just could not develop a taste for it. Then I had an espresso after dinner at a good restaurant. I really enjoyed it. It makes no sense to me either.

Now I am interested in being able to make a small dose of espresso at home. I do not want to go overboard with a big fancy machine. I do want a modest setup that will make small batches of passable espresso.

My biggest problem is total ignorance of what it takes. I spent quite a bit of time searching the subject. I quickly became more confused than I started out.

Is there anything I can do on a small, say $100, budget?

I appreciate any advice.

Dead last option? By a Mr Coffee Espresso maker from Wal Mart use one of their in store grinders for the expresso grind and give it a shot

Mister Moo
12-10-2010, 07:11 PM
Thanks for the link. I watched a bunch of videos.

I have a 3 cup Bialetti Express and the grinder in my shopping cart.

Now I have one more big question. Which beans to buy?Fresh roast, period. Nothing else will quite make the crema + aroma + flavor that makes it all worthwhile. Unless you are a caffeine-resistant android like Germantownrob then a 3-cup pot is larger than you think once you start grinding beans and drinking coffee, by the way.

Learning mokapot technique takes some practice but once you get it down the effort is worth it. :tu

Espresso, by the way, is produced with a machine that generates a min. 9-bar pressure; the mokapot doesn't do that.

ashtonlady
12-10-2010, 08:49 PM
Uncle Beanz of course. :) Accually look for a local roaster, they can help you find out what you like.

mosesbotbol
12-21-2010, 07:05 AM
If you are not a coffee drinker, it's closer to 1K than $100 to make something you'd like. If you were a coffee drinker, a stove top espresso machine ($20-150) makes something nice and somewhere inbetween coffee and espresso.

I have a friend who can't stand coffee, but loves espresso (not latte's either), so he ended with the Rocky/Silva set up.

Jenady
12-22-2010, 01:46 PM
Fresh roast, period. Nothing else will quite make the crema + aroma + flavor that makes it all worthwhile. Unless you are a caffeine-resistant android like Germantownrob then a 3-cup pot is larger than you think once you start grinding beans and drinking coffee, by the way.

Learning mokapot technique takes some practice but once you get it down the effort is worth it. :tu

Espresso, by the way, is produced with a machine that generates a min. 9-bar pressure; the mokapot doesn't do that.

I took your advice in a couple of ways.

I bought a bag of cheap Dark Italian beans to practice with. My first batch was an absolutely evil brew and the pot spurted out the side and the top. It was a complete failure.

Next I filled the basket with grounds just to the top with no tamping and made sure everything was tight. This brewed OK but it still sort of erupted out of the post in the center. It was drinkable but very weak.

Next I set the Capresso grinder a bit finer and gently compressed the grounds in the basket but did not dome it up. This batch was better but I was still not satisfied.

So, I went back to your original post on the art of using the Bialetti pot. I followed your advice exactly. I got the ooze and the "crema". It took just about 45 seconds to brew. This batch was excellent using cheap beans.

At this point I am thanking you over and over for the advice and wondering what is so wrong with my Capresso grinder. That was until I tried to grind some of my UncleBeanz. The damned thing was totally jammed up. I mean the top would not go back on the base.

I took it as far apart as you can without drilling out the factory plastic welds that hold the body together. I cleaned it out and put it back together. It still does not go back together.

That is when I remembered another piece of your advice, "One for life and essentially uncrappable. Granted, the budget is somewhat screwed but still uncrappable:

Rocky (Rancilio) Grinder".

At this point I am under the influence of four cups of "espresso" and I decide to cut my losses since I am already totally hooked on the new brew. Damn the budget, I just ordered a Rocky. Can a Silvia be far behind?

Now I am impatiently waiting. :D

Blueface
12-22-2010, 02:00 PM
Rocky (Rancilio) Grinder".

At this point I am under the influence of four cups of "espresso" and I decide to cut my losses since I am already totally hooked on the new brew. Damn the budget, I just ordered a Rocky. Can a Silvia be far behind?

Now I am impatiently waiting. :D
:r

Glad I am not alone biting the bullet here and going over the hill for a long slide.
Congrats.

floydpink
12-22-2010, 06:42 PM
If you are not a coffee drinker, it's closer to 1K than $100 to make something you'd like. If you were a coffee drinker, a stove top espresso machine ($20-150) makes something nice and somewhere inbetween coffee and espresso.

I have a friend who can't stand coffee, but loves espresso (not latte's either), so he ended with the Rocky/Silva set up.

That's me; can't stand coffee, but love espresso. I also love my milk drinks though.

Damn hobby has cost me a ton of dough.

Blueface
12-22-2010, 06:54 PM
That's me; can't stand coffee, but love espresso. I also love my milk drinks though.

Damn hobby has cost me a ton of dough.

Same with wife.
Hates any type of coffee other than espresso.

floydpink
12-22-2010, 07:14 PM
I tried everything from stovetop espresso machines, to french press, to Bodum, and couldn't get a cup to taste the way I liked it, and found the frustration level high.

I don't advocate blowing thousands of dollars for a prosumer setup, but went that route myself and feel that I'm done buying equipment for life and have nothing but great espresso to look forward to until I go.

I dedicate my tax return for a major splurge every year and after my wife got the kitchen remodeled, it was my turn.

wound up with this....
http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc266/rastapete69/brasilia.jpg

doing this..
http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc266/rastapete69/bottomless.jpg

resisted the grinder upgrade until it became inevitable to get rid of the Gaggia and paired it up with the Macap.
http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc266/rastapete69/DSC01157.jpg

floydpink
12-22-2010, 07:18 PM
The little Krups has been serving honorably for a few years and does a fine job for my wife who is a complete opposite and prefers drip.

Mister Moo
12-22-2010, 07:22 PM
Pinkie sets an excellent example, Jens.

Still, if you want to make a move, start with the best possible grinder and worry about an espresso machine down the road. There is a lot of fun to be had with a great grinder and mokapots, vacpots, presses and cezves.

MarkinCA
12-22-2010, 08:58 PM
I tried everything from stovetop espresso machines, to french press, to Bodum, and couldn't get a cup to taste the way I liked it, and found the frustration level high.

I don't advocate blowing thousands of dollars for a prosumer setup, but went that route myself and feel that I'm done buying equipment for life and have nothing but great espresso to look forward to until I go.

I dedicate my tax return for a major splurge every year and after my wife got the kitchen remodeled, it was my turn.

wound up with this....
http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc266/rastapete69/brasilia.jpg



:D...Hey Pete, would I need an Engineering Degree to operate this puppy? Just wondering...

floydpink
12-23-2010, 07:30 AM
:D...Hey Pete, would I need an Engineering Degree to operate this puppy? Just wondering...


Not really Mark. My 5 year old actually does everything but tamps and froths the milk.

Looks a lot more intimidating than it is and requires much less tinkering than most machines.

Now keeping it shiny is another story.....