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Krups, Gaggia and others - home espresso machines


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does anyone own or had any Krups espresso machines ? The one I am looking at is a XP4050. I looked it up on Coffeegeek.com and the 2 reviews were split. So can anyone help ? What also would a comparable machine to this one ? Thanks

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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I have had a Krups machine some six years. Use it two days a week. Its makes decent expresso -- the steamer died a year ago. Not bad for a machine that costs under $200.00.

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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I was quite happy with a Krups Novo3000 for about 3 years... I don't recall why I retired it, actually. Probably that I just got a great deal on the Gaggia I'm still using now 5 years later. The Krups is still sitting down in the basement waiting for another place needing an espresso machine.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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does anyone own or had any Krups espresso machines ?  The one I am looking at is a XP4050.  I looked it up on Coffeegeek.com and the 2 reviews were split.  So can anyone help ?  What also would a comparable machine to this one ?  Thanks

I had one of the entry level Krups machines. It was horrible! This looks like a much nicer version and I would expect it to be fine. I've had good experiences with all other Krups appliances I've tried.

Let us know if you get it and what you think.

Ken

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I've never owned a Krups although I have owned a cheap DeLonghi ($80) and a mid range Gaggia ($300). But if you're interested in really good quality espresso at home and are alreadyconsidering a $250 investment (or thereabouts).... you should really give serious thought to biting the bullet and getting a Rancilio Silvia for about $500.

The problem with $200 - $300 espresso machines is that the results can be maddeningly inconsistent even after you've mastered the techniques and some machine idiosyncrasies.

Sooner or later you will find your results to be very much limited by the machine itself. Get a Silvia, refine your technique and you'll find it possible to produce truly excellent shots at home more often than not (never every time because even on commercial machines it ain't perfect).

And you'll need a good grinder - about $170 - $270 for the grinder. Yes... $700 - $750 for a machine and grinder sounds like a bundle of money unless you've been down the "upgrade path" as so many of us have. Every Silvia owner I've talked to has always made it clear that although they've sometimes "wanted" a more expensive machine (vs. "needing" one) it's only been those who need to steam and brew at the same time that could truly justify getting a more expensive machine.

Figure out how much you spend per year for espresso shots, latte's and cappuccino's out in cafe's. Assume you'll spend about 30 - 40% (or less) of that figure to make the same drinks at home. Now do the math on buying a $700 machine and grinder combo.

Once I did that exercise I finally stopped fiddling around with cheaper machines and spent about $1400 for the espresso machine and grinder. My real payback period was about two years based on actual spending at the time. Plus I was getting better drinks than I could get in local cafés (at least where I was living back then).

And I could make those drinks at home in my bathrobe on Saturday morning. Priceless.

Did I mention that you must buy a really good grinder? :biggrin::laugh:

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We purchased the Krups Xp4050 and I will keep you all posted on how well this machine works. When I the time comes, which pretty much means when I have the money we will upgrade to a better machine. For now the amount of espresso drinking going is limited. So thanks for your input.

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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Please do let us know - we'll be curious. It looks much like a Gaggia Carezza in overall price-point and features. You can pul some very good shots with machines in that category - as mentioned previously... the challengee is consistency.

But if you practice a bit and focus on eliminating the variables so all you do is adjust grind level to get the correct extraction time you should easily get espresso that's better than many independent cafe's serve - and way better than Starbucks.

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Doesn't look like a Carezza to me in the least, except price point. Carezza is very bare-bones, with no programmability at all. It also has a boiler and not a thermoblock. The Carezza has no bells and whistles, just solid construction of the boiler and brew group.

I would like to hear updates on how the Krups does too. But I think it a very different beast from the Carezza.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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My wife has wanted a home machine for a while. For her birthday I got a Gaggia 35008 Carezza Espresso from Amazon.com. With the free shipping and the 25-dollar off offer I got it delivered for $174.00. I have a grinder that I use for my regular coffee that does a bang up job for the coarse grind I use in my press pot. I did not pay all that much for it and wonder if it will give me what I will need for the Gaggia to work. It is a Bodum brand grinder that I doubt is up to the level you recommend. The Gaggia arrived last night and her birthday is Feb 5.

The shop were I get my beans is right up the street, would it make more sense to have them do an espresso grind for me? I doubt the machine will be used every day.

While I am asking, what coffee to use? From what I know, which is not much, espresso is a grind and technique not a kind of coffee. I guess it is mostly made with dark roast, but what about just a fine espresso grind of my favorite Sumatran beans?

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When you say it is a Bodum grinder, is it a blade grinder or the Antigua burr grinder. The blade grinder will not make an even enough consistency to make a really good espresso. The Antigua, on the other hand, will do a passable job.

As to coffee, stay away from the really dark and oily roasts... they'll muck up your grinder and aren't very tasty either. I'd try your sumatran. Some lightly roasted beans may come across a bit bright and acidic when done as espresso... some are fine. Experiment.

If you get your coffee ground, buy in quarter pound packges, and only keep one out of the freezer. Go through them quickly, as the coffee really loses flavor over time after you grind it. Also, fine adjustment of the grind is really important for maximizing the goodness of an espresso. So if you don't have a finely adjustable grinder now, you'll want to get one soon, or you'll be very disappointed with the quality of what your machine can produce.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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When you say it is a Bodum grinder, is it a blade grinder or the Antigua burr grinder.  The blade grinder will not make an even enough consistency to make a really good espresso.  The Antigua, on the other hand, will do a passable job.

As to coffee, stay away from the really dark and oily roasts... they'll muck up your grinder and aren't very tasty either.  I'd try your sumatran.  Some lightly roasted beans may come across a bit bright and acidic when done as espresso... some are fine.  Experiment.

If you get your coffee ground, buy in quarter pound packges, and only keep one out of the freezer.  Go through them quickly, as the coffee really loses flavor over time after you grind it.  Also, fine adjustment of the grind is really important for maximizing the goodness of an espresso.  So if you don't have a finely adjustable grinder now, you'll want to get one soon, or you'll be very disappointed with the quality of what your machine can produce.

It is the Antigua burr grinder and it has about 15 or so adjustments from fine to coarse. I have only used the coarse as I drink press pot coffee these days. I will certainly try it. It would be nice to only have one kind of bean around so as not to have to remember which is which

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Your grinder should do it. Try the espresso your sumatran makes and see if it is too bright/sour for you. If it is, that means you need to find a slightly darker roast of the same beans, or try a different bean.

As to the adjustments on your grinder, you're probably going to be cranking the thing as fine as it goes... I recall there being some trick to make Antiguas grind finer than they are supposed to floating around on the web... My grinder has the 30 settings, and my range of tweaking it goes from about 1.75 to 2.5... and there is a huge difference in the coffee in just that tiny range of grind settings.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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cdh made a good point on the difference between the Krups machine and the Gaggia Carezza - I was looking at overall size and price point when I glanced at an info page for the Krups and commented that they were similar.

Thermoblock heating is radically different than boiler based machines. That's nto to say that you can't make a decnet espresso with a thermoblock mahcine but I'd be inclined towards the gaggia myself. Especially at $174 - that's a great price!

And the Bodum Antigua grinder is the least expensive grinder I know of on the market that will do a good enough job on espresso grind for the Carezza or similar machines. By all means try to get whole bean and grind your own rather than getting the coffee pre-ground by the shop.

From what I know, which is not much, espresso is a grind and technique not a kind of coffee. I guess it is mostly made with dark roast, but what about just a fine espresso grind of my favorite Sumatran beans?

You actually know more than most folks do. There's a fairly widespread misconception that "espresso" refers to a specific type of beans or roast level.

And yes - most of us who've been drinking espresso for awhile do recognize that dark and oily = not good.

The Sumatran will probably pull a pretty decent shot as SOS (SOS = Single Origin Shot of espresso). The challenge with single origin shots is that the characteristics of any bean are greatly intensified when pulled as an espresso. Flavor notes that are pleasing when a coffee is consumed as drip or press pot may be overpowering when the same coffee is pulled as an espresso shot (Kenyan coffees are a good example - you'll very rarely find one in an espresso blend).

But many of the better espresso blends out there do include a substantial percentage of Indonesian beans because they have many characteristics that are widely considered to be pleasing in an espresso. But a good blend will also contain other types of beans that either offset/smooth out the characteristics of the high note beans used or provide a pleasing balance.

Once you feel that you've mastered and standardized your technique well enough to get consistent results I encourage you to try some different espresso blends and compare them. It's very idiosyncratic and subject to taste preference. I happen to like a lighter and fruitier profilee but many folks prefer a heavier more robust flavor profile with cholcoate notes or spicy overtones.

If you don't have some really high quality and consistent blends available in you area it's worth doing some mail order to try out different types.

You'll find some ideas for sources on this thread:

Roasts: Buying It... in search of Master Roasters

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Gave my wife her Gaggia Carezza yesterday for her birthday , Used it last night to pull a couple of shots to have with her cake. It worked very nicely. I used the finest grind selection on my Bodum Antigua grinder. Using my kitchen timer both of the doubles I pulled took 21 seconds. I thought it both looked and tasted fine with nice crema. I did not use, and do not intend to use, the crema disc that they included. I may try a little more pressure on the tamp to see what results I get as I can't grind any finer. I did buy some of the espresso roast from my local roaster.

It will be fun to experiment and see how I can change things, but for a first try it worked out fine. Made plenty of steam to froth milk for my wife as well. That is a tricky process as well, and I will have to work on that.

Overall, I am happy. I certainly have had shots at coffee shops that were worse.

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Glad the machine and grinder are working out for you. :biggrin:

With the Carezza things to keep in mind are:

Only crank the filter handle over to the little arrow on the front of the machine, even if it could go further. When it stops sealing at that point, it is time to go shopping for a new portafilter gasket, and the extra play past the mark will let you get by for a while, but you may be wedging coffee grounds up into the dispersal screen. .

Also, stock up on some citric acid powder (from a homebrew shop) and run a mild citric acid solution through the machine every few months to keep hard water scale from building up on the innards. If you've got scale, you'll know as the apparent pressure the machine produces will visibly drop, shots will take longer to pull and crema will stop forming.

Have fun with that machine... mine's about 5 years old now and still going strong.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Thanks for the updates. Chris makes some excellent points. You may well need to tamp harder but 23 seconds is acceptable (23 - 28 is the range I shoot for). You didn't mention whether you're using the double basket or the single basket but most people find it easier to get consistent results making doubles.

If you're usingh te cheap plastic tamper that com4es with nearly all machines lok around for a good machiend aluminum or steel tamper. Figure $20 - $30 for such a device but it's worth it - just make sure you get one that's matched to the basket size of the Gaggia.

And you mentioned "espresso roast".. Everyone's taste is different but if your local shop is selling a really dark or dark and oily blend labeled "espresso roast" I strongly encourage you to find one that has a lighter roast profile and compare - you may be pleasantly surprised at the difference.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The machine continues to work well for both me and my wife who pulled shots for us yesterday. My only question today is about the temperture of the final product. It does not really seem to be hot to me, at least not like my press pot coffee. I run a blank shot to heat the brew group and the cup. What should the temperture of the shot be? Perhaps i am expecting too much in the temperture? I do like my coffee hot

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Your inquiry made me break out my thermometer this morning... from my Carezza a shot pulled into a warmed double-walled stainless cup clocked in at 167F. Plenty hot for me.

Given that optimal brew temp is around 190F, the drop of 20 degrees seems right to me given the long transit through the air into the cup. If you like it hotter, you could pull a short shot, flip the steam switch and top it up with hotter water that shoots out the team wand when you open it up and turn on the pump.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Optimal brew temp for espresso is actually in the 199 to 203 F range depending on the blend in use. But you're unlikely to find a consumer machine in that price range which brews that hot.

Runnigg a blank shot helps warm things up but be sure you leave the portafilter handle in the brewgroup at all times when warming up the machine and let it warm up for at least 15 - 20 minutes before you start pulling shots. That might help.

To get a better assessment of actual brew temp do the "foam cup test". Cut a styrofoam cup short and stick a digital instant read kitchen thermometer through the side. Hodl it with a towel so you won't get burned by stray water and pull a shot into the cup whilst holding it up against the brew group. . If you get a reading of about 190 F or higher thean I'll speculate that your machine is running correctly for its type.

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200? really? That makes a 33 degree drop, which might be more than I'd expect from a 3 inch free fall.

I've found that I get seriously suboptimal results if the water is any hotter than the machine's set brew temp, e.g. if I flip the steam switch for 10 seconds and then unflip it, then brew, the crema fails to appear, and the coffee tastes off. That says to me that the machine is calibrated to the right temperatures as it is.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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200 to 203 F is the optimal brew temp for most espresso blends. Really! Do the foam cup test and you'll most likely be startled by the results.

Gaggia makes some good machines for the money but consumer espresso machines in general have notoriously wide temperature swings. Most folks learn either intuitively by trial and error or through research and practice that "temp surfing" of the type you describe can get them close to an acceptable range.

As a very broadly stated rule you can generally expect bitterness if the brew temp is too high and sourness of it's too low (there are other factors that can cause these taste artifacts but improper brew temp is oftyen the culprit).

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To get a hot shot I preheat the cup with some water in the micro--30-45 seconds and the cup is ready to go.

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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To get a hot shot I preheat the cup with some water in the micro--30-45 seconds and the cup is ready to go.

I heartily recommend preheating the cup. But the "hotness" in consideration here refers to brew temperature of the water rather than the temperature in the cup. Preheating the cup is a great idea but if the espresso machine brews at too low or too high a temperature it's a problem - even if the cup is preheated.

Home espresso machines that use thermoblock heating devices (rather than a boiler) will tend to deliver a fairly consistent brew temperature but it may be a bit on the low side.

Boiler based machines without an HX (heat exchanger) feature have an inherent shortcoming although it can be overcome. producing adequate steam pressure for steaming milk requires a high temperature - somwhere just over 212 F. But brewing, which draws its water from the same boiler, requires a lower temp (roughly 190 - 203 F is common). Thus the "temperature surfing" procedure. By drawing some water off the boiler that is quickly replenished with incoming cold water and then pulling a shot before the water gets back up to a high temp, the user can typically get within acceptable brew temp range or very close to it.

HX machines allow steaming while brewing or immediately after brewing but they also require a bit of trickery for best results. The HX heat exchanger systems utilizes copper tubes for the incoming water that route the tubes through the steam boiler so the tubing is surrounded and heated by the hot boiler water. But if the HX machine has been sitting idle for more than 10 minutes or so the standing water in that tube is too hot - much closer to the 212 or higher internal temp of the steam boiler. On these machines the user typically pulls a "cooling shot" by drawing off water through an empty portafilter before pulling a real shot. Once again - this allows cool water to enter the heat exchanger system and be warmed to approximately the right temperature for optimal brewing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We had friends over for dinner last night. He drinks alot of espresso, so I told him I would pull him one. He said it was better than most he gets out. He is not the sort to say that just to be nice. If it sucked he would have told me.

Of not is that all I had on hand was my Sumatran. So I pulled what Owen told me was a SSO shot. He liked it as did I. This machine can make decent espresso. With help from Owen and Chris it seems I can coax something good out of it

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