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Bond Girl

Fancy Coffee Systems

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Get a Technivorm or Capresso with a thermal carafe and either keep the Gaggia or replace it with a Silvia. Not stylish but it's the best espresso machien you can buy for under $500.

Unless you're willing to drink Americano's instead of drip coffee you need two machines.

Avoid devices that "do it all" - especially when they have built-in grinders.

As far as aesthetics go... if you're looking to impress someone with your finely attuned aesthetic sensibility and the zen of your home coffee process you can't do much better than a

Porcelain Melitta Pour-Over Brewer

And you need a good grinder. A Rancilio Rocky will do it although for just drip coffee the Kitchen Aid Pro-Line is stylish and does a great job (less so for espresso but it's a darn good grinder for drip coffee).

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Oooh, that Melitta is a cool looking baby...wait, you guys are suppose to help me consolidate, not acquire more gadgets that looks good. Seriously, should I keep the Gaggia? It was $1300 when I bought it and I use it once a year may be. The Illy coffee people has been trying to sell me that pink Illy machine forever, is it worth it?


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Clarification: what I've got right now is the manual Gaggia Achilles. The Illy machine is also made by gaggia (I think)


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Well, it sounds as if you already have an espresso machine, in the person of the Gaggia Achilles, although I personally have not heard of that model and cannot find it on the Gaggia website. You apparently are thinking about replacing it with a pink Francis! Francis! X-1 sold by Illy.

Whatever Gaggia machine you have, it probably is better and makes better espresso than the Francis machine. So I am not sure why you would be thinking about discarding a better espresso machine in order to get another espresso machine that is not as good. It is difficult for me to contemplate a situation in which I would discard the Gaggia in favor of the Francis.

From your earlier posts, you are apparently looking more for a drip coffee brewer than another espresso machine. If you don't make espresso, and don't think you ever will, then by all means get rid of the Gaggia. But if you think you will get back into espresso, I would keep the Gaggia and get a good drip brewer or a press. That way, you will have both the espresso and drip coffee fronts covered.


Edited by MGLloyd (log)

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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The redeeming feature of the Francis Francis machine offered by Illy is that it comes in pink (this assumes that you just love pink). The Gaggia Achilles is a traditional piston lever machine and a really nice one at that. The Illy machine in question is to the Gaggia what a McDonald's fish sandwich is to lobster cooked sous vide from Per Se (perhaps not the best analogy as that lobster is hardly everyoen's favorite dish but I'm sure you get the idea).

I'd either keep the Gaggia or find someone who has an extra E61 style semi-automatic who wants to swap. The benefit of the E61 style machine is that the learning curve for getting consistently good results is much shorter than with a piston lever machine.

Think of the piston lever machine as a finicky classic sports car and the E61 as always-starts-and-runs and gets you there nicely like a basic Lexus. Given ideal circumstances the piston lever machines will pull fantastic espresso shots but they're not convenient for occasional users and won't allow you to steam milk while you're pulling a shot.

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Owen, you are a genius. That is my problem precisely. I bought the Gaggia because it looks nice, but then learned that it was a pain in the ass to operate, so i never use it. Now I am thinking, what do I need all this stuff for if I can get a Miele built in and consolidate my machineries. But, MG Lloyd, who I am certain knows more about coffee than I do, has shown me the errors of my way and got me on to the Capresso instead (also a fine looking machine), so now I figure I get rid of the Gaggia. But it seemed that my problem is learning how to use it.....

Hmmm, I will try to find someone who wants t swap. You guys are great!!!


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Even I don't own a piston lever machine.... not because they're not cool but because I can't justify having two machines in my kitchen at present.

Just make sure you don't sell it for too cheap or trade for too little. I can help you by PM with those valuation issues etc. if you decide to pursue this route.

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Although my Coffeegeek sensibilities are bruised by making this suggestion, I wonder if BG may be just the sort of person for whom superautomatic espresso machines are made for. Unlike Owen and myself, for whom fussing with coffee and espresso is a hobby unto itself, BG strikes me as a person who wants espresso with minimum fuss and bother, if she wants espresso at all. There is also the possibility of using a single group espresso machine that accepts pods.

BG, a superautomatic espresso machine is one that does the grinding, tamping, and brewing automatically at the push of the button. Some of them even froth milk automatically. The built in Miele that you were originally thinking about is a superautomatic in a fancy shell. They can range in price from $ 500 to $ 2500. If the learning curve of a conventional machine is not something you want to pursue, and you want to trade off convenience and slightly increased cost for a slight diminishing of espresso quality, probably imperceptible to most, then give some thought to a superautomatic or a pod espresso machine.

Perhaps you can find a trade on Craigslist or something.


Edited by MGLloyd (log)

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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Possilbly MG is right. Whe I want coffee, I want it fast. I don't have a lot of time in the morning between getting the dog walked and getting to work. Minimum fuss is probably why I never use the Gaggia. Hwever, now that you guys have shown me the ligh, I may blow the dust off that machine and really figure out how to use it. I nver drink espresso though, it's always made into a capuccino...so now I have to look for a machine that froth milk.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Ya Roo:

Check this site out:

http://www.singleservecoffee.com/

They have reviews of various single-serve espresso / cappuccino and coffee machines. They all use different types of "pods" or single-serve packaged espresso shots. They actually make a pretty decent coffee, and there is no waste because you are only making one serving at a time. Cleanup is as simple as throwing the "shot" out, which is enclosed in some sort of paper or plastic medium. No grains to go all over the place.

I personally have a few of the coffee machines (not espresso/cappuccino) and my experience with them has been very positive for the most part. In terms of getting coffee "minimum fuss" you can't beat these machines.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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That is the great fight, Jason. Fresh coffee versus convenient coffee. POD machines are way convenient but the coffee is NOT fresh. You can get your own pods to fill with fresh coffee you just ground but what just happened to your convenient coffeemaker?? That seems like the dumbest compromise but maybe there are folks out there who would use the premade pods on workdays and still have the option of fresh coffee on their days off??? I dunno. I choose fresh coffee. There are fairly effecient methods to make it when I'm in a hurry (Moka pot 3 min French Press 4 min) even a shot of espresso only makes a minute to grind, fill, tamp and pull if I put the machine on 20 minutes before to warm up. I understand the appeal of the pods, I do, but I just can't go there.

Ken

Daybreak Coffee Company

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Those single serve coffee machines are convenient...I just wish they are sleeker looking...Hmm, now I sound like a real princess. BY the way guys, is that Bialetti capucinno maker any good? I just ordered the Capresso MT 500 plus kitchenaid grinder from Amazon.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Hmm, now I sound like a real princess. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that :rolleyes:

Good call on the drip machine and grinder that you ordered. I'm with Ken on the appeal and qualitative benefits offered by grinding and brewing fresh. I was at a client site last week (for my day job - no my coffee job) and they had a Keurig system. It was a good cup of coffee for an office environment (I had the Sumatran) but still not as fresh tastingn or as good as the cup I just brewed here in my own office - from coffee that I ground a week ago (we have no grinder at work).

As for the Bialetti "cappuccino maker" - the impression I get is that it's good for what it is - moka coffee (aka stovetop espresso) - but it should not be considered as a substitute for a traditional cappuccino made on an espresso machine. That doe snot imply that it's inferior - it's just different.

There has been some recent discussion of this device on the Pleasures of Moka thread beginning with this post

Bialetti cow print stovetop cappuccino maker

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Hmm, now I sound like a real princess. 

from coffee that I ground a week ago (we have no grinder at work).

Bialetti cow print stovetop cappuccino maker

Owen, that brings something up that I have been meaning to ask about-

I don't have a swell $250 grinder. My solution to this is to use the extra swell grinder at a local coffee roaster and it does a tremendously fine job of making it all uniform, perfect, and easy to deal with.

My normal method of storage is to repackage the stuff into heavy duty 1 qt. zip locks, moosh out all of the air that I can, seal them up, and chuck them into the freezer.

For brewing, I come straight out of the freezer with the proper measurement for whatever I am doing and the bag goes right back into the freezer.

Is this?

a) a sound method

b) not nearly good enough and you won't even be able to REGISTER on Coffeegeek

due to your complete lack of respect for the roasters art.

c) It's no big deal. You haven't spent the dough needed to make a good cup. They

should only sell you little jars of Folgers Crystals because you have no respect for

a good cup of joe and you are too poor to even come close to ever having any

hope of enjoying a fine cup of coffee as concocted by Phaelon, King of the Coffee

Boys.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Those single serve coffee machines are convenient...I just wish they are sleeker looking...Hmm, now I sound like a real princess.  BY the way guys, is that Bialetti capucinno maker any good? I just ordered the Capresso MT 500 plus kitchenaid grinder from Amazon.

I dunno, the Simplehuman and the Senseo are pretty sleek, as is the Melitta. Also really cheap too compared to the other stuff you were looking at. At the very least, at those prices, you can buy one of those to supplant whatever fancy cappucino machine you are looking at.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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That is the great fight, Jason. Fresh coffee versus convenient coffee. POD machines are way convenient but the coffee is NOT fresh. You can get your own pods to fill with fresh coffee you just ground but what just happened to your convenient coffeemaker??

If you buy your pods from someone like PodHead, who is a small artisinal roaster, you can get pods that were roasted within a week if not the day of your order. They are foil wrapped and vaccum sealed with preservative gas, its far better than the stuff that you can get from a company like Senseo/Douwe Egberts. I also think that Green Mountain is doing very good things with their Keurig cups as well.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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[My normal method of storage is to repackage the stuff into heavy duty 1 qt. zip locks, moosh out all of the air that I can, seal them up, and chuck them into the freezer.

For brewing, I come straight out of the freezer with the proper measurement for whatever I am doing and the bag goes right back into the freezer.

You will get a far better grind consistency from a kick-ass commercial grinder in a shop than you will from a cheapo-whirly blade electric grinder at home.

Before I roasted my own coffee, back when my sole means of brewing was a $3 plastic Melitta pour-over cone, I used the same cheapo whirly blade grinder for a dozen years or so. IMHO a cheap grinder properly used with whole beans for filter drip coffee is still the best cheap system. Yeah... you have to grind a bit and then shake the grinder to get the particles re-distributed and then grind again. But it works and nothgin is freshe rhtn ajust ground whole beans (assuming the beans were fresh to being with.

Unlike us human beans the coffee beans consider oxygen to be a mortal enemy. The minute you grind coffee beeans you've created a vast increase in surface area - just the thign that oxygen and moisture need to do their nefarious deeds.

But can your current system be improved and still leave you with those precious extra few minutes every day to dream up new nicknames for me? Absolutely.

Every time you take that bag out of the freezer, remove a bit of coffee and return it to the freezer... you're allowing oxygen and moisture into the ground coffee.

Here's an easy fix: get the little Zip-Loc brand "snack bags", Same width as a sandwich bag but not as tall. Stuff each of those little suckers with just enough coffee for one day's consumption and drop 'em all in one larger bag. Take 'em out one or two at a time before you retire for the night with your romance novels. Or whatever it is that you read at bedtime.

In the morning it's defrosted and ready to brew. With that small an amount you could just pull it out a few minutes before you brew since it's already ground.

That's how Coffee Boys do it when they don't have a grinder handy.

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If you buy your pods from someone like PodHead, who is a small artisinal roaster, you can get pods that were roasted within a week if not the day of your order. They are foil wrapped and vaccum sealed with preservative gas, its far better than the stuff that you can get from a company like Senseo/Douwe Egberts.  I also think that Green Mountain is doing very good things with their Keurig cups as well.

And if you insist on a POD machine those are wonderful things to help mitigate the problems inherent with these systems. That said, I will repeat there are many, inexpensive, convenient (not AS convenient perhaps) brewers that will make so much better coffee. Owen's cheap pour over Melitta filter makes a fantastic cup of coffee (though I prefer the ceramic version).

With a grinder, fresh coffee and really ANY of the mainstream brewing methods you have almost unlimited flexibility to adjust your coffee to your preference. You can brew hotter or cooler. You can grind more fine or more coarse. You can use less coffee or more. By example, we took our Aeropress on vacation (with a Zassenhaus grinder, fresh beans and hot pot). I did everything the same between my coffee and my wife's except hers had 1/3 as much coffee. I loved mine, she loved hers. Some pods systems allow you to adjust a few parameters (like temperature) but it's kinda sad that you have to give up any of the quality or flexibility you have using a $3 pour over to move to a $500 pod machine.

As for the Bialetti Mukka, I'd say it makes an okay cappa-like beverage. As Owen says, it isn't espresso so it isn't "really" cappuccino, but its good. It's not microfoam, it's hot milk/strong coffee with a touch of foam on top. The only thing to remember is to clean it up immediately. Otherwise, you have some soaking and scrubbing to do. But, I have to say, it is the easiest way to make a drink like this I've ever seen (some of the multi thousand $ fully automatics may do this as easily but this thing is $100!). Bialetti has a movie about the thing:

Go to www.bialetti.com -> coffee makers -> Mukka Express -> view video

It's actually pretty informative.

Ken


Edited by kbuzbee (log)

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Can someone explain the pod versus beans debate? I mean, the stuff I get from the local whole foods that cames in a hug brown bag is a bean right? So, what is the pod?

I know this is a sign of true ignorance but hell, if I can't ask you guys.....


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Can someone explain the pod versus beans debate? I mean, the stuff I get from the local whole foods that cames in a hug brown bag is a bean right? So, what is the pod? 

I know this is a sign of true ignorance but hell, if I can't ask you guys.....

A Pod is essentially a round tea bag stuffed with ground coffee. You plop it into the machine's pod holder, fill the unit with water, hit the button, and bang, 30 seconds later, you get a cup of coffee.

Ya-Roo, I really don't want to hijack this thread, but have a look at the existing topic on Pod systems:

Senseo and other Coffee Pod Systems

I've evaluated a number of Pod units, here is the one that I like the best:

Bunn My Cafe Commercial Pod Brewer

a close tie to the Bunn is the Simplehuman:

Simplehuman Pod Brewer

And also the Keurig B60, which uses proprietary K-Cups (which I think results in a uniformly good tasting product):

Keurig B60


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Can someone explain the pod versus beans debate? I mean, the stuff I get from the local whole foods that cames in a hug brown bag is a bean right? So, what is the pod? 

Sorry Ya-Roo, I made the assumption that the huge marketing campaign waged by these things had them defined in everyone's mind by now (The Dunkin Donuts guy even promoted them on the Today Show recently). My bad. As Jason says, a POD is a container (usually a bag but some are plastic cups or whatever) generally sealed in foil to keep the coffee from oxidizing (too badly) filled with ground coffee. Once you grind coffee it's fresh for, say, 10 minutes or so. Do the storage systems these pods employee lengthen this time? Yes, but by how much? and is it enough? are questions only you can answer. Some poeple can't really taste the difference fresh coffee makes anyway, but most, to some degree, can. As mentioned above, there are a few companies out there trying to corner the "Less Stale than Other PODs" market but if you think fresh coffee matters the only thing you can do with a pod machine is buy empty pods and fill them with your own ground coffee. This is WAY less convenient than any other brewing method I could think of.... negating the pod machine's one clear advantage. I know I make these things sound like they are evil incarnate. They aren't. There are many people out there who really enjoy the coffee they make. You have to be the one who decides if you fall into that group.

Ken

Daybreak Coffee Company


Edited by kbuzbee (log)

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May I chime in here? :smile: Mr. FB got a pod machine from a prospective client and used it once. It's easy, it looks cool, but the only coffee we had, I didn't like. I get my coffee from Peet's once a month, and dont' even know if they have stuff in pods yet. I'm a total princess about the coffee I drink (no, really! :rolleyes: )

The new kitchen is getting a Miele coffee center; one that doesn't use pods. It grinds and brews regular regular or espresso, has a wand to steam milk and a super-hot tap for tea. We will no longer need the Mr. Coffee that Mr. FB loads every night before bed (he sets the timer on it and just today, failed to put the freaking POT under the funnel, so we had a coffee surge all over the place). We also won't have the teapot on the stove, or the little espresso machine we got for our wedding 20-odd years ago. We'll just have one neat unit.

Yippee skippee!


"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

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I'm with you. After Bond Girl brought the Miele up here, I investigated and have sold my husband on the Miele system when we renovate in the fall. (and yes, I'm a princess too :biggrin: )


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I posted earlier in this thread about the Saeco that I have and never use for myself. I got it for parties and because many of my friends are coffee afficianados and can tell the difference between a peaberry and whatever, by a taste.

I am not that much of a coffee drinker, I often prefer tea and actually drank coffee very seldom prior to getting a Senseo a couple of years ago, sent to me by a friend who tests and writes articles about various appliances, is given one of more of the appliances and disposes of them when he is finished, giving them away to people like me. I tried the coffee and I like it - the dark roast, the others not so much.

Now, as far as the Saeco is concerned, I know that even the diehard enthusiasts, who are really picky about their espresso, tell me that it produces a pretty good shot. Those that prefer the extras, cappuchino and etc., like it too.

I have been gone for a few days and ran into one of these friends (at Disneyland, of all places) and asked how he thinks it compares to my ancient Gaggia (circa 1979) and he said there is no comparison, the Saeco is greatly superior. However, he also said that what one puts into it determines the outcome. Crap begats crap, in his inimitable words!

The last time they visited, he brought a Bolivian cayama?? coffee and a Kona thunder mountain coffee. 1/4 pound each, one dark roast and one medium dark.

Frankly, I couldn't tell the difference but that is just me. He said he had seen (and tasted) the Miele demonstrated but felt the quality of the beans must have been off because he felt it was less than it should have been considering the cost.

He said he would advise anyone to get a demonstration of the machine, with several different types of coffee before spending that much money. Before he retired, he owned a place called the Fox and Bean, in Anaheim Hills and was extremely fussy about the quality of product. Prior to that he was a coffee broker for many years. After he sold, I think the place was out of business within a year.

He likes the Pasquini best but says it is not for the novice.

He says the Saeco or Jura would be his next choice and a toss-up between them.

That's all I have from the notes I took, or at least the ones I can read.

His last remark was that Miele makes terrific ovens and dishwashers but the Germans still have some things to learn about espresso.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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He said he had seen (and tasted) the Miele demonstrated but felt the quality of the beans must have been off because he felt it was less than it should have been considering the cost.

With "all-in-one" devices and especially with high end "built-in's" one can not assume that there's a correlation between drink quality and price. I can make better espresso with a $200 machine and a $100 grinder and better cpffee with a $3 plastic filter cone and $20 grinder relative to what a shiny new Miele can produce.

My equipment and methods will be messy by many folk's standards, not especially convenient and far from aesthetically pleasing to most eyes when parked on a countertop. Buit I enjoy every aspect of it - the process, the control, the actual 'doing" - it's about more than just the drink in the cup for me.

Still.... rela time evaluation with a coffee you already know and like is crucial to ensuring that the Miele system will meet your needs froma taste inthe cup standpoint.

As for the freshness of POD's.... some are fresher than others and there are even tricks like grinding and packing in a nitrogen enriched (thus oxygen deprived) atmosphere which may help ensure thatv the ground coffeee in the pod is as fresh as possible.

But there is a deterioration timeline for the most crucial and most subtle flavor components in coffee. It is a function of oxidation and the oxidation occurs even in a vacuum sealed product. It can be dramatically slowed down but once that product is opened the time window for freshness is very short.

That's one of the real benefits of POD's. For folks who've been accustomed to getting canned and pre-ground coffee that goes stale very quickly after openign the can... POD's represent a quantum leap in freshness. The convenience factor is also not be underestimated.

But there's an equally large contingent of us coffee aficionado's who really can tell the difference between fresh whole bean that was ground just before roasting and a POD that may be fresh by POD standards but just not fresh enough.

The anectdotal evidence I have from end users implies that Saeco and Jura superautomatic machines produce comparable results but that Jura might be more reliable.

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