Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Good basic combo machine?


Recommended Posts

Hey all, this is my first time on this part of the forum.

Im looking for some insight on a basic, reasonably affordable combo type machine that can do both regular coffee and espresso. Does such a machine exist? Does the quality suffer with these types of machines?

Any info would be appreciated.

Cheers!

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm looking for some insight on a basic, reasonably affordable combo type machine that can do both regular coffee and espresso.

Not the type of machine to waste time looking for.

Does such a machine exist?

Yes.

Does the quality suffer with these types of machines?

Absolutely.

My personal suggestions...

Low Budget: a Moka pot (stovetop espresso maker) at $50 or less and a Mellita cone style manual pour-over for drip at about $5 plus $20 for a thermal carafe to drip the coffee into. Moka coffee is not "real" espresso but it's typically a much better coffee drink than the "espresso" you'll get from a combo machine or a really low end espresso machine. And the coffee from the Melitta is as good as you'll get. Also budget about $20 for a decent little whirly blade grinder and use whole bean coffee.

Medium budget: A Gaggia Carezza espresso machine or equivalent at about $200 - $220 and a Solis Maestro grinder at about $100 - $110. You might also look for a Bodum Antigua grinder that's a bit cheaper but you can't spend any less than $80 - $100 and get a grinder that's good enough to make decent espresso. And stick to the Mellita or jump to $60 - $120 for a drip brewer that is tested to brew hot enough (I think Bunn, Technivorm and Cuisinart may be among the few that brew at a high enough temp).

High budget: don't get me started! Many, many options abound.....

Link to post
Share on other sites

Owen,

Thanks very much for the info.

It is what I suspected. I think I have now moved my focus to getting just a decent priced espresso machine, I will check out some of your suggestions. I'd like to spend no more than $200 and there seem to be some options there. Any other suggestions? Can you give me a little bit more info on the grinding and why a more expensive grinder is worth it?

Thanks again for helping out a newbie.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can possibly see your way clear to a higher budget it's worth saving your pennies for awhle and getting a Rancilio Silvia - widely available at $495. If you don't do lots of steaming for milk drinks it's all the espresso machine you'll ever need for the home environment and is built like a tank.

Some folks liek some of the lower end Solis machiness but in the sub $250 category IMHO the Gaggia Carezza is as good as it gets. Shop around and you'll find one for about $200. It has a larger and heavier grouphead assembly than other machines in its class (more mass means better heat retention - crucial for good espresso). And the portafilter assembly is nearly as heavy as a commercial portafilter - once again - heavy is good.

Skip Saeco and also the low end Starbucks machines which are rebadged Saeco's. They're not inherently bad but have "pressurized" portafilters that offer a bit more consistent results for beginners but limit the potential shot quality. The Gaggia's have heavier parts where it counts, heat up faster due to a unique boiler design and IMO are more reliable (but that last comment is anecdotal based on a limited sampling).

Grinders: for espresso a cheap burr grinder = bad and a blade grinder is about the same. It's all about consistency of fine particle size - the cheaper grinders can't achieve it. They're fine for drip coffee but not for espresso. You can get a Solis Maestro "Classic" for about $89 these days - a good choice. But if you anticipate eventually moving up to a better espresso machine consider jumping to something like a Rancilio Rocky or its equivalent in the $250 - $275 range.

Preground espresso won't be fresh enough... cheap grinders are fine for drip but not for espresso... and a good grinder will (literally) last you a lifetime.

Here are two pinned topics just chock full of helpful grinder info

Grinder Discussions

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the info, extremely helpful. Like I said, I am a newbie to all this (home brewing espresso anyway).

Is it allright to purchase machines online? Any reccommended sites?

Thanks again!

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

Link to post
Share on other sites

In most geographic areas - even large metro areas - buying online is the only way to get the better brands and a decent price.

I'll try to post actual hyperlinks,when I get time but the places I have personal familiarity with - all of which are reputable - include Aabree Coffee, 1st Line Coffee, Chris Coffee and Whole Latte Love.

When you do some site scanning and gather a sense of what you may be most interested in I strongly recommend lookign at some consumer reviews on Coffeegeek.

Head geek Mark Prince also has a personal coffee site, Coffee Kid , which has some excellent FAQ's and basic tutorials for espresso neophytes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way... I just noticed your location. If you haven't already been there I strongly recommend that yoi give Keane's Coffee a visit. It's owned by Martin Diedrich - the foudner of Diedrich Coffee (with which he is no longer affiliated).

He does all his roasting on site, sells whole beans stamped with roast date and rotatets stock to ensure that the availabel beans are always within about five days of roast date. There's a good selection of varietals availabel - most of them organic and Fair Trade.

He also has his stafff trained the right way - good shots are being pulled and on my visit there the milk texturing was also being done correctly. Try a machiatto or a traditional (Italian) cappuccino - good stuff!

Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way... I just noticed your location. If you haven't already been there I strongly recommend that you give Kean Coffee a visit. It's owned by Martin Diedrich - the foudner of Diedrich Coffee (with which he is no longer affiliated).

He does all his roasting on site, sells whole beans stamped with roast date and rotatets stock to ensure that the availabel beans are always within about five days of roast date. There's a good selection of varietals available - most of them organic and Fair Trade.

He also has his staff trained the right way - good shots are being pulled and on my visit there the milk texturing was also being done correctly. Try a machiatto or a traditional (Italian) cappuccino - good stuff!

And if you spot him there running his roaster (which he does every day) say hello for me to Martin Diedrich. He's a pioneer and a legend in the coffee business - not to mention being erudite, fascinating and a really nice guy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will definately check it out, I know right where that is, a favorite sandwich shop of mine is right down the road.

Thanks again!

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I'd add there's a cheap $75 way to get an "almost espresso".

1. Bodum milk foamer ($15)

2. Lello Ariete burr grinder from Amazon (LOUD and plastic, but it works) ($30)

3. Aerobie Aeropress ($30)

True, the above has none of the looks and romance of say a Rocky/Francis! Francis! combo, but unless you and/or your guests really know good espresso, they will be suitably impressed by your efforts.

Rich Westerfield

Mt. Lebanon, PA

Drinking great coffee makes you a better lover.

There is no scientific data to support this conclusion, but try to prove otherwise. Go on. Try it. Right now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Along that same line of thought... a moka pot for making "stovetop espresso" is also a great way to get inexpensive but good drinks. And I've been meaning to get an Aeropress and play around with it - thanks for reminding me!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I am just fresh from diving head first into coffee geekdom to find espresso machine+grinder combo to replace my old ones. I ended up with the Silvia and Rocky from Rancilio. I'm a happy girl.

Tom at Sweet Marias has a super informative site which helped me out a lot in my research. Here's his suggestion on grinders. Poke aroudn in that site, there's whole lot of stuff there including a visual guide to troubleshooting crema problems. The guy is gooooooood.

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Objective Foodie
      During the past year, our coffee consumption at home has increased substantially. We have tried beans from different roasteries from the UK and Europe, but we are constantly in the search of new ones. The speciality coffee market has been rapidly increasing in past years and it is becoming easier to find high quality beans.
       
      The best roasteries we have tried so far:
      UK based: Round Hill Roastery, Square Mile, Monmouth,  Pharmacie, New Ground, Workshop, James Gourmet, Ozone. Europe based: The Barn (Germany), Gardelli (Italy), Hard Beans (Poland), Calendar (Ireland), Roasted Brown (Ireland), Right Side (Spain), Coffee Collective (Denmark).  
      Have you had any exciting coffee beans lately? Do you have any other recommendations?
    • By Kasia
      INSTEAD OF COFFEE? - MORNING GREEN COCKTAIL
       
      After waking up, most of us head towards the kitchen for the most welcome morning drink. Coffee opens our eyes, gets us up and motivates us to act. Today I would like to offer you a healthy alternative to daily morning coffee. I don't want to turn you off coffee completely. After all, it has an excellent aroma and fantastic flavor. There isn't anything more relaxing during a busy day than a coffee break with friends.

      In spite of the weather outside, change your kitchen for a while and try something new. My green cocktail is also an excellent way to wake up and restore energy. Add to it a pinch of curcuma powder, which brings comfort and acts as a buffer against autumn depression.

      Ingredients (for 2 people):
      200ml of green tea
      4 new kale leaves
      1 green cucumber
      half an avocado
      1 pear
      1 banana
      pinch of salt
      pinch of curcuma

      Peel the avocado, pear and banana. Remove the core from the pear. Blend every ingredient very thoroughly. If the drink is too thick, add some green tea. Drink at once.

      Enjoy your drink!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      My Irish Coffee  
      Today the children will have to forgive me, but adults also sometimes want a little pleasure. This is a recipe for people who don't have to drive a car or work, i.e. for lucky people or those who can rest at the weekend. Irish coffee is a drink made with strong coffee, Irish Whiskey, whipped cream and brown sugar. It is excellent on cold days. I recommend it after an autumn walk or when the lack of sun really gets you down. Basically, you can spike the coffee with any whiskey, but in my opinion Jameson Irish Whiskey is the best for this drink.

      If you don't like whiskey, instead you can prepare another kind of spiked coffee: French coffee with brandy, Spanish coffee with sherry, or Jamaican coffee with dark rum.
      Ingredients (for 2 drinks)
      300ml of strong, hot coffee
      40ml of Jameson Irish Whiskey
      150ml of 30% sweet cream
      4 teaspoons of coarse brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of caster sugar
      4 drops of vanilla essence
      Put two teaspoons of brown sugar into the bottom of two glasses. Brew some strong black coffee and pour it into the glasses. Warm the whiskey and add it to the coffee. Whisk the sweet cream with the caster sugar and vanilla essence. Put it gently on top so that it doesn't mix with the coffee.

      Enjoy your drink!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for swift autumn cookies with French pastry and a sweet ginger-cinnamon-pear stuffing. Served with afternoon coffee they warm us up brilliantly and dispel the foul autumn weather.

      Ingredients (8 cookies)
      1 pack of chilled French pastry
      1 big pear
      1 flat teaspoon of cinnamon
      1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
      2 tablespoons of brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
      2 tablespoons of milk

      Heat the oven up to 190C. Cover a baking sheet with some baking paper.
      Wash the pear, peel and cube it. Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, vanilla sugar and one tablespoon of the brown sugar. Mix them in. Cut 8 circles out of the French pastry. Cut half of every circle into parallel strips. Put the pear stuffing onto the other half of each circle. Roll up the cookies starting from the edges with the stuffing. Put them onto the baking paper and make them into cones. Smooth the top of the pastry with the milk and sprinkle with brown sugar. bake for 20-22 minutes.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       
       

    • By Johnhouse
      Hello everyone!
       
      I have been working in food and beverage industry for almost 10 years in different countries. I am looking forward to learn new things on this forum to expand my food and beverage knowledge as well as sharing my experiences that I gained in my journey!
       
      Have a good day! ☺️ 
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...