Moderators: Random Orbital Bob, nev, CHJ, Noel, Charley

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By marcros
Anybody into making espresso?

Now there's an expensive slope to stand atop of.

I have just bought an oldish, fairly basic machine for £100. Probably the equivalent of an old Axminster white handsaw or large. Solid, reliable, parts available.

There are now various "essential" mods to make to the machine to make it acceptable to the coffee forum.

Now I need a grinder to go with it. £150+ used. Every single option has its fans and enemies, much like a sharpening system on here.

We haven't even got to brew times, tamping methods and a thousand other variables yet!

I was happy with my pod machine until I got reading!
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By woodbloke66
We've just had our Gaggia Classic serviced and repaired after nine years of daily use. Even though we have a Kinetico water softener, the machine was still badly clogged so the cost of a regular service is something you need to factor in; back now to really good espresso and cappuccino for 'er indoors. Coffee also seems to be a lot better if you buy beans and grind them just before brewing - Rob
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By marcros
It is the gaggia classic I have bought.

I will look for a service- the importer is in Leeds I think.
By samhay
Another Gaggia classic owner.
In my experience the grinder is much more important than the coffee machine in terms of final outcome.
I have an Eureka Mignon, but there are plenty of good options.
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By marcros
the mignon is on the list, or a Mazzer. to be honest, there are plenty of used models for what I am happy to spend, the bigger downside is that many of them are very large. I also looked at a decent hand grinder, but they seem very few and far between on used models, and even new ones need importing or are unavailable. if I could get a quality hand grinder I would probably go for that in the short term and see how it went.
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By Trainee neophyte
For the cheapskate option, I was given this a while ago:

I thought it was a novelty bit of silliness, until we made coffee using it. We now make coffee only using this thing: better flavour and mouthfeel, if you will excuse the beer tasting terminology.

Just last week we bought some expensive coffee, to see if it was better. It was marginally nicer, but double the cost, and it certainly wasn't twice as nice. Sticking with Jacobs for the moment.

Tea for the win!
By Rorschach
Since my tolerance for caffeine has got so low I now just drink decaff instant.

I do miss really good coffee but I don't miss the faff and cost.
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By Marineboy
I’ve had a Gaggia Evolution for the past 10 years. Use it daily for the first coffee of the day for me and my wife, cappuccino for her, macchiato for me. Has given excellent service, I’ve carried out my own servicing and replaced the pump once.

If I’m making coffee just for me it’s less faff to use the aero press, which I thoroughly recommend.

Re grinders, I did have one but found the results inconsistent. Now I buy ready ground Illy which is excellent.
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By woodbloke66
marcros wrote:It is the gaggia classic I have bought.

I will look for a service- the importer is in Leeds I think.

We used one based in Nottingham (after doing a G search) but the official Gaggia importer is the one we'll use next time. Basic service and de-scale cost about £90 plus a couple of replacement parts
For our bean grinder, we use the Gaggia one which seems pretty good; no complaints. Once the bag is opened, we also keep our beans in the freezer - Rob
By Andy Kev.
I've got a classic Italian machine, all chrome and pressure dials and an electric grinder.

The only tip I would give, especially if you live in a hard water area, is to try making the coffee with distilled water. Two reasons: firstly distilled water can, by definition, never put a deposit inside the tubes and because it's taste is utterly neutral, you get the full potential of the coffee you use.

Obviously if you live in an area where the water is soft, there isn't much point in going to the trouble of using distilled.
Here in Switzerland we are probably only No. 2 to Italy when it comes to espresso.

Been her now 30 years and just last year we had to buy a new machine n(it gave up at long last).

Like everything else here, these machines are VERY expensive, but reckoned in cost per year or cost per cup, they work out "OK":

Both our new machine (and the old 30 year jobbie) have a built in grinder and it automatically tells you when to clean it (in our case that's every 60 cups, and with no guests, we drink 6 cups/day between the 2 of us, so that's every 10 days roughly). We have VERY hard water here so the machine also includes a water filter (we find coffee made with distilled has a vaguely unpleasant taste). The latest machine has a sensor in the filter, each filter seems to last us about 2 months on average.

As above, the machine automatically tells you to clean it and that's easy - just drop a small white tablet into the appropriate hole, press the button and stand back and watch the machine work. Takes about 20 minutes. Changing the filter is also easy - when the machine says change, you change it (and change the - tap - water) in the built in tank. We've NEVER needed to have the old 30-year machine professionally serviced, just carry out the above 2 procedures as called for by the machine.

The cleaning tabs (packs of 6) are quite cheap, but the water filters are not (about 15 quid each).

The machine also has various gizmos so you can do heated milk, foam milk (for stuff like hot chocolate or café au lait or other such stuff) but we never use those.

BUT an awful lot depends of the "quality and roast" of the coffee beans you put in the hopper. While both English and German coffees are, in our opinion a lot better than they used to be, they're both still pretty awful compared with our coffee (they were in our opinion absolute rubbish to us in the past) - in the same way that I NEVER drink tea in Switzerland or Germany (except at home - PG Tips mate!) I ONLY drink coffee in Germany or UK in a DIRE emergency. "It's what yer used to".

My take, and don't know if Jura machines are available in UK, but may help someone. BTW, for ROUGH current UK£/Swiss Franc exchange rates, reduce the CHF cost number by about 10-12% and there's your number in £s)

Edit for P.S. I forgot to say, but as I'm sure many are already aware, the "taste" (strength actually) of a cup of espresso also depends on how finely you grind the beans (as well as on the beans themselves). When changing to the new machine last year we had a little bit of trial and error to settle on exactly what tastes good for us (the machine has a knob to adjust fineness of the grind). IF anyone's interested, our new machine is the Jura Model E800.
By Nico Adie
I use a battered old aluminium moka pot, have used the same one for going on a decade. It's never been washed with any kind of detergent, only rinsed thoroughly and on occasions where I've been away and it hasn't been used I give the bottom half's inside a scrub with a scouring pad and then just fill with water and use it as normal (minus the coffee). I've never even changed the seal. It just works and I love it. It also has the handy feature of taking pretty much exactly the same time to brew as it does for me to iron a shirt, thus ensuring no dead time in the morning. I tried a different one about 18 months ago (the Ikea one) but found it weak in comparison.

I pretty much always buy pre-ground Lavazza or Illy, the Poundstretcher near me has had 250g tins of Lavazza Oro for £2.49 for the past few month so I've stocked up on them.

Growing up, we always had French roast coffee in the house, which is roasted to within an inch of its life, so I'm very used to a dark and slightly bitter tasting coffee. My mum's French and my gran would always bring aid packages of the coffee sold in Nord, which came in a brown and white striped packed. Can't for the life of me remember the name of it though!

Don't have any hard water issues as I live in Scotland.