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Topic: New Espresso Machine ?? (20 msgs / 472 lines)
1) From: GJTreehouse
I've been lusting for an espresso maker as a result of this list and the
great espresso and cappo that Jerry Procopio made me last fall.
I would like to keep the  budget at around $800 for the espresso machine. I
am the only coffee drinker in the house so the volume will be low, except on
occasions. My wife does like cappo's. That has led me to Miss Silvia.
However the general consensus is that she is more predictable with a PID. So
at $600 for Silvia and $175 for the PID, the total would be about $775. She
is well respected and has many followers. I guess one known shortcoming is
the wait to steam after pulling the shots. I understand that is not an issue
with an HX unit or a double boiler.
Now for the confusion. There is an Expobar Office Pulser that is an HX unit
that retails for $800. It is not quite as popular as Silvia, perhaps because
it is more expensive. I have seen the reviews on this unit and they seem
high and consistent.
Is the Expobar a good low end HX unit? For about the same money should I get
a Silvia w/ PID or look for a different HX unit around $800. If I looked at
a different HX unit, what would you suggest.
This would be my first espresso machine. I have been home roasting for 6 or
more years and really enjoy the coffee.
I know there has been a lot of traffic on espresso machines lately so
forgive me for adding more.
Thanks for your help.
Gary
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2) From: Sandy Andina
The sub-$1K HX units tend, like the NS Oscar and Expobars, to be non- 
e61 units. No biggie if you don't want a hunka-hunka burning metal (as  
in "burning your hand if you brush against it") as the centerpiece of  
a blindingly bright brick of shiny stainless steel.  Of course, after  
three years of owning a Silvia and a non-e61 HX (Livia 90A) I DID want  
that and I am glad I now have it.  The e61s are insanely stable and  
once you get the hang of them, wonderfully foolproof.  Now, Expobars  
(unlike most prosumer machines) are made in Spain, and some  
Italiaphiles mutter darkly about QC issues as a result.   I contend  
they're no more trouble-prone than any other big hot metal box full of  
electronics in disturbingly close proximity to large volumes of of  
water.  What I'm saying is that if that's what you want to spend, you  
could do a LOT worse than starting off with an Expobar.  Yes, it's  
marginally more expensive than a PID'd Silvia (and a heckuva lot more  
expensive than a stock Silvia), but if you want to make more than just  
straight shots it'll do a lot more for you.  Given the choice at that  
price point between an Expobar Pulser and a Nuova Simonelli Oscar, if  
you want hot water on demand, I'd go with the Expobar.  The Oscar is a  
bit sturdier, but clad in cheesy plastic and lacking hot water  
capability--not even through the steamwand, much less a separate tap.   
 From what I've heard, NS has a lower frequency-of-repair rate than  
Expobar, but everyone's mileage may vary.
But complicating matters is the new Gaggia Twin--stainless steel  
boiler for shots and thermoblock for steam, at the $800 price point.   
(The Pasquini Livietta uses two thermoblocks instead of boilers, so  
it's not even arguably in the same class).  Venerable Gaggia name and  
all it implies behind it, with instantly available steam. However, my  
experience is that the steam pressure of a thermoblock is less  
powerful and slower than that of an HX's boiler. On the one hand, it  
was nice that my thermoblock-equipped Krups and Capresso pumpers were  
"ready" (i.e., hot) really quickly--but they were ready to make really  
mediocre foam, and slowly at that.
On Apr 13, 2008, at 10:45 PM, GJTreehouse wrote:
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Sandy Andina
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3) From: Joseph Robertson
Sandy,
Thanks for the very detailed reply. We lurkers are paying close attention to
all comments as clear and concise as yours generally are. I really
appreciate your experience with high end consumer espresso machines.
Regards,
JoeR
On 4/13/08, Sandy Andina  wrote:
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4) From: raymanowen
" I would like to keep the  budget at around $800..."
That's a good start- Put most of it in the grinder. I'm not kidding one bit.
You will frustrate yourself no end when you put your best efforts into
roasting the best green coffee beans on the planet, and then be unable do
any better than hit or miss at brewing and improving on Outstanding Flavor
in your cup.
Many shiny toys are on the market for outlandish prices. Those ex-used car
salesmen should be taken out and shot. I know where they used to work, but
Ralph Williams closed.
A hurricane or typhoon causes less damage than the toy grinders. The weather
might wreck one crop, whereas the junque grinder keeps on giving.
Do yourself a huge favor and get the best grinder. Don't get new, just get a
new set of burrs for it- What's the coffee know? Don't spend one nickel on
doom for your coffee. But I always say that. 'Scuse please.
Cheers, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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5) From: Sandy Andina
Ray, I think he was budgeting $800 for the machine alone. That being  
said, if $800 is the total budget, I agree he should get no less than  
a Rocky grinder and a Gaggia or used Silvia with the rest.  Better to  
buy a grinder you'll still be able to use when you get machine upgrade  
fever.
On Apr 14, 2008, at 2:25 AM, raymanowen wrote:
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6) From: Les
Correction:
The Expobar machines are a modified E-61 group head.  On the lever and the
Brutus they are true E-61 groupheads.  I like the modified E-61.  It is much
more stable than the Siliva or the Gaggia.
Les
On 4/14/08, Sandy Andina  wrote:
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7) From: miKe mcKoffee
IMO Silvia isn't the "value" she once was. I got my Silvia new for $368.50
inc. s/h 2/02. At the time there was no HX machine at even twice the price.
Since that time a number of entry level lower cost HX machines have come
out. While true the prices of entry level HX machines have risen, so has the
price of Silvia. Today Silva pushes $600 while entry Expobar HX $800. Add
cost of a PID to Silvia and to me it's a no brainer, get the HX. Or get a
$200 Gaggia and save for a better HX or double boiler machine. 
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
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8) From: Dave Huddle
Gary,
Thanks for asking the same question that I wanted to ask.
And thanks to those who responded.
Dave
Westerville, OH
On 4/13/08, GJTreehouse  wrote:
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9) From: GJTreehouse
Dave,
No problem:)
For the rest of you, I am convinced that I will get an HX unit and probably
the Expobar. I will continue to review the other units in the not to exceed
$800 range.
Gary

10) From: Sandy Andina
Aha. I stand corrected, Les.  I guess just as one cannot judge a book  
by its cover, one cannot judge an e61 by the lack thereof (or the  
presence of that cowling). I do believe, though, that neither the  
Rancilio Silvia or Epoca/Magister, the La Spaziale (acc. to Cora), nor  
the Pasquini Livia have e61 groupheads.
On Apr 14, 2008, at 9:38 AM, Les wrote:
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11) From: Cameron Forde
I can confirm that the La Spaziale Vivaldi do not have an E61 group
head.  The group is bolted to the brew boiler for temperature
stability.
Cameron
On Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 7:24 PM, Sandy Andina  wrote:
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ceforde
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12) From: Les
Cameron,
The Spaz is in a whole different league than a single boiler machine.  It is
tough to beat a double boiler.
Les
On 4/14/08, Cameron Forde  wrote:
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13) From: Terry Stockdale
OUCH!  I melt chocolate in a double boiler -- I brew espresso and 
make steam with a DUAL boiler.  I love my La Spaziale Vivaldi 
II.  One of these days I'm going to made someone a good deal on my 
old PID'ed Silvia.
Of course, I use a Thor Tamper or two, but not with the double boiler 
Terry
My coffee pages: http://www.terrystockdale.com/coffee/At 09:13 AM 4/15/2008, you wrote:
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14) From: miKe mcKoffee
Terry, make that your "old PID'ed AND float valve auto-fill Silvia"! That
never having to fill the reservoir mod was the best thing that ever happened
to my now departed Silvia. 
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
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15) From: miKe mcKoffee
After the latest wave of espresso machine price hikes caused by the
continuing fall of the US$ the Expobar Pulser is the only HX machine I know
of for $800 or less. 
I'd also advise calling a couple of the major vendors and checking on buyers
remorse/show room demo/slightly damaged models etc. that might be available.
I got my Fiorenzato Bricoletta direct plump rotary pump leverette from Chris
2&1/2 years ago for $800 because of shipping damage. (A very slightly bent
drip tray frame that not one person has been able to detect without it being
pointed out.) At the time going new unblemished for $1300 so a very nice
$500 savings! (Now MSRP $1694 sale price $1473...) 
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
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16) From: Seth Grandeau
Does anyone have any experience with Astra espresso machines?  I've seen a
few of them pop up, used, on-line.
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17) From: Sandy Andina
I was sorely tempted to buy one once I saw it up close and personal,  
but even with my relatively spacious kitchen I did not want to direct- 
plumb the machine or have a drain hose running to my sink and a big  
water bottle/Flojet taking up space and looking jury-rigged.  If we  
stay in our house much longer, in fact, we will probably put in a  
center island and induction cooktop; if not, space will definitely be  
a consideration in (presumably) downsized digs such as a townhouse or  
even condo.  But all things being equal, you definitely can't beat a  
double boiler!
On Apr 15, 2008, at 9:13 AM, Les wrote:
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18) From: Barry Luterman
Check out the Brewtus if you want a double boiler which doesn't have to be
plumbed in and needs only 15 amps to run
On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 9:52 AM, Sandy Andina  wrote:
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19) From: Sandy Andina
You can still occasionally find a NS Oscar, especially the model  
immediately previous to the "New Oscar," at that price point. The rise  
in prices owes as much to the rising price of steel (so says a friend  
who works in the steel industry in Birmingham, AL) as to the dropping  
dollar.  The Oscar uses less steel as it is clad in plastic, so the  
price may stay a bit lower proportionately to other HX machines.  I  
believe Expobars will probably rise in price like the other stainless- 
steel machines.  Get 'em now!
On Apr 15, 2008, at 10:04 AM, miKe mcKoffee wrote:
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20) From: Sandy Andina
I do love my LaCora, and have gotten used to the cooling flush  
already.  Not having to deal with shipping, and having a (relatively)  
local service facility is a huge plus for me.  But if the latter was  
not available, I might have gone for a Brewtus had I been able to  
justify spending $1700+.  (The LaSpaz was $1900, the LaCora $1400-- 
both plus sales tax but no delivery charge).
On Apr 15, 2008, at 2:57 PM, Barry Luterman wrote:
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