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Topic: Steam toys vs "real" espresso machines, (3 msgs / 87 lines)
1) From: Brian Kamnetz
On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 3:50 PM, Sandy Andina  wrote:
<Snip>
My understanding is that the Gaggia is considered a "real" espresso
machine, and the Crapesso is not, but I don't understand what the
difference is. What is the difference between, say, the Crapesso
pumper, and the Gaggia Espresso?
Brian
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2) From: Mike Koenig
Generally, a decent size boiler, heavy portafilters (metal not mostly
plastic).  No crema enhancing gadgets, and the ability to maintain
some semblance of temperature stability while pulling the shot.
If you can buy it in Bed, Bath and Beyond, it probably doesn't meet
those criteria (however with some fiddling, decent shots can be had
from such machines).
--mike
On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 5:34 PM, Brian Kamnetz  wrote:
<Snip>
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3) From: Sandy Andina
There are Capressos and then there are Capressos--all the way from the  
$100 steam toys that drip strong coffee into little teeny glass  
pitchers to thermoblock training-wheel pumpers designed to compete  
with Krups and DeLonghi to the Ultima to the Jura-Capresso  
superautos.  The Ultima is not a steam toy, but it is not a serious  
hands-on machine in the class of the better Gaggias. It's sort of like  
a superauto without the grinder or froth dispenser that sucks milk out  
of a tank and spits it out as foam.  It looks like the bastard love  
child of R2D2 and a Rexair Rainbow vacuum cleaner. It has a pump and  
thermoblock, but no true portafilter. You measure ground espresso into  
its hopper, rotate the top till the piston on top of it (which is an  
internal tamper) faces you, press down or pull down (whichever is  
easier) on the piston and hit the brew button. The piston slowly rises  
as the espresso comes out of the two built-in spouts, very similar to  
what you'd find on a superauto.  You then rotate the top again and the  
puck is ejected into another hopper (and the 3-way valve spits excess  
water into the drip tray). For steaming, frothing or hot water, you  
wait for the pressure to rebuild and then push a variety of switches  
for the desired form of H2O to emerge from the pygmy, froth-aider- 
tipped steam wand.  Sometimes it's decent.  But I never got microfoam,  
and the water coming out the spouts was never clean--even after I'd  
dismantle, clean and flush the machine.  Plus I missed being able to  
tamp and control the steam with a knob.  In a way it was a step  
backward from the Estro (Saeco) Profi pump machine/grinder combo  
(whose grinder dispensed not into the machine but rather the  
portafilter).  The Gaggia pumpers have heavier boilers (some of them  
now stainless steel like the Estro instead of aluminum) and full-size  
commercial-grade brass portafilters that take standard accessories.   
When my Profi died I had gone to Casteel & Co. in Evanston, looking  
for either a Rancilio Audrey (which they didn't carry) or a Gaggia  
Coffee or Baby; the owner, a respected roaster and barista, raved  
about the Ultima and said he bought one for his house; he demoed it  
and it made pretty good espresso.  I expressed reservations over the  
lack of a steam knob but was able to froth by feel and manipulating  
the pitcher, so I ended up buying it.  Had no idea it could not be  
fully cleaned. Should've spent $150 more for the Gaggia in retrospect.
In its defense, it usually made better crema, better foam and hotter  
shots than the Krups thermoblock pumper that preceded the Profi.  But  
if I were going for convenience and not hands-on control (and weren't  
a homeroaster) I'd probably look at a top-line Nespresso capsule  
machine.
On Jan 11, 2009, at 4:34 PM, Brian Kamnetz wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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