How much to Spend what to Buy and in what order???

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How much to Spend what to Buy and in what order???

Postby Davec » Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:23 pm

gouezeri wrote:In the pursuit of perfection people will complain about anything and everything. I just think we need to keep things in perspective. My analogy was simply to provoke, I'm not saying that chefs never complain about poor equipment, but rather that the most important emphasis is placed elsewhere. Doesn't matter how good your oven, if you're putting ready meals in it. There are still plenty of posts on TMC about people buying machines before grinders, and trying to use preground, and we're a specialised site!


A bit off topic in the Lever thread, so I thought I would start a new thread. I think it could be an especially useful discussion to those starting out or upgrading from very basic equipment. I'm probably wrong, but the discussion and comments are going to offer a few perspectives to others that could just prove useful. If nothing else it will give them food for thought.

I used to believe an expensive grinder was very important, wasn't sure if more so than the machine, but wouldn't have argued the point. I now think a good grinder is essential...but not necessarily an expensive one.

If I was considering starting from scratch now I would buy:

Good grinder....probably around £100 ish

Very Good machine (£400+)

Good Fresh Coffee (not from the supermarket! and be choosey about your retail outlet :wink: )


Then Later (after a few years) get a good "expensive" grinder £300-400 and sell the first grinder. The reason I say this is simply that I have come across a grinder I have since sold that doesn't grind far off the quality of my Mazzer Mini E. Sure, it won't do so for so long, it's not as fast or as quiet and grind quality is bound to deteriorate gradually over a 2-3 year period, unlike the Mazzer. I was however amazed that the cheaper grinder could even approach the quality of the Mazzer. This was a suprise for me and although not all £100 grinders are going to grind well....there are obviously some that will!

It's also the cheaper way round to do things as you will easily get £30-40 for a good grinder that cost £100-120 when it's a couple of years old. However, you might lose a little more on a "mid range" coffee machine. Prehaps not in % terms but in total cash. This being TMC though, I am sure there are lots of conflicting views on these comments :wink:
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Postby lukas » Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:44 pm

I think a good grinder is important. On another thread were mentioned the Gaggia MDF (suits my needs well, even though I currently also have a Santos) and the Demoka M-203, both cost around 150€ IIRC.
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Postby AlanP » Wed Apr 19, 2006 1:03 pm

There probably isn't a 'correct' way of doing this.
I tend to believe that buying the best you can afford in the beginning works out cheaper in the long run.

Alan

edit: However,doing the above isn't protection from upgraditus :wink:
Last edited by AlanP on Wed Apr 19, 2006 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Steem21 » Wed Apr 19, 2006 1:19 pm

As a relative Newbie to the espresso world, I started off with a cheap £100 machine for christmas and ground beans from Whittards. The espresso was ok but then after reading a few posts on this site, I went out to buy a grinder. I would have wanted to spend £300+ for a Mazzer knowing it's reputation but I wasn't allowed to! So I bought an Aerolatte grinder for £75 and found a source for fresh beans and my espressos now taste, more often than not, pretty good. Now my cheap machine has packed in after 5 months and I'm not looking to get it repaired. I'm hoping to get a machine that would increase the chances of a consistent shot and I am willing to spend a good amount on a machine that can produce good shots but again, the other half does not understand why a machine for espresso has to be so expensive! I'm glad for the introduction into the espresso world from my cheap machine, but if I knew the factors which influence the making of good coffee at home, I would have spent more money on a machine and a reasonably priced grinder. Having said that, I thought the grinder and fresh beans made a world of difference to the espressos being produced.

My 2 pennies worth.

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Re: How much to Spend what to Buy and in what order???

Postby Gouezeri » Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:07 pm

Good thread Dave.
Davec wrote:I used to believe an expensive grinder was very important, wasn't sure if more so than the machine, but wouldn't have argued the point. I now think a good grinder is essential...but not necessarily an expensive one.

I definitely agree here, there are frankly too many great grinders that are over priced. Thankfully there is an increasing number of good grinders at great prices. You just have to know what to look for. The best deal in the UK at the moment has to be an MC2, probably followed by the Innovas. Personally, I'm not a fan of the Gaggias or Aerolatte. The rocky is also a good sub 200 quid grinder, but I think it is overpriced.

Very Good machine (£400+): Well, unless making the jump to a decent HX, I think there are some fine machines to start on for less. But really, we're talking a minimum of £300 new

Fresh, well sourced coffee is by far the most important, no question about it

Getting a good grinder and great coffee, opens up more doors (Vac, FP, Moka, Swiss Gold) than blowing your budget on an expensive machine and then skimping on the rest!

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Postby CakeBoy » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:53 pm

I agree with Alan. You do the best you can at the time with the prevailing circumstances. That is not just your own financial situation to consider, but the deals that are available at the time. Two of the three variables (machine and grinder) will be determined on that basis. The third - beans - will not!

Knowing what I do now, I would not scrimp on the machine because it is going to be in the several hundred pounds bracket whatever and that is a big layout to upgrade again later. For me there is a huge difference in stability between any prosumer machine and a small commercial. Though assuming finances would not run to either a high end prosumer or a commercial, then I would be looking for an Oscar (on stability) or similar for the high three hundreds if a further upgrade would be longterm, or a cheap Gaggia Classic (on price alone) if something bigger was likely within a year or two.

As for the grinder, there is a sweet spot between the cheapos that will only last a couple of years and the lifetime Mazzers. As Dom says, the MC2 is a great deal. It (and others - Macap?) fall soundly into a catagory where the job gets done very well, perhaps without the finishing touches or absolute perfection of the Mazzer, but done properly nevertheless. The price is right, being low enough that money's worth has been had if an upgrade comes within a year or two, but the grinder is also right for a longer relationship - potentially very long.

The school of thought has always been to max out on a grinder and bring the machine along in stages to meet it, but now there is reasonable argument for maxing out on the machine and pairing it with a sturdy and stable mid-range grinder that will depreciate much less (than an espresso machine of any cost) IF an upgrade comes later, and that is by no means a necessity.

I second Dom - top thread Dave. Totally deserves its "Sticky" status :P
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Postby espressomattic » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:22 pm

Well as I was the one who benefitted from the grinder Dave mentioned I can only say that it is a great grinder. The quality of shots has gone through the roof. Fortunaly I have a good machine to complemet it too. Unfortunatly I do not know who made my grinder even though it appears to come under a couple of 'brands'. The MC2 is a good mid priced grinder from what I have seen of Cakeys...ok damn good grinder ;)

I think that if you are serious about buying a machine then it is worth biding your time, saving what you can and as much as you can. At least this way you can invest, and it is an investment really, in a quality machine that will last.

Same goes for a grinder (I now understand why).

In the interim you can use a moka with fresh beans ground to order. I just don't think that it is worth doing anyother way and spending good money on equipment that really isn't up to the mark.

I can say that from harsh experience. I am glad I started on a cheap machine and bought fresh ground coffee, because it gave me a greta starting point. However if you already know what you want to do, where you want to go, then save, save & save.

Unfortunaly all I haven't been able to find out about my grinder is that it is made in Italy...very frusrating!!!!
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Postby monkey66 » Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:08 pm

Have to say, after beiing sutiably modified (i know...not like me to get the tools out) i am getting excellent, consistant results with the KitchenAid ProLine.... However I only bought it because we had some vouchers for a major chain and it was the best i could do there. To spend more money at the time would have cost a lot more in divorce proceedings.
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Postby scottwhite » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:16 pm

I think good beans and good grinder are the most important thing, as the saying goes "you can't polish turd", of course you can do that, but all you get is shiny turd.

I personally think £300 for a home grinder is the max worth spending just from the volume perspective alone.
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Postby BazBean » Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:35 pm

Bearing in mind my postings on another thread possibly to do with grinders, a thought entered my mind..........
do we expect too much from mid price"budget" grinders?. i say this because having spent a what i would call a reasonable amount is it fair to expect high end quality for mid range money... sounds a silly statement i know but as the answer is obvious, get what you pay for.. simple.
ok in my other post it may turn out to be the grinder (faulty) or indeed something diffrent completly but it has promted my thinking into this idea.

Should you expect value for money as a consumer .. of course but maybe the average customer would not pick on some of the shall we say "shortcomings" of some of the grinders available and have to bear in mind that as a customer base i should think we are slightly more knowledgable than the average coffee shop / home user which is the target market.

Basically what i am trying to say is that i can imadgine that I / We ? must be a hard group of individuals to please .....!!!!
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Postby Joris » Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:29 pm

Us lot hard to please ?? What in heaven's name gave you that idea ?? ;)
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Postby scottwhite » Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:30 pm

with a mid range grinder you should expect a consistant grind, the difference between the mid priced and the high end grinders is the build quality, the noise level and the life expectancy, as well as the looks.

You're referring to the MC5 which of course is a commercial grinder and not one aimed at the home market.

Typically the higher end grinders will do the same job at a lower speed.

Espresso machine expectations of course are a different matter entirely particularly when there are so many potential variables to be considered.
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Postby Davec » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:20 pm

BazBean wrote:... sounds a silly statement i know but as the answer is obvious, get what you pay for.. simple.
Basically what i am trying to say is that i can imadgine that I / We ? must be a hard group of individuals to please .....!!!!


Not related at all to your problem, and talking about coffee kit in general (machines grinders etc..) the specific statement "you get what you pay for", hmmm....I'm not sure about that?

To explain: there are many retail products that charge a premium for brand, hype, advertising, celebrity usage etc..it doesn't always mean they are any better and in some cases they are not as good. I think it's unfortunate that often we "get what we are prepared to pay". In the UK we are "prepared to pay quite a lot", even if we have to borrow the money. The reason why we are touted as one of the most lucrative markets on earth! :shock:

I am sure we can all think of many common retail products (e.g. DVD Players in the early years) where this is true and if this is the case....why should coffee related things be any different!
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Postby Gouezeri » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:42 pm

Davec wrote: the specific statement "you get what you pay for", hmmm....I'm not sure about that?

Don't think we have any FF! users around here :twisted:
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Postby Davec » Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:45 pm

gouezeri wrote:
Davec wrote: the specific statement "you get what you pay for", hmmm....I'm not sure about that?

Don't think we have any FF! users around here :twisted:


FF?, whats a FF?
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