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strange-steve

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I've recently started getting into coffee in a more serious way (which is very worrying because I really can't afford another obsessive hobby) and up to now I've only been using a Moka pot and French press, but I think it might be time to upgrade to an espresso maker.

I've watched a lot of James Hoffman's videos and it seems like you can't get a decent electric espresso machine for less than about £500 which is more than I'd like to spend right now (especially as I'm going to need a good grinder too), but I really liked the look of the Flair lever machine which he gave a good review. And for £230 it seems like it might be a good option.

Does anyone have any experience with this or any other lever machine?
 

Surfingobo

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I’ve got a used gaggia classic, look for a pre 2015 and expect to pay about £150. If you can find one with a pid controller already installed then great.

you need to budget for a decent grinder as well, check out the mignon at black cat coffee for about £350 or for a used grinder look for a mazzer super jolly if you have the space (£150 ish) or and iberital mc2 if you don’t (maybe £60-80).

This forum is great for advice and used kit.
 

hop-a-long

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Hi Strange-Steve,
With espresso machines you can go as crazy as you want, I think. There's machines out there up to thousands of pounds. However in my opinion, a cheap machine can deliver just as good a result.

As for the beans, most supermarkets in the UK sell good espressogrounds, so there is no real need for a separate or included grinder. It just takes some time to find the coffee you like.

For me, I'm on my second espressomaker in 15 years. Both came from Aldi and cost me around €80,-.
The picture below shows my current one theat I bought about 4 years ago. Aldi was selling this same model even last year
.
Quigg_espresso.jpg
 

strange-steve

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I’ve got a used gaggia classic, look for a pre 2015 and expect to pay about £150. If you can find one with a pid controller already installed then great.

you need to budget for a decent grinder as well, check out the mignon at black cat coffee for about £350 or for a used grinder look for a mazzer super jolly if you have the space (£150 ish) or and iberital mc2 if you don’t (maybe £60-80).

This forum is great for advice and used kit.
Actually I've heard a lot about the Gaggia Classic and there are a few on ebay at the minute, including one with a PID upgrade. The only thing that puts me off this, which may be a little shallow, is the look of the machine. I don't think my wife would appreciate the old-school aesthetic in our kitchen :confused:
 

Surfingobo

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Just an FYI on pre ground vs whole. If you wish to use a machine with an unpressurised basket like the flair then you will need to grind your own, it just won’t work with pre ground.
 

Surfingobo

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If the gaggia isn’t yo your taste how about a la pavoni lever machine, I believe they go from about £250 second hand
 

strange-steve

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Hi Strange-Steve,
With espresso machines you can go as crazy as you want, I think. There's machines out there up to thousands of pounds. However in my opinion, a cheap machine can deliver just as good a result.

As for the beans, most supermarkets in the UK sell good espressogrounds, so there is no real need for a separate or included grinder. It just takes some time to find the coffee you like.

For me, I'm on my second espressomaker in 15 years. Both came from Aldi and cost me around €80,-.
The picture below shows my current one theat I bought about 4 years ago. Aldi was selling this same model even last year
.View attachment 28611
Thanks for the reply hop-a-long. I'm certainly no expert on the subject but James Hoffman reviewed that very machine from Aldi and wasn't too kind about it :(
 

terrym

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Its not so much about the machine its more about the coffee itself, which will take you longer to find given all the different brands, countries and areas of origin, specialist shop or supermarket sourced, fresh ground or pre-ground etc etc. We settled on Lavazzo Rosso for our De Longhi machine having tried numerous types and roasts, but its completely different cup between filter and machine.
Personally if ours is anything to go by, I think domestic coffee machines are vastly overpriced for what they are, especially if you look inside one as I have done.
 
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strange-steve

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Just an FYI on pre ground vs whole. If you wish to use a machine with an unpressurised basket like the flair then you will need to grind your own, it just won’t work with pre ground.
Do you have any recommendations for a decent hand grinder? At the minute I have a cheap little Hario Skerton which is fine for the Moka pot but certainly won't cut it for an espresso machine.
 

strange-steve

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Its not no much about the machine its more about the coffee itself, which will take you longer to find given all the different brands, countries and areas of origin, specialist shop or supermarket sourced, fresh ground or pre-ground etc etc. We settled on Lavazzo Rosso for our De Longhi machine having tried numerous types and roasts, but its completely different cup between filter and machine.
Personally if ours is anything to go by, I think domestic coffee machines are vastly overpriced for what they are, especially if you look inside one as I have done.
I agree that the coffee itself is the most important bit, I recently started getting coffee from Rave and I'm very pleased with it. Their medium roast organic blend is delicious.
 

Hopsteep

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We’ve got the baby Sage machine and it’s awesome. Bit of a pain to clean but most machines are. Can’t recommend it enough.

As for pre ground coffee that’s a complete no no. You may as well save your money and buy some instant coffee. The reason why the coffee is ground immediately before being used is to extract all of the volatile oils from within the bean. This gives your espresso it’s thick creamy head. These oils are gone after a few minutes of the bean being ground.
 
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Hi @strange-steve a friend of mine has a great book out that I would recommend
The Coffee Dictionary: An A-Z of Coffee, from Growing & Roasting to Brewing & Tasting
Book by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood . also
Check out Hasbean for coffee and Coffee Hit - Best range of coffee gear on the planet. for gear. both sites have fantastic products and really good customer service. We used coffee hit to supply our coffee shop. What kind of price range are you thinking for your grinder and machine? If you don’t mind me asking?
 

MickDundee

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I’ve got a Krupps bean to cup and it’s great. We had a £200 DeLonghi before that (not been to cup) and the Krupps knocks spots off it for crema etc.

I wouldn’t agree about having to pay £500+ unless you were a proper snob.
 

MickDundee

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Its not so much about the machine its more about the coffee itself, which will take you longer to find given all the different brands, countries and areas of origin, specialist shop or supermarket sourced, fresh ground or pre-ground etc etc. We settled on Lavazzo Rosso for our De Longhi machine having tried numerous types and roasts, but its completely different cup between filter and machine.
Personally if ours is anything to go by, I think domestic coffee machines are vastly overpriced for what they are, especially if you look inside one as I have done.
Lavazza is by far the best of the supermarket coffees (I like Illy as well but I don’t think the price difference between Illy and Lavazza is worth it) so it’s my everyday coffee. We buy some beans from one of our local coffee specialists (Braithwaites in Dundee or The Bean Shop in Perth) when we fancy a treat or are feeling flush.
 

strange-steve

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What kind of price range are you thinking for your grinder and machine?
Good question, and I don't really know. I believe I'm right in saying that as far as grinders go, if you're on a restricted budget then you're better off with a hand grinder? I probably couldn't go much higher than about £400 for both, which I know isn't a lot but I can't really justify spending more on a hobby!
 

strange-steve

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The Ethiopian Coffee Company is great, reasonable prices, good delivery time and as ethiopian coffee is the best in the world it's a no brainer.
I'm sure it's amazing but I don't think my palate is refined enough to justify £42 a kg.
 

pilgrimhudd

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Judging by how well your beer goes down on here steve I'm sure it is, but to be fair I've never bought it by the kg, and that does seem pricey. 👍
 

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I agree that the coffee itself is the most important bit, I recently started getting coffee from Rave and I'm very pleased with it. Their medium roast organic blend is delicious.
We should have a separate thread on the best small coffee suppliers that people have discovered. Personally I got into whole bean Union coffee after trying a bag from Waitrose. Super stuff, Gajah Mountain is my fave but we've currently got Maraba and it's just ace.
 

hop-a-long

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With all the talk about espresso machines, I'm almost surprised you're not going for one these:


This seems much more appropriate for a Homebrewer!
 
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