Saturday, April 4, 2009

Livin' life on the low end!

Okay. Maybe I've been spending too much time on CoffeeGeek, Home-Barista, etc., but I'm really just tired of the machine slamming and general snobbishness and snootiness towards low-end consumer grade equipment on these sites. So I figured it would be a good idea to start a blog to disseminate information on espresso machines for the rest of us.

After all, maybe you can afford to spend $1500-$2000 on Rancilio Silvia and a Mazzer Mini, or even $4000-6000 an E61 with a rotary pump and a Mazzer Robur, and maybe I could spend $600 on a Nemox Espresso and matching grinder (which, incidentally, despite CoffeeGeek refusing to review it, did rather better than the Mazzer Mini on the Titan Grinder Project tests), but you know what? I'd like to have a little left over to buy coffee, which runs ~$10-20/lb. these days.

You can buy a decent setup for under $300, if you're willing to work at it a bit harder than the guys with a Speedster.

Okay, I'm not going to honest with you: you're probably not going to be winning the World Barista Championship with this equipment, but if you're just looking to make better espresso than you could find at your average city cafe, then low-end equipment will do the job, with some extra effort on your part.

On this blog, I'll be posting about machines, grinders, mods and accessories. As much as possible, I'll point out decent reviews of low-end equipment on various sites throughout the Web and I'll tell you hidden secrets about equipment the guys selling high-end equipment don't want you to know.

I'll also point out what you're missing from high-end equipment, and how you can compensate for that, as much as possible, on the lower-end machines. You can make good espresso on cheap equipment, it just takes some work!


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  2. Hey Rob, thanks for the blog. I think I'm your target reader. I like a good cup, like to make it myself, don't have a lotta dough to spend. I often buy used or refurbed to save a dollar. What I use now is a refurbished Gaggia Coffee Deluxe that I switched over to the Silvia steam wand, and a factory refurbed Baratza Virtuoso. Total cost around $300 or under. The Virtuoso grinds fine enough to choke the Gaggia. If I need to be somewhere "between steps" on the grind for a particular bean, I just try to adjust the tamp instead. (Since I drink most of my shots with steamed milk, my pulls don't have to be extraordinarily perfect.) Anyway, thanks again for your comments for the rest of us amid a sea of sometimes over-the-top snobbery. Next, maybe a post about good mail order beans on the low end?
    (Reposted to correct typos.)