Recomendations for an Espresso Setup

Since both my grinder and coffee maker died within a week of each other, I'm looking for a whole espresso setup. My lab in grad school had a Rancilio Silvia and matching grinder and while nicer then the cheap Cusinart and Breville setup I had at home, I'd be looking for something a tad less finicky then that. I tend to keep my stuff a long while so durability is an important consideration. I also don't typically drink milk so steam is a secondary concern.

Any setup you'd recommend that fit the bill? I don't have a hard budget but would like to get the most bang for my bucks. Another thing that seems to be important for grinders: I have no counter space without pantries on top and they are 17.75" inch from the counter.
 
I can't say what's going to work for you, just that I enjoy my Breville double boiler (2nd Gen) and HG-1 grinder.

My first Breville DB came due for the scheduled factory return for descale; the Company decided to offer me the next gen at a discount to replace it. Brand new, no questions. I'm thrilled and have been all four or five years I've been using them daily.

The HG-1; just simply one of the best investments I've made in coffee preparation and consumption "." This thing, just like any of the razors I now own, I'd be happy to know it'll be passed down to at least one or more generations after me.

So, I hope that adds to your matrix and the calculus to follow. Let us know what you end up with!
 
I have a Baratza Encore and Saeco Via Venezia. I stripped the pressurized portafilter out to make it a standard portafilter until I buy one but it made a huge difference in the quality of the shot. SCG has had some deals on refurb units (machines not grinders), not long ago
 
Those manual grinders are intriguing. How much of a chore is it to grind a few time a day?

And does the flywheel handle go right to the top of the wheel? Judging by the dimensions, I'd have about 3/4" of clearance to fit my hand on top if it does which might be awkward.
 
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Those manual grinders are intriguing. How much of a chore is it to grind a few time a day?
It can take a while to hand grind enough to pull a few shots. The finer the grind, the longer you turn the handle. I'll do a manual grinder for pourovers/aeropress, but not for espresso.
I'm currently stalking some superautomatics. Apparently they've gotten really good in the last several years, and you can find many of them for less than the price of a good machine and electric grinder. Of course, that means less customization with the grind and other variables. I'm thinking the convenience will be worth it for me.
 
Pretty darn close Zbingu, I'd have to say you'd find some scraped knuckles from day one if you tried to roll with it at 45 to 90 degrees arm angle from the plane of your chest. Easy-peasy to spin though, pushing up and over away from your body. True satisfaction in the experience and I realize now, over time - where the mind goes while you do it. I tried to have that zen sense with the old world European coffee mill boxes, but this thing just takes everything about the process to easy and comfortable. If you have an opportunity to put your hands on one of these before you decide to invest in your next grinder, do so. It may change how you look at the space around your kitchen and how you can set aside that work space.

I don't miss the Baratza motor in the morning and/or the add-on scale / controller which hosted a very high-frequency capacitor ring that just wouldn't be quiet until I unplugged it.
 
JohnYaddy I only know about the S-Autos of seven-eight years ago, but the takeaway I had was, everything about that grounds path needed to be scrupulously cleaned quite regularly. That meant taking apart cover panels, major assemblies, and secondary fiddly parts. Then a toothbrush or soft bristle dusting or rinse dry and dust. I liked the system when it worked, it worked real good... but there came mornings when I realized too many days had past since the last time I cleaned up like the manual recommended.
 
My DeLonghi Magnifica superautomatic has treated me well for 3 years now. Turn it on, let it warm up which takes about a minute, then press a button if all I want is espresso or American. It grinds, measures, packs and tamps, pulls the shot, ejects the puck, and self cleans. If you want convenience, this is it. The user has to keep the hopper filled with beans, keep the tank filled with water, empty the puck drawer every few shots, deep clean every week or so, and de-scale when the display says to do it. I enjoy a cappuccino in the morning and this one has no fancy pants milk tank... I put milk in a mug and froth with the steam wand, then hit the espresso button twice for 2 double shots. Starbucks should taste that good... they would get my business, then. I favor 8 oclock Columbian beans which are cheap cheap cheap, and very good. Its a medium roast which I prefer in espresso.

As Merle mentioned, you need to be proactive in doing the deep cleaning. Do it in the evening if it is overdue. Don't wait for morning. Check water level and beans, too, so in the morning you get the full benefit of a quick and convenient coffee. Really, speed and convenience are the only real reasons to go with a superautomatic, so have it ready to rock in the morning. Then you can push that on button, do something else for a minute, come back and push the espresso (or american) button and watch your cup fill.

Deep cleaning the DeLonghi is not such a big deal. You could do it daily at no big inconvenience. I find weekly works for me. Some folks dont even realize it should be done and they wonder after a few months why their American has an odd taste sometimes lol. But the self cleaning cycle actually does pretty good.

It takes a few shots before you get your settings where you want them. You can adjust strength and volume, and grind. I don't think you can adjust water temp, unless the strength adjustment actually does that. Remember your personal settings in case someone fiddles with them.

The wand also does hot water, so you can do tea, soup, etc as well.

I got this one at Bed Bath & Beyond, on sale, for somewhere south of $600. Pretty sure you can find one online for about that price. So far, no repairs needed, but DeLonghi is a popular brand so a rebuild kit should be an easy find.
 
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I'm looking for a whole espresso setup. My lab in grad school had a Rancilio Silvia and matching grinder and while nicer then the cheap Cusinart and Breville setup I had at home, I'd be looking for something a tad less finicky then that.

Any setup you'd recommend that fit the bill? I don't have a hard budget but would like to get the most bang for my bucks.
You would be hard pressed to find something simpler or less finicky than the Silvia (push the button and shazzam.... coffee)

Most all are going to require a substantial chuck of kitchen real estate. I have one entire 10 foot long counter dedicated to nothing but coffee and it is packed full.

If you are looking for simple and space saving. How about a Nespresso? Now before you shout me down, they will make a decent cup of espresso if you feed them fresh roasted fresh ground beans. I am thinking of the small footprint for you. If you do not mind buying your espresso in 1/2 or 1/4 lb quantities you should be able to locate a local artisan roaster who would grind you a small quentity (4 or 5 days worth tops at a time).

You can get refillable pods. Get a number of them. You can also keep a small amount of store shelf pods for when you run out of fresh espresso from your local roaster.

Just a thought that will stay within your "small less finicky" requirement and still give you a good shot, latte, or americano when you want one without putting on a major production to get there, or stopping at charbucks for a burned, over sweet, iced, warm, cup of mud flavored brown stuff. For the price of one cup out, you can have several days of much better tasting brew

Unless you want to end up like me with a coffee wall so think about it

 
So just to clarify some points, I graduated a couple of years ago and don't need to abide to a student's budget. I'm looking for a semi-automatic of some kind. Ideally a machine that didn't require to time it to get good result and a grinder with shorter steps but I could totally live with that setup. I don't need (nor want) something completely fool proof and would like to keep the electronic to a minimum.

Finding fresh coffee is also not an issue. There are 2 within a 5 minutes walk of my home and ~10 close to my job. I'm currently using an aeropress and pre-ground coffee to tide me over.
 
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I'm looking for a semi-automatic of some kind. Ideally a machine that didn't require to time it to get good result
Good results and easy are like gourmet fast food. Good luck finding something. I have never seen anything that is easy, fast, and fantastic.

and a grinder with shorter steps but I could totally live with that setup. I don't need (nor want) something completely fool proof and would like to keep the electronic to a minimum.
Good grinders are manual and take a LOT of fidgeting. Each batch of beans will require a completely from scratch re-setup/adjustment process that will result in yuck pulls for a day or so. This is regardless of whether hyou have a $100 grinder or a $1000 grinder.

Finding fresh coffee is also not an issue. There are 2 within a 5 minutes walk of my home and ~10 close to my job. I'm currently using an aeropress and pre-ground coffee to tide me over.
Looks like you are already at the top of what you are looking for.

Anything else would be no more than stepping sideways until you start spending $5k and above, then you would need either training or years to learn how it all works.

There is really no shortcut to the best coffee you can get.

It will either take lots of $$$$ or lots of time.

Most people are not willing to spend a few years apprenticing as a barista in order to get a decent cup of coffee.

It has taken me 5 years to get from a can of Folgers to where I am now. Sourcing green. Roasting small batches. Making pour over, press, vacuum, moka, and espresso, that meets or even surpasses the best available here in my little town and I have the runner up in Roast Magazine's roaster of the year award as well as multiple artisan roasting houses that have their own espresso/coffee bars serving their own in-house roasted beans.

Mick
 
I'm aware of how to dial a grinder. I've been using espresso machines since I was a kid and this would be my 3rd setup. I'm looking for something durable as both of my previous machines died around the 5 year mark (and the tiny pcb board was obviously discontinued and unavailable) which made them rather bad investment despite the lowish initial price. On the flip side, my parents' machine has been going strong since before I was born and the Rancilios in my old lab were still fine after close to two decades of minimal maintenance. I'm also apparently not very prone to acquisition disorders. 5 years in and I'm still on my 5/8" Dovo Best Quality and it's now my only razor ;).
 
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For an good espresso grinder I would recommend a Mazzer Major or at the minimum a Super Jolly. The burrs are just too small on the Mini to make it a good grinder

I have a customized my manual SJ which now runs electronically controlled dosing and am very happy with it.

 
It sounds like you have experience making espresso but I'm still going to say it.
Spend the money on a good grinder. You can pull pretty decent shots on an inexpensive espresso machine if you have a good grinder. But pulling a decent shot from a top of the line espresso machine while using a low quality grinder is next to impossible.

I have the Baratza Vario burr grinder with metal poratfilter holder that I bought from Seattle Coffee Gear. You can spend more on a grinder but this one gives consistent results and always seems to be rated favorably. Good bang for the buck IMO.
It works very well for espresso and also drip and chemex. I have read that you can adjust it to grind for either french press or turkish but not both. I don't make either of those but I frequently switch between espresso, chemex and drip grinds with great results. It is heavy and has a lot of steel in it so it's fairly quiet as grinders go.

As for the machine, if you want longevity then you'll have to sacrifice bells and whistles. The Rancilio Silvia machines are reported to last for ages with proper care.

Contact Seattle Coffee Gear and have a chat with them. Great people and they will be happy to help you out.

 
Thanks for the recommendations.

Turtle, could you expand on why you think the Mini's burr are too small (and several other similar grinders like the Vario, Compak, Macap etc by extension)?

Are dosers actually useful or more of pain then they're worth? What about conical vs flat burrs? Right now I'm reordering the kitchen furniture around to see if I could fit an HG-1 somewhere outside the kitchen table or cutting block.
 
Small update but I could conceivably remove some shelves and get about 2' of counter space with 22" of clearance which open up a ton of possibilities.
 
I would recommend a Slayer single group and a Compak F10 (or K10) but most wouldn't consider it a starter set.:001_cool: Nor would it fit on your allowed counter space.
 
I refer you to my earlier post: I do not find 20 seconds to weigh, 30 seconds or so to grind, 20 seconds to tamp, and 10 seconds pre-infuse + 28 seconds extraction at 9 bar tiresome: just the opposite, as I Know what's awaiting me in that wee cup.

now cleaning up after the day's ablutions? Hopefully, you're doing for two or more before you leave... spreads the time to rinse, backflush and dry over good efforts and results.
 
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