Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2020 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
159
On Choosing A New Espresso Machine Part One

Friday, March 21, 2020
all text and photos 2020 - All rights reserved

    It has been nearly 19 years since I started down this road. In that time I have only shopped for one espresso machine and that was, you guessed it, about 19 years ago when I bought Silvia and Rocky. Two subsequent machines since that first shopping experience came to me in trade for creating the owners' manuals; the Vibiemme Domobar Super which I sold when I acquired the Vibiemme Domobar Double. Just recently, by a fortunate set of circumstances, I bought a La Pavoni Europiccola.

    Over the last couple of years I had a brief experience with a Cremina and now with the La Pavoni Europiccola. I have tasted the benefits of the lever, and it was good. After dealing with the set pressure of the Vibiemme PID Double Boiler I have wanted some way to control flow or pressure without having to open the cabinet (a cabinet I never liked). If you examine the plot herein, and are thinking ahead, the obvious choice is a manual or spring lever manual machine (Cremina, Londinum, or?), but nearing 69 years of age and at a weigh in of around 145 pounds, my shoulders are not up to the task of pulling a lever day after day.

    So this may change at any time, but that is where I am today; burdened with the decision as to what will be my next machine. There is no rush because if I am ready to purchase in four months I will be fortunate.

    When a combination of fuel, heat, oxygen, and P.G.& E. took my home and all in it from me in November of 2018 I soon realized that I had to actually shop for a new machine. While my last machine was quite capable there were functions lacking that I desired, and factors that made it clear that I did not want the same machine again. So, much like buying a new car (something I have not done since 1972), if care is not taken, you easily can arrive at a point that in frustration you say to the sales person, "Sure. Go ahead and include the teflon floor mats so I can get the drilled titanium windshield wiper arms."

    Over the years here on HB as well as my time spent on CG and alt.coffee, I have read numerous (easily hundreds) of posts with a subject similar to, "Help me pick a new espresso machine." In these last few weeks of my search I have gained a good amount of empathy for those who have gone through this. What functions do I really need? And possibly more importantly, what functions do I want? Should I spend that much, really? Do I have room for all that? Do you really need the microwave to be on the kitchen counter, dear? How much does a divorce cost?

    Back when I bought my Silvia in late 2000, in regards to capable espresso machines, there were not many choices, not only in that price range, but in home espresso machines generally. My total purchase of a Silvia, a Rocky, and a Hearthware Precision roaster came to about $900. That is now entry level for just a serious espresso grinder now! But with the tremendous advances in home espresso, many of which were driven by enthusiasts doing home modifications back then (remember the PID thread on alt.coffee?), we now have technical marvels that are more advanced than ANYTHING available at any price back in 2000!

    Over the last ten months of going from dreaming, to selecting then deselecting then selecting, and having had at least ten machines on my cranial whiteboard, I have begun to narrow down the choices to three. Then two. Later three again or maybe two, or was it four? Maybe. Returning to the vehicle-purchase metaphor, "I would love that one if it came with a hot tub, but thank you."

    Fortunately I have made an early go of it and have time to decide. So for all you out there who are in the throes of this same struggle, I feel for you. As Red Green would say, "I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice!"

    More to follow soon...

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