questionsespresso - where have you bean all my life?

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I have been using the Saeco Vienna for about 8 years now. It looks like they only sell the plus now, but I can't imagine there is much difference. When we first got the unit it broke within the first couple of weeks. I had to send it back to the company which was a pain, but the shipping and repair was all covered 100%. We got the unit back and it has been running for 8 years perfectly!

Here is the machine we have (as I said we do not have the plus model):

http://tinyurl.com/saecoplus

As for the bean, we have tried MANY many beans, but we try to stick with Lavazza La Crema if we can. Seems to get the best "head" from the oil and has the best taste IMO.

http://tinyurl.com/lavazzacrema

Oh, and don't forget the Buca!!!!!

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I'm upvoting this post for the absolute creativity express-oed in asking for recommendations and help. Well played, good sir.

I'm also watching it for recommendations as well. ;)

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On the cheap you can get stovetop espresso machines and milk frothers for very little. These are what are used in many homes in Italy. You have to watch them, but they are fast if you have decent burners. If you live near NYC, you can buy these in Little Italy and around Canal Street. I'm sure they're all over Ebay and Amazon.

I've never had an expensive espresso machine I liked fooling with, tho they did make a good cup when I used them.

I would start low $ - like at Goodwill, Salvation Army, Craigslist etc. If you like making your own, get somethink nice then.

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The one on Woot right now is a full auto, which means it does the grind/tamp/brew in one go.
Very convenient, and theoretically consistent results, but you pay for all of that.

I started my espresso journey with the Breville 800ESXL Woot sold way back when. Here is what I had to say about that. It's a semi-auto in that I have to grind and tamp myself, it just does the pressurized extract. Here's the kicker, to get a good shot, I had to get a good burr grinder, tamper, and portafilter. I lucked out and scored a Kitchenaid for $150, but many people hold the Rancilio Rocky as the gold standard.
So I was looking at $300+ for a semi-auto shot vs. $499 for what's offered on Woot right now.

j5 j5
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cont.
Good beans are critical. Find a local roaster and buy from them. My beans are no older than 1 week from roast date.

j5 j5
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@f00l: Moka pot!

The one I use I bought from Ikea. Being stainless steel was a big plus over the aluminum pots that most are made of.

For a machine, I have a Saeco Aroma, which is considered an "entry-level" machine. I didn't pay anywhere near the $300 retail price, but despite having it readily available to use, I typically just use the moka pot. It just feels more "hands on", I guess.

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I've made espresso on the stove, used a ridiculously expensive machine, and now have a Nespresso (uses special coffee pods) - and the Nespresso wins hands down for me. It might not be quite as good as the expensive machine, but it comes close and it's a hell of a lot easier to use and clean, which means I use it at least once a day instead of only bringing it out for special occasions. I saw it in a lot of homes and hotels in Europe, loved it, came home and bought one. I have the CitiZ w/the attached frother, and it's actually the most-used appliance in my kitchen.

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I am late to answering your question, but I will throw my two cents in as well. I have 2 Saeco Magic Comfort Plus super automatic coffee makers. I have also purchased Saeco superautomatics as gifts for my brother, parents, in-laws, and best friend. Needless to say, I am a satisfied customer. The two I have are up to around 4,700 cups of coffee on one, and about 6,000 cups of coffee made. I would say they have served any useful life I would expect of them when dividing the cups of excellent coffee by the cost of purchasing. My two, and my brothers were both refurbished models I picked up for about $375 to $600 (his is the same as mine) depending on the deal I could find. My parents, in-laws, and friends were all brand new and more expensive. I joke that if I was destitute and had $500 I'd purchase the coffee machine with my last $500.

As far as the coffee beans go, they are important that you enjoy the flavor. So is the water and the care and maintenance of the coffee maker.