Exactly what I did. I got a refurb Encore and it’s an amazing upgrade from my Braun blade “grinder”. And I haven’t had any issues whatsoever with the refurb Baratza, a couple of years in now.
That Encore refurb looks like a great deal. I got one of these back in the day
and really liked it. Looks like it’s discontinued now though and the new copy of it is here:
So if I were to get a drip machine, any thoughts on this?
Oh it’s a good one! especially for it’s price. My friend has it, and she’s more than satisfied. It’s easy to use, really keeps coffe hot for a long time and it has automated clean cycle (which is great, as some dip machines are quite hard to keep clean). It’s bulky though. But I think it’s a good deal for the price.
I ended up going with the refurbished Baratza Encore burr grinder and this for a drip maker:
I have that Bonavita at home and love it to death.
Good call on the grinder! It is the most important component in determining if you’ll end up with a delicious cup of coffee.
Assuming you don’t count great fresh beans, of course.
Thank you very much for all of the help!
Invisible crosspost to the Hardware and IoT-mocking forums:
Nice read. Things like that are what gives me nightmares at night since I’m responsible for the security of things like that at work.
I’ve been playing around with cold brewing coffee extract.
A long time ago I had some thing called a toddy coffee maker, which was basically a plastic pitcher thing with a filter in the bottom.
But now I’ve realized that you can just get a filter bag for $8 on Amazon and it works just as well.
It creates a pretty nice coffee extract that’s good for iced coffee.
I’ve had a lot of trouble with cold-brew iced coffee. It always seems to come out sour, meaning the grounds are underexposed. It’s fine with milk and splenda, but not drinkable black. I suspect this isn’t a problem with my method because all the premade/bottled iced coffee I’ve purchased has been sour too, even high-end brands.
I use one of those pitchers with a mesh insert for cold-brew iced tea, which comes out AMAZING. I recommend this specific strawberry tea. It’s ridiculously delectable iced with a squirt of lemon.
I’ve had a lot of lucky with a Toddy coffee maker. As Timex notes, it is just a big plastic container + a thick filter at the bottom (and a plug to prevent coffee from coming out the bottom.) Even when I use cheap pre-ground coffee, it seems to work reasonably well, though it’s not particularly concentrated - I usually go 1:1 with water at most, or just pour it over ice + a bit of milk.
Ya, I had one, but lost it at some point during a move I think.
When I was gonna replace it, I came across the filter bag technique, and it occurred to me that there was really nothing special taking place with the toddy.
So I just fill the bag with coffee, put it into a glass jar filled with water, and let it sit.
When it’s done, it’s actually easier than the toddy, since there’s really no filtering taking place, as that’s already done. Just pull the bag out, squeeze it some, and then pour the coffee into a pitcher.
It’s easier to clean out too, since I can just take it into the garden and dump it onto the blueberries.
Yeah, we have a toddy, but only used it once, because it really does seem overly elaborate for what it actually does.
So rather than dig through the whole thread, what is the latest recommendation for a basically-entry-level-but-not-trash espresso machine? I already have an Encore grinder and would be reticent to replace it, so let’s try to pair with roughly that level of quality/investment. Thanks!
edit: Oh, and I definitely want a steam wand
It’s a little beneath the price range implied by your grinder, even, but this machine has served me well for two years now.
I’m not sure what more you can get in the up-to-$200 range. I’d kind of like one with a little more control over steam pressure and so on, but as far as I can tell, that costs much, much more.
Sorry to say, you just aren’t going to find a machine that makes actual espresso (vs espresso like coffee beverages) for $140 (roughly the price of that grinder). I tried for years with different cheap devices and IMO if cost is a concern then you’d do better making good regular coffee from an Aeropress instead.
Starter level espresso machines are ones like the Rancilio Silvia or Gaggia Classic. The Classic is cheaper than the Silvia but it has a crap steam wand. Otherwise they are roughly comparable. Cost varies but would be between $400 and $700 depending on what you get. Check out this recent SweetHome article for some recommendations:
Either machine will make good espresso, but both will take practice. Neither has a temperature PID like the even fancier machines, so you’ll need to get decent at temperate surfing and guessing the right temperature / grind / amount ratios until you hone in on a working combo for the particular coffee you are working with.
A user-installed PID kit can take these machines a step up and make them more consistent / easier to work with by eliminating the starting temperature as a variable at least. I recently did a PID install on my unit and it has definitely improved the quality and consistency of my shots. Those kits are around $150-200 and a couple of hours fiddling with the guts of the machines to install. You don’t have to be an electronics wizard, but you should be able to follow detailed instructions and work with delicate parts in very small places,
Hope that helps and doesn’t dissuade you,
Thanks for the advice, guys. Yeah, I did some research last night, mostly stemming from that Sweethome article.
I do care about the steam wand, as I’ll mostly be using this for cappuccinos. They settled on the Breville Infuser, which does have a PID (it’s $500). That’s more than I wanted to spend, but it is way less of a psychological barrier than $700 (which is basically $1000).
I poked around the CoffeeGeek forum briefly, and they seem to mostly be Italian-or-bust, but there is more than a whiff of zealotry over there. I do like the idea of having an Italian machine, but I think I would be willing to sacrifice that notion on the altar of practicality.
Does anybody want to specifically warn me away from the Breville? Amazon reviews are generally pretty favorable but indicate there might be long-term reliability problems. Probably the case with any modern small appliance, unfortunately.
Aeropress coffee is essentially espresso, but it lacks the crema. Tastes the same, particularly if you use a fine-mesh filter rather than paper so you retain all the oils.
Of course it won’t steam milk, but I just nuke the milk and use a little battery-powered whipper which works fine, end up with very soft foam with small bubbles.