Birthday Money, How About An Espresso Machine?...
UPDATED: See below.
When receiving birthday money there is always that question, "what to spend it on?" When asking one of the givers what to buy he suggested some words of wisdom, "buy something you want, not something you need". Hmmmm. With the onset of fall, light eating seemed to be coming to an end and the need for some kind of treats was in the air, but what? I also wanted something that would also be exciting for my significant other. When pondering the givers of the gift I kept thinking "something practical, useful daily and fun". With fall here, the holidays are not far off either, so what would be really fun? Chocolate, vanilla, cream and coffee kept coming to mind in little cups. Delicious high intensity treats that give you a burst of energy and that euphoria, ahhh. It was not too hard to figure out what that gift might be at that point, except that I knew nothing about the machines. Having had such a wonderful experience with our Breville BOV800XL Convection Toaster Oven, it seemed well worth trying their espresso machine. Plus, one of us used to be a professional barista which adds to fun...
The machine of choice for us was the BES830XL. The more expensive one above this version combined a burr grinder but we wanted the grinder to be separate as we like the features of the Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder
better. Learning is fun as there are a number of videos plus the manual. To top things off we might get a few Bodum Double-Wall cups and a Knock Box.
Having had time to really experience and learn this machine some things became clear that we would like to share with others. With machines like this you really need a nice grinder. A blade grinder is not going to create a consistent grind for a consistent shot. You actually fine tune the shot with the grind from the grinder. The grinder and espresso machine are a match, a pair, a team when it comes right down to it. If you do not have the funds for a grinder just yet the Breville might still be the best machine for you as you can use the porta-filter that is for beginners. This porta-filter "does all the work" as they say, as it regulates the back pressure of the shot so the operator does not have to. When you get a grinder you can move up to the more advanced porta-filter. If you are they type of espresso drinker that insists on the perfect temperature or a hot drink you will most likely want a machine that has the hot water wand to pre-heat the cup or make hot water. Additionally, the pressure gauge is essential as it helps to train you when you have the perfect grind and thus the perfect shot. The gauge gives you visual feedback as to the back pressure the grind is producing. The gauge does not tell you how many bar the machine is, instead it tells you if the grind is right. If the grind is to coarse or packed to loose the water goes though the grounds to fast and there is not enough back pressure and the espresso shot ends up weak. If the grind is to fine or too tightly packed then the back pressure will show high on the gauge and the shot can end up bitter.
"Delicious high intensity treats that give you a burst of energy and that euphoria, ahhh..."