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DTMark

Coffee Machines

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We started out with one of the jug devices and progressed to the one we have now, which is one of these:

41oaaPddVIL._SY300_.jpg

DeLonghi Magnifica Bean-to-Cup Machine

We paid £239 (new) for it on Amazon 18 months ago, which was a bargain as they normally go for £399.

It has been superseded by another model now.

We live in a very hard water area. The machine prompts for a descale about every 2 weeks and gets it, with the recommended DeLonghi descaler, but I don't actually think it's that effective. The water hardness adjuster is set to the hardest setting.

We had it serviced in September after a year of ownership. We do use it quite a lot.

It's a great machine but when we got it, I thought "this thing has far too many moving parts for it to last long" and sadly yesterday the pump failed. It also makes an horrendous noise because the moving assembly inside is catching on something, it's lateral movement has gone out of alignment slightly. Finally the grinder is on the way out too.

It will cost £150+ to repair. However DeLonghi's customer service centre is very hard to contact (email only, no phone calls get answered) and I suspect this thing is going to cost that roughly every 18 months.

I wonder about "upgrading" and having a separate grinder, that being the failure of an all-in-one machine - when one thing fails, the whole thing effectively fails.

Any coffee enthusiasts here with an opinion?

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There are no starbucks in Italy.

We have a filter, several caffietieres and an expresso machine. Used to have a coffee grinder but that was a million years ago.

These days coffee beans only go in vodka.

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We have that, too. Partner's mother drinks it when she comes round. It's not really coffee, though, is it ;)

I like dance music, flair, creativity, ice cream and nice coffee. Perhaps I should have been born in Italy.

I too am a lover of good coffee. I agree that instant isn't coffee, though I drink it at work for want of something better.

I've had a succession of coffee makers from jug through filter to Senseo. Http://www.philips.co.uk/c-p/HD7863_80/quadrante-coffee-pod-machine - rep £100. I got mine in Tesco online for £36.

The Senseo is the best coffee maker so far. I buy coffee pods (62mm) from thecoffeepod.co.uk.

My choice is Sumatra Lake Toba for about £8 for 50. They don't taste quite like freshly ground but the coffee is fresh as the pods are individually wrapped.

Like you, I live in a hard water area. The descaling every 6 weeks to two months is done using any proprietary descaler for kettles and coffee makers.

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People I know who are extremely particular about their coffee just use a simple grinder, followed by a cafetiere or one of those little (Italian?) pots that go on the stove top.

Could also be a question of available worktop space, though - those machines do take up rather a lot.

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I gotta espresso machine looking rather simpler than yours. It's about 15 years old, and used once a day most days (after dinner espresso). Also makes cappucino, though that's a lot of work and the result isn't as good as the espresso.

Can't point you to it today: the range today looks completely different, and "nespresso" now seems to top the adverts :( Perhaps this is a close-ish successor?

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People I know who are extremely particular about their coffee just use a simple grinder, followed by a cafetiere or one of those little (Italian?) pots that go on the stove top.

Could also be a question of available worktop space, though - those machines do take up rather a lot.

I recall a (multi) page thread on coffee machines a year or so back (I think also started by DTMark). While I haven't got one myself (don't drink coffee often, knackers your liver akin to alcohol and I take the recommended limit daily for that!) the stovetop pots do appear to be the connoisseurs choice. One thing I did notice while researching is that you're better to go with a stainless steel one rather than aluminium due to the latters leechy nastiness.

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... one of those little (Italian?) pots that go on the stove top.

Moka pots - I like those. They make great espresso, but you have to watch them on the stove.

Now I use an electric stainless steel version I came across brand-new in a charity shop for £5! Same idea as this:

easy_cafe_bialetti.jpg

It's easy to clean, has both 3- and 6- cup inserts, and most importantly, an auto switch-off once the coffee is made, so you don't have to watch it. Unfortunately, they are difficult to get hold of in the UK for less than £70.

Essential to making good espresso is also sufficiently fine grinding of the beans, for which I acquired one of these:

hario_skerton_wht_bkgrnd.jpg

It's a Hario Skerton with ceramic burrs @ £35. They do take a bit of work to turn, so I replaced the knurled handle knob on mine with a hex nut to attach it to a cordless drill, eg:

Works a treat! To get an 'already electric' one with the same quality would have cost at least 5x as much.

One last tip: to get authentic cappuccino-style frothed milk, which I think is essential to prevent a skin forming when heated, put some milk in a pyrex jug, microwave it to almost boiling and then whisk it very fast (by spinning between your hands) with one of these:

prod-17840568-Dexam-Chrome-Plated-Steel-

Just Be sure to get a thin-handled one for maximum 'gearing' when spinning.

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Moka pots - I like those. They make great espresso, but you have to watch them on the stove.

Now I use an electric stainless steel version I came across brand-new in a charity shop for £5! Same idea as this:

easy_cafe_bialetti.jpg

It's easy to clean, has both 3- and 6- cup inserts, and most importantly, an auto switch-off once the coffee is made, so you don't have to watch it. Unfortunately, they are difficult to get hold of in the UK for less than £70.

Essential to making good espresso is also sufficiently fine grinding of the beans, for which I acquired one of these:

hario_skerton_wht_bkgrnd.jpg

It's a Hario Skerton with ceramic burrs @ £35. They do take a bit of work to turn, so I replaced the knurled handle knob on mine with a hex nut to attach it to a cordless drill, eg:

Works a treat! To get an 'already electric' one with the same quality would have cost at least 5x as much.

One last tip: to get authentic cappuccino-style frothed milk, which I think is essential to prevent a skin forming when heated, put some milk in a pyrex jug, microwave it to almost boiling and then whisk it very fast (by spinning between your hands) with one of these:

prod-17840568-Dexam-Chrome-Plated-Steel-

Just Be sure to get a thin-handled one for maximum 'gearing' when spinning.

Or micriwave the milk in a jam jar, put the lid on and shake.

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We were given a Jura machine as a present about 7 years ago (cost about £900 I think at the time).

It's been back twice now in that time for a service and replacement parts, each time at a cost of approx £200.

Unfortunately the missus put water in the grinder last week so looks like another trip back.

Personally I can't stand the stuff, so she can pay for it!

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Just a thought, would it make sense to use bottled water in the machine to avoid the limescale? Either that or boil the water first?

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Moka pots - I like those. They make great espresso, but you have to watch them on the stove.

...

It's easy to clean

If you are ever tempted to put it in the dishwasher, don't.

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Well, if you had a decent complement of tools on your belt that slightly malfunctioning coffee machine could already be an irreparably disassembled coffee machine strewn across the kitchen worktop.

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We started out with one of the jug devices and progressed to the one we have now, which is one of these:

41oaaPddVIL._SY300_.jpg

DeLonghi Magnifica Bean-to-Cup Machine

We paid £239 (new) for it on Amazon 18 months ago, which was a bargain as they normally go for £399.

It has been superseded by another model now.

We live in a very hard water area. The machine prompts for a descale about every 2 weeks and gets it, with the recommended DeLonghi descaler, but I don't actually think it's that effective. The water hardness adjuster is set to the hardest setting.

We had it serviced in September after a year of ownership. We do use it quite a lot.

It's a great machine but when we got it, I thought "this thing has far too many moving parts for it to last long" and sadly yesterday the pump failed. It also makes an horrendous noise because the moving assembly inside is catching on something, it's lateral movement has gone out of alignment slightly. Finally the grinder is on the way out too.

It will cost £150+ to repair. However DeLonghi's customer service centre is very hard to contact (email only, no phone calls get answered) and I suspect this thing is going to cost that roughly every 18 months.

I wonder about "upgrading" and having a separate grinder, that being the failure of an all-in-one machine - when one thing fails, the whole thing effectively fails.

Any coffee enthusiasts here with an opinion?

Not sure about the model you have but in my experience those in the £200-£400 range are really not man enough for the job. Fine for light way stuff, i.e. the odd coffee on the weekend but wouldn't stand up to heavy/medium regular usage.

We have had a number of machines here in the office and you do tend to get what you pay for, the £700+ ones really are much more robust, require less maintenance and offer a better coffee experience. The ones here get used a lot and tend to stand the test of time, the best ones have been Jura.

However a couple of years ago the boss wanted to get an additional machine just for decafe coffee, as it was going to be low usage we got a Nespresso, it is really good. We did a cost analysis and while the coffee is expensive it takes a hell of a lot of coffee drinking to off set the price of a much more expensive machine. The quality of coffee in my opinion, especially when drunk as expresso* I was so impressed I got one for home. For me it's a proper coffee drinkers machine, the other pod machines in my experience don't come close in terms of the quality of coffee on offer.

* I don know it's not expresso, but I know that pisses people off ;)

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I think the Bialetti moka pot posted by Turned Out Nice Again is the easiest way to go. I used to work with a good few Italians and they seemed more than happy using these in the office. You can use it for espresso straight from the pot or add the other bits for 'Americano' or cappuccino, etc.

I don't drink it much myself, I used to like an occasional espresso to wake me up, so never had justification to get one for personal use.

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Moka pots - I like those.

Essential to making good espresso is also sufficiently fine grinding of the beans, for which I acquired one of these:

hario_skerton_wht_bkgrnd.jpg

Uncanny.. We also use a moka pot and exactly the same grinder.

Ours aren't quite as high tech as yours though. Might borrow your drill idea one day :)

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I'll go all contrarian on this thread and say its not about the machine, but about the beans/coffee.

I keep it simple, i just buy Lavazza Caffee Espresso and put it straight into a cafetiere which works well for strong black coffee which is what I like.

http://www.coffeejudge.co.uk/lavazza-espresso-coffee

I have not yet found a coffee that can beat this for taste.

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I'll go all contrarian on this thread and say its not about the machine, but about the beans/coffee.

I keep it simple, i just buy Lavazza Caffee Espresso and put it straight into a cafetiere which works well for strong black coffee which is what I like.

http://www.coffeejudge.co.uk/lavazza-espresso-coffee

I have not yet found a coffee that can beat this for taste.

Have to disagree there: I've tried that coffee, and it's far from being the best. At least, not with my espresso machine, and my water (which is soft, and nicer than anything in south/east England, though not so nice as I encountered in Sheffield and the Peak District).

It's a combination of many things that make a really good cup of coffee.

Talking of which, anyone here use the chains a lot? I'm wondering to what extent I can expect the identical product in different branches of the same chain? Is it just coincidence that I've had better coffee in Costa than Starbucks or Cafe Nero, or could I expect the same in $random-uk-city?

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I keep it simple, i just buy Lavazza Caffee Espresso and put it straight into a cafetiere which works well for strong black coffee which is what I like.

We used to buy that before the grinder. It tastes great when fresh, but we found it lost some of the richness as it dried out. That was the only reason for the grinder, so the grinds are always as fresh as when you first pop the pre-ground bag.

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Talking of which, anyone here use the chains a lot? I'm wondering to what extent I can expect the identical product in different branches of the same chain? Is it just coincidence that I've had better coffee in Costa than Starbucks or Cafe Nero, or could I expect the same in $random-uk-city?

Not an expert but in my limited experience they are all fairly consistent. The biggest difference between the chains is the strength and richness as far as I can tell.

Nero is the strongest and richest (which suits my particular taste). After that (in order) you have Starbucks, Costa then finally Rhode Island coffee which I find weakest and least to my taste (even if you ask them to double the shots)

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