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Feb 14, 2012 09:04 AM

ISO/ What is the best Home proconsumer Espresso machine?

I'm looking for opinions on the best home Espresso machines.

I currently own a Breville 800ESXL which is not pulling a proper shot and I'm ready to take it out back. From research and my experiences with this machine, I want to upgrade to a better quality machine.

My drink of choice is a latte and I drink about 3-4/ week so I'm not a daily user. I'm looking to spend around $1000 but I'm willing to go between 1k-2k if the machine is right... though I do find it hard to spend 2K on a machine (at 5 bucks a latte I could buy an amazing latter at my local joint 3-4 days./ week for over 2 years.)

Is there a place in Toronto (or surrounding area) that sells various proconsumer espresso machines?

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  1. My wife and I make at least 6 drinks each day, and I have now had my Ranchilio Sylvia and Rocky burr grinder for about 5 years. It was around $11200 with tax for the pair at that time. It does the job flawlessly. Yes you can spend much more, but you don't need to.

    I bought mine at the Green Beanery, but here is a link for Zcafe

    10 Replies
    1. re: foodyDudey

      I've dealt with Zuccarini several times over the last 15 years and would recommend them for home machines...

      1. re: Frids

        We have the same combo as foodyDudey and love them. Also from the Green Beanery. I think foodyDudey means $1100 or $1200 btw :)

        1. re: EarlyDrive


          Rancilio Silvia and Rocky for me too. They can be a bit tricky to learn, but with time and patience you will be able to pull the perfect shot as long as you buy fresh beans, or if you roast your own.

          I'm on my 5th year with these machines (both from Green Beanery), and I have not had one issue. They are pretty easy to maintain as well. If you get into roasting, the Behmor 1600 is a pretty good product as well.

          1. re: Derksen

            That's my complete setup, I bought the Behmor 1600 about 3 years back as my wife told me not to spend $900 - 1K on a roaster. I don't think it takes much more than a few days to a week to be making perfect shots with the Ranchilio Sylvia. You just have to figure out how much coffe to pack into the portafilter. I make them in my sleep now since I don't wake up till I've had two shots :-)

            1. re: foodyDudey

              I agree about the time it takes to get the hang of the Silivia/Rocky. Lots of variables in making that perfect shot though (ie: temp, tamp, grind, dose, bean, etc.... but I don't have to tell you this Dudey!).

              I used to roast with a popcorn popper. It worked fine, but very small batches, and stinks & smokes like crazy! I think my older neighbours that I was operating a basement drug lab. The Behmor has been great.

              I have not had an espresso anywhere near as good as what I can make at home. That being said, I haven't purchased many in the past few years due to the amazing quality of product this trio can produce. Sipping my fresh roasted Guatemalan espresso right now... mmm!

              1. re: Derksen

                When we dine in a restaurant and the waiter asks if we want a coffee or espresso, I almost always say no. And if I do say yes, it's rare that I've had anything even close to what I make. So it's hard to order one when it's better and cheaper at home! And one final thing that makes a big difference in the taste in addition to what you mentioned is giving the machine a good internal cleaning once a month with a cleaning solution, that is imperative.

          2. re: EarlyDrive

            Yes I meant around 1100, I hadn't seen that typo earlier. It's good to see some others are loving the Sylvia, it's a great machine. When we have people over for dinner, I can make 6 drinks or 8 in a row and it still works perfectly, even though they don't recommend it.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              Too bad! I was duly impressed that someone spent $11K on a home coffee machine. $1100 is still pretty respectable, though :)

              1. re: Gary

                That would be impressive but not impossible. The La Marzocco GS/3 is $8k retail so add a good grinder for $1k, tamper, shot glasses, frothing pitchers, tax and viola! $11k.
                And yes, this a a home machine that runs on 15AMP-120VAC. Crazy!

      2. Check out the guys at "I Drink Coffee" in Milton. They have a great lineup of equipment and enough expertise to open up a Dark Horse..

        with regards to my own experience, I own a ECM Giotto Premium and a Macap M4 grinder (about $3k for both). The Giotto is a prosumer machine (the Silvia is not) with a commercial gruppo etc. Another thing that often gets overlooked is the grinder. Talk to any espresso geek and they'll tell you the ginder is way more important that the coffee maker.
        With that being said, Giotto or otherwise, it will cost you about $3k for a prosumer setup. I have a buddy and a sister with the Silvia/Rocky combo and for the money, you cant beat it but dont expect it to make the same quality coffee as an espresso bar or prosumer setup because it wont.
        Here is a great link to help with your decisions:

        11 Replies
        1. re: KraTToR

          Whatever sort of espresso my Syliva machine makes, it must be pretty good to other people as I have a lot of people who will just never say no to a drink I make when I offer one. They say it's one of the best they have tasted. Maybe it's just how I roast the beans but the technique and machine have to play a part also. Very few people need a 3K machine and grinder. I already make better espessos than I can get in ANY restaurant I've been to in Toronto.

          Someone drinking 3 or 4 lattes a week does not need anything more than a Sylvia, and the Rocky burr grinder does a fine job.

          1. re: foodyDudey

            fair enough, sounds like you need to try more restaraunts ;)
            Seriously though, restaraunts have the worst espresso, stale beans, dirty machines, no skill, I can go on and on.
            There are a few espresso bars around though that you couldnt possibly touch which was my point. Yea you are right, $3K is a lot for an espresso setup but I typically drink only 4 or 5 and I've never regretted spending the money. Here is a question for you, if you really like a good espresso, regardless of your rate of consumption, wouldnt you want the best you could afford? Just my $.02 worth :-)

            1. re: KraTToR

              I could be wrong, but I think that just like high end audiophile equipment etc, once you get to a certain price level it gets hard to tell the difference for many people. If my machine attains 96% of the goodness of your 3K setup but at around 1/3 the price, that is the one for me. I'm know the more expensive ones look more impressive, just like expensive audio equipment. I believe in paying for what does a great job, not not the best job at any price. The OP was looking to spend around 1K, and there aren't many better machines at that price point. If I spent 3K for a setup like yours I wouldn't regret it either,
              and sometimes i think if getting one just because they look nice but as long as the Sylvia keeps making great drinks, I can't justify it. I've seen home machines for 4K and higher and to me, that is overkill.

              1. re: foodyDudey

                As far as the Silvia making "great drinks" I think that's a bit of a stretch. You've got to admit that in order to approach great with that machine, you have to flush, temp. surf, etc etc. Many people with your machine install aftermarked PID's because the factory thermostat is of poor quality (and brewing temp is KEY). With my Giotto, I grind, tamp, flush, brew... that's it and I get consistent results every time.
                With regards to your comment about a declining rate of return which I totally understand as I own audiophile stereo equipment and a high-end mountain bike. The $1600 E61 espresso machines are not in that category at all. Look at the La Marzocco, Vibiemme, and Electras which are... Also, the OP said they would spend up to $2K which is the "sweet spot" for a prosumer machine. Just like $700 is the sweet spot for a grinder. Sweet spot meaning you get the most value for the $$.

                1. re: KraTToR

                  Now I see that they did mention up to 2K, but that part was not as obvious as the 1K they really want to spend, and I did not notice that.. Here is exactly what they said: " I'm looking to spend around $1000 but I'm willing to go between 1k-2k if the machine is right... though I do find it hard to spend 2K on a machine " So I pointed them at a cheaper option. It really does work for me and many others. By the way, I ordered the PID option over a year ago but still have to install it, the coffee is so good I just don't see any need to! I bet the variation some people may have is due to a combination of improper technique and possibly fluctuating voltage due to substandard house wiring. If my coffee's were substandard I'd know it for sure. The cappuccinos I make are so smooth, both my wife and I don't even add sugar.

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    I'm not knocking the Silvia dude, it's the best machine if you're spending below $1k bar none and I've recommended it to my friends in the past. I just wanted to address the OP's willingness to spend more if it was worth it which I believe it is. You dont get into the law of diminishing return until you break the $2K mark.
                    On another note, millions of people line up at Tim Horton's every morning because they "love thier Tims!", doesnt mean they're right. Furthermore, dont take my word for it, join coffeegeek and post a survey on who thinks the Silvia comes close to the same quality as any of the E61 machines. Afterall, that board is full of experts, many of which own both!

          2. re: KraTToR

            I have to say that I disagree that with your comment of the Silvia/Rocky not making "the same quality coffee as an espresso bar or prosumer setup". With the right know-how and proper beans, Silvia/Rocky put out a top quality shot. I have had many espressos from much more expensive equipment with sh!t product as an end result. It's not just the machine, it's how it is used (at this level of machine anyway).

            1. re: Derksen

              Just want to comment about Rocky (grinder).

              If you like exclusive dark roast coffee (oily beans), Rocky's gear tends to slip more often! I would look into other grinder.

              1. re: justto

                How dark is dark?

                I roast typically to full city+, and haven't had any issues. No issues with Vienna. I'm not a fan of anything past that.

                1. re: justto

                  I have my grinder set at "10" which is quite fine and grind full city+ about 30% of the time. It is working fine and I never detected slipping. Maybe you should grind a less oily roast once a week to remove some of the oils. I bought the Rocky in October 2007 and it's still rockin'

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    +1 again. Rocky since Aug. 07, and not one issue.

                    As for the settings.... well, that is another nuance of Rancilio. 10 is different on every machine. It must be pretty tough to apply that sticker at the factory! I also adjust the grind a notch or two depending on the bean and roast. They all differ a bit.

            2. Hey folks, just a request that debates about the relative merits of specific makes and models of machines go on our Cookware board ( ) rather than here where only Ontario hounds will see it to share their opinions.

              You'll also find lots of existing threads on the topic there.

              Great local stores to check out for equipment purchases is on topic here, though, so we're leaving the thread here for those answers.