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coffee machines etc

Page history last edited by fred bould 14 years, 5 months ago


hello all,

we are looking for a coffee machine (can't afford a clover) for the office and we were wondering if anyone out there had one that they were particularly thrilled with. we have a roasting company in our building so ideally we would be able to use beans. having said that, if anyone was really enthusiastic about a pod machine that's something we would entertain. all ideas, suggestions welcome- simple drip, integrated coffee espresso/cappucino, pods, whatever.








It's no Clover, but, for a reasonable price, the Jura Capresso line of "Automatic coffee centers" has worked well at my last few offices. We currently have an E8:















Ahh yes Fred, this is an important subject!








I’m a devotee of simple drip.













Get a stainless electric kettle and a double walled carafe with a cone adapter for the top. Bodum used to make a great one, but when my wife broke the filter adapter I found out it is no longer in circulation, but there are other suitable substitutes.























Then, most importantly, buy a really nice grinder that actually grinds at low speeds (low heat induced). The one I have: Kitchenaid Proline:
















Enjoy your cup of optimism!




















Btw…as I remember you are a MacBook Pro user that does a fair amount of SolidWorks. I’m planning to make the switch in about 2 weeks. Are you running parallels? Any hints for a novice at making Mac do Windows??














































Robert Miros




my office has this one











I really like it.  It grinds beans fresh and the powdered milk looks like real powdered milk.  ;)















Kirsten Freislinger Luehrs



Pods are extemely wasteful and recurring costs are high.



I have a baby gaggia twin and love it. I looked around for a long time. Had it for over a year. Also had a Francis Francis x5 that was wonderful. Depends on your budget. 




Hope that helps... 







Michael JG Turri






Yes, good coffee is important.



I've recently purchased a burr grinder and make single drip cups now. It's quite good, and the ritual is nice. Maybe not perfect for an office, but I'm in an "office" of one so it works.

Here's the one I got: 





 is a good resource for opinions and reviews as well.



Hope you're well.









Hi Fred,



Patrick from Ploom here.  While I'm sure James Monsees will weigh in heavily on this topic as well, if you like drip coffee, here's my old school 2 cents.





Drip away.  Don't forget to warm your cup, and remember the age old adage: "You can always make strong coffee weak, but you can't make weak coffee strong"



good luck



Thanks Fred,



Patrick Myall gave you the same scoop as my set up – funny, he and I worked together for quite a while, I guess we still think alike years later. I can appreciate the desire for a 1 button machine though. Happy shopping and thanks for the notes on the Mac.





















Robert Miros





OK, you are all wrong.




Buy a Pavoni.




It is the perfect PDer coffee machine because it takes some, but not much, skill to operate and is continuously variable on a few, not infinite, number of dimensions. Combine it with a burr grinder and you've got hours of fun.  (Full disclosure: non-PDers may consider it hours of frustration.)




Its old school construction and utterly mechanical approach delivers a process-related satisfaction that is sorely missing from capsule machines (You get to pull a lever, man!).  Drip approach can start to deliver the same kind of ritualistic fussing but misses a key element: steam.  Steam is cool because it is a gas, packs way more energy than liquid and permits your little gearhead mind to think about PV = nRT and that fun stuff.




Plus, when the grupo seals go you get to tear it down and rebuild it.











Hi PDers:



I have some experience w/ so-called "super-automatic" coffee/espresso machines.



The best I have encountered so far (still using it) is Gaggia Platinum Vision (best price is from Costco). Great reliability, awesome tasting espresso and latte. Uses beans, not packets. Has a touch screen (pretty designerly for one of these beasts), very easy to clean. Retail cost $1500-$2k. Gonna grab a shot right now in fact! ;-)



I would avoid Saeco (at least low- and mid-tier machines) owing to reliability issues.






-Bruce Heiman

I recently bought the Starbucks branded Saeco "Barista


" espresso machine off Craigslist for a mere $75.  You could spend a lot more on it and it would still be worth the price.



It's a pump machine, not one of those lame steam powered machines, which means it produces between 10 - 15 bar of pressure to create really nice, frothy espressos.  (It has a steam wand for producing wonderful micro-foamed milk).  It's totally manual, but that doesn't mean it's difficult.  It's all stainless steel and really easy to use.  I've been making about 2 cappuccinos/day since I bought it in December, and have had no problems.



The machine can also take the pods if you don't want to grind your own - otherwise you'll need to buy a burr grinder which will run you at least $40.  But, most importantly, you get to feel like a barista, making real espressos with a real machine.



C'mon, an espresso machine with a touch screen?  You might as well get your espressos from McDonalds






Funny you should ask...




In our office we have 5 different ways to make coffee–and at least as many opinions. Pod, drip, french press, vacuum, and now cold brew. We also have some coffee roasters on staff and lots of self-proclaimed aficionados.




My two cents:



The pod coffee (Nespresso) is fine, but not exceptional. It is of course the easiest and fastest way to make a cup of coffee. We have broken too many french presses to think it is such a good idea in a very caffeinated office environment. The cold-brew machine is as yet untested, but it takes all night I think, which may explain why. For the best tasting coffee, and if you are making a pot for more than just yourself, the Bodum Santos vacuum contraption is great.




Here's a video of the Bodum to get a sense of what the hell a vacuum coffee press does:















Stephan von Muehlen



Don't forget the most important part, actual coffee making technique.




Great instructional video:















Hi Fred



I often use an aeropress.  There are a few little things that I think could be improved from a usability standpoint, but it is very simple and makes clover quality coffee if you're careful.  (No offense Zander!...Clover is wonderful of course)









OK, Maria took the gloves off the coffee machine debate with recommending Rancilio-Silvia (a great machine-grinder combo especially for the $)...




If you want to go for real high end manual machine, try Andreja. I hear a reasonable price is $1600, but it is almost never on sale (reg. $1700). The value of a buddy's has gone up since he bought it. This is a totally manual machine, with multiple manual settings; it's Brew Group is the reason for its existence: Massive, E61--read up on it. American reseller(s?) directed the Italian Coffee Machine firm, Quick Mill (yes it is Italian) to create this machine for the American high end "prosumer" market--it is intended to be the ultimate machine available to tweakers/fanatics of coffee (really, espresso). One might even interpret it as somewhat over the top. I find it beautiful. Some of the coolest Italian design I have seen.  




You have to see it to believe it. Here's a pic. It is an Industrial Equipment/Coffee Geek's dream come true. Industrial (coffee-house-like) performance. REALLY cranks out the plain hot water too. Neat having two pressure gauges too...






See also http://www.wholelattelove.com


for reviews.





Maintaining it is less trivial than a super-automatic--it can be a bit finicky--but VERY tweakable. Also, you may want to wrestle with whether to hard-plumb the cold water supply rather than refill tanks that start to feel too small all the time. 




You also have to get a hi-end ceramic burr grinder with a machine like this. The main consideration, as previously mentioned, should be infinite, continuous fine-ness adjustment. Intervals (forcing detente/click-feel) are bad news--not enough control. 




Also, for among the best beans to make Latte (or expresso) at a good price (amazing price, actually) I recommend Costo's San Francisco Bay Certified Organic Rainforest Blend 100% Arabica. There surely are better beans at >$17/pound, but at <$5/pound (3 pound bags), um wow. 










Wait, wait -  don't you think we are missing a big opportunity here.  I haven't heard Zander's take on this thread yet but what about arranging a PD-Alumn group purchase of special edition Clover machines, with Zander arranging a tasty discount for his old classmates?   I throw in a honorary d.school/Masters degree to sweeten the deal.



Zander?  Your move.




















Bill Burnett








My husband is part of a coffee geek club at his work, and they use the Technivorm. http://www.technivorm.com/products/cdthermo.html

Lots of people who roast their own coffee are part of the club. Good luck--people are passionate!





When we ran a coffee project at the d.school Adam French set up a great meeting (at 4am) with James Freeman of Blue Bottle coffee fame. He wasn't super beholden to any particular method (though partial to drip with a ceramic cone). The one thing that really stuck with me though was his philosophy that coffee is a fresh food. 



That said, as good as Blue Bottle's coffee may be it's overpriced and has a bit of a pretentious stigma to it. The coffee delivery from De La Paz really can't be beat. Yesterday morning we had some fantastic peaberry beans dropped off and we'll be loving that for the next few weeks. 



That said as well... I'd love a Clover if Zander takes Bill's deal. 



Bill, you do realize that Zander already has a degree, right? Sweeten the pot man!




James Monsees coo
Hi Fred,
It sounds like you're looking for a brewed coffee machine/method as opposed to an espresso machine, but if high-end espresso ends up being your tack, I have a used Grimac La Uno I'm about to sell that you could throw in for consideration.
We've had two of them in my family for several years and these machines have served us very well.  With proper maintenance it should be able to pull excellent shots for years longer.
This machine is of the same caliber/similar function as the Rancilio Silva and the Andreja recommended by the others.  But it's automatic instead of semi-automatic and plumbed instead of having a tank.
Below is the ad I'm going to post on Craigslist in a couple weeks.  The machine's not quite ready for demo yet (it's just back from service and I need to make a spot for it in my kitchen) but I aim to have it ready sometime next week. And, of course, you could have a discount.  Let me know if you have any interest.  Else, I hope you find something you're happy with!
ps-- if you're optimizing for minimal maintenance and the ability to make a lot of coffee quickly, personally I'd recommend getting a regular brewed coffee machine or some variation thereof.  Espresso machines like this take a bit of expertise and a bunch of diligence to keep them running at their best for many years.  If you don't buy Crystal Geyser as your water supply, then monthly descalings with order-online solutions and periodic professional cleaning (unless you want to roll up your sleeves and get your tools out, which you can) are a good idea.  (Periodic = once every 3-6 years, depending on how diligent you are with your maintenance or water treatment.  And for a used machine, a part might go out every couple years that needs replacement.)  But I gotta say, I just love having great espresso in my house.  Not only is it fun to do but it's saved me a lot of money at Peet's over the years.
I have a used Grimac La Uno (aka MiniGrimac) R automatic for sale.  
This is a semi-commercial, automatic, direct-plumbed (tankless) machine. 
The machine was used for several years as a home unit, pulling 1-2 shots per day, which is minimal for what it's meant to do.
It was designed as a commercial machine and would be at home in a small cafe, restaurant, pizzeria, ice cream shop, office and the like, or as a high-end home machine.  It has been dormant for the last three years, and I just had it professionally checked and serviced to make sure it's in good working order.  Its cosmetic condition is fair to good.  I believe this machine was around $2000 new.
Features and specs:
- Grimac La Uno R automatic
- programmable automatic dispense volume
- also manual start/stop
- separate hot water and steam wands
- direct plumb to water line (no water tank)
- single E61 grouphead
- single 1.2L boiler with heat exchanger (can brew and steam simultaneously)
- accepts pods or grounds
- cup warmer
- 110V 15A
- 1300W heater
- comes with two portafilters (single and double), blind portafilter insert for backflushing, and tamper
- approximately 19.5" high x 10.5" wide x 14.5" deep
- adjustable feet
- NSF certified
Requires an in-line water softener (not included) for installation.
For a little extra info, the machine at the link below appears to be the modern equivalent to the machine for sale.  The apparent superficial differences are: steam wand doesn't swivel; drip tray lifts to remove instead of pulling out; overall shape is slightly different.  But the function, general form, and manufacturer are the same.
Photos of the actual machine are below.
View, demo, and pick up in Mountain View.
If you're looking for a clean built in look with most of the bells and whistles, try the Miele CVA4066 Plumbed Coffee System. We've installed a number of them (residential applications) and our clientele, which tends to be knowledgeable and particular) and everyone seems to like the variety it produces. Not cheap, last one we bought was $2,999.




Hey all, popular topic, this coffee-stuff!






I’ll second the Rancilio Silvia option, as well as the “Rocky” companion burr grinder, as Maria said. I have the pair for home use and they have performed flawlessly for over 3 years with daily++ use. Rancilio is definitely a solid choice for a “mid-range” set – I think the pair ran about $900, or thereabouts.





And for those incorrigible PD-ers, there’s a “Silvia hacker” community that hot-rods these things with PID and fuzzy-logic closed loop temperature controllers to keep the group head temperature ± a few degrees for maximum espresso performance.






(among others). The upgrade is on my to-do list…





We’ve also got a very heavily-used Jura F8 (






) “super-auto” at work that has held up well and is easy to use, even by those who don’t have a degree in espressology. It has a built-in grinder and pulls good shots. It also has a “bypass” chute that enables you to scoop in pre-ground DECAF espresso for those late afternoon shots – a feature that I’d definitely recommend. I don’t find the milk steamer as powerful as the Silvia, but it seems acceptable.














This is a great thread.  I have a Faema Due single group, 220V – 13A with a 3/8” water feed.  I put Mr Espresso (Oakland) Neopolitan blend in a Mazzer Mini and this combo makes the best full crema espresso you have ever had.


Not a cheap option but when you consider I asked my wife 18 years ago whether we should get a car or a “real” espresso machine, she opted for the coffee.  That has helped enable a long marriage and these machines are bullet proof.  A lot of these lighter weight machines just will not last 18 years and don’t have the visual presense that exudes quality.




It takes the 4 M’s to make good espresso:


The making of espresso is both a science and an art.  Over the years they have found that precision is required to make a great espresso. There are four factors that affect the making of a great shot. They are also called the four M’s.


  • The first factor is Macinazione or the proper grinding of the beans.  Great baristas in fact will only grind beans for an espresso right before using them. 30 seconds after they have been ground, the beans are already too stale for a good espresso. The proper grind is between fine and powdery. The grind has to be uniform in order to insure the best taste. Instant powder will definitely make an awful espresso.  That Mini Mazzer rocks.
  • The second factor is Miscela or the coffee blend. Good beans means better tasting coffee. Perfectly logical, right?
  • The third factor is the Macchina or the espresso machine. Thanks to many inventors, you now have easy to use tools to help you make your espresso. But it will not magically make perfect espresso if you don’t know how to use it properly.
  • skill’s machine  Mazzer Mini
  • The last factor is Mano or the skill of the barista – that means you. More than half the battle is knowing how to use your equipment properly. You need to know how to properly fill your filter basket. Some espresso lovers will tell you to tamp the ground coffee, others will tell you not to. Like all skills, making the perfect espresso takes practice so that your every espresso shot  has that beautiful crema that is the mark of true espresso.

From http://www.brewed-coffee.com/coffee/the-4ms-of-espresso/

Lastly, there is something wonderful about the craftsmanship of tuning the entire system.  A Nespreso system is just too predicable and variation is part of what makes the experience more sensual and human.

With ristretto’s,





If you are serious (for some reason I had forgotten that the PD community takes most forms of geekery much more seriously than the average human), then you will need a copy of this:

Schomer is perhaps the original espresso geek.
If, on the other hand, you just want a cup of espresso so you can get back to work, I recommend a super automatic :)



Wow!  The the design community came out in force for this questions.  Lori Hobson wanted me to let you know that here at Function we have a Jura coffee maker that we got form Costco that does a great job, and we have some pretty snooty coffee drinkers over there.  I my self am a tea drinker so I am taking Lori's word for it.  Good luck.



Susanne M. Meissner



http://boingboing.net/2010/01/09/how-to-brew-a-good-c.html [I think only Patrick Myall comes the closest here! But he has a way to go.] I wasn't going to chime in on this as I CLEARLY am not a Javaphile like others, but the mention of Bialetti made me want to chime in my Bialetti model I love. A newer "chunkier" version of the classic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak Kopi Luwak coffee can be found at Bean Street Coffee in San Mateo
We've lived with these little guys and their larger siblings for years. The used to be indestructible. The newer versions, simple as they are occasionally and inexplicably stop working. The holes can all be clear, the gaskets ok, the valve seemingly operational, but the grounds just sit there and nothing, or very little goes through. Our friends in Italy have some that are decades old. You, of course need to put a larger diameter diffuser plate over the burner to keep the handle from melting or burning if you have an older wood handled model. The handle still forms a plastic stalactite at its lowest point but that is like an age gauge.

Can't beat it for authenticity and classic design.


On Jan 31, 2010, at 4:09 AM, Michael Clarke wrote:

> I thought it would have been mentioned by now, but since it hasn't...
> > what about the simplicity, economy, ubiquity, longevity, magnificent heft and iconic design of the stovetop Bialetti Moka Express:
> >
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moka_Express > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfonso_Bialetti > > The 6-shot pot is under $30 from Amazon, and makes fine espresso:
> >
http://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-Express-6-Cup-Stovetop-Percolator/dp/B000CNY6UK > > -Mike
A great article about the history and design of the Bialetti:
Jeffery P. Schnapp, "The Romance of Caffeine and Aluminum"




I have the Chemex set up too (at home and at Ploom), and it makes great coffee, just takes a bit longer.  The plastic cone shown in the video is a Hario (with the spiral internal flutes).




Now, I really don't want to piss off Mitzi any further, but what Mark meant to say was that he's now experimenting with low fi ways to roast his own which he gets from Sweet Maria's out of Oakland.

See your coffee nerd and raise it one.

Maria Mortati (Glusker)



I have to say, although I have never been a coffee drinker, I've been following this thread with fascination. It gives me new respect for Zander's successful attack on this highly-charged product area.






I've been lusting after a Clover for the Continuum LA studio for

months now.  We are a few blocks away from the Venice Intelligentsia

and their coffee made with Clover machines is awesome.  I've been

unable to reproduce the taste using the same beans, recommended grind

and temperature water.  I must have one of these machines at some

point.  Group buy for PD alums?


Is it possible to take the rich discussion off line?  Get a chat room

or something?


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