My lovely wife bought me a Breville Duo Temp Pro BES810BSS. I was using some other simpler devices. Here’s the old gear I used:
- Cuisinart DBM-8 Coffee Grinder
- Chef’s Star Electric Kettle
- Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew
- Cosori Pour Over
They worked OK. The grinder was not the best, but I got it at Kohls for like $30 with a pile of discounts.
When I first got the espresso maker I didn’t use it much. I couldn’t get a decent crema out of it and it seemed more trouble than it was worth. That went on for 18 months. After poking around on some subreddits like r/espresso and consulting wirecutter.com I decided to get a better entry-level coffee grinder. I settled on a Baratza Encore. This made a world of difference. I had to adjust the burrs tighter to get a good espresso grind.
After that, it was so much better! I was able to pull good quality shot with a nice crema. It’s much more sensitive to coffee quality and freshness. I gave up on the grocery store coffee and started buying from some local roasters like Elevation Coffee, Ragged Coffee Company, and mailorder from Blue Bottle. Don’t skimp on the beans! I was buying Eight O’Clock whole bean and Starbucks, and some Sam’s Club beans but they just don’t measure up to small roasters. Always look for a roasted date, not a “use by” date. Most of them place the “use by” date months out. Coffee beans release gases and the flavor changes over time. It’s why the bags have little pressure-release valves built in. By week 3 they begin to lose the crema and flavor. This happens much faster if you grind ahead. Always grind right before brewing and enjoy much better results.
I don’t claim to be an espresso nerd like some of the guys on r/espresso. I’m not willing to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. The Breville was $350 when we bought it in December of 2020. I objected to the price, but not too much. My wife sneakily ordered it without using our shared Amazon account, so it was too late. The Baratza runs around $120 depending on how Amazon is feeling that day.
I might try out a few small up grades like a better tamper/distrubutor and a bottomless portafilter and screen. Also a single dose hopper for the Baratza to make switching the beans a lot easier. Some of us like lighter roasts and others darker roasts and it allows an easier method to clean the previous residue out.
Now I just need to work on that latte art!