1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
     
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Finally got a decent espresso machine up and running

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by DigMe, Apr 30, 2006.


  1. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I posted in another thread almost a month ago about this Gaggia Espresso machine that I found at a thrift shop in Austin for $9.99 sans portafilter (the little thing with the handle that you put the coffee in if you didn't know). This is a great machine and about the minimum you could get by with for someone wanting to get into espresso (usually costs 200 bucks). Well I was stoked and going to order a portafilter (50 bucks! :eek: ) and I started realizing how bad of a shape this thing is in and 10+ years old to boot. I could get it up and running but it was going to take some work and possibly some other parts.

    I put out a call on a home roasting listserv to see if anyone had a used portafilter for cheap. This lady replied back and she claimed that the pump had gone out on her 2 year old Gaggia Espresso and she said she'd sell me the whole thing (with an improved, after-market portafilter) for 30 bucks. I jumped on it since that's less than the cost of a portafilter alone and I"m glad I did. Turns out that this machine works just fine. Every once in a while you have to turn off the pump and retry it but I can tell immediately by the sound if that's the case. I've been practicing and now I'm putting out awesome espesso/cappuccinos. Getting perfect 25 second, mouse-tail double-shots with nice, blonde crema. I'm very happy with this and so far cappuccino has been replacing my morning drip brew.

    In the future I'd like to have nice heat exhange machine like an Expobar or something but this is definitely doing it for me now. The heat exchange machine is going to be a good ways down the road. They're expensive.

    I'm know I'm always going on and on about coffee but here's the bottom line for me -
    If you're really into coffee there are two things that you can do to greatly improve your coffee experience:

    1. Roast your own beans

    2. Get a good, pump driven, boiler espresso machine

    It doesn't get much better than that!

    bc
     
  2. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    The only things I need for it now are a good tamper (using one that's too small) and I think a new steaming arm. I'm probably going to replace the stock arm with one from a Rancilio Silvia machine. The stock arm sucks and I've heard the Silvia arm is much better.

    bc
     
  3. NJL

    NJL

    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    You're a crack addict.
     
  4. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    "Good evening Sir, my name is Steve. I come from a rough area. I used to be addicted to crack but now I am off it and trying to stay clean. That is why I am selling magazine subscriptions."

    bc
     
  5. paulraphael

    paulraphael

    Apr 13, 2006
    Brooklyn
    If you heard me play, you'd stop reading what I write.
    is the Gaggia Espresso rack-mountable? that would be pretty cool on stage.

    as far as roasting your own beans, yeah, it tastes super fresh--my dad used to do it. but man, it stank up the entire house. you'd think roasting coffee beans would smell great, but it was a lot like burning tires.
     
  6. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    It's not THAT bad! Maybe I just got used to it. I usually roast outside if the weather cooperates. If not then inside.

    bc
     
  7. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I watched that last night. One of my faves of all time!

    -Mike
     
  8. NJL

    NJL

    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    Office Space???

    :D
     
  9. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Yes.
     
  10. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    This is the machine we have. My wife and I have tried all types of espresso machines, and these machines pull the best shots of anything we have tried. Cream to die for as well. I'll go make one right now!

    We got ours from our local craigslist. It was old and tarnished, but we cleaned it up. I even had some beautiful custom wood handles made for it that would make the boys at Roscoe jealous. I think it was the bass player in me that influenced the look and design of the handles. :D

    [​IMG]

    -Mike
     
  11. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Sweet Pavoni! Of course I shouldn't have excluded hand pump machines!

    What's that grinder in the background? Looks like something that doesn't do that machine justice!

    bc
     
  12. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    We have this Gaggia Synchrony Digital at work. I just
    crapped out, I think it is a couple of years old.

    I got a manual for it online which is similar, not an exact
    match though, but it hasn't helped. Gaggia apparently has
    the machine made by another manufacturer, Saeco it turns
    out.

    Entering the programming mode to decalcify it has been a problem.
    I did decalcify it by hand. I thoroughly cleaned it
    weekly as well so the basic maintenence issues are covered.

    Last week it it spit out its last Espresso. Now when you hit the
    button for 'one small coffee' it grinds, then it makes a odd
    noise inside and goes to 'selftest' mode and back to
    'Ready to Use'. I think the motherboard may have blown.

    Too bad, I think those things are like 2000 new. Maybe it is
    the pump, I don't know. If I had a better maintenance manual,
    I could tell.

    Any ideas? My double espresso in the morning is sorely
    missed!
     
  13. That's a beautiful machine. Do they sell those in stores? I've never seen one quite like that.
     
  14. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Here it is:

    [​IMG]

    It is what we use to grind our beans. We also have a blade grinder, but we don't use it much.

    As far as finding the La Pavonis in stores, I've seen the lower end Europiccola's in some of the snooty Seattle kitchen shops. One great thing about living in the coffee capital of the world is that we do have a couple shops that sell all things espresso only. Those places stock and sell the entire La Pavoni line as well as some others like them.

    -Mike
     
  15. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX

    Oh ok, it's the La Pavoni PGC. I hear those are great espresso grinders. I could tell it was a La Pavoni but couldn't tell that it was the PGC from that angle. Nice duo.

    Looking back at the picture though it still doesn't look like the PGC pictured. It looks more like this one http://www.aabreecoffee.com/LaPavoni/la_grinder.cfm My friend has one of these and apparently he wasn't impressed with it because he's had it less than 6 months and he just ordered a Baratza Virtuoso.

    bc
     
  16. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Thanks Brad. That means a lot coming from you, Bruce Dickenson. :)

    When it comes to coffee, we come correct.

    -Mike
     
  17. barthanatos

    barthanatos Insert witty comment here

    Feb 8, 2006
    South Carolina
    I use the Zach & Dani's roaster - it has some doohickey that cuts down on the nasty odors and still lets the good smell out. Not a catalytic converter, but you could kinda think of it that way.

    Oh, and mine was only $60 refurbished. Cuts the price of beans in half, so not only has it paid for itself, but it is well on its way to covering the cost of my heat-exhanger espresso machine, too!

    http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.ZachandDanis.html
     
  18. canopener

    canopener

    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    When it comes to coffee, my palate isn't nearly as refined, but this thread is giving me some coffee GAS.
     
  19. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    You might try contacting the guy at www.partsguru.com
    Here's the Gaggia page and you can choose your synchrony from the list:
    http://www.partsguru.com/GaggiaHomeEspressoMakers.html

    He has pretty good schematics for most machines and I've heard that he is really great about walking you through troubleshooting steps. He also sells the replacement parts.

    Another thing you could do is scour www.coffeegeek.com/forums for someone who had similar problems. I can't get used to the search function there so I just use google to search the forums.

    Lastly, you could always try calling Gaggia's tech support dept. I think they have contact info on the Gaggia site.

    Superautos are definitely not cheap, that's for sure!

    bc
     
  20. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Well...did you read the rest of it after I edited... :bag:

    BTW, who is brad cook?

    bc
     

Share This Page