Do you really want a new hobby? Because that is what espresso at home is.” - James Hoffmann. Apparently I do, as I just bought an espresso machine, and don’t really like coffee…

Twelve years ago I bought a Nespresso machine, and I’ve used that ever since. I was not really drinking that much coffee, drinking one cup every 2 weeks or so. But they stopped selling individually packaged Senseo packages, so I needed an alternative. The initial set of cups that I bought with a discount (200 pieces) lasted me about 2 years (and most of them were used by guests…). Anyway, over the years I started drinking a bit more (once a week, few times a week, almost every working day), but most of it was at work. Well, and then I suddenly was working-from-home…. So, then suddenly my Nespresso machine was used daily…

Then I started calculating: those cups are quite expensive (not really an issue when you use one or two of them during a week), and I don’t really like the fact that there is so much waste. I started thinking about replacing it.

As always, this is something that I do not take lightly :) A logical choice would probably be an automatic espresso machine that can make cappuccinos (the only thing I drink) automatically. A Jura perhaps? But I quickly learned that the amount of maintenance on those types of machines is quite significant. And a quick calculation also indicates that it is actually not cheaper than a Nespresso.

A few months pass…

Then it started itching again. Maybe a cheaper automatic machine? Or why not a manual espresso machine? That decreases the amount of possible failures, and maintenance. And it increases the ‘experience’ (and with one cappuccino a day, it is still acceptable). First I was thinking of a Sage Espresso Barista Express, but that has the disadvantage that the espresso machine and the grinder are combined. When one of them fails, or for some reason is not what you want/need anymore, you will probably throw away the other as well in practice. So, as an alternative I thought about a Delonghi 685 with a grinder such as a Graef CM800. But quickly read that those type of grinders are actually not really good enough to grind fine enough for espressos.

20 Youtube videos later, a pressurized basket was also out-of-the-question. One thing that became quite clear: apparently the Gaggia Classic Pro is quite ok as an entry level espresso machine. It ticks almost all the boxes. But what about a grinder? After yet-another 20 Youtube videos I was looking into the Sette 270. It took some time to get used to the idea of spending 400 euro on a coffee grinder, but hey, a grinder is more important than the machine… In Europe it is relatively expensive (or, European alternatives are relatively cheap, dependent of your view…) and not really common. Then the Eureka Mignon series came into view… In Europe similarly priced, but according to most forum posts that I was reading a better choice.

After some consideration, it basically came down to: why not… If I would have bought a Jura, it would be more expensive. And as we’re baking our own bread daily anyway, I’m already used to weighing things and doing some manual work. So, it started with the idea of ‘those Nespresso cups are quite expensive’ (37 cents for a cup), and ended by spending 900+ euro, and going to spend - based on 20 euro for 1kg of coffee, 36 cents per cup (without any waste, if you calculate with 18 grams for a double shot). That certainly makes sense :)

Now that everything arrived: the Gaggia is nice, a bit smaller then expected, but the depth is more than I thought. Maybe I should have spent the extra 50 euros to get a black one, that matches the color of the grinder…. The Eureka grinder is waaay smaller than expected, but really nicely built. If it didn’t have the touchscreen I think it would last my lifetime…

This Saturday, I made my first cup… after 10 seconds a first drip. Oops. So, after 15s and 2ml of espresso I turned it off, and threw it away. Second attempt (this one was a bit too fast, and with a ratio of 1:2.7 it was a bit too much) was good enough to drink. First time I used the milk steamer went better than expected. Actually tasted better than the Nespresso. Not bad for a first time. (but still nowhere perfect - and when taking the 2nd, 3rd and 4rd cup into consideration - complete inconsistent)

When looking back, probably with a Delonghi 685 and a cheap grinder I would not be able to tell the difference, but hey, it’s a hobby :)