Espresso machine: Buying a second hand higher end model or a brand new mid range model?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by osca »

Hi, I've been using the espresso coffee machine in the office and enjoy it. Now I'd like to get one at home.
At the moment, I'm thinking should I buy a second-hand expensive machine like "Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine". The seller is a private seller, he has been using the machine while wfh. The machine is about 1.8 years old and the seller is ok for me to try it out before purchasing.

Another option is to buy a brand new cheaper model like "Sunbeam Barista Max Espresso Machine". The price of the above two is similar.

I am inclined to the second-hand one as the original price is higher and that means the quality is better. The thing I'm worried about is it may have issues or not perform as expected which I can only find after using it a while?

Any advice will be great, thanks!


#2: Post by Smo »

The first weak point of these coffee machines is the built-in coffee grinder.
You may need to buy a new coffee grinder.

If you use a basket with a double bottom, most likely there will be no problems. But there will be no "exceptional" espresso either.


#3: Post by BogongTiger »

I don't know about NZ, but in Australia there's not much difference in price between those two (new) if you shop around, and you'll get the warranty included.

It may be worth reading through these discussions to see what other options are worth considering. You'll see most people point out that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine and there are advantages in getting them separately, though it usually costs a bit more that way.


#4: Post by Milligan »

I can't seem to find many places that sell the Sunbeam other than Amazon and it looks to be $500. The Breville, if you are patient, is regularly on sale for around that price new. I've seen used Brevilles for much less. I'd say if they are wanting $500 or so for the Breville then wait. If it were me, I'd go spend the money on a good grinder and the left over on a used good espresso machine like a Gaggia Pro Classic. No need to get a machine with a built in grinder that takes up more space. I wouldn't be surprised if you could get a Gaggia and a Breville Sette for around $500 used if you are patient.
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#5: Post by Jeff »

I agree that the built-in grinder in these machines is a weak point. If you do end up with a Breville/Sage all-in-one or Smart Grinder, there are many videos on how to change the setting of the burr to allow it to grind fine enough to use a non-pressurized basket ("single-wall" or "standard"). With a pressurized basket you'll probably get better coffee than the capsule machines, but still a good distance from what is possible with fresh coffee, a reasonable grinder, and standard basket on a reasonable machine.

Breville makes some espresso-only machines at relatively low prices. One of those, or, as suggested, a Gaggia or Silvia and some patience "temperature surfing", coupled with a good hand grinder or entry-level electric grinder, would probably get you much better espresso than an all-in-one.

osca (original poster)

#6: Post by osca (original poster) »

Thanks for the suggestions. I have a "Breville The Smart Grinder Pro" for about a week or so. I've been testing different grind levels to find the sweet spot but still struggling. The coffee tastes bitter and sour! I make coffee with a moka pot and pay attention to the water-to-ground ratios. I thought the issue is on the way I make coffee but now it seems that the grinder might be the main reason.. :( Need to search for a more suitable grinder.

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#7: Post by Jeff »

Moka pots are also not a forgiving way to make coffee. There are some good videos that talk about preheating and managing cooling to help keep from a half-sour, half-bitter result.

I'm sure I'll miss several, but some that I found include

The secrets of the moka pot - How to video

How to improve your moka pot coffee

as well as James Hoffmann's series, including

osca (original poster)

#8: Post by osca (original poster) »

Thanks. Are 1zpresso manual grinders good ? It seems that it only takes 1 minute to grind beans and provides better results than machine grinders. This surprised me, I thought machine grinders provide finer controls than manual grinders.
Their manual espresso machine looks quite nice too and it's only half price of their manual grinders! I wonder how's the performance compares to semi-auto espresso machines.


#9: Post by MCal2003 »

Sorry for not addressing your specific original question. Unfamiliar with the machines noted. Just my experience from owning a few grinders, vibe pump and lever machines since the early '80s. First invest. Maybe over invest in a quality grinder. The "best" espresso machine in the world will yield a bad shot if the grinder is junk.

It's looking like the world of quality hand grinders has grown. Last time I considered a hand grinder there was really only one choice. Budget limits. Can live with hand grinding. Selecting the proper hand grinder may deliver more quality for the money. Have been searching for a quality hand grinder, but for V60 use only. In the search most of the reviewers that seem to be respected at this site pretty much narrow down the field to the same makes. Just differences for specific needs, aesthetics, personal bias determine their 1st choice. OE, 1ZPresso, Kinu, Commandante. 1Zpresso large number of models seem to break down to do it all, better for pour over (K series), better for espresso.
LMWDP #151


#10: Post by Ypuh »

I'm a big proponent of buying items second hand, especially the more durable type such as espresso machine. With a bit of maintenance and love, they last for decades. Most (previous) owners I've seen have been very careful of their machines, but that's mainly because I hang around forums and not so much the general public.

Second hand espresso machines are quite expensive though. Prices have risen and demand increasing. It's likely the seller can recoup 80% of what they paid (sometimes even break even), whilst on the other hand you can often still get a discount on a new machine somewhere (just call a shop owner and you'll be surprised, I always managed to get 10-15% off without too much hassling). If the previous owner didn't do any maintenance/service, then it's often not worth it to buy a 2nd hand machine.
I don't want a Decent