After my Solis Maestro Plus grinder broke, I took it to Home Espresso Repair, a local shop that I’ve turned to in the past. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do much with it, and I was still wary of spending $80+ to send it to Oregon for repairs. So, I decided to go ahead and buy a new grinder, the Baratza Virtuoso, which is the next generation of my old model. So now I’m back to making espresso at home, which is a welcome development as I crank on finishing up my latest book project.
Alas, I didn’t stop there.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m blessed with having numerous good coffee shops near my office in Fremont. We also have an older La Pavoni lever espresso machine, but there’s one problem: in our new space, there’s no sink. And although it’s possible to make espresso without a sink nearby, it’s a royal pain in the butt (we have to use the sink in the shared bathroom down the hall). So if I want espresso, I have to go walking for it—and sometimes, darn it, I just want to have a shot of espresso in the middle of the afternoon without walking three blocks to get it.
So, in addition to the grinder, I bought a Gaggia Syncrony Compact, a superautomatic espresso machine that does everything at the touch of a button: it grinds the coffee beans, tamps the grounds, extracts a double-shot of espresso, and ejects the grounds in a hopper that you empty later. If you follow the link above, you’ll see that the Gaggia isn’t cheap at $650—but actually, it turns out, that is fairly cheap (compare to the $1500 Saeco Royal Professional or the $3600 Jura Capresso Impressa Z6, holy cow). However, I pulled out the calculator and figured I’m spending roughly $400 per year on afternoon espressos (not counting the occasional latté on the way to work, etc.). I’m splitting the cost with my officemates, so shelling out $350 for an in-office machine that does everything actually makes some sense.
It arrived on Friday, so I haven’t spent too much time fiddling with it. It works exactly as advertised, and the espresso is pretty good, with lots of nice crema, though a bit flat. The package from Whole Latte Love included 2 pounds of coffee, and although it was vacuum-sealed, there’s no indication how old the beans are. So, I’ll swing by Lighthouse Roasters on my way to the office Monday and pick up half a pound of freshly-roasted Sumatra beans to try.