I grew up in a coffee drinking family and have been drinking coffee as long as I can remember. That said, the coffee was never great, but it was never bad. About three years ago I decided to seek out great coffee. My quest started in coffee shops, asking the barista questions while I learned more on my own and tasted some well brewed coffee. For some reason, during my educational quest I mostly focused on espresso and espresso based drinks. My educational campaign was very encouraging, so I decided I wanted to buy some equipment. A few months of scouring Craigslist led me to a V1 Rancilio Silvia. I also purchased a Cunil Tranquillo to pair with the espresso machine.
After cleaning up the Silvia, it looked as good as new. I had done my research and knew I needed to figure out my ideal temperature surfing method. Using a styrofoam cup and a thermometer I determined that a two minute wait after the heating element turned off was the ideal temperature surf for my machine and tastes.
I also had to go through large quantities of coffee learning to dial in a coffee's dose, grind and shot length. Fortunately, I had a good baseline after experiencing so many great coffee drinks. Even then I still had (and occasionally have) trouble with this part of the equation although now I use much less coffee to get the right balance.
Over the past few years I became fairly proficient with the Silvia and Cunil combo, but wanted more. The two were very capable machines, but the hoops required to brew sometimes made the process feel more like work than a joy. So I decided to upgrade. It took many months of research and worries, but I finally found the deal I was looking for on a machine that did everything I wanted. Check back tomorrow to find out about my upgrade.