Recall from an earlier post that I said a good alternative for the De’Longhi EC155 (and similar machines) for getting a non-pressurized basket is to use the basket for the La Pavoni Millennium espresso machine and flatten out the rim. Since that post was made, I’ve made a few purchases.
First is the grinder. I purchased the Breville Smart Grinder, in part because it was available through Crate & Barrel, which has a location in the Kansas City metro. It cost me almost about $15 more than ordering online due to sales taxes alone, but convenience has a price, payday had just hit when I bought it, I was about out of the pre-ground stuff I was using, and I didn’t feel like waiting for the grinder to arrive via UPS or FedEx.
The tamper came from Coffee Complements, and the basket came from Orphan Espresso. Along with this I’ve been weighing out beans as I use them rather than keeping a quantity in the hopper, and for storage I bought an AirScape from Crate & Barrel. So far results have been a lot better than before and I know I’m never going back to the pressurized portafilter. And with the AirScape and measuring out beans as I go, each shot that I’ve pulled has been about like I’ve just opened the bag of beans.
One thing I will say is that the coffee through the non-pressurized basket has a much, much more pronounced flavor than in the stock pressurized basket that comes with the EC155. As such my lattes have had a much stronger coffee flavor in them, something I like, but not something my wife enjoys a lot, so I just add more of the vanilla syrup in hers. And it’s also great not having the soupy pucks after each shot, making cleanup easier.
Update (2012-11-10): I’ve also since upgraded the steam wand on my machine to get better results while steaming and frothing milk.