Yeah, I know it's difficult, but I wanna hear what other people think about building an espresso machine. I've seen little things people built, but they weren't really machines. I'm a DIY kind of person, and I love making my own stuff from beginning to end.
Is this too much or a bad idea? I'd like to try building one for myself in hopes of saving $$.
If you have the parts, and they are assembled correctly, then It seems possible to me. I don't just mean possible, but I mean GOOD. Good, and delicious shots.
I'm in love with products designed with wood, and I'd like to make a semi auto machine with an exotic wood casing. What do you guys think?
John, it's totally possible. If you really want to see a machine of your own design materialize, you can. Once you know the inner working of espresso you can mix and match pieces from different units, different years, different manufacturers... etc, and make your own machine. You can even design your own parts. You just have to know what you are doing.
The knowledge is available. The parts are available. There are at least a couple of suppliers who sell general espresso machine parts and you can find a little machine shop with enough experience to make anything nearly anywhere within 50 miles of your location. You can get different kinds of groupheads, different kinds of tanks, different kinds of electronics, different kinds of frames, and different kinds of brewing philosophy. That stuff is everywhere.
Check out EspressoParts.com and look at the Refurb pages and look at Kees Van Der Westen's stuff. It 's pretty effen cool. (I have no affiliation to either of those companies, by the way.) These guys know the physics of espresso so well that they just improvise with these machines. They can make anything. So it is not impossible.
Awesome! Thanks for the positive feedback, I was expecting someone to rip me apart. I think finding the parts may be a little tough, but definitely doable. I'm in love with exotic woods, and I smile when thinking about designing my own machine with a zebra wood casing.
I know it's prolly not that easy to build a LM quality machine, but I feel as if I could surpass most home machines by purchasing the higher quality parts. I don't want to say it's easy, but the anatomy seems rather simple when looking at simple and clean machines without a million features.
I'm glad you took my feedback as positive. There are a couple of "gotchas" in there, however. Like the part about knowing what you are doing and understanding espresso inside and out. Those things take years. Maybe. Espresso machines can look simple, and in operation they can actually be simple. But the chemical extraction process is actually complicated and the way the water is introduced to the ground coffee is full of subtlety and nuance. If you look, it will be easy to find all the "parts" to make an espresso machine. And it will also be easy to make a machine that makes bad coffee, for one reason or another. You can sink a lot of money into it and not get very much out.
Rather than jumping right into the deep end and "making" your own machine I'd recommend finding a used machine with a good reputation, like a Linea, Aurelia, or something with an E-61 grouphead on it, and refurbishing/rebuilding that. There is actually a lot to learn about why machines are built the way they are. Most everything in a machine was designed on purpose that way. When you rebuild them you get to figure out why. And the more of them you rebuild the better understanding you acquire as to why one machine is one way and one machine is another. And you can always make different body panels for your already existing machine.
What you want to do is absolutely possible. And if you are really serious you are probably 10 years away from being done. You don't know what you don't know. Keep that in mind. And if you are just starting out in this vein of interest there is a lot that you don't know. Yet.
Another caveat of course is that unless sourcing/cobbling used parts at bargain prices and refurbishing them, buying all the new parts equivalent to the sum of parts for a machine would cost many times more than buying said machine itself in it's entirety fully assembled. Automobile chop shops exist for just this reason! Do it to save money? Extremely highly unlikely unless you already have a graveyard of espresso machines for parts.
If it's wood that's your passion, I'd buy a fully functional new (or used) machine and give it a new wood skin of your design. As already mentioned to begin learning what it takes to make a particular espresso machine tick strip the sucker down to the frame and re-build it.