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Considering Bezzera Strega Purchase

Postby hardreign on Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:01 am

Over a year ago my old La Pavoni semi automatic died. Ever since I've been lurking on H-B looking for information and education on what my next machine will be. The H-B community has been a great resource - so thank you all.

Over that year I've considered many options from double boilers to HXs to levers. I've looked at brands from Izzo to Vibiemme to Bezzera and others. I poured through vendor sites from Chris' to 1st Line to Stefano's. In other words - like so many before me - I've been paralyzed by the choices!

I think I've finally settled on a machine though and am interested in your thoughts. For background, I'm a daily cappuccino or latte drinker. Multiples on weekends. I host guests around the holidays many of whom look forward to an espresso drink (but we're talking 2-4 not big crowds). With a better machine I'll be sampling straight espressos. My wife is looking forward to the hot water tap for tea. I would like to keep the total purchase around $2,500 but $3,000 is in budget. As far as I can tell there are many quality machines that would work for me: Vibiemme Super, Bezzera BZ07, Izzo Alex II, etc.

But then the Strega showed up. I have to admit I'm enamored with the lever - something romantic about it but also the discussion on taste, mouth feel, etc. of lever shots is appealing. Sounds like a great steamer, too. So, Strega is top of my list. I would say next is the Vibiemme Super (Manual). Of course the grinder has received as much research and I'm leaning towards the Mazzer Super Jolly - seems like a well proven workhorse that will more than do the job. I actually would prefer doserless but the price on many of those has deterred me. The Quamar M80 doserless is probably second on the grinder list.

So, I'm looking for general input and advice on my selection. And I'm looking for thoughts on a specific point - I really want to be up and running for the holiday season (Thanksgiving) and therefore am considering ordering the Bezzera Strega from the Canadian site idrinkcofee. Seems like a good operation and I've exchanged emails with them. Looks like I'll be paying customs fees but they're not a deal breaker. Any thoughts or concerns about ordering internationally - albeit our close neighbors to the North?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Jim
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Postby 1st-line on Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:36 am

Hi All,

We have placed an order for the Strega with Bezzera about 3 weeks ago. We are unsure of a firm delivery date into the USA, and we will post on our pre-order page as we soon as we know. You can pre-order without a charge to your credit card.

In addition, keep in mind that most high end espresso machines do not have a worldwide warranty. The dealer you purchase from is the dealer who the consumer needs to deal with for parts and support. For example, if you buy any machine in Australia and ship it to the USA, the dealer or retailer does not have to provide any support (technical, service, nor parts references) in or out of warranty. It is at the dealer's discretion to provide such services. This is one reason why 1st-line does not like to export equipment.
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Postby Jeff on Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:08 pm

...something romantic about it...


Espresso always tastes better from a machine you love. All the machines you mention are capable of producing years of excellent espresso and several have been on my "short list" at one time or another. Some would consider my quest for an original GS to be completely irrational, especially with the GS/3 available, but I know that is the right machine for us.

I've never found the hot water tap terribly useful on an HX machine. It sputters and sprays and is too hot for some uses. We use a modestly priced electric kettle for when we need water for tea or brewed coffee. When we have a need for more than a cup or two on a regular basis, we'll dig out the Zojurushi boiler/dispenser for "on demand" hot water.

The dealer you purchase from is the dealer who the consumer needs to deal with for parts and support.


That is probably some of the most important advice you'll get on the subject.
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Postby hardreign on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:33 pm

Thanks for the replies Jim and Jeff - and the PMs from the rest of you. Exactly the type of feedback I'm looking for. Now, can I bear the wait...

To hold me over I ordered a couple bags of Counter Culture's coffees, so at least I have that to look forward to in the morning!
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Postby spiffdude on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:40 pm

Two tidbits that may help.

I have a HX machine and use the hot water tap daily for tea, oatmeal and soup. It does sputter but it's faster than setting up a kettle. Works for me anyway. It also helps me keep the mineral content low in the boiler as using hot water renews the water in the boiler.

I have bought stuff from idrinkcoffee and can say that they communicate well, deliver fast and make do on small errors. I would recommend them if you take into consideration Jim's comment about later support for the machine. This might not be a big deal since warranties are usually good for a year then you're on your own anyway right?
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!
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Postby the_trystero on Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:03 pm

hardreign wrote: I actually would prefer doserless but the price on many of those has deterred me. The Quamar M80 doserless is probably second on the grinder list.



I'm happy with my refurbed Mr Espresso from OE so I can't comment on the Strega. But I have received my M80 doserless from 1-st Line, actually got it really quickly, I just haven't had a chance to unbox it yet.

I vow to start seasoning it tomorrow and hopefully will have some thoughts on it for you by tomorrow afternoon.
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Postby hardreign on Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:18 pm

Thanks Spiff. I was thinking I might be on my own with an international shipment - surely wouldn't be sending it for repairs at the rates I've seen. Something to chew on. Good point about water usage and renewing boiler.

Trystero I was hoping you would post about the Quamar! Looking forward to hearing about it. :D
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Postby Gruven75 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:40 am

My wife and I purchased a Strega from Idrinkcoffee.com two weeks ago, we are thrilled with service they provided and the machine is an absolute joy to use. We live close enough that we were able to go to the showroom and try the different machines that they have, very fun day! We have since ordered online from them as well, and very happy with the speed of processing(ordered Friday, delivered Wed.) I recall the rep saying that they are a licensed warranty repair for bezzera and that they add an additional year to the warranty. I also suggest you grab a lb of their yellow espresso from deterra farms, they purchased the whole crop and roast daily, so it is always fresh. This bean is so good they imposed a limit to prevent people from stockpiling-they also wanted to ensure user was going do the bean justice and not throw it in a blade grinder and drip machine. So popular that they bought the years crop from that farm...........
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Postby hardreign on Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:32 pm

Thanks for the feedback Gruven - I didn't initially find as much feedback as I had hoped so helps to see direct experience from H-B'ers.
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Postby the_trystero on Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:50 pm

ImageImage
the_trystero wrote:But I have received my M80 doserless from 1-st Line, actually got it really quickly, I just haven't had a chance to unbox it yet.



Ok, I ran a pound through it this morning and actually pulled a couple of shots with it once I ground through those old beans.

More H-B info here on the dosered version.

Some very initial thoughts, this is only my second grinder after my Le'lit Pl53.

Hopefully the lack of a removable spill tray won't bug me. The built-in tray is actually very rounded and easy to wipe grinds out of.

I dose into the basket by itself so I removed the portafilter holder.

After just one pound the output was pretty consistent, I dialed the double-cup time and grind to 17 grams and got 17.1, 17.0, and 17.0 on the subsequent 3 doses in 6.5 seconds per the grinder's timer. I'll do more tomorrow after I dial in my grind a little closer, those doses were a little coarse. With no beans in the hopper, just some down in the throat of the grinder, there was enough popcorning to make the timer useless.

As a newbie I didn't know the adjustment collar was spring-loaded, no big deal, just a surprise.

This has stepped adjustment which in my limited testing out of the box today resulted in too big of steps, or at least there was a significant change in grind when changing two steps, from 5 down to 4 1/3. Perhaps once step adjustments will be ok. I assume I can adjust the coarseness/fineness of the steps on the Quamar?
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