$1900 budget for espresso machine, choose from list - HX or DB?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
vizia

Postby vizia » Aug 07, 2018, 5:29 am

I have been lurking on the website for a few days now, reading reviews on some of the below machines, and now ready to make the purchase.

Please pick the best one from the list below. All machines are available on bellabarista.co.uk (prices do not include 10% import fees and VAT); those with a star are available from a local retailer.

I will be making one to two cups of milk-based drinks a day and don't mind a long heating time. I am used to drinking great cups of cappuccinos from the best local specialty coffee shops and roasters, so want my machine to replicate the experience at the comfort of my home. I am leaning more towards the Mechanika IV Profi because of the price and features compared to other HX machines and looks like it is the best HX.

I am currently using a Kinu M47 to make my V60s. A grinder upgrade ($1500-1900) will follow in less than a year.


Rocket Appartamento $1420
Rocket Mozzafiato Type V $1760
Rocket R58* (out of budget) $2450
Profitec Pro 300 $1500
Profitec Pro 500 $1700
Profitec Pro 600 $2100
ECM Mechanika IV Profi* $1770
ECM Mechanika V Slim $1750
Expobar Leva DB $1540
Lelit Mara 62S $1240

Thanks in advance!

chriscoffee
Sponsor

Postby chriscoffee » Aug 07, 2018, 4:30 pm

That is quite the list of machines you have there!

Choosing between a heat exchanger and dual boiler machine is not quite as simple as just asking "am I willing to pay the extra money for the dual boiler?" It's whether or not that price difference is justified.

If you're making primarily milk based drinks than in my personal opinion no, it may not be. Your slight variation in temperature is going to be masked by the milk you're pouring into the espresso. So when you're first getting use to that cooling flush you might not notice a shot being pulled at 198 degrees (too long of a flush) vs. 204 degrees (not long enough).

Heat exchangers have a lot to offer. Great price point, generally a little smaller in size than dual boiler machines, only 1 big boiler, very good steam pressure.

The Appartamento and Mozzafiato both perform very similar, have E61 groups, and a solid construction so you really can't lose on either of those. The Appartamento is a little more attractive to those who have space restrictions in their home because of it's small footprint. Both of those machines really stand out to us because they have a unique design. The Mozzafiato comes in a really nice white finish, and the Appartamento has those round cut outs on the side.

Let us know if you have any specific questions on those 2 Rocket machines!
Chris Nachtrieb
Pres. Chris' Coffee Service, Inc.

vizia

Postby vizia » Aug 08, 2018, 3:18 am

Thanks for reassuring me that a heat exchanger is the way to go. Quite a steep price difference between a HX and DB machine and I think I will be very satisfied with either.

I am leaning more towards (in order of preference):
- ECM Mechanika IV Profi ($1770 w/ tax) — rotary pump, plumbing, 2.1L stainless steel boiler, 1400W, no PID
- Profitec Pro 500 ($1870 w/ tax)— vibration pump, no plumbing, 2L stainless steel boiler, 1400W, w/ PID
- Rocket Mozzafiato ($1936 w/ tax) — vibration pump, no plumbing, 1.8L copper boiler, 1200W, w/ PID

I believe the ECM gives the most bang for my buck because of the rotary pump and possible use of plumbing in the future, plus has a slightly larger stainless steel boiler.

danny31292

Postby danny31292 » Aug 08, 2018, 7:52 am

The quieter rotary pump really makes using the machine a more pleasant experience. That said, I had two pressurestats fail and were stuck in the on position thus over pressurizing the boiler and tripping the pressure release valve. This happened once when I wasn't aware and it continued until it emptied the entire tank onto my counter. Pressurestats also make a clicking sounds every few minutes too while the PID is silent.

NickWLL

Postby NickWLL » Aug 08, 2018, 12:59 pm

vizia wrote:
I am leaning more towards (in order of preference):
- ECM Mechanika IV Profi ($1770 w/ tax) — rotary pump, plumbing, 2.1L stainless steel boiler, 1400W, no PID
- Profitec Pro 500 ($1870 w/ tax)— vibration pump, no plumbing, 2L stainless steel boiler, 1400W, w/ PID
- Rocket Mozzafiato ($1936 w/ tax) — vibration pump, no plumbing, 1.8L copper boiler, 1200W, w/ PID

I believe the ECM gives the most bang for my buck because of the rotary pump and possible use of plumbing in the future, plus has a slightly larger stainless steel boiler.


Hi Vizia!

Based on your list here you're giving yourself a good range of options. The convenience of plumbing and inline water filtration options make the Mechanika IV Profi a very attractive choice. However, we've also found that the inclusion of PIDs on heat exchange models like the Pro 500 and Rocket's Type V and Evo R lines makes brew temperatures much more stable and predictable. With the Pro 500 and the Mozzafiato you can use the PID to easily adjust steam temperature (and pressure) directly. This also gives you the ability to affect brew temperature.

The PID machines will make it easier for you to play with variables, while the Mechanika IV will certainly be more convenient once you plumb it. It also depends on which one will look best on your counter. The Rocket and ECM machines have more branded accessories that you can purchase as accouterments.
Retail Sales Manager
Whole Latte Love
nick@wholelattelove.com

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bluesman

Postby bluesman » Aug 08, 2018, 3:00 pm

NickWLL wrote:The convenience of plumbing and inline water filtration options make the Mechanika IV Profi a very attractive choice. However, we've also found that the inclusion of PIDs on heat exchange models like the Pro 500 and Rocket's Type V and Evo R lines makes brew temperatures much more stable and predictable...The PID machines will make it easier for you to play with variables, while the Mechanika IV will certainly be more convenient once you plumb it.

Much of the beauty of the ECM and similar machines is its solidity & simplicity. Dan's experience of having "had two pressurestats fail...in the on position thus over pressurizing the boiler and tripping the pressure release valve" is truly rare in new machines. P'stats do wear out over time, but most work fine for several years. The "infant failure" rate of digital displays and controls is far higher than that of the mechanical components they replace, despite the undocumented protestations of devotees on HB. This quote from Russel's current FS post (Mahlkoenig Peak) sums it up well:
russel wrote:In the last year I've dealt with a string of ill timed electronic failures in some really important pieces of equipment, and this electronic hiccup feels like the last straw. I'm tired of electronics fouling my stuff up.

Electronics will tighten up your operating parameters by providing more precise settings with reduced variance. This can yield improvements in the cup with some coffees, notably beans with complex & subtle nuances brought out by lighter roasting. But making this happen mandates a seriously great grinder and can require sophisticated brew profiling. I'm not at all convinced that most of us would benefit from this, given the great espresso you can make with machines like those you're contemplating. If you're brewing on the leading edge of the 3rd wave, you probably want a PID. Most of us awash in traditional choconuttycaramel brew smothered in crema wouldn't trade consistency & solidity for that level of subtlety.

This is my second plumbed machine - I can't imagine going back to a reservoir. It's also my first rotary pump, and the wonderful, quiet purr it makes while working makes a vibe pump sound so crude. I chose my ECM HX carefully after considering a Linea Mini and a Synchronika. I'm sooo glad I did! :D

randyh

Postby randyh » Aug 08, 2018, 3:45 pm

I've had a Profitec Pro 500 (non-PID) for the past 9 months or so, and can vouch that it's easy to use, temp stable (confirmed with scace measurements) with simple flush routine based on Erics thermometer, great steam power, and looks great on the counter! It just works.
That said, if I could have the Mechanika profi for roughly the same price, it's a no-brainer, I'd go for the Mechanika. The Pro 500 pump sound is reported to be very quiet, but for me it's still not the most pleasant sound and while it's not loud per se, it's not super quiet either. I'd love to have a rotary pump, and also have the option of plumbing in. Refilling the reservoir every 3 days is something I could do without. ECM and Profitec are sister companies, and for all intents and purposes, the Pro 500 and Mechanika are the same machine except for the pump and ability to plumb in.
I'm mostly a milk-based medium to medium-dark roast kind of guy, so for me an HX works great and has the added benefit of being a simpler machine with less that can go wrong and easier to service.

Tonefish

Postby Tonefish » Aug 08, 2018, 3:59 pm

Just peeked at this thread and I'm amazed how quickly the HX won over the DB. As I make my list of desires for a next machine down the road, DB, rotary pump, PID, and reservior are high on my list. $1900 seems like a healthy budget for a decent DB, doesn't it?
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Aug 08, 2018, 7:19 pm

I've had a Pro500 PID for about 2 months and love it.. The PID does make the brew temps consistent and there is little if any flushing required. However, you do not really know the absolute temp of the brew water. The manufacturer of all HX machines provide tables, but these are dependent on ambient temperature, humidity, altitude, etc) . My default PID setting gave terrible extraction and not until I bumped it up about 6 degrees did I get decent results. Therefore if you want to really ensure temperature is not an issue with extraction, you will need an external thermometer, such as Eric's Thermometer to give you that data (or a Scace). Or simply alter your PID and let taste be your guide. But an external thermometer will add $100 to your HX cost. (Today, I think any new HX design should include a temp sensor close to the screen, since the tables provided cannot be relied on to be accurate enough for extraction).

A DB has a more direct path and I think you can count on most DB with PID to be within a degree of of the brew water temp.(from what I read.. no experience).

If you make milk drinks and want 'great' steam, some of the new DB, such as the Pro 600, has the potential of 2bar steam pressure, while most other HX provide 1.2-1.4bar (which still gives very good steam pressure and certainly lots for latte art). I think the feeling is the higher the pressure, the more exquisite the micro-foam can be made, depending on the skill of the steamer. No shot timer on the Pro500 PID, but likely on the 600.

Lelit make one model a 62S-T with a PID, but the PID is not adjustable. The 62T has a PID and is adjustable. Adjustable PIDs make it easier to experiment with brew water temp changes, I think.. With non-PID HX designs, a cooling flush regulates the brew water temp so the PID and non-PID can have slightly different operation in regards to regulating the brew water temp.

For me, the HX was significantly lower in price than the DBs I was considering and so a good value.

JayBeck

Postby JayBeck » Aug 08, 2018, 7:49 pm

randyh wrote:I've had a Profitec Pro 500 (non-PID) for the past 9 months or so, and can vouch that it's easy to use, temp stable (confirmed with scace measurements) with simple flush routine based on Erics thermometer, great steam power, and looks great on the counter! It just works.
That said, if I could have the Mechanika profi for roughly the same price, it's a no-brainer, I'd go for the Mechanika. The Pro 500 pump sound is reported to be very quiet, but for me it's still not the most pleasant sound and while it's not loud per se, it's not super quiet either. I'd love to have a rotary pump, and also have the option of plumbing in. Refilling the reservoir every 3 days is something I could do without. ECM and Profitec are sister companies, and for all intents and purposes, the Pro 500 and Mechanika are the same machine except for the pump and ability to plumb in.
I'm mostly a milk-based medium to medium-dark roast kind of guy, so for me an HX works great and has the added benefit of being a simpler machine with less that can go wrong and easier to service.


Based on your scace testing and thermometer readings, what is your flush routine and what temps do you get? My pressure stat clicks around 1.2bar and idle group temp is around 206-208 before the initial long flush.