I wandered in here six months ago for help with a steam valve repair on Silvia. I hadn't been in touch with what my wife calls "the coffee crazies" for several years, and I found that there was much to learn. This led to an upgrade from Rocky to Macap M4 stepless in December and an upgrade from Silvia to Vetrano just this week. Because I had a PID on Silvia I was interested in doubler boiler machines as well as HX and I quickly narrowed the field to Vetrano and Vivaldi since I wanted to plumb in as part of my upgrade. I described elsewhere why I chose what I did in Why not double boiler with PID? . BTW, during all of this upgrading my espresso was improved more by getting a bottomless portafilter and adjusting dose/distribution than anything else.
I upgraded only my machine--I am using the same grinder, beans, portafilter, basket, and so on I've been using for months. I also kept the same dose, distribution, tamp ritual. Dialing in my machine was no more than a typical morning grind adjustment. I was able to immediately move on to trying out different brew temps; haven't really played much with profiles yet. Needless to say I am a happy camper. The shot quality is excellent, but the shot consistency is the real news. I feel that I have much more control over the variables than I did before, and I can make smaller adjustments and taste the difference. It is as if there is less noise in the system.
Advice re Advice
- Most of the answers really are here but it can be overwhelming at first using search. I recommend starting with reviews and the threads that follow the reviews in the bench section. Reading about a number of machines gives you a sense of why one upgrades and what capabilities or features are important to you.
- As you read about the different possibilities, ask yourself why you are upgrading and what your top couple priorities are. You can't optimize everything at once so it helps to know what you want.
- Once you have the field narrowed down, it becomes much easier to search and find answers to more specific questions or to ask more specific questions.
- Good advice is often hard to hear because it is not necessarily an answer to the question that you pose. I am familiar with this from my other hobby, astronomy. Someone who is clearly a newbie will ask whether he should get this or that high end equipment. The question is not only unanswerable without more background information, but it is very likely the wrong question.