I need some help deciding on the right fit for my next machine. I'm looking to upgrade from my Expobar E61 HX in the near future and working with ~$3k budget for the machine (I've got a Niche Zero grinder that I'll use with it). My daily usage is 3 back-to-back-to-back doubles and steaming ~8 ounces of milk in the AM (one drink for me, one drink for the wife); occasionally 2 back-to-back doubles in the PM.
Primary goal: smooth/sweet shots.
I know what smooth/sweet shots can taste like -- I've had some from shops (primarily shops using La Marzocco machines). Unfortunately, even used LMs are out of my price range. I've really struggled to get close to smooth or sweet shots from my existing machine, despite doing all the dosing/grind/brew ratio permutations, even mirroring the exact recipe(s) used by shops. The Niche grinder was a significant upgrade in taste quality from my previous grinder, but I'm left feeling like my current machine is holding me back. I'm looking for a machine that can help me get the rest of the way there.
Temperature stability, controllability, and accuracy
-Does the machine require flushing (I'm really over the HX flush/temp surfing routine)? Can I brew back-to-back shots and the brew temp be the same?
-Can I easily change the brew temp?
-If a roaster recommends 202F, does setting 202F on the PID actually give me 202F brew temp?
Plumbed AND reservoir capable (I'm military and move a lot, so plumbed-in-only may not always be feasible)
Built-in shot timer
Good steaming performance
Pressure Profiling and/or pre-infusion profiling capability
I was primarily considering the Lelit Bianca and ECM Synchronika w/flow control. Now that pressure profiling is available on basically any E61, is there any reason to choose one particular DB E61 machine over another, if my primary goal is smoothness and sweetness in the cup?
In the course of my research, I ran across several posts from users on this forum, and read several threads comparing E61 to levers, and the consensus seems to be that spring lever machines tend to produce more smoothness/sweetness in the cup than pump-driven E61s -- I've never had a lever shot, and don't know of any shops in my area that use them, so I'm going off of second-hand info here. I haven't seen any comparisons of in-the-cup quality of pressure profiling E61s to levers, so if anyone has any insight there I'd greatly appreciate it.
So, now I'm left with analysis paralysis. Do I get a DB E61 profiler? Do I get a lever?