Are flow control espresso machines worth the added cost?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
thecruz831

#1: Post by thecruz831 »

Good Morning all!
I am looking to upgrade my Rancilio Silvia to a new machine and have been reading a lot about flow control machines. At first I was looking at a Rocket but now machines like the Lelit and ECM models with flow control are looking good.

I guess my question is the value add really worth it?

Thanks in advance!

User avatar
BaristaBoy E61

#2: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

If you think you might want flow control it's probably best to buy a machine with that option as it will be at its lowest cost at first purchase.

For reasons of quality build and resale value, I'd opt for an ECM DB.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

wachuko

#3: Post by wachuko »

I agree... if you do not use it, just leave it on the full open setting and it works as a normal machine... my plan is to do the same. Get a machine that has it installed from the get go.

But they sell the kits... so even if you go with a different brand or a model of ECM or Profitec that does not have it, you can later buy the kit and install...

I do not like light espresso... I prefer the thick, rich, creamy shots... so I will probably never use it. But I want to have the option to play with it if I wanted to try it out... Who knows what I am going to like tomorrow!! :lol: Good to have options available to be able to try new things.
Searching for that perfect espresso!

Wachuko - LMWDP #654

User avatar
yakster
Supporter ♡

#4: Post by yakster »

If you enjoy really light roasted espresso then I believe that flow control becomes more desirable to produce a tasty shot. I'm not sure you'd find it necessary for medium or darker roasted coffee.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

User avatar
lancealot

#5: Post by lancealot »

Flow control seemed pretty complicated and overwhelming to me at first. I modded my Breville dual boiler to give me flow control over the shot. I use medium roast coffees. I have begun to reduce the flow through the puck during the second 1/2 of the shot. I just restrict the flow so that the rate that the espresso comes out of the portafiter at the end of the shot is consistent with the flow during the first 1/2. I have noticed a subtle, but pleasing difference in the quality of the shots. They are softer, with less jaggy bitterness. I only do this for straight shots. For milk drinks I don't bother.

My point is, you don't need to make flow profiling complicated and even if you use traditional or medium espresso roasts, your straight shots might benefit from something as simple as a declining flow profile.

thecruz831

#6: Post by thecruz831 »

Maybe that is a good point....I will almost primarily make milk drinks....I do want to start playing with lighter roasts though....Hmmmmm what to do what to do!

luckydragon

#7: Post by luckydragon »

If you're looking to spend $3k on an upgrade, you're better off with Profitec/ECM/Lelit anyway, because they're better value-for-money in terms of build quality and features.

Nunas
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by Nunas »

if you do not use it, just leave it on the full open setting and it works as a normal machine
That's not quite accurate, at least with the ECM/Profitec kit. Full open is a HUGE flow. On my Synchronika the same water debit as the stock mushroom is a little less than 1.5 turns from fully closed (Fully open is 2.25). In any case, I do agree with the general advice given here that you might as well get it and have the latest and greatest control over your shots. It's a useful upgrade. I'm particularly partial to the pressure gauge that shows me the actual brew pressure, not just the pump pressure like most machines. I use it all the time, even when I'm not using the flow control actively (which is most of the time). As I've written before, if you leave the original lower spring in the machine, the flow control will initially control preinfusion time, then when preinfusion is over, it will control the flow. If you use the heavier spring, then you need to use the control more actively for preinfusion. So, if you get a machine with the upgrade, be sure they give you both springs. Most of the time, I have the control set to about 3/4 to 1-turn (depending on the bean) and I don't bother very often messing with the control during the shot.

wachuko

#9: Post by wachuko » replying to Nunas »

I don't get this... when fully open, should it not be the same pressure as the pump?

Maybe my misunderstanding is that I am confusing flow with pressure??? :?:

Thank you for the post.
Searching for that perfect espresso!

Wachuko - LMWDP #654

pcrussell50

#10: Post by pcrussell50 »

Flow control:
1) for certain coffees (well developed light roasts), I find it mandatory, in order to mute extreme acidity and reveal the other flavors

2) for everything else, being able to make small adjustments on the fly is highly useful for "saving" a shot that may be flowing too fast

3) some gourmet coffees are beginning to specify extraction at 6 bar. With your needle valve you can set and maintain it as long as you like.

There aren't yet many machines that give you full blown end to end in the fly flow control. Some of the best are extremely simple mods of existing machines. And I mean extremely simple. And reversible.

One of the better summations of profiling is the first seven posts of this thread. They are brand agnostic and apply to any machines that can do this: Lelit Bianca Review

-Peter
LMWDP #553