Battle of the espresso machines

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

#1: Post by Vindibona1 »

I'm trying to get unconfused and so I am attempting to compartmentalize the selections almost like doing it in "tournament" form.
I'm on the fence about whether I need single or dual boiler. AT THIS MOMENT I don't do a lot of milk and the Gaggia's steam comes up in about a minute which I don't find annoying. I don't know how I'd brew and steam at once as the shots come in less than 30 seconds. I don't think I want an HX as the Mara X is the only one that gets good review, but I want a real PID, not a 3 position switch. But a dual boiler wouldn't hurt. The Rancilio checks all the boxes, but doesn't quite grab me. As a retired designer and photographer aesthetics count, but the Rancilio is built like a tank. The Profitec 300 just leaves me cold visually. They really could have done something with the knobs and the frame doesn't seem(from photos) that well build. I don't know.

And so it brings us to "the big boys", Profitec 600 or Lelit Bianca. I suspect warmup times will be huge and I only do one to two shots in the morning. Wife prefers her Nespresso a lot of time (????). FWIW we have a Baratza Sette 270 grinder which seems to be adequate.

I guess the task is to pick one of each category (image), then recommend which one of the three winners of each category to battle against each other to find the ultimate winner. I have my leanings, but I'm sure you guys will point things out to me, pros/cons in comparison of each so I can have wealth of information as I finally come to a selection.

As I said, I've eliminated HX machines based on all sorts of comments. Perhaps I'm tainted by the Gaggia where, while I have a PID the temp swings make it hard to be consistent. [I don't know how to paste images into these threads]HELP ME, PLEASE!

P.S.... I don't know why but I didn't throw the Lelit Elizabeth into the mix. Spartan looking like the Profitec 300. Anyone have any info on a Profitec 400 which I've heard would be released soon?

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Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

I can make things more difficult for you easily:
I had the same brand of a HX and PID'd dual boiler (not at the same time and in that order), and if I had to do it again I would go with the HX. The internals of the PID'd machine made it difficult to work on.
Aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder and we can't help you there. When you get to a point where it becomes a matter of 'I really like this machine but it is ugly,' as a graphic artist and photographer I will say, when discussing a tool which makes a product you put into your mouth, I feel form follows function by a good distance.
Baratza states, "The Sette 270 sets the standard for high-performance home espresso grinders." Uhh.. Nope.
You never mentioned budget. You never mentioned what you are looking for in terms of drinks (milk vs. straight shots), I would start there, make a list of the machines in that price range, and then take out the red pencil.
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Team HB

#3: Post by Jeff »

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Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

The Sette will probably be the limiting factor, if you're down to a choice among one of the Bianca/Synchronika/Pro 700 machines with flow control.

As noted by Randy, you really need to set a budget, including a potential grinder upgrade. The suggestions with $2,000, $3,000, $5,000, or $6,000 total would be very different. (No, I'm not going to spend the time on each bracket.) The suggestions in those upper ranges change every few months as well.

You also should say what roast level you prefer (with examples, as there isn't a consumer-facing standard) and how much time and effort you want to invest in the hobby. One can pull great shots of classic espresso with a Cafelat robot and a $200-class hand grinder for well under $1,000 total.

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#5: Post by bobkat »

I had a Gaggia Classic Pro....and it was/is OK for what it is and offers good bang for your buck. In a DB, I think a Profitec Pro 600 offers good bang for your buck. The size isn't too big, the steaming power is adequate and it has a good build quality. I looked at it for a long time and think it would have been certainly adequate for me. If you are concerned about warm up times, you can easily put the machine on a timer, like many have done. I finally went with an ECM Synchronika because I preferred levers, the quieter rotary pump and I have enough space for it.
You can get a lot of good advice about all the choices there are on this forum. The ultimate decision rests on you and your tastes and preferences. Good luck!

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Team HB

#6: Post by Jeff »

Vindibona1 wrote:the Mara X is the only [HX] that gets good review, but I want a real PID, not a 3 position switch.
As noted in Lelit MaraX Review you're probably not going to get much better temperature repeatability from any E61 box, DB or not. To get better than 1-2°C or so, you likely need to be into a saturated, close-coupled, or actively controlled group.

The important question is if 1°C will make a difference you can taste in the cup.

My experience with a highly repeatable machine is that 2°C is sometimes noticeable. This suggests to me that the Mara X's temperature control is sufficient for the majority of users. My gut feeling is that, for about the same money, a Mara X and a DF64 w/SSP burrs could turn out a better cup of espresso from the kind of beans I use and my tastes than would a high-end, DB E61 and a Sette (comparing either both without flow profiling or both with).


#7: Post by macal425 »

I don't have enough knowledge to give you a good recommendation, however, if you are going to get the Bianca, you'll need to buy it very soon. Once V3 is available and there are no V2's available, the price will be closer to $3200.00, rather than $2600.00. I got my Bianca last week, even although I was planning to wait until the end of this year, due to the large price increase and the relative shortage of V2's.

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BaristaBoy E61

#8: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

To throw a little more grease on the fire, this might be a good and worth-while read.

Choosing an Espresso Machine Rationally
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

Vindibona1 (original poster)

#9: Post by Vindibona1 (original poster) »

I got to watch most of the review you recommended and will do more research on the Mara X. It gave me a bit more confidence about it and it may be in the contenders' list now. I'm starting to understand the simplicity of the Mara X. But as I convert the Celsius settings to Fahrenheit (us blasted Yanks, still on that system) the high setting is around 203°F. The Gaggia has me befuddled because there are moments that I've gone hotter than that, but always flush to try to make the water more even with a 4 ounce (approx 118ml ). The one thing that Jim said was that the Mara X takes 25 minutes to warm up. While I have work-arounds for that, it seems like an awfully long time to wait for the Mara X for one or two double shots, especially at times when I won't be steaming. It takes the Bianca that long to heat up (and probably the Protec 600).

So here's a straight forward question.... If you were to have to choose this minute between the Mara X and the Rancilio Silvia Pro X, which one would you choose and why your choice over the other? And then I look at the single boiler options and ask myself if I need to pay up for DB's, or HX's for that matter?

It's a good thing I'm not in a hurry to replace the Gaggia, but after 5 years it's time. And BTW... I don't know why everyone keeps saying that there are much better grinders out there than the Sette 270 when all the side-by-side review say that the grinds are close to much more expensive grinders. I have seen nothing but consistency and less than 0.02g retention.


#10: Post by BodieZoffa »

Vindibona1 wrote: And BTW... I don't know why everyone keeps saying that there are much better grinders out there than the Sette 270 when all the side-by-side review say that the grinds are close to much more expensive grinders. I have seen nothing but consistency and less than 0.02g retention.
That sort of thing tends to be mentioned for a few reasons... one is trying to match the machine build quality with a grinder on the same level and for some it's about the spending mindset. Another thing is with a more capable (seemingly anyway) machine the curiosity with lighter roasted coffees might come into play and some think a (lower tier) conical won't match what the machine might offer. If a grinder works great for your intended use/expectation then definitely keep at it...