Best HX Espresso Machine - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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Nurk2

#11: Post by Nurk2 »

Jeff wrote:I made great shots with my Anita HX with medium-dark and darker beans.

My aversion to HX machines is that, at this time, when purchasing new, there are options out there at comparable or lower prices, that have better temperature stability without complex flush routines and monitoring as well as comparable extraction quality.

Purchasing a used HX changes the balance due to a price that is generally below that of other options that are comparable in the cup and for ease of use.

If you're pulling medium and lighter roasts, I found that variable preinfusion took a 50/50 proposition to having confidence that if I wasn't getting good shots, it was a coffee that wasn't suited for espresso. I also find that a declining-pressure profile during extraction can benefit many roast levels, adding just a little bit more magic into the cup. Regrettably, virtually all HX machines can support either group head temperature or pressure monitoring, but not both.
I think what gets overlooked in this forum is that 90% of the people participating fall into one of two camps: Engineers and Beginners.

- Engineers need to measure (and then control) every aspect of the pull: water mineral content, infusion/pressure ramping, water temp throughout the pull, steam temp/pressure, etc.

- Beginners want a good shot and...what should they buy to do that?

But there's the 10% of us who have been doing espresso for a long time, who can evaluate a shot by time, appearance of the pull (on a bottomless), and taste in the cup, and adjust accordingly. We're not hobbyists. We're not necessarily attempting to extract every flavor nuance out of every bean. But we know a good shot (and a sinker) when we pull one, and it gets a little ridiculous when thread after thread we're confronted with "machine 'type-X' is a waste of money/no longer OK for pulling espresso."

I came into HB forums about 10 years ago for some advice, and I got it and went on my way. I really haven't returned until a couple months ago when our Gaggia finally died (RIP), and I came back to look up some stuff about E61s, maintenance, etc.

My morning routine consists of a cappa for she-who-must-be-obeyed (she LOVES her cappa - I hear it every day), an Americano for me to take to my desk, and a double, to be drank immediately. I pull all three over the course of about 20 minutes with no ill effect (45-minute warm-up on a timer, flush before the first pull - no biggie). Then, sometimes I pull another shot around after lunch. Today, my lunch shot was less than exceptional (but I'm still enjoying the yummy follow-through) because I got impatient and didn't let the machine warm up enough. Whose fault was that? After dinner I dump the catch tray and fill the reservoir from the Brita so it's ready to go when it clicks on in the morning.

You get what I'm saying? I've got good equipment that works really well for my routine, despite the fact that it's not a DB, it's not plumbed, I have no idea the mineral content of my water, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE TEMPERATURE OF MY WATER IS OR IF IT'S "STABLE," etc. We got our go-to beans but we also have a subscription that sends us different beans to try every week. Yeah!

What gets lost in all these discussions are critical questions like: What do you plan to use the machine for? How long have you been making espresso? What types of espresso drinks do you like? In your professional life, are you an engineer or a musician?

You want to play guitar? Great, I can recommend some good equipment for you that won't break the bank, but guess what, it's not going to be same equipment I use professionally, even though my rig is better than what I would recommend to you. What? You explain to me how you're going to use it? What experience you have playing out, etc? Well, I might recommend something else then.

A shiny HX E61 box might be the perfect solution for a lot of people. It was for me. I can't be the only one?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If it sounds good, it is good
- Duke Ellington
★ Helpful

Bluenoser

#12: Post by Bluenoser »

Nurk2 wrote: What gets lost in all these discussions are critical questions like: What do you plan to use the machine for? How long have you been making espresso? What types of espresso drinks do you like? In your professional life, are you an engineer or a musician?

A shiny HX E61 box might be the perfect solution for a lot of people. It was for me. I can't be the only one?
grin.. I'm one of those engineers.. while I don't want to bore anyone with a lengthy post.. the HX designs of the last 5 years behave quite differently than those of 10 years ago.. In the past, you had a water dance.. could flush past that 3 seconds and pull.. consistent easy.. but used a bunch of water.

Some of today's HX designs have maybe the widest range of performance characteristics of any espresso machines.. My rebound is up to 15 minutes and some people's is 5 minutes.. Quite a difference if you are making 3-4 shots and the only way you can know is if you have a great palate (and most starting out don't) or if you start measuring stuff.

You'll see a lot of stories, besides mine, of slow rebounding HX machines and owners who have sold theirs quickly.. and several who are very happy with their HX.. It's just not as consistent as it should be.. and the manufacturers aren't helping to inform the users of how to get the most out of this design.

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Chert

#13: Post by Chert »

It certainly does come down to use. For my two espresso at noon for myself and a colleague, the 1980s Olympia Maximatic is superb! The Conti one group commercial unit and the Astoria Argenta were steaming beasts and could serve a group well enough with care but exemplified the challenges of temp control.

So for personal use , I say refurbed Olympia maximatic. Shouldn't set you back no four digits either.
LMWDP #198

MichaelC

#14: Post by MichaelC »

I picked up my Max for 300 bucks on Ebay and I absolutely love it. It's dead simple -there's practically nothing in the machine you can't fix yourself and all the original parts are built like a tank.

I powder coated it white to bring it into the modern world


Batman

#15: Post by Batman »

+1 for La Cimbali m21 junior ..
A "hx" machine that works better than an "hx" machine..

LObin

#16: Post by LObin »

Nurk2 wrote:We love our Rocket Giotto V...but in the world of Home-Barista, that just makes us total morons.

We have no idea how bad we have it. We think we're making good espresso, but we could not possibly be. Ask anyone here. They'll tell you.

¯\_ (ツ)_/¯
:lol:

Love it!
LMWDP #592

LObin

#17: Post by LObin »

Have you read this?


Lelit MaraX Review

Not saying it's the best HX out there but definitely one that should be part of the discussion.
LMWDP #592

Henry_k

#18: Post by Henry_k »

LObin wrote:Not saying it's the best HX out there but definitely one that should be part of the discussion.
I'm not so good with English - how do you say about problems you solve, because you created them by yourself?
This Mara X review is a good example - some fancy solutions to keep group temperature stable. Even if in XXI century we have better solutions and should forget about HX and E61. It's like taking a wooden cart and convert it into a race car ;-)

User avatar
Nurk2

#19: Post by Nurk2 »

Bluenoser wrote:grin.. I'm one of those engineers.. while I don't want to bore anyone with a lengthy post.. the HX designs of the last 5 years behave quite differently than those of 10 years ago.. In the past, you had a water dance.. could flush past that 3 seconds and pull.. consistent easy.. but used a bunch of water.

Some of today's HX designs have maybe the widest range of performance characteristics of any espresso machines.. My rebound is up to 15 minutes and some people's is 5 minutes.. Quite a difference if you are making 3-4 shots and the only way you can know is if you have a great palate (and most starting out don't) or if you start measuring stuff.

You'll see a lot of stories, besides mine, of slow rebounding HX machines and owners who have sold theirs quickly.. and several who are very happy with their HX.. It's just not as consistent as it should be.. and the manufacturers aren't helping to inform the users of how to get the most out of this design.
I've read the many (many) HX threads and I'm aware that a few years ago you pulled a couple bad shots and went down a rabbit-hole that has ended with a scace, a pile of graphs, and a Robot. What I'm seeing (and I'm NOT necessarily calling you, or anyone, out) is thread after thread of:

Q: Best HX Espresso Machine?

A: None.

Let's approach this from a different perspective.... What is the BEST espresso machine, period?

- Decent? There is no variable you cannot measure and control. It gives you graphs in real time...full readouts of everything....what could possibly beat that? Well, I don't know, but for ME, it appears absolutely ridiculous. I have zero interest in that much mucking about. None. It's all pointless (and my day job is as a statistician!).

- Robot/Lever? What could be better than practicing your technique and feeling exactly the amount of pressure hitting the puck and adjusting that on the fly during the pull for the best possible shot? I have no idea, but I really like having a machine that heats my water (to whatever temperature, who knows?) and controls the pressure and times the shot. I've got better things to do with my time. Also, my Honey Bunny likes steamed milk in her drinks, and my Rocket does this really well. Yeah me!

- Eagle One Prima? Holy cow, James Effin Hoffmann himself designed this! What could be better? Bluetooth controls, pre- pre-infusion...the whole schmeer...but not for me, pretty much for the same reasons that I'm not interested in the Decent.

- Fully Automatic? Press and play? Perfect! I don't think so. I do need some basic level of control over grind, dose, etc. to try and get good pulls from different beans. But I can certainly see why these remain, probably, among the best selling "espresso appliances" among those with money who do not frequent HB. I think Tom Hanks has one, and who doesn't love Tom Hanks?

- La Marzocco and other industrial/commercial-grade machines? Absolutely the best...maybe? But gee, I think that's a tad overbuilt for my kitchen, and the 3-4 shots a pull every day. And the cost, man. Think of the cost! I got kids in college!

- HX w/PID? Obviously not. But I love mine....

Get it? Each of these machines is going to have different strengths and weaknesses and be more or less appropriate for different users.

Let's get back to something I actually know about: guitars. What guitar should you buy? Well, some people swear by Fender and others by Gibson and the PRS crowd thinks it's ridiculous that you would buy either when the quality control at PRS is so much higher, and really it would be better if you spent that money on a vintage instrument because no one's built anything good since CBS bought Fender, and the imports are crap, except some Ibanez and Yamaha....

What? You want to play John Denver tunes on and acoustic guitar? Ohhh.... Um. Hold on.

To get back to the OP: "I was thinking Profitec 500 with flow control."

Why? What do want to do, and what experience do you have doing it? Based on these answers, it could be a great fit for you. Go for it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If it sounds good, it is good
- Duke Ellington

LObin

#20: Post by LObin »

Henry_k wrote:I'm not so good with English - how do you say about problems you solve, because you created them by yourself?
This Mara X review is a good example - some fancy solutions to keep group temperature stable. Even if in XXI century we have better solutions and should forget about HX and E61. It's like taking a wooden cart and convert it into a race car ;-)
I beg to disagree. Heat exchanger is a proven design.
It has a few advantages over double boiler machines.

- Less expensive

- Consume less electricity (generally)

- Don't require a 20amp plug

- Less parts, less electronics, less failures

- Usually more compact

- Easier to work on (mechanically and more space inside the case)

- etc.

Of course, the Lelit Mara X has more electronics than most HX. It's also a design that prioritize brewing temperature vs steaming.

Similar list can be made to highlight the advantages of Double boilers over heat exchanger machines. Consistency and temperature stability being on top of that list. But discarding the HX design by saying it's outdated? Nah.

2 will drives automobiles aren't going anywhere even though all-wheel drive is taking a bigger part of the market every year.
LMWDP #592