mlunsford27 wrote:Thanks for the Robot suggestion. I read several threads on that machine after you posted that yesterday and it does seem solid. For some reason though, I'm more drawn to the Espresso Forge, I guess because you have the option to change the basket/shower screen to whatever you want which gives some flexibility and it just seems so simple and well built. Since you have both, can you please share how they compare? Is there anything in particular that one does better/worse than the other (besides what you have mentioned that the Robot is easier to preheat and get the temperature you want)?
Also thanks for the tip on the Mr. Coffee. I will look into one if the Bellman workflow becomes too much.
Since you are planning to use the Bellman and are more drawn to the Espresso Forge ("EF"), I don't see a problem going that way. The time involved heating up the Bellman, from what i understand will be the longest factor, so the time savings with a Robot might not mean much to you. However, since you asked, I will expand on some of the differences from my experience using them both.
The Robot stands on its own, while the EF perches on its stand, which is a consideration when moving it around.
The Robot takes more side to side space to operate vs. the EF's coffee-cup-sized footprint and workspace (well slightly larger when typically used with the stand).
The Robot is simple to load and expel the puck, while the EF needs to be screwed and unscrewed to load and expel the puck (which I found occasionally fiddly to engage the threads).
The Robot without a gauge is a guessing game (but an easy one), while the EF's gauge is easy to see, use, and because it is repeatable, gives more input as to grind tweaking.
The Robot seems more forgiving for a great shot than the EF; however, they both are in the very forgiving end of the spectrum, so the difference between the two might not be significant for everyone.
The Robot only has one basket option (but the light to darker roasts I have tried on it have yielded tasty results), while the EF has the flexibility of using any standard sized basket, so there are more options to find something that yields the tasty results I experience on the Robot.
The EF is somewhat easier on the hands while pulling the shot. It's also a little more awkward and potentially tippy if you are inattentive vs. the Robot.
The Robot and EF both use standard sized seals and very few, so pretty even in this category.
Rarely the EF doesn't fully seal after a thorough cleaning and removal of the group head gasket if it's not re-seated well. This is easily fixed and fine after doing so.
The Robot works well with one initial light silicone greasing of the piston seal and double spout retaining gasket. The EF piston o-ring seals need occasional silicone grease re-application to work their best and last longer.
The Robot is ready to go without much consideration for preheating, as the adjustment is made by how much boiling water is introduced (either just enough for medium and dark roasts, or overflowing for a few seconds for light roasts). The EF pretty much needs to be preheated (although personally I don't mind the flavors of no preheat with a medium to dark roast in a cappuccino).
Robot cleanup seems easier and quicker than with the EF, mostly due to the EF's need for unscrewing and screwing the basket retaining ring and the piston & piston chamber cleaning.
Now, I have listed many differences that seem to favor the Robot, and that's my preference; however, most of them are small. As I mentioned, I don't see a problem going with the Espresso Forge. I have had some tasty coffee from it that blew away people at work.