Breville Dual Boiler v. Brugnetti Aurora Simona Single Boiler

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
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Postby johndoe » Nov 28, 2011, 7:33 pm

Dear Readers and enthusiasts alike;

I am submitting this review on the Breville Dual Boiler v. the Brugnetti Aurora Simona single boiler.

I had the good fortune to get the Breville at a steep discount below $1K USD v. the $1.6K I have invested in the Brugnetti Simona (aurora) single boiler.

First to be fair, the Breville is perfect or was after I with the help of a Youtube video, set the OPV on the Italian Pump, looks almost like the Ulka in the Brugnetti, to around 10 bar v. the stock 13+. One point about the OPV, the YOUtube video says use a's actually marked at the pipe to the pump and the screwed down to max OPV - a blackdot on each, at first it took a slight wrench(it's a nut not a screw) then I was able to free the OPV and use 2 full hand turns lining up the black marks each time to make sure.

I had a devil of a time with the best efforts of the Rancilio Rocky and the Reg Barber tamp getting the grind right no matter what portafilter basket I used in order to get the shot time down to 30 sec and bar at below 13.

The Bar meter condensates and stays that way; that is a negative.

Finally, I went with removing the spring in the Breville portafilter and the black plastic insert, then added my 58 mm triple basket. I like with my decaf, which is all I drink - the extraction of a triple.

Once the pump was forced to around 10 bar - things went quickly; say 200+ shots over weeks of time.

The dual set up takes some getting used to since my habit is to make milk first with the Brugnetti steam pipe, then place the stainless pitcher under the group and brew/extract a ristretto triple.

The new Breville makes me ambidextrous and I use a separate vessel for the extraction a few seconds after I start the milk texturing, which by the way is more like, much more like latte milk in flavor and texture than the Brugnetti milk; which is always much more like a classic cappuccino.

The prefusion and percentage of pump v. no prefusion I have yet to see a difference in extraction although it makes it slightly quicker; the decaf comes out more chocolate/butterscotch like if you will than the chocolate like flecked and striped Brugnetti extractions - same grind, same coffee. Both machines produce prodigious amounts of fresh guiness like crema from the less than 10 day old coffee I use.

I have no experience with fresh single origin and caffeinated; I strictly drink decaf. a few days a week. The coffee I chose to use for this flavor comparison is freshly roasted swiss water process: Allegro Coffee organic house decaf espresso and Buddy Brew Mana blend decaf - which is full city + and works really well for espresso (Royal Gold blend). I ran the machine through the paces over the holidays and the guest concensus was not much of a difference on either although the Breville milk was liked by most and for hot chocolate for the kids.

What I discovered over this period of ownership and testing is that the Breville is a great engineering masterpiece, but only time will tell on the performance and parts failure. Going into the machine, I found tubing that is not copper as in the Brugnetti and stainless boilers unlike copper boiler in the Brugnetti. I was not happy with the thin skin of stainless steel after dismantling the back of the machine nor the thin stainless steel drip tray cover v. the Brugnetti...old steel v. new steel.

While I was in the machine I tested for lead, copper and iron + the quality of water. I had always prefiltered via Pur dual filter pitchers (Ph, Chlor and alk). All tests were within range either from the pitcher or Breville filter after pitcher.

I tested for lead and iron at the group, wand and all tubing...nothing. I left milk on the steam wand and cleared it and cleaned best I could then checked for bacteria - ZERO.

Even on the Brugnetti with the brass distribution disk, as a lark - NO lead or metals at all - so much for all the worry over the long term affects of copper and brass! Maybe it has all leeched out over the 20 + years of use ;-)

You may ask why the testing on the machines and water? There was a lot of water work in the area and mains flush + a friend of mine had good quality test kits that mirror (duplicate copies and results) those of his lab. He works in a chemical test lab...he double verified the results - so Breville and Brugnetti do a good job with safe materials.

I believe the softness of the milk and extraction by just a bit with the Breville is due to the water ph/alk; which is different on the Breville than the Brugnetti.

The Rocky produced the right grind and each machine did a very good job, although stopping up/bogging down the Breville was hard; the Brugnetti is testy and this is more easily done.

The 3-way solenoid on both machines for pressure release was fine. Puck removal on the Breville with the triple basket I have, which sits very tight in the Breville portafilter required ultimately (many tries and a few failures and broken nails - it's a tight fit) the removal of the Breville spring and black plastic disk. The latter with a screwdriver, then the triple basket just sat and was easy to put in and take out/wash.

The complaints about bright coffee and lack of steam on the Breville seem unfounded. At least I couldn't find this to be an issue (of course the OPV adjustment made a big difference). I stressed out the machine as much as I possible could - no problems. If anything the steam paddle is tricky to get used to v. a knob on the Brugnetti.

The Breville has a certain edge over my practices with the Brugnetti. Both warm up and cold function + versatility. The Brugnetti is a lot of manual work, performance order and ritual that, if not done right and in the right order, won't come out well. With the Breville this was never the case. No matter if I started with milk or espresso, or milk first, then hit the manual button for espresso in a separate vessel, or waited and then ran espresso into my pitcher to drink; which is my usual practice, the results were consistent for temperature and flavor with the Breville.

I was unable due to the lack of a bottomless portafilter on the Breville and the proprietary ears -slots to add my home brew pressure gauge to the portafilter or use a bottomless to see what was going on at extraction or under pressure how much is actually at the group v. gauge/meter with a 30ml/30 sec flow.

All in all, I'd say I really like the Breville. There is still some fooling around I have to do with the prefusion and pressure to see if it makes for better or worse extraction, but the temperature setting and stability are really nice things. One does not have to guess as it's always ready. No rebound like the Brugnetti, which is about 1-1.5 minutes.

Thanks for reading this and if anyone has ?'s or comments I welcome them + if you want me to try something or a different brew (donkey blend or intelligentsia) let me know and I can post some feedback.

I think Breville thought this out at a price point and it's not a high end machine, but it's pretty nice so far - not that I would ever buy one (a higher end machine), but I did want a dual boiler and this shaves 10 minutes + a lot of set-up and clean-up time off my experience; which adds to the utility of the Breville. I was once offered a Della Corte (I think - I could be errored on the name but that was the dual boiler model) from Brugnetti (private labelled?) - all steel and nice, but the refill tank seemed a bear to use/clean...the Breville excels at this with the dual entry point for water and the sliding 5th's leg/wheel setting to move the machine.

(edited for errors and clarifications - 11.29 5:37pm EST)


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Postby johndoe » Dec 01, 2011, 5:31 pm

Dear Readers and Enthusiasts alike: (maintenance update under warranty per Breville)

Well after a long call with Breville management in california; Torrance is where the machines repair and originate from; they decided:

1. The OPV issue is something they are aware of but would not comment; but they would check it on a new machine and send me a new machine with the proper pressure, what one they would not say; as in 9 BAR or what?

2. The condensation issue they are not aware of and a tech asked what temperature I am brewing at as if that makes a difference and if the condensation is on the glass inside facing the user or the pace of the Gauge.

3. They agreed this is not normal and the new machine will be shipped to me immediately while I ship back the old one that is in my mind defective

4. They will take all your owner info., send you an email with a shipping label prepaid and both machine apparently cross in the mail...hummm....

I am still deciding on this method since I cannot be guaranteed they will set the pressure properly v. a screwed down OPV and should I really risk this non-sense.

It appears this is a widely known set of issues and Breville has chosen this method of repair under warranty for known defects.

Thanks for reading the follow-up...if I do return the defective machine I will post how the next one goes...I still have some weeks left on the return to the seller store so I might take it back as the store has a liberal return policy no ?'s asked.

Thanks John

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Postby sweaner » Dec 01, 2011, 9:41 pm

A friend did do the exchange, and his new unit is apparently calibrated properly. They sent him the new machine before he sent back the old one, but he needed to give a credit card # as a deposit.
LMWDP #248

Man does not live by coffee alone...we need beer too.

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Postby johndoe » Dec 02, 2011, 4:11 pm

Dear Readers and Enthusiasts alike,

Thanks for the kind reply about the deposit and CC#; I am dubious of that due to privacy issues I have and the fact that I asked about consumer privacy and basically; like Fidelity Investments told that I had no privacy and it could happen.

As for the machine; the condensation issue seems to be better as the house is warmer and less wet with humidity; again it's only on the glass inside and not the face of the gauge.

I also switched coffee and now the pump seems to hover around 9-9.5 BAR and I am getting excellent ristrettos. It was interesting that after 90 seconds - I tried this the pump stopped and the manual shot ends.

As for prefusion, time and pressure - I played with it at length and went with betw. 5-7 sec on 60-65% pressure - again using just the decaf allegro house blend (full city +) - the barney brew seemed to be a problem and I could not get it to taste right even after about 10 days.

Well I am almost at the end of the return policy period and am deciding to either keep it; return it to Breville and wait on a reply machine (fix the condensation issue and pump pressure) or return it to the store.

All in all I used the auto on function and the standby and it works pretty well...I have found it definitely needs full attention by the user:

heat the cup, heat and purge the group and steam wand but all in all features and benefits + bang for the buck ($-USD) make it a nice product.

Only time will tell on the durability of the machine.

I would like to know how to get that dual spout off and probably go to my marine machine shop and pay to get it bottomless...not sure yet.

I really hate that dribble on the dual spout betw. the counter and the sink - with bottomless I always knew what to watch for - read brown water tracks ;-)

Anyway thank you so kindly for the comments privately, and the public comment in this reply from a user.


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Joined: Oct 15, 2008, 1:45 pm

Postby johndoe » Dec 03, 2011, 5:25 pm

Dear readers and Enthusiasts alike,

UPDATE on steam capability.

I noticed a steaming issue at about 200+ shots and latte/cappuccinos. It appears that the placement of the steam wand drives the potential for the most steam from each hole. I was not getting steam from one hole for a while and was oblivious. I took off the 3 hole tip and cleaned it - all holes are the same size, but interestingly, when I purged the pipe without the tip and in pointed it in different directions that furthest direction from vertical got the most steam. I put the tip back on and verified that indeed, if I kept the steam wand more DOWN in direction to the milk the steam was better but as one takes it horizontal from the drip tray it appears the steam is weaker in some holes than others. ODD.

Maybe this can account for the fact that a lot of users find the steaming to be weak. I also discovered how to force the boiler to fill when steaming - it takes a lot of steam to get a refill.

Overall it appears that incremental checking and cleaning of the want holes at the tip is important and then getting the machine to temp for at least 15-30 min. Cold start produced somewhat weak steam.

Oh well - thought I would post this.

Thanks for reading


ps. the buddy brew from Tampa is called: manana decaf royal Gold select, swiss water process roasted full city + for espresso - it IS single origin from S. America according to Dave the roaster at Buddy Brew; not a blend - I was incorrect on that; thanks for the emails asking for clarifications: price $13 14 oz. USD from Tampa Fl.

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Postby SHCoffee » Dec 04, 2011, 5:18 pm

I'm a HB newbie. I just graduated from a Jura super-auto to a BES900XL (or as I've dubbed it in my house - the BEaSt). I bought mine from Williams Sonoma just before Thanksgiving. Having read through the CS forum, I was curious if mine would or would not have a properly calibrated OPV. According to the serial number, mine was manufactured in week 33 of this year (1133 is part of my SN). Based on something Phil McKnight wrote in the CS thread, I expected that mine would not be calibrated correctly. Alas, that was indeed the case. I confirmed this on my very first shot when I overground/overdosed/overtamped the coffee and basically choked the machine. It pegged the gauge at over 13 bar.

Like many of you, I was thus faced the dilemma of either doing an exchange or venturing into the innards of the BEaSt. Being seriously overcaffeinated from tasting multiple test shots, I naturally chose the latter course of action. Fortunately, I had enough presence of mind to wait until the caffeine was properly titrated in my bloodstream and took it very slowly. I organized my tools, recruited my wife to give me extra light (and moral support) and went at it.

I followed the instruction posted by Nic. It was really pretty easy. (FWIW, I believe you can discern the quality of a product in part by how well the parts fit together and come apart - for example how easily screws come out. I would give the Breville a solid B+ or A- here - very nicely done). Based on other threads I turned the OPV valve head counter-clockwise between 2 1/4 and 2 1/2 turns and put everything back together. All told, the surgery took about 20 minutes and went without a hitch.

I then tested the machine with a fabbed blind filter (my actual one arrives in a couple of days) and hit 10 bar. I ran a shot with a grind, dose and tamp that would have hit 11 or 12 pre-repair and got a little over 8 bar. In short: Mission Accomplished.

I still have a lot of learning and dialing in to do. That process will start in earnest when my new grinder arrives this week.

Notwithstanding this first gen assembly line glitch, I can say that I'm very happy with the BEaSt and really looking forward to playing around with all of the features and hopefully learning how to pull a shot like those I remember from the Italian cafes I've visited over the years.

Good luck.

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Postby SHCoffee » Dec 05, 2011, 7:36 pm

On sale at WS for under $900! Thanks to EricBNC for catching that code.

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Joined: Oct 15, 2008, 1:45 pm

Postby johndoe » Dec 31, 2011, 1:29 pm

RE: clean me cycle

Dear readers and Enthusiasts alike

The clean me cycle came on after about 1.5 months.

I wanted to know what caused this and how it works so I disassembled the group screen and distribution disk to the was very dirty.

I manually cleaned the screen and the distribution disk; the disk does not appear to be brass - I did check it for lead - no Pb.

I doubt the cleaning with the 15% sodium perchlorate tab gets the boiler hole - a single hole just like the Brugnetti has - so I cleaned it all quickly and put it back together.

The distribution disk appears to be ceramic coated or enameled? not sure

Anyway - once the machine was reassembled; I restarted it and the flow was fine again BAR correct to original adjustment.

It appears the machine somehow senses the distribution screen clog...or uses some sort of timed mechanism to start the clean me warning.

I wanted to avoid the chemical worked fine.

So far 2-3 shots a day for over 45 days no issues.

Just thought I would post this since it's identical in form and function as the Manual Brugnetti boiler clean process...

I never use chemicals just a rag and some water and pressure....

Thanks for reading John

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Postby johndoe » Dec 31, 2011, 1:49 pm

RE: brews to try
A pointer: I only do triple ristellos

Dear readers and enthusiasts alike.

I tried some different coffees over the holidays:

raven brew dead man's and organic decaf and regular Raven Brew decaf.

All performed well but pricey and maybe not so fresh locally.

I hope this helps someone.

I will post a 6 month followup.

Overall I am very impressed with the machine but I would like my bottomless portafilter and no 2 way spout.

I removed the spring in the portafilter to accommodate the larger triple basket ease of in and out.

Thanks for reading John

Oh the condensation issue continues but I got over it

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Joined: Oct 15, 2008, 1:45 pm

Postby johndoe » Jan 01, 2012, 11:54 am

One last note the clean cycle which only does the group screen needs to be reset by running the cycle from memory via clean menu.


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