Choosing an Espresso Machine Rationally - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
jgood
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#11: Post by jgood »

I think you may have skipped one or two things.
1) Who you buy the machine from. These are the folks you'll call with any questions/issues, and if you don't live near the dealer, will talk you through any repairs you may have. This is an important choice.
2) Do you like dark roasts, light roasts, or medium? I prefer a dark roast and for me the "flow control" was something I added, found it unhelpful, and removed. In general I would council against a flow control device for a first machine -- it adds an extra variable. You can always add it later if you like. I know my position is not the generally accepted one.
3) The portafilter agonizing is silly -- you want a bottomless portafilter. That tells you a lot about what's going on, and has no place to collect gunk.The spouted portafilters will go in the kitchen drawer and will probably never be used.
3) Not sure if I missed it, but the grinder is superimportant.
Happy hunting! And you are overthinking this -- it's in part an emotional decision. I would post a slightly dirty "engineer joke" told to me by an engineer but I doubt the moderator would be amused.

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BaristaBoy E61
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#12: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

LittleCoffee wrote:
So I'm left with the Izzo Alex Duetto IV PID and the Quickmill Vetrano 2B

Welcome to HB Stephan.

So I have 2-suggestions for you based on experience. The first is that after having done extensive service on both these machines, the Duetto wins hands down as being simpler, easier to service and more logically designed & laid out.

My second suggestion based on the length of your post is that you should be drinking decaf! You are however, in the right hobby for the overly obsessed!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

Bluenoser
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Joined: 6 years ago

#13: Post by Bluenoser »

another_jim wrote:Rational decisions require knowing yourself, your own preferences, tastes, and aesthetics. For instance, Jeff calls a Robot simple since it is completely controllable and intelligible. But to me, its a total pain to use a machine that can't heat its own water.
Yes.. it is difficult to try to especially rationalize the first espresso machine because you don't know what your preferences are versus the types of machines available: pump vs lever machine.. conical vs flat burr grinders.. manual vs electric .. do I want to do "pour overs" and espresso .. then you need to consider what type of support is available from the particular manufacturer and vendor.. (are you remote and rely on shipping to fix an issue.. or can you put your machine in the car and take it to a competent dealer)

But I bought two electric machines for a total over $3.5k Cdn (grinder & espresso) and neither performed well.. When I had a friend wanting to get into the hobby, I insisted he purchase a good hand grinder and a manual (Flair ProV2). 1.5 years later he couldn't be happier; but maybe, only because I knew he is not the type to want to fix mechanical items. Meanwhile I've replaced my grinder (where I really spent my money) and HX electric and gotten a manual (Robot). (To Jim's point, most E61 machine take 30-40 minutes to heat water, so the 3 minutes in a kettle is not an issue for me; especially when people drop in unexpectedly; but there are lots of machines that can heat up in 10 minutes.. you just need to know your use-case.)

However, you can get into this hobby for under $1k and make espresso that rivals a $4k outlay, with no reliance on machine support or maintenance and do a ton of reading on HB about experiences of nearly every type of machine available.. And that might give you more time to not only learn the basics.. but better prepare you for that more expensive options if you fall entirely down the rabbit hole. The only disadvantage of the manuals is that you don't get a great milk steamer. And the electrics are generally good milk steamers.. But there are alternatives should you choose the manual route.

LewBK
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Joined: 5 years ago

#14: Post by LewBK »

100% of rational thought is justification of our feelings. Or, as an elderly pastor said in an interview "One thing I've noticed in 70 years of service to the community is the astonishing correlation between self-interest and God's will."
Love this and so true. Reason especially in Western civilization where it is celebrated is generally a mask for emotional desires. Marketers learned this about 100 years ago. Edward Bernays comes to mind.

SandraF
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Joined: 3 years ago

#15: Post by SandraF »

What would happen if you just chose the one you like? The one you're drawn to? What if you didn't choose "rationally"?

Mostly just for thought.

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BaristaBoy E61
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#16: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

LewBK wrote:Love this and so true. Reason especially in Western civilization where it is celebrated is generally a mask for emotional desires. Marketers learned this about 100 years ago. Edward Bernays comes to mind.
Interesting that you mentioned Edward Bernays, I just finished reading this book, 'Propaganda', ©1928.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

DamianWarS
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#17: Post by DamianWarS »

LittleCoffee wrote: And this is just where my journey has got me to - no doubt yours will be different and that's absolutely fine. I'd be very happy to read any thoughts or issues this post stimulates with a spirit to improving my thinking.

Happy caffeining!
Get a Decent. Traditional machines are not efficient for a few uses a week. 20 min of preheating for a 30 second shot is painfully wasteful. Decents use thermal blocks which I know you don't want but they control them very well. They take 5 min to heat up and that's it. You can control every aspect of the shot and there is a data overload which seems to be something that would suit you well.

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luca
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#18: Post by luca »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote:Welcome to HB Stephan.

So I have 2-suggestions for you based on experience. The first is that after having done extensive service on both these machines, the Duetto wins hands down as being simpler, easier to service and more logically designed & laid out.

My second suggestion based on the length of your post is that you should be drinking decaf! You are however, in the right hobby for the overly obsessed!
I'd echo all of this. A friend of mine who sells and services prosumer machines made a similar comment to me - that he thinks the Izzo machines are well put together and easy to service.
jgood wrote: 3) The portafilter agonizing is silly -- you want a bottomless portafilter. That tells you a lot about what's going on, and has no place to collect gunk.The spouted portafilters will go in the kitchen drawer and will probably never be used.
Agree. I haven't used a spouted portafilter in many years, and I hate cleaning them.
LittleCoffee wrote: Longevity
I've looked at lots of machines inside. The two major design decisions relating to longevity in a DB machine seem to be do you risk flooding or cooking your electronics? If you put them low, they probably won't cook but they might flood. If you put them high, they probably won't flood but they might cook. But here's the thing unless you'll inspect your machine every x months once it makes it to its fifth anniversary, at some point it seems to me the machine will leak with 100% certainty. I don't know if that point is in the 5th, 10th or 15th year. It's inevitable that something will degrade to the point where it can neither hold 9 bar or 1.5 bar. And at that point you just don't want a pump or a controller directly below your boiler. With a motor replacement cost of c. 1/10th of the machine initial cost, that's roughly an extra year of usage from having a motor that can't flood because it's high enough. If you like, it's like a design decision that gives you 0.144 (on my numbers) lower depreciation cost per coffee - that's like a quarter of your bean cost! It's a reason it's a top priority.
All good considerations. For what it's worth, I think that there's really no good reason why a "prosumer" class e61 box type machine could not still be running in 50 years time. Of course, the original faema e61s are highly sought after machines today, and you can still see some in service in cafes and restaurants, I think. These machines are generally all mechanically simple enough that you can refurbish, replace or repair most parts, and, of course, there are a large number of wearing parts.

For what it's worth, I have friends with at least 3 rocket giotto HX machines around that have at least 10 years of service in them. I'd have to check my notes, but one of them as made something like over 10,000 shots in an office environment. My friends do service them pretty regularly, and we have quite soft water in Melbourne. Speaking of which, I'm sure that you will know that if you are concerned about longevity, you should look into your water quality and, specifically, how quickly it is likely to deposit scale in the boiler (and elsewhere). Yes, it's possible to fix machines with a lot of scale deposit, but it's pretty annoying. No one wants to have to chemically descale small tubes and things, or huge amounts of scale in a boiler and on elements.
LittleCoffee wrote:If you're spending lots of money to get thermal stability from a dual boiler, you should get thermal stability. This is literally the most important thing you are buying as it has the biggest impact on taste. And you can try and convince me that a proprietary group head with thermoblock is better than an E61 but you'll struggle to convince me. There is an incredible amount to say for a design that has remained a leader over a period of 60 years of pretty significant innovation. And thermodynamics also have a lot to say about using a big old lump of metal and water to provide your thermal stability. And reliability has a lot to say about using thermosyphoned water as your heat exchange fluid. I just don't see anything come close to this, and so I need an E61 group head. No iffs, not buts, for me. And so we fill our hopper with dual boiler machines that have an E61 head and can be had on less than a total budget of 3000. Enter the Profitec 700, ECM Synchronika, Lelit Bianca, Izzo Alex IV Duetto, QuickMill Vetrano 2B and Bezzera Duo MN. All have PID because there's no sensible other way of controlling things.
I'll leave it to you to satisfy yourself as to thermal properties. But I'd point out that it's kind of odd to talk about the e61 having 60 years of history in the context of a paragraph about how you want a dual boiler. Of course, the e61 has 60 years of history in a HX system, relying on the hotter boiler to keep the head at the required temperature and adjusting it by playing with the thermosyphon (the original e61 had a variable thermosyphon restrictor, from memory). In a DB system, the thermosyphon will run colder. The e61 DB seems to be basically entirely a creation of the home market; there aren't many commercial multi boiler e61 group machines, and I can't think of a single good cafe that uses one of the few that do exist. And when you're talking about being a "leader", if you're talking about the group's popularity, there's a lot to be said for lowered costs from mass manufacturing and lowered R&D costs from being able to use an off-the-shelf part. Just because you see something around a lot, doesn't mean that it's the best of breed. (Please let there be a passionate and knowledgeable Betamax advocate out there who will now tell us why they think it was so superior to VHS.)
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

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BaristaBoy E61
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#19: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Due to outdoor temperatures below -20˚C without Wind Chill factors resulting in being homebound, I've had the chance to completely read your detailed Thesis on E61 machines. It's the most thoughtful that I've read and agree with mostly every part of your analysis, which is why we own a Duetto III.

I would like to also point out that as it's likely that at some point a complete citric acid descaling is likely, that this is also a point where during or shortly after this process something might go wrong - as was our case.

The point I would like to make regarding the Vetrano 2B and perhaps other E61 machines, is that the Duetto has but 1-solenoid valve. Thus much less to go wrong. The Vetrano has 3 (x3).

I am posting pictures to illustrate how relatively easy it is to service the Duetto solenoid valve as it does not require difficult removal for disassembly under most conditions as its location is easy to get to and its orientation was smartly designed for in-situ disassembly. This is a big factor for self servicing. The last image shows tiny particles of scale that were dislodged by citric acid descaling and became trapped in the solenoid valve that could not completely seat and seal. This caused a near kitchen disaster flood as our machine is direct plumbed and drained. Were not home and right by the machine in the moment, I have not doubt that we would have had a serious insurance claim. A leak detector with automatic cutoff should always be installed right after a ¼ turn ball valve cutoff behind the espresso machine - cheap insurance!

Izzo is a completely underrated brand relative to others such as ECM. Izzo has a long history of thoughtful espresso machine making including some fine lever machines.





z




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

ira
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#20: Post by ira »

I don't make a lot of espresso and I was planning on buying a Jura before finding HB in 2007. After a while here I ended up with a Brewtus II, a generic dual boiler E61. I finally replaced it with a Decent last month. I have never regretted the Brewtus. I did eventually purchase a first batch Mono Flat which changed my life. Not that I can tell how it improved the flavor, but having a single dose grinder that just works was for me, a game changer. Because of how bad my previous grinder was it cut my coffee usage close to in half. For me the advantage of a dual boiler ended up being, it just works. No learning the idiosyncrasies of an HX, just let it warm up and pull shots. The people who drank espresso always complement me and in mt Capas I was always happy. And it's easy to work on.

Sadly I can not tell you why I choose that machine and what the other choices were I didn't make though I discounted the Silvia because of how it was talked about here. The rational choice it something you can live with visually, something you can service or easily get serviced, is only as complicated to use as you and the other users will put up with and lastly, fits your budget. Anything else is not rational. Now I have a Decent which is not a rational choice for most people, but had some features I really wanted. Rationally, I would have bought a Linea Mini or a Breville Bambino Plus.

Ira