Choosing a reliable dual boiler espresso machine in Doha, Qatar

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
passenger42

#1: Post by passenger42 »

Hi Everyone,

I am a new member but long time reader of the forum. Thanks to all the contributors over the years who have guided me on my espresso journey. I am posting for the first time because while I have many of the same question as others on the forum my geographical location makes my choices a little unique and I would appreciate some advice.

Location
I Just arrived in Doha, Qatar (same voltage and plugs as UK). My conclusion is that there is no second hand market for good quality machines here and that distributors seem to be grossly inflating prices and I would be better off importing a machine from the UK. The consequence is that shipping the machine back to the UK for repairs would be expensive and to be avoided.

Roast
I am from New Zealand and was introduced to espresso in the 90s working in a cafe on a Linea classic. NZ Roasters tended to create dark roasts in those days and for better or worse this has shaped my idea of a good espresso. I like dark to medium roasts. I regularly try lighter roasts, but, like fruity craft beer, they just never quite work for me. I have also introduced my better half to espresso and she is firmly in the medium roast camp.

Coffee Consumption: We both drink two coffees a day, everyday, either a long black or a "flat white". Our milk coffees are usually around 3-5 oz of milk per cup.

My limitations
I am a humanities guy who lacks the scientific rigour and mechanical know-how of many of the esteemed members of this forum. I've tried to improve myself by reading many of the scientific posts and discussions over the years (water hardness is one that comes to mind) and I am open to learning how to mod and fix my machine, but am very aware of my limitations.

Gear I had/have
For many years I had a modified Gaggia classic (9-bar pressure + Rancilio Silvia Wand-no PID) and a Eureka Mignon. This set up worked fine for me and made good espresso but the consistency was wanting and I did tire of the temperature surfing. So, I sold both a while back. I have a Nespresso machine for guests and when I am in a super rush. I really don't like the coffee it makes, but it's caffeine in a pinch and I am a dad with young kids so I am often in a super rush.

Gear I am looking at
If I was back in NZ, my criteria would be for a machine that was the smallest, fastest to heat up, and the easiest to maintain. I would be tempted by a bells and whistles like pre-infusion, but ultimately I know I don't usually buy lighter roasts and I lack the time to really tinker and experiment with multiple settings on a consistent basis. In the past, I have tended to experiment tirelessly to set the machine up and dial it in to making good shots, but then I would just want it to work. My usual approach would be to buy 250grams of a particular roast make a couple of coffees and play with the PID, settle on a good temp for that roast, and then rip through the bag - rinse and repeat.

Here in Qatar, above all else, I want the machine least likely to crap out on me (assuming good maintenance and care on my part). I realise that all brands produce lemons, but I want the brand that is less likely to do so. I have ruled out HX machines because I want consistency and precision (happy to hear alternative opinions) and the more traditional E61 machines are just too slow to heat up for me. I am looking at three small-ish dual-boiler machines to pair with a Eureka Mignon Single Dose grinder (I can't get hold of a NZ in Qatar and the kafatek grinders are beyond my budget.)

The three machines are:

- [ ] Lelit Elizabeth
- [ ] Profitec Pro 300
- [ ] Rancilio Sliva Pro,

These are the usual suspects I know, and I have read the other posts on the forum about these machines. All are priced within around £100 (USD $150) of each at Bella Barista - a UK distributor that ships to Qatar. I know the Silivia Pro X is out in some markets, but I don't think I will be able to get hold of one in the next 6 months and I expect the price to be a bit higher. I am also not convinced the pressure gauge and pre-infusion adds much value for me personally.

This issue of reliability is the reason that I haven't considered the BDB (too many electrical parts) and that is why I am also a bit cautious about the Lelit Elizabeth. I've read different and somewhat contradictory points of view about the reliability of the Profitec Pro 300 vs the Silvia Pro. Some Silvia enthusiasts seem to insist that Rancilio machines have the greatest build quality of any machine ever, but I have picked up on one or two consumer reviews that suggest that this particular model might not be as reliable as the standard Silvia or their commercial models. The Profitec 300 Pro seems solid but in some people's opinion not as reliable as Rancilio.

I would appreciate your insights-thanks in advance.

Marmot

#2: Post by Marmot »

I think there is an Alex Duetto for sale on coffee forums uk. I would rather get a quality machine like that used than one of the three you mentioned if the price was about the same.
Of course it would need a bit more counter space :D

passenger42 (original poster)

#3: Post by passenger42 (original poster) »

@Marmot-thanks for the suggestion will look into a second-hand machine. I have the counter space :)