Diminishing returns at $1600 vs $2600 espresso machine?

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

#1: Post by croikee »

Hey all,

I had another thread about prioritizing pre-infusion or flow control vs steaming. As a result, I've narrowed down the Mara X or Elisabeth V3, with the Mignon Speciliza grinder. However, paypal has a six month no interest option so now I'm looking at the realistic option of a Berreza Duo MN. The grinder would stay the same. My question is, is there really a $1000 performance difference between the Elisabeth & Duo MN? I know I can add flow control to the Duo, and plumb it if I wanted.

Thoughts?
Best,
John

GregoryJ
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#2: Post by GregoryJ »

In general it's hard to answer the "is it worth $X for this?" question, because we don't know what $1,000 is worth to you. If you've budgeted for it and it won't cause you distress, then you're certainly getting a more powerful machine with probably more metal tubes and a better pump.

In general, you pay more for incremental differences the higher you go. The $400 Robot can make as good espresso as anything but not everyone wants to boil water in a separate kettle and exert their own force to pull a shot.
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tennisman03110

#3: Post by tennisman03110 »

It's all a matter of opinion, but you'd probably see more "returns" on a $1000 upgrade to your grinder. But I'm sure someone out there values a touchscreen at $1000.

croikee (original poster)

#4: Post by croikee (original poster) »

Both totally reasonable replies, I can clarifty.

First, I won't make a purchase that puts the family in financial difficulty. That's a non-starter.

Second, for me a few areas of performance:
Is a rotary pump really better than a vibration pump?

Both the Elisabeth and Duo have pre-infusion, so that is a wash, though the Mara X does not have programable pre-infusion from my understanding. So I'm looking for shot consistency and that means a DB for the most consistency in a machine but are all DBs equal? I doubt it but I can't say why.

I don't want an LCD screen if it isn't functional. But being able to program pre-infusion, set a schedule, easily set different temps, even have a maintenance schedule, would be handy. Plus, its in the same price range as other DBs and even HX Rockets.

Jeff
Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

I'm not convinced on that specific machine, but a machine in the upper $2,000s should get you better repeatability, temperature stability and flow control. Between flow control and better repeatability, your worst shots should be better and you're in the class where most of them, across a wide range of coffees, are very good or excellent.

At least for my tastes, there is a noticeable jump in repeatable, in-cup quality between the best of the $1,500-class machines and the best of the $3,000-class machines, at least when pursuing coffees out of the "comfort espresso" or "chocolate and nuts" ranges. For lighter-roasted coffees, I think it is comparable in size to the jump from $750 to $1,500. The step into the $6,000 class is less obvious to me when it comes to in-cup quality.

chillinsd

#6: Post by chillinsd »

croikee wrote: Second, for me a few areas of performance:
Is a rotary pump really better than a vibration pump?
Rotary is quieter than vibration pump

baldheadracing
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#7: Post by baldheadracing »

Given a Mignon, you won't get much of a return spending $2600. Then again, I wouldn't spend $1600 on a machine to go with a Mignon either. A $1300 Oscar II would be my limit.

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PIXIllate
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#8: Post by PIXIllate » replying to baldheadracing »

I have to say that since spending the money on a Monolith my worst espresso (short of the rare not dialed in gusher that I don't bother to taste) has taken a pretty big leap up in quality. It seems the window where good things happen taste wise is much bigger. Not that you can't dial it in further and get something even better and more balanced just that the marginal shots seem to be far better and more enjoyable.

PeetsFan
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#9: Post by PeetsFan »

croikee wrote:Second, for me a few areas of performance:
Is a rotary pump really better than a vibration pump?

Both the Elisabeth and Duo have pre-infusion, so that is a wash, though the Mara X does not have programable pre-infusion from my understanding. So I'm looking for shot consistency and that means a DB for the most consistency in a machine but are all DBs equal? I doubt it but I can't say why.

I don't want an LCD screen if it isn't functional. But being able to program pre-infusion, set a schedule, easily set different temps, even have a maintenance schedule, would be handy. Plus, its in the same price range as other DBs and even HX Rockets.
I have the Duo MN, and it's pure joy. It took a while to plumb in, but it's very convenient if you can do it.

I haven't used the Elisabeth, so I can't evenly compare them. The Bezzera is a larger, and more beautiful machine. The reservoir and boiler capacities are about 50% larger. The wooden portafilters are hefty and well-crafted. The touchscreen is very well designed and I use it regularly. This morning it displayed a cleaning reminder, then it automated the cleaning process, step by step.

I can't imagine why I'd want to replace the Bezzera, ever... although I may instal a flow control valve. I expect to still be using this machine in ten to fifteen years.

It is a larger machine, like the other E61 DB's. It took up so much counter space that I kicked it out of the kitchen and into the breakfast nook. I bought a kitchen counter/butcher block for $200 and plumbed it in. Now I have 42" of counter space for grinding/tamping/brewing/steaming and we all love it. It was a big change to bring all of that into the house, but it's pure delight. And we look forward to our morning coffees each day.

I doubt that I'd enjoy the Elisabeth nearly as much. But... is the espresso better tasting? Is the milk better steamed? I honestly cannot tell you. The only input I can provide is that the Bezzera is great. That, and talk with Paul at Clive Coffee. They have both machines and he'll be very frank with you about the differences.



Arafel

#10: Post by Arafel »

I think if you drink any milk drinks, you will get more flexibility from the Elizabeth or Duo because they are dual boilers, whereas the Mara is a heat exchanger.

I don't think there is much performance difference between a rotary pump and a vibration pump, though a rotary pump is quieter, which could be valuable if you are making espresso while someone else in the house is sleeping. The Duo also has the advantage of being able to be plumbed in, which could be a big deal down the line. I bought a Pro 600 with flow last year, and I'm kind of wishing I'd saved up a little more to get a Synchronika, because I'd like to be able to plumb in. Of course, now I want a Slayer or GS3, so who knows if the Synchronika would have ended upgrade-itis.

If you go with the Duo, keep in mind you need a 20 amp circuit to get the most out of it. Otherwise, you can't heat both boilers at the same time.