Entry level or mid-priced HX espresso machine?

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

#1: Post by Morpheusjava »

Ok first the background.

During the holidays (after having a real espresso) I realized that it was time for an equipment upgrade. So the research began and naturally this led me to this site and CG. My original budget of $1K for a new machine was quickly blown out of the water as I realized that I needed to take into consideration a new grinder as well. My wife is big on milk drinks (as am I on occasion) so an HX machine came into focus. Add in the fact that we will be hosting on occasion and any fancy of a good single boiler machine went out the window. After some careful reading the Bezzera BZ07 and the Fiorenzato Bric came to light as solid entry level machines. Given the post holiday pricing on the bric that is where I was leaning.

Yet, the lack of a formal review on the BZ07 has been nagging me (although informal feedback has been positive). So of course I had to look at the next level of HX machines and have seen favorable opinions on the QM Anita and the IZZO Alex. So my question is will there be a significant difference between the machines that will justify spending the extra $500? (and if so what is it - I can't imagine a E61 grouphead worth that much).

Thanks,
Karim

PS I settle on the Vario grinder a long time ago.

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

You've done your homework, and will probably be happy with whatever you chose. Here's my two cents.

There's not much difference between any E61 HX in terms of taste, whether you go with a basic Expobar or a high end ECM. The price difference gets you better fit and finish, nicer cases, and more robust construction. The low end Bezzera machines are comparable in taste to the Elektra machines at the high end, and again, thje price buys you better fit, finish and construction.

Elektra & Bezzera machines have a slightly different taste character from E61 machines. They produce slightly clearer tasting espresso overall and have an edge at lower doses and with singles. The E61S produce slightly heavier bodied shots and have an edge at higher doses.

However, the taste differences are slight, and for a newbie, they don't mean much. They mainly become important when you try to get a shot that tastes as good as you had at some cafe or at someone else's home on your setup.

The build differences aren't particularly significant in the first few years of ownership. If you think you might be upgrading or changing in a few years, stay at the low end. If you're reasonably certain you are keeping the machines long term, the more expensive models may make more sense.
Jim Schulman

Morpheusjava

#3: Post by Morpheusjava »

Thanks. Knowing how I am, if the bug bites me upgraditis will likely hit shortly. I looked at DB machines but they were a little too much to justify right now. I may go with the BZ07 and use the money saved to pick up some nice accessories such as tamper and knockbox.

Just one other quick question. Given that the grouphead of the Bezzera is actively heated how does that impact the HX flushes? (Do they tend to be shorter / longer). This is more out of curiosity as I tend to enjoy the challenge of experimentation.

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#4: Post by another_jim »

The BZ07 is easier than a DB, the water is at a bare boil at the start of the flush, and 2 to 4 seconds gets you to your temperature range. However, these machines are not all that precise in terms of temperature control. It has the best steaming by far on any low end machine.

The BZ02 is much more tinkerer friendly, since there's lots of room inside, as are the E61s, which have a huge reservoir of already done user projects and add ons.

It's good you are looking for the best fit rather than the best machine, since all the machines in the group you are considering are good, but none are clearly best.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
shawndo
Supporter ★

#5: Post by shawndo »

I'm also doing tons of reading and have been considering all the machines that were mentioned

I was about to pull out the credit card for the Bricoletta until I found that it uses a 20amp connection. Make sure you keep that in mind before you buy something.

Like everyone else has said, I'm sure all of these machines will be good enough in terms of flavor. It's really about the features that might make things more convenient for you. (rotary vs vibration pump, Reservoir vs direct connect, drip tray capacity, etc)

Right now, the Izzo Alex is at the top of my list. (rotary pump, reservoir/direct connection option, E61 and heavy as all hell)
Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

Morpheusjava

#6: Post by Morpheusjava »

another_jim wrote:The BZ07 is easier than a DB, the water is at a bare boil at the start of the flush, and 2 to 4 seconds gets you to your temperature range. However, these machines are not all that precise in terms of temperature control. It has the best steaming by far on any low end machine.
So the flush requirement appears to be much shorter than a traditional E61 machine. I assume this will translate into a different temperature profile than a traditional HX machine. Any idea is the hump larger than normal?
shawndo wrote: Right now, the Izzo Alex is at the top of my list. (rotary pump, reservoir/direct connection option, E61 and heavy as all hell)
Yes, I too am highly considering the Alex. Just not sure if it will be worth the extra $$. Either way I need to just stop over-analyzing this purchase and just pull the trigger. I am sure that I will be much happier than my present setup or any of my local cafes (The metro Detroit area has very few real coffee houses).

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#7: Post by another_jim »

This set of Bezzeras has a flat or slightly rising profile whose average drifts around 2F to 3F from walk up shot to walk up shot. If you fetishize temperature stability, this is not your machine, but it does hit the rough target you are shooting for (i.e. cool, medium, or hot) every time.
Jim Schulman

phreich

#8: Post by phreich »

Morpheusjava wrote:Ok first the background.

During the holidays (after having a real espresso) I realized that it was time for an equipment upgrade. So the research began and naturally this led me to this site and CG. My original budget of $1K for a new machine was quickly blown out of the water as I realized that I needed to take into consideration a new grinder as well. My wife is big on milk drinks (as am I on occasion) so an HX machine came into focus. Add in the fact that we will be hosting on occasion and any fancy of a good single boiler machine went out the window. After some careful reading the Bezzera BZ07 and the Fiorenzato Bric came to light as solid entry level machines. Given the post holiday pricing on the bric that is where I was leaning.

Yet, the lack of a formal review on the BZ07 has been nagging me (although informal feedback has been positive). So of course I had to look at the next level of HX machines and have seen favorable opinions on the QM Anita and the IZZO Alex. So my question is will there be a significant difference between the machines that will justify spending the extra $500? (and if so what is it - I can't imagine a E61 grouphead worth that much).

Thanks,
Karim

PS I settle on the Vario grinder a long time ago.
If you want to save some money you might want to look for a used pour-over machine like a Nuova Simonelli Ellimatic (older) or Oscar (current). I have a friend that really likes his Ellimatic. They tend to be smaller than commercial style hx machines too. They use a vibratory pump instead of a rotary pump, allowing them to be more compact. Some people have plumbed in the Oscar -- I don't know about the Ellimatic. NS also made/makes a MAC line of machines that I think have rotary pumps -- some used ones might be a good way to go. That way you could use more of your budget on a commercial or prosumer grinder.

Regards,

Philip