Expobar Brewtus II vs. La Spaziale S1

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

#1: Post by emperorma »

Decided to start a new thread after having narrowed down my decision to these two machines.

As I read it, here's what separates the two:

1. BII has much better temperature control...one degree celsius vs. five degrees. Huge advantage to Brewtus.

2. Steaming power is much stronger in the S1. But in a home environment, no one will ever notice. Advantage: Very slight to S1.

3. BII costs $200 less. But due to rotary pump on S1, it gets a slight advantage here.

4. S1 can be plumbed in and has a rotary pump for quietness. Huge advantage to S1.

5. BII has the E61 brew group. In the review of S1 done here, it was soundly beaten in the category of espresso quality by E61 machines. Another huge advantage for Brewtus.

6. BII can be placed on a timer with no problems. Another huge advantage for Brewtus.

7. BII has a 58mm portafilter vs. 53mm for S1. In the review of S1 done here, it was soundly beaten in the category of espresso quality by machines using 58mm portafilters. Another huge advantage for Brewtus.


Perhaps I am missing a few key elements here, and maybe I have a few of these wrong. But, all things considered, Brewtus seems to be the most bang for the buck, even if plumbing a machine in ends up being an option for me. Is the rotary pump and the plumbing worth that much more than an easier, more consistent, less expensive avenue to better espresso?

I also don't see Brewtus owners upset about problems with their machines, so durability doesn't seem to be an issue, although a lot of folks here seem to say the Brewtus isn't well-built. Both machines seem to elicit strong, positive opinions in their owners. And the empirical evidence seems to favor the Brewtus...but if the La Spaz had an E61 brewgroup and 58mm portafilter, I would go with it without hesitation. Or, if the Brewtus could be plumbed-in, I'd be all over it. What say you all?

krazykanuk

#2: Post by krazykanuk »

emperorma wrote:Decided to start a new thread after having narrowed down my decision to these two machines.

As I read it, here's what separates the two:

1. BII has much better temperature control...one degree celsius vs. five degrees. Huge advantage to Brewtus.
I'm looking at these two machines too... :)
The S1 can also be controlled by one degree C increments.

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JonR10

#3: Post by JonR10 »

The extra steaming power will *definitely* be noticed even for one drink a day. The action you get in the pitcher from having stronger steam can make huge difference in the taste and texture of the milk. If you'll be making lots of milk drinks this could be a big factor.

Having a plumbed in rotary pump has made a big difference for me. My (HX) machine is actually run from a flojet with 5-gallon water bottles, so I replace a bottle and empty my drainwater about once a week now (instead of filling and emptying every day).

I do not have enough direct experience to compare portafilter differences other than to say that the S1's 53mm version is deeper and most users report being able to put slightly more coffee in the basket than in standard-sized 58mm baskets.

From what I have seen, both machines have very good service records with very few problems reported.

Woofy

#4: Post by Woofy »

The 58mm has absolutely zero advantage over a 53mm portafilter. The functional difference is that the 53mm double basket is about the same depth as a 58mm triple basket. The additional depth of the coffee in the insert basket is what makes for far better resistance to channeling. With a 58mm triple basket, you're using an additional 5-9 grams of coffee to get the same channeling resistance as you'd get using La Spaz's 53mm double basket.
Also, the Bll steaming performance isn't anywhere near as good as the S1. The S1 is 90% of a big commercial's performance whereas the Bll is more like 40% if that. If you find yourself making 1 or more large latte drinks at a time, the S1 leaves the Bll in the dust.
The S1's temp control is adjustable in 1 degree C increments, and it's accurate to ± 1 degree C from that setting. The S1 is an exceptional machine, especially for milk drinks. If you're more the straight shot of espresso kind, then the Bll would do you fine.

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HB
Admin

#5: Post by HB »

emperorma wrote:Huge advantage to...
HB intentionally focuses on higher-end equipment, as do the formal reviews, so it's unusual to see any machine win many "huge advantages" over another. That's my way of saying that both of your proposed options are very good choices. I personally love the quiet operation and convenience of a plumbed-in rotary pump machine and don't mind the "extra work" of HXs. If my penchant was for nothing but finicky espresso blends, I would standardize on a dual boiler machine though.

I was really hoping the Brewtus II would be a rotary. If you're interested in that possibility, you could follow Sean Lennon's conversion steps, or ask Todd Salzman if that will be offered later. He's always happy to talk with customers and in particular those interested in the Brewtus.
Dan Kehn

emperorma

#6: Post by emperorma »

Thanks for the help. One other question.: what do high-end HX automatic prosumer machines such as the Salvatore, Wega Lyra and La Valentina do for temperature control? Do you have to temperature surf using a combination of the single-shot and double-shot buttons?

earache

#7: Post by earache »

emperoma, I just went through the same decision, Brewtus II vs. S1. I ended up getting the S1 and have no regrets. I'll echo what others have said about temp control, and the 53mm basket. The S1 seems to have excellent temperature control and stability... while E61's need a cooling shot, the S1 needs a warming shot. I do not see E61 groups having an advantage. The 53mm basket has improved my shots tremendously and I rarely get any channeling. The one thing that I'm totally in love with is having a very quiet, plumbed machine. My old Livia was so loud and having to fill it every few days was a pain. Now I would never dream of going back to a pourover or vibe pump. In my book the extra $200 was totally justified.

Dogshot

#8: Post by Dogshot »

Woofy wrote:The 58mm has absolutely zero advantage over a 53mm portafilter. The functional difference is that the 53mm double basket is about the same depth as a 58mm triple basket. The additional depth of the coffee in the insert basket is what makes for far better resistance to channeling.
I'm not convinced by either statement. One advantage to a 58mm PF connected to an e61 grouphead is the thousands of hours of experimentation done to figure out how to optimize extraction using it. The S1 has no preinfusion, it uses 2 sequenced diffusion screens (to compensate?), and it has a smaller dispersion screen that also has a screw in the middle of it. It's pretty easy to imagine that water coming from that configuration onto a deeper puck would take longer to infuse the upper central portion of the puck, which could lead to channeling, or at least uneven extraction. In any event, there is no reason to suppose that the techniques that are so familiar to us for the e61 58mm design are the best for the S1's design. This could suggest that there might be a longer learning curve and that a few habits might have to be unlearned (this is completely speculation on my part). Also, I can get decent extractions from my double basket, but I have a heck of a time using a triple basket, due to channeling issues. JonR has a great article that outlines a technique for getting a good triple basket extraction. That technique is different from the double basket, and the primary difference to me is in developing a method to avoid channeling. In other words, I think there is no reason to suppose that triple baskets are more resistant to channeling (possibly even the opposite might be true).



Some practical similarities/differences between the two machines (that have not already been mentioned):

1) both have their own forums where owners clearly show their appreciation of the machines. This important similarity suggests to me that both machines are excellent, and that a person considering either would probably be happy no matter which direction they took.

2) The S1 and Brewtus both preferentially heat the steam boiler in 15 amp mode. Only the S1 can also be used in 20 amp mode to heat both boilers simultaneously.

3) The S1's brew boiler is 450ml. The Brewtus has a 1.7l brew boiler. For reference, the Silvia has a 355ml boiler.

4) The S1 is a bit taller, a bit shallower, and much wider than the Brewtus.

5) the groupheads are quite different. If you are considering the S1, get to know the grouphead more intimately than merely by its PF diameter. The S1 user forum has several discussions about using and cleaning it, as does Dan's article.

6) Temperature programmability is very straightforward on the Brewtus (no cribsheet required). The S1 electronic controls appear to be less simple, but I have never used it.

Spend some time on both user sites to get a sense of what kinds of issues are discussed. I found this useful in my decision process.

The only situation that I could see one machine being clearly superior to the other is if it is intended to be used for catering or part-time professional use, in which case the S1's 20 amp mode makes it much more suitable for keeping up to heavy traffic.

Mark

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

#9: Post by Compass Coffee »

Woofy wrote:The 58mm has absolutely zero advantage over a 53mm portafilter.
A disadvantage of the 53mm PF 'could' be can't use Thermofilter to test and compare. Wait, that could be considered a weakness of the Thermofilter not the S1. :shock: Although personally I prefer a machine to have a more standard 58mm PF for reasons of exchange and comparability in baskets, PFs etc.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

earache

#10: Post by earache »

The S1 does have preinfusion, what La Spaz calls "natural infusion." To quote elaizapsal on the S1 forum, "Because of the cold water system that La Spaziale utilizes they use a smaller nozzle or gigleur reducing the flow of water to the group, which causes a natural pre-infusion. It also has 2 showers with holes that do not align that allows an extra infusion by slowing down the flow of water before it has contact with the coffee in the filter handle."

I think each machine has a learning curve regardless of PF size. It took me months to learn the major idiosyncrasies of my Livia, but I've ramped up on the S1 much faster (perhaps this is because of experience, but I think a lot of it has to do with the machine). I find that the 53mm PF is much more forgiving than the 58mm PF as far as channeling is concerned. While channeling on a 53mm PF may begin just as quickly/readily as a 58mm PF, the added depth of the PF reduces the chance that the channel will continue through the puck and result in a "gusher". Dosing the S1 PF is definitely different than the 58mm PF... just like a triple shot basket is different than a double shot.

You simply can't go wrong with either the Brewtus or S1. They're both great machines. Each has its own personality which you must learn to get the best of it.