First time buyer, espresso machine budget up to $3500

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

#1: Post by Zachary »

Budget: up to 3500usd for machine.
I started drinking coffee/espresso around six months ago and it's going to be my new hobby. I drink both espresso and milk beverages, mainly cappuccinos. I've been using the GS3 quite a bit as a family member has it. I've definitely learned a fair deal about machines in the last few weeks, but can't seem to make a decision as everyone seems to have a different opinion. I've visited numerous local stores and all of the salespeople told me that a dual boiler was not needed for my purposes (4 drinks a day, cappuccinos and espressos) and that a HX was just fine.
For grinder, I have a Eureka Mignon Silenzio that I'm borrowing from same family member as he's replaced his grinder with something else. May upgrade that in the future.

I've seen a number of machines in person, these are my thoughts on them. Just looking for some input, suggestions on other machines I haven't looked at.

Profitec Pro 500 Espresso Machine w/ PID
- saw one in person, PID was not installed level with the rest of the machine, totally put me off the brand. Can't properly install something that's very visible, what else have they done wrong?

Bezzera Magica E61 Espresso Machine w/ PID
- don't like obvious PID display/red led

Rocket Mozzafiato Timer Type V Espresso Machine
- Can get Evoluzione R for slightly more with rotary pump

La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
- ugly

Also curious about various ECM that would be within that price range, haven't had a chance to see any of them or the Lelit Bianca 2.

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lessthanjoey
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#2: Post by lessthanjoey »

There are a lot of other very similar recent threads here in the buying advice forum here.

In that price point I would buy a Decent (as I did). It will give you the best possible stability, repeatability, feedback, and controllability. If that machine just doesn't "work" for you aesthetically, then ECM Synchronika w/ flow control or Lelit Bianca are both solid and stable dual boiler E61 options.

I'm unclear on why you're saying you don't have the budget for a dual boiler given you state USD $3500. I would strongly advise against an HX E61 due to temp variability and the significant extra work required.

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MTN Gert

#3: Post by MTN Gert »

There will be a lot of very different opinions and experiences in this price range. After owning an Izzo Alex duetto IV dual boiler PID E61 machine I was thoroughly unimpressed and when it needed a steam heating element I was out of luck for support. The E61 group head was originally made to work with a heat exchanger design but also more traffic and not home use. Jeff on here might chime in too, he is much more knowledgeable about the E61. I personally will not buy a prosumer brand machine again (Rocket, Izzo, ECM, profitec, etc) and will only buy machines that are supported by a commercial company that stocks replacement parts (La Marzocco, la cimbali, simonelli. Rancilio, etc.)

Since you don't like the Vivaldi I would suggest checking out:

La cimbali junior casa m21. Which is a true commercial machine.

If you decide to stick with a prosumer brand my top choice is ECM/Profitec which offer better steam, better engineering of how the electronics are tucked away and if you need a new heating element it does not require specialized tools.

I personally love heat exchanger machines in their simplicity and efficiency. The great majority of dual boiler home machines do not have great temp stability by the time the water exits the shower screen.

Many people will recommend the DE1 and though I have only used one a few times it is a machine that brings me no joy to use and doesn't have the classic tiger tank build feel. I have nothing against the coffee it makes and it seems to be getting more reliable with each new version released. Not the highest performance milk steamer though.
"Stop it....it's naughty and wrong" -James Hoffmann

Jefe
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#4: Post by Jefe »

If you're good at modifications I would suggest you take a look at the Breville Dual Boiler. If I were doing it all over again that would probably be where I start. Plus, with the mods, you can come really close to doing some of the things that GS3 can do.

Here is a thread on mods... Breville Dual Boiler Mods and Maintenance

And here is one with a lot of long term reviews... Breville Dual Boiler, five+ years on

Good luck on your search!

Bluenoser

#5: Post by Bluenoser »

Tough to compete with a GS3 starting out.. but the breville DB is likely the best sub $2k option.

I started on the Profitec Pro500 PID HX. I eventually got it to work fine.. but I would not recommend an HX starting out. While one can eventually learn to manage brew water temperature, you really need a group thermometer and lots of experimentation to control the brew water temp within a small window. I'm also not a fan of the E61 .. although they are very prolific. The E61 takes up to 40 minutes to heat up and lots of variables influence its temperature and so can affect your brew water temp.

If I were buying a $3k machine today.. I would not hesitate to get the De1.. I don't have one, but it would be my next machine from everything I've read. I also think you'd get better support and service compared to the average reseller.. (generally many manufacturers of the E61 machines don't want to talk to end-users preferring for them to go through their reseller.. my Profitec HX has very slow rebound and Profitec were not interested in discussing performance issues). Resellers push the HX-PID combo as providing "ultra-stable" brew water temps.. that is is not true.. that is.. it might be stable throughout the shot, you just don't know what that temp is.. An example would we WLL's recent video of the Quickmill Arnos where they praise the PID for ultra-consistent brew water.. However, the WLL author had to use an expensive SCACE device to determine what PID setting would create the desired brew water temp. They seem to forget a user would not have that equipment.. plus.. the PID settings seem to vary (to give 200F brew water) from one machine to another, even though they are identical brands and models.

The DE1 controls and measures all these variables.. and you certainly don't have to guess or add external equipment to verify extraction parameters, such as temperature. The DE1 is particularly nice if you want to experiment with light roasts and flow profiling.. I am not sure there is any machine as capable as it for anywhere near the price.

Zachary (original poster)

#6: Post by Zachary (original poster) »

lessthanjoey wrote:I'm unclear on why you're saying you don't have the budget for a dual boiler given you state USD $3500. I would strongly advise against an HX E61 due to temp variability and the significant extra work required.
Yeah so I guess I should have specified I've had numerous people tell me I don't need a dual boiler for my purpose, making max 4 drinks in a row, probably not more than that over the course of a day. What about the Bezzeras that have modified the E61, the BZ group? from what I understand the group is heated and has a PID for it?
Bluenoser wrote:generally many manufacturers of the E61 machines don't want to talk to end-users preferring for them to go through their reseller.
I have definitely found this, it seems like a lot of online reviewers are fans of this combo as well though?

lessthanjoey
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#7: Post by lessthanjoey »

Zachary wrote:Yeah so I guess I should have specified I've had numerous people tell me I don't need a dual boiler for my purpose, making max 4 drinks in a row, probably not more than that over the course of a day. What about the Bezzeras that have modified the E61, from what I understand the group is heated and has a PID for it?


I have definitely found this, it seems like a lot of online reviewers are fans of this combo as well though?
I don't think that's the purpose of a dual boiler (making more than 4 drinks back to back). If anything, an HX is a cheap compromise to do a ton of milk drinks without caring about coffee repeatability (or in some commercial cases designed explicitly to be constantly making drinks). An HX is an unfortunate compromise that regulates steam temperature instead of brew temperature directly. A group PID sets the grouphead metal temp which is good, but an HX with a grouphead PID is pretty crazy still.

If your budget or at least ideal budget is closer to $1500 than $3000 then I agree a BDB is by far the best performing machine in that category.

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mgwolf
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#8: Post by mgwolf »

Hi Zachary and welcome to the hobby. I would again echo previous thoughts -- on your budget, do not even think of an HX machine. I used one for years and the best day of my life (coffee wise) was when I finally got a double-boiler. Don't worry about a rotary pump, the vibe pumps work fine, albeit a little noisily. The Vivaldi's are excellent machines and you can upgrade them within your budget with beautiful wood casings/handles. The Vivaldi makes excellent coffee, is extremely reliable, and steams great. The BDB will give you great shots if you don't mind the looks.

Again, you seem stuck on HX machines. Ditch that idea.

jgood

#9: Post by jgood »

Another double boiler fan here. BTW the GS3 is a double boiler. I'm not sure what all the anti E61 business is about -- it's pretty good -- IMHO.

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MTN Gert

#10: Post by MTN Gert »

I am curious. Has anyone else here had the opportunity to play with the La Cimbali Junior Casa M21? It's a commercial HX home sized machine. The group head is bolted to the boiler and is very temp stable without long purges. The steam power is incredible for its size and it uses all commercial components like a rotary pump straight off their bigger machines. The only cons I see are that it could use a makeover visually and if you want drastically different temps you have to pull the top panel off to access the pressurestat.

I have a Brasilia Portafino HX commercial machine and it makes espresso as well as the best machines I have played with

E61 is not junk it's just not amazing and it's showing its age.
"Stop it....it's naughty and wrong" -James Hoffmann