How to choose an E61 espresso machine?!?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
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HB
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#1: Post by HB »

I've been slow to post updates to the recent Profitec Pro 700 Review thread because I've been wondering: With all the E61 espresso machines available on the market, how are buyers to decide on one?

In the past Buyer's Guides, the final criteria were Exceptional Espresso, Morning After (ease of use), Cappuccino's Lover, Convenience / Features, and Materials / Workmanship. The streamlined reviews published in the last year simplify these to Overall, Espresso Performance, Forgiveness Factor, and Cappuccino Performance. But given that E61's invariably get the same Espresso Performance and Forgiveness Factor score, what criteria should E61 reviews in particular provide?

In other words, if you own an E61 espresso machine, what swayed you to pick that particular model?

Image
From the Bench research thread for the Profitec Pro 700 Review
Dan Kehn

cmin

#2: Post by cmin »

Been waiting for your update as the Profitec 700 I think may be my next machine lol

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TomC
Team HB

#3: Post by TomC »

Like the Porsche 911, I sought the careful developments over time that were inherent in the e61 design, built on a known, reliable and solid foundation. So back when I had a Duetto II I went for documented PID temp stability and vendor product support. Going with Chris' Coffee Service was never a doubt nor regret. If they didn't carry it, I probably wouldn't have bought it. So those are my two things.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#4: Post by homeburrero »

HB wrote:In other words, if you own an E61 espresso machine, what swayed you to pick that particular model?
price (of course)
reliability
parts availability

I bought an older used one, and the primary factor was that it came from a very trustworthy seller (HB and CoffeeGeek member.) But even if I had bought it new I think those would still be the topmost.

Some things that could be mentioned in a new machine review:
If it has a solid state relay (or beefy sirai pStat) handling the element switching load.
Whether a group rebuild kit is readily available.
If it has any oddities that don't allow use of a standard E61 PF, screen, or basket.
Ease of adjusting pStat.
OPV adjustability (on vibe pump machines).
Boiler capacity, maybe also HX capacity.
Reservoir sensor details (capacitive sense? flashing light? etc.)
Boiler autofill details (dual sensors? autofill when steaming/brewing?, etc.)
Size of gicleur and thermosyphon restrictors.

For a killer review, I think it would be useful to fit it with an Eric S thermometer and a Scace and show some graphs of group temp and shot thermofilter temp.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

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sweaner
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#5: Post by sweaner »

I bought mine before I knew anything. I saw it on eBay and got it for a great price. Of course, I had no idea of all that could go wrong with this type of purchase. Luckily, nothing actually did go wrong, or has since.

I think much comes down to aesthetics and the small differences between the machines. Reliability and vendor support should really be at the top of the list.
Scott
LMWDP #248

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another_jim
Team HB

#6: Post by another_jim »

When I bought my Isomac Tea in 2003, one of the earlier home E61 HX machines, around since about 1998; all the needed parts were there; and it made great shots. But the people assembling it didn't have much of clue. So the thermosyphon loops was poorly executed, and the head needed to be flushed with 7 ounces of water in order to make the first shot. Follow on shots needed precisely 80 seconds to get up to temperature, but not overshoot.

On the other hand, a full commercial E61 like Faema's or Kee's is properly tuned. You can walk up to it and pull shots and keep doing so all day, at any interval you like. I'm pretty sure that Valentes's original was like this too, otherwise, it's hard to imagine over 80% of all installed espresso machines by 1965 being E61s.

This would be one a way to tell the E61 sheep from the E61 goats.
Jim Schulman

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canuckcoffeeguy

#7: Post by canuckcoffeeguy »

HB wrote:But given that E61's invariably get the same Espresso Performance and Forgiveness Factor score, what criteria should E61 reviews in particular provide?

In other words, if you own an E61 espresso machine, what swayed you to pick that particular model?
Hi Dan,

Apologies, since I'm not an E61 owner - but, I'm someone contemplating an E61 machine purchase. Something that has come to mind, when breaking down different HX machines, is your classification system: dragon, mixer, or agnostic. From what I can tell, each machine has their own idiosyncrasies, meaning each has their own pros/cons and is suited to a particular usage pattern during your everyday home espresso making.

People looking for E61 HX machines might ask themselves: Which suits my situation best, a dragon, mixer or agnostic?

Also, are there some telltale signs by looking at a spec sheet (rather than real world testing), to identify a dragon, mixer or agnostic? Or, is using it the only way to know?