HX PID espresso machines: Do they sacrifice steam performance?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Mar 06, 2018, 6:18 pm

I am just in the 'about to purchase' phase and am waffling much over an HX machine or lower level DB purchase.

The latest HX PID machines, which WLL just reviewed, (and in particular the Profitec PRO 500 PID) really seem like they tick all the boxes. And the flow restriction system seems to give much more stable brew temps. But as I look through some numbers, I'm wondering if the steam performance on these machines might actually be worse than machines with smaller steam boilers.

For my rationale I'll use the Profitec 500 PID for example.

For my long term education on espresso I want my next machine to be able to range brew temps from 195 to 205. Taking the worse case for steam performance, let's say I want the brew temp to be 195. From the Profitec manual, I would set the PID to 244. This seems low for the boiler temp from what I've read. I found a graph by "Eric" (of Eric's thermometer?) that indicated 244 steam temp would be roughly 0.87 bar at sea level. Some other tables seem to indicate the pressure might be even lower. I'm no physicist so I cannot validate these numbers.

Most pressure stats have their lowest setting above this from what I read.

So, in real life, how does something like the Profitec Pro 500 PID perform on steaming when the PID is set to 244?. Even with a larger boiler, I'm thinking it might perform worse than the Pro 300 where I can crank the PressureStat up to 1.2-1.4 bar.

I'd be very interested in hearing from any owners of a Profitec Pro 500 PID to know what the steam performance is like when the PID is in this lower brew range.

It almost seems like the Profitec Pro 500 should have dropped 60 degrees instead of 50 in creating the brew temp profile.

dave

al3xx

Postby al3xx » Mar 06, 2018, 6:59 pm

That would be really low temperature to set your steam boiler to. That graph that Profitec gives you might give you the desired brew temperature without much of a flush, but it would probably mean your machine would take longer to rebound temperature.

I'd recommend reading up about flushing technique time to get the desired brew temperature, and use a grouphead thermometer to help you figure out what temperature you're looking for. I have similar temperatures set between my HX and DB machines for steam, and boy, 2 liter steam boiler is way more power than the 1.4 liter in my DB.

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nickw

Postby nickw » Mar 06, 2018, 7:33 pm

Do you make a lot of milk based drinks? If so, you'll probably appreciate the dedicated steam boiler which you run at higher temps for faster steaming, in addition to being able to steam larger amounts of milk before it drops down in temp. The higher temps (above 1 bar) will also mean a drier steam, which which will impart less water into the milk while you are steaming. Combine that with less steaming time, and it will take on less water again. Using an HX machine and running 0.87bar and your milk steaming is going to suffer, even with 6oz for a cappuccino.

Also, will other people be using the machine, who might not understand the HX flush routine?

You may also find the DB machine more consistent for back to back shots. As with with back to back shots, you'll need some experience/intuition with how big of flush to do. Which you can learn to manage, but know you're mentally juggling one more thing.

For the occasional drink, combined with a little practice and know-how you can easily work around the HX compromises in terms of shot quality. You can get pretty consistent results. But a small boiler, 110v HX machine still has it's limits with milk production.

If I could afford both (given my usage and household), I'd go for the DB machine for benefits listed.

Tanax

Postby Tanax » Mar 07, 2018, 6:59 am

I'm very intrigued by the Pro 500 PID.
Would also like to know how steaming performs.

If you crank up the temperature to a more adequate steaming temperature, I assume the flow restrictor still makes it so that a cooling flush won't be necessary or at least a very small cooling flush?

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Mar 07, 2018, 2:09 pm

I posted some questions about the Profitec Pro 500 PID on WLL youtube video link (in the comments section)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ps4JfqRPuI


Marc from WLL replied quickly and gave some great info. Seems the current manual might be out of date and the boiler temps should be higher. He also posted a video that shows the Pro 500's steam power at .8 bar and it seems very strong.

This gives me a lot of confidence in this machine. Might be my next purchase.

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nickw

Postby nickw » Mar 07, 2018, 7:55 pm

Thanks for sharing the video's. I just checked them both out (machine review, and steaming performance video)

e61 groups (designed to emulate a lever group) do run a thermosiphon to keep the group warm. Although typically it's been a different line feeding the water for the espresso, thus the HX flush needed. It appears like they've done the same as my Londinium, where the thermosiphon heating the group is the same water which then brews the coffee. It's a great system/idea with only one drawback. After each shot you need to purge 1-2oz of water to restart the thermosiphon. which if you're doing a cleaning flush will happen anyways. So no real problems there, it's a great system. And great for any novices using the machine, no HX dance to do :).

But, back to the steaming performance. Now that I see exactly how this machine is plumbed and works (and it's tank size [2 liter] and heater wattage [1400w]), it's steam performance will be analogous to my Londinium (2.3 liter boiler and same 1400watt element). You'll certainly be able to steam with .8bar, but above 1bar makes the steam notably more powerful. I run my Londinium at .95-1.2bar in the winter (uses a pstat, sadly no PID here) and while steaming with the Londinium it's around .95bar, so it gives decent steaming performance.

As for the P500, Mark at WLL said the performance on the P500 drops to about .77bar. You can certainly steam like that, as the video shows, it won't be terrible. Just fine for small amounts of milk, like maciatto's (<3oz), capp's (6oz), or the odd latte (9-12oz). But it will also be a wetter steam (you can see in the video where it sputters), and your milk will pick up more water. So I would also still re-iterate my concern about steaming performance if you do a lot of milk drinks, and plan on running you machine below 1bar. In that case you'll probably appreciate the a double boiler, or running your machine above 1bar (which you may not want to do for the right brew temp, thus wanting a db machine). Certainly if you want to use the machine for latte's or hot chocolates, chai tea, etc..and larger amount of milk, you will appreciate it. If it's just for the occasional cappuccino, you probably wont mind. Or perhaps you don't mind it taking a little longer and a little more water in your milk.

Hopefully this helps. I'm not trying to mix things up on you. I just wanted to help you understand what it will probably be like, so you can make a decision, and hopefully you don't have any unfortunate surprises.

Cheers,
Nick

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Mar 07, 2018, 9:15 pm

Nick;

Thanks for all your comments and insights... yeah the double boiler would be more predictable.. but... man .. I really like the User Interface of the 500.

It looks like the 500 PID is designed to NOT use a significant cooling flush . After 1 hour idle, Marc pulled a 200deg shot with no flush .. if every 500 can duplicate that.. its a no brainer; but I wonder how individual units vary from one to another. The boiler temperature is dependent on the quality of the engineering of the thermosiphon system. During this 200 deg shot, the boiler was at 252, which puts the steam boiler about 1.1 bar. (This is different from the info that Profitec is currently publishing in its on-line manual which states to use 244 boiler (.8 bar) for 200deg extraction.. ... have written to Profitec to confirm their manual is not accurate for current models)

You'd almost think the manufacturers would put some easy way for users to access the brew temp for HX machines so they can debug their workflow. Adding a thermometer adds nearly $200 to the cost of an HX in Canada. (unless you are lucky enough to know someone with a scace)

And I may be obsessing a bit over brew temp... am now waffling to the DB.. grin

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Radio.YYZ

Postby Radio.YYZ » Mar 07, 2018, 10:14 pm

I own the previous generation of pro 500 which uses the pstat so there is a dead band range for the pstat to activate. I did purchase a thermometer to confirm my workflow.

It is true that the hx does not have a good exact way of knowing the temp, but neither does any machine that is dual boiler or hx that uses the e61 group. The group is designed in such a way that it maintains heat so as the water is entering the shower and the porta that there is not a huge amount of heat loss and the coffee is getting optimum temperature of water.

So i personally believe after using both types of machine that a thermometer is required if you want to know the exact temp - what i don't know is that if the new pro 500 will require the thermometer or not as they claim it is very stable thermally (because of a thermosyphon restrictor).

Another pro of hx machines is that by design you are not getting water from the boiler that has been heated and cooled and maybe minerals and other impurities in concentration (depending on what kind of water you use).

I think the thermometer is a good tool to have so you get to know you machine, it took me good 300+ shots to understand the working of my machine when it comes to temperature at the cake/puck. Thermometer is a very good tool and is recommended for most hx machines.

As far as i understand; essentially the pro500 with pid is using a very narrow deadband to maintain the temperature so as the water passes through it it will be heated very uniformly and having a thermosyphon restrictor will decrease the temperature swings when the thermosyphon action is happening for hot water (as it is installed at the top intake for hot water).

I think as more people purchase the pro500pid we will have more information and see how it holds up!

I am waiting for such input to see that maybe i want to upgrade my pro500 to the pro500pid.
Good Coffee: Technique/Knowledge > Grinder > Beans > Water > Machine

TheodoricOfPuck

Postby TheodoricOfPuck » Mar 08, 2018, 12:21 am

Bluenoser wrote:Nick;

Thanks for all your comments and insights... yeah the double boiler would be more predictable.. but... man .. I really like the User Interface of the 500.

It looks like the 500 PID is designed to NOT use a significant cooling flush . After 1 hour idle, Marc pulled a 200deg shot with no flush .. if every 500 can duplicate that.. its a no brainer; but I wonder how individual units vary from one to another. The boiler temperature is dependent on the quality of the engineering of the thermosiphon system. During this 200 deg shot, the boiler was at 252, which puts the steam boiler about 1.1 bar. (This is different from the info that Profitec is currently publishing in its on-line manual which states to use 244 boiler (.8 bar) for 200deg extraction.. ... have written to Profitec to confirm their manual is not accurate for current models)

You'd almost think the manufacturers would put some easy way for users to access the brew temp for HX machines so they can debug their workflow. Adding a thermometer adds nearly $200 to the cost of an HX in Canada. (unless you are lucky enough to know someone with a scace)

And I may be obsessing a bit over brew temp... am now waffling to the DB.. grin


Can you give me details on specifically what you mean by "adding a thermometer". I am interested in knowing exact temperatures.

Isn't 200 degrees a little hot for shot polling?

Thx Theo.

wai2cool4u

Postby wai2cool4u » Mar 08, 2018, 12:42 am

TheodoricOfPuck wrote:Can you give me details on specifically what you mean by "adding a thermometer". I am interested in knowing exact temperatures.


i believe he could be referring to this: https://www.chriscoffee.com/E61-Group-D ... sss-04.htm

you can also purchase it from user "erics" on this forum. i believe it's slightly cheaper if you purchase it from him.