HX vs double boiler in the real world...

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

#1: Post by primato »

Sorry to bring this question up once again. But can anybody give me a real world advice on which way to go?

I currently own a La Pavoni Professional (and a Macap M4) and though I like a challenge and am pretty happy with the Pavoni, I am getting tired of the consistency issues of using this machine, the rapid temperature build up preventing more than a couple of consecutive shots, and the short service intervals this machine requires.

So, I am a guy who is perfectly happy with ONE type of beans and roast for months at a time, and I would like a machine that allows me to perfect the shots for this type of coffee, and once this is done I am happy to leave it at that and enjoy my shots without too much experimenting.

I have a price range of approx. $3000, and have been looking at machines like the Isomacs, the Vetrano for HX, or the Brewster II or Izzo Alex Duetto for DB. At the time being, the Izzo is number 1 on my short list because of DB + rotary pump etc.

In your opinion: HX or DB?

I mean, in the REAL world, for a guy who loves his coffee but also like a minimum of simplicity...

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Beezer

#2: Post by Beezer »

You should be able to get excellent results with either type of machine. Although I've never used one myself, I suspect a double boiler would be slightly simpler to operate, since you don't have to worry about temperature surfing/water dancing at all. Just pull a blank warm up shot, then grind, distribute, tamp, and lock and load. However, the HX water dance is not difficult to master, and now you can get a thermometer adaptor from EricS which makes flushing the group very easy. Really, I would worry less about double boiler vs. HX and more about other things, such as group design, boiler size, pump design, tank vs. plumbed in, etc.

In the real world, I'm not convinced there's a big enough difference between the two styles of machine to make that a primary reason to choose one particular machine over another. Of course, I'm sure others will disagree.
Lock and load!

keepitsimple

#3: Post by keepitsimple »

Oh dear - you know not what you have stirred up. World wars have started over less controversial issues.

My personal view, of course, but the answer to your question is Double Boiler machine, without question.

I've owned singe boiler machines (cheap ones) an HX machine, and now have a double boiler machine, so think I can claim a valid perspective (as a home user, anyway).

As between HX and double boiler, I just find the latter so much simpler and easier to use. I could never master the black art of the cooling flush - possibly due to lack of effort on my part, but have you actually read the procedures some people go through ? I'm a simple soul, and just want a cup of coffee, requiring the least possible effort consistent with a good cup.

Having paid a fair amount of cash for it, I really wanted to like the HX machine, but I could not get on with it. I sold it and would never go back to one. I wish I'd never bought it. I'd buy a single boiler machine in preference if I had to.

There must be a fair few people on here able to make real life comparisons, having owned or had significant use of both types of machine, so hopefully they will comment too.

Better batten down the hatches and wait for the outcry I reckon......

Please promise that you won't ask whether you should get a doser or non-doser grinder or we shall have more bloodshed. :wink:

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HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

Beezer wrote:You should be able to get excellent results with either type of machine. Although I've never used one myself, I suspect a double boiler would be slightly simpler to operate, since you don't have to worry about temperature surfing/water dancing at all. Just pull a blank warm up shot, then grind, distribute, tamp, and lock and load. However, the HX water dance is not difficult to master, and now you can get a thermometer adaptor from EricS which makes flushing the group very easy. Really, I would worry less about double boiler vs. HX and more about other things, such as group design, boiler size, pump design, tank vs. plumbed in, etc.
An excellent response.

For a double boiler, brew temperature management is a no-brainer. An HX espresso machine with Eric's E61 thermocouple adapter, it's more a question of the extra steps and water than difficulty. Without Eric's thermocouple adapter, the answer depends. Some HX espresso machines are easier to manage than others. For example, the Elektra A3 and Semiautomatica are easy from day one. If you read the Pulling Shots by the Numbers section of a few of the reviews, you'll get a good idea of what's involved for each.

That said, if simplicity is your #1 priority, the answer is clear: Get a double boiler.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#5: Post by cannonfodder »

I have used both, but only own HX machines. I like them both and each has its own merits. When trying different beans, I like the HX because I can change the temp on the fly instead of waiting a half hour for the DB to stabilize at the new temp. However, when using the same blend most of the time, it is handy to be able to just walk up, pull a short warming flush, prep your shot and pull. Heat exchanger machines tend to cost less if you are on a tight budget but I like both and both will pull equal quality shots.
Dave Stephens

mgwolf
Supporter ♡

#6: Post by mgwolf »

Hans,
I've owned a nice HX machine and now have a double boiler (La Spaziale Vivaldi 2 Mini) and have never looked back to my HX. Read my review for more details: https://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/comm ... _s1/mgwolf

In the morning, I want a good cup of coffee without the fuss and a double boiler will give it to me more consistently with a lot less effort on my part. Michael

zin1953

#7: Post by zin1953 »

There are great HX machines out there, and there are great Double-boiler machines out there. There is no ONE answer . . .

If simplicity is your goal, I'd go with a DB, and the Izzo Alex DB looks like a great choice.
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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cafeIKE
Supporter ★

#8: Post by cafeIKE »

You can have your cake and eat it, too. HX Heaven or 1½ Boiler. Walk-up shots are a doddle all week long and steaming capability blows the doors off a double boiler with a similar sized chassis.

If not inclined to perform surgery on an HX, the Vibiemme Double Domobar Super is well received in 220v Europe.

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JohnB.
Supporter ♡

#9: Post by JohnB. »

cannonfodder wrote:I have used both, but only own HX machines. I like them both and each has its own merits. When trying different beans, I like the HX because I can change the temp on the fly instead of waiting a half hour for the DB to stabilize at the new temp. However, when using the same blend most of the time, it is handy to be able to just walk up, pull a short warming flush, prep your shot and pull. Heat exchanger machines tend to cost less if you are on a tight budget but I like both and both will pull equal quality shots.
Which DB machine required 1/2hr to stabilize after a temp change? I can reduce or increase the temp on my Vivaldi, do a 2-3 oz flush & have full recovery in less then a minute.
LMWDP 267

CoffeeOwl

#10: Post by CoffeeOwl »

Which DB machine required 1/2hr to stabilize after a temp change? I can reduce or increase the temp on my Vivaldi, do a 2-3 oz flush & have full recovery in less then a minute.
It's the quality of design of Vivaldis: small brew boiler and very powerful heating element. Other machines have much larger brew boilers.
'a a ha sha sa ma!


LMWDP #199