Improvement going from E61 HX to E61 double boiler?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
HRC-E.B.

Postby HRC-E.B. » Mar 12, 2019, 1:48 pm

Would there be any shot quality improvement in "upgrading" my HX machine for, let's say, a Profitec Pro 700?

I drink mainly traditional espresso roasts (Monsoon Medley, Malabar Gold, Redbird Espresso, Lusso Lionshare). I prefer straight shots. Wife prefers Americanos. I make a few cappas per week too. I like my espressos thick and syrupy, and for me a "good shot" is one where the sweetness of the coffee can be enjoyed without obvious defects such as biting citric acidity, sourness, or excessive bitterness or ashy aftertaste.

Assume that with Eric's thermometer, I'm pretty consistently achieving the needed brew temperatures; would the DB nature of the Pro 700 allow more accurate brew temp maintenance, given the E61's propensity to run cooler than brew temp?

I think the Pro700 also allows "line pressure" preinfusions, something that I can't do with my Rocket, because if the solenoid present in the brew piping that isn't used on the Profitec, if I understand correctly. Would that line pressure preinfusion bring any tangible benefits?

I realize I would probably be a good candidate for a lever machine but my kitchen config would not allow that until a major remodelling is done, which is not in the short term plans.

Thanks for your thoughts!

wai2cool4u

Postby wai2cool4u » Mar 12, 2019, 2:56 pm

I think you already answered your own question. if u really want an appreciable difference, then the only e61 double boiler that makes sense would be the lelit Bianca.

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bluesman

Postby bluesman » Mar 12, 2019, 3:02 pm

HRC-E.B. wrote:I drink mainly traditional espresso roasts (Monsoon Medley, Malabar Gold, Redbird Espresso, Lusso Lionshare). I prefer straight shots. Wife prefers Americanos. I make a few cappas per week too. I like my espressos thick and syrupy, and for me a "good shot" is one where the sweetness of the coffee can be enjoyed without obvious defects such as biting citric acidity, sourness, or excessive bitterness or ashy aftertaste.

Would that line pressure preinfusion bring any tangible benefits?

We drink the same stuff you do and we like it the same way. Malabar and Redbird were our house blends for a few years, until we discovered Aldo Nicoletti (a 3rd generation roaster in Brooklyn). We've used his espresso blend for about a year now and are very, very happy with it. My wife even grinds it for drip! We don't want fruit or flowers in our coffee either, so I can't imagine any improvement in the cup from a DB or flow profiling or tighter temp control than I get with Eric's thermometer and a simple, consistent work flow.

On the other hand, preinfusion has really made my shots consistent. Although my previous machine was also plumbed, it was a vibe pump and there was no easy way to preinfuse. But our ECM HX is rotary, so I can now use PI. I grind into a pitcher and shake it all around with my hand over the top, then pour it into my PF. After grooming the puck, I lock the PF into the group and lift the brew lever to PI position - then I take out the milk, pour what I want into the steaming pitcher, and put the milk away. This takes about 30 seconds, so PI is done when I'm ready to lift the lever all the way and steam while the shot's brewing.

The consistency of my shots is amazing now - every drink is the same and every one is delicious. Between PI and my shaking routine, my naked PF is very well behaved too. So I think you'd find clear improvement from preinfusion, but I doubt that a DB would make a meaningful difference to you. That's my 2c!

HRC-E.B.

Postby HRC-E.B. » Mar 12, 2019, 8:26 pm

That makes sense, although if I'm going to change machines to get the ability to preinfuse, I might as well go the whole way.

As mentioned above, the key characteristics I look for in espresso are more old school, but I don't discount some fruit when I can get it (e.g., blueberry in an Ethiopian Harrar, dark cherries, etc.)

HRC-E.B.

Postby HRC-E.B. » Mar 14, 2019, 2:56 pm

Sounds like other more advanced preinfusions/pressure profiling techniques and fancier machines are more interesting discussion topics than plain old line pressure preinfusion?

Strong Lead

Postby Strong Lead » Mar 14, 2019, 8:58 pm

It seems like two issues got rolled into one question. Preinfusion is a function of plumbing, independent of HX vs. DB.

How good is temperature control on a DB system coupled with the E61 grouphead? I know the brew boiler has fine temp control, but the grouphead becomes a heat exchanger to the extent it has a detla-T with the brew water.

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bluesman

Postby bluesman » Mar 15, 2019, 9:36 am

Strong Lead wrote:It seems like two issues got rolled into one question.

That's exactly what was in the OP. And because of this, the information needed to make the decision to change machines has to encompass both. Line pressure PI helped make my shots tastier (to me), smoother and more consistent. Plumbing the water line was the only way to achieve this with my machine. If PI were the only consideration, it can be done a few ways without plumbing, e.g. an HX Junior or a DB Spaz.

I think that temp stability and control in good e61 HX machines are fine for the kind of espresso I and the OP'er like. As you point out, a DB machine (PID and all) won't control temp at the puck as tightly as some newer groups can do. Changing to a DB e61 for our simple espresso won't make much of a difference In our cups.

If flexibility is desired, even if only for the occasional light roast etc, I'd consider an alternative to an e61. There's much more controllability to be had elsewhere, in both tanked and plumbed alternatives.

HRC-E.B.

Postby HRC-E.B. » replying to bluesman » Mar 15, 2019, 10:09 am

Thanks! That is helpful.

If the Pro 700 has the same cold nose and slow rebound as my Rocket, I guess the DB feature probably won't bring that significant a benefit. (Other than the potentially less sensitive stainless boilers (compared to brass and copper in my Rockets known to be sensitive to chloride), and the freakish steam capabilities of the high-pressure 2L steam boiler in the Pro 700.)

When you say other machines have better controllability, which ones do you have in mind? Are those in the same price range?

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Mar 15, 2019, 12:28 pm

It's mostly a matter of convenience and economy. The DBs don't need to be flushed, so they are more convenient; a properly tuned HX also doesn't need flushing, but most home versions do. If you are like me, and do a cappa occasionally and mostly espresso, being able to switch off the steam boiler saves in operating cost. On the other hand, if you make only milk drinks, the HX's lower overall power use makes it more economical.
Jim Schulman