Is the ECM Mechanika MAX good for my long term needs ?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
ChefRayB
Posts: 14
Joined: 3 months ago

#1: Post by ChefRayB »

Greetings Espresso Community

I am currently eyeing the ECM Mechanika MAX. Does someone have a better suggestion based on the following requirements:

- Space: Limited counter space, 19" depth workbench on wheels and 41" wide
- Frequency: 2 espresso pulls per day between 8am-12pm, sometimes 2nd one at 1pm max
- Roasting: Light or Medium roast only (I don't drink dark roast yet)
- Quantity: 1 bag of 340g per week, either espresso or drip
- Steam: Milk-based drinks (Frothing) occasionally on weekends
- Hot Water: I would use hot water to make tea after making espresso ( Black Tea 95C and Green Tea is 80C, mix with cold water)
- Electricity: 120V, 15 cents per kwh
- Experience: Newbie
- Current setup: Breville Barista Express Pro, Breville Smart Grinder Pro, WDT, metal mesh.
- Country Shipping/Buying/Warranty: Canada

My rationale for considering the ECM Mechanika MAX:

- HX System seems to be as good as DB because you have a PID outside the boiler near the group head. From my understanding, in order to ensure the group head temp is good, simply pull a small flush to warm up the portafilter, then remove the portafilter, while doing a 2nd quick flush (without portafilter) simply grind/WDT/tamper your coffee inside the warm portafilter. Worst case if someone is concerned with the brew temperature, replace the group head pressure probe with a temperature probe to familiarize yourself with the brew temperature. I don't see the need for a DB unless I have to pull many consecutive espresso + milk frothing drinks. Based on my readings, the temperature variation of 1-2 degrees won't make a significant noticeable difference, as long as lighter roasts are brewed at higher temperatures and darker roasts at lower temperatures, the average person wouldn't really notice the variation of 1-2 degrees. (Exception: might need to pull a few more flushes if machine is outside on a porch in the morning or positioned directly under AC vent that would cool off the group head substantially).


- HX machines are usually a few inch less wide and less deep. My counter space is small

- HX is perfect when you occasionally use the steamer and don't pull more than 2 espresso back 2 back. For parties, I just serve drip. It seems unit consumes on average 0.3kwh which means between 8am-12pm = 4 hours x 0.3kwh = 1.2kwh/days x 365 days= 438 kwh/year x 0.15cents/kwh = $65 year.

- Pre-Infusion: Shortcut buttons arrow up to disable/enable pre-infusion + time + countdown allows to play with pre-infusion for light roast or disable it and use the flow control. Easier to leave it on for the spouse, just tell her to lift the lever, it will do the pre-infusion automatically, wait the time says N seconds and pull the lever back down. I might be able to teach her to pull a shot for me....

- Increase Boiler Temp/Pressure: Shortcut button arrow up allows to temporarily increase boiler temp to the boiler temperature setting 2 (T2) to have ~1.5bar pressure for milk frothing and automatically goes down after 3 months

- Rotary pump is quieter than vibration

- Flow Control is a must to either use a pre-infusion (if you don't want it programmed) or for shot/brew profiling (e.g. reduce the flow towards the end of the shot) I want the optionality since I plan to keep this machine for many years.

- Reliability is important because it's a long term investment, these machines are $3.5K, looking to keep 10+ years.

The only negative aspect is the 20-30 minutes startup/warming time, I will install a smart outlet with scheduled on/off and activate with Alexa "Alexa turn on/off espresso machine"

Thank you all

ChefRayB

DaveC
Posts: 1710
Joined: 17 years ago

#2: Post by DaveC »

ECM Barista Max has been my daily driver for almost a year. Should meet your needs perfectly. It's warming up on the smart plug right now, even though it has It's own 7 day on/off timer, a smart plug is more convenient.

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BaristaBoy E61
Posts: 3442
Joined: 9 years ago

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

This is a good read to help arrive at best value and function of an E61 - including serviceability.

Choosing an Espresso Machine Rationally

https://www.espressoplanet.com/Izzo-Ale ... chine.html
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

ChefRayB (original poster)
Posts: 14
Joined: 3 months ago

#4: Post by ChefRayB (original poster) »

Hi BaristaBoy,

Thanks for the link, interesting article, I've read the thread, basically HX is too expensive compared to DB for temperature consistency, over time everything scales because we can't put distilled water meaning boiler drainage should be a must. Eventually, something will likely break 8+ years and if the design happens to have electric components (board, pump) under water boiler or tubes, the damage leaks will be expensive and one would likely buy a new shiny machine. Investing 5k on an espresso machine with 8 years of depreciation comes out to about $1-2 per day depending on usage, add the grinder and beans and it's expensive espresso.

So basically I should re-consider a DB rather HX and re-think the investment & long term expectations.

Analysis paralysis....

Thank you

ChefRayB

vizia
Posts: 81
Joined: 6 years ago

#5: Post by vizia »

What's your budget?

LM Linea Micra is tiny (smaller than E61) and has great temp. stability. I owned an ECM Mechanika IV Profi for 4.5 years, it made good coffee but temp. surfing is not fun.

drH
Posts: 891
Joined: 4 years ago

#6: Post by drH »

I have owned HX machines (Olympia Maximatic), double boilers (Profitec 300), single boilers (ECM Classika), and levers (Cremina, Pavoni).
Currently I'm working on a LM Micra. The Micra is by far the easiest and most flexible in terms of temperature adjustment. The machine is so straightforward that it mostly gets out of the way.
But every one of my machines has been fun to use and has made great coffee (some with more or less learning and practice). The more experienced I get, the more I realize that I'm not chasing perfection but instead I want the experience of making coffee to be fun, relaxing, meditative. So in getting a next machine, I'd ask yourself which one are you most excited about? Which will keep you interested every day? You'll learn the rest.

I still keep my Maximatic because there's something really retro about it - the flash boiling water when you flush, the analog decision of how long draw water before brewing. And once you understand it, the coffee is great. Of course the Micra takes out any guesswork, but that's not always the goal.

ChefRayB (original poster)
Posts: 14
Joined: 3 months ago

#7: Post by ChefRayB (original poster) »

@Vizia:
Re: Budget around 4k (CAD) ? Flexible a bit :)
Re: LM Linea Micra, indeed small 12"x12", DB uses the Steam boiler to heat brew boiler. It's almost 6k(CAD), no variable flow....

Based on your commentary, the temperature fluctuations seem to make a difference in the espresso. Would you go back to ECM Mechanica HX or for you DB temperature made a big difference in drinking espresso(s) ? It's hard for me to understand that because I don't have those machines and hard to make a comparison.

@DrH: The word of wisdom. Should making espresso in the morning be a zen moment (quiet grinder, quiet rotary pump) enjoying a nice espresso or a cognitive load in the morning that is either an obsession or a hobby/journey with plenty of experimentation along the way ! I have to think about that. Mentally/Healthy I think meditative experience should be the way to go... not quiet there yet... working on it !

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baldheadracing
Team HB
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Joined: 9 years ago

#8: Post by baldheadracing »

DaveC wrote:ECM Barista Max has been my daily driver for almost a year. Should meet your needs perfectly. It's warming up on the smart plug right now, even though it has It's own 7 day on/off timer, a smart plug is more convenient.
FYI ChefRayB, this is a very strong endorsement for this machine.

DaveC, will you be publishing a review of the machine?
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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gonzomup
Supporter ♡
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#9: Post by gonzomup »

For what its worth, I have a Mechanika Max coming. For me this is an upgrade from the Breville Barista Pro. Your use case, ChefRayB is similar to mine, although I make more drinks each day than you it sounds like. I did a fair amount of research, too, and at this price point, I feel that going with any familiar brand (ECM, Bezzera, Rocket, etc.) is going to give you a great machine. You're choosing between features and styling...as much as E61 grouphead machines can look different from each other. :P

Good luck making your decision!

vizia
Posts: 81
Joined: 6 years ago

#10: Post by vizia »

ChefRayB wrote:@Vizia:
Re: Budget around 4k (CAD) ? Flexible a bit :)
Re: LM Linea Micra, indeed small 12"x12", DB uses the Steam boiler to heat brew boiler. It's almost 6k(CAD), no variable flow....

Based on your commentary, the temperature fluctuations seem to make a difference in the espresso. Would you go back to ECM Mechanica HX or for you DB temperature made a big difference in drinking espresso(s) ? It's hard for me to understand that because I don't have those machines and hard to make a comparison.
Yes, temperature did make quite an impact on the coffee but I still used to drink great drinks most days and I resold my perfectly functioning 4.5-year old machine. 30 mins heat up time wasn't ideal, even though I used (and still use) a WiFi power plug. It's also the piece of mind if stable temperature. Now with the Micra I can technically make my coffee on demand (5 mins heat up time).

I wouldn't go back to any E61 HX (not only ECM) after experiencing DB and would never recommend one. That's my personal opinion as others still enjoy HX. I much prefer not wasting energy heating up the machine and then having to flush out perfectly drinkable water.

In the past 2 days I forgot to turn on my machine and had my breakfast cereal while my machine was heating up. It was ready by the time I finished my cereal. I would have had to wait 30 mins with an E61.