Izzo Alex vs Quickmills or Vibiemme Domobar HX

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

#1: Post by da gino »

All three of these lines of HX machines look great. The reviews certainly make the Quickmill line and the Domobars are great HX machines. Has anyone used both the Alex and one of these two enough to compare the espresso they produce?

Visually, my favorite is the Domobar and my least favorite is the Alex (I've only seen pictures), but the added plus of the option to plumb in or not plumb in is very appealing.

My top priority is straight espresso (although I do make milk drinks for my wife regularly so I don't think I want a single boiler). The reviews here give a slight edge to the Domobar over the Quickmills for espresso for being just a little easier to use, but it is almost a toss up. Other factors such as price, vibe vs. rotary, make it even easier to imagine picking either the Domobars or the Quickmills. Is it safe to assume that the Alex fits right in there with these two on espresso quality (and it seems like most of the E-61's for that matter)?

Obviously the double boilers are slightly different beasts, so this is really a question about the HX machines, not their double boiler counterparts.

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erics
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#2: Post by erics »

All of the machines you mentioned will produce equally good shots of espresso and certainly steam milk in one sitting sufficient for two cappys - in the event you want to share the pleasure your SO is so wisely aware of :) .

The Vibiemme has robust construction, the Alex is very neatly laid out, and the Quickmill machines have a strong attraction to those of us who are value conscious and appreciate a relatively quiet machine. The service organizations behind these machines have a stellar reputation and I would suggest you do a brief search on this site for user comments for the machines you listed. I would like to say that the QM Anita is the value leader but it is that and a little more.
Skål,

Eric S.
http://users.rcn.com/erics/
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com

jthor

#3: Post by jthor »

they all taste the same...get a good conical grinder

zin1953

#4: Post by zin1953 » replying to jthor »

Really? How many QuickMills have your eaten?!?!?!? :wink:
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

zin1953

#5: Post by zin1953 »

da gino wrote:All three of these lines of HX machines look great. The reviews certainly make the Quickmill line and the Domobars are great HX machines. Has anyone used both the Alex and one of these two enough to compare the espresso they produce?
Hugh,

First, let me say that I have limited experience with the Vibiemme Domobar, and none with the QuickMill machines or with the Izzo Alex, so I cannot provide you with direct user information. Be that as it may, I hope you'll read on . . .

I have no doubt that any of these will produce high-quality espresso to your liking, and will do so for a considerable time. The biggest factor you need to consider (IMHO, of course) is the vendor, with service both before and after the sale. Both Chris' Coffee (Izzo and QuickMill) and 1st-Line (Vibiemme) provide excellent service, in my experience. Of the three machines, QuickMill has been in the US market the longest, so you have a larger "user base" of consumers with that choice and more owners equals more feedback. In contrast, the Izzo is the newest entry (IIRC).

Your dilemma ("Visually, my favorite is the Domobar and my least favorite is the Alex, but the added plus of the option to plumb in or not plumb in is very appealing.") is a familiar one. And one only you can decide, but I will tell you that not only is the Izzo Alex easily plumbed, it is also a rotary pump! That means it is very quiet . . . something both you and your wife will appreciate, believe me! (I upgraded from a pourover HX machine with a vibe pump -- one that would stand in good company with the ones you're considering -- to a plumbed-in HX with a rotary vane pump -- in part because of the noise factor; in part because of the constant need to refill the tank; in part . . . .)

Finally, the mantra is "don't forget the grinder!" While it is NOT as simple as saying, "get a good conical grinder," it is as simple as Get a GREAT grinder! "Conical" is indeed the buzzword, but you don't need to get a Mazzer Robur, with 71mm conical burrs, to have a great grinder. You are much better served by, for instance, getting a Mazzer SuperJolly (with its 64mm flat burr set), or a Cimbali MaxHybrid (with its 64mm conical/flat combination), than you would be with a Baratza Maestro for $99 ("BUT it has a 40mm conical set!"). If you haven't already, you might want to read through (skim at the very least) the Titan Grinder Project -- I know, it's long, but it's worth it.

Bottom line: all three are fine machines; don't forget the grinder! :wink:

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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GC7
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#6: Post by GC7 »

I can not give you specifics about those machines but I can give you observations from a new home espresso fanatic and HX newbee.

I purchased a Quickmill Anita and it is both beautiful (to my eye) and it makes great espresso. However, I would stronly recommend that any HX users and especially new espresso baristas get a machine that can be adapted to use the EricS temperature probe. It makes producing good to excellent espresso FAR FAR easier and more reproducible.

Second and also important is the water reservoir and more specifically refilling it constantly. Flushing especially if you make one drink at a time and then go back and make another only after a period of time uses a lot of water. The most annoying feature of my Anita is having to refill the tank a couple of times a day. While I currently can't handle a plumb-in I would do so in my planned new home.

The noise does not bother me in the least.

da gino (original poster)

#7: Post by da gino (original poster) »

Thanks for the tips.


GC7 wrote:

Second and also important is the water reservoir and more specifically refilling it constantly. Flushing especially if you make one drink at a time and then go back and make another only after a period of time uses a lot of water. The most annoying feature of my Anita is having to refill the tank a couple of times a day. While I currently can't handle a plumb-in I would do so in my planned new home.

The noise does not bother me in the least.
As a Pavoni user, plumbing in always seemed odd to me because I was used to having a machine that used very little water, but reading about the cooling flushes, backflushes, etc I've started to understand why that might be desirable and that is the pull of the Alex (or the Vetrano), but given that I might not mind filling it at all and that I won't know until I try, it would be nice to put off the time/expense/trouble of plumbing the machine in, but still have the option (obviously something like a Vetrano with a flo-jet is another option but it adds cost).

If I knew I wouldn't regret a machine I couldn't plumb in I'd be very happy to choose between the Anita and the Domobar and I think I'd be thrilled with whichever one I chose. I probably wouldn't mind a pourover, but there are so many HBer's posts about how much they love their plumbed in machines that I am not sure.

I don't think the noise will bother me, unless I start making coffee when someone in the house is sleeping and it might wake them, but it is one of my lower priorities.


jthor wrote:they all taste the same...get a good conical grinder
As for the grinder, I just bought my stepless Macap M4 and am very happy with it. I know there are better grinders available, but given price, size, looks, etc, (and the review on this website), it seemed like the right choice for me and I have no regrets.

GC7 wrote: I purchased a Quickmill Anita and it is both beautiful (to my eye) and it makes great espresso. However, I would stronly recommend that any HX users and especially new espresso baristas get a machine that can be adapted to use the EricS temperature probe. It makes producing good to excellent espresso FAR FAR easier and more reproducible.
Agreed on both counts. Erics, your thermometer will be in whatever machine I end up with and is the reason I don't feel compelled to get a PID'd double boiler! (Although I haven't ruled those out completely yet). Also I think the Anita is beautiful. Based on the pictures I think it is a close second to the Domobar for me and I actually like the look slightly better than the more expensive Quickmill machines from its own line! My wife's least favorite is the Domobar, so aesthetically the Anita is the big winner.

zin1953 wrote:Hugh,



The biggest factor you need to consider (IMHO, of course) is the vendor, with service both before and after the sale. Both Chris' Coffee (Izzo and QuickMill) and 1st-Line (Vibiemme) provide excellent service, in my experience.

The vendors do seem very important to me and that is why I'm considering these three machines. I've had great experiences with Chris' coffee. In the past year I've had very good conversations with the people at Espressoparts NW, Stefano's Espresso Care, and 1rst-Line, asking questions and/or ordering smaller items such as naked portafilters. Combining that with impressions from posts on the web all 4 seem like great choices as vendors (although again I only have first hand, major purchasing experiences with Chris'). There are a couple of vendors that I don't trust as much based on comments posted here or other places and that crossed a few machines off of my list. Luckily, 4 vendors is more than enough!

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GC7
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#8: Post by GC7 »

Let me throw another kink in your thinking and it might get some negative resopnses as an unproductive addition but -

My Anita is PID'ed so I have control of the boiler temperature. I like being able to change on the fly and have accurate temperatures without over and under shooting the desired pressure/temperature.

The advantage of this is that you can save water and pull excellent temperature controlled shots without flushing at all. There are several threads on this in the archives but setting the boiler to 229* to 233* or so depending on the beans you can use the HX as a sort of single boiler temperature controlled machine. If all you need are a couple of shots and you can wait 7-10 minutes between it works REALLY well.

I too have had great experiences with Chris' Coffee for my grinder and accessories etc but I bought the PID'ed machine from Dave and it was only about $50 more then the non-PID. I think that was a well spent $50 and Dave has been exceedingly generous with his time on the phone and with his advice.

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uscfroadie

#9: Post by uscfroadie »

I hate to throw a kink into your thoughts, but Chris hasn't carried the Alex HX for some time now. IIRC, he was clearing these out last Christmas and didn't restock them. Perhaps lackluster sales (when compared to his other E61 machines) and a DB version of the Alex due to come out (at the time as it's now available) may have been the reason.

Vibiemme makes many version of the Domobar, including a HX rotary pump plumbed in version; no mention of it here though, but for me, I'd pay a little more to get the DB rotary version (Double Domo Rotary), which is equal in price to the Alex Duetto.

As for cooling flushes, it's why I went with a single boiler (Alexia w/PID). I have used an HX and could not get over how much water you have to flush to cool the brewhead AND still have steaming power. You can lower the boiler pressure to lessen the flush required, but in doing so you weaken the steaming output. If it's plumbed in, it's not as big of a deal because you won't need to refill the boiler, but a pour over will have you re-filling the reservoir often depending on how much you drink.
My top priority is straight espresso (although I do make milk drinks for my wife regularly so I don't think I want a single boiler).
How many milk drinks does your wife drink, and how close together - 5 mins, 10 mins? I ask because maybe a single boiler is a viable option for you. I can make back to back milk drink w/in 5 mins of one another, far less if making an espresso then a milk based drink.

Given your location you should be able to find members on this forum that can allow you to try first-hand the different types of machines to see which one is best for you. You can read and study all you want, but hands-on experience can't be beaten.
Good luck in your machine searching journey.
Merle

zin1953

#10: Post by zin1953 »

Merle,

While Chris' Coffee does show the Izzo Alex as "Out of Stock" (see here), their site says nothing about not carrying it again. Additionally, given a) the $900 price difference between the Alex and the Alex Duetto, and b) the apparent ease of "flipping" the Alex (and the Alex Duetto) back and forth between tank and plumbed, I cannot see why the Alex would not be restocked.

However, that's me. A quick call to Chris' 800 number could tell Hugh if it's coming back or not . . .
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.