Lelit Bianca at the top of my list, but I have questions

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pm-

#1: Post by pm- »

Hi all, I'm looking for an espresso machine to pair with my Niche Zero grinder and the Bianca is probably at the top of my list. However, I have a few questions.
  1. Price differences not withstanding, since this would be my first machine, are there any compelling reasons to consider an LMLM or MaraX over the Bianca?
  2. What are the warmup times on the Bianca on 110 vs 220 for both boilers to be ready? I've think I've seen someone mention as low as 20 minutes, and at least a few people saying around 30 minutes, and none of them stated if it was on 110 of 220.
  3. Does anyone feel strongly that the Bianca is overkill and and perhaps mistake for someone making their first espresso?
The paddle operations seems pretty straight forward to me, and worst case scenario, I could just pre-infuse for 4 seconds or so, then run 9 bar until I have my 36 or so grams of espresso. I might try something like that a few times to see how it tastes, but then it doesn't seem complicated to jump to pulling a shot like HB did in his review "Start at 4 bar until 6 grams has poured, increase to 6 bar until 12 grams have poured, increase to 9 bar until 24 (ish) grams. Then slowly reduce to 4-6 bar, depending on how it's pouring." Additionally, other than there being plenty of videos and instruction online, Counter Culture does offer classes in town (Chicago), if I feel I really needed it...

I'll primarily be making milk drinks (8oz lattes are my fav but I'll certainly branch out). It would be fairly uncommon to exceed making 2 back to back drinks, but I could see making 4 or so on occasion when I have company. Beyond the 3 machines I listed above, I'd love a machine with programmable pressure profiling AND volumetric brewing, but it seems that the Vesuvius has some quality issues, and the Decent uses non-metal parts in the brew/steaming path (a no-no for the wife)...and beyond those two machines it starts to get really costly to find those features.

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decent_espresso
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#2: Post by decent_espresso »

pm- wrote:the Decent uses non-metal parts in the brew/steaming path
I'd like comment about Decent's non-metal tubing.

The Bianca is a fine machine, but it does not have all-metal tubing.

You can see inside the Bianca here, and that there are several non-metal tubes:



It's likely that all the cool water on the Bianca is either plastic or silicone tubing, as that is standard practice. On the Decent, we use surgical silicone tubing to go from the water tank to the flow meter and then to the pumps.

I think you'll find it difficult to find many machines that have all metal tubing (no plastic or silicone), as things like pumps and flow meters usually are made to require a non-metal tube on intake.

For instance, the water intake to the main pump on the Linea Mini is not metal (my guess, silicone):



This is not to knock the Bianca or LM. I'm sure they've been very careful in their choice of materials that touch the water path, just as we have.

In Decent's case, we're using solid teflon tubing throughout. Solid, not coated, so it doesn't flake.

But maybe I misunderstood, and your worry is only about tubing after the boiler. In that case, it's true that Decent is non-metallic, but you'll find teflon tubing frequently on professional machines, especially on the steam path. Avoiding leakages due to thermal cycling, reducing calcification, as well as greater temperature stability, are the main reasons. Metal tubing will tend to lose more heat than teflon tubing, which is why teflon is often used on pro machines for the steam line.

-john

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HB
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#3: Post by HB »

decent_espresso wrote:I'd like comment about Decent's non-metal tubing... The Bianca is a fine machine, but it does not have all-metal tubing... the water intake to the main pump on the Linea Mini is not metal (my guess, silicone)... This is not to knock the Bianca or LM.
I appreciate your helpful clarification, but a few words of caution: There's a very fine line between providing helpful clarifications and criticizing one's competitors. The site's Guidelines for productive online discussion outlines our recommendations :
Guidelines for productive online discussion wrote:Forum members who have a financial interest in the topic in question should exercise caution before posting. For example, if you or the company you work for sells the product/service being discussed in a thread, you are welcome to correct factual errors, but should avoid posting opinions, product/service offerings, or critiques of competitive products. The same applies when a competitor's product or service is being discussed in a thread, i.e., you should refrain from offering opinions, alternative product/service offerings, or critiques. Moderators reserve the right to edit statements or delete posts that violate this policy.
Maybe our site's policy is too restrictive? I'm not sure. As I mentioned in What about their friends, insiders, promoters, and influencers?, it's a slippery slope.

My apologies for derailing the OP's thread with this administrative reminder; those who have concerns or questions about site policy are welcome to contact me offline or start a thread in the Suggestion Box. Thanks!
Dan Kehn

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slybarman

#4: Post by slybarman »

I thought decent's reply was within bounds. I didn't take his reply as criticizing LM or Lelit, but just clarifying how most machines are made.

I recognize I am a survey size of one, so take it for what it's worth - which probably isn't a whole heck of a lot.

Nunas
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#5: Post by Nunas »

John was clearly protecting his brand, but I thought his comments were reasonably balanced. I'd give him a pass on this one.

pm-

#6: Post by pm- »

decent_espresso wrote:I'd like comment about Decent's non-metal tubing.

But maybe I misunderstood, and your worry is only about tubing after the boiler. In that case, it's true that Decent is non-metallic, but you'll find teflon tubing frequently on professional machines, especially on the steam path. Avoiding leakages due to thermal cycling, reducing calcification, as well as greater temperature stability, are the main reasons. Metal tubing will tend to lose more heat than teflon tubing, which is why teflon is often used on pro machines for the steam line.

-john
John - having read a lot about the Decent machines, you're always very informative and transparent; thanks for the information. Yes, my concern is really about the path hot water takes from the boilers for brewing and steaming. It's actually a requirement from my wife that components in this path must be all metal. In the US, and likely numerous other countries, laws are lax regarding requirements for testing of new materials in food related applications. That's how (in general), things like PFOAs are used in teflon cookware for many years (I think until 2013), until independent testing determined that it is toxic and can cause serious pregnancy related problems.

I know Decent chose to use solid PTFE tubing and Ultem in the mixing chamber, and you guys feel confident in the safety of these materials based on the R&D you have put in. But how will they hold up over 10 years of use? Will there be zero migration of these materials into the water / steam? Will independent research at some point show that these materials can slowly migrate into hot water and accumulate in our bodies, causing undesired side effects? I do not know and it is not my intent to state these will be problems, but these are valid questions that would take time to answer. Part of this is certainly a fear of the unknown and, given alternative options, it is a risk we don't want to take. If these materials are used for 15 years and independent research over that time shows that, over time, they are completely safe, then we may reconsider...

All that being said, if you guys end up making a model that moved to all metal components in the hot water paths, I'll reconsider such a machine. I was extremely interested in the Decent machines and it would be at the top of my list if it wasn't for the teflon tubing (and possibly the Ultem mixing chamber).

Regarding the Bianca, I have some more research and reviews I'll have to go through to verify there are no non-replaceable non-metal parts in the hot water paths. I'm pretty sure I read there is some type of plastic tubing used in the steam path, I believe as insulation in the steam want, and that it is removable; if that is the case, then I'll need to confirm removing it doesn't cause any significant problems, perhaps other than a hotter to the touch steam want and a maybe a bit less steaming power.

HB - no problem about the reminder, and thanks for moving my post to a more appropriate forum.

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skansen

#7: Post by skansen »

Non-metal tubes in Bianca goes from OPV/breaker etc. to the drip tray. Another non-metal tube goes from drip tray to the sewer.
In Bianca all fresh water/hot water/steam pipes are metal. Plastic is just for waste water.

More about pipes you can find in this video (from 3:20):

pcrussell50

#8: Post by pcrussell50 »

Also in support of John and Decent...

To the extent that Breville IS a deep pocketed appliance maker with a lot to lose, the BDB like Decent, also uses PTFE (Teflon) tubing in the hot section. To my knowledge, it's actually less reactive than the "classic" reactive metals found widely in espresso machines, copper and brass. With Breville's deep pocketed liability exposure especially in lawsuit happy USA, you can bet they had an army of lawyers involved in every facet of design, including the choice of PTFE tubing. It is also worthy of note that Breville went with stainless steel boilers AND even solid stainless steel portafilters, instead of plated brass like so many others.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

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slybarman

#9: Post by slybarman »

skansen wrote:Non-metal tubes in Bianca goes from OPV/breaker etc. to the drip tray. Another non-metal tube goes from drip tray to the sewer.
In Bianca all fresh water/hot water/steam pipes are metal. Plastic is just for waste water.

More about pipes you can find in this video (from 3:20):

video
There should be a (I think) rubber tube inside the steam arm which makes it "no burn". I'm not sure if that is a material OP is concerned about or not.
pcrussell50 wrote:...you can bet they had an army of lawyers involved in every facet of design, including the choice of PTFE tubing.
I think you will find the lawyers do not involve themselves with design, just CYA and small print after the fact. Design is left to the engineers and the outrageous product claims are left to marketing.

Jeff

#10: Post by Jeff »

Any "no-burn" steam wand is very likely to use PTFE tubing to carry the steam. The various ones I've seen have two o-rings at the tip. One seals against the PTFE tubing at pressure, the other seems designed only to prevent milk ingress between the tip and the outer tubing. I have not looked at if the outer tubing is pressure-sealed to a fitting on the boiler end. It is possible that you might need to replace the wand in its entirety.

I know the concern raised is around PTFE. Both brass and bronze have historically contained lead, even when intended for food/water contact. I don't know if lead-free brass is a general requirement where the parts for espresso machines are made. Personally, I would expect that any "generic" brass/bronze fitting in an espresso machine has a comparable alloy to what it had in 1953, or whenever its last significant design change was made. Like any exposure to risk, one needs to make a decision based on their own perceptions of the risk and its impact.