Modifiable espresso machine for an engineer type? - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
xtronics (original poster)

#11: Post by xtronics (original poster) »

I'm leaning for one of the Olympia for build quality and small size. The other side is the wide support of the gaggia community and enough room inside to do mods..

7"+ counter width is impressive - and will help me with my wife<grin>.

Boilers vs HX - a big enough HX would be better than a boiler - should heat up faster etc - most of the HX look much too small to me.

Another thing I've not seen on these is the use of PTC heaters - they can maintain a very precise heat (but not adjustable) and could be used to control the temperature of the grouphead.

Sadly, the consumer end seems focused on cartridge systems and I've never tasted good espresso from them.

[ot a bit]
I just got back from a trip driving all over Washington State - had some very good espresso from small drive through vendors ( they now have bikini espresso shops - just really strange in my mind?? ). The SB shops had really poor espresso as I expected. My daughter runs a SB - says that they use full automatics because training is too much trouble. The machines do get calibrated once in a while, but my take is their espresso is not roasted right and not brewed well either - there was only one shop that made worse espresso than SB on my trip(used a very light roast) .

The shops in town don't know how to do it well - so my goal is to be able to make some good espresso at home - thus my quest. I've gotten good at home roasting for coffee (4lb BBQ setup) so this will complete my setup and is apparently feeding my OCD as well<grin>.

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xtronics (original poster)

#12: Post by xtronics (original poster) »

Ended up with a Olympia Coffex with a bad pump. The rest looks good except for the steam wand needs chrome.

This has the small 49mm head - I'm not sure if it would be worth the trouble to change out to the 54mm? - probably won't.

There used to be a way to get a bottomless portafilter - not finding any now? Any hints?

I have the skills and equipment to add a pressure gauge - is it worth it? Haven't seen this written up anywhere.

There are a couple of bits I want to get clarified:

What is 'E' in the diagram below - (I think safety relief valve? )

And I don't understand what the 3-way valve is doing - there is a waste tube - ?


I'm also thinking of removing the front plate attached to the chrome .

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#13: Post by jchung »

There used to be a way to get a bottomless portafilter - not finding any now? Any hints?
Buy an extra spouted PF and carefully cut off the bottom.

xtronics (original poster)

#14: Post by xtronics (original poster) »

A new one runs $149 - same as the bottomless. Unless you know a better place to find one?


#15: Post by Not2Bitter »

E- is a sight glass

There is an exhaust tube coming out the face plate toward the bottom. The tube looks like a "J" on your diagram

xtronics (original poster)

#16: Post by xtronics (original poster) »

Where E points ( E is the whole assembly I'm talking about the fitting at the tip of the arrow) - I'm just wondering what that fitting does. It is a brass fitting that appears to have a special purpose - I'm guessing a safety valve?

xtronics (original poster)

#17: Post by xtronics (original poster) »

I finally have this machine basically working. The first replacement pump had low output - second one works.

The new pumps come with a pressure regulator, I just used the old setup for now - I'm having problems with my test shots of espresso going to fast. Right now, I'm using a Virtuoso that really does not want to do espresso grind - which could be the problem. Could be the pressure or could be the grind? ( I have a used Mazzer mini headed this way). I did not see a flow restricter/orifice in the original set-up - It does have two one way valves after the pump.

The other problem is the portafilter doesn't want to go on - really have to push up so the ears engage. I'm thinking a old hard gasket (have a new one on the way).

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Compass Coffee

#18: Post by Compass Coffee »

Virtuoso absolutely poor grinder for espresso. Used Mazzer Mini will definitely be better. As with any used grinder burrs will likely need replacing.
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