Most reliable brand of espresso machines? - Page 6

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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#51: Post by mrgnomer »

bostonbuzz wrote:I've had my Bezzera Strega HX for 8.5 years and had the following issues:

- Squeaky lever seals, greased seals once.
- The steam valve leaked a bit while steaming - replaced O-ring.
- The hot water tap would drip sometimes - replaced O-ring.
- Boiler pressure dropped a bit - turns out the gauge is getting a bit old, might replace it soon.

Add this list to no backflushing ever and never descaling and it's a great machine. I just did some heavy modifications and all the parts are 1/8" NPT and a pleasure to work on, no funky plumbing or electrical connectors. I'd assume their pump machines are the same. I think they're a bit late to the game on the latest pump machines, however.
+1 on Bezzera. Never considered a Bezzera, thinking their machines were odd looking, until I looked into spring levers. The Strega checked my boxes and after looking into Bezzera found them to be a solid company. They've been around for a long time, make their own parts and assemble in house. That's a plus for quality control, IMHO. The Strega isn't fancy and is hands on but it's solid and engineered to pull good shots. Bezzera's other machines look solid and while some designs and common parts seem to overlap I think they do it to keep costs down on manufacturing and servicing without sacrificing quality.
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professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love

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#52: Post by expresso77 »

i had two lelits anna - one is 11 years old and still going - handed down years ago - 2nd i just handed down - 6 years - never had issues with any of them -

since i need a new one now - long story i am with out one now - i am going with the barezza unica - simple single boiler

just waiting because a new updated is coming soon - bummer i dont like buttons though on some of these newer units - feel cheap to me - no feed back click -

want to try a E61 - add flow control later on - check out barezza

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#53: Post by grim99 »

I have an ECM Synchronika and a year in, it's a beast. I think it's hard to go wrong with a lot of the machines in your price range really. Whole Latte Love has a lot of service videos for the ECM machines on their site that is super helpful too.

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#54: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

My advice would be to not choose a design that has a pump/motor or electronics beneath boilers without proper shielding. That's a garbage design - regardless who the manufacturer is, IMPO!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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#55: Post by expresso77 »

I went with the Bezzera Unica - i have it about close to a month now - my First E61 - i love it - so far cant complain - i have the flow control kit arriving next week - no rush to install it - i will wait till i need to grease it - take it apart for that - and then install it - i also want to get to get used it without the flow control - then i can have something else to tinker with later -

i seen enough videos on how to grease it - take it apart - etc, most concerned about scratching it etc, have to be careful but other than that - seems fine doing - i will see how long it takes before i have to do my first cleaning - i was hoping a yearly thing -

i like the look of bezzera and the history of the brand company - the Unica being around for over a decade is a good sign of its simple effective design - its very simple inside - not much in there - compared to some other larger machines - i only use it for espresso shots - i did milk just once to try it - but its easier to just heat it on the stove the milk - use a frother and done -

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#56: Post by BaristaMcBob »

Perhaps "reliable" is not the right feature.

Most home machines all use the same vibratory pump. They're either an ULKA or OLAB brand pump. They have a certain lifespan, and will eventually stop working. Mine lasted 7 years. Then the replacement lasted two years (though that was my fault - long story).

Regardless of the brand, switches break. Light bulbs burn out.

Espresso machines have rubber o-rings, gaskets, and seals. Eventually those dry out and need to be replaced.

Fancy machines have CPUs, motherboards, display panels, etc. Electronic components do not fare well in high temperature environments.

Scale is the real culprit. Hard water will cause scale which will destroy any brand machine if not serviced properly.

Reliability and maintenance are two sides of the same coin. Either way, you'll have to ship the machine back for service or you'll have to get some tools and do it yourself. Most good brands machines will probably last 10 years with just routine descaling.

People say that the E61 brew group is the most reliable. I completely disagree. It has many moving parts, springs, cam, lever, seals, etc. All those moving parts get gunked with coffee oils and reside. Every few years, it requires a complete rebuild to restore the smooth lever action. So, yes, it's reliable in the sense that it won't break. But it's not "reliable" in the sense that you don't have to use tools on it.

I contrast that with the Bezzera BZ group head. There are no moving parts. It maintains proper temperature with two electric heating elements. So I would say that the BZ group is way more reliable AND requires less maintenance.

So, if your top criteria is the most reliable machine, then I recommend buying a machine from a dealer which offers the most convenient service.

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#57: Post by BaristaMcBob »

Get some Knipex pliers. They won't scratch chrome. But if it makes you feel better, you can use the optional clip-on jaw protectors.

Check out these part numbers
86-03-180 This is the 7-1/4" size. Note, the "old version" opens to 35mm but does not accept the jaw protector. The new version opens to 40mm and DOES accept the jaw protectors.

Model 86-xx-250 is the 10" size. It opens to 52mm and takes the jaw protectors. You need this size to use on the E61 mushroom. The smaller Knipex (180) won't open wide enough for the mushroom. ... to_dp&th=1

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#58: Post by ira »

Those Knipex pliers are seriously wonderful, as it turns out most of their pliers are.

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#59: Post by Bluenoser »

Yeah.. went the $3k route .. Profitec HX design.. You really won't know what you are getting into until a few years down the road.. Some things I learned.. water is the most important.. ideally you use distilled with Potassium something.. which doesn't produce scale. I used Third Wave additives in RO but still got lots of scale. Don't use plated mushrooms but solid stainless. European builds are okay.. but often they don't upgrade the wiring for the fact that in NAmerica we need twice as much current thru those wires.

New designs all have bugs, so you need to be willing to do repairs.. My Solid State Relay went within 6 mo. (Profitec) because they mounted it on the boiler and wondered why it died of thermal overload.

I'm not really into espresso machines as hobbies.. I just want coffee.. , (even though I'm an engineer), so I use a robot. I only make a few espressos a day, and medium roast level. My $3k HX design is now my steamer. I still don't think it takes $3k-6k to heat 2 oz water to 200F at 9bar.. With a robot, I can manipulate the pressure myself to get any profile I wish. I can't control the water temp and that is only downside.. but will last forever, with the odd gasket. No water chemistry set needed.

Something like the Argo looks like a great solution, but he has taken way too many years to get to where he is now. But might be on my list for something that can steam and pull shots.

If I were going electric again, I'd probably just look at a good single boiler, unless you do 5 + shots a day.

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#60: Post by JordanK »

BaristaMcBob wrote: Model 86-xx-250 is the 10" size. It opens to 52mm and takes the jaw protectors. You need this size to use on the E61 mushroom. The smaller Knipex (180) won't open wide enough for the mushroom.
Actually I just tested my brand new pair of the 180mm ones (7 1/4") and it works perfectly on my mushroom. See this thread with photos I just posted this morning...
Ring spanner vs. adjustable wrench covered with tape

But regardless, yes, an outstanding tool! And the protectors are definitely a good idea.