Most reliable brand of espresso machines?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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#1: Post by photony83 »

Hello first post here:

prior history of coffee making are French press to aeropress to technivorm to Breville oracle. Oracle broke after 3 years (2x and replaced one with new under warranty, now out of warranty)....

Currently looking for around $3000 plus or minus a thousand

Current contenders are ECM Synchronika, Lelit Bianca, Alex Duetto IV but open to others as well.

First priority is reliability.. the Breville reliability really makes me angry.
Second: functionality, like the idea of flow control being a techogeek but willing to add on my own.

only milk based drinks.. and 95% of the time its the Costa Rican Tarrazu beans we buy as green and home roast to city+ level on a fresh roast 700.

is there a truly reliable brand among them?

- thanks in advance

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#2: Post by another_jim »

The most reliable machine is one you can fix yourself. Best is a commercial machine from a large manufacturer. Second best is a "parts bin" machine, i.e. one using standard parts, like almost all the E61s.

If you don't want to do your own repairs, buy a cheap throwaway machine; since there is no machine in this class that doesn't require routine repairs and replacements.
Jim Schulman
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#3: Post by CoffeeMac »

Welcome to HB!
another_jim wrote:The most reliable machine is one you can fix yourself.
I couldn't agree more! I might add to that a simple machine (less to break and easier to fix) with few/no custom electronic/plastic components, and a vendor that provides a parts list and ability to order any component.

I'd also point out that flow-control doesn't necessarily need to add complexity to a machine - levers have been doing flow control for decades with no electronics.
Eventually you will end up with a lever.

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#4: Post by NicoNYC »

In addition to reliability and parts availability, consider how the machine is laid out internally, as well as the process of opening the case, and what kind of access it affords.

As an example, here's a machine that's very well designed for serviceability:
Here's a similar machine from the same manufacturer, notice how removing the cover involves flipping it on its face, removing the feet, and reaching in near the boiler to access some screws. And this is still far from the worst I've seen!
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#5: Post by Kwis »

Agree with the suggestions for a machine from a large commercial manufacturer which can be serviced. I've had a NS Musica for 9 years; it's used for 4-5 mainly milk drinks 5-6 days/week. I'd like to believe that its NSF rating is an indicator of better quality components.
It was trouble free until it developed a leak a year ago. When I called the nearest repair shop they made a point of telling me that they don't work on "home machines." They are a factory authorized service center for a variety of commercial lines, including NS, and were willing to service my machine.
If I could get local service on the machines you mentioned I'd probably have gotten Synchronika by now, not because I'm unhappy with the Musica, but simply because I've had the itch to try something new.

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BaristaBoy E61
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#6: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

another_jim wrote:The most reliable machine is one you can fix yourself. Best is a commercial machine from a large manufacturer. Second best is a "parts bin" machine, i.e. one using standard parts, like almost all the E61s.


They're all good till they leak or scale up.
Guess what? They'll all leak in 'undue' time.
Use non-scaling water from the get go.

Here's a good thread to read:

Choosing an Espresso Machine Rationally
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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Randy G.
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#7: Post by Randy G. »

The most reliable espresso machine is the simplest in design and function. Assuming that you want the best tasting coffee possible, I would nominate the Olympia Cremina. New it is out of your price range, but used ones are well within. I do not remember anyone complaining about them here, they are Swiss made, and as dependable as an old Volvo. - 2000-2023 - a good run, its time is done

photony83 (original poster)
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#8: Post by photony83 (original poster) »

hey guys,

the consensus seems to be that all will break down but get one that is easy to repair.

I use a RO/DI unit bc we have well water. With the re-mineralization filter I see about 30PPM on my tds meter.. I never checked the chemical composition for figure out which elements are in the water.

Currently based on what I have read from above, I am leaning towards the ECM. as cool as that level machines are my wife will be making most of the coffees and she is probably not gonna be happy with that much work.

watching the ECM vs Lelit videos from WLL and 1st line was confusing where they went against each other.. both had good points but both are vendors trying to sell their merchandise at the end of day and not objective reviews. not much review about the Alex Duette reliability or serviceability

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#9: Post by realdoctor »

I think that people somewhat overrate ECM. They are good machines deliberately built heavy to create an impression of quality. In reality, a heavier steel case or thicker boiler wall doesn't mean much. I am not sure they are better inside than the current generation of Lelit machines. As Jim S. has remarked in his reviews, all the prosumer machines are much better built now than they were twenty years ago.

As a fan of elegantly simple technology, I am stuck on lever machines. The closest thing you will get to a trouble free machine probably is a well-restored commercial lever machine in light household use. However, make sure you get one of the ones that still has parts available and that it has been restored by one of the obsessive restorers you will find haunting H-B. The downside of those machines is size, energy usage and the amount of time it takes to warm up. If you can find a cleanly restored Conti Prestina and insulate the boiler, it will solve most of those problems.

In the end, the best advice is Jim Schulman's. Either go extremely simple and pull espresso in a Caravel or Robot or learn to work on the machine you buy. The good news is that there are more excellent machines on the market now than at any time in the last thirty years.


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#10: Post by jgood »

Another vote for E61 machines from major manufacturers -- they are pretty standard, many of the parts are common and will be available for quite a while. And also a vote to buy it from someplace with good support on the phone (assuming they're a distance away), as you'll want/need some phone tech support eventually -- perhaps also at the beginning with a few questions!
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