My first espresso machine - Page 3

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

#21: Post by rbax238 »

I bought/received our P500 HX + Flow Control in Oct'21. Here's some salient points I've learned since purchase:

Many (modern) HX vendors are putting flow restrictors in their machines now in order to minimize the effect of that first cooling flush. My P500 is marketed as "not requiring a flush at all." Indeed I have pulled some shots without a flush and it works "ok". However, I don't believe the flush doesn't remove some overly-hot water and I want to use that to pre-heat my cup anyway. Just looking at the water that comes out in the first 5 seconds (after a 30 minute warm up) you can see that it is different. So I'm not impressed by this marketing.

Disastrously, this flow restrictor significantly impedes the machine from recovering the heat lost in the brewhead that goes into your espresso cup. Others have written (here) extensively that the P500 cannot keep up its heat when pouring multiple shots. (It's just physics). Thus I fail to appreciate what the HX vendors think they're achieving. Of course, I don't pull multiple shots at once. So for me this is not a dis-benefit.

The Large Dual Boilers, like the P600, can maintain their heat better and are the choice if you wish to entertain 6+ people with drinks. There is a significant price bump for this, but if you can afford it, then this is the choice. IMO the only reason to get a HX is cost/price savings.

I don't know about other people but I always preheat my HX machine for 30 minutes, use a 5 second flush, and make my espresso, americano, or cappuccino at the same rate, and I only make 1 or 2 drinks, and always use the Flow Control, so my HX machine makes wonderful drinks for me consistently. If I win the lottery I'll buy a Decent De1pro, but otherwise I don't need anything more.

However my machine also came with Flow Control ("FC") and I'm wild about this. You gots to get this (unless you care more for simplicity of workflow then profiling coffee flavour). FC is used to reduce the pressure/water-flow-rate at the beginning of your shot (aka "pre-infusion") and to simulate the waning pressure/flow at the end of the shot like lever machines do. IMO the up-front "pre-infusion" tricks account for about 80% of the flavour modification that you can achieve. There are a zillion videos and columns written on this and there's plenty to learn. However, you can always limit the flow, when dialing in or one-off'ing a change in dose, should you find it running too fast. I've saved many a potentially-spoiled drink with my FC (hey, it's good enough even when "wrong" in a milk drink). Another example is that I've been experimenting with a lower-pressure shot - like a 6bar shot, instead of 8 or 9. My machine is config'd by the vendor to produce 10bars in the boiler and 9bars in the brewhead. Some, like youtuber James Hoffmann, are adamant that the brewhead is to be at 8bars and the boiler at 9bars. Okay, so I turned back my FC and... well... yeah, I agree with him, it makes a tastier shot - and I didn't have to reconfigure my OPV to get that.

So that's my plug for getting a FC on your machine - you'll need to factor that into the price. Get a HX if you're not serving lots of people and you don't want to spend (a lot more) on a Dual Boiler; otherwise get the P600 with FC (you can thank me later).