kenyabob wrote:I currently own the ECM Classika PID. I went through a pretty similar journey as you. I started by looking at the Classika, since it was the lowest E61 machine I could find, but then thought about the 300 since it was a dual boiler. I then moved onto the 500 with PID, which was pretty new when I started shopping. Someone was actually selling a 500 (non PID) in the buy/sell forum that I also almost purchased. In the end, I found someone selling the Classika + Atom grinder purchased from clive for around 1500 dollars, and I jumped on it.
Regarding the Classika and milk drinks: The routine to go from brew mode to steam mode is about 2 minutes. The process requires that you purge water ever 20 seconds to allow empty room in the boiler to fill with steam. That process is fine enough. However, when you are done, you must refill the boiler with water from the reservoir, ideally by opening both the steam wand and the group. Clive warns (some would say too strongly), that if the boiler cools without being topped off, the gasket in the steam wand will be sucked back in, dislogding itself, from negative pressure from the cooling tank.
I dont envy your position. Id certainly suggest being patient, and I would really advise that you look for used and refurbished items. In the year that Ive owned my machine, Ive learned a lot of the realities in how I use the machine, and the maintenance involved in it. We are pretty remote, so we do entertain when people come and visit. That adds up to 20 some days a year, if that, that we all sit around casually in the morning and I have a chance to "tend bar." The other 345 days, the machine really only has to meet my needs. On those 20 days, I wish I had another machine. The other 345, Im great. As Clive pointed out in one of their videos, if you are just pulling shots/americanos, the Classika is the same internals as a Synchronika. Im also slightly happier I purchased the Classika vs the 300 now that ECM has released their flow profiling accessory. However, I think of all the ECM/Profitec stuff is amazingly built and will certainly outlast your interest in them.
Thanks for the feedback! That's the kind of in depth pros/cons I was looking for. I have a tendency to go slow on big purchases like this. I have been leaning toward grabbing up a return to Clive so I get the 3 year warranty. That way I still have some play money in my personal back account. I still have a "decent" espresso setup. I don't have buyer's regret often, and patience has served me well as far as equipping my kitchen with other equipment that is about 30% or retail. Thanks for the encouragement to cool my heels!