Newbie asks: How to choose an espresso machine? - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
Tia93 (original poster)

#11: Post by Tia93 (original poster) »

pacificmanitou wrote:You could do the SJ carrier mod pretty cheaply and get much more grinder for a little expense.
Is that possibile? I thought that SJ burrs could be installed on Mazzer Mini Es. I'll look online about it, thanks a lot.


#12: Post by pacificmanitou »

It can be done. I think you either have to tap different holes in the carrier or replace it with the SJ carrier. One of the two or both. Search the forum, I know there are instructions here.
LMWDP #366

Tia93 (original poster)

#13: Post by Tia93 (original poster) » replying to pacificmanitou »

I saw two threads. In one, they say "Machine two centered rings" and then they give further instructions. I couldn't really find in an online dictionary machine as a verb, so can you tell me what it means in that sentence? The drilling part scares me a little bit, actually.


#14: Post by BuckleyT »


Make sure your automatic switch is rated to tolerate the current that your machine's heater will pull. Most timers are not rated high enough.
My switch is for our 125 volt USA supply. It says that it is rated for 15 amps, 1875 watts for a resistive load (ie, a heater element), but only 8 amps/1000 watts for a tungsten lamp or fluorescent ballast. Buy your machine first. If you choose a high wattage boiler, you will have to look more carefully for an appropriate timer switch.


Tia93 (original poster)

#15: Post by Tia93 (original poster) »

Thanks BuckleyT, I'll look info that (I previously posted a random one that I found in a 1 sec. search on Amazon).

Another question for everyone: has yet to be built the HX that doesn't need flushing after being idle? 'Cause I went to a reseller today to see the Carisma and he did not fluss it, he just flussed a few ounces for getting the grouphead at the right temperature and made coffee. It looked pretty good, but I didn't taste it (the excuse was that ne had just cleant it and the coffee would noto ne drinkable). Am I making a fuss out of nothing, he's using the HX as any normal person would (so, not a Barista) or else? I appriciate any thoughs on that. Thank you.


#16: Post by LukeFlynn »

The Mazzer Mini is a decent grinder, I have a Super Jolly and I'm sure a mini with SJ burrs would be rock solid! As far as espresso machines, If you have the financial ability I would recommend you skip single boilers all together. I started on a single boiler (Rancilio Silvia W/Pid) and I didn't start getting good results until the last two months I had it even with the pid. Maybe you should see if they would let you pull shots on their different machines so you can get a feel for what you want.

Tia93 (original poster)

#17: Post by Tia93 (original poster) » replying to LukeFlynn »

Single boiler leaves out the HX, right? 'Cause I'm oriented on the Carisma right now, that is a HX. I'm also waiting for a call from Izzo's seller for Duetto, but I ain't dure that'll happen soon.

User avatar

#18: Post by boar_d_laze »

  • SBDU (single boiler, dual use, and aka aka "single boiler") -- One tank/boiler is used for both brewing and steaming. One of the many weaknesses inherent to the SBDU is the amount of time it takes to transition between steaming and boiling.

    Concurring with the other advice in this thread, don't buy one.
  • HYBRID -- A brew tank is used to for brew water, and a thermoblock for steam. There aren't many hybrids around, but most of them use PIDs to control brew temp and steam production. They are, by and large, weak steamers -- adequate only if you don't use much steam. Also, by and large, they have rather limited production capacity. The Quick Mill Silvano is one of the stronger hybrids.

    You can do better.
  • HX ("heat exchanger) -- Some of the plumbing used to bring brew water from the source is heated by the brew boiler. In other words, heat is "exchanged" between the brew and steam circuits. Because the steam boiler is much hotter than brew water should be, and because the brew water in the HX eventually stabilizes at or near steam boiler temperature, the brew water and group must be "temped," by a user-timed "cooling flush."

    Responding to your question directly: An HX is not an SBDU.
  • DB (double boiler) -- The brew tank and steam boiler are separate, each with its own coil, and are independently controlled for temperature (usually by a PID). Once the appropriate temperature for a given bean is dialed in, a DB requires very little temperature regulation on the part of its user. Prosumer quality DBs don't require more than a brief "warming flush after a long idle. E61 groups require longer and more frequent warming flushes than saturated groups -- but they're not different enough to be a big deal.

    DBs are very popular in North America for the extra convenience and the emotional assurance regarding temping they offer compared to HXs. However a DB is no better in the cup than an HX.
  • E-61 -- The E-61 is the most popular group for prosumer HX and DBs. It's a good group; but don't overrate it as so many people do. It's not magic. Faema brought the first E-61 to market in 1961. Since then they have licensed other manufacturers to build the same design, while continuing to make them themselves which they either use for a few of their own machines (not many anymore), or sell to other espresso machine makers. The Faema built E-61 is a solid E-61, more massive than some -- but again, it's not magic.

    Up until about five years ago, the E-61 was one of the more temp stable groups on the market, but since the advent of low mass independently heated groups and temp saturated groups (only on BDs) that's no longer true. E-61s were designed to perform "passive preinfusion." By today's standards, passive preinfusion is rudimentary; but in my opinion, better than no preinfusion at all.

    The primary value of the E-61 to manufacturers and users is not absolute performance, but performance for price. There are a couple of exceptions, but not many makers use them for high-end commercial machines anymore.
  • COMPACT PROSUMER HXs and the FAEMA CARISMA -- The Faema Carisma is a compact, reservoir fed, vibratory pump, prosumer HX with a semiautomatic E-61, with a shiny, rectangular, stainless steel housing. It's one of the better of its class, which includes but is not limited to models from Bezzera, Expobar, Isomac, Izzo, LeLit, Profitec, Quick Mill and VBM.

    Because they're "compact" they have narrow chassis, and small boilers. Compared to full size machines, their compact size makes them a bit cramped to use, and imposes some limits on their capacity. However, with the right grinder, good beans, and good skills, a barista can pull a great shot from a compact HX.

    As compact, prosumer E61 HXs go, the Faema Carisma has some nice touches, and at 28cm wide, is barely compact (although it's 1.4L boiler says it is). Be aware that the PID/digital display does NOT assist with temping shots. As with all prosumer HXs you're stuck with timing your cooling flushes by palate.

    Here in the US, the Faema is worth its money compared to the competition. But I don't know the Italian market and can't offer an informed opinion regrading comparative values.
  • CARISMA vs DUETTO -- The Faema's not a bad choice for you. Not bad at all. Overall, I think the Duetto is a better machine. Not because it makes better coffee, but because it's quieter, has plumb-in capability and is 8cm wider.
pacificmanitou wrote:[Exchanging stock Mini burrs with SJ burrs] can be done. I think you either have to tap different holes in the carrier or replace it with the SJ carrier. One of the two or both. Search the forum, I know there are instructions here.
Brandon ("pacificmanitou") is mistaken regarding what's necessary to replace the stock Mini E burrs with SJ burrs. Unscrew the old ones, clean everything, screw in the new ones. No modification necessary. Here's a link to a Youtube video which might be of help.

The swap is a big improvement as the SJ burrs are more aggressive than the stock burrs. That is, cut more and crush less than the stock burrs, and are also faster. Caveat: Don't use oily beans, and keep your grinder clean. The Mini motor has marginal torque for the SJ burrs, and you don't want to handicap it anymore than you must.

Good luck,
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator


#19: Post by LukeFlynn »

I think the Duetto is more balanced looking personally, the faema looks kind of odd, but that's just my opinion. Word on the street is the Rockets are nice too. Honestly though, I agree with a majority of people as far as in the cup performance.. it's not really something you have to worry about in this range of machines.

Tia93 (original poster)

#20: Post by Tia93 (original poster) »

Thanks a lot for your kind explanation and for the suggestions. I consider, as LukeFlynn, the Faema kind of odd, so it won't be my first choice if I found something better. E.g., I'm deeply in love with VBM, but I ain't sure which of the three prosumer they make is correct for me. Would be the Domobar Junior to be in the same class as the Carisma? Maybe for future upgrade I could consider the super, use it with tank, and then plumb it in when it'll be time. I'm waiting for a response from Rocket's sales just to have an idea of the price of their HXs (the R58 looks gorgeous, but I'd like to stick with a HX for now). So, CARISMA vs DUETTO (you mean the DB, right?) vs DOMOBAR (the one that fits the competition, not sure which one though)? When you say that the E61 has good performance for price, what's the next step? What has the best performance no matter the price?
Thank you again.