Priority: Pre-Infusion, Flow Control or Steam Power - Page 3

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

To add to ira's comment, if you added flow control (which enables controlled preinfusion) to the open box R58, you'd have a top of the line E61 box for under $2500 (compared to MSRP of $3450). I'd want to make sure to get a full warranty, etc. Rocket is definitely one of the more attractive machines out there. I read mixed reviews on their reliability, but I am not an owner, so I can't speak firsthand.

croikee (original poster)

#22: Post by croikee (original poster) »

I could also add flow control to the Mara X for a total of about $1900 leaving me a good amount for a grinder. Thoughts?

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Auctor
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#23: Post by Auctor »

This thread is still active and is full of great insight from actual users.

Lelit MaraX

baldheadracing
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#24: Post by baldheadracing »

croikee wrote:So if I'm hearing right your recommendation would be a e61 with flow content correct? What about the Mara X with the flow control option?

I love the bezzera just seems it's limited, no pre infusion or flow control
I think that it really depends on how much of an espresso hobby you want. Let's stick to your $2500 overall budget, and new equipment. (Used equipment is a whole 'other conversation.)

For example:
Major hobby - people who want to try all different kinds of beans. No blends, not just single-origin, but single-estate/farm or even a particular plot on a farm. Expensive coffee. Micro-lots. Competition coffee. Almost always a "filter coffee" roast. Coffee generally wasted in a milk drink. Grinder price - spending $2k+ (electric) makes a difference. Espresso machine - adjustable flow and/or pressure during the pull almost a requirement, whether via a pump or a lever. However, your budget has just been blown.

Minor hobby - These people often profess to "love espresso" - perhaps like espresso in Italy; perhaps what their local third-wave cafe uses for milk drinks. Blends mostly. Typically towards the lower-price end of coffees sold by a reputable roaster, third-wave or otherwise. Coffee that people buy 5lbs at a time and freeze for daily consumption. Coffee that "punches through milk." Grinder price - $1k. Espresso machine - any of the ones that you've listed will work.

In-between - These people typically use a grinder with at least medium-sized conics (Kony-sized like the Niche) or medium-sized flat burrs (typically 64mm+). They buy a machine with whatever money is leftover, in your case preferably one that is upgradeable - because you aren't getting flow control on your budget unless you compromise on the grinder. Note that not all E-61 groups are the same, internally or externally, and so not all of them can be upgraded to flow control - although most of them can have a group head thermometer added (which you should budget for).

As for steaming and machine capacity:
- lots of people do not steam and pull at the same time, and only do one drink at a time. I'd say that is 90+% of the people here.
- some people simultaneously steam and pull two milk drinks (like what is done in a cafe), maybe once or twice a day.
- a few people love latte art and want the driest steam possible coming out in at least a 3-hole tip, and probably preferably a 4-hole.
- a few people have regular dinner parties and want to make four-six-eight drinks quickly, with some or all of them being milk drinks.
Somewhat weirdly, these characteristics do not affect price unless you want two of the above - but do affect your choice of machine.

ETA: I have never used a Mara X with or without flow control. The last Mara that I saw demonstrated/used in a store was the old Mara - maybe two versions ago? At the time it was a basic budget pressurestat E-61 HX - all I remember is that it was incredibly small, and that the Breville Dual Boiler was about the same price and better in every objective way. (I ended up with a gently-used Strega at that time.)
★ Helpful

croikee (original poster)

#25: Post by croikee (original poster) »

Auctor wrote:This thread is still active and is full of great insight from actual users.

Lelit MaraX
I've read through that thread, great info, what led me to think about the profiling kit on the Mara X.

As to major hobby or not, sure? I understand the distinction and don't know that I fall neatly into any of those categories. I was a barista for four years, it got me through Grad school. I started off at Starbucks, and hated it, because I always wanted to be more hands on, and more creative. So I switched to a roaster in Seattle and had a great trainer, good enough for me to quickly realize this isn't something you ever fully "arrive" at, always more to learn.

Do I love espresso? Is it crap or good? If I feel a cafe knows what they are doing, I'll order my mocha (because, chocolate) and a doubleshot from them just to see what they have going on. Revolution Roaster in Oceanside CA is amazing, btw. Would I drink straight espresso if I made it at home? Absolutely.

Do I love latte art? Heck yes. I love the creativity. It was a blast opening the caffe on Easter and making latte art bunnies for kids along with your basic rossetta and tulips etc.

I also tend to not go in "half way," I'll obsess and learn until I figure something out. With a family that is difficult from the time perspective, but I've missed pulling shots and making drinks since I left being a barista 7 years ago, so thats my backstory.

baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#26: Post by baldheadracing »

FWIW, here's a just-published comparison between the Elizabeth and the Mara X which you may find helpful.
[rant]As an aside, the Elizabeth does not have a "saturated group," in the sense that the group works differently from the saturated groups found in commercial machines, e.g., La Marzocco, Kees van der Westen, Slayer. AFAIK, Lelit does not call the group saturated. Other manufacturers call the group (well, a group that is remarkably similar) a "ring group" or an "integrated group." This has been beaten to death here: False claims of saturated group heads (buyers beware).

Also, stainless steel is mainly used because it is less expensive than copper and brass. Companies discovered that using cheaper stainless didn't make much of a difference in smaller service boilers if the stainless steel was wrapped in a little bit of insulation.
[/rant]

Jeff
Team HB

#27: Post by Jeff »

One of the big drivers to stainless steel is the set of EU regulations around lead content. Though typically small in older machines and minuscule in recent production, the cost of "lead-free" brass, bronze, and even copper alloys that meet EU regulations is high. It is compounded by having to reject production runs as the naturally occurring levels in the raw metals exceed the EU limits.

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luisguilherme
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#28: Post by luisguilherme »

A bit of thread hijacking, but my question is so similar that it's better to ask it here than open a new thread.

What is today the cheapest HX or DB machine that has good temperature stability and allows for manual preinfusion?

erik82

#29: Post by erik82 »

Jeff wrote:One of the big drivers to stainless steel is the set of EU regulations around lead content. Though typically small in older machines and minuscule in recent production, the cost of "lead-free" brass, bronze, and even copper alloys that meet EU regulations is high. It is compounded by having to reject production runs as the naturally occurring levels in the raw metals exceed the EU limits.
Not EU but especially US regulations as far as I'm aware of. Wouter Strietman had to modify the CT2 with a SS insert in the group for US regulations. It's fine here to sell it only brass.

baldheadracing
Supporter ♡

#30: Post by baldheadracing » replying to erik82 »

The USA and EU regs are broadly similar, but differ in what is covered and what isn't. USA regs are aimed at drinking water systems like household plumbing and water supply, but came into force earlier than the EU.

In most espresso machines - more or less those with pressurized boilers - it is the EU requirements that have added cost. In addition, there is much more paperwork as, for example, components need to be traceable.