Suggestion for new espresso machine, budget around $1500

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

#1: Post by dfhkvs »

Hello all.

I have a Vibiemme Domobar Junior HX. Just over two years old. I have had the heating element burn out twice. Each time it ends up being a not-cheap repair (I am not bold enough to try replacing it myself) and the machine is out of use for 1-2 months (long waiting list at the shop). I have had helpful replies over on the repair forum about troubleshooting / testing, etc., which I really appreciate. Hard water is not the problem, and I don't pull water from the hot water wand (I understand that pulling a lot could drain boiler faster than pump can refill, potentially burning out the element).

If I am looking at an annual $150 repair (75 part, 75 labor) on a $1500 machine, I am starting to consider if I should try a different brand. That brings me here. The domobar hit a lot of what I was looking for. $1500-1800 price point, relatively compact, great aesthetics, semi-automatic, etc. I found that it was pretty consistent and reliable (well, except for the heating element). While I am not looking to be rash and go out and get a new machine, I am just curious to look around and see what else is in the same 'range' of this machine. So any personal recommendations would be really useful. I use a Eureka Mignon Silenzio grinder, which I am very happy with.

thank you,
Dave.

jayy42

#2: Post by jayy42 »

Lots of new options at the $1,500 level. What type of drinks do make and what features are most important?

Weber Workshops: tools for building better coffee
Sponsored by Weber Workshops
dfhkvs (original poster)

#3: Post by dfhkvs (original poster) »

espressos and lattes. I am really looking for something very similar to the Vibiemme, in terms of features. Perhaps the most important thing is reliability. I have never felt limited by the single boiler design, but maybe I just don't know any better. :D

User avatar
slipchuck

#4: Post by slipchuck »

dfhkvs wrote:Hello all.

I have a Vibiemme Domobar Junior HX. Just over two years old. I have had the heating element burn out twice. Each time it ends up being a not-cheap repair (I am not bold enough to try replacing it myself) and the machine is out of use for 1-2 months (long waiting list at the shop). I have had helpful replies over on the repair forum about troubleshooting / testing, etc., which I really appreciate. Hard water is not the problem, and I don't pull water from the hot water wand (I understand that pulling a lot could drain boiler faster than pump can refill, potentially burning out the element).

If I am looking at an annual $150 repair (75 part, 75 labor) on a $1500 machine, I am starting to consider if I should try a different brand. That brings me here. The domobar hit a lot of what I was looking for. $1500-1800 price point, relatively compact, great aesthetics, semi-automatic, etc. I found that it was pretty consistent and reliable (well, except for the heating element). While I am not looking to be rash and go out and get a new machine, I am just curious to look around and see what else is in the same 'range' of this machine. So any personal recommendations would be really useful. I use a Eureka Mignon Silenzio grinder, which I am very happy with.

thank you,
Dave.
I suspect you just had bad luck with the heating element.
I would get it repaired and give it another try
At $150 a year you have many more years before it will be the same cost as a new machine




Randy
“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

dfhkvs (original poster)

#5: Post by dfhkvs (original poster) »

Thank you. First time, I was like 'ok, bad heating element...it happens.' Second time has left me a bit more frustrated. You make a good point re: cost, but it is the ~2 months of no espresso machine that is the real hassle. Perhaps I should just learn to do it myself.

Dave.

randytsuch

#6: Post by randytsuch »

You should try to learn to fix yourself. See if there are any videos or guides around to help.
I just saw a pic, it looks like there is a little panel on the bottom of the machine that when removed give access to the heating element.
If you have that, it should not be that hard to replace it.

You could also buy something like a flair to make shots while your machine is down. There are little gizmos that are supposed to do a decent job making microfoam these days for lattes.
I have neither, have been thinking about getter a flair or robot but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

And did you see this recommendation:
Lastly, if the VBM espresso was sitting idle, it is possible that another appliance created a small surge to the machine. The first places to damage are the heating element, the heating element wires, the safety thermostat and/or its wires, and/or the power switch. We have seen this before on many brands. we strongly suggest a single-outlet surge suppressor rated 1080 joules or higher.

dfhkvs (original poster)

#7: Post by dfhkvs (original poster) »

Yes, there is that small access panel you describe. I believe I can get a socket through there to try and remove the element. I might need some sort of 'strap wrench' to hold the boiler still (not torque it while trying to remove the element).

I use a 'smart outlet' plug which turns on the unit every morning. I had thought it had surge protection built into it, but perhaps not. This is an interesting point. When the first element 'went bed' and was replaced, it was not obviously (visually detectable) 'blown' and there was no scale on it.

Thanks

Aida Battle: Indigo Reserve from world renowned Finca Kilimanjaro in El Salvador
Sponsored by Aida Battle
Bluenoser
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by Bluenoser »

At one time I was also only considering electric pump machines.. Since I've had a Robot, I now think that might be a option to consider.. almost nothing to break, and no maintenance.. I'd look at the Robot and the Flair Pro V2.. My Robot makes espresso as good as my HX.. When my HX dies, I'll use a Bellman Steamer or NanoFoamer for milk .. I think most of the electric machines require a bunch of attention..

blutch

#9: Post by blutch »

I'm a newbie and am reading as much as I can here before pulling the trigger on an HX - currently considering Lelit MaraX. I see a lot of recommendations for the Robot and Flair. I've watched all the videos on those too.. they seem to be fiddly in the clean up dept. (I don't have a sink next to my coffee station.) and you have to warm everything up with hot water, right? Also, I have arthritis in my hands, so I'm wondering if I have the hand strength to makes 2-3 shots in a row. Even an Aeropress with the Primsa attachment is very difficult for me. I did order the DM64 single dose grinder, but it won't be here until June. Interested in any and all comments. Thanks

MNate

#10: Post by MNate » replying to blutch »

I definitely recommend the Robot for most people as they are very easy to use, you don't have to get your grind spot on, and very very easy to maintain (something most don't realize as they get into espresso machines). No, most of us don't preheat anything in water - but yes, you do have to have a kettle of some sort to boil water for you. Some people with lighter roasts like to pour hot water in the basket, dump that, and then pour another thing of hot water, but that's really it.

As for mess and not having a sink... It's not messier than other machines but you don't have the machine itself and drip tray to rinse the portafilter with after use. But you do still have that hot water kettle - just rinse with that. And you wither need a second cup or small bowl to put under the drippy portafilter after remove your good cup. Just rinse with kettle water into that catch-bowl, wipe with a towel and you're good to go with another shot. You don't even need a knock box to get the grounds out, they fall out easily into a compost bin or whatever.

I like full on espresso machines, sure, and I have a DE1. But they are not toys or things to just buy and forget about. But the Robot (and I think Flair) can be bought, quickly used, and never worried about all while producing great espresso.