Upgrade-itus Guilt: Did I make a mistake buying an Expobar Brewtus?

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

#1: Post by Randii »

I feel like I've done the wrong thing! I decided to upgrade from Silvia to a Expobar Brewtus. I have only had the Silvia for just a little over a month, and I have been making good progress with my espresso on her. I was looking into PID'ing Silvia, when I started thinking about where I was going to put the PID. I have very limited space in my kitchen and I couldn't mount the PID to either side and still keep the grinder and tamping space on the counter. I also thought I might start constantly blowing fuses if I plugged another thing into that one outlet. (My house is a rental, it is old and has screw in socket fuses!)

Anyway, I started thinking that maybe it would be better to upgrade to a better machine now - like most Silvia users end up doing - than to spend the $300 - $370 on a PID kit. I wanted a machine with temperature stability and built in temperature settings. So I ordered the Brewtus.

Now, I keep reading complaints like, " it's cheaply made", "it's too loud, it doesn't have a rotary pump" (but neither does Silvia ?!), "the flavor profile of the beans isn't complex enough because the temperature is too stable", "you could get a better extraction on an HX machine" etc. I don't see these kinds of comments on the Brewtus users group forums. They all seem to like their machines. Nobody talks this way about the Vivaldi II, but I don't have space for it and I can't plumb it in!

Should I just cancel my order and PID the Silvia? Did I make a mistake? Or is everybody just bashing the Brewtus because most people use HX machines, and nobody is familiar with this machine? I read the Buyers Guide, and it seemed like a good choice. Should I just stop reading the forums? I am an extremely frustrated newbie. :cry:

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

The Brewtus makes slightly better straight shots than the standard E61 box. The difference will be more marked for a relative beginner.
Jim Schulman

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Niko

#3: Post by Niko »

Yeah, that damn Vivaldi! I hate it so much I bought two.
...oops, wrong thing to say, I supposed to bash it.

There's nothing wrong with the Brewtus II, I'd keep the order if I were you. You already stated the reasons why you can't fit and plumb a machine in your kitchen and you sound so pleased with the Silvia, the Brewtus II is only going to be better (PID'd or not) who cares? It's like turbo charging a Yugo when compared to the Brewt :lol:
I have a HX, nothing wrong with a loud vibe pump, it's music to my ears knowing that a nice shot will hit my lips soon! It's like a muscle car idling in the driveway, if you don't like the sound then you shouldn't be driving it :wink:
As far as temp being too stable is a ridiculous thing to say especially when people are PID'ing machines to achieve that.

keepitsimple

#4: Post by keepitsimple »

Hi.

If the comments you are reading come from people who either own or have intensively and impartially tested the Brewtus, then I'd pay them some attention. If they haven't, I wouldn't.

I haven't used/examined a Brewtus closely, and have only limited experience of other price comparative machines, having owned only one "prosumer" (hate that word, but it's useful shorthand) HX machine in the past. So read the rest couple of paragraphs bearing that in mind :!:

The Brewtus is possibly not up to commercial build standards, but you do seem to get a lot for your money. Its noise/build quality probably isn't that much different from some other brand machines in the same price category. The La Spaziale S1 is quite a bit more expensive (over here anyway) - and there are probably fewer users to comment. There is, however, an S1 forum. I can't remember the url - but if you search on here I'm sure you'll find it if you are interested to see user experience of that machine as a comparison. If I were in the market for a second domestic size double boiler machine, it is probably what I'd go for, but I can and would want to plumb in, and as you say, that isn't viable for you.

Noise is very common from vibe pumps, and from what one reads on forums, seems to occur sometimes even in machines considered to be at the top end of build quality with a premium price to match. Often it is not a serious problem, and there's a very simple solution, such as moving a bit of pipe rattling against something else.

As to whether a stable intra-shot temperature makes a better shot or the "humped" temperature is better (if that is what you're referring to) - that will never be agreed upon as it's simply a matter of taste.

It's a bit like the war between two countries in Gulliver's travels, fought over which end you should break into a soft boiled egg.... :wink:

It's always good to canvass informed opinion, but sometimes you just gotta spend the money to find out if you bought the right product for you.

Hope that's the way it works out. If it were me, I'd stick with the order.

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Ardvaark

#5: Post by Ardvaark »

There is a fairly active Brewtus users group over on Google Groups.

http://groups.google.com/group/brewtus

Anything you could ever want to do to your Brewtus or Brewtus II has probably already been done by somebody over there.

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Niko

#6: Post by Niko »

keepitsimple wrote:There is, however, an S1 forum. I can't remember the url - but if you search on here I'm sure you'll find it if you are interested to see user experience of that machine as a comparison.
http://s1cafe.com/wforum/

I've also heard (this may be a rumor) that La Spaziale is looking to release a non-plumbed version of the machine here in the States but it's only a single boiler unit. Size-wise the Vivaldi isn't a huge machine, it's a little wider than an average HX and a bit shorter in height.

keepitsimple

#7: Post by keepitsimple »

Niko wrote: I've also heard (this may be a rumor) that La Spaziale is looking to release a non-plumbed version of the machine here in the States but it's only a single boiler unit. Size-wise the Vivaldi isn't a huge machine, it's a little wider than an average HX and a bit shorter in height.
A tanked version of the Si Vivaldi is advertised as available in Europe - known as the "S1 mini"at a lower price than the existing S1 Vivaldi. It is still a double boiler machine according to the spec, but tank fed according to this supplier

http://www.hasbean.co.uk/product_info.p ... cts_id=911

It would be interesting to know how they've managed to squeeze a tank in there as well as 2 boilers. Don't know whether it is a rotary pump or not, but the lower price leads me to think not.

There is/was another S1 - Rossini which looked like the S1 Vivaldi, but seemingly a single boiler machine, so rather a different animal under the skin I guess. Confusingly, the LaSpaziale.com website doesn't list a tanked version of the Vivaldi, but does show the Rossini still as a current product. It comments on the brew boiler (apparently the same size as the Vivaldi) but says nothing about steam production.

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keepitsimple

#8: Post by keepitsimple »

To follow up the last post - An owner in the UK has confirmed that it is indeed a double boiler, tanked version of the Vivaldi S1, but with a vibe pump substituted for the rotary.

Sounds like a real competitor to the Brewtus for those who cannot plumb in but want a double boiler machine. There aren't many others I know of on the market except in much higher price brackets.

Probably awaiting a 110v version and/or some sort of certification before going on sale in N.America.

Randii - Might change my advice in the light of this information, and postpone a new purchase until the availability of this in the N.America is established. Don't know if it would be within your budget, and you commented on a shortage of space, but I'm sure I'd measure..re-measure and possibly reorganise to see if I could make this machine one to consider.

Richard

#9: Post by Richard »

keepitsimple wrote:Probably awaiting a 110v version and/or some sort of certification before going on sale in N.America.
Soon. Very, very soon, I was recently told by the vendor-to-be.
-- Richard

Dogshot

#10: Post by Dogshot »

After owning my BII for 20 months, I suggest that you keep the order. I suspect that you will be delighted with it very shortly after receiving it.

The nice thing about the Brewtus is that is does what it is supposed to do. You set a temperature on the control, and it brews coffee at that temp. If you change the temperature, you can taste the change in your espresso. If you leave the temp at the same setting, you should get consistent results between shots (assuming your technique allows). The Brewtus comes with everything you need (except grinder, coffee, tamper, & water) to dial in any coffee. Here's what I do:

1) Use the supplied scale to measure out 15gm (or whatever your preference) of coffee in your double basket. I find that the Expobar baskets are easiest around 15gm, so that is my starting point. Use your tamp technique (I use the WDT) and adjust your grinder until you are getting shot volumes around 1.25-2oz in 25-35 seconds (from pump engagement).

2) Play with the temperature. Is the espresso sour? Increase temp. Bitter? Decrease temp.

3) Play with dose. Is the espresso harsh? Dose down. Flat? Dose up.

4) Play with volume. I fine tune the 2 previous until I am pretty happy, then I move on to volume changes to see if there is any change in body, sweetness, or the interplay of the flavours in the cup.

The beauty of the Brewtus is that by being able to isolate the temp variable so easily, the others are more easily observed and played with as well. I just had a gorgeous PNG at 1.25oz, 90C, and 14.5 gms. Most of my coffees fall between 90-93 on my machine, and 13.5 - 16gms for my tastes. I'm sure that you too will soon have a library of favourite blends/SOs.

Steaming is a piece of cake with the 1-hole tip, although it is slow. If your order has not shipped, ask WLL to throw in the 2-hole tip as well. For an extra $9, the 2-hole tip is much more difficult, but also much faster. The two tips can be swapped out in about 30 seconds, so you can use the tips that best serves your needs.

The only shortcoming on the Brewtus that I have noticed is that if you want to steam while brewing, you have to learn when to start steaming during the shot so that the steam boiler refill does not activate and interrupt the shot. Others have noted that the Brewtus is not great at fast back-to-back shot making, as it tends to overshoot the temp. I cannot brew that fast, and I make one drink at a time (rather than steaming for a bunch of drinks at once), so I have never outrun my Brewtus.

Enjoy!

Mark
LMWDP #106