What E61 & grinder would you buy for <$2K?

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

#1: Post by mtnwoman »

I have read forums, web sites and reviews until my head is spinning. What I really want to hear is actual experiences (good or bad)! I'm considering the Expobar Brewtus II (though I am quite put out with WLL and their unresponsiveness to my request for a quote), the Giotto Premium, Volante and Andreja Premium. But, hey, I'm flexible. Also looking at either the Macap or Mazzer Mini. My only concern about an HX is the temp control issues, as I doubt I'll put the kind of time into it to become a true home-barista, but I'm willing to give it a reasonable shot (no pun intended).

This will be my first (and only) espresso machine. We primarily drink latte and the kids love steamed flavored milk. We're also big on hot tea, so we want a hot water dispenser, too. We are building a new house which will have a dedicated espresso bar with direct plumbing and plenty of power, but that's another 2 yrs. away, and I would like to start using the machine now. I do have 20 amp in my current kitchen and no overhead cabinet issues. I'd like a machine that can handle parties with as many as 8 guests, but for the most part it'll just be 2-4 users.

I TRULY appreciate any guidance ya'll can offer to this newbie...

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HB
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#2: Post by HB »

The Brewtus is currently selling for $1699. Adding in a Mazzer Mini / Macap and accessories will top $2K. That said, Abe's review was very favorable and I agree with his conclusion:
The key words in the "Brewtus advantage" are: ease, consistency, and repeatability. In testing the Brewtus temperature control, I tried to answer two questions: Does it deliver the brew temperature that its digital controller displays, and can it do it repeatedly with no fuss? The answer is a confident yes. However, there is room for more refinement in the Brewtus temperature selection, since some demanding home baristas may find the 1°C increments (about 1.8°F) to be too wide for their preferred coffees.
I've not checked out the "redesigned" Brewtus, which sports new gauges, easier brew pressure adjustment, the no-burn steam arms seen on the Quickmill Andreja Premium / Vetrano, ECM Giotto Premium, et al. If you are willing to spend a little time learning about HX temperature management, then your other choices come into play. Personally I enjoy using both types of espresso machines (dual boiler and HXs), but some find the lack of a temperature display disquieting.

(My hope is that a cheap kit similar to Eric's E61 thermocouple adaptor will hit the market and reduce the learning curve to near zero, if only so we can argue about something other than the valor of almost idiot-proof temperature management. ;-))
mtnwoman wrote:We are building a new house which will have a dedicated espresso bar with direct plumbing and plenty of power, but that's another 2 yrs. away, and I would like to start using the machine now.
I'm a big fan of direct plumb espresso machines for convenience and rotary pumps for quiet operation, but that again pushes the price up.
Dan Kehn

dk

#3: Post by dk »

mtnwoman wrote:We are building a new house which will have a dedicated espresso bar with direct plumbing and plenty of power, but that's another 2 yrs. away, and I would like to start using the machine now.
If you are building a house in 2 years why not purchase the best grinder you possibly can like a Cimbali, Mazzer Electronic, or the Versalab which is supposed to be the penultimate grinder on the market and priced accordingly.
Once you decide on the grinder that you want than use the rest of the money towards a machine, even if you resell your machine in two years when you have your espresso bar built in to the house (nice feature!!), at that point purchase your ultimate espresso machine with a direct hook-up, besides you may have more options in a couple of years.

My 2 cents.
"Does the Sun Come up before that Doppio, I think not"

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Kristi

#4: Post by Kristi »

Kris

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woodchuck

#5: Post by woodchuck »

I'm with Dan on this one. Like yourself I have been looking for a new machine for a couple of months now. I have had the good fortune to try out a few machines. The more I look at them the more a rotary and plumbed in machine appeals to me. If you are building in a bar then I would definitely consider it. I am currently leaning towards the La Spaz S1 and a Macap M4 stepless. Needs a bit of DIY to plumb the tray but dual boiler, rotary and $1800 for the machine is hard to beat. As far as I know the Brewtus now comes with a plumb in kit as well.

mtnwoman

#6: Post by mtnwoman »

Thanks so much to all who have responded.

I did contact Chris at Chriscoffee today and discussed my various options. He seems quite knowledgable about these machines. From what I have read and learned, and after talking to Chris, I think the rotary pump with direct plumbing is the way to go. (I can use a pump until the house is built.) So it looks like that narrows it down to the Vetrano or the Bricoletta. As to the grinder, it sure sounds like the Macap stepless is the way to go. If anyone has any comments/suggestions regarding any of these machines, I'd appreciate hearing them.

Chris did make an interesting point about the double boiler configuration that I had never thought of. He said that the dbl. boiler config. is using water from the boiler to make the espresso, and that water may be days old (due to the size of the boiler vs. the water held in a HX line.)

Lots to think about.

Dogshot

#7: Post by Dogshot »

mtnwoman wrote:Chris did make an interesting point about the double boiler configuration that I had never thought of. He said that the dbl. boiler config. is using water from the boiler to make the espresso, and that water may be days old (due to the size of the boiler vs. the water held in a HX line.)
The Brewtus is the only machine that Chris' Coffee cannot replicate with their current lineup (ie. there is no direct competitor - the S1 is also a DB, but different in several meaningful ways, including a comparatively small brew boiler). His comment, therefore, does not apply to anything in his inventory, but does apply uniquely to the Brewtus (oh yeah, and the current line-up of Synessos, LM Lineas, and the GS3).

Putting sales tactics aside for a moment, I think that with warming the grouphead, brewing, and rinsing, it is pretty easy to replenish the better part of a DB's brew boiler over the course of a day. Also, I believe the stale water in a DB brew boiler issue was discussed a while ago on CG, and no one stepped forward with actual comments about noticing espresso quality suffering from the water sitting in a DB's brew boiler.

Mark (who owns a Brewtus II and is obviously sensitive about sales-biased Brewtus pot-shots)

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woodchuck

#8: Post by woodchuck »

I think the brew boiler for the S1 is only 0.45 liters. It wouldn't take much to flush that out during the course of a days operation.

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HB
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#9: Post by HB »

Dogshot wrote:Putting sales tactics aside for a moment, I think that with warming the grouphead, brewing, and rinsing, it is pretty easy to replenish the better part of a DB's brew boiler over the course of a day.
I like the idea of the unquestionably fresh water that HXs offer, but I never noticed the effects of so-called "stale" water from the Brewtus. Not that I specifically looked for it either. I meant to simply draw a cup of mid-day water through the group for a quick taste test, but forgot. :oops:

A few times I tried intentionally "refreshing" most of the boiler, but got impatient because of the requisite pauses (most vibratory pump specifications recommend no more than one minute continuous operation followed by one minute rest). According to the Ulka website's performance numbers, a model E5 moves 650cc / minute at zero bar. There's some resistance from the gicleur, but in theory you could replenish about 1/3 the boiler in one continuous run.

That said, I bet Expobar's choice of equi-sized boilers had more to do with simplifying their parts supply than performance necessity.
Dan Kehn

mtnwoman

#10: Post by mtnwoman »

I appreciate the input on the Expobar. I am trying to run what I hear through the "sales pitch filter." This morning I spoke to 1st-line about the Volante and the Vibiemme Domobar Super. As to the esthetics, the Domobar has my vote hands down! Unfortunately, 1st doesn't have them in yet so I don't have many specifics or specs...but I think I may wait until they get their shipment in a few weeks as the machine is quite stunning.

I'm starting to think that a lot of the decision may be based on looks...as they all seem to function quite well and in a similar fashion.