When is espresso equipment service no longer worthwhile?

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

#1: Post by JaBK »

Hi I'm new here. But I have enjoyed these forums for more than a decade. In fact, my first proper grinder and decent machine were informed by discussions on HB.

Now, have anyone thought about something like this?
- I seem to have fatal issues with my espresso machines every 6 years. I mean, parts needing replacement or repairs that amount to over half of what I paid for my machine. Admittedly, I have gone through 2 different generations of entry level HX machines, so once I had to pay more than 300 USD for repairs, I thought that the expense was not really worth it compared to buying a shiny new machine for not much more money.

In this day and age, I increasingly feel that re-use and repair should take priority over shiny new toys...

- So, how much have you spent on parts and maintenance on your machine over the years?

- When do you think that it is time to put the machine out to pasture, versus getting it fixed?

My first machine was a first generation Oscar, which would have needed a new boiler. It was then 7 years old. Instead, I bought a newly introduced second generation Oscar.
Both have served their purpose very well, but now I need to consider if it is worth it to fix some issues with Oscar Two. Parts are going to amount to quite a sum, relative to the cost of the machine from new.

I have loved the simplicity of both machines, and as long as I keep within "traditional" brew parameters, they have both been very satisfying in terms of espresso flavor with my Mazzer Mini.
Yes, a simple and old school setup, but I have come to terms with not having a lot of adjustment. I have a flexible setup for pour-over, which I prefer for "challenging" coffees. Espresso-based drinks are for moments of comfort without too much fuss, in my world.


User avatar
Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

Quite a few participants here have machines which they can and do service themselves. Not everyone has that ability, talent, or background that allows that. There are also some machines that are easier to service then others. A large-body, HX E-61 is one example. I suppose I should feel lucky that I can do my own diagnoses and maintenance. I actually earn $$ helping do that with their coffee roasters. I might say that next time you need help, maybe there are folks here who can assist you. Maybe it is a matter of maintenance. For example, was it scale buildup that caused the problem? Maybe we can help with preventative maintenance as well? Just a thought.

It would be interesting to hear about your specific experiences in terms of needing repair. The Oscar boiler, for example. What happened that it needed to be replaced in just seven years?
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JaBK (original poster)

#3: Post by JaBK (original poster) »

Thanks Randy G.

Oscar 1 was sort of a rookie issue, I guess. That machine had no valve to prevent milk from being sucked up through the steam wand and into the boiler. Which is of course what happened to me, and with time we had the stench of sour, cooked milk fill the kitchen when steaming. I was told by respected local tech that the boiler was not serviceable (apparently not built for descaling either?), so a replacement was needed.

The second generation Oscar is going in for a check this weekend. Last year he got a new 16bar "OPV", or rather, that should be "emergency pressure valve", and had his solenoid cleaned out. That cost 140 USD with labor here in Denmark.
Then ... Last week, turning on the pump to brew espresso, I noticed lack of brew pressure, unusual sound from the pump (not stalling, rather pumping at low "speed") and a sub-standard double shot. There was some faint steam coming up the back of the machine (where the water reservoir sits).
... Going out for a drive, and returning a couple hours later, a pool of water (75 cm wide, 50 cm deep) on the countertop had leaked out of Oscar 2.
The local tech said that they need to get it in to look over causes of the leak and any resultant issues.
I don't see myself having the time or patience to do diagnostics myself anytime soon.
I guess there is still hope for the young Oscar? He's only just turned 6 y.o. after all...

ANYWAY: Enough about me (for now) how do other HB'ers consider sustainable consumption Vs repair cost Vs component quality Vs machine price?

User avatar
BaristaBoy E61

#4: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I would say that if you're capable of fixing your own equipment your best first move is the repair of the machine you have and see where you go from there. After the machine is back up and running you'd be in a better place or position to judge as to whether or not to keep or sell your machine. Should you decide to sell your machine you will certainly get a better price for it if it's working properly. That increase in resale value can be put into a new machine should you so desire.

Every machine will sooner or later require service, maintenance or repairs. A new machine certainly buys more time with regards to the next service interval but sooner or later you'll likely be back in the same position. However, as the saying goes, new broom always sweeps better.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"