Which espresso machine - (budget revised upward to $5500) - Page 2

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

#11: Post by gobucks »

This is quite a wide budget range! Since the Elizabeth is a machine you mentioned, I wanted to chime in and say if you are prioritizing tank like build quality, I'd probably look elsewhere. I really like my machine, and the feature set is fantastic for the price, with good interior parts, but it's significantly lighter weight than most of these other machines, and the metal casing is not super heavy duty - I've already got a small dent in mine, and when you shine a bright light on the body, you can tell that the sheet of metal is not perfectly flat, as the reflected light is a bit "wavy". The performance is great, and the vibe pump is reasonably quiet (notwithstanding some tray rattle that can be fixed with some silicone padding), but considering you can afford to spend a bit more, I think you might be disappointed with the build. The Lelit Bianca could be a higher end alternative which still comes in under budget, and has improved build quality and every feature you could possibly ask for.

Glacier21 (original poster)

#12: Post by Glacier21 (original poster) »

gobucks wrote:This is quite a wide budget range!
Yeah, I am kind of all over the place. I made a phone appt with Clive coffee today - a nifty service - and through the conversation emerged two poles...

If "super-quiet" is priority, that leads to a rotary pump and therefore a big dual boiler, and there are a few options that would fit my countertop from brands I hadn't considered. Izzo Alex Duetto, notably.

If "pretty quiet" is fine, Rancilio Silvia Pro X looks great (slight edge over Leilit Elizabeth or Ascanso Steel Duo).

And then there are lever machines... I think the depth measurements I saw for the Cremina and Profitec 800 are for the machine at max depth when the lever is held down. Not sure if this direction would get me into my convenient-enough/predictable-enough range. Aesthetically, a 40-year-old Cremina would bring me more happiness than a new shiny dual boiler. I'm lucky to have a great repair shop in town who could help rehab an eBay find.

Such great options. I may need to find a way to see and hear some machines in person.

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Team HB

#13: Post by Jeff »

I understand that the Bianca the tank can side mount, which might help the depth challenge.


#14: Post by Entreri replying to Jeff »

Jepp, it is actually a very underrated feature imo. I used to have it on the left side of the machine, but after fixing up my kitchen I wanted to move the machine; 1 minute of work and the tank was in place on the right-hand side.

Glacier21 (original poster)

#15: Post by Glacier21 (original poster) »

Happy to report I just ordered a new Cremina from Cerini. This machine was not on my radar at all prior to this thread (thank you caeffe for highlighting it and correcting my error on dimensions), but it ticks all the boxes I outlined. A useful indulgence.

I had expanded the budget to cover the Linea Mini, but in the end wasn't ready to give up on a lever.

Thanks for the tips and ideas here!

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#16: Post by Hugonl28 »

Congratulations! I see I'm too late with my 2 cents. I would have recommended the ACS Vesuvius Evo Leva. This is the most flexible machine out there right now, you can do everything with it, even more than with the Decent. Temperature control of brew boiler, steam boiler and group head, flow control (it's a lever!), a 55mm basket, so narrower, better puck integrity than 58mm, plumbed in or reservoir, brew pressure gauge, everything stainless steel, 15 minute warmup time, the list goes on. Right within your budget.


#17: Post by Mountain »

+1 for the Decent. It definitely meets many of your needs especially size and almost instant warm-up. Lots of people talk about not liking the looks of the Decent. In my experience of having a E61 with all the chrome and plumbing and knobs everywhere vs the Decent, I probably get about the same ratio of positive/negative reactions from friends. Once they see the Decent run a shot, then many of them are transfixed by the tablet showing the flow rate, pressure, weight-in-the-cup, all real-time on the tablet screen - especially my tech or coffee-geeky buds.

One thing you didn't mention is Stop-at-weight which, well - if you never had it, why would you? For me, that is one of the most wonderful things about the Decent. If you go that route, just don't buy the Decent scale, buy the Skale 2 - hit me up off-line if you have questions.

Once I dial in a bean with a profile, it is so nice to have the machine automatically stop at a set weight. Little did I realize how much this simple function would mean to me in terms of workflow and consistency. I can start a shot, walk away, do other things like get the milk out, clean up coffee grinds, etc and come back to the machine with a pull accuracy within 0.2g.

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Randy G.

#18: Post by Randy G. »

Hugonl28 wrote:I would have recommended the ACS Vesuvius Evo Leva. you can do everything with it, even more than with the Decent.
Hmmm... Please explain in detail. I do not want to be a fanboy, but that is a bold statement.
* 22nd Anniversary 2000-2022 *

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#19: Post by Hugonl28 replying to Randy G. »

Some people have moved from a Decent to the Evo Leva. Reasons being, they mainly used the 'lever' profiles on the Decent anyway, which seemed to give the best results. Only with the Evo Leva you have much higher flow rate, and once the cylinder is filled, you have a much more evenly distributed column of water available for the extraction, with a very stable temperature curve, infinite pressure profiling options and massive flow rate available (the whole water column). There's a reason people mainly try to imitate a lever machine with their Decent: it is a very good way of extracting coffee. More heat at the beginning, when the puck is cold, declining temp during extraction, same with pressure. With the Evo Leva you can control the brew temperature and the grouphead temperature, so you can make a declining temperature curve, a flat one or a rising one. You can get any flow or pressure curve you want because it's a lever. And lastly you get the 'La San Marco' grouphead and filter baskets that are deeper and narrower (55mm) than the standard 58mm, so you get better extraction, less channeling, more consistent extraction. The Decent is great for experimentation, but it's more of a 'Jack of all trades, master of none'. People find they hardly use all the different profiles and tend to use the lever profile most, but it's still not as good as an actual lever.

With the Decent you can make preset profiles, but you don't have a very good 'direct' control of flow/pressure during extraction, yes, you have the buttons for control, but not as direct as a lever. With a lever you can react very directly to any changes during extraction: you are moving the water with your hand. With the Decent you control the pump, but that is further upstream of the water path, you aren't controlling the 'water column' directly. You'll know this feeling of direct controllability, being able to react to color changes or water movement during an extraction, looking at the naked portafilter, if you have experienced a lever.

Yes, the Decent is flexible in the way that it can imitate other machines, but mostly those actual machines still produce different results. The ACS Vesuvius Evo Leva is maybe the most versatile lever machine, so it can do what the Decent can (flow/pressure/temperature profiling) but it does it better, because it's an actual lever.

There's a reason why the new profile names of the Decent are no longer the names of the machines it tries to imitate, but rather different styles of extraction. Because the real machines still do it better or different. There's more to extraction than flow/pressure/temperature, there's also mechanical properties and geometry of the water path. And of course ergonomics, user-machine interface, regarding controls of said variables.

The Decent is of course very compact for what it can do. It can heat up faster than any other machine, that's a total win. Though the Evo Leva does also heat up faster than any other lever or E61 box, because it has active heating elements in the grouphead, it's ready in around 20 minutes.

For geek factor the Decent is king, with all its parameter monitoring and the scale connection. But if you care mostly about taste, apparently a real lever, and especially the Evo Leva with its highly controllable temperature is king.