Why not double boiler with PID?

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

#1: Post by Steelman »

if you are going to spend $1,700 plus for a machine why would you not spend a few dollars more and go with a double boiler with a PID? It seems that so many of the espressos beans are requiring specific temperatures to bring out there nuances. Am I off base on this one? Why surf when you can get it dialed in to the the exact temperature.

Thanks,

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

People who have tried a wide variety of different espresso blends and SOs on a wide variety of machines are rarely glib about what will and what won't bring out the nuances. However, I think all or almost all the people in this position agree that a rock solid grinder combined with accurate dosing and packing are more important than how the water gets heated.

Personally, I'd prefer a Robur and 1/10th gram scale combined with a basic HX machine to a GS3 combined with a basic grinder like a Mini for just about any espresso blend that has nuances.
Jim Schulman

Steelman

#3: Post by Steelman »

Jim,

I get that it's about the grinder, not everyone is going to spend $3,000 on a grinder and then get a $1,500 HX machine. I felt that my question was a valid one for people like myself looking at the many options available for a machine.

Ben Z.

#4: Post by Ben Z. »

Steelman wrote:if you are going to spend $1,700 plus for a machine why would you not spend a few dollars more and go with a double boiler with a PID? It seems that so many of the espressos beans are requiring specific temperatures to bring out there nuances. Am I off base on this one? Why surf when you can get it dialed in to the the exact temperature.

Thanks,
What PID DB machine looks as nice and with similar build quality as a good $1700 HX for only a few dollars more?

zin1953

#5: Post by zin1953 »

Steelman wrote:if you are going to spend $1,700 plus for a machine why would you not spend a few dollars more and go with a double boiler with a PID? It seems that so many of the espressos beans are requiring specific temperatures to bring out there nuances. Am I off base on this one? Why surf when you can get it dialed in to the the exact temperature.
Doug, are you asking why you've done a lot of research, or are you asking why anyone would "bother" (my choice of words; not yours) with an HX machine when they could have a DB?

Why does someone choose to drive a Corvette when they could drive an Ferrari? Why does someone choose to drive a Cadillac when they could drive a Mercedes-Benz? Why does someone choose to drive automatic when they could drive a stick? Why -- well, you get the point . . .

I have two setups -- one at home, and one in my office.

Home:

Elektra Sixties T1 (plumbed-in HX), Mahlkönig K30 Vario, and Baratza Vario grinders.

Office:

Ala di Vittoria La Valentina (pourover HX), Cimbali Max Hybrid and Nuova Simonelli MCI grinders.

So, instead of
Steelman wrote: . . . spend(ing) $3,000 on a grinder and then get a $1,500 HX machine.
I did it the otherway 'round, at least on the home setup.

The serious point here is that there is no "right" answer, no "one-size-fits-all." Does a DB make great espresso? Potentially, sure. Does an HX make great espresso? Potentially, sure it does. But it is not the machine; it is not the grinder; it's the person operating the equipment and pulling the shots that's crucial!

As I've said before, I've yet to taste the difference between a great shot pulled on a DB and a great shot pulled on an HX. They are both great shots. Period.

Each type of machine has its advantages and its disadvantages, just like, say, the difference between driving a stick vs. an automatic.

And besides, some people actually prefer a stick . . .

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

Steelman

#6: Post by Steelman »

Ben Z. wrote:What PID DB machine looks as nice and with similar build quality as a good $1700 HX for only a few dollars more?
I was thinking about the Alex Duetto which is about $400.00 more.

geoffbeier

#7: Post by geoffbeier »

Steelman wrote:I felt that my question was a valid one for people like myself looking at the many options available for a machine.
Maybe if I paraphrase your question and his answer as I understood them it'll sound clearer?

You asked: Why would anyone spend $X on an HX instead of $X+some on a PID'd DB?

Jim answered: Because the grinder is more important and you'll get better espresso if you add the +some into your grinder budget than if you put it into a higher priced machine.

What grinder are you considering to go with your machine? And what $1700HX versus what "+a few dollars more" DB/PID machines are you considering? These details might change the answer.

djmonkeyhater

#8: Post by djmonkeyhater »

Maybe the thread starter can give some more context as to his situation?

Are you asking that if we only consider the brewing device, independent of your experience/bean choice/desired end product/palate and supporting brewing equipment, is spending more on a commonly desirable technology better than not? i.e. - if a 2.1 GHz processor is good, why wouldn't 2.2 GHz be better? Why wouldn't the answer be yes?

If there is some other consideration or constraint, then ROI and how to make a selective spend can be more interesting discussions for the group.

Otherwise, I say why not?

If you are feeling really super technical, you could get a Scace pressure/temperature device and the lowest end E61 machine (Expobar Office Lever +/-) instead of the PID'ed double boiler machine. That would be about $1800.

WES

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ailevin

#9: Post by ailevin »

Doug,

I have been asking myself that same question for the past week or two. I recently ordered an HX machine, so let me explain why. I've been using a Rocky/Silvia combination for about ten years, and I added PID about five years ago. Last December I upgraded my grinder from Rocky to Macap 4, and I got a 0.1g scale and a bottomless portafilter.

I discovered that I was much more limited by my dosing/distribution technique, and my ability to adjust the grind, than I was by the temperature stability of my Silvia. After a month or so of puttering, I seemed to have much more control over these variables and could really explore dose/grind. I was drinking much more espresso vice milk drinks, and for the first time I could really tune what sort of shots I was pulling. In addition, I was finally able to consistently taste the difference of cranking my PID a couple degrees cooler or hotter.

Now back to your question and my recent answer to it. I narrowed it down to the Quickmill Vetrano (HX), and the La Spaziale Vivaldi II (DB PID) which was about $500 more. I expected I would eventually consistently pull better shots with either machine than I do now with my Silvia. I thought the Vetrano was a good buy, but the Vivaldi was well worth the additional money; cost/value were not deciding factors for me. I chose the Vetrano because I wanted to play with an E61 machine--the more manual operation, the different techniques to get different extraction profiles, the geeky digital group thermometer attachment all appealed to me. It seemed like the next logical step in a process of exploration that I have enjoyed for years now. I may end up with a Vivaldi II or something like it one day, but right now I had little urge to leap there.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

Alan

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Randy G.

#10: Post by Randy G. »

Steelman wrote:Jim,
I get that it's about the grinder, not everyone is going to spend $3,000 on a grinder and then get a $1,500 HX machine
A well designed HX machine will out-perform a poorly designed DB machine. A well designed DB machine will outperform a poorly designed HX machine. One technology does not make a machine necessarily superior to another. You can't just ask about "spending a bit more," and figure that it will be superior just because it has two boilers instead of one. What about, "...if you are going to spend $1,700 plus for a machine why would you not spend a few dollars more and go with.." a better HX machine? How about finding specific examples of the machines you are considering and starting a conversation along that comparison?
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