Breville Dual Boiler (BDB), the end of the line?

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pcrussell50

Postby pcrussell50 » Jan 22, 2018, 2:34 pm

Welp... Darn. Something I had been fearing since the beginning of this, "pinch me, is this real?" journey looks like it might actually be happening. I say, "pinch me, is this real?" because GS/3 temperature performance, with stainless boilers, groups, and portafilters, at 1/5 the cost was (and still is) utterly unheard of. Immediately, the detractors started telling us that Breville is a home appliance company and the BDB "will not be user serviceable". Of course, since it is assembled by hand, it is completely and utterly user serviceable. But the detractors were not totally wrong. While it is pretty straightforward to repair, availability of parts could most certainly be an issue. Up until now though, it has not been a large issue, because over time, we discovered that the common wear items, o-rings, solenoids, and steam ball valves, are readily available, even if not from Breville themselves.

Up until now... because it looks like the end of the road for the steam ball valve availability.* And the steam ball valve is one of the regular wear items that needs periodic replacement. Now, having said that, it is a virtual certainty that the ball valve itself is actually not a custom Breville part, and the world is awash in all manner of ball valves that will do the job. So keeping the BDB going is not going to fail for lack of a steam ball valve, but...

...here is the part that worries me most...
There has not been a new BDB since the 920 was introduced around 2014. Late 2011 gave us the 900. Late 2012 gave us the 900/B, which had the 920 brew group, (or rather, the 920 has the 900/B brew group). And sometime in late 2013 or early 2014 came the 920. Those dates may not be exact, but the point is, there has not been anything new in the BDB series (beside the Oracle), for nearly four years now. On the one hand, maybe that means they got it to the level of optimization they wanted. On the other hand maybe it means they are winding the BDB program down to eventually cancel it. I have a serious concern that it is the latter. And besides the lack of anything new since 2014, another reason I think so, is the discontinuation of common maintenance replacement items, in this case the steam ball valve.

*I will grant the possibility that Breville has cut ties with the original ball valve supplier, and the interruption in supply of them is related to the logistical headache of switching suppliers. But in the absence of any supporting messages (which I do not expect), this remains for us long-term users, a worry about Breville's future plans for the BDB.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

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SonVolt

Postby SonVolt » Jan 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

The BDB is priced too high to catch many impulse buys from coffee fans and it's too expensive to be much of a gift option. That puts its target demographic squarely into the espresso enthusiast category where form factor, build quality and COO start to become more important. I wouldn't be surprised if Breville scraps the line. The ones I've personally seen in Williams & Sonoma looked like very nice machines, albeit plastic, if I were paying $500 tops.

Abecker

Postby Abecker » Jan 22, 2018, 3:21 pm

I was wondering if they were going to do the same to the BDB that they did to the Infuser and Oracle and add the touch screen controls to it.

sluflyer06

Postby sluflyer06 » Jan 22, 2018, 3:33 pm

I think something to consider (and you halfway got there in your post) is that possibly...The unit is performing as well as Breville wants it to be and they don't see a need to continue sinking R&D into it AND why should they come out with new models? Who is competing with them? If nobody is challenging your position in the market why sink a bunch of money into fixing what isn't broken?

People are unlikely in this product category to be lured into yearly replacements because of small new features or visual tweaks that would come with a annual product cycle. BDB is likely a cash cow for them at this point so then you only need to worry about will they just milk it until it dies or will they eventually develop a new model?

*sigh*

Postby *sigh* » Jan 22, 2018, 3:33 pm

pcrussell50 wrote:...here is the part that worries me most...
There has not been a new BDB since the 920 was introduced around 2014. Late 2011 gave us the 900. Late 2012 gave us the 900/B, which had the 920 brew group, (or rather, the 920 has the 900/B brew group). And sometime in late 2013 or early 2014 came the 920. Those dates may not be exact, but the point is, there has not been anything new in the BDB series (beside the Oracle), for nearly four years now. On the one hand, maybe that means they got it to the level of optimization they wanted. On the other hand maybe it means they are winding the BDB program down to eventually cancel it. I have a serious concern that it is the latter. And besides the lack of anything new since 2014, another reason I think so, is the discontinuation of common maintenance replacement items, in this case the steam ball valve.

Yeah, I've had those same fears.

They definitely have made some semi significant changes during the life of the 920xl though. For example, I had my machine replaced a few months back due to some corrosion issues on the grouphead, and the group head itself (especially around the area that holds the grouphead gasket) was pretty heavily redesigned, presumably to make it easier to maintain that piece. So there have been some big changes in the last year or two since I received my original.

Breville's definitely still dumping money into the specialty coffee game, even just with their coffee thinkers group and trying to get input from Baristas. There's definitely a lot of unknowns for Breville but I can't imagine they're done with the BDB just yet.

pcrussell50

Postby pcrussell50 » Jan 22, 2018, 3:56 pm

SonVolt wrote:The BDB is priced too high to catch many impulse buys from coffee fans and it's too expensive to be much of a gift option. That puts its target demographic squarely into the espresso enthusiast category where form factor, build quality and COO start to become more important. I wouldn't be surprised if Breville scraps the line. The ones I've personally seen in Williams & Sonoma looked like very nice machines, albeit plastic, if I were paying $500 tops.


Don't know anything about the COO, except that the current COO, who I had never heard of, didn't come on the property until the BDB had already been out for five years. Build quality turns out to be about like anything else out there... Periodic replacement of o-rings and other seals. There is a remarkably near zero record of actual hard parts failure outside the service life of easily replaceable seals. Even as the myth of non-serviceablity prevails, the real ace up it's sleeve is performance: If temperature stability and taste in the cup trump all else, it cannot be beaten without many times the cost. With that, your statement that it ought to be half again it's current price when nothing can touch it for four times the price, needs fleshing out.

Nevertheless, your post probably says a lot about why the BDB has not taken off in the enthusiast community... If it were widely known that it was durable and eminently repairable, and can't be touched in the cup until you start approaching four times the price, one wonders where it would stand in the market?

ETA: Great input, Anthony and Nick. That was exactly the kind of analysis I was seeking.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

Bret

Postby Bret » Jan 22, 2018, 4:53 pm

How often do other brands' machine get updates? Maybe Breville has updated more, less, or about as often?

icantroast

Postby icantroast » Jan 23, 2018, 12:50 am

I just wish they looked more like a traditional machine. I'd for sure get one then.

pcrussell50

Postby pcrussell50 » replying to icantroast » Jan 23, 2018, 4:06 am

For me, cosmetics does not outweigh performance. I had been into espresso for years before I got the BDB, and could no longer tolerate anything but saturated brew group temperature performance. I was about to get a GS/3... But I just couldn't quite get myself to do it without at least trying at the BDB, which had just equalled it in terms of temperature performance. I had no idea the BDB would last so long as it does, and be so easy for DIY repairs. I thought it would be just the opposite. It's durability and ease of repair was a pleasant bonus. As with you, I would prefer a different look, but I have no room in my preferences to sacrifice performance for looks. Performance is first, last and always.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

BaristaBob

Postby BaristaBob » Jan 23, 2018, 8:14 am

Hi Peter, I understand your fear and feel it too. I too could purchase a LM GS3 but such a dollar layout in totally unnecessary with the BDB. I have an Aussie son-in-law and we visit them in Sydney as much as we can. Matter of fact it's Sydney that expanded my love of coffee to the point of purchasing the BDB over the NS Oscar two years back. My hope is that Breville's development philosophy will take a more European bent than American exploitation. In America we tear down 20 year old sports stadiums, in Europe they look at 1000 year old stadiums as practically new. Maybe the 920XL is in for the long haul. As for parts, it just seems that Breville takes their good old time refilling the parts bins from time to time. At least that's my thoughts. Albeit, you could be right as well...I surely hope not. :|
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."