Converting a pourover espresso machine to direct connect

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#1: Post by LeoZ »

has anyone tried or know if the isomac direct connect system will work with the giotto? I was just on the phone with chriscoffee, about to order that new grinder and either this or the float kit. i prefer the direct connect, but they are unsure if it would work.
thanks for the help!

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#2: Post by HB »

The short answer: I've never installed any of these kits on a Giotto Premium. But I have tinkered with my own direct plumb setup and can offer some insight. With that caveat, what follows is the long answer...

Chris' Coffee sells two direct connection kits and one float kit. The two direct connection kits work essentially the same: A normally closed solenoid piggybacks on the pump terminal connectors. When the pump activates, the solenoid opens. Each kit includes a pressure regulator. Technically vibratory pumps are designed to operate with no inlet pressure, but apparently they tolerate modest pressure without long-term issues.

The float kit works like your typical toilet tank, i.e., a small float controls a valve and keeps the reservoir filled:

Image courtesy of Chris' Coffee Service (Float System)

My espresso machine wasn't direct plumbed using either of Chris' kits since it came from 1st-line, but the hookup is the same: Main water inlet -> filter system (optional) -> pressure regulator -> solenoid -> pump -> espresso machine. The rest are details about the fittings and connections. Back to your original question, will either of these kits work with your Giotto Premium? My answer is a qualified "yes". I qualify it because they are not "plug and play" solutions specifically designed for your machine. I've installed the direct connect kit for the Andreja Premium as part of its Buyer's Guide writeup:

Image courtesy of Chris' Coffee Service (Andreja Premium Direct Connect Kit)

The parts are straight from the factory and instructions are detailed and easy to follow. Chris' other direct connect kit is shown below:

Image courtesy of Chris' Coffee Service (Direct Connect System)

I've not installed one of these, but the same parts are there (solenoid, pressure regulator, fittings), simply adapted and documented for a specific group of machines. This isn't rocket science, but as you found talking to their technicians, they can't assure the kit works for your machine. I believe a competent do-it-yourself'er could adapt either of the two direct connect kits to just about any vibratory pump espresso machine. The float system depends on clearances that can make it tricky, as Dave documented in Quit Filling That Water Tank, but it would probably work well too.

Speaking hypothetically, if I were to buy one of the direct connection kits to apply to vibe espresso machine X, which would I choose? The kit designed for the Andreja Premium is a little more expensive, but includes braided stainless steel wrapped tubing, a better pressure regulator, pressure gauge, and a smart design that is nearly universal - the usual "main inlet -> pressure regulator -> solenoid" sequence ends with a barbed fitting that accepts the standard silicone tubing used as inlet hoses for every reservoir machine I've seen. You set the output pressure so low (0.5 ~bar, IIRC) that you can simply slip the pump's tank hose right onto the direct plumb barb fitting. When I was evaluating the Andreja Premium, I used the direct connect kit and switched it back and forth several times between direct and tank in less than a minute (the back shell of the Andreja has enough clearance to accommodate the fittings and solenoid while allowing enough room for the tank).

PLEASE NOTE: I'm not saying that any of these kits will work straight out of the box. I'm not saying what modifications, if any, would be necessary. I'm not saying that it would work specifically with your Giotto Premium. I am certain that Chris' Coffee will say the same thing - except more emphatically - and will add reminders that they do not give refunds on parts and will not offer free assistance. However, it's my educated guess that the Andreja Direct Connect kit could be adapted by a competent do it yourself'er with little difficulty. The Isomac Direct Connect kit could also be adapted too, but I think it would be slightly more difficult because it lacks the nifty barb fitting and pressure gauge included with the other kit.

Dan Kehn

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Team HB

#3: Post by cannonfodder »

I added the float to my Isomac; Quit Filling That Water Tank! documented the process. It served me well and the quick disconnect, move the machine and use it somewhere else in pour over mode, then back home and reconnect is wonderful.
Dave Stephens

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Compass Coffee

#4: Post by Compass Coffee replying to cannonfodder »

Did the same when I had my Silvia. Can be convenient being able to use it either auto-fill or pour over modes.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)

LeoZ (original poster)

#5: Post by LeoZ (original poster) »

Dan, excellent reply! I'll have to bookmark this now b/c it qualifies as part of my 'invaluable espresso info' bookmarks. :)

Cannonfodder, ive seen your article and its part of what inspired me. I think the draining issue actually bothers me more, but I'm guessing its going to be too big of a project to attempt so I'll either wait for a machine upgrade or till its a bit more aged.

one question for you - if you dont want to use it any more, are you stuck with leaving the float in, or can you plug the whole with standard fittings?

Anyway, I wound up ordering the toilet bowl kit. (and the new quickmill grinder..hehehehe) My reasoning is that it will be easier for me to attempt to de-calcify when the time comes, as i can just fill the tank. also didnt want to chance problems with the opv, i think that could be an issue with more pressure behind it, like dan mentioned. well, ill see how the float works. if it is a problem maybe i can recoup some money and try the direct connect. for now, its definitely a worthwhile upgrade! now its time to cut my main house pipe open and get a tee on there so i can tie into this new system. :P

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#6: Post by cannonfodder »

I have moved that machine from my kitchen to my office. I disconnected the line from the float and left it in the tank. When you fill the tank just stop short of the float (one reason I mounted it high in the tank) or fill it all the way. The float will raise as you fill it closing off the valve. I have never had it leak or drip. You could remove it and put a cap in the hole, but as I said, I just left it in.
Dave Stephens

LeoZ (original poster)

#7: Post by LeoZ (original poster) replying to cannonfodder »

did you drill a hole in the bottom of the machine to snake the hose through?

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Team HB

#8: Post by cannonfodder »

No, the Isomac Millennium has a hole out the bottom already. It was made as a pour over but with the option of a direct connect. So the plumbing holes are already there.
Dave Stephens

LeoZ (original poster)

#9: Post by LeoZ (original poster) »

just wanted to reply and close this out in case anyone is searching. float kit installed today; it went decently. the giotto seems to be made for it, there is a tab on the steel reservoir frame, and a hole at the bottom of the case for the tube. the tab didnt help much since its a small one at the top of the frame, and i needed it down another 1-2", so i removed the reservoir frame. this made the tank difficult to seat properly on the intake valve, and the only support it now has is via the rods across the top resting on the frame top. it was also hard to get the back panel on. I had to disconnect the tube from the valve outside the tank, remove the tank and the tubing, tighten the rear panel, and slip everything back in. the tank no longer removes on its own b/c of the clearance from the float kit, so the top panel has to come out with it.

looking at the guts of the machine more today, im pretty sure a direct connect kit would work just fine. its all rubber tubing, so just clamping the adapter on, if it doesnt fit, should work fine. either way, man this makes life easy :D

fyi - reduced brew pressure again, from 9 to 8 this time. THIS is where its at. zero bitterness! im surprised i had to this low, but so far, really good stuff :) i hope it doesnt get too flat. ill have to test in the morning with a fresh palate.


#10: Post by Spirit72 »

Just wanted to let everyone know that it is very easy to convert a poor over Quickmill Anita to direct connect using a Andreja Premium Direct Connect Kit.

The internals of the Quickmill Anita is very similar to the Quickmill Andreja. The only main difference is that the Andreja come with all the predrilled holes.

For my Anita I have drilled three holes:

The first hole in the back of the machine for the water supply and the solenoid valve.
The second one into the front wall.
The third one directly in front of the second hole into the drip tray.

The second and third holes are for the discharge tube that comes from the expansion valve, from its original position, in the water tank to its new location into the drip tray.

Also for the Anita there is only one magnetic float switches, so just ignore the second one shown with the Andreja.

The installation instruction that came with the Andreja kit from Chris Coffee are detailed and was very easy to follow even for my Anita.

I bought my machine in January 2008 so I don't know if there is any difference with older Anita.