E61 Group Espresso Machine: Is its reputation justified? - Page 3

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E61 Group Espresso Machine: Is its reputation justified?

Yes
117
69%
No
13
8%
No opinion
40
24%
 
Total votes: 170

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#21: Post by another_jim » Nov 10, 2005, 5:34 pm

Is the E61 the very best head out there -- no. Is the E61 an excellent brewhead by today's standards across the board -- yes. Is it widely and cheaply available -- yes. Is it easy for an amateur to get good shots with it -- yes. Are the two or three better brewgroups widely and cheaply available -- no. Are they easy to use -- no.

The e61 died out as a commercial brewgroup, except for some Spanish machines, by the mid-70s. It made a comeback in high end homemachines with the Giotto and Isomac A1 (the predecessor of the Zaffiro/Amica); and has been reintroduced into commercial machines since then. This is possibly due to the high scores it kept getting versus other catering/home HX machines in tests, or because the average skill level of baristas was (and probably still is) in decline.

I'm pretty sure a WBC class barista will pull better shots with a Synesso or LM; but most of us aren't WBC class baristas, nor do we have $5000 to spend on a machine. Alties who took pains and made better shots than 95% of cafes with Silvias, Gaggias, etc, and then made the switch to one of the e61 machines were pretty unanimous that the shots were better overall, more consistent overall, and easier to pull overall. So I would say that they deserve their current reputation as the brewhead of choice in home machines at this price point.

Finally, it is a beautiful brewhead that instantly communicates that its espresso will be something special; only a large lever group or the LM paddle wheel can compete in this presentation aspect. Any foodie knows that presentation really does make the dish taste better (people just pay more attention). So Italian designers are not at all crazy when they try to make eyecatching and beautiful machines; it increases the appreciation of the shot. So why not make the head a thing of beauty too? I'm sure the new return-to-the-paddlewheel LM group will have a similarly beneficial effect for their perceived shot quality, even of the physical quality of the shots are unchanged.

BTW, about the preinfusion and thermosyphon. Basically both are intended to be tunable. The gicleur and spring tension for the pressure-ramp preinfuse can be adjusted, also the levetta can be raised part way for a lever/LM style trickle preinfuse. The thermosyphon should have an adjustable restrictor. In home machines these parts are unfortunately left out.

The new LM have thermoplastic valves designed to keep the preheat of the brew boiler water at 185F. When this technology becomes more available, the thermosyphon can be set up with a valve to keep the group at 205 or so. It is rumored the new Expobars have this; but I have no confirmation on that.

User avatar
malachi

#22: Post by malachi » Nov 10, 2005, 5:40 pm

Out of curiosity, why would you want to keep the group at 205F?
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

lennoncs

#23: Post by lennoncs » Nov 10, 2005, 6:19 pm

I believe there is significant additional performance potential in the "E61" group.


Sean

User avatar
HB
Admin

#24: Post by HB » Nov 10, 2005, 6:24 pm

barry wrote:fwiw, there seems to be a common misconception that a "heat exchanger" machine is a "thermosyphon" machine. there are several heat exchanger designs in use on commercial machines which do not use a thermosyphon.
Indeed, a popular prosumer non-thermosyphon HX espresso machine that comes to mind is the Livia 90 (grouphead is bolted directly to the boiler). There are surely others.
malachi wrote:And I believe that the Amica is a thermosyphon machine that is not a HX machine - right?
Yes, as is the Expobar Brewtus and the Quick Mill Eliane.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
barry

#25: Post by barry » Nov 10, 2005, 6:31 pm

another_jim wrote:It made a comeback in high end homemachines with the Giotto and Isomac A1 (the predecessor of the Zaffiro/Amica); and has been reintroduced into commercial machines since then. This is possibly due to the high scores it kept getting versus other catering/home HX machines in tests, or because the average skill level of baristas was (and probably still is) in decline.
how well does the reintroduction of the e61 coincide with the exhaustion of the patent?

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#26: Post by another_jim » Nov 10, 2005, 6:33 pm

malachi wrote:Out of curiosity, why would you want to keep the group at 205F?
So it's just at the very top of the brew temp range (or at least the range I use - 90C to 96C). That way, I can flush down to any temp I want a bit more quickly than when it sits at around 212 (which is where it's at for my machine)

The big advantage an HX has over a double boiler in home use is that one can get the first few shots at any temperature one wants, provided the group/HX combo is overheated. The trick would be to overheat it just a smidgen, so the flushes are kept reasonably short. On the Tea it's 6 ounces down to 96, 8.5 down to 90. If the head could be kept at 96 or so; it would probably cut the flush by about 4 ounces, since the HX is quite tiny.

Some e61 style designs, notably the astra, have large heat exchangers and wide diameter pipes in the thermosyphon . This is not a good idea, since the system stores way too much heat and requires huge flushes (the astra seems to have so annoyed Greg that he first replumbed it, then bought an LM). The original E61 had a simple pipe for the heat exchanger and very short runs on the thermosyphon; the successful copies have similarly abridged HX designs and use the head for heat storage. Modern HX machines like the Rancilio or Cimbali go the other way, and gave small heads and large bladder like HXs; much of which are in the steam, rather than the water. My guess is if one compares the designs, one would find similar volumes of water overall being heated and being stored away from the heat source.

User avatar
Teme

#27: Post by Teme » Nov 10, 2005, 6:33 pm

HB wrote: Indeed, a popular prosumer non-thermosyphon HX espresso machine that comes to mind is the Livia 90 (grouphead is bolted directly to the boiler). There are surely others.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar and (at least some of) the Bezzera machines come to my mind. I think that the Livia is actually one of the Bezzera machines, just reclad in slightly prettier covers, but there are also other Bezzera models with HX, but no thermosyphon...
HB wrote: Yes, as is the Expobar Brewtus and the Quick Mill Eliane.
...and the Vibiemme Domobar, which I guess hasn't been widely available in the US.

Br,
Teme

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#28: Post by another_jim » Nov 10, 2005, 8:16 pm

barry wrote:how well does the reintroduction of the e61 coincide with the exhaustion of the patent?
According to Roger, the Futurmat Ariete's first use of the group in '67 was a patent violation. Faema then bowed to the prospect of navigating the Spanish court system (think of South America with a lot of "last of the grandees" arrogance added) and licensed the group to them. It was out of protection by the early 70s. From that point on Futurmat sold it to a lot of Spanish manufacturers, and developed the solenoid version as well which sold even better. However. Roger is not aware of any Italian machines using knockoffs in the 70s or 80s. Grimac was the first Italian company to make a copy, and use it on their catering machines. Again according to Roger, they screwed up the gicleur/preinfusion/dispersion screen on early models around 1990, making it almost impossible to control the flow and leading to a lot of quickly worn out grinders. However, recent Grimac models, like Dan's Valentina, do splendidly. At some point in the 90s, the Rossi group started making one too; and it is found on the Wega, Brasilia, and Vibiemme machines. You know Roger thinks these guys the evil empire, so his take on that head has to be taken with a grain of salt.

I'm not sure if the Vibiemme or the Giotto was the first home machine with the head; but I think the use by Pavoni and Elektra of E61 style heads post dates their introduction.

I have no clue what goes on in Italian espresso manufacturing circles; but the more I think about it, the less I believe the reuse of the E61 has much to do with perceived shot quality. They seem to take the "bad workman blames his tools" attitude on that. Machine design has gone more retro, more sculptural, all round; and the 70s and 80s two box design is going out of style. So my guess is that it may be the visuals of the E61 that is appealing to them. Why build a complicated super designed enclosure, when sticking an E61 and some curvy spouts on a simple box looks just as cool?

User avatar
AndyS

#29: Post by AndyS » Nov 10, 2005, 8:42 pm

lennoncs wrote:I believe there is significant additional performance potential in the "E61" group.
Yet another cryptic comment from the Lennon skunkworks! :-)

Surely the fact that the 3-way is integral in the E-61 group makes it a better than average basis for further work.
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

okaychatt

#30: Post by okaychatt » Nov 11, 2005, 10:44 am

HB wrote:In this case, the boiler is at brew temperature, not steam temperature
Ok. So a saturated group is found in db machines?

malachi wrote:And I believe that the Amica is a thermosyphon machine that is not a HX machine - right?
Just when I thought I'd mastered the thermosyphon as solely HX, you two come along.

Ah well - that's the way it goes. The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know.
Kay