Espresso Machines & Copper

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epsilonix

#1: Post by epsilonix »

I have a question that I've spent a while researching to no avail, and I would be grateful for anyone's thoughts.

Recently, I started a first-time quest for a prosumer espresso machine. Because of a specific medical issue, I'm worried about copper intake. I went with a large and reputable dealer (who were very helpful) that suggested the Profitec 500 PID, thanks to its stainless steel boiler and mushroom. They assured me that water never contacts copper within the machine.

I know that these days some espresso machine manufacturers coat the copper boilers (usually with T.E.A.), so I assumed that must've been the case with the copper piping, but the photos of replacement parts make it look like the inside of the copper tubes has no coating. We reached out to Profitec, and they said there isn't coating inside the pipes - water does indeed touch copper directly.

Should I be worried about copper leaching, and does anyone know if there are any machines in which the tubes are coated to prevent copper leaching? I know of at least one machine with stainless steel tubing (M&V Vesuvius) - it's expensive, but health comes first I suppose. I appreciate any insight!

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TomC
Team HB

#2: Post by TomC »

Between source to tap, I wouldn't be surprised if your water already passes through copper at some point.
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Marmot

#3: Post by Marmot »

I'm hesitant to give you any advice since I don't know your condition. But as far as I know copper should build a protective layer which saves it from losing material. The problem is when you descale the machine too vigorously or if you use very soft water which tends to take on material from the metals inside the machine. So I would watch out to use normal water and certainly not distilled water. In your case it might even be better to get a used machine since those will have built up a layer on the copper parts.

Another option would be to get a Breville or Sage Dual Boiler which has steel boilers and teflon tubing. I'm not 100% sure but I think there is no copper in that machine. Plus the Breville beats a lot of other machines with its features and performance. The drawbacks are the design (if you don't like it) and maybe longevity. But the one I have has never come up with any problems other than having to change the pump after about 6 years which will happen on any vibration pump machine.

Smo

#4: Post by Smo »

Someone here recently was very worried about the Teflon tubing....

luvmy40

#5: Post by luvmy40 replying to Smo »

This has been talked about more than once here.

I am not an expert on PTFE or even a chemist, but I have looked into this on several occasions.

PTFE has been found to be safe for human consumption, unlike PFOA which is actually toxic. The PTFE can release noxious fumes at temperatures higher than 400 deg. F, but so do most cooking oils. PTFE is still not great for frying pans but is not an issue in our espresso machines that never get anywhere near 400 deg. F.

Smo

#6: Post by Smo »

And I mean too. Roasting coffee beans is harmful ...

Capuchin Monk

#7: Post by Capuchin Monk »

Our water line in the house is copper. The benefit is that germs can't grow due to its antimicrobial property.

DaveC

#8: Post by DaveC »

epsilonix wrote:I know that these days some espresso machine manufacturers coat the copper boilers (usually with T.E.A.), so I assumed that must've been the case with the copper piping, but the photos of replacement parts make it look like the inside of the copper tubes has no coating. We reached out to Profitec, and they said there isn't coating inside the pipes - water does indeed touch copper directly.

Should I be worried about copper leaching, and does anyone know if there are any machines in which the tubes are coated to prevent copper leaching? I know of at least one machine with stainless steel tubing (M&V Vesuvius) - it's expensive, but health comes first I suppose. I appreciate any insight!
I know of no manufacturers that coat the copper pipes internally, and I've seen a lot of machines. There are some ( I personally only know of one) machines, where you can get a steel pipe option. The ACS Vesuvius used to do/may still do it and I think Chris Coffee has em. Then everything is stainless pipes, stainless boilers. Heating element is Copper...I don't know if there is an Incolloy 800 option that can be fitted.

The only machine I know of the Vesuvius you mentioned and even then you still have a copper heating element. The stainless pipes were intended more as a show-piece for those who wanted to pay for them. If the health problem is such that stainless must be used, then it's probably your best bet.

The only other option..."might" be to ask the factory ACS if they can make you an Evo with stainless pipes where copper is used, as the boilers are stainless, the heating elements are Incolloy 800 and the custom LSM style group has a stainless piston, stainless steel spring and stainless steel bore liner within the Brass group.There are a few PTFE pipes....so then you have an almost complete stainless brew path.

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cafeIKE
Supporter ❤

#9: Post by cafeIKE »

epsilonix wrote:Because of a specific medical issue, I'm worried about copper intake.
Sam, your profile at right indicates Profitec 500 PID. You could take water samples from the tap, from the group and from the steam boiler and have them analyzed to determine leaching.

DO NOT mark the samples with other than 0,1,2 or A,B,C and you keep a record so you can read the reports.

epsilonix (original poster)

#10: Post by epsilonix (original poster) »

Hey everyone, thank you for the kind and helpful replies. I recognize that questions about PTFE/Lead get asked here often, but I had trouble finding information regarding copper (and to be fair, copper is generally not an issue outside of certain medical conditions). So I do very much appreciate the insight.

Marmot, totally hear you that the Breville Dual Boiler is worth a second look. I agree that at espresso machine temperatures teflon should be safe.

DaveC, agree that the Vesuvius is enticing, but the copper heating element might be a downside as it is the hottest component. I'll give ACS a call - if there's a way to swap the heating element for an SS one, it could be a home run.

cafeIKE, have ordered a water sample test kit that should hopefully get here soon.

My concern with the Profitec 500 is that water spends most of the time in the copper heat exchanger where things can get pretty hot. Does anyone think I'd see any benefit in returning the 500 for the 600? I recognize the tubes are still copper, but the water would be sitting in an SS boiler (with SS heating element) rather than a copper HX. Very open to anyone's suggestions for other machines too :)