Owner experience with Bezzera Strega - Page 140

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?

#1391: Post by old_bear »

another_jim wrote:People buying things get way to hung up on minor features. The manometer on the Bianca is part of a now standard retrofit for E61 groups that gives flow control. Any double boiler E61 can be kitted out with one. The Bianca is a very nice machine; but hte others are good too. The Strega uses the pump to fill the group prior to the shot. It also gives the possibility of ramping up the pressure higher than on most levers for the preinfusion. This too is just another feature -- you can take any spring lever, let it engage, and hold it still, to stop the flow and to get a higher pressure preinfusion (depending on how far you let it rise).

In the end, all the "feature-noise" aside, the flow control E61s are a more convenient way to get shots like a well tuned commercial lever machine. The Bianca or any paddle E61 DB is more convenient; the Strega or any commercial lever is more fun (and will attract a way bigger crowd if you have parties). Take your pick.
I do understand why my questions may sound irritatingly feature-digging. The problem I have is that the only way to try something is to purchase - and it will generally be difficult to replace it quickly (no real market to sell used here). Hence, I am trying to understand as much as I can theoretically.
The reason I mentioned Bianca is that it was extensively compared with Strega - and it does stand out from other E61 by (AFAIK) having not just a shorter range, but also quicker gain (ECM flow control seems to have more turn for the same flow change) - I consider that an ergonomic advantage. Otherwise I'd be primarily looking at ECM Puristika - but it costs almost the same.

Still. Lever seems more attractive aesthetically, and it does have more mechanics than electronics, and it will be only me drinking it, deep in the woods (and I don't need that milk thing). So, considering little experience, I was wondering if the manometer on Strega would make it much easier to learn.

I suppose I will have to post a holistic enquiry describing the context, preferences and options to fill the remaining gaps.

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Team HB

#1392: Post by another_jim »

You have more fine control with the Bianca.

If you are just starting out; most of your learning will be about puck prep, picking the right does and grind, etc. Your most important purchases will be a good grinder, especially one that has a large adjustment range for small changes of flow, a bottomless portafilter, and a scale.

Either machine will make learning easier, since you will be able to save gushing shots reducing the pressure, and overly tight shots by letting the preinfusion run until you see dripping. Either way, you get much more information looking at the flow than looking at the pressure. The Bianca comes with a bottomless PF, while the Strega needs a custom ordered one.
Jim Schulman


#1393: Post by old_bear »

Well, I am not completely starting out. A grinder is a separate tale, but much simpler.

So, I have this Sage/Breville Barista Touch smart watch with embedded espresso maker, and I did my years of tears with puck prep and all. I think I have made maximum of it with all possible extras (apart from changing the shower screen) - and I am literally hitting the glass ceiling.
For the dark roasts I can make something acceptable with what I have - but I have to order beans from Finland. All local roasters make very light stuff that just gives acid, no matter what I do. Maybe you heard of Tim Wendleboe - a typical example. But that stuff tastes really well in brewed coffee, so I want it drinkable in espresso format. Besides, BT is not the very stable thing, even with the very limited control (on-off with fixed "preinfusion").

Now, understanding the theory, I have a good idea of what I want to get - which is control of all stages since the portafilter is in the group head, and I only have yield. Without hands-on experience, it feels more comfortable to see the measurements along the way, which screams for E61 with flow control.

Yet levers are just so attractive, and also much simpler - I would really like to try that.
Something more hardcore (like Europiccola) is available, but this feels a bit unsafe for the cats. Strega (and possibly, Profitec 800 if I am lucky) are the only home-safe options I found for reasonable price. From what I understand now (which may be bullsh**), Strega with a group pressure gauge seems almost a no-brainer. That's roughly where I am coming from.

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#1394: Post by another_jim »

Got it.

You're not going to get any joy doing Wendelboe's coffees on a La Pavoni; unless you stabilize the group head temperature. Either machine will do OK, since you can grind very fine and preinfuse for a long time, which is the key for pulling Nordic roasts. Both machines have groups that will stay within a few C for even one minute long shots.

The sweet spot on these coffees is very small; so perfectionist types who pull them all the time go to something like the Decent or a saturated group machine, both of which are more stable and adjustable for temperature. But if like me and many others, you use several coffees, and want to get them dialed in well after one or two shots, both these machines will do the trick. I get good shots from Wendelboe's coffees, but not the life changing, angels singing experience the espresso gamers on an easter egg hunt claim they will eventually get, someday soon, when they finally play their perfect shot.
Jim Schulman


#1395: Post by old_bear » replying to another_jim »

With all respect to the breakthrough of Decent, this is something I definitely not want. I have too many screens and buttons in my life. I want tangible mechanics. Even a pump is unfortunate. The only thing I can easily tolerate is a PID, but it is a simple, humble thing, in some respects more natural then a thermostat.

Sorry for being annoying. I tried to examine Strega drawings to see if a pressure gauge can be fit somewhere, and it does not look promising: messing with the piston does not seem wise, drilling the group head body even less so. Perhaps a force piezoelectric sensor in the shaft may be an option, but that will require recalculation to show on an analogue gauge as pressure.
Another way would be to feed a manometer into the pump line, after the check valve. The more I think of it, the more attractive it seems. May be better than a dimmer on the pump.

Regarding preinfusion of light roasts. Do I get it right that the trick is to stop the pump in the right moment, and then wait due time (possibly very slowly moving the lever up to maintain the pressure)?

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#1396: Post by okmed »

old_bear wrote: Regarding preinfusion of light roasts. Do I get it right that the trick is to stop the pump in the right moment, and then wait due time (possibly very slowly moving the lever up to maintain the pressure)?

There are many ways to skin this cat. I have my Strega plumbed in and have the pressure regulator set to about 2 bar. I also have a switch in series with the pump. I pull the lever down and with the pump switched off wait for the 2 bar pre-infusion to saturate the puck. When I see drops forming on the bottom of the basket I can then switch the pump on to bring the pressure up to about 11 bar and release the piston or just release the piston and let the spring do all the work. pressure profile then depends on where the lever grabs hold, which depends on where you have the pressure regulator set.


#1397: Post by lienemann »

Can I ask what gram amount you prefer to use with the stock Strega portafilter basket(s)?

I'm still not quite clear if I should dose for a traditional Italian-style extraction or go for a more modern dose (eg. 18g and up) on those levers.

Team HB

#1398: Post by baldheadracing » replying to lienemann »

Depending on market, etc., the Strega shipped with either a 12g, a 14g, or a 16g double basket. The part # and nominal capacity may be embossed on the outside of the basket:

5471021.01 12g
5471026.01 14g
5471035 16g

When I use the stock 14g I'll dose 13g-16g, but usually 14g.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada


#1399: Post by lienemann »

Thank you for the basket numbers.

That's very interesting. So, mine came with the 5471021.01 12g double basket but I can dose easily 16g into it. It just seems larger than just 12 g!

The other double basket that came with it doesn't seem to be one of the stock baskets. It doesn't have any codes or part numbers on the outside and looks like 20g basket. It's huge.

Team HB

#1400: Post by baldheadracing »

lienemann wrote:...So, mine came with the 5471021.01 12g double basket but I can dose easily 16g into it. It just seems larger than just 12 g! ...
The basket "sizes" are just a guide. A popular basket in the USA for some coffees/machines is the EPNW HQ14 basket, which people often dose 18g of coffee in, even though it is nominally 14g. The ridgeless version of that basket is about the same shape and size as Bezzera's 14g basket.

I like to keep the coffee depth low enough so that coffee doesn't come in contact with the shower screen when the puck expands during extraction, so I stick to the lower end of doses. That makes for an easy-to-knock-out puck and greatly reduces the coffee grounds that make their way onto and up past the shower screen.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada