So, how important is the espresso machine?

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LG75

#1: Post by LG75 »

Hi,
Lately I start thinking replacing my espresso machine. I have a Simonelli Oscar I, in a good working condition, that served me well for the last 9 years. I added a Sirai PS and OPV to it.
Other than having a new shiny toy, is there any advantage of one espresso machine on the other?
I think that most people here would agree that coffee quality and grinder (I have the Niche) would have a crucial effect on espresso quality where the espresso machine will have a lesser effect. How lesser is the question.
Another thing to consider is ease of use, meaning a super trained barista maybe able to pull great shots from any machine on most of his shots, but are there really more forgiven easy to use machines that would allow a home barista pulling good shots more easily? For example, DB machines are easier because of the consistent temperature profile as oppose to relaying on cooling flush and pulling the shot at the "right" time on a HX. PID controlled HX may also allow a more "predictable" and constant brew temperature. As a side note, I read an article suggestion the inconsistent brew temperature of HX is an advantage flavor wise. Other than these two features, do you think that there other factors that would help me decide if an upgrade is anything other than my wish for a new toy.

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MTN Gert

#2: Post by MTN Gert »

My modified Oscar 1 was my first big boy espresso machine with lots of steam power and it make good espresso with the medium dark roasts I was drinking at the time. My opinion is that your question depends heavily on what you want improved

Temp stability
Higher volume of drinks per hour
Light roast abilities
Flow/pressure profiling
Higher power,lower moisture steam
Lower pump noise

Reliability is hard to improve. My dad and my aunt still use their Oscar's I bought for them after years of abuse.

I spent a lot of money upgrading from the Oscar to an Izzo Alex duetto IV and I was not satisfied with the temp stability on the E61 group head even though it was a dual boiler PID.

The La Spaziale Vivaldi II or Dream would be nice upgrades but you quickly get into the Linea mini, eagle one prime and GS3 to find further upgrades.

Even though it's not my cup'o'joe the DE1 has a huge and happy following

I am also a big fan of some of the lever machines like the profitec pro 800 that offer improved espresso potential, commercial level steam, manual profiling, and quiet operation

What were you looking at that gave you upgradetitus?
"Stop it....it's naughty and wrong" -James Hoffmann

walr00s
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#3: Post by walr00s »

LG75 wrote: As a side note, I read an article suggestion the inconsistent brew temperature of HX is an advantage flavor wise.
As you go up the espresso machine scale, a lot of what you're paying for is the exact opposite of this: consistency. There's no advantage to inconsistency, unless you just prefer your coffee to taste random... The other things you pay for are ease-of-use (this is where the e61 falls short, with its long heatup time and need for regular backflushing), the prestige of the label a la LM, and/or extraordinary feedback and control a la Decent...At the end of the day, an espresso machine pushes hot water through a coffee puck at high pressure. Your ability to control how it does that is pretty much all that mattered to me when I made my purchase (along with cost). I bought the cheapest machine that gave me the control I wanted. Contrary to the above poster's statement, the e61 is famous for temperate stability, you can check out /quickmill- ... eview.html to read about how stable the Alexia was back in 2007 and I'm sure that hasn't changed. There's more convenient groups for sure, but when it comes to pushing hot water through a puck of coffee, the e61 does that just fine.

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MTN Gert

#4: Post by MTN Gert »

Duetto brew boiler temp set to 207°f, shower screen water temp 188-196° measured by scace. Mid shot pid brew temp dropped from 207° to 195-198° as new water was added. Not calling E61 garbage but contrary to the prior post I would not call it stable outside of a commercial setting where both powerful boilers and higher flow of brew water keep the temp where it needs to be for "espresso" roasts. Lighter roasts and home machines are not a E61s best friend.

With the mentioned LA Spaziale(saturated group), DE1 and lever machines on the market for the same price range what is the benefit of a 60yr old E61 design besides the number of universal accessories?
"Stop it....it's naughty and wrong" -James Hoffmann

walr00s
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#5: Post by walr00s »

With the PID controller kit in the Alexia, both intrashot (temperature fluctuation within a shot) and intershot (temperature fluctuation comparing back-to-back shots) performance is excellent. Dan Kehn, who participated in the evaluation of the Alexia, commented "These are the best intershot temperature consistency measurements I have ever recorded."
From the article I linked. I do not have a scace, but with a 20s warming flush if the group has been idle for more than ~10 mins, my water comes out at 195-197 F every time I measure it with a thermometer, when set to 197 F. I did have to adjust the offset on my PID by 3 degrees (C) when I first tested. I know there's some expectation that it actually brews significantly hotter than that as pressure builds and puck resistance causes water to slow, and I'd be interested to hear about scace measurements with flow profiling and simulated high PI from someone who knows what they're doing.
MTN Gert wrote: With the mentioned LA Spaziale(saturated group), DE1 and lever machines on the market for the same price range what is the benefit of a 60yr old E61 design besides the number of universal accessories?
My Alexia with flow control cost ~1300 dollars. The ACS Minima costs about 300 more, and you can add flow control later. Which La Spaziale that offers flow control or DE1 or lever machine with robust temperature control is competitive with those prices again?

LG75 (original poster)

#6: Post by LG75 (original poster) »

The Oscar was my first espresso machine. I bought it after doing some research and deciding that it's a great value.
It still has some flows - it's the 1st gen so it's a bit ugly looking :) and a bit noisy. Quality wise I think it's quite good, but I wondering if upgrading would make a big difference.
I thought of ECM Technika or Synchronika. Or maybe save some money and go with the sister brand and take the Profitec Pro 700. The joystick option on the ECM seems very cool though. ECM/Profitec seems to be highly reviewed and it's not super expensive. Having said that, I didn't do a full research. That's why I'm here and I'm open for suggestions.
Another question - currently I will have to do some work to plumb the espresso machine. There is a good chance that it would operate on a reservoir, at least for a while. There are machines that use a rotary pump with reservoirs. However, I read some people advising against it. What do you think?

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MTN Gert

#7: Post by MTN Gert »

I thought that this conversation was about upgrading from an Oscar not downgrading to the cheapest machine that can make good espresso? My flair Neo with bottomless PF has you beat on that for $100.

La Spaziale has saturated group head, rotary pump, volumetric, commercial steam and doesn't take 40 min to heat up

The DE1 has temp stability, flow and pressure control and still steams much better than a single boiler

The Pro 800 has the ability to make incredible shots with the user being the main variable not the machines electronics /design

You prioritized budget over other pros and cons. I chose to buy everything that makes me happy with espresso but at a much higher budget. Plenty of room in the middle to pick your personal zen. E61 DB pid machines are just not my choice in a sea of options.
"Stop it....it's naughty and wrong" -James Hoffmann

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MTN Gert

#8: Post by MTN Gert »

LG75 wrote:The Oscar was my first espresso machine. I bought it after doing some research and deciding that it's a great value.
It still has some flows - it's the 1st gen so it's a bit ugly looking :) and a bit noisy. Quality wise I think it's quite good, but I wondering if upgrading would make a big difference.
I thought of ECM Technika or Synchronika. Or maybe save some money and go with the sister brand and take the Profitec Pro 700. The joystick option on the ECM seems very cool though. ECM/Profitec seems to be highly reviewed and it's not super expensive. Having said that, I didn't do a full research. That's why I'm here and I'm open for suggestions.
Another question - currently I will have to do some work to plumb the espresso machine. There is a good chance that it would operate on a reservoir, at least for a while. There are machines that use a rotary pump with reservoirs. However, I read some people advising against it. What do you think?
Many of the prosumer machines work on both plumb in or reservoir. I have never heard an issue with that feature. If you go with a plumb in only machine and run it on a remote reservoir you will need a flojet pump to bring pressure to the machine
"Stop it....it's naughty and wrong" -James Hoffmann

walr00s
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#9: Post by walr00s »

MTN Gert wrote:I thought that this conversation was about upgrading from an Oscar not downgrading to the cheapest machine that can make good espresso? My flair Neo with bottomless PF has you beat on that for $100.
Fair enough I suppose, perhaps I underestimated OP's budget. I agree that if you're spending 2k+, retail priced E61s are not offering great value relative to what's out there.

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HB
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#10: Post by HB »

MTN Gert wrote:Not calling E61 garbage but contrary to the prior post I would not call it stable outside of a commercial setting...
I prefer the term temperature reproducibility over temperature stable since some define the latter to mean a certain temperature profile shape (i.e., slant L versus humped). If a flat temperature profile is your thing, then the E61 group isn't a great fit, since it typically has a "humped" temperature profile that rises then falls versus a saturated group's slant L profile that rises and stays flat or rises slightly. I'm not aware of blind taste tests definitively demonstrating the superiority of one temperature profile shape over another.
Dan Kehn