Some thoughts on heat exchanger vs. double boiler espresso machines - Page 3

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#21: Post by HB »

shadowfax wrote:9.5 vs. 8.5 is hardly crushing, especially considering that the reviews were conducted by 2 different people.
To clarify, I authored the original and "rode shotgun" on Ian's update to it. Since we live in nearby cities (Raleigh, Cary) and see each other at Counter Culture almost every week, it wasn't difficult to assure that the scores were consistent. Lino bought the evaluation model and lives 45 minutes away, so we could revisit the review in the unlikely event that it should be necessary.
Dan Kehn

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#22: Post by shadowfax »

Dan, if you feel like revisiting it, I won't stop you. :mrgreen: I didn't mean the comment as a criticism of the HB review process, which I think is the best out there for espresso machines. I am just referring to the inherent shortcomings of ratings and comparing them. While I don't disagree with their basic accuracy, I think that comparing the 2 scores and concluding that one machine was "crushed" lacks perspective. Still, since you partook in each review I suppose I should retract my suggestion that part of this issue is the result of different reviewers.
Nicholas Lundgaard

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#23: Post by JohnB. »

shadowfax wrote: Moreover, you're guilty of nitpicking positive points for your Vivaldi (P/I + improved temp control adds half a point to the exceptional espresso score), yet you claim the Vetrano only received a 7.5 Morning After score, which is not the whole truth:

9.5 vs. 8.5 is hardly crushing, especially considering that the reviews were conducted by 2 different people. Not to say that I think that they are on par in terms of ease of use: no one even suggested that. But I'm exceedingly confused by the remarks you've made about how John W. needs to get P/I and note that he has an older Vivaldi. What is really the point? John W. is not criticizing the Vivaldi, he's comparing the two machines' "personalities" and trying to explain them.
I think that's a really worthwhile thought, and while I know that nitpicking has its place, it seems like one ought to be more observant when trying to do so.
It might be considered nitpicking by a Vetrano owner but I thought it was worth mentioning as John had found a noticeable difference in the cup between the two machines. Since he was comparing an early S1 with no p/i to a machine with p/i I think the fact that the V2 with p/i warranted a bump in the Espresso score equal to the Vetrano was pertinent.

As far as the Morning After score the stock Vetrano received a 7.5 just as I stated. Its right there in the conclusions section. Since I was comparing the score of a stock S1V2 to the stock Vetrano why would I use the score of a modified Vetrano? I would consider the 1.5 point difference "crushing" considering how close these scores usually are but I can understand how you might feel differently.

I have no idea what is so "confusing" about suggesting John get the P/i cannister for his S1 & revisit the taste test. I think it would be more of an apples to apples comparison if both machines had the p/i & eliminate any question about whether that was the reason for the difference in the cup. If the difference was still there we could fill a few more pages debating whether it was caused by the dreaded 53mm basket. :lol:

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RapidCoffee (original poster)
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#24: Post by RapidCoffee (original poster) »

RapidCoffee wrote:Getting back to the Vetrano-S1 comparison:
First and foremost, both of these machines are capable of making truly excellent espresso.
Bottom line: I like both of these machines very much.
RapidCoffee wrote:... the preinfusion retrofit sounds like a worthwhile mod.
Any chance we can move on now? :lol:

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#25: Post by gyro »

Well, here are a couple of quick observations from someone who has just moved from a plumbed in rotary e61 HX to a plumbed in rotary double boiler.

The coffee I used to drink the most I now find unpleasant, leaving an undesirable aftertaste for some time. Admittedly I use a high percentage of monsooned coffee in it, perhaps the double boiler reveals some clarity towards an aspect of this (in an unfavourable way) that was perhaps more muted before with the e61 or HX hump?

A more traditional blend I used on occasion (Brazil, Sumatra, Ethiopian) which I didn't overly like on the HX, I now find MUCH nicer on the double boiler.

Now, I have only had the machine for less than a week, so I am stilling trying to dial in temperatures etc, but its a blend I have been home-roasting for the last two years so I am very familiar with it... and its certainly very different - at least at the temperatures I've tried so far.

So... from my experience, I expect some coffees might perhaps benefit from one type of machine more than the other. I certainly don't miss the HX flushing ritual however!



#26: Post by Dogshot »

RapidCoffee wrote: *** Coming from the lever/HX universe, I find ultra-precise brew temperature stability to be overrated. :P

I enjoyed your write-up, John.

I had to read the date of the OP several times to make sure this was a new post. Your mention of the 2 machines led me to understand that they were both equally new to you. Have you not had the Vetrano for about 3 years?

If so, how did you account for the potential that your extreme familiarity with one machine could be influencing your impressions?

I would never suggest that a DB can make better espresso than an HX. I would, however, agree that a DB is absolutely easier to use to make consistently good espresso (i.e., no sink shots attributable to the machine once dialed-in). Comparing a new (to the user) DB to an HX that has been used daily for years may be masking this aspect.

And re: easy temp changes on the fly, I don't know about the Vivaldi, but Abe's write-up on the Brewtus indicates that it is possible to fine-tune the brew temp by flushing 1, 2, or 3oz. It's just that the DB does not easily allow the user to stray from the espresso's 'comfort-zone'.

Here's my last word on DB versus HX; Everyone should have one of each at some point along the way.

LMWDP #106

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#27: Post by shadowfax »

Chris, your current DB machine is the Speedster, correct? Which HX machine did you have?

I must say that I have pretty limited experience with double boiler machines--I've spent not more than 5-8 hours with a paddle group Linea over the last 4 months or so, and I've had a few espressos and cappuccinos prepared for me at a local third wave shop that uses a Synesso 3-group and Kony. These are big-boy commercial double boilers, and are prime examples of state-of-the-art flatline, ultra-temperature-stable brew profiles.

My HX experience is more extensive, having used a La Valentina and a Vetrano (with PID grouphead temp readout). I've also had an Elektra T1 for the last month or so. My observations are quite informal indeed, and it really boils down to that I found Vetrano produced typically more mellow, low-toned shots than I got from the same blends that I tasted from the big double boilers. I'd also say that I never found the clarity as remarkable with Vetrano as with shots from the LM/Synesso. The Elektra, on the other hand, is a much brighter machine in my small experience; I find it produces a shot with typically less body but more clarity than Vetrano. That certainly puts it a lot closer to the double boiler machines, though I haven't done sufficient comparison to qualify that meaningfully.

There are a couple of things that seem pretty similar between a LM and an Elektra. For one, they have somewhat similar shower screen/dispersion block design: certainly, the Elektra is much closer to a LM than an E61 in this respect. I believe the Elektra's temperature profile is also somewhat flatter than Vetrano's.

I think it'd be almost as interesting as comparing home HX machines vs. home DB machines to compare big double boilers (say, a GS3) with smaller ones (DC Mini, La Spaziale), and also big HX machines (e.g. NS Aurelia/Appia, Elektra Sixties) with smaller ones. It might show something of what is lost (or gained!) when scaling such designs down to small(er) home machines.
Nicholas Lundgaard


#28: Post by gscace »

cappadoc wrote:John,
I've owned an S1 for just over 3 years. The pre-infusion mod is the best thing I've done for my shots in two years. The shots are MUCH more consistent in flavor and mouthfeel. I get a good bit less bitterness now. I wonder if it may be that the preinfusion chamber on my version I machine plus the initial hotter water out of the brewpath?
Anyhow, it is DEFINITELY a worthwhile upgrade.

BTW, my second biggest improvement came from the WDT. Thanks!

Hi there:

Do you have a source for the upgrade?


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#29: Post by JohnB. replying to gscace » ... ionchamber For the S1V1 & Mini. The pre 7/08 S1v2 gets a software upgrade to the existing board.


#30: Post by IMAWriter »

RapidCoffee wrote:Any chance we can move on now? :lol:
LMWDP #187