What's really the difference between espresso machines? - Page 2

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Jeff
Team HB

#11: Post by Jeff »

Your chef's knife analogy is a good one. My Victorinox works just fine for watermelon, squash and I reach for it for those. It's been hand sharpened at a much narrower angle than stock (like adding "mod X" to some stock machine). A stock Victorinox would be annoying to work with (dull), as would be a Cutco. The Victorinox is OK for coarse dicing onions, but I'd much rather be using my Konosuke. Slicing raw fish, the Victorinox tears it into rough pieces. Functional, edible, but certainly not a pleasant result. If all I had was the Victorinox, I'd always have the market slice it for me.

If you're going to stick with comfort roasts, typically darker beans, typically blends, dominated by "roast" flavors, then any of those machines will get you a good espresso. Having good temperature control (dedicated boiler with PID, HX with group-head thermometer and the water dance, the Mara X' unique system, or more advanced controls such as with the BDB, Decent, or a host of pro-level machines with saturated groups) will make that easier.

With the exception of the Anna being in a different class (and beware it's non-standard portafilters for accessory availability and future upgrades), the others all likely will make very good espresso from medium and darker roasts, with a reasonably smooth learning curve. Though "only" $370 more for the Victoria, that's 50% more at the price point of the Anna.

If I were going to be pulling shots from things not labeled "espresso blend", then I'd tend toward the Mara X with the hope that somebody tightens up the temperature control even more. I'd probably add a valve permit manual preinfusion. I'd definitely miss the temperature accuracy and ability to change temperatures, shot-to-shot, that a "straight-up" E61 HX with an EricS thermometer can hit, at the cost of 5-10 minutes of time between shots watching the temperature climb, then, oops, missing it, flushing again, waiting, then pulling at the right time to get "196" vs. "198" or what have you.

Also in that price range, if you aren't looking for "classic" styling, the Breville double boiler (BDB) is worth looking at very seriously. Like most machines and grinders, their owners will almost always tell you how fantastic they are. Here's a informative discussion of why the BDB is such a great machine, from someone that I believe has a good understanding of how espresso is brewed what impacts the flavor in the cup, and, as far as I know, has no financial interest in selling them or pride of ownership involved. At least "food for thought" after the cooking analogies...

Even if you're not interested in the BDB and find the Decent either out of your price range, abhorrently ugly, or just not what you want in your kitchen, the explanation of coffee extraction and some of the things that impact it (which is the flavor and texture in the cup) is probably worth the ten minutes to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYCp__RdVCI

Edit: If staying within the Lelit line, see also the suggestion of the Lelit Glenda PL41 PlusT as an alternative to the Anna at Talk me out of the Lelit Anna (PL41TEM)

pcrussell50

#12: Post by pcrussell50 »

I'll play.

IMHO there is a pyramid shape dictated by the beans you are using and/or your expectations from such. At the top are the challenging beans where small changes in say temperature or extraction profile are make or break, corresponding to the narrow part of the pyramid. As you go down lower into more common, mainstream, or what I call "tolerant" beans, where the kind of minute control required to get satisfactory espresso diminishes as does the capability of the equipment required to achieve satisfactory results. This bigger target is easier to hit, and corresponds to the wider parts of the pyramid as you approach its base.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

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tennisman03110 (original poster)

#13: Post by tennisman03110 (original poster) »

I'm gaining knowledge but not sure I'm less confused. I've been looking at the Glenda and the Lelit thread.

If I keep my current setup, maybe I'm blissfully unaware what I'm missing. My fear is upgrading, and having a finished shot with minimal difference. Sure I drink some comfort blends, but often use Counter Culture single origin for both espresso and my V60 (pour over is still my daily to to). I also don't want to buy anything intermediate.

On the Breville Dual Boiler, I see it come up (sometimes in debate) on many posts. I never was considering it, but it adds to my question does that machine create a shot as good as anything else? Or can something lower quality match it most of the time.

All that said, initially I was wondering about two shots from two machines. Milk steaming, reliability etc. wasn't in my initial thought. Nor was a new machine, at least for now. But somehow getting some type of consensus, or at least opinions, of comparing someone's old machine to a newer one based on the final product only.

tennisman03110 (original poster)

#14: Post by tennisman03110 (original poster) »

I don't know how I got here....but ended up buying a (Cranberry Red!) Breville Dual Boiler from Wayfair. Came out to just over $1200 with tax and shipping. Was looking on eBay, but I like getting it from a reputable dealer.

Guess I'll be able to answer my own question. Get to compare the bottom of the line to top of line (Breville's only). I'll do some sort of comparison post, even though I'm a rookie. Will be interesting to see the differences in a shot, and the only difference will truly be the machine.

Thanks for the input so far (I guess....lol?!? slippery slope in buying things).

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Randy G.

#15: Post by Randy G. »

I may have missed your choice along the way, but what grinder did you decide on?
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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tennisman03110 (original poster)

#16: Post by tennisman03110 (original poster) »

I'm currently sticking with my Sette 270. I bought it used off this site.

I really like it, and don't see the need to upgrade right now. I guess maybe one day.

Is it agreed upon it's good (enough)? Not the Niche/BDB combo seen often. I don't want to get started with "what's the difference in grinders"...lol. I've reached my budget for year 2020 (and 2021).

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Randy G.

#17: Post by Randy G. »

The climb to the top of the grinder pyramid takes at least two or three Sherpas. When I told people how much my Rancilio Rocky cost they roll their eyes. When I told them how much my Mauser Kony cost they stood in disbelief. If they ask what my MC3 is worth, I change the subject. :lol:

I have not used any of the high-end Baratza grinders nor the Niche. But from all reports here, the Niche sounds like an excellent value oh, much like the Breville dual boiler
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
*20th Anniversary 2000-2020*

ECM Manufacture: @ecmespresso #weliveespresso
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tennisman03110 (original poster)

#18: Post by tennisman03110 (original poster) »

Certainly one step at a time. I'm pretty excited to give some sort of report on differences in the machines.

It will be interesting to note how a comfort blend on each machine vs. a single origin might compare. I've got no idea....we shall see if this forums recommend machine stands out.

The grinder comparison is one that's also interesting. If I could just find someone local willing to let me borrow a Niche.

pcrussell50

#19: Post by pcrussell50 »

tennisman03110 wrote:I don't know how I got here....but ended up buying a (Cranberry Red!) Breville Dual Boiler from Wayfair. Came out to just over $1200 with tax and shipping. Was looking on eBay, but I like getting it from a reputable dealer.

Guess I'll be able to answer my own question. Get to compare the bottom of the line to top of line (Breville's only). I'll do some sort of comparison post, even though I'm a rookie. Will be interesting to see the differences in a shot, and the only difference will truly be the machine.

Thanks for the input so far (I guess....lol?!? slippery slope in buying things).
Not to derail the thread... begging indulgence for this one post..

If you have a BDB, and if you haven't already, you need this, for maintenance:
Breville Dual Boiler Mods and Maintenance

And the de facto "owner's thread":
Breville Dual Boiler, five+ years on

Welcome.

Back to the regular on topic content...

-Peter
LMWDP #553

foam2

#20: Post by foam2 »

If you were in chicago I would let you borrow mine - except the wife uses it now lol. A good grinder is key absolutely. To answer your question about taste in the cup I think you're mostly right - well prepared shots will be tough to tell apart. When I upgraded from a bdb to a synchronika I made several shots side by side and I couldn't tell a difference and certainly not in a blind taste test. I think you should figure out what things are important to you and focus on those first. I like the user interaction of the synchronika more than the bdb but that doesn't mean it's the only one to offer that. I found a steal on a hx machine and it checks a lot of those same things for me. I say build your system one component at a time and know most of these components should last you a long time.