Why are HX espresso machines so popular? - Page 2

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

#11: Post by keepitsimple »

edna713 wrote:IMHO, an HX is optimized to make steam and VERY hot water w/ coffee as an afterhought......
I share your views, having been in the same situation of owning a very well respected HX machine in the past.

I came to the conclusion that HX is probably a neat idea for commercial machines with large boilers which are in fairly constant use, but doesn't downsize well to the very much smaller boilers in the "prosumer" machines, and the relatively intermittent use they get in a domestic environment. A commercial machine with a big boiler will have steam to spare running at a lower temperature than is needed in the much smaller boilers in domestic machines. In addition, constant usage will keep the water flow through the HX's at a rate where overheating isn't going to be a problem. The combination of these 2 factors makes them much more easily usable than the situation home users are faced with.

Small HX machines are, of course, ideal for those who love to play around with flushes and practising their art of getting the temperature targetted to a fraction of a degree. I'm not sufficiently obsessive - see my username :wink:

I sold the HX machine, and bought a double boiler machine which is much much easier to use, and for me much more consistent in the end product it produces. It has electronic and adjustable temperature control of both boilers, insulated boilers, automatic or manual dosing, and is plumbed in and out.

I did toy with the idea of getting a good single boiler machine - Zaffiro type, and something like a silvia just to make steam. Decided that the space would be a problem...and aesthetics came into it a bit have to admit 8)

Anyone who asks for my advice these days gets pointed towards a double boiler machine. It's a shame there are so few on the market, especially now the Reneka is no longer manufactured. If I had to buy again, I'd almost certainly get a La Spaziale S1 based on what's currently available.

User avatar
HB
Admin

#12: Post by HB »

edna713 wrote:If one cannot afford a 'pid' HX, get a smaller machine and prep your milk, etc.
In the spirit of full disclosure, readers should be aware that Dave (edna713) is a vendor specializing in PID'd espresso equipment.
Dan Kehn

Espresso Vision: the perfect cup of coffee starts with understanding your roast
Sponsored by Espresso Vision
User avatar
Marshall

#13: Post by Marshall »

I'm working on a theory that the demand for home HX machines is actually created by the mismatch of these machines with their home environments.

They sit idle for hours at a time, overheating. This makes their temperatures difficult to control, except for very experienced users. So, most owners wind up making bitter espresso with them, which they cannot enjoy, unless they drown it in foamed milk. HX machines are more efficient than single boilers for steaming milk, which leads the owners to believe they "need" an HX. Quod est demonstratum (or something like that). [Edit: corrected legal Latin to geometry Latin.]

On top of this they must also plumb in their water input and drain because of the long cooling flushes they require. Plumbing the input requires water treatment in most parts of the country, which adds more expense

That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. :D
Marshall
Los Angeles

perstare

#14: Post by perstare »

As I am relatively new to all of this and want to benefit from other people's experiences before I take my $ 2200 plunge,
I've been reading many of the topics and threads.

Specifically the confusion on HX machines is as follows: one of its salient features seems to be the ability to pull a shot
and froth/steam at the same time. However, a merchant on the internet suggests not to do this as it will adversely effect
the pressure or is it the temperature. Thus the confusion.

What is PID ?

Thanks.

User avatar
HB
Admin

#15: Post by HB »

perstare wrote:However, a merchant on the internet suggests not to do this as it will adversely effect the pressure or is it the temperature. Thus the confusion.
I assume the merchant refers to a potential brew temperature drop while steaming. I measured the difference awhile back and it was negligible, at least to mere mortals.
perstare wrote:What is PID ?
Short answer as applied to espresso equipment: It's an electronic temperature controller. For the longer answer, see Good all round explanation of PID stuff.

BTW, lest you be led to believe that I'm a walking index given the speed with which I found this, it's actually in the FAQs and Favorites for this forum. The longer version of the site's "best of" is in the FAQs and Favorites Digest. Check it out.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
TimEggers

#16: Post by TimEggers »

Having used a vibe pump HX (that isn't plumbed in) I don't see the difficulties some describe. You flush a bit you pull the shot. I've had no problem making excellent espresso with my HX. I fill the tank at the beginning of each session and dump the drip tray at the end of the day.

I am of the opinion that an HX in the home can be a worthwhile tool for exceptional espresso or milk based drinks for almost anybody (hey if I can do it... :wink: ).
Tim Eggers
http://www.facebook.com/TimEggers
LMWDP #202

User avatar
jesawdy

#17: Post by jesawdy »

perstare wrote:Specifically the confusion on HX machines is as follows: one of its salient features seems to be the ability to pull a shot and froth/steam at the same time. However, a merchant on the internet suggests not to do this as it will adversely effect the pressure or is it the temperature. Thus the confusion.
I have seen that stated as well. I suppose there are many home use machines that may not have what it takes to continuously steam while pulling a shot. I know this is one of the things stated about why the Fiorenzato Briccoleta requires a 20A outlet and uses a higher wattage element, because it can do this.

Truth be told, I wouldn't get hung up on this. You will likely be able to steam and pull at the same time (it may affect the shot temperature), but in practice you probably rarely would ever do this. You will however certainly be able to enjoy the convenience of steaming immedialty after (or prior to) pulling a shot.
What is PID ?
PID = Proportional Integral Derivative, it is a type of control that can be used for controlling process variables such as temperature. Search these forums for much more discussion. See Wikipedia for some background if you're interested, link.
Jeff Sawdy

Baratza: skilled in the art of grinding
Sponsored by Baratza
User avatar
Marshall

#18: Post by Marshall »

TimEggers wrote:Having used a vibe pump HX (that isn't plumbed in) I don't see the difficulties some describe. You flush a bit you pull the shot. I've had no problem making excellent espresso with my HX. I fill the tank at the beginning of each session and dump the drip tray at the end of the day.
I think most users would consider unloading the warming tray, removing the tank (or filling a pitcher and carrying it over to the tank), filling the tank, replacing the warming tray and all the cups on it before each session to be a major nuisance. But, maybe I'm just lazy.
Marshall
Los Angeles

User avatar
HB
Admin

#19: Post by HB »

I've had various types of espresso machines pass through our kitchen and the "nuisance factor" partially depends on the locale. For example, if the machine is located directly next to the sink, it's a minor inconvenience compared to when the sink is across the room (who hasn't done the full drip tray "challenge" walk?). Recently I'm testing the Quickmill Alexia, which isn't an HX and has a large driptray. I still refill the tank every other day, if only to keep the water fresh.

That said, I'm as lazy as the next guy and opted for a fully plumbed in unit. HX or not, I think it's worth the trouble.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
TimEggers

#20: Post by TimEggers »

Marshall wrote:I think most users would consider unloading the warming tray, removing the tank (or filling a pitcher and carrying it over to the tank), filling the tank, replacing the warming tray and all the cups on it before each session to be a major nuisance. But, maybe I'm just lazy.
Forgive me I simply felt compelled to point out that if push came to shove it's a manageable nuisance. I was forced to go pour over due to circumstances beyond my control so I suppose I have come to learn to live with what I must do to make espresso in my kitchen setup (not use the warming tray [preheat cups with cooling flush water], dump drip tray into sink and pour fresh water into tank via pitcher once a day). I do believe a plumbed in machine as you describe is the most convenient but if that's not an option one can get by as I do.
Tim Eggers
http://www.facebook.com/TimEggers
LMWDP #202