I too have been agonizing over what to upgrade to! After fighting a starbucks barista for years, I decided I was going to go for something better (altho, this site, among others, has helped me ENORMOUSLY in improving what I get from the barista!). Initially I was looking @ a Rancilio Silvia, but decided it was, while MUCH better than the S'Bux, still a single boiler, dual use machine and not the fairly long term upgrade that I was looking for. Not that it's a bad machine, no way I think that! After all, there are many members of this site who are quite happy using them (with and without PIDs!). I was just afraid that it wouldn't slow down the 'new, "better" machine' itch! THEN I began looking @ higher end machines, looking to, while not "future proof" my purchase, at least find a machine that would SLOW DOWN the desire for a new machine!
. HX, Dual Boiler, E-61 single boiler, dual use machines, the options are MANY and varied!
First look was @ HX machines, but.... I had concerns about getting the temps right! Soooo, I began looking @ dual boiler systems, basically the Expobar Brewtus II and the La Spaziale Vivaldi (the Viv II wasn't around yet!). Brewtus seemed nice, but there were some quality issues (not major, but still there). Vivaldi was nice BUT the need for direct plumb-in and the size of the machine were somewhat off-putting (I have a very limited space in which to put the system with grinder(s)). For quite some time I was leaning toward the Viv, just trying to figure out WHERE I could put it (small house, small kitchen, limited space for anything!).
Then I began to RE-Read the articles on HX temperature surfing (GREAT articles Mr. HB! thanks Dan!) and saw erics' thermocouple adapter for the E-61, etc... HX systems began to seem not so scary. OK, so now, which one to choose? You've got Isomac Tea and Millenium, QuickMill Andreja, Anita, Vetrano, the Izzo Alex and more. ALL good machines, each having their pluses and minuses. You've got the La Valentina (Dan Kehn, Mr. HBs machine!), you've got ECM Giotto, etc. You've got La Cimbali Jr. commercial HX machines (as well as many more!). The list of possible machines is, practically, endless! What's an espresso nut to do?
Well, enter the Vibiemme Domobar Super! Not too wide @ 10.6 inches, a bit deep @ 21 inches, including the handle for the drip tray, but that's not a major issue! High quality components (not that other machines don't ALSO have high quality parts!) including the Parker PStat. LIMITED electronics, the gicar autofill controller (but electronics aren't necessarily bad, after all I'm working on a "home designed" espresso machine that'll have a complete 32 bit computer in it!) so it shouldn't be a complicated machine to maintain (or an expensive one if it breaks!). It's starting to look like I've got a winner! I'd headed in this direction BEFORE HB started their review of the VBM system, but their on-going review sure hasn't dissuaded me! REAL E-61 brew group, apparent VERY Stable temperature, etc...
I'd originally thought, while leaning toward the dual boiler systems, that it would make it easier for the spouse to make her own espresso drinks, but, while it wouldn't be hard for her to do so (get a Macap Dynamometric Tamper to remove the "tamp @ 30 lbs pressure, STRAIGHT DOWN" issue) I finally realized that she's probably NEVER going to make her own, just wait for ME to do it FOR her! After all, right now, her favorite espresso (?) drink is the instant cappa crap! She loves it when I make a cappa or a latte for her, but she's perfectly happy with that (I want to say swill here)!
I'm looking @ spending, probably, around $2.5K here. VBM, TWO espresso grinders (gotta keep a decaf one around for the wife), bottomless p/f, spare baskets, datalogging temp meter, etc... $2.5k is probably on the low side!
As I alluded to, I AM working on a design for a "home" system. Dual boilers, PID temp and pressure control (both for brew and steam AND intershot control as well as INTRAShot control), tight temp control DURING the shot (with the ability to vary the temp UP and DOWN during the shot a few degrees C), etc... This is going glacially slow ('tain't it crap that you've gotta work for a living, keep the house and cars up, keep the spouse happy, work with the grandkids, etc.... Oh well, c'est la vie!) but it IS moving forward! This system WILL eventually see the light of day...
no 30 (espresso is a never ending quest!)
I'm having an out of coffee experience!
LMWDP # 164