Wouldn't an E61 with dedicated PID brew boiler and steam thermoblock be better than HX?

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Tonefish

Postby Tonefish » Apr 09, 2018, 7:58 pm

Assuming that steam temperature, once high enough, isn't nearly as important as brew temperature, why wouldn't it be better to have a nice adjustable PID brew boiler and a thermoblock for steam rather than an HX arrangement?
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

ben8jam

Postby ben8jam » replying to Tonefish » Apr 09, 2018, 9:09 pm

I'd like to see a video of a thermablock steamer create latex microfoam, along with the latte art. If so, then sure. Scarp the steam boiler.

OR you could just get a SBDU with a PID, like the Silvia.

But I'm pretty sure the benefit of a dedicated steam boiler, or oversized boiler on an HX is that you get much better microfoam.

Tonefish

Postby Tonefish » Apr 09, 2018, 10:17 pm

One clarification: thermoblock would be fed from the boiler versus tank so it's only heating from brew temperature to steam temperature, which should be pretty easy given that some machines (not good ones IMHO) use thermoblocks AS the boiler.
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

Nunas

Postby Nunas » Apr 10, 2018, 2:38 am

Quick Mill Silvano owners...any thoughts?

Tonefish

Postby Tonefish » replying to Nunas » Apr 10, 2018, 12:57 pm

Thanks for the pointer Maurice! I just went through HBs detailed review on that one. Sounds like steam is too slow for big milk drinks. At the most we do a breve on occasion so only a couple ounces of half-n-half. Still the steam performance issues of the thermoblock could be the explanation.

I'm wondering if the thermoblock is fed from the boiler versus tank too?
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

desmodici

Postby desmodici » Apr 10, 2018, 1:25 pm

Tonefish wrote:Assuming that steam temperature, once high enough, isn't nearly as important as brew temperature, why wouldn't it be better to have a nice adjustable PID brew boiler and a thermoblock for steam rather than an HX arrangement?


I contemplate the topic of DB vs. HX as I've cycled through various machines - from Single Boiler (Gaggia Coffee) to HX (Appia II) to DB (Duetto III) to Lever w/HX (Londinium R)

Opinions will vary on the topic, but I've realized that we may sometimes reach premature and incorrect conclusions that lead us to chase "features" in our machines that sound very logical, but may not necessarily translate to better/more consistent coffee.

E.g. a PID'd brew boiler is better than HX because stable/consistent brew temp logically feels like a good thing. Speaking purely from personal experience with machines that I've listed, I feel the declining brew temp that an HX delivers is more forgiving and reduces chances of over-extraction (I do realize that comes with a cost of having to flush, guess etc.), so for me, I prefer the HX design (also like the that it delivers water that hasn't been sitting in a boiler for long periods)

To answer your question, this is one potential example of why it may not be better depending on ones POV on the topic

Nunas

Postby Nunas » Apr 10, 2018, 1:44 pm

Thanks for the pointer Maurice! I just went through HBs detailed review on that one. Sounds like steam is too slow for big milk drinks. At the most we do a breve on occasion so only a couple ounces of half-n-half. Still the steam performance issues of the thermoblock could be the explanation. I'm wondering if the thermoblock is fed from the boiler versus tank too?


No worries. I happened to know about the Silvano from my rather extensive searching when I moved up to my current HX. Up until then all my machines had been thermoblock/thermocoil Brevilles, with the exception of the ones I used during a barista course many years ago, which were Rancilios.

As for the steaming function of the thermoblocks, my experience is they were all rather anemic. To make up for the lack of pressure they pulse the pump. But there is a limit to this as any longer on cycle would result in water instead of steam (or the need for a much stronger thermoblock). Typically, they have only single hole steam tips and they take a long time to make decent foam. I got so I could make really nice foam even with my Cafe Romas. Going from that to steaming on the HX drove me nuts when I first got my Magister; a guy over on CG suggested I plug one of the holes until I got used to the huge amount of steam (which did the trick).

Concerning design of your proposed machine, it is certainly possible to use a thermoblock to boost temperature from typical brew boiler to steam. But I think none of the current machines do this. Some carpet cleaning machines have inbuilt thermoblock water heaters that boost the already hot (but not boiling) water to higher temperatures. But I wonder if this would yield enough pressure, unless a pulsed pump were used. However, this would require a non-standard (read expensive) pump, as todays most common vibe pumps could not stand the high temperature of the incoming water...you'd loose the diode and/or the coil due to the heat. Even running room temperature water the duty cycle is only 50/50 with a 1-minute max.

Concerning the brew temperature, with an HX or single boiler, I can surf the temperature curve and nearly instantly have the temperature I want. But with a PID and no HX I'd have to wait a while until the boiler water came to the desired temperature (unless the boiler were quite small and uninsulated). Not a big deal for some users I guess, but I like to mess with shots of different temperatures every time I start using a new roast...it'd drive me nuts.

Tonefish

Postby Tonefish » Apr 10, 2018, 1:48 pm

desmodici wrote:I contemplate the topic of DB vs. HX as I've cycled through various machines - from Single Boiler (Gaggia Coffee) to HX (Appia II) to DB (Duetto III) to Lever w/HX (Londinium R)

Opinions will vary on the topic, but I've realized that we may sometimes reach premature and incorrect conclusions that lead us to chase "features" in our machines that sound very logical, but may not necessarily translate to better/more consistent coffee.

E.g. a PID'd brew boiler is better than HX because stable/consistent brew temp logically feels like a good thing. Speaking purely from personal experience with machines that I've listed, I feel the declining brew temp that an HX delivers is more forgiving and reduces chances of over-extraction (I do realize that comes with a cost of having to flush, guess etc.), so for me, I prefer the HX design (also like the that it delivers water that hasn't been sitting in a boiler for long periods)

To answer your question, this is one potential example of why it may not be better depending on ones POV on the topic

Thanks Yaseen! I definitely agree that thinking about design and feature desires in the absence of using the full spectrum of equipment types limits my ability to really know what I want, but I've been experimenting with my first HX machine and I just don't like it relative to my levers, even with the ericS thermometer. Fishing for temperatures by dumping water just seems silly. I'm used to characterizing my machine (with the help of the knowledge base here) then knowing when to pull shots to have them at the right temperature. I'm having a hard time getting there with this E61 HX, despite reading some of the great work done here. I'm sure that if I keep taking data I will figure it out, but for now I curse the boiler not being near brew temperature. :D
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

Tonefish

Postby Tonefish » Apr 10, 2018, 1:56 pm

Nunas wrote:...However, this would require a non-standard (read expensive) pump, as todays most common vibe pumps could not stand the high temperature of the incoming water...you'd loose the diode and/or the coil due to the heat. Even running room temperature water the duty cycle is only 50/50 with a 1-minute max.

Yea, I wondered about the temperature if a pump were required.

Nunas wrote:...Concerning the brew temperature, with an HX or single boiler, I can surf the temperature curve and nearly instantly have the temperature I want. But with a PID and no HX I'd have to wait a while until the boiler water came to the desired temperature (unless the boiler were quite small and uninsulated). Not a big deal for some users I guess, but I like to mess with shots of different temperatures every time I start using a new roast...it'd drive me nuts.

Sounds like I just need to keep at it until I understand the thermal responses.
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

Nunas

Postby Nunas » Apr 10, 2018, 6:53 pm

Maybe. But maybe you would prefer a DB with a PID? You would achieve the exact temperatures you choose for both steaming and brewing. I wanted a DB, but budget forced me to an HX. Like you, I had a fairly long learning curve and thought I'd made a mistake. But, now that I'm used to the HX it seems second nature to me when using it. Sounds odd, but I sometimes kind of space out and not even think about what I'm doing. I don't worry about dumping water, as I have an RO with adjustable bypass in the basement plumbed to the espresso bar. On the bar I have a typical RO inverted-J spigot. Refilling is simple, as I slip a piece of poly hose over the end of the spigot, hold the other end over the reservoir fill hole and turn on the tap. If I had to lug 5-gallon carboys of water for my espresso then water waste might be more important to me :D .