Expobar Brewtus III
If you're in the market for a high-end prosumer espresso machine like the Expobar Brewtus, it won't be long before you read discussions of the merits of two popular boiler designs, namely heat exchangers and double boilers. Espresso Machines 101 explains the technical differences and How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love HXs elaborates on how to manage the brew temperature of heat exchanger espresso machines. This guide won't belabor these distinctions, other than to point out that double boilers simplify temperature management by dedicating a boiler for that purpose and another for steaming. Owners of both types of espresso machines will passionately defend their preference; double-boiler fans will point to the simplicity of brew temperature management, heat exchanger fans will point to lower cost and downplay the extra steps their favored design requires.
That said, getting started with a double boiler espresso machine is no more complicated than a heat exchanger. The Brewtus III-R (third generation Brewtus equipped with rotary pump) must be plumbed in. The water hookup is a standard NPT fitting that can be adapted to the plumbing fixture you have available under the sink or from the icemaker hookup (3/8" outer diameter tubing is also available). In addition to the requisite fittings, budget for a pressure regulator to reduce the inlet pressure is a constant 25 to 30 PSI (water pressure of most homes is around 55 PSI). If you want to direct connect the Brewtus Plus version, follow the same hookup plan. Adding a water filter and softener is a good idea if you're plumbing in a new machine. The water softener is a must for hard water locales and will reduce the descaling intervals across the board. The Brewtus III-V comes with an inline softener in the water reservoir. Such water softeners must be recharged at frequent intervals to remain effective; refer to the owner's manual for details.
The Brewtus plugs into a standard 15 amp circuit. WholeLatteLove includes a well-written owner's manual with ample setup instructions, so I will only briefly outline the steps:
- Turn on the main power switch
- Lift the lever to the right of the brew group; the pump should turn on and begin to fill the steam and brew boilers
- Leave the lever up until water exits the brew group. Note: If the pump runs for more than a minute and no water comes out, turn off the machine and give the WholeLatteLove technical support line a call. You can damage the heating element if it is left on too long without water
- Wait a minute or two longer for the steam boiler to fill. The pump will automatically turn off when both boilers are full.
Let the machine heat up for about 35 minutes. Remember to leave the empty portafilter in the brew group so that it will be hot and ready for use.
Setting the Brew Temperature
The Brewtus III brew temperature control (PID) displays the desired brew temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit using 1° intervals. As shipped, the temperature is set to 200°F. To change the brew temperature:
- Push and hold the left button until PrG appears on the display.
- Push the triangular UP arrow key or the DOWN arrow key until the desired temperature is displayed.
Allow at least 5 minutes for the machine to adjust to a change in the brew temperature. The PID is preprogrammed at the factory and shouldn't require adjustment when you receive the machine, unless you prefer the readout display Centigrade instead of Fahrenheit. To change the temperature scale:
- Press and hold the UP & DOWN buttons while turning on the machine
- When the displays shows F.03, release the buttons
- DOWN selects the parameter you wish to modify; UP changes the selected parameter
- The first of five parameters, F.03, changes from F to C. Press DOWN to select it and UP to change its value
- The other four parameters are P, I, D, and F.04. "P" Indicates
the value of the proportional variable, "I" indicates the value of the
Integral variable, "d" indicates the value of the Derivative variable,
and "F.04" indicates the correction factor or offset in degrees C
between the actual boiler temperature and the display readout. See the
owner's manual for more information.
Turn off the machine then turn it back on again to run with the new settings.
The Brewtus III has a big heavy E61 group. It needs at least 35
minutes to warm up before pulling your first shot. Make sure you have
the portafilter locked into the group head during the initial warm-up.
Set the electronic temperature control to your desired brew temperature.
This will naturally vary with the coffee you are using. Full bodied,
sweeter blends such as Counter Culture Coffee's Toscano or
Intelligentsia's Black Cat will work better at temperatures in the
neighborhood of 200°F to 202°F. Brighter single origins generally
preserve their citrus and fruity nature at lower temperatures around
195°F to 198°F. Although this is a good guide, each coffee will perform
differently. That's the beauty of the Brewtus's temperature
management—it is easy to experiment and find the temperature that
best suits your taste.
Below is a brief summary of the steps:
- One-time flush
If the machine has just warmed up or has been idle for a long time, the group will be a little too cool for making espresso. Flushing 2 ounces of water through the group and portafilter will warm things up.
- Dose, distribute and tamp
Helpful guides include the Home Barista's Guide to Espresso and Perfecting the Naked Extraction. Choosing the correct dose is important. Too little headroom and the coffee will crush into the dispersion screen when you lock in the portafilter; too much headroom and the thin puck may fracture, leading to channeling and a sour tasting espresso. For doubles, a dose of 17 grams in the double basket is a good starting point. Dose, level and tamp with about 30 pounds of force. You're now ready for the pour. A good starting point for the Brewtus is 8 grams in a single basket. You'll also note that singles generally work better a couple of degrees cooler than doubles.
- Flush, lock and load
A quick flush of an ounce or two ounces of water to stabilize the group, lock in the portafilter, and then lift the brew lever to start the pour. You can cut it off by moving the brew lever back to its down position. Make sure it is all the way down or the group will dribble.
The Brewtus III is fitted with a three way valve so you need not worry about "portafilter sneezes" when removing the portafilter right after pulling a shot. If you are pulling back-to-back shots, then dose, distribute, tamp, and you're ready to go again. Make sure the temperature display is not flashing (an indication that the group has not returned to the proper temperature), lock in the portafilter, and lift the brew lever to pour. If the machine sits idle for any length of time— say more than 3 minutes or so —then flush another two ounces before pulling your next shot.
When you have finished your session, clean the group screen and backflush the group with water. The machine comes with a rubber disc for backflushing: Put the disc into the portafilter, lock it in, and then turn on the pump for 5 seconds. Repeat this two or three times. WholeLatteLove recommends backflushing with a small amount of espresso cleaner like Cafiza in the portafilter every 7-9 days.