Bleacher report - just a few observations from the cheap seats

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#1: Post by coyote-1 »

As some of you are aware, I'm operating in the "maximize minimal gear" space. I have two Saeco ViaVenezia machines, and one Krups appliance. I also now have a pair of Urbanic 070s grinders.

First, to get this out of the way: I'm immensely satisfied with the grinders. One modded to stepless, one not. Vertical 60mm flat titanium burr, slow feed easy to do, a $7 bellow mods it to a "single dose" grinder utilizing the existing hopper. Very short tube from burr to output. I'm getting consistently good results with all beans I've tried.

Ok, on to the machines. Having modded one of the Saecos with manometer PID and flow control, I do see where some say you 'struggle' with cheap machines. Because I recently wheeled out the other Saeco and the Krups. And even though they are equipped with flow control and thermometer, they are nowhere near as easy to pull good shots from as is the one with the PID and manometer. It's doable, but temperature surfing is a bigger PITA than I remembered.

Now a surprise. In wheeling out the two 'lesser' machines, I also needed a new funnel. The new one is a magnetic one where the collar sits inside the basket. I've seen folks say these are undesirable. But my results say otherwise. Using a cork with needles for WDT I am stirring, being very conscious of getting the grinds into the 'corners' of the basket, then leveling - then removing the funnel. It leaves a nice uniform 'edge'. And the tamp then comes out perfect. I've validated this with the bottomless portafilter. I'm getting full output merging into a nice single stream, with zero side spritz. The pucks show no sign of channeling. And the output is delicious.

The Krups is going to be donated. The second ViaVenezia? It's at work. I'll muddle along with it for awhile - then I will PID it when I'm ready. Having learned from the first, I'm sure I can get the PID components and do the configuration myself with no difficulty. So I can skip the extra hundred on the 'kit'. I'll likely skip the manometer for awhile too, and rely on my ears and eyes to know I'm on target with flow.