HX espresso machines waste water - or do they?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
User avatar
cafeIKE

#1: Post by cafeIKE »

There have been a few posts of late from users not wanting an HX because of the water use.

This morning I measured the extra water needed to make 3 espresso and 1 americano, all doubles. The drip tray contained 300ml, a volume approximately equal to 125% the shot volume.

Next I pulled a blind shot and captured the water expelled from the group drain : 43ml.

I run a short 5 sec flush before the first shot as the machine has been idle for an hour and a < 2sec screen cleaning flush before each subsequent shot. At the end of the session, I do a plain water backflush.

If I run the Vibiemme in full HX mode, the extra water volume in the drip tray is about double when run in PID mode.

User avatar
HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB »

Good topic, Ian, thanks for bringing it up.

Today I made five espressos using the Elektra Semiautomatica (three in the morning, two in the afternoon). It's located in the home office, there's no sink, and it has a near zero capacity driptray, so it's easy to know how much water didn't go in the cup because it ends up in a dump tub. The Semiautomatica is probably one of the worst offenders in terms of heat exchanger espresso machines: It has a 30 second thermal memory, so every flush is (nearly) like the first one. That tendency is exacerbated by the high pressurestat setting of ~1.2 bar. Furthermore, I wasn't thinking about economizing water usage and did a "warning flush" once before the actual flush for the first extraction of each session (by my count, that would be 2 warmup flushes plus 5 regular flushes). I rely on the flush after the first to rinse the screen and flush/wiggle rinse/backflush at the end.

The total waste water in the dump tub was 36 ounces. As I said, the Semiautomatica likely represents the extreme and I would have made more effort to economize if it were bottled water. With the extra effort, I estimate the amount used today would be 25% less. I draw water from the filtered tap in the kitchen into a one gallon pitcher every three or four days, which is reasonably consistent with that estimate.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
Marshall

#3: Post by Marshall »

Here's a better test. Use only the reservoir for a week and track how many times:

1. A shot was ruined because the low-reservoir cutoff stopped the pump; and

2. You had to remove all the cups on the warming tray, remove the warming tray, refill the reservoir and put back the cups.

With a non-HX, I refill 2 to 3 times a week and waste a shot (because of the cutoff) about once every three weeks. This is based on 3-4 shots/day, and a cappa every 2 to 3 days.
Marshall
Los Angeles

User avatar
HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

For the Semiautomatica, bother answers are zero since there's no low-reservoir cutoff and no cup tray. When I used the Vibiemme Domobar Super, the answers were zero for (1) because I would empty/clean the tank before it ran out, and a couple times a week for (2). When I was testing the Vibiemme very heavily, I bypassed the weight sensor and ran it directly from a gallon pitcher next to it that I refilled every day.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
TimEggers

#5: Post by TimEggers »

Since I use tap I really don't worry about it. I also don't keep my cups on top of the machine either (if I preheat the cup I use the overheated flushing water then towel dry).

I understand that water debit is a concern to many people, but to me it's the last thing I think about (and yes my machine for those who don't know is not plumbed in). I get along just fine. In my experience the benefits of HX far outweigh the other "issues" often cited by others.

To each their own. :wink:
Tim Eggers
http://www.facebook.com/TimEggers
LMWDP #202

User avatar
cafeIKE

#6: Post by cafeIKE »

Marshall wrote:Here's a better test. Use only the reservoir for a week and track how many times:

1. A shot was ruined because the low-reservoir cutoff stopped the pump; and

2. You had to remove all the cups on the warming tray, remove the warming tray, refill the reservoir and put back the cups.

With a non-HX, I refill 2 to 3 times a week and waste a shot (because of the cutoff) about once every three weeks. This is based on 3-4 shots/day, and a cappa every 2 to 3 days.
Here's a couple more tests that make as much sense :

1. Don't put any beans in the grinder and

2. Don't plug in the machine.

Now bitch about the lack of crema.

Planning, Dude!

Fill every Tues, Thurs, Sat after using the cups. :roll:
Haven't blown a shot in a couple of years.

Dogshot

#7: Post by Dogshot »

For those who merely refill their reservoir a few times a week, I encourage you to pull out the reservoir and pour yourself a taste of the water directly from the reservoir after a few days. After trying that myself, I now clean and refill my reservoir daily.

Mark
LMWDP #106

User avatar
cafeIKE

#8: Post by cafeIKE » replying to Dogshot »

BT,DT.
No difference.

Things that make a difference :
  • - Reservoir material
    - open / closed reservoir
    - heat transfer to reservoir
    - original water quality.

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#9: Post by cannonfodder »

I think the answer to the question will be very dependent on the machine. With my non flow restricted Isomac, I used substantially more water flushing down the hot group. On the VBM Domobar Super, I flush much less because of the flow restrictor. The group gets less hot and requires less flushing. If I had to make a guess as to the volume, I would say around 4 ounces for each shot, unless I am running back to back shots in which case it requires little to no flushing.

At the other extreme of the scale is the Elektra A3. That is a single group commercial fire breathing dragon. Combine that with the plumbed in and out, I do not even think about how much I flush. I can say that it is way above any of the above measurements. I fill a 3 gallon bucket at least once, sometimes twice a week but I also purge boiler water into the drip tray to rinse it. On the A3 I do at least two flushes before the shot. The first being a very long initial cooling flush, the second is my shorter preshot flush. Pulling 2-3 shots a day on it, I would guess around a half gallon of water per day. In continues operation, which is how it was designed to work, the cooling flushes would be much less per shot.

On the VBM, I do not remove my cups from the warmer to fill the reservoir. The warmer has handles on it; I just lift it off and set it on the table.
Dave Stephens

BradS

#10: Post by BradS »

cannonfodder wrote:...
At the other extreme of the scale is the Elektra A3. That is a single group commercial fire breathing dragon. Combine that with the plumbed in and out, I do not even think about how much I flush. I can say that it is way above any of the above measurements. I fill a 3 gallon bucket at least once, sometimes twice a week but I also purge boiler water into the drip tray to rinse it. On the A3 I do at least two flushes before the shot. The first being a very long initial cooling flush, the second is my shorter preshot flush. Pulling 2-3 shots a day on it, I would guess around a half gallon of water per day. In continues operation, which is how it was designed to work, the cooling flushes would be much less per shot.
...
I know you can't be bothered with the dissenting plebs and all, but you may want to check your actual group temp on your "SGCFBD".

Image

Image

It would explain why some people are having problems making more than two coffees a day with it after reading your infomercials.

Cheers,

Brad