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Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
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Discussions > Coffee > Machines > Bunn MCP Arrived...  
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Tue May 17, 2011, 8:34am
Subject: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

After all the advice on machines here, I ordered the Bunn MCP last week.  It arrived yesterday to much anticipation.  I unpacked it and was impressed with the build quality.  It uses some nice polycarbonate and thermoplastic throughout.  It's not the stainless 50+lb beast of an espresso machine I'm used to with new coffee gear, but it's a very solid machine feeling worth of it's commercial "office and hospitality" billing.  Everything feels solid, the pod drawer feels tight, held firmly in place by spring-loaded bumpers on all sides, and the blue lights illuminating the cup during brew were a very nice aesthetic surprise.  It looks like a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia with all that blue light :)  The multi-tiered drip tray is unusual, but seems like it could be useful in detecting overflows if ever needed.

So I set it up next to the K10 (which makes the Bunn look very tiny despite being fairly full sized for a normal machine), filled it up and proceeded with the initial tank fill......the pump ran....no water came out.   The pump ran a while, changed sound toward the end making me think it got some water...but nothing happened.  Then the red Bunn light started blinking and locked the controls (nothing in the manual about THAT!) I cycled the power, tried again.  Same problem.   Cycled the power, tried again, same problem...this time I cut the pump process each cycle so it wouldn't over-run the seemingly dry or "disconnected" pump.   I couldn't figure out what went wrong.  The valve on the reservoir was fine.  The valve on the machine was fine.

After a little internet searching, I found a post from an Amazon review saying they read another post suggesting to use a turkey baster for this issue.  It seemed odd, but I eventually found another post citing the same thing, only this time stating it was a Bunn tech who told them to do so.  Odd, but makes sense.  So after a trip to the store for a new baster, I couldn't figure out in what way to use it.  Going with the safest way I could imagine, I filled it with water from the reservoir, placed it at the bottom of the reservoir just over the outlet at the bottom into the pump area (there's nowhere to insert it, I just did it touching the grille on the outlet.)  With the machine off, I gave it a few squeezes.   Then with the pump running I gave it a few squeezes.....and then I heard the pump creating increasing pulses of suction building toward the outlet.  It worked!  It didn't involve much pressure, just some pressure/turbulence at the outlet of the reservoir enough to push some water down into the pump inlet I imagine was all it took.

Now...that got me to thinking HOW or WHY this would occur, and seems to be somewhat common.  Given the relative quietness and lack of vibration of the motor, and the mention on the box of "commercial pump" (and the relative expense of the machine) I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the machine uses some sort of rotary vane pump such as the Procon mini, which may be the main difference between it and the consumer model...perhaps that uses the much cheaper vibe pumps.  Specifically, I'm going to assume they use the same pump on the pourover machine as they do on the plumbed model: Meaning a non-self-priming rotary pump expecting some line pressure.  The issue strikes me as similar to utility pumps for draining tubs, pools, etc, also rotary vane, where you must manually prime the pump by feeding some water down the inlet hose before it can start the siphon effect and continue pumping.  

If indeed that is the case, it's a simple situation and is actually a "pro" of the unit to include such a nice heavy duty pump.  The only failing would be the fact that among the two pieces of documentation that describes initial setup/fill, NEITHER of them has any notification of this possibility at all! A simple * next to "press brew" under "initial setup" leading to an italicized "NOTICE: This machine features a high performance non-self-priming commercial rotary vane pump.  On pourover models (MCP, MCPA) without plumbed line pressure, the pump may need to be manually primed during initial setup using a turkey baster or some other utensil to push water into the reservoir outlet on the bottom right side.  See diagram 3A." would suffice.  It's commercial equipment, it can be assumed that anyone setting it up is competent enough to do that. I wonder how many they've received as "broken" when in fact all that needed to be done was priming the pump in the absence of documentation?

Or it's a gear type pump or mag-drive pump that also can't self-prime.  But AFAIK, all vibratory pumps are self-priming by nature, and create substantially more machine vibration, especially when  not under pressure....so I definitely think it can't be vibratory.

Regardless, once I got it going (after a harrowing evening of believing I was going to have to stare at coffee pods without drinking them) the machine performs excellently.  Clean, even, quiet (relatively, while sitting across from 2 espresso grinders, a Blendtec, and an espresso machine with vibe pump, it's "quiet"), fast, and seems to maintain quite a stable temperature. I used pulse mode, and popped open a Reunion Island Ethiopian FTO Oromia for 6oz.  Being used to the very bold, full bodied americanos, it was a slight shock...it's been a while since I've done brewed coffee.  But the thing that seemed apparent to me was that it was a VERY clean flavor.  No bitterness, no sourness, no muddiness, very clear and clean.  For pre-ground coffee (of a light-medium roast no less) this was impressive!  The bottom of the cup had a more slightly uneven taste, but that's to be expected, even with americanos.  I was a little startled by just how little 6oz looked in the cup (it would only just slightly not fit in my Terra 6oz cappuccino cups....the final splash/splutter would make a mess at the end of brew.)  About that messy final splash...it does make a little bit of a mess, but it's not too severe.  

My second cup was a tea (since after the baster situation, it was a little too late for more caffeine, and my good Fratellos don't even arrive until today anyway.)  The sample was a Solera Hibiscus Mint.  I was surprised to read it claims to brew an 8oz cup of tea (there goes my little English 4oz tea cups...) and was even more surprised after brewing it that it came out a deep red color, and really did brew a strong 8oz cup of the best herbal tea I've ever had.  

Did I mention the blue lights are VERY neat? :)


Quick question for those of you who also have this unit (or even the home MC), the instructions seem to go out of their way to tell you not to turn the machine off and to leave it always-on.   Personally I dislike this from a safety and expense stand-point, not to mention in its location it needs to share an outlet with the blender (13A on its own) and/or the K10 (750W), so the two can't be run at the same time anyway, thus I'd have to turn it off when using those.  Do you guys leave it on, or shut it off after the session?
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jbviau
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jbviau
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Posted Tue May 17, 2011, 11:54am
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

Glad your first impression was positive once you managed to get the machine primed! Forgot to warn you about that potential issue before (sorry). When I had the MCP, I turned it off each night and never experienced any issues. The Bunn MC Home I use now doesn't have a power switch, so it's always on by default unless you unplug it (though it does go to sleep after a few hours IIRC).
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Tue May 17, 2011, 12:38pm
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

jbviau Said:

Glad your first impression was positive once you managed to get the machine primed! Forgot to warn you about that potential issue before (sorry).

Posted May 17, 2011 link

It's such an irritating issue because it's not actually a problem with the machine, but a simple piece of information missing from the documentation.  You'd think that's the kind of thing that would be on red or yellow paper in the box, or on the sticker on the lid that tells you to call support with issues, "Before first use, you must manually prime the pump by squirting water down the tube."  They've got to be losing fortunes in shipping replacements and refurbs to people who call with this problem when it's simply the machine doing what it does in storage.  I'm glad it has such a great pump...in the long-term that's a big plus.  Just let me know it has a non-priming pump, Bunn! It costs nothing to add a line to the manual! :)    

As a coffee geek, I'm used to tinkering and modifying equipment.  I've modded my grinder with a spare dispensing chute, cut apart and filed down for clearer sweeping access, and to remove the stop that backs up grinds following advice here and HB.  I've removed the lock pin for removing the collar so I can easily disassemble the upper burr carrier for cleaning the chamber with the vac.  I bought my espresso machine because it's all hand made from off the shelf parts...if I ever need to replace any part but the boiler, I can do so easily.  Figuring out the pump wasn't priming wasn't a huge deal for me.  For the food service/OCS installer, they'll know what to do.  But I dread to see what happens when a normal consumer or office personnel buys one for $400 off the Bunn MyCafe website and it won't prime itself and the instructions don't point that out.  

But indeed the coffee was excellent...and wasn't even the best beans yet.  I didn't expect such a clean flavor from pods, I expected something muddier.  Most drip at restaurants end up requiring me to add sugar, this was totally clean.  Today I get to choose between the Fratello Ethiopian Sid. and the Panamanian Diamond Mountain.  Oh, such difficult decisions.  But pods are a life-saver for S.O. experimentation.  That Ethiopian Oromio, despite being listed as "medium" roast was a bit lighter than most mediums, and given its fair flavor would have performed miserably as an espresso.   It's taking some adapting in adjusting to brewed flavor rather than extracted flavor, and I'm sure some of that is the slightly reduced body of pods versus other methods, and a light, sweet, somewhat sharp bean, but from memory it's definitely beating out most drip I've ever had (with inferior grinders, mind you), and holds its own (convenience to quality) to the more entailed methods. I think this pod thing is going to be a fantastic addition to the espresso gear, though I'll note that drinking it did reaffirm my love for my espresso gear...there's no comparison to the richness of that.  Though there's no comparison to the hour it takes to prep/make/drink/cleanup the espresso gear for the evening sessions as well. :)

While I can't compare directly to Keurig, I can only guess how most beans for that would taste...especially at the supposed 185 (ick) brew temp most of the low-to-mid-end Keurig machines boast.

When I had the MCP, I turned it off each night and never experienced any issues. The Bunn MC Home I use now doesn't have a power switch, so it's always on by default unless you unplug it (though it does go to sleep after a few hours IIRC).

Good to know!   The power switch was one of the reasons I like the MCP over the MC in general.  To me that's a big feature.  The MCP goes into reduced temp in 6 hours, off in 26 hours.  I THINK I remember reading the same for the MC.   Still, my 13A blender would be unlikely to like even the low power mode.  Though I suspect even in full power it doesn't actually "cycle the boiler" at full power the way a tstat or pstat would be likely uses small pulses of lower power to maintain temp more akin to a PID the way higher end espresso machines and, for example, Zojirushi water pots do.  After initial boil it doesn't keep full power in bursts to keep it hot, but rather applies trickle heat.  Just a guess, anyway.
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jbviau
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jbviau
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Posted Wed May 18, 2011, 4:57am
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

Totally agree. The priming issue has come up several times over the years on the ssc forums. If you're so inclined, maybe send Amanda over there or some other Bunn rep. your feedback? They do occasionally drop the ball on stuff like this but seem eager to fix mistakes. Related story concerning their new MC Home: its water sensor literally won't run if the water doesn't have some mineral content. This wasn't made clear in the documentation accompanying the machine on early production runs, resulting in some unnecessary returns/confusion. Well-intentioned consumers were using distilled or otherwise uber-filtered water and then having trouble.

Hope you like the Fratello pods!
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Wed May 18, 2011, 6:47am
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

jbviau Said:

Totally agree. The priming issue has come up several times over the years on the ssc forums. If you're so inclined, maybe send Amanda over there or some other Bunn rep. your feedback?

Posted May 18, 2011 link

Not a bad idea...do they have direct contact info, or do you mean on the SSC forum? Hopefully the more places it pops up (such as here...the google indexing on this forum is amazing) the less people will be troubled by it until Bunn remedies it...but helping improve people's experience with Bunn's pod brewers benefits us as much as them...the long-term availability of great coffee in pods depends in part on the success of those machines!

They do occasionally drop the ball on stuff like this but seem eager to fix mistakes. Related story concerning their new MC Home: its water sensor literally won't run if the water doesn't have some mineral content. This wasn't made clear in the documentation accompanying the machine on early production runs, resulting in some unnecessary returns/confusion. Well-intentioned consumers were using distilled or otherwise uber-filtered water and then having trouble.

In fairness, that one is actually more understandable on their part, and I assume the same issue applies to the autofill sensor in the MCP, as well as pretty much all other Bunn (commercial) machines with boilers of some sort.  It's pretty much universal with the autofill sensor in espresso boilers as well.  They rely on 5V being sent into the boiler, and depend on conductivity of metallic minerals to detect continuity.  Some espresso machines do come with such notices, but many don't due to the majority of espresso machines including badly translated Italian->English manuals by the importer/distributor.  (And a handful of espresso machines don't require it, mine included, for some odd reason, though I don't understand why fully since it uses the same Giemmie controller block as most others.)

However, I do agree, we're not talking about imported gear, we're talking about "Assembled In USA" Bunn....it's amazing they wouldn't include such a disclaimer, and it's the exact same kind of simple oversight as the pump.  Most people are not aware of the differences in priming vs. non-self-priming pumps nor the mode of operation of a water level sensor.  I would make sure to disclaim it even for cafe equipment.  Most of the staff members there are NOT pro baristi :)

I'm using the same water combination I use for espresso, mostly "distilled" (ZeroWater 000-004 TDS filtered water), plus a little filtered by full TDS water from another filter to add in flavor and keep the water level sensors happy (just in case.)

Have you found that the pump sounds/feels the same on the MC and MCP units or does the home unit make a bit more noise and vibrate more?

Hope you like the Fratello pods!

I tried 3 of them last night....they were all fantastic!   The Reunion Island are good...but the Fratello utterly blows them out of the water, it's a whole different class, and substantially more body in the 6oz cup.  Mine were rosted 9/30/10 and 11/03/10....ground coffee that old should not taste as clean as it did...but somehow did.  Even in Nitrogen flush.  It's not that I can't taste ANY staling (I've refined my palate enough with the best beans that I can tell little imperfections)....the flaws being a "hardcore coffeephile", but for what it is, it's phenomenal.  If it were my only coffee maker I'd be a little disappointed with anything  but fresh beans ground in a G1.  Since it's the ease-of-use-alternative to, as someone on the ssc forums humorously referred to CG folks in a post, "Geek-boy's Pomposity 3000 (which takes a week to heat up)", it, with that coffee, surpasses my hopes.  

The three I tried were the Panama Hacienda Esmeralda, Ethiopia Sidamo Special Prep, and Godfater Espresso.   The Panama reminded me of a good number of my americanos...an excellent compliment to the body of the brew.  The Ethiopia was an Ethiopia with all the fruity notes that go with it....again, very good.  And the Godfather Espresso smelled overwhelmingly as I would expect any espresso to, though I found the body to be less than the Panama as a brew.  In the Winter I may have to import a bag of fresh Godfather, just to compare it as a genuine americano :)

I do suspect that Fratello will be my pod of choice.  Have you by any chance tried the Coffee Artisan house brand?  If so, how do you feel it compares? I asked Chad at CA about the roasting and he told me it was also small batch roasted in a Probat and air cooled, and cupping is done in-house....so I'd assume it should be similarly high-level.

Also, do you usually do a short hot water flush before brewing if you haven't just brewed one back-to-back to heat the shower screen and all (and prevent shorting a cup) or have you found it's not really needed? (I saw someone list that they did that, possibly in the thread you linked to with Eric's tests, but I have a feeling I'm just carrying over an espresso habit from having to flush the heat exchanger and warm up the portafilter/cool the group.)
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jbviau
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jbviau
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Posted Wed May 18, 2011, 12:31pm
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

TheMadTamper Said:

Not a bad idea...do they have direct contact info, or do you mean on the SSC forum?

Posted May 18, 2011 link

Sure, you could do it through the forum, or you could just email/call her directly. Amanda puts her contact info. all over Amazon in response to reviews, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind my sharing it here also:

amanda.crossland@bunn.com
800-352-2866

TheMadTamper Said:

Have you found that the pump sounds/feels the same on the MC and MCP units or does the home unit make a bit more noise and vibrate more?

Posted May 18, 2011 link

The former. The MC Home isn't louder and doesn't vibrate more as far as I can tell. It does pulse more on the tea setting than the MCP, but like I said elsewhere I don't think this has a noticeable effect on extraction.

TheMadTamper Said:

I tried 3 of them last night...they were all fantastic!

Posted May 18, 2011 link

Sweet!

TheMadTamper Said:

Since it's the ease-of-use-alternative to, as someone on the ssc forums humorously referred to CG folks in a post, "Geek-boy's Pomposity 3000 (which takes a week to heat up)", it, with that coffee, surpasses my hopes.

Posted May 18, 2011 link

Yeah, unfortunately there seems to be a history of tension between members of the two forums. It's unnecessary. IMO nobody serious would ever claim that pods beat freshly roasted beans ground well and properly brewed. But pods can give you a really nice cup all the same. There's room for both approaches to coffee, which you have aptly demonstrated.

TheMadTamper Said:

Have you by any chance tried the Coffee Artisan house brand?  If so, how do you feel it compares? I asked Chad at CA about the roasting and he told me it was also small batch roasted in a Probat and air cooled, and cupping is done in-house....so I'd assume it should be similarly high-level.

Posted May 18, 2011 link

I can't speak highly enough about Chad and his pod business. The Artisan pods are quite good. You'll find many, many reviews over on SSC (including my own), but I'll just say off the top of my head that my favorites are his Ethiopian Harrar, Papua New Guinea, Artisan Blend (medium-dark roast), 100% Kona, and 100% JBM. Can't go wrong with any of those.

TheMadTamper Said:

Also, do you usually do a short hot water flush before brewing if you haven't just brewed one back-to-back to heat the shower screen and all (and prevent shorting a cup) or have you found it's not really needed?

Posted May 18, 2011 link

I do. I could be wrong, but my perception is that it helps.
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Thu May 19, 2011, 8:06am
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

jbviau Said:

Sure, you could do it through the forum, or you could just email/call her directly. Amanda puts her contact info. all over Amazon in response to reviews, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind my sharing it here also:

Posted May 18, 2011 link

Thanks, I'll probably drop her an email today or tomorrow!

The former. The MC Home isn't louder and doesn't vibrate more as far as I can tell. It does pulse more on the tea setting than the MCP, but like I said elsewhere I don't think this has a noticeable effect on extraction.

Interesting, so presumably they're both using the same kind of pump.  That leads me to believe it's a geared pump.  It's definitely NOT a vibe...those are loud and vibrate like crazy, especially when dry, until they hit full pressure resistance when they get quiet and stop shaking.  They're also, by nature of operation, self-priming.  But I can't see them selling a $100 machine with a rotary pump in it.  Rotary is expensive (generally consisting of a detachable motor and impeller head.)  Rotary also has a very bad habit of burning out very fast if run dry.  Direct drive geared, or maybe a magdrive pump would make more sense.  Magdrives are nice and virtually indestructible since they're brushless, and the drive shaft is entirely decoupled from the impeller.  Also a little pricy, but not as much as rotary vane. Most do like to be fully submerged to operate, so I'll assume they don't tend to self-prime.  

I also doubt that additional pulses make much difference.  From what I've seen the first 3 pulses start darker, and end lighter, but the 4th pulse is mostly watery from beginning to end...I think all the extraction is done by then, so breaking it up more wouldn't change much.  I assume the difference in pulses has more to do with the machine not knowing ahead of time just how much water it's going to brew as it does with the selector knob on the MCP.  The MCP seems to actually have different length pulses based on setting, where the MC probably has a fixed pulse time until it runs out of water.


Yeah, unfortunately there seems to be a history of tension between members of the two forums. It's unnecessary. IMO nobody serious would ever claim that pods beat freshly roasted beans ground well and properly brewed. But pods can give you a really nice cup all the same. There's room for both approaches to coffee, which you have aptly demonstrated.

Well there's some truth in the humor of it...while the majority of CG is generally helpful and accepts all forms of coffee, there's no doubt, especially on the espresso side, some show of the "Pomposity 3000, week-long process" mentality in all of us.  A few will be arrogant about it (the great heat exchanger versus dual boiler wars as an example.  Some will insist that DB espresso machines are vastly superior to HX espresso machines....despite the overwhelming evidence that they're pretty much equal if made well.)  Even I tout my PomposiGrind 2575 :P

But I agree it's entirely unnecessary.  The espresso portion is, by definition, is a group of pro-amatuer hobbyists seeking to develop professional, competition-level, or near-competition-level coffee knowledge and skills and to work with their equipment as performance machines as in any pro-amatuer hobby (photography, auto racing, atheletics, whatever.)   The goal for most posters on that side of the forum is to make ever improving cups among the best possible, and to banally debate all day about hole uniformity and distribution in filter baskets and its effect in the cup (mea culpa....Mark's about ready to slap me for questioning the new baskets on the cover story :) )  That's a very different set of needs than the group at the SSC forum. But not entirely incompatible.  Someone looking to take pictures at a family picnic needs only a good quality point and shoot camera, not thousands of dollars of big white zoom lenses on carbon fiber tripods intended to capture widlife at 300 yards out.  Someone going for a pizza doesn't need a polished, precision tuned F1,  and someone looking for a great quality cup of coffee doesn't need a K10 and a plumbed in manually tweaked LaMarzocco GS/3.

Conversely, someone with a set of big white lenses and CF tripods probably won't bring them to the family picnic, someone with an F1 probably wont' drive it for a pizza, and someone with a K10 and a GS/3 (or in my case, something considerably less than a GS/3, but still "high end"), probably doesn't want to spend an hour warming it up, cleaning it up, and monitoring the pour if all they want is a convenient but great quality cup of coffee :)

I think some of that reputation goes back more to the "old days" of CG....it's mellowed out a lot, and most of the crowd is very helpful on all sides.  If you look at most of the heavy espresso posters, they also have decent drip or chemex, technivorm, moka pot, french press, or the increasingly popular MyPressi Twist for the espresso addict on the go who simply CAN'T trust random espresso shops for something drinkable :) And when you get down to it the Twist is VERY pod-like....you must pre-load the machine with your ground coffee before leaving...so it's always "stale" by the time you use it (unless you have a hand-grinder with you in the other pocket...) (If you're not familiar with the Twist, it's a little handheld "espresso machine" that looks like a ball with a long handle.  You pre-load a shot of ground coffee in it, then pour in hot water and load a whipped cream charger to act as the "pump" pressure.  It makes pods like like state of the art high-tech gear...it's entirely non-electric!)

The more complicated the espresso hobby gets and the more scientific control can be added to truly perfecting and replicating the process, the more other less complicated brews are needed to as a supplement, I think.  For many here, making, learning about, testing, evaluating, and perfecting coffee is a hobby.  The process is the point.  SSC is all about enjoying coffee (from a convenient format.)  But both definitely compliment each other well, and the pods are absolutely high quality enough to appease this geek for when I just don't feel like going through the whole process.  When I'm not "geeking out" in trying to pull a perfect shot, I want to not have to think about or bother with the process at all.  Pods are perfect for that.  If I was going to sit there with a grinder or press pot trying to perfect it, I might as well have just fired up the espresso machine.  I'm not sure I'd have felt as content about Keurig at 185F....  But thanks to Coffee Artisan and Fratello, it gets geeky enough without the effort :)

I can't speak highly enough about Chad and his pod business. The Artisan pods are quite good. You'll find many, many reviews over on SSC (including my own), but I'll just say off the top of my head that my favorites are his Ethiopian Harrar, Papua New Guinea, Artisan Blend (medium-dark roast), 100% Kona, and 100% JBM. Can't go wrong with any of those

I've enjoyed Papua New Guinea's I've tried from CCC, so I'm very curious about Artisan's.  I have a box of the "Aloha Island" Kona I got from CoffeeWiz which is actually very good, though inexplicably pricy, even for Kona, though I was considering Kona or JBM from Artisan...I may just have to buy a box along with this week's special.  I also must say Chad has been extremely helpful in answering my emails as well!  He seems to be for the pod world what Jeff at Redbird and Tony at Fresco are for whole beans.  I love a small, personalized shop like that.

I do. I could be wrong, but my perception is that it helps.

Some OCD coffee geek habits go beyond the Pomposity 3000 to reach true universality... ;)
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Thu May 19, 2011, 10:21am
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

My only true regret is I hesitated too long ordering this week's special from CA...it was a Fratello Columbian that sounded fantastic...it appears to be sold out now!

I suppose I'll have to wait and see what's on sale next week...
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jbviau
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Location: Pembroke Pines, FL
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Preciso / LIDOs
Drip: Trifecta MB / Eva Solo...
Posted Thu May 19, 2011, 9:40pm
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

This week's special may interest you less (Cafejo French Roast). I'd send you a few samples of that Fratello Colombian Tolima if I weren't out. But never fear: Fratello's Colombian Huila Suaza micro-lot should be out in pod format within a week or two.

TheMadTamper Said:

Interesting, so presumably they're both using the same kind of pump.  That leads me to believe it's a geared pump.

Posted May 19, 2011 link

 
You made me curious, so I asked Amanda, who reported that "The MC has a solenoid pump while the MCP utilizes a gear pump." She might post more info. soon. Anyway, good guess!

TheMadTamper Said:

I assume the difference in pulses has more to do with the machine not knowing ahead of time just how much water it's going to brew as it does with the selector knob on the MCP.  The MCP seems to actually have different length pulses based on setting, where the MC probably has a fixed pulse time until it runs out of water.

Posted May 19, 2011 link

Based on some testing, I can confirm you're right about the MC. I think the MCP might also have a fixed pulse time, but I only checked at the 8-oz. setting. See here for a relevant geeky thread to which you might have something to add.

TheMadTamper Said:

I think some of that reputation goes back more to the "old days" of CG....it's mellowed out a lot, and most of the crowd is very helpful on all sides.

Posted May 19, 2011 link

Excellent. I'm enjoying my time here...visiting regularly now.

TheMadTamper Said:

If you look at most of the heavy espresso posters, they also have decent drip or chemex, technivorm, moka pot, french press, or the increasingly popular MyPressi Twist for the espresso addict on the go who simply CAN'T trust random espresso shops for something drinkable :) And when you get down to it the Twist is VERY pod-like....you must pre-load the machine with your ground coffee before leaving...so it's always "stale" by the time you use it (unless you have a hand-grinder with you in the other pocket...) (If you're not familiar with the Twist, it's a little handheld "espresso machine" that looks like a ball with a long handle.  You pre-load a shot of ground coffee in it, then pour in hot water and load a whipped cream charger to act as the "pump" pressure.  It makes pods look like state of the art high-tech gear...it's entirely non-electric!)

Posted May 19, 2011 link

I've had a few nice shots from a friend's Twist and am considering getting one for myself. Could be like a gateway drug for me with respect to espresso, but I'm willing to take the risk. ;)

TheMadTamper Said:

I also must say Chad has been extremely helpful in answering my emails as well!  He seems to be for the pod world what Jeff at Redbird and Tony at Fresco are for whole beans.  I love a small, personalized shop like that.

Posted May 19, 2011 link

+1!
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TheMadTamper
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Joined: 2 Nov 2010
Posts: 1,246
Location: US
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Salvatore SES; Izzo Duetto...
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC, K8 Fresh,...
Drip: /Pod: Bunn MCP
Roaster: /Other: Blender - BlendTec...
Posted Fri May 20, 2011, 7:12am
Subject: Re: Bunn MCP Arrived and Well after Shaky Start
 

jbviau Said:

This week's special may interest you less (Cafejo French Roast). I'd send you a few samples of that Fratello Colombian Tolima if I weren't out. But never fear: Fratello's Colombian Huila Suaza micro-lot should be out in pod format within a week or two.

Posted May 19, 2011 link

Definitely not as interesting.  Not that I'm not strongly impressed by Cafejo's Solera teas. Both the Lemon Sunrise and the Hibiscus mint are extremely great quality.  Their descriptions compared to Organa/Puck seem so dull, but the quality is there.  I may be writing off their coffees prematurely.

I'm looking forward to that one as well!  The description of the Tolima intrigued me, but I checked on the Hulia Suaza as well..."cinnamon toast" is one of the more interesting descriptions I've heard as well.  Too bad I missed the sale though.  I'll probably be slowing down on hot coffees for a while, it looks like hot weather is on the way, so I may be opting for some darker, smokier beans to use as iced coffees (and teas) for a time.  Coffee Artisan's Dark Side may be the winner for that!

You made me curious, so I asked Amanda, who reported that "The MC has a solenoid pump while the MCP utilizes a gear pump." She might post more info. soon. Anyway, good guess!

+2 for geekdom! And great info, makes me glad I went with the MCP, just on geek points ;)  So the MC is a vibe after all....I'm surprised it's not louder (though I'm basing the noise of a vibe on the familiar 40-50W 11 or 12 bar max espresso pumps.)  That explains why the MCP is non-self-priming and the MC is.  Vibe/solenoid works as it sounds, by effectively creating suction, and actually produce some lift from a reservoir on their own.  I'd guess instead of a bottom outlet, the MC may have a tube for drawing from the "reservoir" from above, like many pourover espresso machines.  Gear pumps are positive displacement, they force an constant amount at a constant pressure (like rotary vane), rather than ramping up the pressure like a vibe as it meets resistance.  But they don't create lift or suction, and rely on the siphon effect...meaning the line must have water through it to get it in the gear toothing, but once it does, it siphons endlessly until it runs dry  at which point it must be primed again (also possibly why the MCP's minimum water level/line is so high up in the reservoir....it ensures it doesn't run out of siphon material.  Gear pumps aren't cheap (generally speaking) (and in fact can be dual purpose motor and pump), thus a significant portion for the price difference of the machines.)  Those dense black utility pumps with the hoses that I talked about are gear pumps, though those are brushed motors.  And not cheap.

Now to take it to additional geekiness, this does have some potential effect on flavor and would account for the "different character in the cup" mentioned between the MC and MCP on some beans, unless there's other more stark differences such as different boiler design, different shower head design, or different heat retention characteristics of the shower head material.

If you search the espresso forums here, or the home-barista forums (if you think CG is geeky....try that....it's all espresso and even more technical.  I lurk there, but haven't posted...it's largely the same crowd as the espresso forums here...) there's a few very interesting threads relating to "vibe vs rotary pump" including charts and graphs of the pressure ramp-ups and comparisons from some machines (specifically the Vibiemme Domobar) that can be configured either as rotary or vibe at the factory (most rotary models must be plumbed, so if a company offers pour-over, it features a vibe pump, with a few exceptions such as LaMarzocco GS/3.)  It also factors into the pre-infusion factor for espresso.  Namely, vibe pumps do to their soft pressure ramp-up have a "natural pre-infusion" (pre-moistening of the coffee) in espresso, where rotary with it's "instant jump to full pressure" benefits more from various artificial pre-infusion systems.   The different effects on espresso shots are debated...endlessly...and in true CG/HB fashion, there's no conclusive results, but most agree there's some type of character differences between the two.  Though more are admitting that they don't notice a difference and the main benefit is that it's quieter and doesn't vibrate their cups all over the place (vibe pumps in a big stainless cabinet tends to shake quite a bit) :) There's no definitive "better" in terms of the coffee...but there is potential for a difference in character based mostly on a slightly reduced extraction pressure at the beginning of the pour.  Since pod machines are slightly pressurized (3.5 bar I believe vs 9-11 bar for espresso), the same may apply.

It's hard to hear the noise difference in the Bunn machine pumps because the majority of the noise you hear is that "honking" sound (the high pitched squeal) that accompanies the pouring....that seems to be created by a diaphragm of some sort at the shower head and the slightly pressurized outlet.  But when the motor ran alone and unprimed, it was immediately obvious it was not a vibe.

Based on some testing, I can confirm you're right about the MC. I think the MCP might also have a fixed pulse time, but I only checked at the 8-oz. setting. See here for a relevant geeky thread to which you might have something to add.

I'll take a look!

Excellent. I'm enjoying my time here...visiting regularly now.

Glad to hear it! It's a fun little forum, and pod people and super-auto espresso people are probably to two coffee types least represented here, so it's great to add that in.  Pod people aren't blasted out quite as fiercely as super-auto people, so that should be helpful ;)  )

I've had a few nice shots from a friend's Twist and am considering getting one for myself. Could be like a gateway drug for me with respect to espresso, but I'm willing to take the risk. ;)

I've never used one, but I don't think I've ever heard a bad comment about one, even among the purists.  The whipped cream charger actually makes a nice little pump.  Though, the standard espresso advice applies, even to that: "Your espresso is only as good as your grinder!"   And even "barely adequate" espresso grinders cost more than an MCP... Though when talking about a Twist, the most practical and well matched option is actually extremely cheap: A manual hand crank grinder such as the Zassenhaus.   For electric espresso machines that's pretty painful.  But for something like a Twist there's actually a delightful "no electricity used" symmetry to grinding your beans with a $40 wood box with a hand crank, and it grinds a decent shot, at least on par with a Rancilio Rocky ($350.)  The all-manual espresso setup may be appropriate for a pod-enthusiast in the same way a pod machine is appropriate for an espresso-enthusiast :)
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