The Delonghi EC 820b is a pressurised espresso machine with a panarello. I have made two mods. To depressurise the double walled basket, I took hacksaw to it's bottom face to create a wide square window, effectively widening the tiny hole to expose essentially all of the perforated floor of the basket. It's not pretty, but it works. This allows the coffee to be ground to a much finer consistency and generate a much fuller flavoured non-pressurised shot. It's possible to get spare baskets, so that one can choose to go pressurised or not by swapping baskets. While it's often stated that double shots are easier to dial in than singles, the baskets on this machine are only ~52 mm wide and taper. This may be the reason why I find singles easier than doubles on this machine. Double require a courser grind, which results in a loss of flavour. Also, the double baskets are more like one and a half, which is not ideal. Next, I removed the sleeve off the panarello. This is easy as it's supposed to come off for cleaning. Without it, it is easy to generate much better quality milk foam using the classical technique. It is not possible to control the water temperature on this machine and there is no thermostat light to guide temperature surfing. The water temperature is above 80 'C, but does not seem to go above 90'C. It's not obvious how to modify this, so to make the next leap in shot quality will seem to require an upgrade of machine.
BB&B and you can use 20% off so cheap. Buy 2, so that you can take one apart. Many brands have the thermistor or wiring glued in and do not slip apart, so get the Polder.
For the second Polder, and surfing, this post. You take the thermometer apart. You may need to heat the steel probe to soften the plastic where it holds the probe. You can find a place to put the wire through the front or top and get the thermistor the boiler. Sometimes you can wedge it in a spot by an existing fastener, or try high temperature foil tape or glue.
Alternate for Polder for temperature is something like this
When putting in the basket for the pod and leaving it empty, the flow is already very restricted. I measured the temperature of the liquid flowing out after the portafilter took up heat, which took up to a minute, and it reached 86 'C. This is getting closer to where it should be and would presumably get even closer when the flow is even slower with a proper shot, which is up to 2 times slower. I'll stick to doing a long empty run before each shot to preheat the portafilter and get the best out of this machine without getting into more engineering projects.
Forgot to add that with the non-pressurised modification, I also tried removing the plastic insert from the portafilter and putting a nut in the central screw hole. This was not a good idea because the spouts are too open and the coffee dribbles everywhere. With the plastic insert, the liquid is directed into tidy streams as one would hope for.
The modification of the portafilter and possibly the steam wand are likely applicable to the EC850, EC860 and similar.
Finally got a Rancilio Silvia today. I have had time to pull 5 shots so far ranging from sour/weak through to bitter/strong and in between. I am utterly stunned that the poorest shots on the Silvia were all much better than the best shots I got out of the EC820B whether pressurised or non-pressurised. I have entered a new and much better world. De Longhi - you've been good to learn the basics on but now it's time to say goodbye...
Glad to hear you have decided to focus your talents on a machine worthy of your ministrations. I often wonder why someone would perform radical modifications to binworthy home units when they're clearly equipped to find solid used machines in need of mending and perform the necessary repairs with the same money and effort. Good luck
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