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itsleighton
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Oct 2009
Posts: 56
Location: Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Marzocco GB5, PID Silvia,
Grinder: Mazzer Robur E, Mazzer Major...
Posted Sun Jun 13, 2010, 6:51pm
Subject: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

What am I missing when i read about the details of heat exchange machines regarding temperature control?   Are most prosumer heat exchange machines regulated by thermostats just like the boiler machines?  I am looking to upgrade to a machine I dont have to wait to cool down between , heat up for steam, etc, but I am not seeing obvious things about strictly dictating brew and steam temperatures.

Can someone please explain the basics to me?
I PID'd my silvia, but to be perfectly honest, if I spend 2k plus on a machine, I dont feel like modifying it like I did my silvia.   And I REALLY dont feel like having to argue again about warranties.
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Sun Jun 13, 2010, 8:25pm
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

The best resource for HX machines I know of is HERE
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boyscout
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Dec 2009
Posts: 405
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010, 5:05am
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

itsleighton Said:

<snip>if I spend 2k plus on a machine, I dont feel like modifying it like I did my silvia.<snip>

Posted June 13, 2010 link

Leighton, if you're planning to spend 2K plus on your next coffee machine you can consider double-boiler machines (DBs) as well as HX machines.  They can be more expensive than many HX machines, but some very popular choices are within your budget.

DBs can make temperature control even simpler and more accurately repeatable than HX machines.  They are typically already PID'ed, and computer-control a brew boiler at the desired temperature for brewing, and a steam boiler at the temperature for steaming.

People made espresso for decades with single-boiler HX machines, and many still do.  The excellent article Joel pointed you towards will give you a good sense of the art and technique of making espresso with them, and some people enjoy the extra operator participation and attention the art requires.  But if simplest-possible repeatability and temperature control sound attractive, you may be a candidate for one of the three leading DB machines that have become so popular:

Vivaldi II Plumb-in

Alex Duetto II  Plumb-in or tank

Mini Vivaldi II  Tank-only

It's assumed that you have a very good espresso grinder already.  If not, then you really need to budget for that too.  A good espresso machine cannot be used to make good coffee if the coffee that isn't very freshly-ground to the proper consistency.  If necessary, scale back your machine purchase (buy a less-expensive HX) in order to spend $450 or so on a Baratza Vario grinder, which may be all the grinder you need.

Good luck.
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jammin
Senior Member
jammin
Joined: 25 Nov 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Boise
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario
Drip: manual
Roaster: quest m3
Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010, 5:33am
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

+1 for boyscout and either vivaldi.  

Splurge on a good grinder first tho.  My k10 is the best investment I've made.

 
roast your own
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,393
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010, 7:04am
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, BUT . . .

The most complicated thing about temperature surfing on an HX machine is reading about it; actually doing it is a piece of cake.  (Compare it to teaching someone to drive.  If you have to explain each and every single step to someone, it sounds so complicated and impossible to master -- with something like 100+ steps before you can even start the engine!  And yet, driving becomes easy, second nature, and yes, "a piece of cake.")

The difference(s) between an HX and DB machine are non-existent in the cup, which is after all where it counts.

Each class of machine has its advantages and its disadvantages, and each class has its "dedicated followers."  Largely, but not exclusively, this boils down to what you're comfortable with -- i.e.:   what they already own.  For example, by temperature surfing, you can change/adjust your brewing temperature on an HX machine "on the fly," as it were.  With a DB, you have to reset the thermostat, and wait for it to re-stabilize at the new (higher or lower) setting.  

Which is best for any particular individual varies with that individual.

The best advice in this thread so far is this:

jammin Said:

Splurge on a good grinder first tho.

Posted June 14, 2010 link

Remember, it's the grinder that makes the espresso; the machine is just a hot water delivery device.  Buy the very best grinder you can afford

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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MikeReilly
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 304
Location: Vancouver Island
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Cimbali Junior Gaggia...
Grinder: Pharos CC45 Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cuisinart
Roaster: Behmor, I-Roast 2, Popper
Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010, 9:36pm
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Remember, it's the grinder that makes the espresso; the machine is just a hot water delivery device.  Buy the very best grinder you can afford

Posted June 14, 2010 link

While I understand the sentiment in this statement it's really going too far.  Yes, the grinder is a more important variable in many ways, but the espresso machine is more than just a hot water delivery device.  It needs to supply the water at the right temperature (a fairly narrow band really) and also a fairly narrow range of acceptable pressure.  If this weren't the case, we'd have much less need for upgraditis, PID's, pressure gauges attached to portafilter handles or paddle groups.  The last part of the statement, buy the very best grinder you can afford, is certainly excellent advice.  With a great grinder you get repeatability of grind and dose and make it much easier to focus on the remaining variables.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,393
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Tue Jun 15, 2010, 6:45am
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

Mike, I am not the first person to say that, nor will I be the last.  It's one of those "truisms" that's a cross between an aphorism and a cliché . . . but then again, clichés become clichés for a reason:  they are true.  Just don't take them too literally.

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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philosogeek
Senior Member
philosogeek
Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 448
Location: Northborough, MA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Livia 90 Semi-Auto
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Maestro
Vac Pot: Yama 8 and 3 cup
Drip: Pour over, Clever coffee...
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Jun 15, 2010, 6:58am
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

The most complicated thing about temperature surfing on an HX machine is reading about it; actually doing it is a piece of cake.

Posted June 14, 2010 link

Jason,

This is the first time I've heard this said and it's totally the case.  I was really overwhelmed with this whole temps surfing, water dancing (I'm not that limber), mess of button pushing...but it's really no big deal.  I'm going to start stressing this, thanks :)

-Paul
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Tue Jun 15, 2010, 8:38am
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

MikeReilly Said:

the espresso machine is more than just a hot water delivery device.  It needs to supply the water at the right temperature (a fairly narrow band really) and also a fairly narrow range of acceptable pressure.  If this weren't the case, we'd have much less need for upgraditis, PID's, pressure gauges attached to portafilter handles or paddle groups.

Posted June 14, 2010 link

I'm with Jason on this one.  It pushes hot water through a bed of coffee.  PID's, pressure gauges, preinfusion, etc. may make the experience more forgiving and simpler, but from my (relatively limited) experience, the difference in machines isn't what's in the cup, it's how much work you have to do to get the same results.  

I will say that some of the more entry level machines may not have the same potential of espresso as higher end machines (namely temperature stability), but when we're refering to machines in the $2K class we're far beyond that.

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

by temperature surfing, you can change/adjust your brewing temperature on an HX machine "on the fly," as it were.  With a DB, you have to reset the thermostat, and wait for it to re-stabilize at the new (higher or lower) setting.

Posted June 14, 2010 link

The on the fly brew temp adjustment on an HX is the one hands down advantage I like over a DB.  As always, YMMV.
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wbaguhn
Senior Member
wbaguhn
Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 980
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Ponte Vecchio Lusso
Grinder: Cunill Tranquilo, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Cory DR
Drip: Vietnamese gadget, AeroPress
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Jun 15, 2010, 12:25pm
Subject: Re: Heat exchange machine temp control
 

MikeReilly Said:

the espresso machine is more than just a hot water delivery device.

Posted June 14, 2010 link

I'm curious - what does yours do other than deliver hot water, albeit at the right temperature and pressure?

All mine does is squirt out hot water or steam (also a form of hot water).  I'm not complaining - it does a pretty good job.

(There's still room for upgraditis here - either an improvement in the hot water, or in the way it's delivered.)
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