thebeardedbarista Senior Member Joined: 26 Oct 2013 Posts: 7 Location: Philadelphia, PA Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 8:10pm Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
Thanks, Stephen, for the update. Sounds you and I both have been considering similar machines. I seriously considered the CC1, Breville DB, and finally think I'm going to go with a Quickmill Silvano. You are definitely correct about the brew temperature dropping. This video by Chris Nachtrieb demonstrates the same effect on the Silvano (http://vimeo.com/15671852) Notice the declining temperature on the PID but the stable brew temp on the Scace. As you mentioned, this is because the temp probe is located on the bottom of the CC1 boiler where the water enters from the tank.
Although it's not optimal to kick cold water into the brew boiler during extraction (which, according to David Schomer is like "giving Mozart a stick and a rock and asking him to make music" or something along those lines) for this price point, it's difficult to find another option. The BDB uses a HX to bring pre-heated water into the brew boiler thus improving temperature stability as does the Expobar Brewtus. But you need two boilers to do that.
At any rate, it's a difficult decision in some ways to decide between the Silvano, CC1, and BDB. As I mentioned, my first machine was a Breville so I wasn't exactly inclined to continue with them given the issues I had with the machine. In the end, I wanted a machine that was built with durability in mind rather than the "disposable appliance" kind of mentality. I wanted a machine that is meant to be tinkered with, with more stock parts that can be easily serviced. The fact that opening the hood on the BDB voids the warranty tells you something about the philosophy behind the build. "If it has a problem, just replace it" seems to be Breville's approach.
Of course we don't need to be too biased about whether a machine is Italian made or not, but a machine coming from a reputable manufacturer that has been doing this for a long time, and has a track record of reliable, well-built machines can't be discounted either. That's why I'm fairly positive I'll go with the Silvano. Plus, the ability to brew and steam at the same time and what seems to be a higher build quality than the CC1 puts it above the CC1 in my opinion.
jonr Senior Member Joined: 25 Jun 2013 Posts: 315 Location: Americas Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Tue Nov 26, 2013, 6:56am Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
The BDB uses a HX to bring pre-heated water into the brew boiler thus improving temperature stability as does the Expobar Brewtus. But you need two boilers to do that.
IMO, intra-shot "stability" (ie, a flat temp profile as measured above the coffee) is not what you want; some temperature drop is advantageous and a design that doesn't allow that to happen is a negative. Luckily a machine can offer both. Bring cool water into a fairly small brew boiler and then if someone wants a "flat profile", use the heater to add heat to compensate.
- quotes marks are due to the fact that the temperatures in the coffee are what really matter, and they don't follow the temperature above the coffee. A flat profile is actually a rising profile.
takeshi Senior Member Joined: 12 Oct 2002 Posts: 1,034 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0 Grinder: Super Jolly Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Tue Nov 26, 2013, 8:07am Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
An important factor for me and many others is VALUE, ie what you get for the price. This particular Breville is impressive to me from that perspective. You can typically purchase something better in terms of features, performance, reliability, aesthetics, support, etc, in any product, but you typically wind up paying much more of your hard-earned money for diminishing returns on your investment. For those who are purposely finicky and passionate about one particular factor, it is often well worth it to them to pay thousands $$ for improvement that may be slightly noticeable to others (eg, I'm that way about hi-end audio). But for the majority, a balanced compromise between the factors most important to them often translates into a purchase budget that may be very well suited for a good Breville machine or other fine machines that sell for under $1000 street, and where marginal improvement may mean paying at least 50-100% more for a "craftsman built machine from Italy". I know a guy in my small community here who owns a business servicing & refurbishing commercial espresso machines (for Starbucks & other retail coffee businesses), and he has some revealing views about Italian vs other national products regarding both performance and quality that some here would find surprising). Beware of "religious fervor" without concrete justification of why one style of manufacturing ("craftsman" vs "robotic" assembly vs "less-sophisticated workers who've built 1000 times are many of the same product"), one country, one brand, one technology is superior to others.
It's always a matter of finding a solution that fits the person no matter what the topic. I wouldn't say that all Italian made machines are better than Breville as gross generalizations like that never apply in all cases. However, I would say that Rancilio and Izzo build quality and repairability are certainly worlds apart from Breville's and that's why Breville's espresso equipment is a nonstarter for me. My Silvia was a reliable machine for well over a decade. When I did have a failure after 11 years I was able to repair her. I've never used a big box store machine that could provide such a track record with my usage but, to be fair, I haven't used the BES900XL itself so I can't really comment on it specifically. It's durability over the long run has yet to be proven.
For the value minded, Breville could be a good fit. For those that find being able to swap out machines at the box store a plus the Breville could be a good fit. Such people probably don't have the same concerns and priorities and there's nothing wrong with that but the typical CoffeeGeek user probably isn't going to have that mindset.
I love my Breville countertop convection oven, blender and juicer. I'm just much pickier about my espresso equipment. As eeeehaw says, we all have different areas where we are willing to spend more time, money and attention and areas where we just want a cost effective solution.
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