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JoelCigan
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Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 30
Location: Fresno, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 10:25am
Subject: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

I've been wondering if Breville's newest machine is the best home machine currently on the market.  A lot of people are saying it's the best for the pricepoint.  Does that mean the Rocket Giottos and Izzo Alex Duetto 2s are better performers.  I don't anticipate making tons of drinks during the day except maybe a couple in the morning and late afternoon.  For light use, does the Breville do the trick?  Seems like they pack a whole lot into this package and include features like preinfusion and temperature control that a newbie really wouldn't fiddle with.  

I guess I'm trying to decide who Breville is marketing their newest machine to??  Also, I've been hearing that the steam wand is not as powerful as some would've liked.  Anybody else having this complaint?  Also, a, I posting in the right forum?

Thank you,

Joel Cigan
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 10:44am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

JoelCigan Said:

I guess I'm trying to decide who Breville is marketing their newest machine to??

Posted November 19, 2011 link

I guess I don't understand the question.  Breville is always marketing their machines to the home consumer.  

JoelCigan Said:

I've been wondering if Breville's newest machine is the best home machine currently on the market.  A lot of people are saying it's the best for the pricepoint.  Does that mean the Rocket Giottos and Izzo Alex Duetto 2s are better performers.

Posted November 19, 2011 link

OK, to be fair, no one I know who has EVER owned a Breville espresso machine has been happy for very long, and they've tended to break down in a relatively short period of time (the machines, not the people I know), and as such, I've always steered people away from Brevilles.  BUT to be fair, let me also quickly acknowledge that I know of no one personally who owns this newest Breville (BES900XL), and I've never used it.  Maybe they did get it right.  Finally.  But -- for me -- it's still all-too-new on the marketplace for me to place a lot of faith in, though I am willing to take a wait-and-see approach rather than dismiss it out-of-hand.  

As for whether or not the Rockets and Izzos are better?  Even with what I just said about the "wait-and-see" attitude, I would quickly respond by saying, "Hell yes!"  Both Rocket and Izzo have established, proven track-records, and a much larger, satisfied customer base among serious espresso "geeks".

JoelCigan Said:

I don't anticipate making tons of drinks during the day except maybe a couple in the morning and late afternoon.  For light use, does the Breville do the trick?  Seems like they pack a whole lot into this package and include features like preinfusion and temperature control that a newbie really wouldn't fiddle with.

Posted November 19, 2011 link

The "fiddling" is part of the experience, but I also think you are thinking/worrying about it too much.  It's not that difficult, it doesn't require a Master's degree, and most of it is an on-going process -- meaning, each time my daughter gets behind the wheel of a car, she is becoming a better driver.  The day she stops improving will probably be the day she does something stupid and causes an accident.  Every time you pull a shot, it will be different than the last one, different than the next one, and while the ideal is to be consistent, there are far too many variables to EVER be "robotically consistent."  The age of the bean (post-roast), the humidity, the adjustment of the grind, the focus of the barista, and more -- all vary from day-to-day, and in some cases from shot-to-shot!

Just my 2, and worth far less -- no doubt.

Cheers,
Jason

 
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JoelCigan
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Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 30
Location: Fresno, CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 11:13am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

I guess I don't understand the question.  Breville is always marketing their machines to the home consumer.  

Newbie to espresso, coffegeek, or both?

OK, to be fair, no one I know who has EVER owned a Breville espresso machine has been happy for very long, and they've tended to break down in a relatively short period of time (the machines, not the people I know), and as such, I've always steered people away from Brevilles.  BUT to be fair, let me also quickly acknowledge that I know of no one personally who owns this newest Breville (BES900XL), and I've never used it.  Maybe they did get it right.  Finally.  But -- for me -- it's still all-too-new on the marketplace for me to place a lot of faith in, though I am willing to take a wait-and-see approach rather than dismiss it out-of-hand.  

Your response goes back to my first question on who Breville is marketing their machines to.  Seems like they're potentially cramming a lot into one package.  This is a dual boiler machine with preinfusion and PID control.  A newbie might not tinker with these variables.  If my recollection serves me correctly, the Rocket Giotto is a heat exchanger.  This Breville, with all it's features surpasses even that benchmark and is cheaper in price.  Seems like you would look at the Breville and think "light, ommercial use" for it's featureset alone.  Maybe I'm wrong here though if you look at the individual boilers and pressure stat quality.

As for whether or not the Rockets and Izzos are better?  Even with what I just said about the "wait-and-see" attitude, I would quickly respond by saying, "Hell yes!"  Both Rocket and Izzo have established, proven track-records, and a much larger, satisfied customer base among serious espresso "geeks".

Those machines seem to be behind the times though.  While the Izzo Alex Duetto 2 has PID control, the Rocket series of machines does not as they're heat exchangers.  Not totally secure on whether a heat exchanger is better than a dual boiler with a PID.  Also, the Breville has active preinfusion whereas the other machines are passive through the E61 grouphead.

The "fiddling" is part of the experience, but I also think you are thinking/worrying about it too much.  It's not that difficult, it doesn't require a Master's degree, and most of it is an on-going process -- meaning, each time my daughter gets behind the wheel of a car, she is becoming a better driver.  The day she stops improving will probably be the day she does something stupid and causes an accident.  Every time you pull a shot, it will be different than the last one, different than the next one, and while the ideal is to be consistent, there are far too many variables to EVER be "robotically consistent."  The age of the bean (post-roast), the humidity, the adjustment of the grind, the focus of the barista, and more -- all vary from day-to-day, and in some cases from shot-to-shot!

There are so many machines out that it makes decision on what machine to purchase rather difficult.  There are also VST baskets that only fit on certain 58mm portafilters as well as bottomless portafilters that only adapt to certain machines.  I kind of want to buy a future proof machine if I'm going to spend well over $1,000.00.  I definitely wouldn't want to purchase one that's going to break down after a year's time.  We'll have to wait and see on the Breville I would assume.  They don't even have a bottomless portafilter yet for their machine.

Just my 2, and worth far less -- no doubt.

I might have to continue to look at the Izzo Alex Duetto II instead...

Cheers,
Jason

Posted November 19, 2011 link

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JoelCigan
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Joined: 17 Nov 2011
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Location: Fresno, CA
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 11:14am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Argh!  That posted incorrectly!
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frcn
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 12:18pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

JoelCigan Said:

I've been wondering if Breville's newest machine is the best home machine currently on the market.

Posted November 19, 2011 link



With Breville's reputation I would say the jury is going to out for a while deciding if it is even Breville's best machine. Best home machine on the market? Not by a long shot.
I would take any of these before I would gamble on the Breville:
La Marzocco GS 3
Salvatore
Vibiemme DD and DS
Izzo Alex Duetto II
Just about anything sold by Salvatore
..and that's the short list off the top of my head

A lot of people are saying it's the best for the pricepoint.

Maybe.. It's a stretch to claim that when the machine has been available for one or two months and has already shown teething problems necessitating servicing to adjust the pressure relief valve. While that happens, if the machine is aimed at a home user who wants a no-fuss appliance to make espresso it is a problem that should not have been. Again, time will tell.

Does that mean the Rocket Giottos and Izzo Alex Duetto 2s are better performers.

Comparing a Duetto II to the Breville is.. well.. ridiculous, even if we only take assumed dependability and longevity into account.

For light use, does the Breville do the trick?  Seems like they pack a whole lot into this package and include features like preinfusion and temperature control that a newbie really wouldn't fiddle with.

It might "do the trick..." But what does it tell you when they can bring to market a machine with such features at such a relatively low price point? They have been able to sell a machine for much less than other brands with similar features sell for. They suddenly found all the engineers who were hiding and stocks of metal at low prices? Not likely. Some sacrifices had to be made. Plastic valves, thin metal cases, and....?

If you are not the sort of person who wants to "fiddle" with controlling parameters, I would suggest that there are better ways to make good coffee that will be a lot easier for you. Get a Braratza grinder and an Espro Press, feed them quality coffee, and enjoy what probably will be the best coffee you have ever had with very little effort. Espresso is all about control and adjustment. Without it you might as well bake a cake in an oven that only has an on and off switch and a binary heat control - full on and full off. As the one chapter on my website asks, "Are You Anal Enough for Espresso?"

I guess I'm trying to decide who Breville is marketing their newest machine to??


Check the list... I am not on it. Ya... I know. Stating the obvious.

 
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 12:25pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Joel, much of your post is based (IMHO) on a faulty premise.

Newbie to espresso, coffegeek, or both?

Obviously I have no idea what the engineers and/or marketing department was thinking when they decided to manufacture and sell the BES900XL.  But on the whole, as a company, Breville sells to consumers.  Not newbies, not geeks; consumers.  They sell (in the US, at least) in big box stores (think everything from Macy's and Bed, Bath and Beyond, to Target, Wal-Mart and Costco), specialty stores (think Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table), and online merchants (Amazon and Overstock.com).  Where they do not sell is at places like 1st-Line, Chris' Coffee Service, Espresso Parts NW, Seattle Coffee Gear, or most other major (and minor, for that matter) retailers dedicated to espresso and all things coffee.  In other words, Breville sells small home appliances . . . they do not focus on high-end prosumer espresso machines.

Your response goes back to my first question on who Breville is marketing their machines to.  Seems like they're potentially cramming a lot into one package.

They appear to be, but I would think it's more a matter of building a better toaster -- in other words, seeing there is a potential to sell to an advancing group of consumers (that is, someone who now wants their toaster oven -- or in this case, espresso maker -- to do more than just make toast espresso.

This is a dual boiler machine with preinfusion and PID control.  A newbie might not tinker with these variables.

Yeah, I know people with cars that are equipped with voice command or bluetooth & telephone directories, too, but never program them.

If my recollection serves me correctly, the Rocket Giotto is a heat exchanger.  This Breville, with all it's features surpasses even that benchmark and is cheaper in price.

Where do you get that $#!+???  ;^)  There is NO DIFFERENCE between HX and DB machines of comparable quality in the cup, which is after all where it counts!  Each method (HX and DB) has its own advantages and disadvantages over the other, but neither one is better overall than the next.

Seems like you would look at the Breville and think "light, commercial use" for it's featureset alone.  Maybe I'm wrong here though if you look at the individual boilers and pressure stat quality.

Well, I would look at the Breville and think, "Run a-a-a-w-w-a-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y-y!" -- but like I said above, I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this new machine.

Those machines (the Izzo and the Rocket) seem to be behind the times though.

Again, where do you get that $#!+???

While the Izzo Alex Duetto 2 has PID control, the Rocket series of machines does not as they're heat exchangers.  Not totally secure on whether a heat exchanger is better than a dual boiler with a PID.  Also, the Breville has active preinfusion whereas the other machines are passive through the E61 grouphead.

To begin with, an E61 group is like aspirin -- it's an old design that still works extremely well.  But that doesn't mean that acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or other OTC NSAIDS won't work equally well.  Different methods to accomplish similar results.  Secondly, putting a PID on an HX machine is a waste of money and useless, so it's no wonder that an HX machine doesn't have one.  As far as "active preinfusion," I would urge you not to get caught up in all of the bells and whistles that may (or may not) have small, incremental benefits.  You are, by your own admission, "just starting out," and with all respect, I would suggest learning how to walk before you begin to run.

There are so many machines out that it makes decision on what machine to purchase rather difficult.

Remember that there is NO one right answer.  There are probably some two dozen (or more) machines AND GRINDERS that you could own and be perfectly happy with for years!

There are also VST baskets that only fit on certain 58mm portafilters as well as bottomless portafilters that only adapt to certain machines.

Yeah, who cares?  I own two VST baskets and I use them every single day.  I also own half a dozen other baskets that I also use every day.  Any differences in the shots are minute.  It's not a matter of day-and-night, huge, significant leaps of quality.

I kind of want to buy a future proof machine if I'm going to spend well over $1,000.00.

Yeah, well -- good luck on that!  You are so obsessed with quality that you are overlooking literally dozens of time-tested, quality machines in order to focus on the newest, latest model from a company with a dubious track-record at best.  Does that make any sense?  Not to me; perhaps it does to you.

I definitely wouldn't want to purchase one that's going to break down after a year's time.  We'll have to wait and see on the Breville I would assume.  They don't even have a bottomless portafilter yet for their machine.

I had one Gaggia that lasted 12 years; another than lasted 15.  I have a La Valentina that has worked perfectly* since 2005, an Elektra T1 that's worked perfectly* since 2008, and two used machines -- an Arrarex Caravel built in the 1960s, and an Olympia Express Cafferex built in 1989 -- that have worked perfectly since I had them "overhauled."  And you want to look at a machine with a track-record of having machines break down, hoping that things have changed???  Well, maybe they have, but do you want to risk it?

(* "worked perfectly" with routine maintenance, including replacing one pressurestat.)

Joel, can we -- maybe -- take a step back and start at the beginning?  What do you want/need for in a machine?

Standard Questions:
1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's capabilities.)
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at ay one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?  (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's durability.)
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pourover machine with its own reservoir?
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
6)  What is your budget?  Does that include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?

Are you familiar with "The Four M's of Espresso"?
-- the Macinazione is the correct grinding of the coffee (in other words, the grinder and its settings);
-- the Miscela is the coffee blend (or beans themselves);
-- the Macchina is the espresso machine itself; and,
-- the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista (or, in this case) you.  
When each factor of the four M's is precisely controlled, the espresso beverage that is produced is the ultimate coffee experience.  Long story short:  you, the barista, will improve over time, but even the world's best machine will produce nothing but $#!+ without a great grinder!  

What are you doing for a grinder?

Finally, do you know about Babbie's Rule* of Fifteens?
-- Green (unroasted) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale.
-- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale.
-- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.

Even the best beans, if not freshly ground, will produce $#!+ . . .

Cheers,
Jason

P.S.  For more info, check out Randy's "FRCN's Espresso HOW TO Pages -- Chapter 15: The Four M's of Espresso -- Understanding the Factors that Affect the Espresso; Shopping to avoid disappointment.

 
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germantownrob
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 12:44pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Jason and Randy are giving you excellent advice, I don't question them I just listen to them.

Personally I like HX machines, when I upgrade from my NS Oscar I am 95% sure I will stay with a HX.
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dsblv
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 12:59pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Best at price point?  Yes, if you're looking at lower end consumer machines.  Definitely "No" if you're comparing to prosumer machines.  The Breville is an appliance with consumer grade parts and quality. The prosumer class machines provide an entirely different level of performance, quality and style.  

Comparing the Breville to a Rocket or Izzo is like comparing a Hyundai to a BMW. The vehicles do roughly the same thing but the user experience is radically different.

I think Breville will be successful in exposing home espresso to a new group of users.  Over time, some of those people will want a better experience and they'll upgrade to prosumer grade machines.
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JoelCigan
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 2:12pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

My initial thought when I first read about the Breville BES900XL was that it was a quality made product with perhaps more variables to play with.  After reading your general comments I'm starting to think that the machine might be "junk."  After all, it does have an LCD, water filter and storage compartment that holds your backflushing tablets.  It almost seems to somewhat mirror the Jura line of machines in that "it does everything for you."  I'm beginning to think that it might be marketed to the uninformed consumer who likes mention of the little "bells and whistles" that the machine might offer.

Overall, yes, I'm a newbie when it comes to making espresso and espresso-based drinks.  The closest thing I have to a true espresso-based drink is when I get a cafe mocha using Bristot pods at my local Mercedes-Benz dealership.  Other than Starbucks, I haven't been to a coffee shop in the town that I'm from (Fresno, CA) that's blown me away with the quality of their cappucinos or lattes.  The best experience with drinking cappucinos came when I was finishing up my italian degree in Rome, Italy during a well-remembered month in the summer of 99'.

I'd like to buy a machine that's going to stand the test of time.  I've spent considerable time scouring the videos posted by Kat & Gail of Seattle Coffee Gear.  I'd almost like to visit their store in Washington to try the machines out myself since there really isn't a place in town that sells prosumer machines.  From what I've watched as far as YouTube videos are concerned, it seems the Rocket Giotto might be the best prosumer machine for my taste.  It's fully polished stainless steel design devoid of electronic controls gives it longevity as well as simplistic italian design that melds form and function.  The Izzo Alex Duetto II might be the runner up because in general, I feel it might be overkill in that it's geared for a more commercial application.

Are the Rockets and Izzos able to accept a triple shot VST basket?  I've been wondering that after looking at videos of their 58mm portafilter.  It also seems they ship with a Rancilio bottomless portafilter.  What's the advantage of pulling shots using a bottomless portafilter, anyway.  I'm also still somewhat confused with the need for a dual-boiler PID controlled machine vs a heat exchanger.  It seems that a heat exchanger might be the way to go due to it's simplicity of use.  I also gather that when using a Rocket Giotto, you might have to occasionally perform a cooling flush.  Am I correct?

As far as grinders are concerned, it seems that for home use, the Baratza Vario-W will work just fine.  The only concern that comes to mind is that it doesn't offer as many "fine" grind settings of a stepless Macap or Mazzer Mini electronic type a or b.  I doubt I will make that many drinks and the commercial look of those grinders is tempting especially on a granite countertop in my kitchen.  I simply feel they might be way overkill PLUS it's nice to have a Baratza Vario-W for french press and drip use.  What's your opinion.  Mazzer minis seem to be the gold standard of grinders and dosing directly into the portafilter with electronic control of a single vs a double is nice!

The Breville DB is being sold by Seattle Coffee Gear and has received praise by Gail.  I could spend a little more for a good machine that pulls better shots.  I was even thinking of waiting until a Slayer home machine is released because it's kinda cool to have a paddle.  Not sure how much those machines will retail for though and would imagin they'd be as expensive as a La Marzocco GS-3.

Once I get my machine, I'll probably just stick to cappucinos and lattes because they're the easiest to make.  For mochas you kinda want to carry all the Torani syrups and chocolate and that can kick up the calories substantially.  Plus, with cappucinos and straight espresso shots you have the ability to taste the quality of the coffee and your performance in making the shot itself.  I do, however want to buy a machine that can take a pod basket in it's portafilter and I think Chris' coffee offers that basket free with an order of say Bristot pods.  Sometimes for ultra-convenience, pods are the way to go especially if you don't want a big mess.  As far as I'm aware, Rocket Giottos and Izzo Alex Duetto IIs offer compatibility with a pod basket and all other baskets that are currently out.  Rancilios offer compatibility too but I don't like the look of that machine.

As far as aspirin and the E61 grouphead is concerned, the E61 seems to offer the best in terms of espresso quality.  I don't think I would consider anything else at this time unless someone has something else to offer that they consider better.  I also won't be plumbing my machine into the water line anytime soon so having a water reservoir is a must.  My tap water tastes just fine and doesn't seem to need filtration either so decalcification would probably be infrequent.  Maybe once every 5 years where I live.

Joel
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JoelCigan
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Posted Sat Nov 19, 2011, 2:40pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Awhile ago I was looking at the Salvatore machines especially since their main headquarters is in Solvang, CA which is approx. 3 hour drive from where I live.  However, since then, the looks of those machines don't compare to the form and function of a Rocket Giotto.  I'm surprised that Rocket isn't on your list of a great home machine.  From what I've gathered from other websites, they're a pretty tried and true brandname in home espresso.
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