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Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Prosumer HX/DB...  
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Tue Oct 9, 2012, 9:08pm
Subject: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

I thought I'd put this into a different thread, but it is indirectly related to a thread I posted earlier called "Can I make this work?".

The big issue was that I really had my heart set on a La Spaziale Vivaldi, but it just simply won't fit in my counter space which I have available, so that's too bad. The problem is, it is just too wide a machine. The machine must be no wider than 14" and no deeper than 18". Height is not an issue. I'm afraid that Vibiemme Double Domobar won't fit either because it is too deep a machine. (I checked!)

So, I've narrowed my choices down after visiting a few local (And not so local) Espresso Equipment Suppliers. I think I know what I want after seeing a bunch of machines up close and personal at Caffetech.
All of the machines I've mentioned below are plumb-in capable and have rotary pumps. I believe all of them also have vacuum breakers.

I figure to get everything that I'm looking for in a machine and to stave off upgradeitis, my budget should be between $2k to $3k for a machine, but there still is a very wide variety of choices at this level!
Here's the thing which may help you guys and gals out a bit.. On average, I drink one Cappuccino or Latte in the morning and one short Americano in the evening. My wife usually drinks two or three cups of tea per day.
She occasionally likes to draw 12 oz of hot water to prepare meals in the kitchen, so this is why I'm considering either an HX or DB. (This was discussed in the thread I mentioned earlier BTW.)

All of the average pricing I'm quoting here is from ECM Coffee Equipment, ZCafe, Idrinkcoffee, Caffetech, Espressotec and Espressoplanet. I'm not quoting any American vendors because I am concerned about customs fees, shipping fees and brokerage fees, which would outweigh any savings I would obtain. Anyway, here's the runner ups and the average pricing between all of these vendors:

Tentative First pick:
Izzo Alex Duetto II - Average Price $2648

Tentative Second pick:
Izzo Alex II HX PID - Average price $2274

Three way tie for tentative Third Pick:
Quickmill Vetrano - Average Price $2049
Expobar Brewtus IV-R - Average Price $2109
Rocket Cellini Evoluzione - Average Price $2199

Wildcards:
La Scala Eroica "V" - Average Price $2400 - (Looks like a little brother to a La Cimbali Junior DT1!)
Rocket R58 - Average Price $2695 - (Direct competition to my first pick.)

From my point of view, the Izzo Alex Duetto II offers the best value for the money out of all of these machines, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on all of these different machines and how they compare to each other in regards to
quality of build, durability, featureset, serviceability, etc.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,881
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 6:04am
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

HI,
For the most part, as I have not used most of the gear you mention, I can't speak to the long term maint issues but, in a nutshell, in my PERSONAL view, the choice of DB or HX is mostly about how you like to work and how you like to drink your espresso.

If you want a machine that you can walk up to early in the AM, not have to think at ALL and you use the same coffee all the time, a DB just might be the way you should go.

If on the other hand, a little bit more of a learning curve and a little more hands on does not scare you away and you have a need or desire to tweak your shots on the fly and you like to play with several different coffees, then a HX may be the best choice.

either machine will fill your needs. Twelve oz of water is not a very big drain on either machine and though it will cool the boiler in a HX a bit, it will recover within a few minutes so unless you are constantly pulling shots while cooking, this isn't going to be a big deal.

For tea, you might want to think about steaming the water to temp rather than pulling it from the steam boiler on either machine as you will have more control of the final temp as these are steam boilers, they are above boiling and thus too hot to use directly into the cup without dilution, regardless of HX or DB. If you steam the water to temp, it will only take a few to 30 seconds and you can stop heating at exactly the temp you want YMMV!

I don't think that big bucks is any sure fire method of avoiding upgrading in the future, rather, buy a machine with the features you want and one that you like the looks of and that will be the best shot at avoiding the upgrade itch, regardless of price or boiler design.

For the most part, all the machines should be well supplied with parts and all use high quality internals for long life. I can only speak to the build quality I have seen on Rocket and ECM machines, which what I have seen is high. The others, I do not have any hands on with but I am sure the quality of construction is on a par with the ones I have seen so in my humble opinion, long term quality on any of those machines really is not a big variable from machine to machine YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 857
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 7:17am
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

I can only speak first hand to the Alex Duetto regarding build quality etc.  My has been on pretty much 18 hours a day both boilers pulling at least 6 doubles a day for nearly two years, rock solid. I really don't see how you could go wrong with either of the Rocket or the Alex machines from a functionality point of view.



I unscrew my head and set it on the counter beside the machine every time just because it is a DB ;0)

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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dsblv
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2006
Posts: 191
Location: Bellevue, WA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rocket Giotto Evoluzione
Grinder: MACAP MC4
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 7:25am
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

It seems like you've already decided on the Alex Duetto.  It's a solid choice and I doubt you'll regret it.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,181
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 8:12am
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

I also think the Duetto is a solid choice, but like John, can only speak of this one machine in regards to first hand experience.  Of course, you still have to make your final decision between HX and DB :)

I like the Duetto for several reasons...

1) super easy programmable group temp setting without offset (Chris of Chris' told me not to add a group thermometer, as it is unnecessary)
2) no-brain thermal stability at the group
3) great performance in both steam and group
4) looks great!

If you do decide on the Duetto, check out the steam wand mod that John and I have both done (there's a recent thread he started on the mods pages - there's also another thread on it from several months ago), it'll drastically improve your frothing capabilities.  I'd guess the Alex and the Alex Duetto have similar wands, so you may need to do this mod on an Alex as well - it takes like, 5 minutes and costs less than $5 (basically pull out a plastic tube from inside the wand and add a 10mm diameter rubber sleeve so you can manipulate it without burning off your fingertips).

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,881
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 11:40am
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

jwoodyu Said:

I unscrew my head and set it on the counter beside the machine every time just because it is a DB ;0)

Posted October 11, 2012 link

AAAAYYYYYYYYYYY! I never said you did not need a mind on a DB, I intended to say it was much more set and forget if you choose to be so!

then again, if you rather leave your head on the counter, ........ ;P

Then again, again, neither machine is all that hard to work with regardless of the style of boiler(s) :D

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,431
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 Thu Oct 11, 2012, 12:10pm
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

Bud,

Here are some random thoughts.

qualin Said:

All of the average pricing I'm quoting here is from ECM Coffee Equipment, ZCafe, Idrinkcoffee, Caffetech, Espressotec and Espressoplanet.

Posted October 9, 2012 link

This makes no sense to me.  If "Brand X" is $2000 at Vendor A and $3000 at Vendor B -- who are you going to buy it from?  Why aren't you quoting the lowest price?

qualin Said:

I'm not quoting any American vendors because I am concerned about customs fees, shipping fees and brokerage fees, which would outweigh any savings I would obtain.

Posted October 9, 2012 link

Agreed.  You live in Canada; look to Canadian vendors -- not American and not Australian (where the voltage requirements are different anyway).  Additionally, sometimes -- when you take a machine across the border -- it voids the warranty.

As with several of the other comments already made, I can only comment specifically about these machines based upon anecdotal evidence -- postings by people I've come to know and trust here on CG or HB -- rather than on personal experience.

That said, I have a personal problem with the Expobar, but read carefully:  loads of people LOVE their Expobar Brewtus machines, and I have nothing to say negatively at all about them.  I did have a problem with an Expobar HX model, and returned it to the vendor.  Others have also reported problems, but never (IIRC) with the Brewtus line.

In terms of HX v. DB -- a never-ending discussion with nothing new to add, I'm afraid -- there is NO difference in the cup between the two.  What matters is which you prefer, what you are used to.  Each system has its advantages and disadvantages, based upon your usage patterns and goals.  Like many others here, I have an HX machine, and have no desire to switch to a DB; still others here have a DB and no desire to switch to an HX.  Both groups are happy with what they have.

In terms of your choices, I'd probably pick the Izzo first, due to the number of positive comments and satisfied customers who've posted on their machines, followed by Quick Mill and Rocket.  In last place (for the reasons described above), I'd put the Expobar -- with the admission that that isn't probably fair.  I'd pass on the La Scala due to the overall lack of comments and reviews.

But only you can decide between DB and HX . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 857
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 2:29pm
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

calblacksmith Said:

AAAAYYYYYYYYYYY! I never said you did not need a mind on a DB, I intended to say it was much more set and forget if you choose to be so!

then again, if you rather leave your head on the counter, ........ ;P
:D

Posted October 11, 2012 link

Of course I was being an A** but all in good fun.  The safest place for my head is most likely right there beside my machine :)

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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russel
Senior Member
russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 453
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Conti Princess 2grp, GS/3...
Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,...
Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 4:22pm
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

Personally, for me the physical feel of the machine is really important.  All of the options you listed have excellent reputations.  If you can, find a way to actually get you hands on them and see how the knobs feel, how the layout and spacing feels, how does the drip tray and grate feel and are they easy to remove and clean (drain or no drain it will neet to be cleaned), how easily is the dispersion screen to remove/clean/replace, etc.  These are little things that can't really be conveyed over the internet, but really do make up the bulk of you interaction with a machine.

Anecdotal examples:  I like the bar style (like a Weber grill) tray grates because they don't collect coffee drips.  I like steam and water valves that use an internal spring because it creates a better feel (I also like the joystic style).  I get annoyed that the on switch (which I love) on my Bezzera is sandwiched between the group and the hot water valve such that I have to flip it off in a dainty manner so as to avoid the hot metal.  I favor a high group clearance so that a variety of cups can fit under a double spout when placed upon a scale and can be slid out of the way quickly. It looks a little goofy, but I preffer the really high feel so that the space under the machine can be kept clean.

I have often imagined some sort of CG/HB map that would help people find local coffee enthusiasts willing to demo their gear so that buyers about to drop a couple of grand could actually interact with the machines they are considering.  I'm envious of those who live near a big supplier with an open lab policy...
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: Prosumer HX/DB shootout - Narrowing the choices
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

If "Brand X" is $2000 at Vendor A and $3000 at Vendor B -- who are you going to buy it from?  Why aren't you quoting the lowest price?

Posted October 11, 2012 link

I could, but I want to be fair to the vendors. They can look at each others websites like anyone else, I just don't want to embarrass anyone. Realistically, there is one
vendor here in town who is quoting nearly $1200 more for the same exact machine than what idrinkcoffee is selling it for. I won't say who, but in all honesty, I'm willing to
spend $100-$300 more for equipment if I know that I can get service on it locally. There is a difference between trying to make a buck and downright ripping off ones customers.

I procure over $300k worth of computer equipment every year as part of my job. The computer industry is downright cut throat. I can pit two vendors against each other and get them
within about two points (2 percent) of each other. When one vendor is quoting me $5200 on a piece of Cisco gear and the other one quotes me $4900, I'm asking questions and I'm
considering switching vendors. If the other vendor is quoting me $5098, I won't switch vendors over that because I know they'll make it up somewhere else.

Dealing with espresso equipment suppliers here in Calgary is nearly downright frustrating, but perhaps that's because there isn't as much of a market here as there is in Edmonton.
Either there isn't enough selection, their stock is out of date, or they are gouging far beyond 100 points, which is nuts. I have it in my mind to tether a tablet to my phone, walk into a
vendors office and show them how much they are gouging and say, "Here's a reality check. Price match this by less than $300 or I walk."

Now I understand that espresso machines really are beautiful hand made pieces of art and they're not mass produced like computers, but like anyone, I'll go for the vendor who gives me
the best balance of markup and service, I'm sure Rocket, Quickmill and Izzo crank out more than 500 machines each in a year. :-) I'm not buying a vacuum cleaner here. Think espresso
machines are expensive? I had two reps from Filter Queen try and sell me a $3000 vacuum cleaner.. Filter Queen should make espresso machines which clean up their own grounds... :-)

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

You live in Canada; look to Canadian vendors

Posted October 11, 2012 link

That was my thought. :-) I think when one is purchasing such an expensive machine, I'll buy from any place that says, "We service what we sell." .. and they mean it. If it means paying a bit
extra to have that privilege, fantastic. If an equipment supplier is unloading this stuff at near wholesale prices but is screwing their customers when they need service, what's the point?

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

when you take a machine across the border -- it voids the warranty.

Posted October 11, 2012 link

Now THAT I wasn't aware of. Thanks for clarifying that.

For everyone reading this thread, thank you very much for your input. I'll keep saving my pennies.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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