JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,479 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 Sun Nov 4, 2012, 8:03am Subject: Re: Accessibility requirements for espresso machines
What we want is a machine that will allow us to make good/excellent quality drinks (once we figure it out), with consistancy from cup to cup and day to day. I have also learned that buying my end machine is a wise move (I learned that lesson elsewhere in life).
I also read about the repeated stories of starting with a Gaggia or Silvia, but quickly outgrowing them, especially when making multiple milk drinks as well as the difficulties in temperature management. We decided that we want to avoid spending good money on a machine that we will quickly outgrow and is finicky. Thus the conclusion of either a heat exchanger or dual boiler.
Every machine is finicky to one degree or another, and regardless of machine -- a $200 home "appliance" or a $20,000, 4-group, commercial machine -- temperature management is always key. This is true with SBDU, HX, DB or even OB (open boiler) machines . . . it's true with lever machines, semi- and full-automatics, and even super-autos.
E-61 preference is partially due to the looks, partially due to the reported performance. I guess we can consider other styles, but preference would be to E-61.
My main point is asking about the E-61 is that the design is over 50 years old. That is has hung on this long is indeed a testament to its quality, but keep in mind that it's 50 years old! In other words, there are other great designs out there, as well. So there are "true" E-61 machines, E-61 "clones," and proprietary designs -- all will do the job!
We considered placing the machine elsewhere, but it really seems unlikely. There are several areas that would work in the kitchen but they all have the same height restriction.
Now on to your questions. I understand this will help others make recommendations, but I really want to understand the implications of placing the machine in a way that it is usable for making drinks, but inaccessible without a little trouble for any maintenance work. If I'm looking at needing access several times a year I will likely look for a machine that is shorter than 15.25" even if it isn't E-61. However if the consensus is that access is normally not needed more than once every few years I can then live with the E-61.
Access - as long as your machine is plumbed in, you rarely have to get inside.
Since you are in Canada, and GTA specifically, I'd contact idrinkcoffee.com. Take a look at the Bezzera line of espresso machines. See if they carry the direct connect models. The BZ07 model stands only 14.75" high. Bezzera makes some excellent machines, but they don't use E-61 group heads. Take a look here for a quick description. Depending upon the model, figure somewhere between $1,200-1,800 CDN -- well under your $2,000 budget.
Just over your stated budget are Izzo Alex II, an HX machine, and the Izzo Alex Duetto II, a DB. Without cup rails, they stand either 15.25" or 15.75" high, both feature an E-61 grouphead, and they cost $2,249 CDN and $2,395 CDN, respectively.
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