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Izzo Alex Duetto 3: First Impressions from an Ex-Silvia Owner
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Izzo Alex Duetto...  
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
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 Fri Dec 14, 2012, 3:31pm
Subject: Izzo Alex Duetto 3: First Impressions from an Ex-Silvia Owner
 

So, after waiting for a bit over a month and a half, I finally got my hands on a Izzo Alex Duetto 3.0. I can say it was certainly worth the wait.

After having a used Alex Duetto 1.0 for a few days before the PID burnt out, I can certainly say that they really did make some great engineering changes to this version.. Changes they should have made from the get go.

Some really noticeable differences between the 1.0 and the 3.0:

- You know, I don't know why people rag on the anti-burn wand. First time I opened the valve to steam some milk, the first word out of my mouth was, "AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!" Maybe it was due to the age of the 1.0
(Was of a 2008 vintage) but the 3.0 is a monster in comparison to the near-anemic steaming on the 1.0... Right away, I know I'm going to have to adjust my steaming technique considerably. Even with the 4-hole tip, it's
got more than enough steaming power. I'm afraid to use the 2-hole tip for anything but large volumes of milk.

- I found the steam wand on the 1.0 felt flimsy in comparison to the steam wand on my Silvia. The larger diameter steam wand on the 3.0 does certainly give it a little bit of heft. It moves around a lot easier than the Silvia's.

- Both the 1.0 and the 3.0 make great coffee... Right out of the box, I was making great shot after shot, even if I was underextracting at first. I'm still trying to dial in my grinder correctly though. The pressure gauge reads
10 bar when extracting and 10.5 bar on a blind basket. I'm not really sure if I should tweak it down to 9 bar yet, I'm getting awesome crema. As best as I can tell, the extra pressure isn't affecting the shot.

- In case anyone asks, The steam boiler pressure gauge on the Duetto 3 sits at 1.35 bar out of the box. The Duetto 1 sat at 1.4 bar, so I'm a little surprised. Maybe it was clogged or something...  

- It is extremely nice not to hear the "Click-Clack" noise of the pressurestat relay of the 1.0 every minute or so. This machine is so quiet, you wouldn't even know it was on if it weren't for the lights.

- The pump is a lot quieter than the one on the 1.0, but that also could be due to the age of the 1.0. I get a nice "Hummm..." noise instead of a "VWWWOORRRMMMMmmmmnnnnnnn"..

- The water reservoir is much easier to fill now because it is open top and the return tube is missing. It makes it so much easier to put one of those little resin water softeners into the tank.

- The steam and hot water knobs are extremely nice to use in comparison to the 1.0 and the Silvia.

Comparing this machine to the Silvia... well... There really isn't any comparison really. No temperature surfing, no having to wait for steam, extremely quiet. Steam pressure wasn't as good, but I'd say that the Silvia was about
maybe 80 percent there when it comes to steaming ability. I'd say it is easier to pull a great shot on the Duetto than on the Silvia.

One small, yet noticeable difference I've noticed is that, when knocking out a puck on the Silvia, the portafilter is almost clean, but with the Duetto 1.0 and 3.0, there's always some residue left inside the portafilter basket. Perhaps
this is because the Silvia uses a 3-way solenoid, but the Duetto uses an E61 group and that's a characteristic of them. I'll assume that this is completely normal. There is a little bit of water ontop of the puck, but I'll also assume
that is fairly normal for these machines. What matters more to me is the shot anyway.

One thing I really like about the Duetto machines over the Silvia is that I'm not emptying the darn drip tray every minute or so. The drip tray on the Silvia is almost a joke compared to the one on the Duetto. I mean, I like being
able to purge the steam wand without it blasting water all over the counter from a semi-full drip tray.

I have yet to actually submit in a review to the site. I want to use this machine for a while longer before I can form any solid opinions about it.. I can certainly say that spending the little bit of extra dough to get this machine
was certainly worth it. I like the looks of the case much better than the one of the Duetto 1 and 2. I also like being able to use more of the cup tray and the drip tray doesn't retain as much water ontop.

When this machine shipped to me, the darn thing came in at 86 lbs. The Purolator guy was happy enough to get it inside of my door and then he couldn't wait to get out of there. I don't know what Izzo made this thing out of
to make it that heavy, but I can certainly say that I'm extremely impressed with it so far. Hopefully this time I can get a few years worth of use out of it! :-)

I can't wait to plumb it in. That's all I can think of so far anyway.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 2,972
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Dec 14, 2012, 3:35pm
Subject: Re: Izzo Alex Duetto 3: First Impressions from an Ex-Silvia Owner
 

You need to post you whole history with espresso so people can see what you did and how long it took you to outgrown your Silvia.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,736
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Dec 14, 2012, 4:17pm
Subject: Re: Izzo Alex Duetto 3: First Impressions from an Ex-Silvia Owner
 

The Duetto II has plenty of steam power. What we don't like about it stock is the steam is not dry enough and pulling the plastic tubing out solves that. You'll see for yourself, as the 3.0 is essentially the same. Almost all of the changes from II to 3.0 were aesthetic, but I sure wish I had your larger drip tray.

Although I would probably agree with most or all of your comparison to the Silvia. I didn't read that part because it's like apples and oranges...though highly useful to newbies and Silvia owners. Besides that I'm on my iPhone hehe

Glad to see you're happy with your new toy :)

EDIT:  btw, the 2 hole tip actually decreases steam delivery to the milk, so in fact, you'll have a little more time to froth. I installed it to tame things down a bit, but haven't gone back and re-installed the 4 hole tip again.  It's about time for me to do so though.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
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 Fri Dec 14, 2012, 5:02pm
Subject: Re: Izzo Alex Duetto 3: First Impressions from an Ex-Silvia Owner
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

You need to post you whole history with espresso so people can see what you did and how long it took you to outgrown your Silvia.

Posted December 14, 2012 link

LOL!! I didn't think anyone would be interested in hearing my life story!!!

In early May of this year, I went on vacation to San Francisco. While we were at the various restaurants in the touristy areas, I was feeling a little tired so I started ordering cappuccinos. While we were staring
out the windows of the restaurant into the bay, I lifted up my cup and asked myself, "Why can't I make these at home?"

So, after I finished my vacation, I started reading these forums and doing my research. At first, I was completely set on getting my hands on a La Spaziale Vivaldi machine. I loved the looks of it, but my budget wasn't permitting.
While I was saving my pennies, I was also trawling Kijiji and Craigslist. Eventually, I found an ad for a used Rancilio Silvia and Rocky from Kijiji selling for roughly about half of what they sell new here. Well, I decided that for a
starter machine, I probably shouldn't spend too much, for the fear that I'd actually hate pulling shots and that I'd probably just sell it again at a loss. I was afraid that I'd find it too time consuming, too messy and too much of a hassle
and that I'd probably just end up going back to drinking K-Cups or buying a Super-Automatic machine. So, I figured I'd test the waters first.

Well, I picked it up and found that it wasn't as hard as I thought. My wife was amazed that within a few minutes I was cranking out shots like a pro, even though I was doing everything wrong. Youtube videos can only take you so far!
My shots were coming out crazy.. Harsh and burnt on one, sour on others... For some shots I was even having issues trying to lock in the portafilter because I was updosing too much. Getting a scale pretty much fixed that.

Anyway, as I was using the Rocky, I realized just how the stepped grind selection was limiting how I could dose my shots. So, about after two months of trying out 16 gram and 14 gram doses and everything inbetween, I bit the
bullet and upgraded from the Rocky to the Mazzer. I can certainly say that I was stunned at the difference in quality between the two.

As the months dragged on, I started to come across the limitations of the Silvia and they were starting to drive me crazy. Things like having to Temperature surf to get temperature consistency with the shots. Having to wait for steam.
It took me 10 minutes to make a shot in the morning, from start to finish. Upgradeitis was starting to set in and I started talking about it. I felt that I was outgrowing the Silvia. I was starting to get tired of having to wait on the machine
and I wanted better consistency in my shots with more control.

So, I called a local vendor here in the city and they happened to have a used Izzo Alex Duetto 1 for sale. The price was appetizing and I figured that the extra features of the Duetto 2 and 3 weren't worth it. Well, four days after I got
it, the PID burnt out. My guess is that the previous owner left the steam boiler on all of the time and left the machine running 24/7, whereas because I had put the machine on a timer, the thermal stress of heating up and cooling down
was enough to cause the PID to fail.

So, for roughly about a month, I was without an espresso machine due to this unexpected failure. (HORRORS!) This gave me a chance to clean out the leftover collection of K-Cups I had in the cupboards. :-)
(Everything has an upside I guess.)

So, just today, this morning, my Duetto finally came in the mail. My journey to find a machine is finally over. Now the real journey of coffee experimentation is just beginning. :-)

I had two friends over and served them slightly overextracted lattes.. They mentioned that they were the best drinks they ever had in a long time. Now, imagine if I had actually gotten it right.

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


Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,322
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Dec 16, 2012, 5:10am
Subject: Re: Izzo Alex Duetto 3: First Impressions from an Ex-Silvia Owner
 

qualin Said:

So, I called a local vendor here in the city and they happened to have a used Izzo Alex Duetto 1 for sale. The price was appetizing and I figured that the extra features of the Duetto 2 and 3 weren't worth it. Well, four days after I got
it, the PID burnt out. My guess is that the previous owner left the steam boiler on all of the time and left the machine running 24/7, whereas because I had put the machine on a timer, the thermal stress of heating up and cooling down
was enough to cause the PID to fail.

Posted December 14, 2012 link

What caused the PID to fail was the lack of ventilation around the PID and leaving it on all the time would aggravate this. The Hahn transformer used in those early PIDs was only rated to 65C and it was these that used to burn out (having replaced  and seen quite a few of them now). The easy and cheap fix involved getting a small cheap external transformer of the same voltage rating. Desolder the Hahn unit and use bell wire to connect the "offboarded" transformer to the Gicar circuit board. The off boarded transformer can be cable tied to a convenient (existing) hole in the water tank divider plate above the pump area. Additional resistance can be added (about 50 ohms) to lower the voltage slightly to the Gicar board (reducing the loading on the voltage controller and board itself). The transformer can probably be got from radio shack for a few dollars. The fix takes around 30 minutes.

The extra ventilation required on the very early Duettos is shown in this article.

Click Here (coffeetime.wikidot.com)

I added this ventilation on my pre-production prototype and it's never missed a beat in last 4 years 8 months. I still have the original PID (with the Hahn transformer inside). I only turn on the steam boiler when I need it, but have often left it on for many hours at a time, even overnight. I suppose eventually the transformer will break down, but I already spent 3.00 on my spare and it's all in the box ready to fit if I/when need it.

It probably works better than the later models with PID controlled steam and Brew water as far as steaming goes. The brew preheat might work better than current models, because Izzo messed with my design for the brew water preheat system. Not sure when, but received an internal part for the preheat system prior to it being sent to a person in Hong Kong and it was slightly different to my original design. In addition the brew boiler can be turned off with a simple button press on the PID. I have the MK1V Duetto on test and it aggravates me how much button pressing I have to do to turn the brew boiler on/off....whcih of course I do more often for testing purposes. Steaming is good.....but it could be better if they didn't use the PID for control of the steam HW boiler. Or used a proper dual circuit PID with individual algorithms for each. Group to cup tray height is less, we have lost another 5mm!

So to sum up a used early model Duetto is actually quite a good buy...as long as you know how to drive her.
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