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Upgrade from Isomac Amica / Zaffiro, or leave well enough alone?
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vilaia
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Jan 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Baltimore, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Amica
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MCI
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:23pm
Subject: Upgrade from Isomac Amica / Zaffiro, or leave well enough alone?
 

Newbie post here, although I've been keeping track of coffeegeek for quite a while!

I have an Isomac Amica that I've had for nine years or so.  I LOVE this machine; bought it after reading Mark Prince's detailed review here, and have never regretted the purchase.  I use it to make myself an espresso every morning, so it sees pretty light duty.  

One thing I would like to be able to do is plumb the machine in, but it doesn't sound like that's possible with the Amica / Zaffiro.  I started thinking that maybe I could sell my machine and replace it with something similar that can be plumbed in... but then I went back and re-read some of the reviews about this machine, and the fact that it seems to be one of the best machines out there for espresso makes me hesitate.  I do not want to replace this machine with one that's not quite as good at making espresso, just for the sake of convenience.   I think I have wanted to steam/froth milk about ten times in all the years I've had it, so I really do not want to switch to an HX machine.  

Do you folks have any advice or suggestions for me?  At this point I'm leaning towards sticking with what I've got and putting up with the fact that sometimes I forget to refill the tank and wake up to a cold espresso machine.  But if there are other machines out there that are on a par with the Zaffiro that could be plumbed in, I would love to know about it.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
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 Jan 3, 2013, 12:44pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade Isomac Amica / Zaffiro, or leave well enough alone?
 

it all kind of depends on where you are coming from.
It is a SBDU with a E61 gh, have you added a PID to it yet?
If you are running the stock heat control system, you are not at the potential of that machine. I suppose you might be able to cobble something together to plumb in if you really wanted to.

There are other reasons for going HX than steam power though, it sounds to me like you are ready to go volumetric and plumb in (they really do go hand in hand and if you are springing for plumb in you might as well get the consistency from a volumetric dosed machine too.) A light commercial HX machine that is plumb in will fill all your goals and then some. A HX machine will come with a larger boiler and more metal in the system so you gain in the thermal stability department then also look at rotary pump  machines, they make less noise and are very durable.

No one can make that decision for you  but if your machine is as well cared for as you are implying it is, you will get a nice price for it when you sell it to help offset the price of a new machine. With all this said though, what grinder do you have and when was the last time you changed the burrs?  A new machine is a sexy thing and plumb in with other features will move you up a class or two in build quality and features but if you are still using the same grinder you had when you started, a new grinder will go further to improving your shots.

Time moves on and there are LOTS of high quality machines out there. Honestly, I had to google your machine because it does not come up much here. about the only hits I got were for parts or modding on the machine 10 years ago.

 
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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vilaia
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Jan 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Baltimore, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Amica
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MCI
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade Isomac Amica / Zaffiro, or leave well enough alone?
 

I was just looking at some of the PID info. that's out there; that seems like a good thing to add.  I know there have been problems with the stock heat control, but mine hasn't ever acted up.  

I'll check the grinder when I get home from work; we got it from Chris' Coffee at the same time as the Isomac, and has also seen light use, but I can't remember the brand at all.  I think it cost in the $350. range back then, so it's a pretty solid grinder.  I pull very reliable ristretto shots and only adjust the grind with a new roast batch, so I think the quality of my grind is probably fine.  

Less pump noise would be fine, but compared to the racket a grinder makes, the noise the espresso machine makes in the mornings isn't a big concern of mine.  

I don't have a lot of counter space, so I can't fit a machine that's any wider or taller than the Isomac into the available space.
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vilaia
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Jan 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Baltimore, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Amica
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MCI
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 2:32pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade Isomac Amica / Zaffiro, or leave well enough alone?
 

Oh, the Zaffiro is still made.  The Amica was a Zaffiro with just some cosmetic changes (buttons instead of switches on the front of the machine, pretty much) and I don't think it was made for very long.  The Zaffiro doesn't seem to be sold in the US at all right now, though.  I bought mine for $800., but it looks like the current list price for the Zaffiro in euros is equivalent to $1,700.  That's a big price increase!
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vilaia
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Jan 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Baltimore, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Amica
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MCI
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 7:34pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade Isomac Amica / Zaffiro, or leave well enough alone?
 

Looks like my grinder is a Nuova Simonelli MCI (stainless steel, no doser attachment).  I updated my information in my profile.  

And to clarify, I'm wondering about upgrading from my Isomac to a different machine, vs. just sticking with what I know works.  Sorry, my original subject line wasn't clear.   The PID sounds like a good addition if I keep what I've got.
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