Jack Groot posted a blog entry with his thoughts on the recent trip he made (along with me and several others) to Parabiago, Italy, to test Rancilio's new XCelsius Project - a temperature profiling espresso machine.
I am saving my full comments for Rancilio, since many of them would break my NDA if I posted them publicly. But I do have some to share.
First, it works, and it produced some noticeable things in the cup. We were hampered by a bad grinder and lack of scales for doing some serious calibration testing, and I would need a few full days with the technology to draw definitive conclusions on how it can improve espresso, but based on my test experience, it has the potential to improve espresso shots.
Why? Because by reducing temperatures during a brew (and starting with a higher initial temperature, like around 204 or 205F), you introduce a fuller extraction earlier, but reduce the extraction of excessive bitters later in shot. Its a theory based on segmenting a shot of espresso, and in practice on this machine, we saw taste results.
Second, the machine is capable of very precise stability. It doesn't use a PID, but can flatline on a dialed in temperature and hold it for as long as 50 or 60 seconds (the longest we ran a Scace test for). I was very impressed.
Temperatures can incline or decline. We found inclines in temperatures ruined shots. We found starting at 200F and going down to 190F with 18, 19g doses ruined shots. But we also found starting at 204F, dropping to 198, 197F or lower starting at the 10 second mark and ending the decline around the 25 second mark resulted in smoother, more "delicate" shots that exhibited more flavours.
We also found that, by the time we were really getting deep into the process, our palates were pretty much shot, so identifying these flavours was a challenge. But a few of the more experienced palates on the testing team did not it.
Rancilio will have this technology at the SCAA in Houston.
I just can't help but give this a bump. I'm somewhat surprised there haven't been any posts thus far. I have seen this technology as well, and though I am not bound by a specific NDA, I'm going to act as if I am.
Mark is right though: this indeed has the potential to improve shots. At the very least, if it provided a flat line temperature comparable to saturated group machines or technology like that found on the Dalla Corte, and didn't significantly increase the price to a business (not just sales/install but also service calls), it would still be an improvement because of the tremendous steaming power of the boiler compared to a Linea or comparable. The Rancilio Classe series machines are already incredibly well engineered and constructed pieces of equipment, so I have faith that the XCelsius Project will work as designed. What's not known (yet) is how it will translate to the cup, but that just means we have a lot more espresso to drink while evaluating the technology. Another "perc" of the job.
What I do know, is that I have read posts from experts of the CoffeeGeek and Home-Barista communities pining for equipment that lets the operate control the temperature throughout the extraction.
I have prior commitments that keep me from seeing this again at SCAA, but I'll be interested to hear others' takes on it.
seageral Senior Member Joined: 30 May 2007 Posts: 17 Location: New Orleans Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Jan 10, 2013, 3:48pm Subject: Re: Rancilio's XCelsius Project - Temperature Profiling
bump again... any new reviews on the XCelsius? And/or are there good studies on difference in shots between a HX machine (which might have declining temp profile) and a single boiler PID (which might not)? I find it very interesting that "temperature stability" as far as flat temperature profile may actually decrease the attractiveness of a shot.
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