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Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Are thermoblocks...  
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D4F
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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
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Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 7:40pm
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

AlexKilpatrick Said:

It seems like you could use a thermoblock for both.  Kind of like the difference between a hot water heater and a tankless water heater in your house.  Brewing and steaming are just a matter of temperature.  

Some of the advantages I could see for a thermoblock:

- More energy efficient (don't have to keep a big tank of water warm)
- Can't run out of heated water (assuming you have enough water supply)
- Smaller size

Seems like precise temp control might be harder, as well as scaling issues.

Posted February 21, 2013 link

I think that the trouble is often matching flow and heat input.  Even when there is no problem with the thermoblock scale and leak, the flow meter and "computer" can fail.  Gaggia Twin is an example of that.  It can be done, just not as cheaply as some have tried.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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DavecUK
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Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 9:05pm
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

cuznvin Said:

I think that Acaso is using some special metal to avoid scaling..

Posted February 21, 2013 link

They are probably using unobtanium....

My experience of thermoblocks has not been positive.,,,It's difficult to get the temperature right and also to have decent flow, steaming tends to be very weak and they are subject to scaling and other problems (unless good water is used). However, they are easy and cheap for the manufacturers and require very little skill to assemble.

We have 2 types of showers in the UK...one system very similar to a thermoblock with instantaneous heat, the other using thermostatic valves and a pump to get hot water from your storage cylinder  one performs very much better than the other and costs from 3 to 6 times the price....funnily enough it's not the instantaneous shower. that's the great performer.
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fredk01
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Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 9:58pm
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

My interest is strictly for a machine that uses the thermo block for steam.  From user reports, both the CC1 and the Silvano they both steam adequately for casual use.

As calblacksmith mentioned, the new design thermoblocks look like they should work  well for steaming.  I do not know if either the CC1 or Silvano use this design.  With a stainless tube for the water, corrosion and leaking should not be an issue.  The question in my mind would be around scale, how quickly it accumulates and how well it is removed during descaling.
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cuznvin
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 4:53am
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

DavecUK Said:

They are probably using unobtanium....

My experience of thermoblocks has not been positive.,,,It's difficult to get the temperature right and also to have decent flow, steaming tends to be very weak and they are subject to scaling and other problems (unless good water is used). However, they are easy and cheap for the manufacturers and require very little skill to assemble.

We have 2 types of showers in the UK...one system very similar to a thermoblock with instantaneous heat, the other using thermostatic valves and a pump to get hot water from your storage cylinder  one performs very much better than the other and costs from 3 to 6 times the price....funnily enough it's not the instantaneous shower. that's the great performer.

Posted February 21, 2013 link

I think they call it INOX
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 6:01am
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

QuickMill certainly builds the best thermoblock machines around, that have been shown to have surprising temperature stability. The Cassiopea, for example, has two: one for steaming and one for brewing. IMHO a thermoblock is not a bad thing per se. Its bad reputations is a result of the low-grade quality thermoblocks used in cheap sub-entry level machines.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 6:24am
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

Fred, as I said in my original post -- which appears above -- "In theory, a thermoblock should work fine -- I'm just not sure it has . . . yet."

In other words, on paper there is no reason why it shouldn't work, but I'm not comfortable in saying it has.  Having a machine on the market since 2010 is better than having it on the market since 2012, but still doesn't tell me much.  QuickMill has a solid reputation (unlike some other brands I could mention), and is the leader -- IMHO -- in using a thermoblock, but I'm far more comfortable waiting FIVE years, and seeing a) how many people still "love" their thermoblock-based machine; b) how many people now hate it and/or have had problems; and c) how many have upgraded.

As Nobby said,

NobbyR Said:

IMHO a thermoblock is not a bad thing per se. Its bad reputations is a result of the low-grade quality thermoblocks used in cheap sub-entry level machines.

Posted February 22, 2013 link


 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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fredk01
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:42am
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

Thanks for the reply Jason, that is what I was looking for from you.  I think Crossland Coffee is glad that not everyone is going to wait and see for 5 years. :-))  Is there a specific reason you chose 5 years?

I'm not sure what the number of upgraders tells you.  People upgrade for many reasons.  I think that the Silvia is an example of a well made machine that many would upgrade from because of the feature set yet it fits its niche well.

I'm looking at the CC1 because I will be a casual user: probably less than one drink per day.  I need a Kia Rio to get me by for my 15 minute drive, not a Ferrari for the ultimate driving experience.

For me, the turnover point is probably 3 years in the market without significant issues and the Silvano has hit that point, so I would think well designed thermoblock machines are ready for prime time.  The CC1 is one year behind.

That the CC1 has gone through some design changes and is at v1.5 does not bother me.  I would expect that there will be some things in a new machine's design that need to be corrected.  If they had replaced the thermoblock because of issues, I would be more concerned as that is a major component.

At its price point, I am not sure what the Silvano offers over a well designed HX machine.  Pid perhaps?  At its price point, the CC1 potentially offers a lot over machines like the Gaggia Classic and Silvia.
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Intrepid510
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Joined: 30 Dec 2010
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 1:55pm
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

Personally, I echo what others have said a thermoblock should work it just hasn't yet. The Silvano and CC1 just use it for steam not for brewing and that fine from all accounts that seems to be doing alright.

The machine in the video simply looks like a dual purpose thermoblock machine without any way of controlling the temp, so it looks like it might be a bigger brother to a krups steam toy. Not really impressed.

I am surprised no has mentioned the only real people trying to make a thermoblock work, ZPM Nocturn. Click Here (www.kickstarter.com)

Has yet to materialize so we shall see.

 
Less water, more grounds.
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GVDub
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Joined: 25 Jan 2008
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

Isn't the current generation of Livietta a dual thermoblock machine? I don't have any hands on experience with one, but I've talked with a number of people who seem reasonably happy with theirs. Of course, I haven't had a shot pulled from one of them. I wonder if Pasquini has one set up in their LA offices?
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,469
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 4:23pm
Subject: Re: Are thermoblocks ready for prime time?
 

fredk01 Said:

Is there a specific reason you chose 5 years? . . . I'm not sure what the number of upgraders tells you.

Posted February 22, 2013 link

People who get bit hard by the espresso bug will upgrade in 3-5 years; people who don't get bit will probably keep the machine for (at least) five years.  

I want to know if they -- the latter group -- are still happy after the five years.  For the people who did upgrade, I want to know why -- was it because they seriously wanted to upgrade (and if so, to what), or was it because they didn't like the CC1?

Design flaws may not come out in the first year, under warranty.  And even so, the warranty covers it and the buyer is happy.  Poorly made machines will wear out in 3-5 years, so I would want to wait more than 36 months to see what falls apart . . .

Keep in mind that I had a Gaggia for 13-15 years, and when it died, got another one for 10-12 . . . 25 years with the same (model of) machine.  But when I discovered THIS place . . . between 2005 and 2009, I bought four machines!  But none were new-in-the-marketplace models.  I bought a new La Valentina, based largely on this for my home, and then wanted to get a bigger machine (more capacity, plumbed-in), and so I bought an Elektra T1 (based largely on this) for my house, and moved the La Val to my office.

Curious about Olympia machines, I bought a used (1989) Olympia Cafferex, and since I missed out on an Olympia Cremina, I bought an old (1960s) Arrarex Caravel manual lever, open-boiler design.

In other words, nothing new, untried and untested . . .

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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