MerleApAmber Senior Member Joined: 13 Nov 2012 Posts: 203 Location: Atlanta Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Breville BES900 Grinder: Baratza Preciso + Esatto Vac Pot: Yuma Drip: bah-humbug Roaster: Hot Top 2K P
Posted Sun Mar 3, 2013, 4:13pm Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
The big thing about an HX machine is flushing to bring your brew temperature in line after the device has sat on the counter (over)heating the exchanger body within the boiler over time. For most people - like us, who will use the machinery only two or three times a day ( and maybe two or three drinks each time ), the differences are minor HX to double boiler; one is still going to want to draw enough liquid through the group head and portafilter to ensure things are nice and toasty for the actual draw of coffee from the puck. With an HX however, you'll be more specifically interested in just how much time does it take to stabilize the correct temperature from one which most often will start out too hot. Once you have that number in time you'll - as most here note - find it quite easy to repeat without having to think about it. The double boiler systems are just a wee bit shorter to get to the chase, but it isn't necessarily so... depending on if you've got a commercial grade HX based hunk of boiler with a very seriously monster sized HX for production work.
My horse in the race is a Breville and so far she's done me fine. Again, I don't expect to pull shots all day on a cart in the office for hire - although indications are I could - just not expect it to last nearly as long or as well as a professional piece of kit. But, at home, making 6 drinks and running water through the equipment the equivalent of three times that, no worries. However, and because it is a bloody discussion of long standing, you picks yer horses and ye takes yer chances.
Cheers and enjoy the coffee! THAT's the real star to this show. -Chris
First of all, I want a machine that's reliable and doesn't break down. After that, I want a machine that is easily repairable, should that ever become necessary, AND one that has better temperature stability.
It's not difficult.
As for the rest of it, Richard, all I know is what I've read from your posts, and what I have personally experienced. I cannot speak to anything else, nor do I try.
Casca Senior Member Joined: 28 Feb 2013 Posts: 11 Location: Chicago Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Tue Mar 5, 2013, 2:54pm Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
In regards to Breville...
over 6 years ago I bought a 150$ espresso machine and 69ish$ grinder; both Breville. Both were "fancy" to my friends; even my affluent friends. I was using starbucks coffee mostly and buying bulk so no way it was fresh. I enjoyed the crap out of that machine; both the process of making it and drinking not to mention the social aspect of making for friends. 3 years ago I gave it to my friend. He now averaged 6 drinks a day and mostly milk based drinks. It's not convenient to use but he's happy and his family loves drinking drinks from it. When we go over and he entertains we've been known to make 12 drinks out of it! EVERYBODY raves about the latte's from it and loves it - comments on how its the best coffee they've ever had flow. The machine is 6 years old now and I would wager has produced more shots than many on here since I know how often it gets used for entertaining - a lot. Its held up like a champ; or the little train that could type of thing.
When I gave away my baby machine I upgraded to something that was like 500ish dollars. I had a live in GF/fiance' for 2 of those and averaged 4 double pulls a day between the two of us and more every time I have company - which is often. No broilers, just a brick heating element. Again, this machine is viewed as extravagance to my friends of all economic statuses. I was using mostly pre ground Illy and decaf Lavazza on this machine. It's held up great over the past 3 years and performed extremely well. The shots it pulls with Illy are far better than anything I have had out in Charlotte where I live. Yesterday I took possession of a QM67and WOW! the Breville will get handed down to the same friend and his baby machine to a guy we know thus our cycle.
People complain much louder on forums. The BDB would be an awesome machine for the home and anyone that sees it will think of it as extravagance. Almost nobody has the machines talked about here. We all compare to a GS/3 (I'd personally love a Speedster) but few are fortunate enough to indulge. The QM67 is viewed as "entry level" and the BDB lower than that but again, they are far superior to what most out there use and it sounds like the BDB would be a monumental upgrade for the OP and most posing the question of whether or not they should consider this machine. There is no "need" to upgrade from a BDB... think of it in terms of your personal enjoyment and not how it compares to xyz out there. You may be pulling better shots on an inferior machine than someone talking up something really high end on the internet. We can only compare by being social in real life and not by teh interwebz. Get what you want and share it often; that's the best way to maximize the enjoyment.
Casca Senior Member Joined: 28 Feb 2013 Posts: 11 Location: Chicago Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Tue Mar 5, 2013, 3:02pm Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
I plan on spending about $500 on a grinder and the rest on a machine. I really like the BES900XL. I have never owned an espresso machine and have been lingering for over a year reading. I would pull about two shots a day and like both straight espresso and lattee. So if you had $1500-$1600 to spend, what would your setup be?
I can honestly say that I'm not (as a product reviewer) impressed at all with Breville. I'm not saying they don't make a decent machine, it is likely that it is much better than what you are on currently. That said... This company is filled with complete <insert swear word here>. Even their PR department that speaks with the news media (knowing that they then turn around and write articles about their stuff) have attitude and very little regard for any type of solid communication.
So the question is this:
If I who write for several publications one of which is incredibly large and influential... can't get them to get me support on a product regularly, or support their product well. AND If I'm not even going through the proper channels, I'm going to the Media Relations person that has a direct line with an engineer not the typical support person that reads of response cards... and they KNOW I am going to DESTROY them with the review because their support sucks so bad... YET they are STILL WILLING to act in this manner with ME...
Do you think telling you to take a long walk off a short pier is going to be a big deal for them? If you use a good water filter (I like reverse osmosis with UV) you don't have to worry about descaling for decades. (lol I just thought I would throw this in randomly at the end). I'd pick anything over a Breville personally.
Jmanespresso Senior Member Joined: 18 Jan 2009 Posts: 2,109 Location: Westchester NY Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Alex Duetto II Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5 Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Tue Mar 5, 2013, 3:42pm Subject: Re: What setup would you choose for $1500-$1600 budget
Can you explain why. I knew I was missing something. I thought this was for controlling the temperature more accurately. I read about the PID and what I read was like reading a medical journal. I am thinking maybe because the HX black controls it but what about for the group head?
PID is jus what its called. Really, its a smart thermometer. You tell it what temperture you want, and it makes sure that the boiler is always within 1 degree of that.
So on a single boiler, or a dual boiler, instead of a simple bimetallic thermostat which will have a temp swing of as much as 40degree from its "cold, turn the heater on" point, to its "ok, thats hot enough" point. Its not accurate at all, and really, its kinda amazing that single boilers like the Silvia even come with such a thing in the first place. You get the PID, so the brewing water is always at the temperature you want it to be.
E61 HX machines use what is called a Thermo Syphon. By convection, water from the boiler is cycled through the grouphead, in and out, to maintain temperature stability. The grouphead being very hot, and the boiler water being very hot, both serve to control the room temp water coming through the HX tube to brew your coffee. The reason HXs need to be flushed, is because when the machine sits idle, the water inside the HX, will eventually heat up to the same temp as the boiler water.
An HX doesn't use a thermostat, it uses a pressurestat. It senses the boiler pressure, and when it drops below a set point, it will click on the heater, and bring it back up. This is quicker and more responsive than a thermostat, which would allow the pressure to drop further before the heating element came back on. This way, the steam is kept as powerful as possible at all times. You CAN use a PID for this, but there is no NEED for it. PID is for exact temperatures and maintaining them. The actual temp in the steam boiler is irrelevant, what is important is the pressure. (As you know, the boiler is kept at steam temps at all times, which is used to flash heat the water that passes through the tube in the boiler on its way to the grouphead. If it sits in the tube(the HX) for too long, it will eventually become the same temp as the water in the boiler. Its hot enough, along with the grouphead, to have the water be slightly warmer then room temp in the reservoir, and 200 at the portafilter. Does that visualize it?
SO you dont get confused.. some HX machines DO have PIDs... and ALL HX machines CAN have a PID. Its just not doing anything that a pressurestat can't handle.
Follow Your Bliss
Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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