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Thermoblock question
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EndTwo
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Joined: 13 Mar 2013
Posts: 89
Location: Denmark
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Apscaso uno steel prof
Grinder: Mazzer Major DR + Mahlkönig...
Drip: french press, ceramic v60...
Roaster: skillet
Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 12:48pm
Subject: Thermoblock question
 

Hi all,
I've gotten the ascaso imo steel pro. Got advised by the vendor, who told me it was updated with a thermoblock. I've googled and kinda figured it means heating water from ressovoir very quickly. The machine in it self heats very quickly too... stable, as far as I can tell in 10 minutes (manual says 1 1/2 minute)
Well, back to the question, what's the difference between this and a hx. Except that I can't steam and brew at one time. Doesn't otherwise seem fair to compare to a sbdu or...?
-Sune
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pfn
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Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 64
Location: Santa Clara, CA, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: KA Proline w/ Mazzer Mini...
Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 2:22pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

A thermoblock for steam is kinda like an HX but inverted. The boiler provides water for brew and steam, (but set at brew temp), the thermoblock flash-heats the water to steam temp, a second pump is used to pump water into the thermoblock, for simultaneous steam. With only a single pump, a boiler+thermoblock machine can only do one thing at a time; you just remove the waiting time for the steam to boil.

Whereas an HX has a single pump yet is able to brew and steam at the same time.

Primary weakness of a thermoblock vs. sbdu is steam strength, it is far weaker and possibly of lower quality (wetter steam). Only so much water can be vaporized into steam at a given rate with available wall-current (thus the very short on/off thumps of a thermoblock steamer's pump).

HX has as much steam as pressure is available (non-water volume) in the boiler plus however much the heating element is able to produce while steaming. SBDU also have similar levels of steam, but only after waiting for the boiler to come up to steam temp.

This has been what I've been able to gather in my research leading up to buying my first espresso machine (I got an HX machine).
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,745
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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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 Wed Apr 10, 2013, 2:29pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

The difference is about $1K of improvements and a totally different construction.

A thermoblock, is a chunk of metal that has a heater embedded into it. Water passes through a small tube that winds through the block and heats the water. They are VERY unstable in temp control, the temp swings wildly, far, far too much to get consistent heat throughout the brew cycle. They get too hot and cool off too quickly. As a steaming device, they  more or less work and depending on the design they can work pretty well as in the case of the CC1 for steaming.

The Thermoblock is the lowest machine on the ladder of machines that can brew espresso. First is the steam toy, a machine that uses steam pressure to force water through the coffee. Then you add a pump through a block of metal and you have a thermoblock. Next, a real boiler that is thermally controlled for brewing and an additional thermostat to maintain steam temp for steaming milk. Next up is a PID on a SBDU which offers much better temp regulation. Then tied in quality but differing in methods are the HX and the DB machine. They can be had with either a vibe pump or a rotary pump for improved water flow and stability.

 
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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pfn
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Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 64
Location: Santa Clara, CA, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: KA Proline w/ Mazzer Mini...
Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 2:45pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

calblacksmith Said:

The difference is about $1K of improvements and a totally different construction.

A thermoblock, is a chunk of metal that has a heater embedded into it. Water passes through a small tube that winds through the block and heats the water. They are VERY unstable in temp control, the temp swings wildly, far, far too much to get consistent heat throughout the brew cycle. They get too hot and cool off too quickly. As a steaming device, they  more or less work and depending on the design they can work pretty well as in the case of the CC1 for steaming.

The Thermoblock is the lowest machine on the ladder of machines that can brew espresso. First is the steam toy, a machine that uses steam pressure to force water through the coffee. Then you add a pump through a block of metal and you have a thermoblock. Next, a real boiler that is thermally controlled for brewing and an additional thermostat to maintain steam temp for steaming milk. Next up is a PID on a SBDU which offers much better temp regulation. Then tied in quality but differing in methods are the HX and the DB machine. They can be had with either a vibe pump or a rotary pump for improved water flow and stability.

Posted April 10, 2013 link

That's kind of judgmental, but the ascaso uno pro is an independent boiler+thermoblock, which I assume is the machine in question.
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fredk01
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Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 3:11pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

pfn Said:

That's kind of judgmental, but the ascaso uno pro is an independent boiler+thermoblock, which I assume is the machine in question.

Posted April 10, 2013 link

Are you sure it is a boiler plus steam thermoblock system?  I went to the Ascaso site and it was not at all clear what any of the Steel line of machines contained.  It would be good if it was as I think that, if properly implemented it is a definite step up from an SBDU machine.
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pfn
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Posts: 64
Location: Santa Clara, CA, US
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Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: KA Proline w/ Mazzer Mini...
Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 3:33pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

fredk01 Said:

Are you sure it is a boiler plus steam thermoblock system?  I went to the Ascaso site and it was not at all clear what any of the Steel line of machines contained.  It would be good if it was as I think that, if properly implemented it is a definite step up from an SBDU machine.

Posted April 10, 2013 link

I'm actually not sure, but scg's video indicates that it has something like a 10oz boiler, so it sounds like it would be a boiler+ steam thermoblock--maybe my guess on the model is wrong.
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fredk01
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Espresso: Saeco Aroma
Grinder: OE Pharos
Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 3:58pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

Found the video.  Its the Ascaso Duo that is boiler + thermoblock.  I think the Uno is still a single boiler.
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Jmanespresso
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Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
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Espresso: Alex Duetto II
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Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 4:42pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

Honestly, its not Rocket Science.. the machines are exactly where they should in terms of price and place in the overall hierarchy of espressso machines.

They're better than a Silvia/Gaggia Classic, but still not at the Level of a Bezzera BZ07/Nuova Era Cuadra.

They do bridge the gap, adding PIDS and no-wait steam is no doubt a nice feature set, and in terms of the CC1, I really want to play around with one them because the tech at work in that machine is way beyond anything else at that price point.  

End of that day, they're still small boiler espresso machines.  Capable of making good espresso in a STRICTLY consumer based, low volume home environment.

 
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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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,745
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 Wed Apr 10, 2013, 8:33pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

pfn Said:

That's kind of judgmental, but the ascaso uno pro is an independent boiler+thermoblock, which I assume is the machine in question.

Posted April 10, 2013 link

I just told the truth, if you find that judgmental then I guess you do, sometimes the truth isn't pleasant but it is none the less true.
At the bottom are the steam toys, they are too hot and don't have enough pressure to brew properly.
Then are the pump driven thermo blocks, then SBDU, then augmented SBDU machines, those with pid and some with thermo block assisted steam then hx/db, each of which can be equipped with rotary pumps and plumb in and automatic control.
Just the facts.


I did not intend to offend anyone.

 
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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Frost
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Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
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Location: Sierra
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Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Wed Apr 10, 2013, 9:36pm
Subject: Re: Thermoblock question
 

The technology exists today for making a thermoblock with perfect temperature stability and accuracy... Easy enough for an espresso maker application, but I don't know if you will see these in any home espresso machines.  

A problem with thermoblock steamers (besides underpowered compared to a larger boiler) is the mineral build up as the water is flashed entirely to steam. In a boiler the mineral content will build up in the boiler water where it can be later flushed out.
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