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Prosumer machines: comparison and suggestions
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Prosumer...  
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emil3m
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2013
Posts: 103
Location: New York
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sat Jul 6, 2013, 1:13pm
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

<ORIGINAL POST UPDATED>

NobbyR Said:

I'd like to add two HX machines with rotary pumps, that can be switched from tank to plumbing:
the Rocket Espresso Cellini (or Giotto) Evolutione, and
the ECM Elektronika Profi II, which also offers volumetric brewing.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

Thanks, Nobby!

Stupid question: isn't the R58 V2, Rocket's "flagship" single-group machine?

 
Currently in love with Hayes Valley by Blue Bottle--locally roasted next to my house in Brooklyn
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 649
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sat Jul 6, 2013, 8:17pm
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

emil3m Said:

Can someone please explain how pre-infusion works on these machines? Particularly when not plumbed-in.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

OK, Just to clarify something here, think of an E61 group as a very complicated water tap. It's actually a three way valve. First position is discharge or resting.
That's when the discharge valve is opened and the E61 group can't hold pressure. Second position is neutral. That is when the discharge valve is closed and the
brew valve is also closed. The third position is brew, which opens the brew valve and lets water into the portafilter.

When you pre-infuse with an E61 group, all you are doing is raising the lever enough to open the brew valve, but not enough to engage the pump. All E61 groups
have kind of an "egg" shaped cam which, when it is raised enough, engages a switch which turns on the pump. It's crude, but it really works well.

When you finish brewing, you move the lever down completely, which blows off all of the pressure through the discharge valve and prevents portafilter sneezing. It
is an absolutely ingenious system that "just works". There isn't any 3-way valve solenoid on an E61 group machine because it's redundant and not required.

Now, on my Duetto, I know for a fact that when the steam boiler is pressurized, it also seems to pressurize the coffee boiler as well. When I move the lever of my E61 group
just up enough to open the valve, I can hear water hitting and wetting the puck, but there isn't enough pressure for the water to push through the coffee puck so
it won't brew. (It might if I waited long enough, but I never did.) My guess is that it wouldn't be anything more than 1.4 bar, or whatever pressure the steam boiler sits at.

Since I've plumbed in, I have a constant 3.5 bar of pressure available to me, which is the City water pressure. When I pre-infuse now, 3.5 bars of pressure hit the
coffee. It's quite possibly enough pressure to brew the coffee, but I usually just do it long enough to wet the coffee, which is usually about 1-2 seconds, then I brew.

Now, I'm not sure how it works on other machines, but a lot of double boiler machines tend to have a heat exchanger in the steam boiler to ensure that the coffee boiler
doesn't get cold water. The fact that my brew boiler pressurizes tells me that the Duetto may not use a heat exchanger, but probably just feeds water from the steam
boiler into the brew boiler. Of course, I'm speculating here.. Some of the other guru's on here may wish to correct me. (I hope they do, I don't know if I'm right!)

emil3m Said:

please elaborate on some of the features as they are currently listed in their very basic senses.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

Features I look for are:

  1. Ability to steam and brew at the same time. (Any HX or DB machine will do this.)
  2. Hot water wand. Mainly just to warm cups and to make Ramen noodles quickly. (The water coming out of a hot water wand is hotter than 100 C!)
  3. Big fat honking drip tray. The bigger the better, up to a point. This is important when you want to run off of a tank.
  4. Water tank size and type. The bigger the tank, the less often you have to refill it. Some machines require removal of the cup tray before you can fill the tank too!
  5. Ergonomic portafilters that are standardized to 58mm without any weird or wacky proprietary stuff.
  6. Chrome, Chrome, Chrome and more Chrome... Shiny Shiny Shiny Shiny. Not important, but nice to look at!
  7. A brew pressure and steam boiler pressure gauge. The latter is more important and mandatory IMHO on a HX machine.
  8. Easily adjustable brew pressure. Some machines are more difficult to adjust this than others, but it is a "set it and forget it" thing.
  9. Rotary pump - Considered absolutely mandatory for a few reasons. Operator sanity, plumbing in without a pressure regulator and durability.
    (Caveat to this, if the City water pressure is over 8 bars or if it is unstable, a pressure regulator should be used to protect the machine and your kitchen.
    Of course, READ THE MANUAL to determine if you need one. All machines are different and following the manufacturers recommendations is the best thing to do.)
  10. PID or Pressurestat. The former is more reliable and required for a DB machine. HX machines can use a PID, but pressurestats are more responsive.
  11. Size - I believe that the Vibiemme machines are the deepest machines in this class. Also look to see if the machine is cupboard friendly.
  12. Warranty and Serviceability - Most machines have a 1 yr warranty. Look to see who will stand behind that machine if there is a fault with it.
  13. Distance between the bottom of the portafilter and the drip tray - Most machines use Italian standard, so if you like big lattes, keep this in mind.
  14. Vacuum Breaker Valve - An absolutely mandatory feature if you plan on putting the machine on a timer. As well, the VB should drain into the drip tray.
  15. All machines have cup warmers, the question is, what kind of rails does the cup warmer have and do they look aesthetically pleasing to you?

That's all I can think of off the top of my head so far....

emil3m Said:

Is the cup clearance really as low as listed?

Posted July 6, 2013 link

The machine specifications will tell you the height of the machine. Make the right measurements and see if it'll work. My machine is a little tall for my cupboards, but
since my kitchen doesn't have cupboards all the way 'round, it isn't a big deal.

emil3m Said:

Is the pre-infusion at 3 bars?

Posted July 6, 2013 link

Let me clarify this, when my E61 group is at rest, the brew pressure gauge reads 3.5 bars because I'm plumbed in. This is city water pressure. In theory,
if the City water pressure was at 9 bars, I wouldn't even need the pump to brew my espresso, but I've never heard of anyone doing this. (If anyone is reading
this, have you actually done this?) Putting in a pressure regulator in that situation would allow for proper pre-infusion.

Now, I suspect that when I was working on tank operation, I was actually pre-infusing at steam boiler pressure, which was 1.4 bar, which is enough.

emil3m Said:

Stupid question: isn't the R58 V2, Rocket's "flagship" single-group machine?

Posted July 6, 2013 link

I think Rocket only makes single group machines.. and yes, I believe that is their flagship machine.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,021
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 1:33am
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

emil3m Said:

Isn't the R58 V2, Rocket's "flagship" single-group machine?

Posted July 6, 2013 link

It is as far as it's their first (an up to now only) dual boiler machine, and also their most expensive prosumer espresso machine. Both machines I mentioned are HXs, because I still think that depending on your needs a DB is not mandatory and you should still consider those types as well. And it seems you do, too, because you have the NS Musica on your shortlist.  Apart from a PID, which makes no sense on an HX, even though some people install one, you can get any feature in an HX machine that you can get in a DB.

qualin Said:

The water coming out of a hot water wand is hotter than 100C!

Posted July 6, 2013 link

A physical impossibility under atmospheric pressure: above 100C water evaporates. Only the water inside the boiler, like in a pressure cooker, is hotter than that.

 
***
"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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DavecUK
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Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,383
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 4:32am
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

qualin Said:

Now, I'm not sure how it works on other machines, but a lot of double boiler machines tend to have a heat exchanger in the steam boiler to ensure that the coffee boiler
doesn't get cold water. The fact that my brew boiler pressurizes tells me that the Duetto may not use a heat exchanger, but probably just feeds water from the steam
boiler into the brew boiler. Of course, I'm speculating here.. Some of the other guru's on here may wish to correct me. (I hope they do, I don't know if I'm right!) .

Posted July 6, 2013 link

The Duetto uses a specially modified HX in the Steam boiler to preheat the water for the brew boiler, I know this because I specifically designed the HX preheat system..You may well see slightly higher pressure in the brew boiler when the steam boiler heats for passive "puck wetting" and when running on the internal tank. This is because the water in HX will be at a higher temperature (and pressure). However, if you simply turn your steam boiler off (as you should when your not requiring steam for any reason), then you will still get the passive puck wetting. The reason this still happens is the brew boiler will normally be at a temperature of around 103 - 109C, depending on how you set the PID, this is above boiling and you will still get passive "puck wetting"

There is not really meant to be a "middle" position on an E61 by design and even if there was not, it's easy enough to simply "burp" the pump to get "puck wetting", before any pressure has started to build. The E61 does have inbuilt by design pre-infusion though (unless it is solenoid actuated). This inbuilt pre-infusion allows the pressure to ramp gradually whilst a "preinfusion chamber" at the base of the group fills. It's something that a number of manufacturers e.g. La Spaz have tried to emulate with a sprung plunger in a chamber within the brew circuit to allow a slower pressure ramp up (similar to some types of anti knock expansion chambers in house plumbing. It serves to prevent the puck being overly disturbed by a more gradual application of pressure

Now I did mention that solenoid actuated E61 groups do not have inbuilt pre-infusion, which is why I have never reviewed one and would never recommend one is purchased. This is because the solenoid valve to operate water flow in the group replaces the built in "pre-infusion chamber".

BUT

Everyone (including the manufacturers) talks about either "passive puck wetting" or "line pressure puck wetting", different to the inbuilt pre-infusion of an E61. I have tried both on many occasions and have noticed NO significant differences in the shot. In all machines I tested with a "special" puck wetting pre-infusion feature, I have noticed no differences. It is however a good marketing ploy to build in a feature which costs nothing on all volumetric machines. On this it simply works by opening the group solenoid for a few seconds without engaging the pump. So a lot talked about the "puck wetting" nonsense, but IMO, that's all it is, another bit of marketing/manufacturer "nobsense", much like the TDS measurements of coffee La Marzocco seem to love, when "proving" that automatic volumetric control of the shot (and weighing the coffee) gives a "better" shot, than a Barista manually control it  <ROFL>.

Note: can owners taste the difference.....yes, unless you perform a blind taste test.....especially if you paid a lot for a machine with the feature in the belief that it works.
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Zevi
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Joined: 28 Mar 2013
Posts: 112
Location: Ann Arbor
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 7:23am
Subject: Re: Prosumer machines: comparison and suggestions
 

emil3m Said:

Assuming that the GS/3 is an overkill, please help me out zero in on a different prosumer.
I really appreciate all the help I received thus far. Below you will find a comparison chart which will be regularly updated.

Suggestions to improving the chart are welcome--I want to make it as helpful as possible.

Posted July 5, 2013 link

You are getting some very helpful input here from knowledgeable members. Being on the same "I'm searching to buy a machine" side of the fence as you, I'd like to add a few points:
  1. You should not mix HX and DB in the same comparison group; have a different comparison chart for each type.
  2. Consider having one of the comparison features the choice of having the machine plumbable. It's important.
  3. You may want to have a "free-form notes" field for note-worthy comments you recall from watching videos.

Personally, until the Vetrano 2B became a real option, my primary candidate was the Vibiemme Double Domobar.

Good luck!
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emil3m
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2013
Posts: 103
Location: New York
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:04am
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

qualin Said:

<insert extensive write-up by qualin here here>

Posted July 6, 2013 link

wow--thank you so much for the effort!
  1. Some of these machines (the R58 V2 for sure) allow the PID dual control (both steam and brew). To understand you better, neither has any effect on pre-infusion bars? In other words, any time I read "3 bars for pre-infusion" (on whatever machine, not just these), it is always implied to be done through plumbing?
    My CC1 uses active pre-infusion (activate-->pause-->pull), which happens at 9 bars--significant drop to 1.4 bars.
  2. Please correct me if i'm wrong: A good rule of thumb for pre-infusion is to start pulling once you see coffee form on the nude PF. When the grind is good, I see formation of coffee when pre-brew activates for 2sec and the pause is 2sec. Would the Duetto achieve that at 1.4 bars on reservoir?
    *Quick note: I have actually tried completely doing away with pre-infusion and really did not enjoy the taste and look. The difference was far more noticeable than, say, few degree temperature change or length of the pull variance or what not.
  3. I just realized that neither machine has a timer nor are they volumetric. So much for repeatable pre-infusion! So the only way to achieve consistent reproduction is an external timer? The GS/3 has a timer that activates together with the pump :) I'm also wondering, does the pre-infusion on the GS/3 operate as you described.
  4. By cup clearance, I meant the height from tray to installed PF. Duetto is listed at 2.5" which pushes the limit even for 5-6oz cups. I guess a nude PF will remedy that somewhat.
  5. I decided that I do not like the Musica. Either because the vast majority prefer DB over HX or because it look WAY too modern.
  6. I kind of want to dismiss the Vibiemme as well--help? My current reason is its weight and size. Also, does "Vibiemme E61" implies a modified E61? Any other reasons to drop it?
  7. The R58 V2 lists the PID as "dual." What can you control on your PID?
  8. Are the groups identical on both machines?
  9. Other than PID placement, any other stark differences between the two?

I wish an R58 V2 owner could chime in; particularly re: non-super-technical explanation of the pre-infusion when on reservoir.

 
Currently in love with Hayes Valley by Blue Bottle--locally roasted next to my house in Brooklyn
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emil3m
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2013
Posts: 103
Location: New York
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:10am
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

NobbyR Said:

It is as far as it's their first (an up to now only) dual boiler machine, and also their most expensive prosumer espresso machine. Both machines I mentioned are HXs, because I still think that depending on your needs a DB is not mandatory and you should still consider those types as well. And it seems you do, too, because you have the NS Musica on your shortlist.  Apart from a PID, which makes no sense on an HX, even though some people install one, you can get any feature in an HX machine that you can get in a DB.

A physical impossibility under atmospheric pressure: above 100C water evaporates. Only the water inside the boiler, like in a pressure cooker, is hotter than that.

Posted July 7, 2013 link

This is no disrespect to your opinion AT ALL--I've decided to go with a DB. I'm fully aware of being a complete newbie. With lack of hands-on experience, I must defer to people who have been doing that for a long time. Naturally there will be differences of opinions, but it seems that the split if not 50/50 on this question. Most people seem to favor a DB.

My purchase is still months away, so I will continue reading with an open mind. Do we agree the Musica looks worse than the R58 or the Duetto? :)

 
Currently in love with Hayes Valley by Blue Bottle--locally roasted next to my house in Brooklyn
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emil3m
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2013
Posts: 103
Location: New York
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:23am
Subject: Re: Lineup of 4 prosumer machines:
 

DavecUK Said:

<explanation of pre-infusion on E61>

Posted July 7, 2013 link

I realize you were talking to qualin. I read this a few times and struggled a bit with understanding. Would you be able to explain using a bit less industry jargon? I have a very good base and a MUCH clearer understanding after reading qualin's explanation. Looking to build further and solidify this understanding. Particularly when on reservoir.

If you have experience with the R58 V2 and can expand on its functionality--please do.

Your last paragraph discusses the potential of pre-infusion being just a gimmick. I'm 6 months young in this and took a very dedicated approach to practice. I'm sure that my technique is nothing to write home about, but do not think myself incompetent. Really did not like the look and taste of the shot without a brief pre-infusion. For whatever that's worth...

 
Currently in love with Hayes Valley by Blue Bottle--locally roasted next to my house in Brooklyn
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emil3m
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2013
Posts: 103
Location: New York
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:28am
Subject: Re: Prosumer machines: comparison and suggestions
 

Zevi Said:

You are getting some very helpful input here from knowledgeable members. Being on the same "I'm searching to buy a machine" side of the fence as you, I'd like to add a few points:
You should not mix HX and DB in the same comparison group; have a different comparison chart for each type.
Consider having one of the comparison features the choice of having the machine plumbable. It's important.
You may want to have a "free-form notes" field for note-worthy comments you recall from watching videos.

Personally, until the Vetrano 2B became a real option, my primary candidate was the Vibiemme Double Domobar.

Good luck!

Posted July 7, 2013 link

I am getting EXCELLENT input! I want to buy these guys beers! Seriously--if any of you in NYC please let me know! I may not stand 5 hours in line to the statute of liberty with you, but beers certainly on me!

I will add machines per request. Do not mind separating the HX and DB as I've decided to got with DB. The spec you are looking for is actually already on the chart--see line 6. Free form notes is sort of like "other features," no? This one is a bit harder to implement, because a good chart is one that is very easy for users to look at. This is why I wish the forum would have an embedding option. I tried to keep it very clear and easy on the eye.

Cheers!

 
Currently in love with Hayes Valley by Blue Bottle--locally roasted next to my house in Brooklyn
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mitarbre
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco OCS-8
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:30am
Subject: Re: Prosumer machines: comparison and suggestions
 

I'm looking for pretty much the same kind of machine in the same price range. Could you please share your spreadsheet so I can add machines you don't have in the list but I'm interested in (Vivaldis, Epoca ST1 etc)? I'll send it back to you of course with my additions.
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