If you want to be drinking better coffee, you should take the time master your Elektra (MCaL I assume, vintage?). I have a '96 and an '03. They're quite different, but both can make excellent espresso in their own way and both are very good at spinning milk. If you're looking to upgrade something, I would replace your Major with a K10 as it doesn't sound like you make much use of your Pharos. The Compak doser is also much better than the Mazzer doser.
I still have a Cimbali Junior under my bench, I recently sold off my GS/3, Elektra Deliziosa, and I sold my Astra GAP a while ago. I think a DB with a PID may improve your shot to shot consistency if you don't feel like you have a handle on controlling your HX temp, but I don't think that you'll see any actual shot improvement as a result of the small increase in temperature stability. Also, big machines do take a long time to heat up to a point where all the metal is hot and the promised temperature stability is delivered.
I'm of the opinion that shot quality comes mostly from a Barista's palate and experience. Taking a class is a nice place to start. If you really want to make better coffee you need to be making more coffee. You have more than capable gear. Spend your money on a lot of fresh beans that will challenge you abilities. Make sure to buy enough so that you can explore the effects of up-dosing, down-dosing, low-temp, high-temp, and pressure modulation if you are using your lever. Find some espresso drinkers with discerning palates and invite them over for some tasting.
Make the time to master your lever machine; you're past the point (in terms of equipment quality) that you can get real improvement by throwing money at your espresso cup.
ECM Senior Member Joined: 11 Oct 2003 Posts: 476 Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano 2B Grinder: Mazzer Robour E Vac Pot: French Press Drip: no Roaster: Fresh Roast+8, i-roast and...
Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013, 11:04am Subject: Re: Upgraditis Dilemna
Well said sir.
Really I don't think it's necessary for you to buy pro gear to get pro shots. The only thing I would consider in your position is to PID your machiene if possible. That would give you more predictable shot quality. Really, I think your gear ti top notch!
Moving to a full on comerical unit really doesn't make a lot of snece in the home environment. As you are only making 1-3 drinks a ady. The only other machiene I would recomend having owned one is the GS3 but again, that's not even on the table for you and I totally understand the financial issues in buying one of those.
Thank you all for the replies. And Yes russel I have an Mcal as well. When is it considered Vintage? I belive mine is as its an olde rmodel but still in great condition.
I certainly understand that my problem lies mainly in my abilities as the equipment should be more than sufficient. I was just looking for an excuse to perhaps gain some more consistency. My problem is that i love equipment and I buy too much before I ever get the chance to master any one thing. I do have too many "new" variables at a time such as learning how to use my Hottop roaster, new beans as well as the age of beans since I am the only coffee drinker in the household. My wife drinks coffee but only flavored lattes from starbucks...
I'll stick to one bean that I recently bought direct from a farmer and roast using the same profile. That should eliminate some variables. I knew I should have bought the Compak Fresh last year when I saw it local for $1K used.
Stop, take a step back, deep inhale, slow exhale.... Now, I see you have a KN-8828P. That might be step one. Find a good local roaster, or one who shops, and try some other coffees. Without telemetry data from your roast it is difficult to say what you are producing. Maybe roast a batch and get it a talented home barista or pro to try to evaluate. While being deeply involved with Hottop (I wrote the owners manual as well as created their USA website) I have never liked the "P" model. Maybe it is just that my mind doesn't work that way, but I do not like the programming and its restrictions.
The next thing to do is find a local home barista or pro, invite them over for some A - Beer B - BBQ C - Homemade desserts D - All of the above And let them play with your setup. Have them bring some coffee. Have some of your own coffee handy. It is amazing what a SLIGHT change in dose, or grind, or brew temperature can do to change the taste of the espresso.
I would love to invite some true coffee aficionados over to make some great coffee. Unfortunately everyone that I know uses starbucks as their benchmark. Anyone interested can PM me. Mark Prince? I know you're in Vancouver....
As for the Hottop I know the P model isnt the preferred model but its the one that I came across that was in great condition second hand locally. It's better than the FreshRoast8 t that I used before.
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