Vis-a-vis the thread drift of commercial coffee houses . . . I spent some time in Europe last year and cannot recall seeing a DB in a café/restaurant in Portugal, Spain, or France. Most cafés in the UK were also HX, though I did find *one* with a DB. Here in the States, most of the new (i.e.: "third wave") cafés I've visited in California do have DBs, while most of the restaurants use HX machines. The same is true in New York City and Chicago. New Orleans? Boston? All HXs or super automatics -- cafés and restaurants. Dallas and Fort Worth? Same, though I found one DB. I am not claiming to have been to every coffee house, but the change once you leave the greater LA/SF areas, Chicago and NYC, things ARE different!
I guess my questions is do I need to spend the extra $500-$600 for the double boiler?
Now keep in mind, both DBs and HXs are capable of producing great espresso (presuming, of course, that all other factors -- the 4M's -- are equal). The sole difference between the two types of machine is "method of production," if you will. I have a relatively high-end HX machine (a commercial one-group). I also have a solid prosumer HX in my office. I've never had a DB, so take whatever grains of salt you deem appropriate, but I also have very little desire to have a DB. Well, OK, if I ever upgrade, my dream machines are a Faema Legend (HX) or one of Kees van der Westen's machines -- Mirage Duette (DB) or an Idracompresso (lever). But these are more in the nature of a fantasy than a dream.
Which is best for you, an HX or a DB? Yes.
(OK, serious answer: it depends upon your work-flow. One is not better than the other, period. They are merely two different approaches to the exact same place! ;^)
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