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Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Tue Aug 27, 2013, 11:12am
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

The US is not all NYC and LA.  In fact, most of the country is nothing like those cities and happy not to be. Starbucks and Stumptown are not in every city or town in the US.  Starbucks is close but Stumptown is only in large markets outside the PNW.  Stumptown provides beans and training to smaller coffee shops in the PNW (maybe other places I don't know) and they require them have LMs or they will not sell to them.  Most small non chain shops don't use super autos. People often complain that mom and pops in Italy make good espresso but not so here.  One day I hope to go to find out for myself, but I suggest that it might be because have more commercial levers in Italy.  

Without training most places could not make good espresso even with an LM.  In fact, my guess is it would be worse because they would have no idea how to run the thing. HX machines can make very good coffee but most people running them are not coffeegeeks.  They are economical because they use the boiler heat efficiently.  They are stable temp and with volumnmeteric dosing they take out a lot of variables.  But unlike a lever the pressure doesn't taper off at the end of the extraction so engineers are coming up with electronics to profile pressure.

For the price and the thermal stability HX are a huge step up from single boiler and so recommended.  Most people are shocked they have to spend over 300 for a machine much less a grinder.  

Should we only be telling people to buy LM? I would never have bought an espresso machine if that is the advice I had gotten.

p.s.
Now, if I could just get Reiss to send me an L1 for the 3 or 4 I have personally sold for him, I would be set.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Tue Aug 27, 2013, 4:03pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

I am in riverside and I can point to a couple of mom and pop shops. It isn't if you are large or small, it is if you have quality or not. Those that make it have quality those who don't, don't.

HX machines are common, verrrrrry common. You don't temp surf a HX machine either.

When we give advice, it is in relation to what you need to make great espresso in the home. If you are a business, you get different advice.

A DB is not better than a HX. They differ in construction and technique. We are talking about and crafting the perfect espresso on this forum not what major chains or third wave coffee houses use. More skill is required to operate a heat exchanger machine rather than a dual boiler which maintains temperature for you. Excellent espresso is because of the hand of the operator not the electronics in the Machine. A reasonable argument could be made that the reason you see more dual boilers and third wave coffee shops is so that the owner of the shop has more control over the product being served rather than it is a superior tool for making superior espresso.

 
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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shnxx
Senior Member
shnxx
Joined: 3 Jul 2009
Posts: 128
Location: Pasadena
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Sep 7, 2013, 12:04pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

sounds like HX is a real headache.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,218
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Sep 7, 2013, 6:00pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

shnxx Said:

sounds like HX is a real headache.

Posted September 7, 2013 link

No.  It isn't.  You're not listening to what experienced users are saying.

Otherwise...
At the $3000 level, professional HXs like the Elektra T1, La Cimbali M21 Casa, and Nouva Simonelli Appia have significantly better groups than the nearest priced, prosumerDB competitors like the Alex Duetto, La Spaziale S1, Rocket R58, VBM DD, etc.  To get a group of similar quality in a DB, you have to spend a lot more money --  a La Marzocco GS/3 or Van der Westen Speedster by way of a couple of examples.    

The ECM Mechanika is a solid, prosumer, E-61, HX, and competes very evenly with other prosomer E-61 HXs, and with high-end prosumer DBs as well.  I'm not familiar with the Controvento and will refrain from comment beyond saying that you don't have to spend more than $3000 on an HX to maximize quality in the cup, construction quality, ergonomics, etc., at least not for a machine which doesn't need to handle a ton of traffic.   In a busy cafe setting, a multi-group DB is probably the best way to insure consistency.  

You simply can't make better coffee, nor make excellent coffee any more consistently with any machine -- lever or DB -- than you can with a good HX.  They are all completely dependent on the barista's palate, none can make coffee better than the grinder will allow, and all require about the same learning curve and skill level from the barista.  

It's easier to get consistent temperatures from a DB than an HX; however excellent consistency is certainly achievable with an HX.  It's easier and much faster to dial in an HX than a DB, although some DBs (like the GS/3) allow very fast profiling.  If you don't think HX vs DB temping is a push -- or at least very close -- you are either pulling scores of shots per hour or are not very skilled.  

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER

Hope this helps,
BDL
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Sep 7, 2013, 8:09pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

My HX is a breeze to use.  Any good machine will be easy to learn and you will like what you are used to.  Like cars, you can drive someone else's but it takes a while to find the lights and the wipers.  Same thing on another machine.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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SylvainMtl
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Apr 2006
Posts: 142
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Elektra Sixties A3
Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly with...
Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013, 6:20am
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

CarloM Said:

But for shops where the lifeblood and focus is high quality espresso based drinks, it mostly the multi-grouphead dedicated boiler model, at least in the areas I've familiar with.

Posted August 27, 2013 link

From my POV, it mostly depends on the local importers.  In my neck of the wood, some high-end shops use NS Aurelia and Faema E61 Legend.

The very best I can drink here (and I compared times again with two other places (one using a strega, the other a linea) is with a Faema Legend and an Anfim Super Caimano.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,218
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013, 2:49pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

We're kind of losing focus here.  

The OP was asking about a machine for home use, but the thread is drifting into a discussion of whether HX is suitable for a high-volume, high-end coffee shop.  That they are, is neither here nor there.  

A Faema Legend single group goes for more than $6K.  The Legend is an E-61 group hung on a commercial body.  Unless you need massive steaming power, or do a lot of entertaining, it's really not much of an improvement over any top prosumer E-61 for home use -- for instance the Mechanika.

A Nuova Simonelli Aurellia isn't even available as a single group, and in its high-end, "T3" configuration goes for close to $15K as a two group.  FWIW, I used a T3 for a couple of days in the same setting as an LM Linea and LM FB80, and just on the basis of "in the cup" slightly preferred the FB80 to the T3, and decisively preferred the T3 to the Linea; but the Linea wasn't in great repair and was a bit clunky -- so that might have affected my impression.  FWIW, you could say the T3 was too stable in that it was no faster adjusting temps on the fly than either of the LMs.  (Frankly, I'd rather pull shots on my Cimbali -- as long as I didn't have to pull too many in a too short time frame.)

On the other end of the spectrum, entry level machines like the NS Oscar aren't any more germane to the OP's question than the Legend or the Aurelia; that is, unless you want to argue that the Oscar is in the same league as the ECM Mechanika or Technika; which it isn't -- not by a long shot.      

As far as I know the only single group, commercial, HX machines available for $3500 or less (new) which would function well in a home environment are the Elektra T1, La Cimbali M21 Casa (I've had mine for close to three years) and the Nuova Simonelli Appia.  Also as far as I know, the least expensive, single-group, commercial DB is the La Marzocco GS/3 which currently streets for around $5500.  

There are a lot of other things to think about besides DB vs HX; price; and commercial vs prosumer group and build quality -- like looks, touch, footprint, price, ergonomics, whether the machine can be plumbed in, etc., which might be even more important to a given consumer.  

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER.  

Plan on spending somewhere between $800 and $1600 for a grinder with enough adjustability and consistency to feed a top level prosumer or entry level commercial machine.  

MANO and MISCELA

The farther up the machine quality ladder you climb, the less difference the machines make, and the more barista's skill and the beans determine quality in the cup.  

BDL
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 656
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013, 4:18pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

I thought I would offer my two cents here. I recently was faced with this decision and thought I would be getting a Vibiemme Domobar Super HX or DB or possibly the Duetto III. I was in the league to purchase pretty much any single group machine within reason. After a lengthy conversation with Jim at 1st Line I settled on the ECM Technika IV Profi. I have been singularly impressed with its performance and durability and haven't had any problems with it since upgrading from my Oscar. To me, the big deal maker was size (the domo is enormous) and maintenance. DB machines are much trickier to work on than HX. True a lot of cafes use LM or Synesso machines,  but saturated brew group machines aren't in the same league as a home DB.  I'm curious why a Mechanika and not a Technika?  They are virtually identical,  except the Technika has a bit more heavy construction (I think).
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Sun Sep 8, 2013, 4:33pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

Rich,

Excellent post.:-)

 
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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Twood
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Orange County, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sun Sep 8, 2013, 4:35pm
Subject: Re: Dual Boiler Machines Under $3,500 vs. High-end HX Machines
 

Great post BDL.  I have decided on the grinder and will be going with the Baratza Forte.  Again, I am only going to be using this machine for my personal use and occasionally entertaining small dinner parties of 8 or so.  Due to the hard water we have here in Southern California, and my lack of desire to install a water softening system in my current home, I need a machine that both has a tank and can be plumbable (we will move in the next year or two, and will install a water softening system at that time).  

I looked into a lever machine, and the sheer size is prohibitive (mainly because the wife squashed that idea).  I keep coming back to the ECM Technika IV and Izzo Duetto III.  I guess my questions is do I need to spend the extra $500-$600 for the double boiler?  If I get the thermometer for the group head, I should be able to control the temperature pretty well, and only making one or two drinks in the morning should be more than manageable.  Thoughts?
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