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thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > thinking of...  
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cactus
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Joined: 27 Feb 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 10:40am
Subject: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

Thinking of this machine, the 900xl.  It's a dual boiler with a PID.  The only other dual boiler I know is the R58.  

It has everything I want in a machine except for the E61 brew head. Also, the Breville name is, well. . . . , known for consumer machines sold at department stores.

I've seen lots of videos on this and it seems to be a pretty good machine. I've always wanted an E61 HX machine, but the costs were way too high.

This one is available for $800 on CL.  They go for around 1300 or 1400 new here.  If it wasn't for the price, I don't think I'd be posting and asking for opinions here today. The machine is less than a year old.

Any opinions on this?  Should I bite the bullet or wait for an HX E61? Should I pass on the E61?? My E61 choice would be a Celini premium plus but that's like $1800

This would be my second foray into machines.  My first was a real department store machine that is past its prime.  I think I'm on phase 2 of my coffee addiction.  

Thinking of matching it with a Macap M2M
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ilcaffedio
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Jan 2006
Posts: 455
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Astra G.A.
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 11:47am
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

You might also consider the Crossland CC1 with updates.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,101
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 Mon Jan 20, 2014, 12:30pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

Breville has an upgraded double boiler, just on the market in Canada, it's the "920."  NOS 900 prices are starting to see some discounts.  

Personally, I wouldn't consider buying a Breville DB without the manufacturer's AND retailer's warranty.  If you're interested in a BDB, I think the real question is whether the improvements in the 920 are worth the extra couple of hundred bucks.      

There are quite a few other double boilers besides the Breville and R58.  My guess is that you're not prepared to pay more than the cost of a Breville so it would be a waste of time to start listing its more expensive competitors.  If you're interested, Google is your friend.  In fact, that you only know about two double boilers indicates that you'd benefit from asking a lot more questions here before buying.  

If and when you consider an E-61 HX, be aware that in any given price range several makers will offer machines which are much of a muchness.  You can be about as selective as you want in terms of the features you do and don't want.  The Rocket Cellini Plus is a good choice, but by no means the only good choice.  

The Macap M2M is an okay, "espresso only" grinder in the sub $500 class.  The Baratza Vario is better in most ways; and I'm told the LeLit PL53 is as well.  

BDL
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cactus
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Joined: 27 Feb 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 2:15pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

thanks for the comments.

I will check out the 920 thread.  Currently the 900 is going here at espressotec for 1399 with the smart grinder.  Don't care too much about that grinder.  I'll be researching more on the 920.  We have pretty good (soft) water here so scale is not much of a problem in our neck of the woods. If I can pick up a brand new 920 for a decent price, I'll be thinking of that instead.
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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,356
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 4:51pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

cactus Said:

thanks for the comments.

I will check out the 920 thread.  Currently the 900 is going here at espressotec for 1399 with the smart grinder.  Don't care too much about that grinder.  I'll be researching more on the 920.  We have pretty good (soft) water here so scale is not much of a problem in our neck of the woods. If I can pick up a brand new 920 for a decent price, I'll be thinking of that instead.

Posted January 20, 2014 link

Smart Grinder is a good coarse use grinder, but not for espresso, has a very tiny window and that's even if you can dial in to that window. Can pull a shot with it, that will look nice and have crema etc, but it won't be good to drink b/c of the dialing trouble and small burr set. Motor is sorta weak too so it can get bogged down or struggle with light/medium roast. Hope Breville upgrades it to something like the Vario or even Preciso as plenty of people would want the BDB matched with the equal looking SG that's capable.

If you can swing a Vario, or refurbed one, can't really beat that grinder for the money, you have to step waaay up in $$ to get something that performs better.
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barjohn
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barjohn
Joined: 1 May 2004
Posts: 155
Location: San Clemente, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville Oracle
Grinder: Breville Oracle
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 5:25pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

The 920 is replacing the 900 and appears that it will have a 2 year warranty vice one.  It also has the descaling feature.  More importantly it provides a means to drain the tanks should you want or need to.  You can't with the 900.  It also appear the price of the 900 is being cut to $999 instead of $1199.

 
John

Veritas en Trashitas
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branmuffin17
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branmuffin17
Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Posts: 68
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 5:45pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

Just thought I'd add my thoughts.  Sorry if it's long-winded.

I did a bunch of research in choosing my first (and only) machine.  I had originally been strongly considering the 900XL, and was within a hair of pulling the trigger multiple times.  Through this research, I had even gone so far as to contact Bed Bath & Beyond, confirm with both stores and corporate that their 20% off coupon would work for the Breville (even though the coupon specifically states Breville is excluded from the coupon coverage) and proceed to obtain the coupon via newsletter e-mail signup.

My research also included talking directly with a moderator here (Calblacksmith), visiting him in person, and experimenting with some of his commercial machines.

My original target budget was around $1,200 +/- $200.  Other machines under consideration were Crossland CC1, La Nuova Era Cuadra V2, and Nuova Simonelli Oscar.  Calblacksmith also suggested buying a used commercial machine via auction, which I considered as well.

Regarding the grinder, I settled on the Baratza Vario pretty quickly.  Got that via Buyer's Remorse @ ChrisCoffee.com for $400.  (Quick FYI here, have had 2 issues w/ the machine so far...loose levers which were solved with little rubber pieces, and a loose hopper, all provided for free by Baratza, with great customer service and response time).  Been very happy with the grinder otherwise.

In the end, I ended up getting what I consider to be a good deal with a 2 year old used La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II (also a dual-boiler) through a Coffeegeek member, and have been extremely happy with it.  I paid around $1600 for the machine, including a knockbox, Espro calibrated tamper ($80 new), single and double portafilters w/ baskets, and naked portafilter w/ triple basket (I only really use the double basket in the naked portafilter).  Altogether, the full setup cost around $2,000, which was WAAAAY beyond what I planned to pay, and took some convincing of the wife.

I will say, though, that even with the very robust machines, things can still go awry.  The machine's held up very well so far, but I DID have to replace the vibe pump (which ended up being relatively easy for a non-tinkerer such as myself).

I recently went to a friend's house, and they had just replaced their old Breville with a new 870XL (the one with the grinder attached).  Having had some experience now with making shots on my machine, it was an eye-opening hands-on experience with their machine.  Through multiple shots (they allowed me to play), the build quality of the Breville is noticeable.  Though pretty esthetically, the machine just feels a bit cheap, and is clearly built for the casual barista (e.g. instead of a pressure gauge w/ BAR readings, it just shows a green colored range for "optimal pressure").  The tamper is extremely cheap, and the machine only uses pressurized baskets (with a little tool to help level after tamping, ugh!).  Steam functionality was poor at best, but I guess I'm spoiled with my Mini Vivaldi.  I imagine that the 900 (and the new 920) is of similar build quality, though the steam should be better than the 870.

I'm not saying at all that the 900/920 wouldn't be a good choice for you...I've read some on the 900XL Owner's Thread here, and generally would say that Breville sounds like they're supporting their products well (in and out of warranty, which is probably necessary, as there have also been a lot of issues with the product!).  There are plenty of happy customers that have had 0 issues, too.  Between the two, definitely go with the 920, as they've supposedly fixed issues that were of concern with the 900, including descaling capability.  Like Boar_d_Laze (who knows waaaay more than I do), I would strongly suggest making sure you have as much warranty protection as possible with this type of machine, just in case...

So I'm sure you've got a lot of things to think about.  My experience buying a used machine was great, and you can get some amazing deals that way.  I'd suggest keeping an eye on the Buy/Sell/Trade forum here, just in case.

If you've got a flexible budget, the next step past the 900 might be a good, solid HX machine.  That Cellini Premium Plus looks awesome (I did actually look at that one too), but there are some less expensive HXs that you'd also probably be happy with.  The Oscar has a strong following, and at a great price too, but it sounds like you prefer the look of an E61 group.  I don't blame you...those machines are beautiful and would be my first preference if just going for looks.  If you want to watch your spending, someone else suggested the Crossland, which could be a good machine, but it depends on your usage...if you might be making multiple shots back to back to back, a single boiler might not have a quick enough recovery time for you.

And also continue asking for feedback here...people are really helpful, and they might eventually direct you to a gem!  And keep reading and researching...this is a big purchase, and getting as much info as possible can only help.

Good luck with your search!


~Brandon
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marosmith
Senior Member
marosmith
Joined: 15 Dec 2013
Posts: 85
Location: Lafayette, Oregon
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: NS Oscar, Silvia V2
Grinder: NS MCF, Baratza Encore
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 7:31pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

I think the breville is a fine machine. Not stainless steel, but full of features. My friend has one and I've enjoyed it. Sort of the polar opposite of the silvia that I have. There's a give and take in every purchase.

I know you can get refurbs on amazon for $720 give or take. I would do that and purchase the extra warranty. I don't think it's worth $1200. For that money you can get into some pretty serious machines, esp if you are willing to shop refurbs, open box, and used.

So in short, if you are spending $700 I think the bdb is a near no brainer, for $1200 reach higher.
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cactus
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Joined: 27 Feb 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 9:21pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

wow, some good comments. thanks.

I did do some research and here is a cut and paste from a Canadian website, selling it for 1199 CAD

Here's a list of what's new on the BES920XL compared to the BES900:
•NEW Descale features. Includes water hardness test strip, descale alert and LCD assisted descale procedures.
•NEW Adjustable Steam Boiler Temperature from 265-285F to control steam pressure. Even more control for your Latte Art.
•NEW Volumetric or Duration Shot Control. Preset, manual over-ride and reprogrammable. This is great for dialing in your extraction time.
•NEW accessory: the RAZOR Dose trimming tool. Patented 58mm twist blade trims down the puck to the right level for precision doring and a consistent extraction.
•NEW 2 year limited product warranty.

Descale, with our water is not a huge priority for me at the moment as we have pretty good soft water here and I run my water through two filters.

I did look at a PID's Sylvia but $660 plus $250 is getting up there. I forgot there are other DB's out there.  I was just quoting the R58, as it was the only other DB available at espressotec, which is 5 mins away from my house. Nobody local sells the CC1 here, so servicing might be an issue. I can go way higher in my budget, but it'd have to be a qualified purchase. I don't want to get a more expensive machine just for the sake of it.

Everything I've read suggests shot quality is everything when it comes to coffee. DB's PID's, pre infusion, precise extraction time, it has it all.  

Not trying to convince myself to buy or not buy, just weighing the pros and cons.

As for grinders, if the Vario is the only way to go, then I will spend the extra for it, even though I was thinking of the M2M or even the Compak K3 at first. I'll use the same thinking for the machine too (to a point ;)  )  I've already written off the PID'd Sylvia.
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cactus
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Joined: 27 Feb 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 9:25pm
Subject: Re: thinking of getting a Breville dual boiler
 

I guess another thing what I am saying is, is that the improvements to the 920, to me, aren't worth the extra over the 900
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