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can't decide on a machine
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > can't decide on...  
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Danruth
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Mar 2014
Posts: 31
Location: Nashville
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto III
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Electronic B
Posted Sun Mar 2, 2014, 5:27pm
Subject: can't decide on a machine
 

Hello all. I am starting to get into making espresso drinks at home and I am looking into getting an espresso machine. The two that are at the top of my list are the Alex Duetto 3 and the Rocket R58. I was looking to see what other peoples opinions are on these machines and which one would be better over the other. My wife and I drink a lot of coffee, mainly espresso based milk drinks. I know I will probably spend a little while learning how to use either machine properly and I am willing and excited to learn. I do know that I will probably have to upgrade my grinder as I just have a cheap Cuisinart burr grinder, but I'll post that in the "grinder" section. Thank you all very much
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sharky
Senior Member
sharky
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 190
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Compak K3 Touch
Posted Sun Mar 2, 2014, 6:22pm
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

Danruth, good choices but I would also include the QM Vetrano 2B.  A double boiler with all the bells & whistles.  It is fairly new and a beautiful machine!  I have owned mine for 4+ months and love it!
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 665
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 Mon Mar 3, 2014, 12:27am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

Danruth Said:

The two that are at the top of my list are the Alex Duetto 3 and the Rocket R58.

Posted March 2, 2014 link

Both are direct competitors in the high end prosumer double boiler market.

I personally love my Alex Duetto 3 and would buy another one in a heartbeat. It is a very well built machine. When I had it delivered, it was 81 lbs in the box.

Since I bought it, I've done the following things:

- Bumped up the steam boiler temperature up to 256 F. This makes the boiler sit at 1.4-1.45 bar, which is pretty much the limit of where you want it to sit at.
- Changed from reservoir to plumb-in operation. As a result, I had to adjust the pressure regulator on the pump down to 9.5 bars. Out of the box, the machine extracts at 10 bars off reservoir.
- Removed the plastic tube inside of the steaming arm to make it into a burn-me steaming arm. This dramatically increased the steaming power of the machine.

My wife loves it because it's quiet when I'm making a coffee. It makes delicious coffee and is very easy to maintain. I've had mine for close to 2 years now and it's been problem free.

Danruth Said:

which one would be better over the other.

Posted March 2, 2014 link

Well, at the time when I was buying my machine, the Rocket R58 was going through some teething problems. I wasn't a big fan of the outboard PID display at the time. Rocket has since worked
through their issues and added a lot of things in their newer revisions which should have been there to begin with. (Like the coiled PID display cable, magnetic drip tray, etc.)

I think either machine would meet your needs.

Danruth Said:

I do know that I will probably have to upgrade my grinder as I just have a cheap Cuisinart burr grinder

Posted March 2, 2014 link

Well, you don't go out and buy a Ferrari and then put worn out econobox tires on it. You also need a decent grinder to make that machine shine. There are a lot of grinders out there which will
work well with this machine. I personally bought a Mazzer Mini Electronic to go with my Duetto. It works well, but if you can afford to go up to a Compak K8 Fresh or a Mahlkonig K30 Vario, do so!

Good luck!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,218
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Mar 3, 2014, 8:36am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

I have a Duetto II.  It's practically the same machine as the 3.0, as most of the small number of changes Izzo made between the two versions were aesthetic.  I love mine as well.  It's very well built and performs superbly also.  If you do indeed want a double boiler machine, it is a good choice.

You should hope for a reply or two from someone who's actually used a Rocket R58, as well as consider the Vetrano mentioned above.

I think you should also be asking more pointed questions about the differences between the machines.

Have you considered buying a HX machine?  Do you know the difference between HX and DB?

Regarding your grinder...you definitely need to upgrade that...not "probably", maybe, possibly or in any other way an uncertainty.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Danruth
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Mar 2014
Posts: 31
Location: Nashville
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto III
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Electronic B
Posted Mon Mar 3, 2014, 9:07am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

What is the advantage of HX over DB or vise versa? Also with regards to the original two mentioned and the Vetrano I have read different things about preinfusion capabilities, some things I read said they can only preinfuse when they are plumbed in and others said they don't need to be, does anyone which is true? It's not to big of an issues as I plan to plumb the machine eventually.  Thanks for the replies so far.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,218
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Mar 3, 2014, 9:30am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

my understanding is that all E61s need to be plumbed in to pre-infuse...but maybe I'm wrong about that?  from what I've read about how E61s work, it makes a lot of sense to me.  Randy Glass ("frcn" here) wrote the manual for the Vibiemme DB machine (which also should be on the table in your DB list) and explains not only how the machine works, but many other important points.  I think anyone who owns an E61 DB machine should have a copy of his manual.  It's available through Stefano's Espressocare. Just click on Vibiemme and scroll down to the downloads and find the DB manual (it's a pdf).

HX and DB are equal in the cup.  The choice is based on $$$ (DB more expensive) and desired workflow.  For instance, to alter the brew temp on a DB, one needs to access the PID and change it, then wait for the machine to restabilize (20 min or so).  HX is adjust "on the fly".  It may not matter to you to be able to alter the brew temp a couple of degrees, but many people can taste the difference.  If you want to change brew temps during a session, you'll need a HX. Otherwise, you can do just fine with either.  

Don't be fooled by people who say, you have to temp surf a HX machine. First off, you don't.  You do need to perform a quick cooling flush, when the machine's been idle.  It's only a couple of ounces. and there are several ways to tell how long you need...and it becomes as natural as shifting gears in your car (so I'm told and have read).  Most DB machines need a similar flush - though rather than cooling the group, they're warming it).

...and since you haven't realy decided on a DB yet.  Have you considered levers?  Do you want volumetric dosing (you didn't mention any machines with it, but it should be asked)?

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,385
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 Mar 3, 2014, 9:31am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

Hi Dan,

Welcome to high-end espresso.  

Before we start talking about machines, let's cover a few basics.

Many good coffee shops offer some sort of espresso appreciation classes and/or tastings.  Many also offer basic espresso making classes.  Try to get to a few classes.  They won't necessarily make your equipment decisions any easier, but you'll start to open up your palate and that will help you in the long run.  

If at all possible, take a barista class.  They are soooooooooo worth the time and money.  

Reality Rears Its Ugly Head
Most of us (including you, I assume) can't approach espresso without some sort of budget.  The most important thing to remember is:

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
Once you've reached a certain level of machine competence (a level you're well above) and of barista skills (going to take awhile) the machine mostly serves to showcase how and how well the grinder does with the beans.  That is, nearly all of the bang in the bang for the buck of espresso is in the grinder.  A thousand dollar machine with a fifteen hundred dollar grinder will pull much better espresso than a six thousand dollar machine with a five hundred dollar grinder.  Fact.  No exceptions.

"Good" espresso-only grinders start at a little under $500.  "Very Good" begins at $650ish.  "Excellent" costs $1000 and up.  

Even within the broad classes I just defined, the grinders are not equal.  They taste different, and/or have use differences, and/or have different footprints; and/or "wife acceptance factors," etc., etc.  

The level of machine you're talking about -- highest-end prosumer -- is good enough to partner with the very best grinders.  

In the under $1500, "excellent" class I suggest looking at the Compak K-10 PB (dosered, "Titan" conical, ~$1350 street) and the Ceado E47s (electronic, "walk-up," doserless, huge flat burr, $1150 on sale), among others.  There are other choices just as good (perhaps one of those others might be better for you), but these are standout values and deserve some consideration.

If you need a small form factor -- small enough to fit under kitchen cabinets -- your best performing choices are limited to good/very-good.  The clear best choices are the Baratza Vario (flimsy, though), the Baratza Forte (really just a better-built Vario), and the Mazzer Mini (electronic A or B) with SJ burrs.  

If possible, choose the grinder first and the machine afterwards.  

Machine Types: DOUBLE BOILER vs HX vs (MODERN) LEVER
  • DBs and HXs.  

Once you've learned to temp an espresso machine by taste -- which is something you NEED to do with any machine type -- the differences between DB and HX are really very slight.  

You can program a DB to hit a particular temperature, but you can't program it to hit the right temperature until you've learned -- by "dialing-in" -- what that right temperature is.  The correct temperature depends on the individual bean (or blend), and dialing in is an entirely palate-driven process.  It's a little bit easier and faster to dial in an HX than it is to dial in a DB, but just a little.

Once you've established the proper temperature range, a DB makes it a little easier to hit it consistently than an HX -- but only a very little.  Once you've learned to control temp well enough to dial-in on either kind of machine, returning to that temp with fair accuracy on a good HX is not a challenge.    

There are all sorts of prices and choices for prosumer DBs and HXs.  You've implied a predilection towards E-61 DBs, but it would help us if you could say something about why.  It would also help if you could talk about your process of elimination.  Why not a non E-61 DB like a La Spaziale?  Why not an HX?  
  • Levers

I'm not a lever guy, and don't know enough about them to offer anything beyond reporting the enthusiasm for the Bezzera Strega and Londinium I.  If I were buying a new machine, I'd certainly take a long look at the modern spring-loaded levers.  

Where's Waldo?
Lots of questions to be answered yet.  

Rich
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Danruth
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Mar 2014
Posts: 31
Location: Nashville
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto III
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Electronic B
Posted Mon Mar 3, 2014, 10:41am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

I would like to take a Barista class if I could find one in my area on weekends. Starbucks pretty much dominates the coffee shops around here with just or two local companies.

I was looking at the Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder. Is this one any good? To be honest I haven't look to much at grinders yet. I do intend to invest in a really good grinder around June (I will be coming into some extra money around then).

The reason I was leaning toward an E-61 is because from what I have read that seems to be the standard. The La Spaziale, just didn't like the look of it so it was basically just a cosmetic decision. As for HX I just went with what I have read elsewhere that the DB were better for temp control.

Watched a couple videos on the Lever Machines and they just don't seem to be my cup of tea (or coffee..can I say tea around here? lol)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,218
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Mar 3, 2014, 11:10am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

Have you been to Barista Parlor?  I don't know if they offer classes, but I do know it's a great cafe. If they don't offer formal classes, there's still a chance you can get someone to create a mini class for you.

I've read the Breville Smart is an OK starter grinder for Espresso (never used one though)...but not something you'll be happy with in the long run.  Perhaps you can specify a grinder budget?

Yeah, E61 is good quality.  In fact, 61 = 1961, so it's been tried and true for a very long time.  However, there are other high quality group designs that will keep you happy as well. (Not trying to talk you out of anything though)

DB does not have better temp control than HX (in my opinion - of course, "better" is subjective).  Some may argue it's easier temp control, but even that is debatable.  I think what people would agree on is it's more rigid temp control (ie, less flexible - since you can't practically adjust between consecutive shots).  But they are very popular lately - probably because it's attractive to set the temp with a PID and forget about it.  I think it's more like driving an automatic instead of a stick...and though I own a DB and am very happy with it, I do prefer to drive a stick shift, and have occasionally wondered if I'd be even happier with a HX machine.  (again, not trying to talk you out of anything...I just think you should make the decision with your eyes wide open)

Don't underestimate the aesthetics factor. It's really important that you enjoy looking at your machine...especially if it requires spouse approval!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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JKole
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Mar 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Charlotte, NC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra v2
Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly
Roaster: Huky 500
Posted Mon Mar 3, 2014, 11:13am
Subject: Re: can't decide on a machine
 

Really listen to what people are saying about buying a grinder.  It may seem extreme, but you really won't be getting good coffee out of that $2500+ machine without a good grinder.... and I don't mean, "this is good coffee, but it could be great"... I mean, you probably will get barely drinkable coffee out of the machine.

Possibly consider a cheaper machine in order to get a grinder at the same time if you are stretching your budget on just the machine.
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