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Expobar Brewtus - Robert Combs's Review
Posted: January 2, 2006, 10:56am
review rating: 8.5
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Expobar Brewtus
Where to Buy
Arrow WholeLatteLove.com
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More About This Product
Arrow The Expobar Brewtus has 17 Reviews
Arrow The Expobar Brewtus has been rated 8.72 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since May 3, 2005.
Arrow Expobar Brewtus reviews have been viewed 127,419 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Anthony C 10.00
Eric C 8.67
Robert Combs 8.47
Ray Sachs 8.00
Jonathan Wenger 7.50

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.4
Manufacturer: Expobar Quality: 8
Average Price: $1,500.00 Usability: 10
Price Paid: $1,699.99 Cost vs. Value 8
Where Bought: Whole Latte Love Aesthetics 7
Owned for: 1 week Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Silvia
Bottom Line: The intelligence designed into the Brewtus ensures that even the novice will find the unit simple to use and a lot of fun to own.
Positive Product Points

Temperature stability
Ease of operation
Limited power draw
Dual boilers
Brew and steam pressure gauges
No-burn steam wand is a joy to clean

Negative Product Points

Stock, single-hole steam tip
Small water reservoir opening
For existing units, the plumbing upgrade costs $200 (US) and the unit must be shipped back to WLL for installation
No rotary pump option

Detailed Commentary

The decision to upgrade my machine was not so much driven by the specifications I wanted machine to have, but rather the elimination of complicated rituals that stood between me and consistent coffee. These rituals include: temperature surfing, water dancing, waiting for steam, and being limited to producing small quantities of milk based drinks.

I began my search six months ago armed with the aforementioned requirements.  My short list included the La Spaziale S1, the planned PID'd dual boiler Quickmill Andreja Premium and the Expobar Brewtus. With the Andreja was still in design, my list was pared down to either the S1 or the Brewtus.  Electrical power concerns along with an inability to operate the La Spaziale with a timer cooled my interest toward the S1.  During my learning curve with the Silvia, I relied heavily on the Silvia's information base of owner tips, advice, and work-arounds.  The abundance of available Brewtus information I found through reviews, forum posts, and pro recommendations, led me to choose the Brewtus.  The recent introduction of the Brewtus II only solidified my decision.

I have been using the machine for about a week and the transition from Silvia to Brewtus has been nearly transparent. The Brewtus II is an absolute dream to operate. In an uncharacteristic moment of espresso snobbery, I invited a few of my dinner guests to witness my first pull. Standing in a half circle around my new machine, we watched in great anticipation as the strands of chestnut and tan goodness flow from the portafilter.  My home roast has never tasted so smooth and flavorful. The great one-in-five shots I pulled from my Silvia are now my daily baseline.  It's an experience one quickly warms too. Except for the afternoon where practiced my pitiful latte art skills with bag of cheap beans Whole Latte Love included, I've not pulled a single sink shot.

The Brewtus II now includes a no burn steam wand, brew and steam boiler pressure gauges and cup holder.  The unit was in stock and shipped the next day.  As was my experience in the past, customer service at Whole Lattte Love was very good.  The unit arrived double boxed with the original cardboard container enclosed within a larger box stuffed with foam peanuts. Due to its weight and size, I needed help from my son to extract the unit gracefully from its shipping container.  Based on the recommendations of other reviews, I unboxed the unit while still outside.  I'd recommend you do the same, especially in northern climates where static electricity can cause the peanuts and the much smaller peanut fragments to stick to everything and creating a real mess.  

The unit ships with three bags of coffee, a naked portafilter, single and double filter baskets, a cup holder, a digital scale and the typical flimsy plastic scoop and tamper. I find myself often using my old commercial Rancillio portafilter and deep ridgeless filter basket, but the stock equipment works just fine.  The passive cup heater warms the cups to a toasty 139.5 degrees Fahrenheit on the vented side and 91.0 degrees Fahrenheit on the non-vented side.  If you like your cups warm, place them accordingly.

My Brewus II fits nicely on my counter under a cabinet, the 15-amp draw, did not require the addition of running a new circuit into the kitchen.  The brew output is very consistent and I've adapted the warm-up flush, yes, warm up flush, as recommended in a review written by Abe Carmeli (see Abe Carmeli's Buyer's Guide to the Expobar Brewtus for more details).  I recommend anyone considering purchasing this machine read his detailed assessment.  I simply pull a 3 once shot prior to loading my portafilter basket.  Unlike HX machines the Brewtus needs a simple brew warm up, not a complicated cool down countdown.  

The Brewtus has drawn some criticism, namely; it's aesthetics, noisy vibe pump, anemic steam tip and a cheap looking drip tray.  Since I drive a 1989 Toyota Corolla by choice, aesthetics is not an area I feel qualified to comment on, however, I think the machine looks great on my kitchen counter.  While a quieter pump would be nice, the pump seems to be no louder than my Silvia, so I guess I've already adapted to life with a vibe pump.  Lastly, some have complained about the drip tray, mine works just fine and the large, deep, reservoir means its contents is more likely to evaporate before you actually have to empty it.

In my experience, this unit has only two minor weak points, steaming and plumbing.  The stock one-hole steam tip is inadequate for the job.  I often entertain, and the preference of my guests is milk-based drinks.  I've not timed it, but I believe frothing a 12 oz pitcher of milk takes just as long with the Brewtus as it did with my Silvia.  I have ordered the two-hole tip recommend by others, but the tip is on back order.  Hopefully, I can report on its positive impact soon.  The second point is a little more complicated to remedy.

The Brewtus is a pour over unit with no current option to be plumbed in, it has been reported, however, that a few owners have developed a work-around for this deficiency. This is an option I plan on investigating immediately.  Having to slide the unit out from under my cabinets, remove the cups and filling the tank through a pitifully small opening partially filled with water tubes is a real pain.  I would hope these gaps will be rectified in the next spin of the machine.

In sum, I am extremely pleased with my selection. While the Brewtus II is not PID controlled, third party evaluations have documented the digital controller to be extremely temperature stable and accurate.  The footprint works well in nearly any kitchen and it operates on legacy kitchen wiring. The large red temperature display clearly indicates when the unit is ready for action. The intelligence designed into the Brewtus ensures that even the novice will find the unit simple to use and a lot of fun to own.  I thought I'd miss my Silvia, but, half way through my first cup I got over her quickly.  Another unit consigned to e Bay.

Buying Experience

The people at Whole Latte Love were great at the time of purchase.

Three Month Followup

The quality and consistency of my drinks keeps getting better and better.  My original rating was too harsh.  I recently completed Intelligentsias one-day Barista class and only now realize that my capabilities have yet to approach those of the machine.   Reliability has been solid.

One Year Followup

Its been over 7 years since I first received my B II.  Since purchasing the unit, I've installed a PID and added a rotary pump.  The machine is fed by a dedicated water supply that includes a water softener and 10 micron filter.   I've run the machine on a timer since the beginning.

Continue to be completely satisfied  with the machine.  While technology has marched on and the advent of dual PID units have become the norm, I feel no reason to upgrade.  Drink consistency is very repeatable and the quality is incredible.  

Brewtus User's Group has been extremely useful over the years.  Having the support of a great peer group  is almost as important as having a great machine.

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review rating: 8.5
Posted: January 2, 2006, 10:56am
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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