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Thread: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

  1. #1
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    Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    OK question time,

    Why do steam wands have knob or levers to turn the steam on rather that an on/off switch, to my knowledge so far I have only even seen baristas open the steam up to 100% open then fully closed.

    Why do we need a valve that has variables in between.

    The only thing I can think of is to prevent water hammer on the valve and reducing its life expectancy.

    Please enlighten me.

  2. #2
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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    All I can really think of is for the rare time you need to texture a 300ml jug?
    And if your using a commercial machine with a 20-something litre boiler at 1.something bar and a 4 hole steam tip, that *might* just be too much for some people... (I still use the VBM steam wand at around 60-70% power when I am only making one drink, otherwise I get too thick microfoam (maybe closer to minifoam?)) and even set like this it takes 8 or 9 seconds...

    Also, correct me if I am wrong, but its probably also for look. Most companies try to keep their machines "traditional" looking. And tap valves have been around alot longer than solenoids, so they just kept on with the knobs as it was what the people buying the machines were used to and wanted.

    I also think its a bit easier to change the O rings in a tap than replace a solenoid/switch/electrical parts etc... (not to mention find out which is the problem if something does go wrong.)

    Any other theories?

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    I think youve covered it fairly well i5k,

    If the smallest jug you use was 600ml or greater then youd probably get away with a digital control rather than an analogue one. Also, I like the tactility involved with manipulating a valve rather than pushing a button... Theres no time pressure here at home ;),

    Mal.

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    So are youu saying that it wont effect the milk if I turn the steam down whilst texturing to try an better my milk texturing technique.

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    I agree with itsme5k that its the simplicity.
    Why complicate things with a solenoid?

    Goodies, I tried not opening the valve 100%, dont do it.

    We are always talking here about consistancy; trying to partially open the steam valve to exactly the same point every time will prove extremely difficult.

  6. #6
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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    There are machines with an electric steam switch.

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    only problem with not opening the steam wand enough is that u may just end up putting condensation into the milk. or creating heat but no motion.

    twist knob wands are traditional but are also the ultimate rsi maker along with tamp fitted grinders :@

    the middle ground is a lever which can be set to on or off, or HELD in a position between these are a combination of traditional and rsi preventative. they alow for control and comfort

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    I cant se how turning a knob on a domestic machine especially, two of three times a day, is going to cause REPETITIVE strain injury. Any more than opening a bottle of soft drink, or the bathroom tap.

    It may be an issue for someone already suffering from rsi.

    I would also say that a good reason for a knob valve rather than switch is the relatively small amount of turn needed when purging the wand ahead of steaming.

  9. #9
    TC
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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    I frequently surf....especially when I use a 50 ml milk jug to texture for a piccolo or macchiato...Id hate a VBM for example without the ability to regulate steam pressure...

    Gimme analogue any day....

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    A 50 ml milk jug? Is that from the kids toy tea set 2MCM?

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    haha sorry i am talking commercial machines, in the past few jobs ive done anything up to 150 coffees an hour, at one point i was using two 3 group machines at the same time as serving customers, so you can see how twisties can get old...fast, plus when u are to a point where u are texturising two jugs at once with no hands, and putting shots on u want on and off immediately, i like analogue, but a twisty is fine as long as u only need one rotation, not three or four like some.

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1197330817/0#9 date=1197373495
    A 50 ml milk jug? *Is that from the kids toy tea set 2MCM?
    ;D

    My 4yr old lads equate tea to a call for dinner, rather than a reference to that other drink!

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    I have the lever on my LSM, and given that its in my kitchen (not a cafe) making a single coffee is quite regular. I most commmonly make 3-4, but 1-2 is still frequent, and when that happens, clipping the lever into the "full on" position is just waaaayy too much power, especially when the boiler has just finished a heating cycle and is at about 1bar.

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    Re: Why a turn knob or lever for steaming?

    I guess you just get used to the knob as i know I have. I had a go of the lever on a 3 grp Synesso the other day and that changed things again. It definitely gave me a sense of pouring a beer from a beer tap rather than texturing milk haha.

    hmm...I wonder if I could adapt a lever onto the side of my Minore II.... ;)

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    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Resurrecting an old thread... but would be interested to know from site sponsors/repairers how much difference in time / effort and parts between servicing a rotary valve / knob style and a level style valve ?
    :-)

  16. #16
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    We have seen a move, initially on commercial machines (Nuova Simonelli, Victoria Arduino, La Marzocco etc) from knobs to levers.

    The fact that this change has initiated from commercial machines to domestic machines perhaps tells you something. Think of the race car to a passenger car analogy.

    My view is that once you use a lever, the pluses become immediately obvious over a knob.

    My preference is for levers now. If I had to choose between the two I would go for levers.

    In fact for some of next lot of machines we order direct from Italy we have specified a move from knobs to levers

    Cheers

    Antony
    Casa Espresso
    matth3wh and WME like this.

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    ... or have the best of both - My La Pav has a knob which you leave set at the desired point and press it to start it steaming. No fluffing around trying to get the pressure correct, it is always preset. Of course, you can adjust it "on the fly" should you feel the need.

    Tamp"why don't they all do that"It
    (w apologies to javaphile, couldn't resist it)

  18. #18
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zakal1 View Post
    I have the lever on my LSM, and given that its in my kitchen (not a cafe) making a single coffee is quite regular. I most commmonly make 3-4, but 1-2 is still frequent, and when that happens, clipping the lever into the "full on" position is just waaaayy too much power, especially when the boiler has just finished a heating cycle and is at about 1bar.
    I too have an LSM at home and usually brew one cup at a time but have no problem taming the power. What's not to like about having beautifully textured micro-foam in just a few seconds?

  19. #19
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    I'm guessing that in a commercial situation rsi could become an issue for knobs before it does for levers. Quicker to turn on and off without over tightening as well.
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  20. #20
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    ... but pushing the preset knob in on my La Pav is even easier...

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