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Thread: Single boilers for a coffee novice

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    Single boilers for a coffee novice

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,
    I've just gotten into espresso and am looking at a shiny new machine for my birthday later this year. I currently have a breville 800 and a sunbeam 480 grinder.
    My real question is how tricky are the single boiler machines? I am concerned about the need to temp surf, as I have a toddler and can't always stand next to the machine and time things. Would I be better off getting a single boiler with a pid or something like the sunbeam 7000?
    In terms of use I generally make one or two milk drinks at a time, once or twice a week I would make four at a time. My budget is about $1000, although this may stretch a bit with a good tax return.

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    What area are you in?

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    Get yourself the bes920! Awesome little dual boiler. Order the shim kit for the grinder from breville before you make your haggle.

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    I am in Canberra. I will include a trip to a bricks and mortar shop as well but I figure the more I know the better.
    As I said, I have done some looking at temp surfing, and am wondering if it is necessary to a good shot. I am looking for something that can do a good coffee when I am in a hurry, but will give me a great coffee when I have a bit of time to tinker.
    The dual boiler looks good, but may be overkill for the low workload at my house. Ideally I am looking to buy a machine that will last, hence the lean towards the italian boiler machines. How true is the idea that the breville/sunbeam machines won't last, there seem to be a fair few people here who have had them last a fair while?
    Thanks for the help.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Have a look through this thread erinkate http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...rs-thread.html probably the busiest thread on Coffee Snobs, may help you decide.

    FWIW I've had two single boiler Italian machines over the past 15 years, have never had to take either in for repairs, perhaps I'm just fortunate.

    Cosmorex Coffee in Fyshwick have an excellent reputation.

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    I have had a Sunbeam 6910 for nearly 5 years and it makes about the same amount of coffee as you do - been to the repair shop once, will be buying the Sunbeam 7000 next.

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    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    I would also throw into the mix the Lelit PL41TEMD

    Lelit PL41TEMD Espresso Machine

    Single boiler, with factory installed PD. Just remember to prime the boiler after steaming your milk. Very compact for trips away too.

    Sniff
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    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    Just remember to prime the boiler after steaming your milk.

    Sniff
    Important to remember, but actually no trouble because you're going to want to purge your steam wand anyway.

    Best wishes, Russell

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    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    I would also throw into the mix the Lelit PL41TEMD

    Lelit PL41TEMD Espresso Machine

    Single boiler, with factory installed PD. Just remember to prime the boiler after steaming your milk. Very compact for trips away too.

    Sniff
    I am not even sure you need the PID version. The only issue I have with my Lelit based machine is that I can run out of steam while making milk so I start steaming before it gets to temp and the light goes out. I think the Lelit will outperform the Sunbeam. I can do cofee for six easilly but 8 is a struggle.

  10. #10
    TC
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    Hmm...Single boiler machines scare me in offices and busy families.

    There is the need to boiler prime and to remember to switch the steam off once done- all very good and well until the phone rings, a knee gets grazed etc and then ultimately the element blows. I really believe that they are actually better for experienced users.

    As an example, I had a client who killed 3 elements in a month for $100s in repairs. This was despite our advice was that it was an inappropriate choice in her circumstances. She ultimately sold her machine for a Breville.

    In this case, I think an appliance might be a safer purchase.

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    So, just to clarify, by boiler prime and turn the steam off, what exactly is meant? My usual routine (after pulling the shot and steaming the milk) is to run a bit of steam through the wand, run a bit of water through the group to clean it, and rinse everything and put it in the sink to drain. Would this suffice, or is there more to it?

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    With the Lelit having steamed your milk you would shift the switch to the Hot Water poitiion switch on the pump and open the wand until a steady stream of water flows through. Failure to do this has disastrous consequences, but for me it is normal routine. If you are not inclined to this discipline single boiler is not for you.
    Best wishes, Russell

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    Thanks Russell, it's a different routine to what I have now, but doesn't sound too hard. Might have to write a checklist and stick it on the wall to remind myself.
    As to temp surfing, how necessary to people feel it is? Really that is my major concern. If I don't have time (or a child who will let me) to wait and purge and time (as people seem to indicate is required), will I still be able to get reasonable (to my noob palate) results? Or would I be better served by a thermoblock machine and look at getting a boiler when family circumstances allow me to focus on the coffee?

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    My version of the Lelit comes equipped with PID so temperature surfing is not required. My experiences with thermoblock machines are now in the distant past, but my coffee journey has included a Sunbeam 6910. Unless thermoblock machines have improved (and they may have with the passage of time) I think you would probably taste the difference. My main machine is the Rocket Giotto and I am constantly amazed at how the Lelit performs beside it.

    Regarding how well it fits your young family, I think only you can say.

    Best wishes, Russell

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    Welcome erikate84,

    I have been using my Breville Dual boiler almost every day for more than 2 years with only minor repairs to replace a perished O ring.

    Last weekend I made coffee for a dozen friends with no trouble. I can brew coffee and froth milk at the same time. The BDB costs little more than a Lelit. It has many additional things on it and can be bought at many electrical discount stores and department stores. It is the cheapest dual boiler machine.

    It is designed by Australian engineers and coffee experts. While it is not made in Italy, some moving parts such as pumps and valves are from Italy.

    I believe that boilers make better coffee than thermoblocks.

    Research the different machines and try out what you can. Buy what fills your requirements, within your budget and what you would like in your kitchen. Only you can decide.

    Barry

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    Thanks everyone for the advice. My 800 has just started dispensing water instead of steam (and I just replaced the seals for the steam arm, not happy), so the upgrade may move forward a bit. Time for research, then off to the shops to harangue sales persons. And then back here for tips on whatever I end up getting.
    Hopefully the start of a long and delicious coffee relationship.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erinkate84 View Post
    Thanks Russell, it's a different routine to what I have now, but doesn't sound too hard. Might have to write a checklist and stick it on the wall to remind myself.
    As to temp surfing, how necessary to people feel it is? Really that is my major concern. If I don't have time (or a child who will let me) to wait and purge and time (as people seem to indicate is required), will I still be able to get reasonable (to my noob palate) results? Or would I be better served by a thermoblock machine and look at getting a boiler when family circumstances allow me to focus on the coffee?
    Don't make it too hard. I have a Lelit with no PID. (well it is an in wall Electrolux really but whats inside is what counts) What I have settled on is to turn the machine on and let it warm up. Pour my shot(s). Always shoot a double into a shot glass. Then press the steam button. On mine it is a momentary switch so I have to hold it in. Shoot some wet steam out soon after you start as this makes a bit more room in the boiler for steam. I never time the steam. Roughly when I think it is close to the steam temp cutout I start steaming while keeping the button in. I test the steam is dry and see how much there is before I start. If I go too long and the thermostat cuts out, it is not really a drama. It will cut in again before I run out of steam but intensity falls away. Slide the jug down while stretching until it sits on the drip tray, readjust the wand for a nice roll and wait until my stick on temp gauge just cracks 65 degrees! I used to use a temp probe and stopped at 60 degrees but the stick on thermometer must be a bit out. Because I have to hold a button in it is hard to check the temp with my hand hence using the thermometer.

    One finished, run the water until the steam stops spitting out to refill the boiler. Turn machine off and it is ready for next time. Sound simple, but don' ask me how long it took to work it out!

  18. #18
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    As to temp surfing, PID controlled machines keep close to the set temp and require no surfing. A thermostat controlled machine without a PID has a more variable temperature and may require surfing especially after steaming milk.

    I purge my machine before brewing coffee to heat up and clean the portafilter and cup.

    Barry
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    To be honest a single boiler like the Silvia is completely fine. You can temp surf it if you want and it really just becomes second nature after a week or 2.

    I did PID mine after the warranty expired, and it is easier and faster to use now, but it isn't a 'have to have' but 'nice to have' if you can afford it.

    After having done my time with the Silvia I really do think it is the ideal machine to get yourself into the proper art of espresso making with. If you aren't into the art of espresso and just want a coffee in the morning, there probably is easier or better machines, but if coffee is a bit of a passion you'll take a lot away from your time with a Silvia.

    Definitely try and stretch yourself to a rocky or similar level grinder. The 480 is an OK novice grinder when paired with an entry level breville or sunbeam espresso machine with a pressurised basket, but it is going to hold you back massively with a proper espresso machine. I ended up getting my Silvia/rocky combo for a little over $100 combined. Good tip is to check the coffee a roma ebay auctions. Sometimes you can beat the already good prices on their website. The also do a great starter kit with extra baskets, cleaning powder, proper tamper and some nice cafe style coffee cups
    kexkez likes this.

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    Continuing research has led me to the simonelli oscar. Hx for about the same price as a bdb. Seems to eliminate the risk of burning out the boiler element, but how would the learning curve (care and maintenance) be? Would thus be a viable contender, or something to upgrade to later?



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