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Thread: Life expectancy of $600 machines and/or the costs of servicing?

  1. #1
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    Life expectancy of $600 machines and/or the costs of servicing?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Okay I have a EM0480 grinder. Does the job fine for me.
    I drink double shot flat whites in a larger Cup (mug style - although my wife thinks its more of a soup cup - my son calls it a Barrel).
    I have been using Sunbeam EM3800 with an extended warranty and every 12-18months the machine eventually dies and I get a free replacement machine. I have been doing this now for 7 -8 years and because these Sunbeam machines get discontinued I am now up to the sunbeam cafe EM4820 machine. The last one just died only lasting 3 months.
    Definition of Died - The steamer wont push out steam or greatly reduced flow, the pump loses pressure and cannot pump out coffee, and/or water starts dribbling out of the head basket when coffee is pouring (possible seal problem).
    I use 100% filtered water everytime. After making coffee I run water through the steam wand and run water through the machine.
    I drink approx 3 x coffees a day every day.

    So my question is I have always toyed with getting a Rancilio Silvio or a Lelit machine but I fear that I will run into these previous common problems later down the track. I dont want to waste $600+ on a machine only to have some problems in a 1 or 2.
    Are these realistic expectations that I should be able to get a good 5-8 years out of these machines without serious problems?
    Or do I have to pay every couple of years to get these serviced which could be equivalent to buying another $175 EM4820.

    Yes I will admit that I am a "frugal" shopper but my wife (a non believer -coffee drinker) has identified my addiction and does not want to contribute any further household expenditure to this addiction.
    And like any good husband knows, we can also find a way to eventually get the $$$$ to get what we want.
    Your thoughts would be most helpful.

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    Seal could be a cheap fix parts from sponsors/eBay.
    Are you one to tinker? Pull apart the sunbeam? Could just be blocked somewhere, what's your time worth, if it going to the tip it can't hurt.
    Pickup a warrantied machine from a sponsor, proper regular cleaning grind correctly to reduce strain on pump and maybe take back from time to time for a check up

    Correct me if I'm missing anything

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    Seems strange that you need to do this within the first 12 months of the machines life.
    I have gone through about 4-5 machines in this time.
    So the will a $600 + machine need a new seal in the first 12 months of use of 3 double shots x coffees a day?
    No I am not one to tinker. Hence the idea of buying a better machine than my $175 one. Correct me if I am wrong but if a machine is blocked (internally) using filter water within the warranty period, would that not be a warranty issue?

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    Hi HaDaJa, welcome to Coffeesnobs! and a very good start from your coffee journey!
    Just a simple answer to your question, it all depends on what you want from your cup. Comparing to appliances EM3800/EM4820, Rancilio Silvia or Lelit could get your pour & espresso into different level pending on your skills. Being a proud owner of Giotto V3, I would say if you can keep proper maintenance like backwash everyday and chemical backwash in 1-2 weeks, and watching out your water quality, you can get 10+ years awesome service (if not 20+ years) from Rancilio/Lelit. Of course, its also recommended to get extra regular service from our CS sponsors in every 3-4 years to ensure it has the best condition to get you golden pour As always a great cup would cost you money..... and see how much you wanna spend....... Good luck and enjoy your coffee!

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    I would have no problem buying a $600+ machine only if I knew that other then basically keeping it clean I will not have any performance issues for 5+ many years.

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    Jwill, I think Ha_Da_Ja is wanting to get out of the warranty/replacement loop, rather than repairing the machine.

    Ha_Da_Ja, if you were to pick up a Silvia, you will have a much better experience. The machines run very well for years if looked after well, have their seals replaces as needed, and a service routinely enough. On top of the flushing you do of your Sunbeams, you'd need to look at backflushing as well, but otherwise you've already got all the habits down.

    You might even end up with better tasting coffee, but I don't know how important that is to you, or if what you've got going fits the bill. Might just be an added extra bonus.

    Silvias sell well second hand - there is obviously good trust in the longevity of the machine. As JWILL says, pick up a secondhand Silvia from one of the site sponsors, they've been reconditioned and sell at a good price with warranty. I wouldn't be concerned about not being able to purchase extended warranty - the quality of the machine is all the warranty you'll need.

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    Thanks Ibiza I think we posted at the same time. At the moment I enjoy nice home made coffee that far exceed most standard cafe's and chain store coffee shops. I don't want to be in the top 5% supreme coffee experience home conniseuer. I am happy with what the machine is currently producing at the moment in regards to flat whites and my personal style. I am confident and have had many positive response s from people over my nicer than average coffees. So i am happy at this level. I just want to make sure I can continue making nice coffee without the regular machine replacement and without substantially increasing my price per cup ratio which currently sits around 75 cents.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    I would have no problem buying a $600+ machine only if I knew that other then basically keeping it clean I will not have any performance issues for 5+ many years.
    Think of it as buying a Toyota Hilux rather than a Great Wall ute. Sure your Toyota will need a service and an oil change, but it won't need new parts every 18 months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    So the will a $600 + machine need a new seal in the first 12 months of use of 3 double shots x coffees a day?
    Normally NO, if you can brush the group head/seal after every brew session and not leaving the group handle too long w/coffee grinds into the group head, not overfill the basket....... Its not about the machine value, its all about your maintenance........ You also mentioned filter water, what kind of filter water you use? we're not talking about filter drinking water, you need filter water for espresso machine, talk to our CS sponsors like Bombora or Chris of Talk Coffee

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    Filter water is using my my water I get after its gone through a .5 micron carbon block.
    I like some of the further suggestions about cleaning, also I think I need to start removing the head basket after each brew so it does not sit on against the head seal is a good idea. I Did learn after the return of the first machine to not overfill the baskets that is a great reminder. I have found that if you tamp too much you can choke the pour putting a lot of strain on the machine. So I know that with each different brand of beans I grind I have to experiment a little of getting the right grind for the machine for that batch of beans.

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    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    Take the EM4820, attach it to the nearest fast moving obhect and say goodbye.
    Nobody needs an EM4820 in their life.

    What happens is the water flow housing, behind the knob, splits and leaks water. You will get reduced flow everywhere and once the cavities of the group head get filled with water it will start to leak out.

    I currently have 5 of these machines with the problem. Sunbeam do not sell the replacement part.
    I use a Breville part made of aluminium and much stronger to get them working again but it's a fiddly job and not really worth it.

    Try and get your money back, or replacement and sell it, then buy a non-appliance brand machine to cure the breakdown woes.
    Dimal likes this.

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    HA_DA- during your warranty cycle journey did you get any "pop" symptoms. There have been several unconfirmed reports that these Breville beasties go "pop". It would be good to have this confirmed by a long term warranty-surfer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    Nobody needs an EM4820 in their life.
    ....
    buy a non-appliance brand machine to cure the breakdown woes.
    Further to noidle's comments...
    Department stores specialise in 'appliances' not machines - appliances are dead within a few years (so no resale value).

    Simple machines like Silvia are simple in construction and can go easily 10+ years - not much to go wrong, easy to fix/replace components.

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    I don't totally go against appliance brand machines, some can last many years when treated well.

    It's a basic fact that a high quality, expensive non-appliance branded machine with little electronics or stuff to go wrong will outlast a cheapie.

    I currently use a BES900 that's the first generation which I picked up for cheap as it wasn't working. It's only got 3600 shots on it but aside from the usual solenoid gasket replacement, the group collar was worn out, the steam valve was leaking, the solenoid is buzzing and the OPV was faulty.
    Some of this is due to the previous owners heavy-handed operation but things like a failing OPV and a worn out group collar won't happen for a good few years on a higher quality machine.

    Further to my previous comment in the other post, I still recommend the Breville. It's a great machine.

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    My Silvia is around 6-7 years old, we've had to replace the boiler twice (our own fault), but we expect many more years out of it. The best part is that it's so serviceable if there was any need for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    Okay I have a EM0480 grinder. Does the job fine for me.
    I drink double shot flat whites in a larger Cup (mug style - although my wife thinks its more of a soup cup - my son calls it a Barrel).
    I have been using Sunbeam EM3800 with an extended warranty and every 12-18months the machine eventually dies and I get a free replacement machine. I have been doing this now for 7 -8 years and because these Sunbeam machines get discontinued I am now up to the sunbeam cafe EM4820 machine. The last one just died only lasting 3 months.
    Definition of Died - The steamer wont push out steam or greatly reduced flow, the pump loses pressure and cannot pump out coffee, and/or water starts dribbling out of the head basket when coffee is pouring (possible seal problem).
    I use 100% filtered water everytime. After making coffee I run water through the steam wand and run water through the machine.
    I drink approx 3 x coffees a day every day.

    So my question is I have always toyed with getting a Rancilio Silvio or a Lelit machine but I fear that I will run into these previous common problems later down the track. I dont want to waste $600+ on a machine only to have some problems in a 1 or 2.
    Are these realistic expectations that I should be able to get a good 5-8 years out of these machines without serious problems?
    Or do I have to pay every couple of years to get these serviced which could be equivalent to buying another $175 EM4820.

    Yes I will admit that I am a "frugal" shopper but my wife (a non believer -coffee drinker) has identified my addiction and does not want to contribute any further household expenditure to this addiction.
    And like any good husband knows, we can also find a way to eventually get the $$$$ to get what we want.
    Your thoughts would be most helpful.
    G'day HA_DA_JA

    Four easy ways to make ANY espresso machine give problems

    1) get coffee grounds into the group area (rips up seals / destroys clearances creates leaks / etc.etc.).
    2) leave the group in situ for too long (dries the seal out unless there is air space, even worse if it is located firmly in place)
    3) slurp milk up into the wand (blocks the wand and the pump struggles / fails).
    4) Use the wrong type of water (the residues foul and block everything up)

    The first three are due to poor technique / lack of training.

    The fourth still has a lot of debate and little agreement. Look up http://coffeesnobs.com.au/documentat...tml#post560950 if you wish to delve deeper (and realise that quite a few CS people do not agree with all of it). FWIW, my take is the residue test - any buildup is wrong. Others would disagree with that, no doubt.

    You can add carelessness (i.e. even some Silvia fans in this thread blow up the odd boiler, Perth's main repairers always have a few like that). I owned one for nine years without a glitch. BTW, it will not froth milk and pull a shot at the same time, so it is not a good match for your needs.

    I also owned my first 2 group La Pav for over twenty years without a seal replacement (or anything else), however I was well taught so none of the "big four" above got to it. Stupidly selling it during a move, my "new secondhand mid '80's" from 2006 one has also been bulletproof. A friend bought the same model new about a month after me and had innumerable self-induced issues in the first 5 years (big four again, esp. 1 & 2 in his case). After a complete train wreck adapting to a twin thermoblock (faulty upon its arrival in my life), since 2010 my older 6910 has needed nothing except a single spacer under the seal as the collar wore in ('bout three years ago). Still makes a great coffee. I know other 6910 owners who kill their own machines regularly (one look at their technique and you even can predict the upcoming problems).

    If you want to go upmarket fine, however I would suggest you go to a decent espresso course first as your hassles seem to be at least partly technique related. Alternatively, as long as they are within warranty, just keep getting replacements - that is a real advantage of an "appliance" as opposed to a "supposedly longer lasting" commercial machine where you can get some large bills after the warranty expires.

    Have fun with your coffee


    TampIt
    Last edited by Javaphile; 2nd August 2015 at 08:49 AM. Reason: Changed to local link

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    How do I backflush a Sunbeam EM4820 if it does not have stopper thing in the head basket to stop water from flowing through?
    Can the cheaper EM4820 handle this proceedure with its Thermoblock heating system?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    How do I backflush a Sunbeam EM4820 if it does not have stopper thing in the head basket to stop water from flowing through?
    Can the cheaper EM4820 handle this proceedure with its Thermoblock heating system?
    You don't. The EM4820 does not have a 3-way solenoid valve so there is no need to backflush. Just keep the seal clean and remove the shower screen every so often to clean it and the group head if needed.

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    Right that sounds better. I think one of the posts back on this thread suggested back flushing which I have never done on the 5-6 replacement machines. I have done maintenance cleaning of the seal and the screen.
    I am guessing this is the best these machines can do.
    3 way solenoid ??? Does my unit perform that function with its Thermoblock system?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    Right that sounds better. I think one of the posts back on this thread suggested back flushing which I have never done on the 5-6 replacement machines. I have done maintenance cleaning of the seal and the screen.
    I am guessing this is the best these machines can do.
    3 way solenoid ??? Does my unit perform that function with its Thermoblock system?
    No a 3-way solenoid in a coffee machine serves the purpose of releasing pressure in the group head. The only appliance brand machines with this function are the top of the range ones such as the Sunbeam EM6900/6910/7000 or Breville BES900/920. DO NOT try to back flush your Sunbeam, you will definitely stuff it.

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    No, the 3-way solenoid system is common on commercial and semi commercial machines. The Sunbeam EM6900, EM6910 and EM7000 are the only machines that Sunbeam make that employ a system like this.

    It's not actually a true 3-way system like in commercial machines as it's basically just a open/shut valve on an output from the thermoblock. This enables the machine to release all of the pressure immediately that remains on the coffee puck after you have finished extraction.

    Your machine does employ a similar system but is wholly mechanical. Behind the control knob on your machine, there is some ceramic discs with holes in them that dictate where the water flows depending on the position of the knob.
    When you have the knob in the brew position, water flows from the thermoblock (it is in fact a thermocoil rather than a thermoblock but they operate on the same principle) output to the group head.

    When you turn the knob back to the idle position (straight up and down) the thermocoil output diverts to the drain output. This means that the only pressure remaining on the coffee puck is a small amount of residual pressure between the ceramic disc and the group head. This dissipates fairly quickly.
    I wouldn't advise removing the group handle straight away though.

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    Some machines are naturally cleaner than others but the ability to simply remove the screen can be very handy. It can be impossible to do without destroying the seal in an E61 machine if left for a bit too long - which makes backflushing for these machines more important

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    The other thing you can do is run a cleaner through it occasionally. Just a mild one like Cleancaf or I think Sunbeam actually have their own in tablet form. Even using filtered water this is still a good idea once or twice a year.

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    gaggia classic is around $650 and lasts forever...

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    And on the Toyota Great wall comment. My EM 6910 has pulled over 7000 shots. It has had less than $150.00 spent on it. I a cafe charges $3.50 for a coffee, you do the maths. I am happy.

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    That might be so, but HA_DA has had much less luck than you have it seems - and given the comment was for his benefit, and in the context of his description of multiple failed machines...
    Dimal likes this.

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    had my silvia about 3 years. Boiler was replaced under warranty after failure 12 months in. Was a known bad batch. Other than that all its has is a backflush with cleaner about once a fortnight. Haven't descaled but run water that's come from a pura tap and have a in-tank inline filter on the machine. Only issue at all that I could comment on is that the steam wand leaks a very small amount from time to time (maybe a teaspoon full during warmup phase). I expect the machine to last me 10+ years. Would expect may need a group seal replacement in a few years time. I have seen some silvias with rust issues. I catch all my excess water in a tupperware container rather than using the drip tray and as such there isn't even a hint of rust anywhere on the body of my machine.

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    Readeral, I was trying to show that not all lower end machines are as problematic as the OP has experienced. I have also as reliable service from an EM4800c. And my daughter has had no issues with the entry level Breville I gifted her. Just saying.

  29. #29
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    Life expectancy of $600 machines and/or the costs of servicing?

    Yeah unfortunately I was just trying to give OP a sense of the value of buying a better machine compared to his experience, so your defence of lower end machines was not necessary or particularly contributing to the thread. If OP had been after affirmation that appliance made machines were good/bad/bees knees/horrid he could just search and find 1000s of comments similar on this forum already. Plenty of random posts where a brand new member has made an account to come to breville/sunbeam defence.

    Where have you got to so far HA_DA_JA? There's still a few pre-loved Silvias around

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    FWIW I bought a used Silvia from a fellow CS-er here, it's 9 years old and in perfect shape, the previous owner had taken excellent care of it and I make sure to backflush regularly, descale occasionally, change washers and seals etc.
    readeral likes this.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Plenty of random posts where a brand new member has made an account to come to breville/sunbeam defence.

    Where have you got to so far HA_DA_JA? There's still a few pre-loved Silvias around
    Actually not quite so new here, but you are excused.
    I hooked up again on here with Tapatalk so I could use my tablet, then realised later I had messed that up and I show up as a new member!
    I will only use the tablet to read now, not post!
    So rawill and robinanaveril are the same person. My mistake.

    I guess I will leave the OP to decide whether I contributed to their thread or not.
    Just saying.

    Robin

    Here is a long thread started by Journeyman some time ago.
    My new machine, maybe there is some good reading in here.

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...w-machine.html

    However, on second thoughts, re reading it reminds me it is mostly about the EM480 grinder.
    So not relevant to the OP.
    Last edited by rawill; 10th August 2015 at 10:03 AM.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    Okay I have a EM0480 grinder. Does the job fine for me.

    Or do I have to pay every couple of years to get these serviced which could be equivalent to buying another $175 EM4820.
    Nothing wrong with being a frugal shopper.

    I got challenged on my posts earlier in the thread, and fair enough I guess.

    The grinder is a good grinder.

    In the last few weeks I have had an EM4800c apart for a look and a clean.
    I also ended up buying 2 EM5600 machines.

    Interesting to see what the differences are.
    I have noticed with the EM4800c that the pour/steam knob is getting harder to turn.
    But I got a surprise when I looked at why.
    The plastic part of the switch is screwed on the the metal switch which is part of the thermobloc.
    Hence the switch heats up, and has discoloured because of the heat.
    It is the same swith in the EM5600 but it has been moved away from the heat source.

    I pulled the top off the thermobloc in the EM5600, very simple, almost identical unit in the EM4800c.

    So how come the OP's units failed. I suspect that material may have come off the the thermobloc and gradually blocked the very small tubes and galleries.
    Maybe a tinkerer could fix them, but if you paid a service agent to do it then it probably would not be worth it.

    "Why did I buy 2 EM5600's?",
    well I only wanted 1 but put a bid up on 2 of them on an auction site, I hope someone would out bit me on one.
    After all I only wanted a spare P/F so I could make it naked.
    Paid $50.00 for one unit and $16.50 for the other!
    I hoped someone would outbit me on the $50.00 one!

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    Well due to the economies of scales and our combined family income being under the current Australian ABS "poverty levels" i have continued with replacing the sunbeam. At this point in our life stage it is an unnecessary expense to buying cafe takeway coffees and the trade off was buying a cheaper machine using more boutique coffee beans. I think as i do night shift and have limited spare time during the day it is easier to pop down to the local shops and wait the 1/2 - 1 x hour to get a replacement new machine.
    I think whe the kids have finished schooling and more time and income is avaiilable i will get look into something like a Silvia.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by HA_DA_JA View Post
    Well due to the economies of scales and our combined family income being under the current Australian ABS "poverty levels" i have continued with replacing the sunbeam. At this point in our life stage it is an unnecessary expense to buying cafe takeway coffees and the trade off was buying a cheaper machine using more boutique coffee beans. I think as i do night shift and have limited spare time during the day it is easier to pop down to the local shops and wait the 1/2 - 1 x hour to get a replacement new machine.
    I think whe the kids have finished schooling and more time and income is avaiilable i will get look into something like a Silvia.
    G'day again HA_DA_JA

    I refer to my earlier posts re maintenance and longevity on this thread.

    I noticed you were drinking flat whites. The Silvia is a single boiler machine which means you have to do the milk separately from the coffee. Also, one "water oops" and exit the boiler(a $500 repair in Perth). I believe the newest ones finally have a low water warning (if so, about 20 years too late).

    When you get some funds, there is always another good option - a secondhand 6910 is often between $200 and $300. If you maintain it properly, I reckon it will last as long as a Silvia. My older 6910 was made in Aug 2008 - it is 8yo - and is still going strong with one $115 repair. See "http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-equipment-midrange-500-1500/34352-my-new-machine-3.html#post507441" for its rather troubled start in life - most machines would be in the scrapheap after that chaos - it spent 18 months in a cafe and pulled 3000 to 5000 shots before I bought it "new". It has never been pulled apart by me apart from removing the showerscreens (one screw). My Silvia lasted 9 years and was fine when I sold it. The next owner blew the boiler about three months later if I remember the time span correctly - I was overseas at the time. It had cost about $100 in various small parts and probably had a slightly higher downtime due to the odd niggle (seals, hose clamps etc. etc.). The Silvia interior is quite simple - just as well, I saw it often enough. To balance that a little, the 6910 had the advantage of my Silvia experience, so I regard them as about equal to maintain as long as you know what you are doing.

    I drink Lattes and espressos so any machine that cannot steam milk and pull a shot at the same time is off my personal list. The 90 second warmup (6910) vs 30 minutes (Silvia, and virtually any other boiler machine) is also a handy change.

    Just more grist to the mill for you to contemplate.

    Enjoy your cuppa.

    TampIt
    PS: noidle (this thread) prefers the cheaper Brevilles - as he is a professional repairer, ask him which models if you feel like a change of brand!
    Last edited by TampIt; 12th November 2016 at 11:51 AM.

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    I've never really understood the angst about not being able to steam and pull at the same time, for a normal domestic user. Having gone Breville, to Sunbeam to Lelit single boiler, the 1 or 2 minute wait to get to steam temperature hardly seems too much of a worry. Certainly not enough to justify several hundred dollars more, if you don't have them sitting around.
    Last edited by rodpinna73; 18th November 2016 at 05:00 PM. Reason: Speeling

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    After going from a Silvia to an hx it's a must have. While you're waiting for thevdteam boiler to hear up I'm kicking backb enjoying my coffee.

    If i have friends over and make 4 or more in a row then forget about it with a single boiler
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  37. #37
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    After going from a Silvia to an hx it's a must have. While you're waiting for thevdteam boiler to hear up I'm kicking backb enjoying my coffee.

    If i have friends over and make 4 or more in a row then forget about it with a single boiler
    Agreed. I rarely actually steam milk at the same time I'm extracting on my HX machine, but I'm ready to go and am straight into it as soon as the shot has finished. Overall my HX machine has been much more user friendly than the single boiler I had beforehand. I'll only ever go back if it's to a lever of some sort.

  38. #38
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    Cost / benefit for me. I agree it'd be nice, I just think it's a bit overstated.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodpinna73 View Post
    Cost / benefit for me. I agree it'd be nice, I just think it's a bit overstated.
    IMO, not overstated at all.

    If you like to have both fresh espresso and freshly frothed latte / cappuccino or any other milk drink, you need to be able to pull a shot whilst frothing milk. Or get used to a substandard drink (this is a CS website). Anyone who drinks milk with their coffee and thinks that a unaccompanied single boiler is preferable is kidding themselves.

    As a long term ex Silvia owner, I shared it with a manual lever Electra, so Miss S was mostly a glorified milk frother. If I was sleep deprived, the Electra frothed the milk... running a manual lever when off one's game is not a good move unless you like wearing hot coffee. Neither would generate many shots in a row without requiring a lot of messing around. So I always had a commercial machine as well - mostly a 2 group La Pav for when I needed bulk coffees.

    TampIt
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  40. #40
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodpinna73 View Post
    Cost / benefit for me. I agree it'd be nice, I just think it's a bit overstated.
    And that's fine but there are many who have gone from Silvia to hx or dual boiler that won't agree with you. For me it was a major deciding factor for upgrading as the shots Silvia pulls are very good tending to excellent.



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