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Thread: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it matter?

  1. #1
    sdg
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    The differences between DB or HX.. Does it matter?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by beanflying link=1223035464/20#27 date=1223261416
    I have just been having a search and read back into some old threads and I am now more confused than normal between HX and Dual Boilers :o .
    Glad Im not the only one! Ive been wanting to start a thread begging enlightenment, but not sure what to even ask yet
    (or where to put it, for that matter) :-[
    But the Vibiemme dual PID machine would fit into my Christmas Stocking 8-)
    Wow. Wish I had feet that big! ;D 8-)

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Hello Simone.

    Notwithstanding anything that anyone has already written above.

    You have brought up a good couple of questions that I believe have very simple answers.

    a) re the subject of topic. Ive never used a pid silvia but I consider myself to be well versed with a standard silvia and I import them direct. As far as I am concerned, silvia is the best domestic on the market under a thousand dollars BUT/...
    when you compare it to a good quality semi commercial machine (whether it be a regular commercial heat exchanger type or a dual boiler type) I am afraid it doesnt cut it and the semi commercials will always (subject to operator expertise) brew a better espresso for whatever reason including that the semi commercials are more forgiving of operator technique.

    I dont think there can be any doubt about it although some may wish to argue.

    b) There is no need to be confused about the differences between semi commercial heat exchanger machines and semi commercial dual boiler machines.......

    .....too much time is spent in forums like this picking them apart by way of their technical specs and the pros and cons of what some people think they can and cant do when the fact of the matter is, if you choose a good quality machine of either type, you end up with a great espresso machine.....if you have good technique and understand your machine it will reward you, and if you dont.........!

    Essentially, they are two different internal engineering philosophies / designs that are a means to virtually the same end at that is, to make an espresso.....
    ..........and thats it.

    If you choose well, in either type ( HX or dual), you end up with a great esp machine. If you choose badly, you end up with a crappy machine....but that is not to do with whether you have chosen a HX or a dual boiler type, it has to do with whether the manufacturers model you chose is a good coffee machine in toto or not.

    My advice therefore is, if you are looking for something more than a silvia choose your price bracket, and then look at a range of machines in that price bracket irrespective of whether they are HX or dual boiler. Dont forget that a very important thing to ask about is ***reliability***.

    And in the end, you will have to place your trust in the supplier of your choice.

    hope this is helpful.

    Regardz,
    Attilio
    first / original CS site sponsor.


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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Sage advice from FC, as always. (Seasoned with a pinch of paprika ;D)

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Hi Simone and sorry for a mini hijack of your thread Greg,

    Most of the threads on Dual Boilers decended into how simple and reliable HX machines and how cooling flushes were not a problem to set temperature ;) rather than a good/bad points of the different DBs and ONLY DBs. With the impending release of a couple of new ones time for some proper discussion 8-)

    Somtimes an apple in nice and others prefer oranges.

    Christmas Stockings are magical last year it stretched to fit 2 new toy aircraft ;D

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    nice idea beanflying

    maybe lets start a new discussion on DB and HX (as opposed to DB v HX)
    ive read lots on them both and it does often disintegrate into a "my machines design is better than yours" debate.

    there are pluses and minuses in the design of BOTH types of machine, especially when considering one for home use. eg instaurator talks of achieving nicer shots with his home hx than commercial db...

    to have an outcome where one type of machine is judged as superior is probably not that useful to most of us, but a discussion on
    -why DB and not HX (or vice versa)
    -temp profiles
    -steaming ability
    -servicability
    -complexity

    etc may be a little more useful?

    there was a forum on HB where one member put his opinion quite succinctly. i think it was something like "i have a Quickmill.....i wish i had a DB"


    thats all the second crack i have for today thanks

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Why DB and not HX (or vce versa) has been discussed around and about well enough in these *forums often enough even if sometimes they have degenerated into personal swipes by posters hehehe......

    Trouble is, many people reading these forums see an opinion like the one above and unfortunately see it as if it were an informed comment by someone that has experience of both, rather than for what it ***most probably*** is....a personal opinion from a domestic end user with experience of only one machine, thinking for whatever reason that the grass is greener on the other side.......

    The "opinion" could be a source of discussion in itself...like.....the exponent could have written......I have a Quickmill.....I wish I had a better hx model than the one I have. *Not all espresso machines are the same (no offence intended to owners of quickmill, their importers or the manufacturer this is just an example). Or the exponent could have written...I have a Quickmill/....wish I had taken a lesson to learn how to use it to best advantage.......

    One of the greatest forms of navel gazing in these forums I think are discussions on temp stability / profiles. The reason is that most domestic end users who buy these high end semi commercial machines (hx or db) are not using them in the manner intended by the manufacturer. Because of this they then display some characteristics that some people decide they dont like. But they are not using them in the manner intended....they are machines that are designed for continuous use, but they get left on for extended periods to make maybe a couple or four coffess at a time......no wonder you sometimes get some wild temperature fluctuations in some machines.......

    But is that ***bad***.......?

    So we control the machines to stop them doing what comes natural because the end users are not using them for the purpose intended. That then means they work better for the manner of use for which they were not originally intended!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Here is an earth shattering pearl of wisdom from *me. My wife drove me crazy several years ago trying tpo pick a suitable colour to paint the outside of our house in.....it had to be just right.....Yoiu can probably imagine the importance placed on this subject and the heart wrenching toing and froing trying to chose THAT colour.

    Once the decision was made and the house painted....we never spoke of the colour again and never even thought about it unless someone commented on our choice.

    This kind of angst is often seen in people trying to choose a coffee machine...........then once the decision has been made, they never think abiout it again, but they use it for years to produce their cuppas. Does something like "temp stability" ever come into it again....I doubt it. The client learns to use their machine to best advantage, and that becomes their technique of necessity. You buy a different machine, and you have to change your technique and understanding to suit the new machine and then it becomes second nature and the technique of necessity again.


    ok thats enough of alternative opinions from me.....Im off to roast some more coffee.

    Cheers
    Attilio.
    first / original CS site sponsor.




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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Very true Attilio,

    opinions are like ....... everyone has one even if you dont like looking at it :o All forum reading needs to be considered in total, rational debate is great and personal slights and a mine is better than yours are a pain and not helpful. That being said my open single boiler Aeropress makes the best coffee. For today at least :)

    Everyone now go and buy those roasters and tampers and help make Gregs mind up for him :)

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Im kind of in agreement with Attilio here.

    I have both types of machine and the boiler type can be easily set to the required brew pressure and the temperature profile adjusted any which way. Its probably the most versatile machine around and you can make some amasing discoveries about the bean you are using. However it is a real pain to use, requiring many shots to experiment with all the paramaters and ultimately it just isnt as convenient as the HX machine, which is my every day machine. That said, the HX machine still makes great shots and the coffee I have at home is so much better than served in most cafes that I rarely order a coffee anymore (except at places that really know what theyre doing).

    Ultimately Id like a machine that combines the best of both machines: Precise temperature adjustments with the ability to just walk-up and make a shot. I think that machine exists, but not at a convenient or comfortable price-point.

    Im afraid that "Dual boiler" has become just marketing hyperbole, as has the acronym, PID, E61, "thermal stability" etc. The bottom line is that each machine has to be judged on its own merit. A good machine should be more than the sum of its parts, because it should also encompass good engineering and design.

    One major misconception is that a boiler machine can be maintained at a constant temperature. Thats not true at all. They can be maintained in whats called a thermal stready-state only between shots but not during a shot. So its the engineering that determines how stable a machine is during the shot making process and this is something thats swept under the carpet. As an example, even my boiler machine is no magic bullet. The way I drive it is to inject just the right amount of cold water into the boiler, wait for it to sink to the bottom, where my group inlet is, and then brew, knowing that there is a layer of water at a precise temperature that can be drawn into the group (which happens to be at the same temperature). If I change the amount of water I inject, I can get either a rising or falling temperature profile. So its engineered to work the way I want it, but its not easy to use.

    While were at it, another misconception is that a HX machine flash heats the water to the desired temperature. Thats not true either. In most cases they act as mixers, whereby the superheated HX water is mixed with the cold incoming water to get the correct brew temp. For an E61 type machine with a thermosyphon, if it is set up correctly, all you need to do is flush out the thermosyphon lines and then brew.

    Which ever way a machine works, they achieve the desired result if used correctly, ie water at the correct brew temp is delived to the coffee at the set pressure to make a good cuppa.

    So the best advice is ultimately what Attilio stated above; go and test each machine in your price range and buy the one you are happy with.

    Sorry for the technobabble, but I hope that helps.

    Cheers,

    Mark.


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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    well put attilio and mark. and I agree with both of your conclusions - go and play before you pay.

    no one can / should say that one type of machine is better than the other, same way that no one can/ should say that convex or flat tamper is best practice, etc.

    BUT, there are differences between high end prosumer / semi commercial / single group commercial machines that might help to swing a buyer in one direction (in terms of inherent design differences between db and hx, not between different machines irrespective of boiler configuration)

    sometimes people cant get to play with a machine before they purchase (not ideal obviously). without discussion (incl talking with knowledgable site sponsors), what should these folks do?

    i have to say that a while ago i had made my mind up to buy a db machine because i was under the impression that this particular machine would steam milk like crazy (largely based on the fact that it is a DB machine and my ASSUMPTION that the steam boiler could be cranked up as high as i liked for prodigious steaming ability). what i learnt from CS and speaking to some kind folks was a very different picture.

    im not sure i have reached a conclusion here, but i guess im saying that reading "info" and "opinion" like whats found here on CS is a start, but by no means a solid means of reaching a good outcome for some. I originally didnt intend on a DB and HX discussion necessarily leading to a purchase by someone who had just read it.

    i think were all big enough boys and girls to make our choices how we see fit. some may read one article/review and say "yep, thats the machine for me". others may read 2400 articles and tally scores on pros and cons.

    just because there are some folks (and im not making a judgement here) who fall into the former category, doesnt mean that we cant have a healthy discussion about the number of boilers in our machines and the impact of this in the cup / milk pitcher.


    aaron

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    I think it hard to be generic. For example, the LM GS3 with its horizontal boiler and saturated brew group, vs the Expobar Minore II, with vertical boilers and an E61 thermosyphon group are probably very different in performance, yet they both get lumped under the dual boiler banner.

    Then theres the Dalla Corte, the Conti Twin Star II and VFA Pronta all with different brew boiler designs... so how can you make sense of some form of generic discussion?

    Even the different HX machines designed around the same E61 group can perform very differently depending on the factors like whether thermosyphon restrictors are used, the design of the water injector into the HX, etc.

    I guess Ive just been there before and really not much was gained apart from a bunch of opinions.

    One thing that dual boiler machines have the potential of offering is simple brew temperature changes. However, the precision with which you can make a real change is an important factor thats often not discussed. For example, if you brew 10 successive shots, how will the brew temperature of each shot differ? ie what s the inter-shot stability. I started a thread on my Faema Family http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1130542649/67#67 and you can see just how repeatable I can get it running if I take care. However, without care, the brew temp can vary by many degrees, regardless of the PID setting.

    So while the market has pushed for PID temperature control, just how effective is the PID in determining the actual temperature of the water delivered to the coffee is rarely discussed.

    Just a few things to consider.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    good points to consider Mark.
    and how about i swap my faema family for yours *::) ?

    aaron

    btw MODS should we split this discussion into a new thread on "the usefulness of discussing differences b/w machines"? *:-?

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1223035464/20#39 date=1223436594
    One thing that dual boiler machines have the potential of offering is simple brew temperature changes. However, the precision with which you can make a real change is an important factor thats often not discussed..
    Thats in part why I am looking toward DB (PID) rather than HX, repeatability and consistancy are high on my list as there are already so many other variables to nail for the best shots. That being said some of the work done to improve the stability on HX is great too and they are still not off my list totally.

    BTW thanks for the last few posts more common sense here than in several whole threads elsewhere *:)

    And split where appropriate and title Pros and Cons of DB machines as Aaron said.

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    beanflying....

    Unfortunately a DB fitted with a PID doesnt guarantee a stable temperature during extraction :-/.....

    As Mark said above.... cold water in introduced into the brew boiler during extraction...... and as the "prosumer" brew boiler is relatively small...... this can affect the temperature during extraction.....

    So there is no simple answer..... IMHO neither is better than the other..... they are just different! And for some that difference is an advantage whilst others see it as a disadvantage.....

    Bottom line is - see what is best for you! Both systems work excellently...... but in both cases it is the USER who has to have the technique correct for that machine..... and if you dont - then neither is a "silver bullet" to correct mediocre coffee (if the nut behind the handle doesnt use the correct technique for that machine!). And neither will guarantee a repeatable result unless your technique is 100% repeatable as well.

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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    A very informative series of posts here CSers... Definitely worthy of its own thread 8-)

    Mal.

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    sdg
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1223394242/0#13 date=1223454131
    A very informative series of posts here CSers... Definitely worthy of its own thread 8-)
    Wow! I wish for, I get ;D

    better get my hands on that magic xmas stocking while Im on a roll... ::)

    Thanks everyone for all the comments. I guess I just like to understand what it is Id be getting into, and how it works -- this came up for me in particular because I tripped over a La Cimbali Junior on ebay -- I was just browsing I swear! -- but to my uneducated eye it just looked like a lumpen-Silvia -- I just didnt "get" what was supposed to be so good about it, or even how it was different (these things are 4 x the price of a Silvia new, so must be pretty impressive, right?)

    I confess, I want my dreamed-of upgrade to be "pretty" as well as make great coffee without fuss, bother, or temperature surfing (its Greg that has the PIDd Silvia, BTW; mine is stock-standard)

    I like the sound of "semi commercials are more forgiving of operator technique..." but could be a bit alarmed by "If you choose badly, you end up with a crappy machine" -- you mean, I could spend 000s, and still get crappy?? Thats worrying!

    And the "more forgiving" attribute seems to be contradicted by the description of the temperature-management strategies that seem to be necessary to run a busy-cafe-grade machine in a "1 shot every hour or so" home environment.

    Could we talking about different classes of machines here? Or do "prosumer" level DB/HX machines also have these issues?


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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Simone,

    Just about all machines have some foibles when it comes to getting consistently great coffees....

    I use a twin group La Cimbali at home..... a machine clearly designed for constant use in a cafe environment (where it previously lived)..... and I dont have any real problem making a couple of coffees a few times a day..... or twenty within a short space of time.....

    It just needs an understanding of the machine and how it works! Could a smaller prosumer be less "trouble".... yep, maybe - but that would depend, in part, on the design of the machine and to a large extent on how it had been tuned - which is set up by the supplier.

    In some circumstances bigger (and more stable in certain circumstances) may not be the best in another set of circumstances..... but in my case a short cooling flush to establish "equilibrium" in a machine designed to produce constant espressos is no biggie..... it is just something I do automatically and isnt an issue at all (for me at least).

    Is there a "walk up and press the button for a perfect espresso every time" machine...... nope, not to my knowledge. All require some degree of expertise to get the best espresso..... and yes, that does vary - but not to an amount which, IMHO, would cause you to rule any out - or for that matter make any a clear winner either! (If that were to be the case there would only be one design of machine (as no one would buy the others) - and clearly that is not the case!)

    Basically purchase a quality machine (and yes, that does equate to price!) and find out how to drive that particular machine to produce what you want.

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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Quote Originally Posted by simone link=1223394242/0#14 date=1223472684

    And the "more forgiving" attribute seems to be contradicted by the description of the temperature-management strategies that seem to be necessary to run a busy-cafe-grade machine in a "1 shot every hour or so" home environment.

    Could we talking about different classes of machines here? Or do "prosumer" level DB/HX machines also have these issues?
    The forgiving attribute covers quite a bit. Some machines are purported to allow sloppy technique and still produce a good cup, while others require you to right on your game to get a good result. It also depends on the coffee youre using as well. Some coffees are just easier to use. There is no real indicator of how good a machine performs other then getting behind one and having a go. For example, there are reports of some E61 machines that are very unforgiving, while others are quite the opposite.

    It just seems that the Silvia is one of the most finnicky machines around. Sure it can produce a great cup, but you really have to know how to drive it. For many HX machines, all you need is a simple flush to get rid of the super heated water and youre set to go...

    Again, the best advice is to go and test the various machines youre interested in and then decide after some real hands on experience. Most people are very happy with the top end prosumer machines.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Extraction quality of PID Silvia vs pointy end

    Quote Originally Posted by roknee link=1223394242/0#10 date=1223437033
    good points to consider Mark.
    and how about i swap my faema family for yours *::) ?
    Whod want my old Faema? Its hardly in pristine condition with holes drilled in various places, wires and tubing running everywhere.... a bit of an ugly duckling. ;)

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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    I have a couple of machine specific questions on DBs regarding boiler setups. An I correct in reading some use water from one boiler to feed the other while some are two seperate systems entirely? Specifically Minore 2, LaSpaziale, or any others in the $2-3ish k range. If only my stocking would stretch to an LM ;)

    Also happy to go and try before I buy but as I am over 4 hours from Melbourne it is not easy to do more than once. What I want to be able to do is turn up to place X with a short list of 2 or 3 try them and either fork over the cash or take my test drive thoughts home and get a machine sent later based on that. To turn up and buy shiney things because it looks nice is not wise.

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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    The Minore II uses a heat exchanger in the steam boiler to preheat the water before it goes into the brew boiler. Im not sure of the details of the type of HX used, but the idea is to allow rapid shots without affecting the brew temperature too much. From what Ive read, the inlet water is hotter than the brew water and the shots get progressively hotter if you brew too many back to back shots.

    I would probably look at the La Spaziale over the Minore II due to a lot of positive feedback on these machines. I believe these are also true commercial machines and so have an excellent build quality.

    Ask 2MCM about these two, as I believe he sells both.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    TC
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Hi Simone,

    I think Sparky and Attilio have hit the nail on the head.

    Its more important to get a great machine and believe me, with the good stuff, by far the biggest variable in the whole process is the nut on the group handle.

    Option A- Great HX- simple, easy (cheap) to service and reliable: Able to produce brilliant shots
    Option B- Great Dual boiler- more complex, perhaps more expensive, laden with electronics, more expensive to service, geek appeal (extra dials/displays) which generally goes unnoticed after the first week: Able to produce brilliant shots

    My advice is to choose a great, reliable, well-designed machine which ticks as many of your aesthetic and usability boxes as possible and dont get overly concerned about specification sheets. Find an honest salesperson and look for quality after sales support. The important thing is to help you choose the right machine for you, not to sell you the machine with the largest margin.

    Keep in mind that whichever way you ultimately go, you will be by far the biggest variable in the whole equation once its about the coffee ;)

    Good luck with it all...

    Chris

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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Nut, Geek who me :D I will have you know I resemble those remarks.

    The LaSpaziale DB is sounding more like me at this stage maybe not so much the Minore in the DB and the Giotto or the Bezz have nice bling and operation in HX from what I read.

    thanks for the continued info and making the choice harder ;)

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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Having read the forums for more than a few years, during which time I am very grateful that many generous people have given me the opportunity to use a whole bunch of machines, I can absolutely, totally and categorically state that I am sick to death of online machine discussions in general and the whole HX/DB thing in particular ;P

    Some thoughts on buying a machine in general:

    *If you buy a prosumer machine, chances are that you will be very happy with it. *Look around on these forums. *How often does a person with $2500 machine X sell it and buy $2500 machine Y? *Dont worry; be happy, and stop reading this post. *Your machine might not be the best, but it probably does a good job and I think that most people would probably consider most of the finer details to be minutii. *The sky is not falling.

    *That said, on any set of criteria, some machines are better than others. *I have always found it quite amusing that on a site called coffeesnobs, I have often been branded elitist for expressing such a self-evident point of view. *People on this site constantly post gushing praise about machines that, frankly, I think are total crap. *If youre happy with your machine; great - dont worry about what others, including me, think. *Unless you want to buy a better machine.

    *Peoples tastes are different. *Self-evident, but it makes it difficult to rely on much of the stuff that is written online. *To give one example, I know that on the other side of the world, a lot of people are experimenting with very low doses. *Whilst I have no doubt that they find that enjoyable, I doubt that this technique would produce the sort of espresso that most Australians are after. *This also means that whilst I might think that a particular machine sucks, you might love it.

    To my mind, one way of oversimplifying the types of machines and tastes is to look at machines as fitting in on a continuum with machines that are easy to use and produce heavy-bodied shots (possibly at the expense of the more delicate flavours that your coffee is capable of producing) at one end and machines that produce shots with exceptional clarity of flavour (possibly at the expense of body or ease of use) at the other.*The best machines let you have your cake and eat it too, producing coffee with decent body and flavour with ease. *Ill go out on a limb and say that most of the domestic e61 machines that I have used fit into the heavy bodied category. *If that is true, one might question whether what home roasters value in a machine is something that is capable of masking slight roasting errors.

    *Machines can be setup differently. *I think that most vendors just get their machine straight from the distributor or importer, however it is set up. *Some vendors do their own tweaking to their machines, either in their workshop or at the factory. *Changing a $1 restrictor or changing the pressurestat setting can have quite an impact on the cup. *In addition, manufacturers change the parts that go into their machines. *This means that what you read about someones machine X might not match what you get if you also buy machine X.

    *People trying to make decisions about machines to buy will have difficulty finding reliable information. *There are at least five types of posts that always make me start to question the reliability of the information offered. *These are posts made:

    (i) without a good frame of reference (with respect to machines and espresso);
    (ii) without sufficient time to form a reliable impression;
    (iii) by overseas posters, whose machines and coffee may not be comparable to what is available locally;
    (iv) by someone who has an interest in selling machines; and
    (v) without first-hand experience (including both posts that regurgitate accepted wisdom and posts that dont disclose the experience upon which they are based).

    In regards to the last point, on one memorable occasion, I remember reading something from someone who had just bought a new machine and claimed that it had rock solid thermostability, but then added that he didnt actually have any way of measuring it!

    *If youre buying a machine for the purpose of making great coffee and you want my advice ... just follow these simple steps:
    (a) drink heaps of espresso at all of the best places in your city to build up your palate;
    (b) spend a week or two just drinking the same blend at a cafe;
    (c) contact a local vendor and organise to take a kilo of that coffee in to them to try out some different machines using the same grinder;
    (d) buy the machine that you find the easiest to use, that makes the coffee that you like best and that has the best support;
    (e) give your vendor a tip for spending so much time with you;
    (f) stop reading what people on the internet think about various machines and start to focus on improving your espresso (I wont go into too much detail, but ideally you would spend at least three months using the same commercial blend and would do a training session when you get the machine and another a bit later down the track).

    I remember that one of the top baristi in the USA posted on his blog about a customer who said that he made better espresso at home, despite the expensive setup that the cafe had. *The barista famously quipped that espresso is like masturbation; you get the best results by doing it yourself. *So just enjoy whatever machine you end up with!

  24. #24
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Some observations about the dual boiler craze:

    *HX vs DB is a point that is far, far down on the list of important variables in making espresso. *The actual beans that you are using are on the top of the list, followed by things such as the consistency of your dose, the adequacy of your grinder and the cleanliness of your machine. *I would humbly suggest that most people could probably benefit from focussing in those areas, starting by examining their consistency. *Home roasting in particular adds whole bunch of obstacles to the path to deliciousness and I cant see how home roasters who dont sample other coffees can reasonably expect to get a good result - one of the reasons why CS Brown was such a good idea. *Even if you buy coffee in, you must still be on guard for bad batches *(see my blog post of 28 September 2008) and roasters whose flair for marketing exceeds their competence at roasting. *If you are new to espresso, you may well get better results in the cup by saving a few hundred bucks on your setup and spending that on training with some of the many awesome trainers around the country.

    *Dual boiler (DB) is a relatively meaningless term. *Sparky made this point very well above. *I can tell you from experience (and you can see from temperature graphs online) that LMs and Synessos (saturated group machines) perform differently from E61 DBs and chunk o metal attached to boiler DBs. *The former deliver the same temperature profile repeatedly, as measured with a scace. *The latter deliver espresso that tastes different as they heat up, as measured with my tongue. *To my taste buds, the difference in the cup between a saturated group dual boiler and an e61 dual boiler is more than the difference between DB and HX machines with an e61 group.

    There are three prosumer dual boiler machines with saturated groups on the market and aimed at domestic consumers. *One is the LM GS3, which I think is an utterly awesome little machine. *The other two are two versions of the same machine and are not currently offered by any of the site sponsors, so I wont name them. *I have played around with them briefly; they seemed fairly good and would like to use them some more.

    I would note that there are a few cheap DB machines around that are essentially two domestic single boiler machines in one body. *Some of them even have a froth aider permanently attached to the wand, yet if all you focus on is DB, you would lump them into the same category as a GS3!

    *Thermostability is an ambiguous term. *One of my pet peeves. *This term is used variously to refer to inter or intra-shot variations (correctly), the ability to adjust brew temperature (incorrectly) and some mythical property that the writer in that instance thought was pretty cool. *As far as I can tell, every machine on the Australian market has at some point been described as thermostable or similar. *I wonder if the term is now devoid of all meaning, from a buyers perspective, or if there actually has been some sort of improvement in basically everything on offer?

    *People do not seem to actually take advantage of the ability to adjust brew temperature. *Off the top of my head, I would say that posts on this web page about making changes to brew temperature are few and far between.

    *To paraphrase 2mcm and Forrest Gump, espresso machines are like a box of compromises. *If you buy a HX that consistently delivers the same temperature it is difficult to adjust the brew temperature easily. *You are stuck with one brew temperature and that will not be the optimum temperature for all coffees that you want to use. *If you buy a HX machine that you can easily manipulate, you will find it harder to hit the temperature that you want repeatedly, but you will be able to make temperature adjustments quite easily. *If you buy a dual boiler, you will be able to make repeatable adjustments, but it might be that if you are making several shots in a row, your group head is not actually able to deliver what your temperature controller promises (Im not sure; this is where people usually jump up and defend their machine). *Whatever machine you buy, if you are new to the game, adjusting brew temperature will be the least of your concerns and it will take you a while to learn how to do it to get the result that you want in the cup. I return to my original point that most people seem to be pretty happy with what they have.

    *Why arent we obsessed about the other technical minutii? *Brew pressure? *Water treatment, particularly now that water composition has started to shift with the drought? *Machine cleanliness?

    *What will tomorrows buzzword be? *To those men at home who are alarmed by recent ads referring to larger thermosyphon tubing, just remember that your thermosyphon is probably average, does the job and Im sure that your wife has no complaints about it.

    On a personal note; I have long since given up on posting anything useful regarding which domestic machine to buy (ie. this sucks; avoid it) and I have tried to avoid identifying particular machines by name in this post. *I usually get so many whinging PMs, telephone calls, emails, smoke signals and singing telegrams that its just not worth it. *If you sell a machine that sucks and you are concerned that my post implies that your machine sucks, I really dont want to hear about it.

    Now, howsabout some discussion on coffee as opposed to machines?

  25. #25
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Lots of good points made there Luca.... And the reason why this topic was split off from another thread.

    Cheers mate, :)
    Mal.

  26. #26
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat


    Wow, I feel like Ive just read a thesis.

    Of course I agree. One of my pet peeves is the thermostability of the 4kg lump of brass E61.... First, almost all decent machines have heavy groups.

    Second, the E61 is not just sitting at one temperature. There is a large variation in temperature over the group. Its designed to be a radiator to cool the super heated water in the thermosyphon loop. Bottom line is that it works well enough, but then so do most commercial groups.

    The saturated group is a much more thermally stable design, but who can afford one?

    Lucas bottom line is very pertinent. At this level, all machines work well enough to make excellent espresso and there are far more things outside the machine that matter.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

  27. #27
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Nice novel Luca [smiley=thumbup.gif]

    quite correct that the machine is only a small part of the coffee making process but as it makes up by $ the largest single lump to outlay and you have to live with it for most likely a long time it needs to be the correct choice based on function first and second then form. Thats where forums are a worthwhile "start" point for newbies or those of us in more remote areas.

    Choices narrowing BTW thanks to this thread down to about 4 or 5 or 6 ..... ::)

    Speaking of coffee at my small usage if I was buying commercial beans rather than a mix of home roast I would run up a bill of $3k in around 6 years, just as well I like coffee :)

  28. #28
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Glad that that post seems to have gone down well. The formula seems to be that there will be no backlash if I point out that there are crap machines on the market and maybe even why they are crap, as long as I dont name them ;P

    Of course I agree. One of my pet peeves is the thermostability of the 4kg lump of brass E61.... First, almost all decent machines have heavy groups.

    Second, the E61 is not just sitting at one temperature. There is a large variation in temperature over the group. Its designed to be a radiator to cool the super heated water in the thermosyphon loop. Bottom line is that it works well enough, but then so do most commercial groups.
    Insightful, as always. I dont have heaps of experience with "heavy chunk o metal" groups, but I have used a number of machines with such groups and havent been impressed yet.

    Another pet peeve of mine wrt the e61 is how people talk about weight, but not the ratio of thermosyphon volume with respect to weight. To give an example, if you take an e61 group and fill in part of the thermosyphon cavity with more metal, one would think that you would make it perform more like a "chunk o metal" group. Yet it would be perfectly true to assert that such an e61 group is heavier than its competitors!

    quite correct that the machine is only a small part of the coffee making process but as it makes up by $ the largest single lump to outlay and you have to live with it for most likely a long time it needs to be the correct choice based on function first and second then form. Thats where forums are a worthwhile "start" point for newbies or those of us in more remote areas.
    True. So I cop out and return to the bottom line - dont worry; be happy. ;P

    Speaking of coffee at my small usage if I was buying commercial beans rather than a mix of home roast I would run up a bill of $3k in around 6 years, just as well I like coffee Smiley
    I guess that the important point is that you keep on comparing your home roasts to commercial roasts, otherwise you can find that your roasts start to drift in one direction. Even if you cup your own roasts extensively, your palate can adjust to any systematic roast faults or errors and you might not pick them up. For this reason, all the best commercial roasters make sure that they buy coffee from their competitors to cup against theirs to make sure that they know how their offerings compare with what the market offers.

    The most easy way to compare your roasts with others is to do a traditional cupping, a plunger brew or a filter brew. This makes it easy to keep all of the variables constant, but espresso roasts arent really well suited to this brewing method. Still, the tiny amount of coffee that this requires probably makes it a worthwhile exercise.

    I have constantly said that CS Brown is a fantastic service for this very reason. Home roasters can order coffee from Andy with their green shipment at very reasonable freight costs. Andy has tonnes of experience roasting and does a great job. I am sure that he would be the first to agree that what he does is not the only way that you can roasts a particular blend. Rather, odds are that you will experience a good expression of Andys particular style. If you want to get the best results at home, you should still endeavour to try other commercial roasts in addition to CS brown.

    Cheers,

    Luca

  29. #29
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Hi Luca,

    just finished off CS Gold and WOW over the last few weeks and have been geting into Denniss World Blend then Pioneers Bin ??? (forgotten) as a result of a recent Auction win :) Then time to fire up the roaster later this week on some green. The bean is the important thing but the method you use to extract it is part of the fun.

    Mmmm La Spaz (if it is here before Xmas) for geek factor and Giotto for bling factor so far are looking good :)

  30. #30
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    Re: The differences between DB or HX.. Does it mat

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    and maybe now the DC mini, eh BF?



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