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Thread: Comparing Apples To Apples

  1. #1
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    Comparing Apples To Apples

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Well isnt it funny how the best of intentions can be blown apart by a little obsessive research...

    I joined up CS after doing a little research and liking the look of a Silvia / Rocky combo, but the more I read, the more I thought I might quickly outgrow, and so the research into HX started.

    I ended up wanting to go straight to HX mainly for two reasons:

    1) It seems clear that a fairly high percentage of people who start at the low/mid end will eventually upgrade anyway, costing more down the track.
    2) I just wouldnt be happy not having the best... This is an expensive personality trait to have. Im sure many here can relate...

    Anyhow; After doing hours of searching and research on CS, Ive come up with a list of HX machines Im interested in:

    1) Rocket Giotto Premium Plus
    2) VBM Domobar Super Lever
    3) Diadema Junior Plus Lever
    4) Isomac Tea
    5) Expobar Office Leva
    6) Bezerra BZ07

    Ill likely be pairing up the machine with a Mazzer Mini.

    I know this list is probably the usual suspects on CS, and individually each machine has probably been analyzed to death (Ive probably gone through about 100 threads on them). I fully intend to have a visit to a sponsor or two and try these machines out, because I know ultimately how each machine feels to you will be a large factor in the choice. Ive got a couple of questions Id like to ask for opinions on before I do this however:

    1) Given that all of these machines, Im sure, are capable of producing excellent coffee, Im really interested in the build quality of each machine. Id rather have a machine that is less blingy but will last for 20 years. How would you rank these machines on build quality? Im talking commercial components, frame and materials, quality control, etc... From reading here, it seems that not all machines are created equal.

    Note that I know that all these machines will be far higher quality than your bog standard supermarket machine, Id just like to compare apples to apples.

    2) Any obvious choices for machines that Ive missed? Machine budget (excluding grinder) would be <$3K. I wouldnt make more than say 6 milky drinks at a time (currently), so capacity is not really an issue, but per above, want a machine that I have room to grow with.

    3) Would anyone care to give a list of cons or negatives about a particular machine? Small drip tray, poor stability, runs too hot, slapdash QC, etc.

    I ask this because Ive seen this information scattered around (eg thermostability issues, small drip trays, sub-par fit and finish etc), but Im not sure if these problems are in the latest model machines, or have been written about at all. Itd be nice to see it in one place. One example seems to be the Giotto had some thermal issues in the previous model that I believe may have been sorted out in the new version.

    Its a tall ask, but Id appreciate your time if youre keen to help out.

    Cheers,
    Sean.

  2. #2
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Dont overlook the Expobar Brewtus 3 (or Minore, I can never quite remember which its called here and in the US). Its a double boiler and fits in your price range.

    Ill comment on the VBM DS as Ive had one for about six months now after upgrading from Silvia.

    Build quality on my unit is good. Ive heard rumour that others have found some sharpness on the less exposed edges, but I havent had that problem.

    My steam wand stopped working, and I havent really had the time to investigate fully so simply swapped the valve with the hot water - worked a treat. Chris from TalkCoffee has suggested its a $2 washer/o-ring causing the problem and Ill be looking into it sometime soon.

    Boiler pressure and OPV are easy enough to adjust, and I like the large reservoir and drip tray on the unit. Coffee is (to my taste) quite good, and the sometimes criticised low headspace doesnt cause me much grief at all. Of course, my palate is not as refined as some of the senior members on this site, so it could be that Im missing out on something.

    The irony of these machines is of course that the subtle nuances between them arent easy to pick until youve had a lot of experience. In order to get the experience you need a good grinder and machine to train your taste buds.... and the circle continues.

    Take your time with your purchase so that you make the right decision for you. Try all the machines you can and then sleep on it - for a week or so :P Come back, and try them again. If the person helping you is kind enough, get them to prepare two shots (or coffees if espresso isnt your thing) on different machines while you arent watching. This will take away any $$$ bias that might make you think one machine prepares better coffee than another.

    Hope that helps

    Grant


  3. #3
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Hi Sean,

    It sounds like you have done some quality homework and have a great shortlist there.

    We stock all but one of your range. Each has particular qualities and also irritations in design. You will geat a great result out of a machine in this bracket, so it comes down to usability, build and other factors.

    We would be delighted to assist and if you choose to make contact, Ill be happy to explain the things I hate about each machine- which will allow you to work out your deal breakers and choose the right machine for you. Dennis will be more than happy to assist you in Sydney.

    Chris

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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples



    Quote Originally Posted by 596F6B6459626F6F7A0A0 link=1243225918/0#0 date=1243225918
    Anyhow; After doing hours of searching and research on CS, Ive come up with a list of HX machines Im interested in:

    1) Rocket Giotto Premium Plus
    2) VBM Domobar Super Lever
    3) Diadema Junior Plus Lever
    4) Isomac Tea
    5) Expobar Office Leva
    6) Bezerra BZ07

    Ill likely be pairing up the machine with a Mazzer Mini.

    We have most of this machines in our bench, will happy to give you a demo in each,with a Mini Mazzer as a grinder, as well as the same coffee, so you can try the difference. I see you are in Sydney, we are in Bondi Juction any time or give call to set up time.

    Best regards

    Renzo
    Di Bartoli Home Barista Centre

  5. #5
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Hi sean, heres a warts and all for your eyes only, following the same decision process and reading all i could find. as per your list - ill concentrate on shortcomings adn/or differences

    1 - wide, small drip tray, long preinfusion, expensive - biggish boiler - steams very nicely
    2 - *very deep for bench space - looks brilliant, expensive - huge boiler
    3 *- good temp control, smaller boiler, good quality pressurestat /internals for price - good deals available it would seem
    4 bargain of the range (ie millenium is more expensive but get less), runs hot unless modified (think some retailers do this) - can come with direct connection kit - had problems with pressurestats in past (coffeegeek) - (dont know if its been fixed or not)
    5 can also run hot, identical office in black is waaaay cheaper, so build quality?
    6. looks nice - non std incarnation of the e61 design - only had one portafilter i think when I looked at it. dont know about temp

    anyway that was my take on those list of options.

  6. #6
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Quote Originally Posted by 5D454C5F404C4F42542D0 link=1243225918/5#5 date=1243237947
    Hi sean, heres a warts and all for your eyes only, following the same decision process and reading all i could find. as per your list - ill concentrate on shortcomings adn/or differences

    1 - wide, small drip tray, long preinfusion, expensive - biggish boiler - steams very nicely
    2 - *very deep for bench space - looks brilliant, expensive - huge boiler
    3 *- good temp control, smaller boiler, good quality pressurestat /internals for price - good deals available it would seem
    4 bargain of the range (ie millenium is more expensive but get less), runs hot unless modified (think some retailers do this) - can come with direct connection kit - had problems with pressurestats in past (coffeegeek) - (dont know if its been fixed or not)
    5 can also run hot, identical office in black is waaaay cheaper, so build quality?
    6. looks nice - non std incarnation of the e61 design - only had one portafilter i think when I looked at it. dont know about temp

    anyway that was my take on those list of options. *
    Some good points there pharma:
    1-3- On the money (n.b-3 wands are not ball jointed which might make 1.3L Reale more attractive? Both great machines)
    4- Yes agreed. Unsure as to whether HX smarts allow for a satisfactory profile with thermosyphon restrictors or if with the smaller boiler the shot cools too rapidly if souped up. Id love to find out though. My Scace is waiting *::)
    5- The office leva is a very different machine and better bang for buck. Expobar are installing restrictor sets and a little Scace work makes for a great machine. Better value than Office SA and FA as easier to access for service and calibration.
    6- Not e-61. The group has pretty much nothing in common with e-61 with different lugs and its electrically, rather than thermosyphon heated.

    2mcm

  7. #7
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Sean I had the same idea and went for the Expobar Leva.
    Iniitially I too was about to settle on the Silvia/Rocky combo but something didnt feel right.

    So I asked Chris from Talk Coffee what the next level was, and as I wasnt into bling he recommended the Leva.

    Ive been happy with it since day one.

    I wasnt fortunate back then to be able to see the machines in the flesh as Chris was in Melbourne and Dennis Cuppacoffee and Di Bartoli did not exist.

    Take the chance to do some hands on research.

    Back to my "no bling" comment, I prefer function over form and got more function and less bling for my dollars.
    I didnt and still dont foresee the need to ever upgrade/replace my machine.

    I recently asked a fellow CS who trod the upgrade path to the same machine and grinder that I have, if Id missed anything by not doing the same and his answer basically was that all Id missed was some frustration and wasted dollars.

    Diving in at this level should give you a lifetime investment.

  8. #8
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Quote Originally Posted by 247B63757E7579707073737B7778160 link=1243225918/6#6 date=1243238386

    5- The office leva is a very different machine and better bang for buck. Expobar are installing restrictor sets and a little Scace work makes for a great machine. Better value than Office SA and FA as easier to access for service and calibration.
    6- Not e-61. The group has pretty much nothing in common with e-61 with different lugs and its electrically, rather than thermosyphon heated.

    2mcm
    thx for that extra info - the expobar I found difficult to get good (reliable) info on. I know it sounds stupid, but having specs of a machine that say 1.5l and 1.7 l boiler specified - sort of makes life difficult and tests your faith in the manufacturer to properly specify the machines - the other thing was the tall feet which arent exactly attractive. By the time i found out they didnt have them anymore, id seen so many pictures, I couldnt shake the minds eye picture - and just the one portafilter although a small thing (can buy a new one) - with so many choices its those kind of small shortcomings that take a product out of the equation.

    When buying by delivery, youve also got to reduce as much risk as you can - you tend to get reduced to popularism - sort of like given the choice would you buy a VW or a Skoda?

    thundergod - I agree with the no bling thing - but of course not withstanding mcms comment above about the office -the office is the ultimate in no bling! ;D - couldnt help but look at the office though and a nagging thought about whether Id never really be happy with the black plastic, and one day think about upgrading again.

    Oh, and i just thought of the annoying thing about the diadema - the tanks are about 2 l - a machine thrice the size of the mokita combi, has a 2/3 the size reservoir - so yes, nothings perfect...... :(

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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Hi Sean,

    Youve got a pretty comprehensive "short list" there. Jetblack supplies all but one on your list, and we have a few more besides on our demo bench.

    Each on your list has a particular strength, be it the full stainless steel of the Vibiemme, compact BZ07, user-friendly Giotto or bang for buck Office Leva.

    I might have a couple of different options to make you aware of when it comes to your grinder too ...

    Drop by for a test drive,

    charlie

  10. #10
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Hi Sean.

    Regarding your choice of grinder, take a look at the Macap range. If you want bling, the Macap ,in chrome will leave your mouth gaping wide with its curvy retro body style :D

    I chose the Macap over the Mazer, two years later its still like new (that chrome is durable !) and is at least on par with the Mazer in performance.
    BeanBay

  11. #11
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Thanks for all the info so far, its always exciting when you get to compare all the different options open to you.

    Im not in any hurry; At the least Ill have to wait until the taxman gives me my refund. Until then Ill be playing around with a kyocera and an aeropress at home and an em6910 at work.

    Im also open to other options on the grinder too. I notice that Chris from Talk Coffee had a good deal going on the Giotto and the Macap M4, which looks superb. Alas I wont be ready to make a move before thats snapped up.

    Also, thanks to pharmaboy and others for your discussion about the differences between the units, very helpful!

    At the moment (and this is all pre hands on inspection), Im really liking the look of the Giotto, looks like a top unit thats focussed on top quality and is built to last.

    And so the quest continues...


  12. #12
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    Re: Comparing Apples To Apples

    Quote Originally Posted by 5F696D625F6469697C0C0 link=1243225918/10#10 date=1243310878
    I notice that Chris from Talk Coffee had a good deal going on the Giotto and the Macap M4, which looks superb. Alas I wont be ready to make a move before thats snapped up.
    Chris tends to have rolling specials. If its not that, then it will be something similar. Keep your eye on the page.

    Of course, all our sponsors offer great service - and buying local is always a good option.

    Grant



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