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Thread: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

  1. #1
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    Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    Ive been mulling over upgrading from my francisfrancis X3 for some time now (single boiler machine bought cheaply on evilbay - can produce an ok shot when the stars align, but group seal is starting to wear and cant find parts) and am undecided between some of the "lower-end" HX machines (e.g. Expobar Office Control SA) or E-61 single boiler machines like the Isomac Zaffiro or Diadema Perfetta.

    I mainly drink espresso or short macchiatos (with a dash of cold milk) but would probably drink more milk coffees on weekends if I had a machine where it was worth frothing milk in the first place. *Id only only be drinking 1-2 coffees on weekdays and 3-4 on weekends, with the occasional batch processing for entertaining groups.

    Would you get a better shot from a high end SB machine? *Im not sure I need an HX for the just the occasional group situation. *Of course another factor is that some of the SB machines mentioned tend to IMHO look much better than low-end HX machines, and I guess for this kind of outlay and kitchen space infringement you want it to look good!

    If any CSers have any advice about performance, build quality, useability (esp on steam on SB machines) at the lower end of this price range, itd be much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Dennis.

    P.S. *Ah, its great to finally get to write this post on a weekday. *CS is blocked at my workplace! *Am home on paternity leave with a newborn, and since Im awake all the time anyway its been great having home-roasted coffee all day!

  2. #2
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?


    Its expensive to upgrade after buying a machine that only just does the job.

    Put the few extra dollars in now and buy a good HX machine. (We just did this, Bezzera BZ07)

    Its easy to be happy with a machine and not use all its potential.

    Happy buying

  3. #3
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Hi den and congratulations for bubs. With the amount of time I spend on CS its only a matter of time before IT block it here too.

    I dont have experience with a HX but I think most will agree with CC, buy once and buy right. Of course if you see the list of equipment I have below, I obviously didnt follow that advice myself. I am planning to sell most of that off and upgrade to a HX before the end of the year. Im likely to lose several hundred $ but am not overly concerned about it; I consider it tuition fees toward my coffee education.



    I agree with what you say the aesthetics of the cheaper looking HX machines, but I guess thats why theyre cheaper. I dont think the Office looks too bad myself, but it certainly doesnt have that wow factor; I think the name reflects its intended market.

    If you can spend $400-500 more for shiny HX machine then thats what you should do.

    What about your grinder? What do you have now and are you planning on upgrading that too?

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Think the BZ07s about the cheapest Id go too these days! lovely little machine for not huge amounts of $$ (relatively). Its like the little coffee machine that [s]could[/s] can!

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Your usage suggests a single boiler would suit your needs but having just upgraded from a SB, I would say cut straight to the HX if you can stretch your $s that far.

    You havent mentioned a budget figure and you dont mention if you already have a good grinder.

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Hi Dennis ,

    I have a Bezzera BZ07 DE and I can tell you the build quality is excellent. Comes standard with a four hole steam tip and heaps of steam. Check out the dimensions it does not take up mach space.

    http://www.barazi.com.au/Bezzera-Coffee-Machines/Bezzera-Domestic-Machines/bz07-de-single-group

    Hope that is of some help.

    Brett

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Quote Originally Posted by 494842514F4A50230 link=1248932752/2#2 date=1248935810
    With the amount of time I spend on CS its only a matter of time before IT block it here too.
    What!!! never.
    CS will never be blocked at my work (as long as i am the IT manager ;))

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Thanks everyone for the advice - there seems to be quite a few votes for the Bezzera BZ07, and in general not to go halfway in upgrading. *Sounds like the group in the BZ07 would heat up a little faster than E61s. *I guess a selling point for me for SB machines is actually the smaller boiler (probably dont hear that often), as I dont need to boil 2L for a 30ml coffee! *I do like the smaller size of the Bezzera for an HX, and also of SB machines in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by 747E6B7C7C736761120 link=1248932752/4#4 date=1248948545
    You havent mentioned a budget figure and you dont mention if you already have a good grinder. *
    I currently use the much maligned/tolerated/celebrated Sunbeam EM0480, which as I understand it is the bare minimum youd partner with an E-61 machine. *Ill probably stick with this in the meantime until I can justify a better grinder (Compak K3?) and relegate the Sunbeam to late-night de-caf duties. *I generally use fresh beans Ive roasted in a corretto.

    Budget? *Thats a hard one, and perhaps slightly dependent on the machine. *Its definitely towards the lower end of the forum range (around $1500), which is why I was considering the Expobar Office SA ($1400 in one CS sponsors catalogue) and have looking for second hand options too.

    Thanks again for the advice.

    Dennis.

  9. #9
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Quote Originally Posted by 404D4E40220 link=1248932752/6#6 date=1248954191
    Quote Originally Posted by 494842514F4A50230 link=1248932752/2#2 date=1248935810
    With the amount of time I spend on CS its only a matter of time before IT block it here too.
    What!!! never.
    CS will never be blocked at my work (as long as i am the IT manager *;))
    ;D I make sure I keep on the right side of our IT Manager.

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Hi Den,

    Its a real dilemia, I have and had your exact coffee usage .... But a couple of things have changed since the E61 came into the house ( just me and wifey).
    I still drink espresso , but instead of 2 per day , its about 4 or 5, and wifey who used to drink 2 flat whites per WEEK is now on to at least 1 decaff cappuccino per day and 4 regular cappuccinos on the weekend...... and this is because the Single boiler VBM is such a great little whiz.
    It can handle that no sweat ...... and its a steaming demon.

    So lesson 1 ..... your intake of coffee will increase.

    But it does become busy if you have to pump out 4 cappuccinos in a session.....

    I lust after bigger, brighter, shiner, blingier, machines , but for the two of us , 29 days out of 30 the little VBM performs extremely well.

    I one thing I can vouch for is these SB E61 machines can have you pulling shots in 10-15 min from cold, thats a good 15min quicker than a HX, and once warm they stay warm.

    Enjoy the research.

    Greg

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    What about the Expobar Office Leva? Its certainly (in my view) pretty - with all the requisite shiny stuff. Since you put Expobar on the "value" end, why not consider it?

    full disclosure: I just purchased one (3 weeks ago), having upgraded from an EM6910, and I am very happy. :)

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Well I still think a single boiler would suit your purpose given your budget. I previously owned a VBM Piccolo like Hotshod and I support his comments including the time factor. My coffee enjoyment increased greatly after buying one.

    Diadema Perfetta is probably the pick of this class of machine from what I understand. But I wouldnt cross off the Silvia or Zaffiro.

    But there is not much gap in price between this machine and a lower end HX like the Expobar Office or Bezzeras. And the potential for higher output is there. My coffee consumption is the same as Hotshods but having an HX adds an extra dimension - and it has cured my upgraditis for quite some time.

    If you go the Barazi site (in the list of sponsors) they have a Pre-loved section with quite a few 2nd hand machines in your budget.

    Your grinder will be good enough as long as it can grind fine enough for espresso.


  13. #13
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Hi Dennis, my needs were pretty much the same as yours and I drink the same coffees. After 12 mths research I eventually bought the Diadema Perfetta. A better decision I have never made. I seriously considered the Silvia and VBM Levetta but bought the Perfetta because research indicated that it outshone the competition on pretty well any parameter.
    I found I was making excellent coffee right from the first few cups and 9months down the track I could not imagine being happier with any other machine, HX or better. I can see no reason why I would want to upgrade to a HX machine UNLESS for some reason I started making double the amount of coffee in each session. I have NOT found my coffee consumption has increased since purchase. This machine heats to operating temp in 15mins and is very stable temp wise. It steams like a locomotive and is a piece of eye candy in the kitchen. I do not have a single criticism of the machine at this point in time. IF I had expected to make more than six coffees in a session I would have bought a HX machine but for around 4-6 a session it is fine. I could wax lyrical for another 10 lines - so if you wish to discuss any particular aspects in detail, feel free to PM me.

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Thanks again for all the views. *I probably agree that a SB machine would suffice for my useage, and am attracted to the slightler shorter heat-up time. *I also note hotshods point about increasing useage after upgrading, and its got me thinking about getting a second grinder for decaf (well, upgrading my grinder and relegating the sunbeam to decaf). *Might take the risk on one of those cheapish Cunill Tranquilos floating about. *My partner doesnt drink coffee at the moment because of the caffeine, and at 4 weeks old my son is probably a bit too young (not going there with the expressed milk babycino - "expresso"). *So with the addition of a second grinder and better steaming capability I could easily see consumption similar to you guys hotshod and flynn.

    I know the next bit of advice will be to get to a sponsor to actually try some of these machines. *I live quite close to Talk Coffee, but have a fear that Id leave with much much more than I intended to get. *Im sure I wouldnt be the first. *I did find myself staring at the Rocket Giotto on display at Tobys Estate in Brunswick yesterday. *Noice. *Shiny.

    Anyway, thanks, and as many have done before, Ill report back with my outcome.

    Cheers,
    Dennis.

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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Quote Originally Posted by 48757971631A0 link=1248932752/12#12 date=1249107522
    bought the Perfetta because research indicated that it outshone the competition on pretty well any parameter
    umm what research, and how rigorous was it?

  16. #16
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Hi Dennis,

    Come visit!

    Id be delighted to assist and will ensure that you leave only with the right machine for you and your budget....

    Chris

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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Low-end HX or High-end single boiler?

    Let me echo Chriss input. While my upgraditis has run rampant a number of times ;D, Chris has always been a valuable information resource with no pressure to buy, buy, buy, that I could discern.

    Greg

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    Hi all,

    First, the reason I'm reigniting this ancient thread rather than posting anew is that I realised I was one of those long time forum lurkers that occasionally asks for advice and then never reverts with the outcome of their research.

    Sorry.

    I did end up finding a deal on a Diadema Perfetta and Rocky doserless from a local cafe/roaster and have had five years drinking great shots, even getting my partner back into coffee (from weak lattes to now using the double basket) and toddlers who can comment on my tamping technique and know the real meaning of "don't touch that - it's hot".

    Until......

    ...and this is the other more selfish reason for posting...


    ...last week I got back from a week away and found switching on the machine trips the safety switch. I reset a few times and then managed to make a normal espresso (machine runs slightly hot of late but that's another issue).

    The next day I am unable to use the machine without tripping the safety switch at all. Reading other CS posts I look to the low water microswitch, and yes the machine turns on fine when the heating element is off but then trips as soon as I depress the switch. I've had others recently use the machine and leave it in strange states (lever up, machine off, steam heating on etc) and suspected water damage from tank overfill or heating element damage from lack of boiler priming. The microswitch was quite rusted but I used a mulitmeter (mothballed since switching from a corretto to a Behmor) to confirm continuity - so the switch is fine.

    The guts seemed quite clean but there was some water stains/rust at the bottom. Taking off the bottom grill and the covers on the element terminals revealed the picture below.

    As you can see one terminal is badly corroded while the other is clean as a whistle. Has anyone seen this before? It's been a long time since high school chemistry but the fact it's one and not the other terminal seems to imply a fuel cell-type oxidation rather than water damage (no?). A compromised heating element? The multimeter confirmed there is still continuity between the two element terminals, and strangely I was able to make a normal hot coffee that initial time after the problems began so the element isn't completely blown.

    Any help would be much appreciated. Hopefully it can still be salvaged with a fix/service etc.

    (And this time I'll update on the outcome!)

    Cheers,
    Dennis
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    Hi Dennis,

    Chances are that when the element warms, it becomes porous. Most likely it's had it.
    Dragunov21 likes this.

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    I would start by cleaning the terminal and the screw post back to shiny metal and see how it goes before you panic. It is possible that the corrosion has increased the resistance so the current draw has increased enough to trip the circuit breaker. I'd look into some anti corrosion treatment. I think Inox makes something.

  21. #21
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Looks suspiciously like the outer casing of the element is porous as Chris mentioned above. Seems as though the water is finding its way through to the terminal via the element insulation compound. Don't think that is all corrosion but mostly staining from the water at the bottom of the boiler...

    Mal.

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    Hi Dennis,

    In my humble experience as a sparky, if RCD trips, fault more often than not in an appliance with a heating element.

    Note: RCD/safety switch detects faults, circuit breaker detects overload of circuit - 2 different things.

    More than likely heating element causing the problem. Replace the element with new and it'll be as good as gold.

    Cheers
    Dan
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    Thanks everyone for all the quick responses so far. Yep, evidence stacking up for a dead (ish) boiler element. Think you're right, Dan, as the surge protection board wasn't shutting off but the safety switch at the board (ground faults right?).

    And water finding it's way down through the element makes sense as well, as the machine would have to be submerged in two inches of water for the terminal to get that wet.

    Is element replacement a straightforward procedure? I assume it can be removed through that same open panel.

    Cheers everyone.
    Dennis

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    Update: I'm back, and now at an appropriate brewing temp!

    Picked up the Perfetta from Talk Coffee on the weekend, and despite the apparent corrosion on the boiler element terminal, it was actually the thermostat that was failing. The machine had been getting hotter and hotter lately and I had been "managing" it by turning it off for a few minutes while grinding etc.

    So, a new thermostat, service on the lever and temp calibration, and the machine is now singing better than it ever has (thanks Chris!). Someone even gave the exterior a good polish!

    In that few weeks without home espresso (I broke my Presso in the first week, no doubt trying to get to 9 bars with plastic internals) I had many moments of weakness, and it's a miracle I don't currently have a Bezzera Strega-sized hole in my wallet. I'm now really glad I didn't pull the trigger, as the reduced temp has a vastly different (improved) set of characteristics in the cup, and now it's back to changing existing variables in the form of grind, dose, tamp, roast length and even perhaps grinder upgrade (from a Rocky) before I move onto shinier machines. Bought a couple of EP Precision baskets and have ordered the Cafelat naked PF from CS.

    And I'm prepared for my partner to keep rolling her eyes the way she does when I show her youtube clips of naked PF pours and other coffee p0rn!

    Dennis
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  25. #25
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    Congratulations on your machine working again, unfortunately, you'll have to find another reason for a shiny new one.

  26. #26
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    Our pleasure Den78. Thanks for the kind words!

    Our tech Phil does amazing work and I am thrilled you're happy. I'll pass your comments onto him.

    Your machine is now running as it should have when you purchased it. Hopefully, it should keep upgraditis at bay for a little longer.

    Cheers

    Chris



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