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Thread: Group head Q?

  1. #1
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    Group head Q?

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

    Im considering a new machine but am having some trouble getting my head around some of the options out there.

    I found this site a few months ago and was reading up on the different machines available but didnt buy a machine. Took the advice that has been posted many times and got a K3 Touch. Great investment.

    So, now that Ive recovered from that, I am considering an HX machine but realisticly a good single boiler will be enough for 98% of my useage. Im just aware that upgraditis is a powerful beast.

    One thing I have not been able to understand is the benefit of the different group head designs. The Expobar Office eb-61 Leva for example appears to be the same spec as the S/A version but for the group head. What is the benefit of the more expensive group heads?

    My budget looks to be limiting me to an e61 style single boiler or an HX without.

    TIA, Liam

  2. #2
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    Re: Group head Q?

    Welcome Liamo,

    Everyone here will tell you E-61 equals temperature stability, and that is what we all seek so that each time we prepare a shot and pour a shot the temp will be the same + or - 2*.

    It is for this reason that many lesser machines are fitted with a PID device ..... temp stability , its the Holy Grail

    Whats your budget and where do you live ???

    hotshod

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    Re: Group head Q?

    Thanks Hotshod,

    So does that mean that a good single boiler (Piccolo?) with an e61 would have better temp stability than something like an Office semi auto or BZ99?

    Or is this just a minor detail that isnt going to make a noticable difference to taste?

    I like the idea of a HX machine for a bunch of reasons but a single boiler is going to be adequate 99% of the time and taste is more important than coping with the occasional crowd.

    Im in Sydney and my budget is not going above $2k at the moment. Id be quite happy to spend a few hundred less though :)

  4. #4
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    Re: Group head Q?

    hey liam
    a few things that may help.

    not all HXers are the same, the same way that audis and beemers are not the same.

    HX will not necessarily equal temp stability. and what does temp stability mean anyway? intershot? intrashot?

    i think LMs saturated group will generally provide greater temp stability than HX - whether thats a good thing or not...

    temp stability of a small semi commercial HX with E-61 (say 1.3L boiler) will prob be less stable than a commercial bezzera (non E-61) (say 3L boiler).

    there really aint no rules and every machine will have its shortcomings.

    i think the expobar office is a e-61 based design but hidden away from view, so the same group head as the leva.

    hope that helps a little

    aaron

  5. #5
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Group head Q?

    Yep...

    I agree with Aaron.... :)

    Its much more important to go with a machine from a respected manufacturer, purchased from a reputable specialist retailer (such as our esteemed Site Sponsors) that meets or slightly exceeds the specification of your particular requirements. Only real way to know for sure, is to visit a specialist retailer who has a range of machines that you can play with "hands-on" to garner an appreciation of all of the pros & cons of the various machines on offer. Then, you can make an informed decision on which machine/grinder combo best suits your needs/budget/aesthetics, etc.

    Mal.

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    Re: Group head Q?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7B7E767A78170 link=1258274510/2#2 date=1258536646
    So does that mean that a good single boiler (Piccolo?) with an e61 would have better temp stability than something like an Office semi auto or BZ99?
    No .... not at all
    Single boiler machine have a much wider dead band ... ( thats the temp between top of the heat cycle , and when the thermostat would kick in again at the bottom of the heat cycle ) from my experience witha VBM Piccolo TOC was about 110* and BOC 87*...... though these figures are tunable.
    I believe all HX machines would run a much, much, much tighter control over the dead band..... and then evened out by putting extraction water through the temp stability of a 4kg brass E-61 group head.

    From my own experience and testing with a thermocouple a Piccolo improves out of sight when a temperature probe is added to it, and brew temperature can be controlled using the steam button to manually maintain the optimum extraction temp. I believe this is even more useful than having a PID fitted for domestic use. ( Because you can let it idle, TOC to BOC is about 14min ...But then in 10-15 seconds have it ready to extract ..... as where a PID would maintain that state of readiness all the time ).

    If the operator is drinking 80% or more espresso ,there is no reason why a single boiler E-61 machine will not deliver the same quality espresso as a HX machine.
    Also adding a temp probe to SB machine will help you stretch milk at optimum temps as well , .... with my Piccolo it was all done in less than 10 sec...... after waiting for steam temp to be achieved , usually 50 - 70 sec.

    My Piccolo should be for sale , but Im finding hard to let it go....... :-/

    Hope that helps

    hotshod

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    Re: Group head Q?

    That has helped a lot. I was thinking that something like a Piccolo would probably be enough because Id be mostly making 1-2 coffees at a time but its sounding like maybe a HX would be better for me. Ive currently got a Saeco that has a terribly wide range of operating temps and figured that this problem would largely go away once youre looking at $1500+ machines but maybe not...

    Thanks for all the advice, Im planning on checking some out this weekend so well see what comes of that. Its great to have a bit of an idea of the basic differences between types of machines; its too easy to become overwhelmed at a shop if everything you see and talk about is news to you.

    Will let you know how it goes :)

  8. #8
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Group head Q?

    Quote Originally Posted by 76737B77751A0 link=1258274510/6#6 date=1258635245
    Will let you know how it goes :)
    All the best with your testing and sampling this weekend mate. Its a significant purchase so dont be rushed into anything. Another very important thing to consider is after-sales service and support so you need to be certain youre getting the full package, if you know what I mean... ::) Thats why we always recommend CSers at least give one or more of our Site Sponsors a try, they will look after you.... :)

    Cheers mate,
    Mal.

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    Re: Group head Q?

    Yep, will definitely be visiting a sponsor. Have had a great response from them already. Too many have offered to help (a good thing), just not enough time for me to visit everyone :-[

  10. #10
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    Re: Group head Q?

    ...from another person thinking about getting a piccolo, this advice has been very handy - so thanx all! :)

  11. #11
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    Re: Group head Q?

    Update:

    So after the discussion above and contacting a couple of the site sponsors I decided to give it bit more time, save a few more pennies and splash out on something that I figured would keep the upgrade itch at bay. A shiny new VBM Domobar Jr has squeezed its way onto the bench.

    It has impressed with the quality of shots even when I know I have a bit of work to do to get grind, dose, tamp sorted. Im definitely the weak link in the quality of my shots now!

    Have a merry Christmas all :)

  12. #12
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Group head Q?

    Nice purchase, Im sure it will dole out good coffee with the proper tickling. :D

    Let us know how you go.

    Greg



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