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Thread: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

  1. #1
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    Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Originally I had decided on a lelit, but have recently decided to go for a HX machine. I think being able to make a few coffees consecutively would be a real bonus and am happy to spend a little more in knowing this can be achieved without frustration.

    The two I have on my current watchlist are below. I am happy to take considerations for other units.

    The diadema Junior Plus (size: 29x41x43cm) VS VBM domobar junior (size: 22.5x40x35cm)

    Here is my situation and what I need from the machine:
    - I am the only coffee drinker in the house, the boss drinks tea.
    - For weekdays, I could realistically expect to pull a shot in the morning, and maybe one or two after work in the evening.
    - For weekends, I could expect to pull maybe four each day? And if we have guests I could expect to pull a few more.
    - I hope to put the machine on a 7 day timer, so that the machine could be primed and ready to go when I get up for each day.
    - I mainly have milk drinks, probably something along the lines of a piccolo latte with a double as the base.
    - Bench space is limited; I would be shot dead if I were to come home with something like the VBM domobar Super. I need a compact HX machine. My initial thinking is the VBM domobar junior just because of the compact nature of the unit.
    - The machine would sit under the overhead cupboards in the kitchen, so unit cannot sit too high. My overhead cupboards are 460mm high from the benchtop.
    - Since I am renting, the unit will not be plumbed in. Therefore I will need to be able to manoeuvre the machine to refill the water.
    - I now have a Eureka Mignon stepless grinder.
    - Budget is to $2.5K Max..
    - I am located in SA.

    I am open to suggestions on RELIABLE machines that will serve me well. I understand there may be a tradeoff between quality and size of unit which unfortuanely I will have to live with.

    Happy to take suggestions, or comments on the two machines listed above based on my comments above.

    (Yes I will get to one of the sponsers, but I want to be armed with some information once I am ready to go)

  2. #2
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    My Expobar Leva has been reliable.

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    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    You have exactly the same parameters as me. I showed my wife the bezzera domus galatea and she said if that comes home I would have to leave !!!

    I am extremely happy with the VBM domobar junior. It packs a good punch for its small footprint. I believe the Diademas are a great machine also.

    There are other brands you could consider which would also fit your brief however if RELIABILITY and SMALL FOOTPRINT are top of the list you cant go wrong with either the diadema or the VBM.

    Have a chat with a site sponsor, they are always happy to help.

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Unico Splendor Maxi is decidedly more compact than above, and internally as per Diadema Junior Plus.

    Rgdz,
    A.

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Thanks Gents, The VBM is considerably smaller the diadema and the Unico Splendor Maxi (I think) and I figure that this may be suited better to my situation.
    Bennett, in your experience, how does pulling shot after shot go? Have you had any issues with the machine running out of puff after a certain amount? Are they easy enough to manoueve on the bench to get access to the water tank for refil?

  6. #6
    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Firstly, you should be careful because there are some WRONG dimensions posted about the VBM. It is actually 22.5Wx40H x40D. Yes it is actually 40 deep just to let you know, so it isnt much different from the Diademas.

    Secondly, it is perfectly fine shot after shot. I have done 6 doubles back to back with milk, no problems. As Chris from Talk Coffee points out it will be ready by the time you are ready, ie it will be quicker than you are ready to pull another shot.

    It is quite well designed internally. Externally they have a few minor discrepencies and imperfections. In this regard I think the Diademas are better finished externally.

    Overall I am extremely happy with my vbm junior. Also it doesnt EVER need a cooling flush even when it has been sitting idle for a long time. I cant tell the exact temp but it seems to be quite stable which is unusual for a Hx.

    I hope this helps.

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Have you had a look at the Isomac Millenium Cooltouch?
    Height 390mm Width 290mm Depth 445mm. A reliable machine, well within your budget.

    If you want to step it up a little, theres also the Isomac La Mondiale, but thats slightly over the budget youve set, and a little less compact: Height 430mm Width 340mm Depth 485mm

    Have a look on our site for more details and videos about both machines. (We also do snobs deals in our Espresso Italia sponsor thread).

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Hello there switched.

    If "compact" is an important criterion, when making comparisons, make sure that you are measuring & comparing the same things ie footprints to footprints, OR body dimensions to body dimensions. Dont go comparing one models footprint, with anothers body dimension.

    Splendor, just measured on the bench =

    The footprint, measuring to the *outside* of the rubber feet is:
    340 mm Deep &
    195 mm Wide

    Body dimension: Placing the machine against the wall and measuring forwards to the very tip of the small chrome knob in the middle of the front of the drip tray =
    435 mm

    Width of Splendor body at its widest point =
    280 mm.

    Internally, virtually identical to all Diadema Junior plus machines with 1.3 litre boiler, with minor differences to suit change in body. Performance is not in question.

    In terms of its compact size, I dont know that there is much in this type of quality that is any smaller, but of course as with all machines you look at, it has to be to your liking *:)

    Hope this helps,
    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.



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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    I dont think theres a difference in quality between a large and a compact machine (either the build quality or coffee flavour)

    While larger units (eg VBM Super) often have commercial pressurestats, these simply arent necessary (or designed) for domestic use. Other than that, both large & compact italian machines generally have the same solid brass, copper and steel construction throughout. (A truely reliable machine is one that can be serviced!)

    Larger machines (like the VBM Super) provide more (almost unlimited) steam power, more water capacity and sometimes are easier to use & clean (better knob & wand placement).

    Compact HX Machines like the Diadema, Unico and VBM Junior were designed for the scenario you have described (its a pretty typical one for many households). Most HXs have a boiler around 1.5L and about 1400W of power. (Power is important to recharge the boiler, so the two go hand in hand.)

    In terms of "Running out of puff" -Yeah, a typical HX machine will run out of puff if you try to steam a large jug of milk for several coffees at once (like they do in the cafes).

    But the process at home is different - heres what I do*:
    For each coffee (flat white), it takes about 1 minute to make.
    20 seconds to grind the beans (while grinding, use free hand to pour milk for one coffee into the jug).
    Tamp & pull a shot. This takes 30 seconds.
    While thats going, you have time to steam the milk (which takes 20 seconds)

    Before you can regrind & tamp, the boiler will easily have replenished all the steam and youre ready for coffee #2... (or 3, or 4, or 5.......)


    Bottom Line? Buy the machine that you (or your partner) like the look of most! - and look out for a special price :)

    Im very happy with the VBM Jr. (& i dont think theres any exterior flaws?)


    *I have to qualify this post by saying im no expert so my method & rationale might not be perfect

  10. #10
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 6179777E7E6B120 link=1278462350/8#8 date=1278483452
    In terms of "Running out of puff"-Yeah, a typical HX machine will run out of puff if you try to steam a large jug of milk for several coffees at once (like they do in the cafes).
    Depends on what you mean by "typical" and "several".

    I find I have no need to steam for more than two coffees at a time at home anyway and the Expobar easily handles this followed by a few hot chocolates immediately after.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 362E2029293C450 link=1278462350/8#8 date=1278483452
    Im very happy with the VBM Jr. (& i dont think theres any exterior flaws?)
    Depends how fussy you are. The drip tray for example isnt exactly a tight fit, you could wiggle it with your hand and it moves side to side. And the VBMs are quite slab sided with relatively sharp edges compared to other machines. Are they flaws ? *Not necessarily but it depends how fussy you are on external finish. I am not knocking the VBM - I own one *- just pointing out something which could be perceived as a negative compared to another brand which might be a bit more curvy and tighter fitting. Basically in terms of external finish there are better machines out there. There are also worse machines out there.

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    All, thanks for the replies...

    When I mean compact, I mean for it to be narrow.. bench space is limited here, and depth doesnt really concern me as long as it fits depth wise on the bench which Im fairly certain most models will. My other half is concerned it will overcome the kitchen.. hence a narrow unit would be preferred. (remember happy wife, happy life)
    This is where VBM dominates. Its much narrower then the competition.

    Im not all that keen on the Splendor.. maybe its the retro-ness of the unit..

    I havent really considered the Isomacs.. are they up there performance wise with the VBM, diademas?

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Have to put my bit in here. We have a Bezzera and have never had problems with it running out steam. I make back to back coffee, every morning, for three people who have 200 - 250mls of milk in every cup and quite often the first person is ready for the second cup by the time the first round is finished. I cant fault the Bezzera and they have a model with a small footprint (narrow build). A well built, robust machine; no need for trade-offs - you can have it all ;) :)

  14. #14
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 2F2B35283F3439385C0 link=1278462350/11#11 date=1278497356
    I havent really considered the Isomacs.. are they up there performance wise with the VBM, diademas?
    Nope.

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    I am in a similar situation to you. Boss doesnt drink coffee, i make myself 2 lattes every morning for my drive into work, and probably 3 - 4 coffees on weekends.

    I had an Oscar in the place of pride (couldnt be on a timer, had a massive footprint, lovely machine but pure brute force). I decided on a Diadema Junior Plus Semi Auto and after nearly a month of use, I couldnt be happier.

    Its on a timer, so its preheated every morning before i get up. The shots it produces are consistently excellent. The microfoam produced from it is beyond excellent (it does take a little longer than the oscar did, but the qualaty is incredibly well worth it) - so far the maximum shots i have done in a single time is 6, and there was absolutely no problem, and massive compliments all round for the taste.

    Talk to Chris from Talk Coffee, friendly good advice. If you tell him your needs, he will inform you of the pros and cons.


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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Well, another thing holding me back from the Diadema Junior Plus was the look... It also wasnt my cup of tea (coffee!)... then this morning I was looking on a sponsers webpage, and I found the diadema Junior plus lever!!! To me, a much sexier looking bit of kit.. There is about a 300 dollar difference between the two machines and this may persuade me for the diadema junior lever..

  17. #17
    Coffee+carbon=heaven Mono's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Hi Switched I have no doubt that the Diadema or the VBM will fit the bill. It will/should come down to YOUR personal preference. Ill be very surprised if you can find {on CS} an unhappy owner of either machine :)

    Steve

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 0E2F242423394A0 link=1278462350/13#13 date=1278500340
    Quote Originally Posted by 2F2B35283F3439385C0 link=1278462350/11#11 date=1278497356
    I havent really considered the Isomacs.. are they up there performance wise with the VBM, diademas? *
    Nope.
    Ive never tried a VBM or diadema, but as far as I can tell, the only difference is 200w in the heating element? Which in this case wouldnt really matter since switched wants to use a timer?

  19. #19
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    1200W vs 1400W *Heater


    800ml vs 1.2L vs 1.3L boiler


    Do the maths and depending on the *what ya have... A 1200W may well out do a 1400W or a 1400W with a small boiler will get to temp much quicker..

    Then look at stability and throughput etc..

    Do not get misdirected. *Context and Fit for purpose *;)

    They will all make a great shot when used right... *

    Start up and stability time could be interesting. But what is a min or two.. Making 10 or 20 back to back... Any number of issues and the USER is still the biggest contender..


    If space is ya biggest concern.. REMAIN Focused... Does not matter how great it looks or performs; if it is a space hog and you have no room to move (work space / grinder is where / Tamping / Storage of Tampers and Jugs etc *Milk work area for some Art) then you will not win browne points with others in the house..

    Remain focused.. *

    PS. Want to buy a K6 grinder... Works well giggled like a schoolgirl

    Quote Originally Posted by 427661776C5B476B62626161040 link=1278462350/7#7 date=1278480623
    If "compact" is an important criterion, when making comparisons, make sure that you are measuring & comparing the same things ie footprints to footprints, OR body dimensions to body dimensions. Dont go comparing one models footprint, with anothers body dimension.
    So true... Remain FOCUSED...

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Thanks all, I REALLY appreciate the comments..

    I have a new question.. Could anyone see an issue with only having approx 5-10cm clearance between the top of the espresso machine and the bottom of the overhead cupboard? There isnt alot of clearance so I would struggle to get cups ontop..
    The two machines in question are approx 400mm high, - the bottom of the overhead cupboard is 460mm...

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    A_M
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 2A2E302D3A313C3D590 link=1278462350/19#19 date=1278581058
    I have a new question.. Could anyone see an issue with only having approx 5-10cm clearance between the top of the espresso machine and the bottom of the overhead cupboard?

    Cups... Who needs them on top... Thats for peer review and bling :D ;D ;)

    Besides ya would need to leave them up there for a while to get nicly hot and toss a cloth over as well....

    First coffee of a morning... Hot water will bring them to temp quick enough.....


    Ya plumbed in or NOT... If not, have you a fancy hand pump to fill teh tank ?




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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    THanks AM, so there wouldnt be an issue with ventilation?
    Cups? They go in the cupboard anyhow... Im too often accused of cluttering this house with fancy toys :)
    Hand Pump? Ive got a water jug and a tap, does that count? :D

  23. #23
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 71756B76616A6766020 link=1278462350/21#21 date=1278581792
    THanks AM, so there wouldnt be an issue with ventilation?
    Cups? They go in the cupboard anyhow... Im too often accused of cluttering this house with fancy toys :)
    Hand Pump? Ive got a water jug and a tap, does that count? :D
    Vent... What Hot air...

    How long ya going to leave it on ??

    What in teh cupboard above...

    What surfaces are close by.. Laminate or marble ? Many of teh glues used in kitchens do not like heat ;)


    [edit]Ive got a water jug and a tap[/edit]


    So... Every one has these...


    Ya jill ya jug and you walk over to teh machine and you do WHAT ???


    Lift teh top.. Open tank or a small filler hole ? Then ya try to pour and tilt the jug up...

    Can I come and watch... Oh... How easy is it to see in and know how full or OVER full it is ?

    Just a though ;)

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Right, so a jug and tap are out and a hand pump is in....

    Machine will prob stay on during weekends most of the day.... weekdays plan to have it on in the morning only before work, and back on in the evening (on a timer)..
    I guess the weight of these means it will be alot more harder to move the machine around to fill the tank.. My little krups right now is a breeze, but it doesnt have 30Kg of brass and stainless :)
    I go back to searching the forum for a solution to filling up the tank

  25. #25
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Depending on the sticky-ness of the feet, moving can be anything from too easy to too hard. Fortunately sticky-ness is easy to change--a thin round of manila folder will make it easier, a thin round of teflon will make it slippery.

    As far as intrusiveness goes, most people get used to counter-top machines pretty easily--unless you have a spartan layout. I went from a tiny La San Marco to a VBM Piccolo to a Diadema Junior EXTRA, and each step up was intrusive for a couple of weeks only. Now the Jr EXTRA looks normal.

    While size might be important, my preference was for a design I liked first and size second.

    Take the wife to a sponsors showroom and choose what you like.

    Greg

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    I got the tape measure out :D

    380mm = height from bench to top of lid on VBM (the bit that gets warm)

    470mm = distance from bench to my kitchen cabinet. The underside gets warm - just enough to melt chocolate (so not a problem).

    30mm = amount of free width i have on the bench when coffee machine, grinder and pizza stone are in use. (so width can be a factor)

    25mm = height of the feet. They could be unbolted, altered or even replaced with wheels. (but they slide easily enough)

    300mm = approx distance machine is slid out from under cabinet so reservoir can be removed for filling (what the hell is a hand pump?)

    20mm = distance from "fill" line to top of reservoir. (use kitchen tap to fill to this line)

    And a bonus figure....

    1600w = the same power as a 50cc scooter, or 5 hammer drills, or 2 electric lawnmowers, or two horses. (in other words, a lot!)


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    A_M
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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 627A747D7D68110 link=1278462350/25#25 date=1278662959
    300mm = approx distance machine is slid out from under cabinet so reservoir can be removed for filling (what the hell is a hand pump?)


    Well lets say you go and have a look at some of teh pics of my system for eg..

    About 50 to 100mm at best to teh edge of teh bench..

    Was 150mm of head space...

    Thus NO access to FILL.

    (Had like a breast pump and could fill with next to no hight... Ie. Jug > hand pump > Tank )

    Head space increased to approx 350mm... ::) (Dont ask)

    So now I can lift the lid / slide off and squeeze in a SS filter.. I then get a Jug of water and carefully fill. L/Hand holding teh top of teh tank to feel for wetness.

    [/QUOTE]

    20mm = distance from "fill" line to top of reservoir. (use kitchen tap to fill to this line)
    [/QUOTE]

    NOTE: As the tank is still in the machine and there is no clear or good visual access... It is easy to OVER fill and cause a flood..

    If you have ESP and can sense the 20ml, in the air tonight... Ya better go and chat to Phil Collins.

    The issue is that people often forget untill the last minute; what they will be doing and how. Thus planning the management of space or LACK of space is important.. Just ask and shop owner who works out his work flow and then finds he has over looked ONE little factor. It can bring the whole system crashing down.

    At home that could be teh wife cutting off all rights for some time. PS. And they never forget.


    So good planing, measure twice and keep teh wife on side.


    switched - Let us know how you go...

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    ^^ Absolutely right!
    Seems like we put a lot of effort in planning, for what is basically a glorified kitchen appliance

    But that $2.5k lump of shiny metal could be the cause for much joy..... or major frustration - devils in the details :)

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Gents it is with pleasure I announce I have done my hard earned on a VBM domobar Junior at Supreme Roasters. To all that have assisted with replies to my questions, i thank you.
    Now to wait by the front door. *:D

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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Congratulations and a great choice.

    I have the same machine which I bought in January and Im rapt with it and Im sure you will be to. I hope you match it with a good grinder.


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    Re: Compact HX machine.. Suggestions welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by 3C38263B2C272A2B4F0 link=1278462350/28#28 date=1280319259
    Gents it is with pleasure I announce I have done my hard earned on a VBM domobar Junior at Supreme Roasters. To all that have assisted with replies to my questions, i thank you.
    Now to wait by the front door. *:D
    Well done Switched, been following this thread with interest wondering which way you would jump, by all reports the VBM domobar Junior is a very good machine, and you certainly wont regret your choice of supplier, Roger at Supreme Roasters is one of the most helpful and switched (no pun intended) on retailers I have ever dealt with. ;)



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