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Thread: My VBM experience

  1. #1
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    My VBM experience

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

    Well yesterday I finally got to join the ranks of VBM domobar lever (SS) owners. *Took a very large effort to come into work today, and not just stay at home pouring shots (poorly) * ;D

    A while ago I took up some of Chriss time (talk coffee) on a Saturday, when he should have been doing other value add things, like spending time with his family, asking silly questions about the machines and pouring shots on the demo machines he had set up. * With his advice, combined with my toying around, I set my heart on the VBM. *

    Then the wait started, and the 1001 inquiries I fired back to Chris (which he patiently answered every time). *I was in a position to get one in July, but then the house got burgled, and the coffee machine grand plan was put on hold.

    Turn to September, and spurned on by the notice that prices were going to rise, I called Chris last Thursday night (after hours mind you). *Turns out the only SS he had left was his demo; a good price was offered, and the deal was sealed.

    Well, yesterday lunchtime it turned up! *In terms of turn around times this is almost unbelievable in my opinion. *The machine was well packaged, and sitting on its own little pallet, very well protected. *I pulled it out, played with it, but alas couldnít sample the goods as me, sleep and coffee donít mix well at all.

    This morning, more playing, and after recalling the advice I got from Chris before about how to tamp and set up the shot, got a half decent shot (it had to do, as I had to get ready for work; blasphemy I know but sometimes these things happen).

    Impressions; firstly Chris could sell these things as brand new, and not as a demo model at a discounted price. *There is no marks, no dents, no nothing. *The machine was still wrapped in its protective plastic layers, so over 75% of the machine outside is as it was in the factory. *
    Heavy. *Very, very heavy.
    Big. *Very, very big. *It is basically about twice the size as the machine it is replacing (Gaggia classic).
    The shot; a long way from a god shot at this time, but I got completely different flavours from my shot this morning then I have ever had out of the beans I use. *My wife also commented on the change of flavours in her coffee as well; it also added a sweetness that was incredible. *No bitterness or issues with acidity which I was happy about, but the puck wasnít dry and as clean as it should be (all user error issues I might add). *I was surprised, as I wasnít expecting to get much, if any, variation in flavours, especially as my technique with the machine is pretty bad currently.

    Big thanks and raps to Chris for everything; his patience, information, experience and knowledge. *For anyone looking to step up to prosumer machines it is well worth having a play on the demo machines, as Chris has set up. *It may cost you some $$$ and time, but a quick cheap flight and a night in Melbourne (or Sydney) is well worth it in the long term. *Better to spend a little more now, then get the wrong machine and have to change over.

    Also a big thanks to the CS community, for the endless advice that they provide. *It is a really big help to newbies like myself getting into this stuff.

  2. #2
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Hi rampage, congrats on the new machine - your shots will get much better after a couple of weeks, likewise with steaming milk..

    Its certainly a serious piece of kit, and will serve you well as your skills improve (as are mine, slowly).

    Ive started modding mine already, lined sections of the interior panels with heat-resistant foam to reduce the noise from the vibe pump significantly. Also, placed strategically located bits of electrical tape on the inside of the wrap-around outer panel to prevent some metal-to-metal rattles.

    The cups on top are still rattling slightly, dunno what to do about this - yet ;)

    Mark

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    Re: My VBM experience

    ona rampage - sounds like a serious piece of metal that will help you to perfect your technqiue - just what a good machine should do.

    and mark - to prevent cup rattle, why not wrap each cup with "heat resistant foam" too ;)

    aaron

  4. #4
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: My VBM experience

    ona rampage

    You will be drinking great coffee in no time with a little patience and practice
    The VBM is a great machine
    I am pleased to hear that Chris looked after you as he also looked after me when I was buying my Macap grinder

    Best of taste
    KK

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    Re: My VBM experience

    [ch65279]Hi
    Thanks for sharing, Iím in the process of deciding what to purchase and the VBM in up near
    the top of the list. My wife is still a little worried about the size and is leaning towards the
    Diadema Splendor. But since I make the coffee it has been great to hear how happy you are.

  6. #6
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    Re: My VBM experience

    hey,

    I too, am looking at buying a VBM domobar lever, but have struggled to find quality advice on the VBM, it sounds like you recieved excellent service and info before your purchase, and i was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction so that I can recieve the same level of service as ona ramage experienced. I am located in Melbourne. thanks bargey :) :)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Bargey link=1220917215/0#5 date=1221971403
    hey,

    I too, am looking at buying a VBM domobar lever, but have struggled to find quality advice on the VBM, it sounds like you recieved excellent service and info before your purchase, and i was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction so that I can recieve the same level of service as ona ramage experienced. I am located in Melbourne. thanks bargey * :) :)

    Chris at Talk Coffee <<<<<<<<< sponsor area is your man

    KK

  8. #8
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Bargey link=1220917215/0#5 date=1221971403
    hey,

    I too, am looking at buying a VBM domobar lever, but have struggled to find quality advice on the VBM, it sounds like you recieved excellent service and info before your purchase, and i was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction so that I can recieve the same level of service as ona ramage experienced. I am located in Melbourne. thanks bargey * :) :)

    Hi Bargey- I assume that you mean the VBM DOmobar super if were in this price bracket? If so, we have stock as well as a demonstration machine on the bench.

    Why not make a time to come in and Ill be happy to pull some shots and run you over the machine..

    regards

    Chris

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    Re: My VBM experience

    Thanks for your quick replys. Chris, it is the VBM Domobar super that i am interested in.i will be in contact soon, ive checked out your site, and as KK said you are the man. Thanks and c u soon. bargey

  10. #10
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Yep Bargey he is the man. Take up some of his time, and then buy from him, and you will not be disappointed.

  11. #11
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Got my naked PF from di bartoli last night, and had fun doing some naked pours this morning (being careful of burns :-) . Very nice watching the pour out of the bottom of the PF, and also means I can now easily pour into a mug for my wifes coffee.
    Highly recommend getting one!

  12. #12
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Hi ona rampage,

    Glad to hear youve joined the club. Isnt it a great machine? I couldnt have been more pleased with mine.

    I recently swapped back from a bottomless portafilter to the double-spout while I had visitors, and I discovered I much prefer to use the bottomless. Love to look at that pour.

  13. #13
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    Re: My VBM experience

    There is something about having that naked PF on there as well....it is lighter, and more flexible (you can get a cup under there)....I dont know, just something particular about it I love.

  14. #14
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Its been just over 2 weeks now of replacing my sunbeam 6900 for a black VBM superlever from Chris @ talk coffee.
    I was amazed at the speed of service-Chris had the machine at my door in 24 hours (Sydney!) and I was pulling shots that were a quantam leap ahead of my sunbeam within my first session (admittedly after ditching about 6 shots) using a borrowed Mazzer to grind with. *Chris has been remarkably patient and helpful. *The complimentary Urban blend coffee was really fun to play with.

    Its been both exciting and daunting. *Exciting because I have regained my sense of looking forward to making the next cup (which Id lost on the sunbeam due to consistent and growing frustrations with the espresso quality of the sunbeam) and daunting because more is expected of me as a home barista.

    A few things to note in my first 2 weeks:
    Challenges
    1. One challenge is that I find it hard to get the steam wand doing microfoam- a lot of my efforts show little extension of the milk or too much foam that sits on top of the milk. *This is especially so with a 300ml jug. *
    2. I think my home roasts are exposed to greater scrutiny in this level of machine-thus creating an unhelpful variable at this stage
    3. the whole heat exchanger -temperature-flush thing has been freaking me out- is it too hot, is it too cold, why is it sour-is it my roast or the water? *But the articles on Homebarista.com have been helpful. *It does create another level of barista expertise.

    A few annoying things:
    1. water cut off- Ok I know you have to check the water level regularly but it seems silly to me that a little warning light isnt on these kind of machines (as it is on the sunbeam, I now appreciate that feature more! ) and there is no simple way to check the level except taking the lid off. *Being a machine that requires flushing, *I reckon a warning light that tells you the water is low is a feature that would be good to have. *I guess Ill learn to adapt and in time be aware of when its getting low during a session.

    2. my drip tray leaks through handle fasteners when it gets over half full.

    It is a beautiful machine, I just hope to live up to it.

    Any shared joys, frustrations or thoughts welcome, I hope that in weeks and months to come I can demonstrate progress. *

    Most important, the fun is back!

  15. #15
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    Re: My VBM experience

    1. One challenge is that I find it hard to get the steam wand doing microfoam- a lot of my efforts show little extension of the milk or too much foam that sits on top of the milk. *This is especially so with a 300ml jug.
    I also had difficulty. The best advice is to be gentle. Do not introduce as much air, and only introduce air in the first five seconds or so. The rest of the time is spent getting the swirl going and keeping it going. With the VBM, its a vertical swirl and not a whirlpool.
    *
    3. the whole heat exchanger -temperature-flush thing has been freaking me out- is it too hot, is it too cold, why is it sour-is it my roast or the water? *But the articles on Homebarista.com have been helpful.
    I have Erics thermometer adapter and use it e very pull. it really is a great toool an worth the investment.

    1. water cut off- Ok I know you have to check the water level regularly but it seems silly to me that a little warning light isnt on these kind of machines *and there is no simple way to check the level except taking the lid off.
    This was one of the complaints I have made a number of times. A slot cut in the case would have been nice, and then they could have put an LED in there to illuminate the reservoir. Having the light come on telling you than machine has just shut down due to low water level is no help when you have just lost the pull.

    2. my drip tray leaks through handle fasteners when it gets over half full.
    I never had that happen. Loosen the two little bolts and wrap some teflon tape up against the head of the bolts and tighten them back down.


  16. #16
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    Re: My VBM experience

    1. One challenge is that I find it hard to get the steam wand doing microfoam- a lot of my efforts show little extension of the milk or too much foam that sits on top of the milk. This is especially so with a 300ml jug.
    Visit this CS link and see post # 1

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1220959662

    KK

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    Re: My VBM experience

    Good news- milk extension is improving, following Chriss notes, I now hold the jug horizontal, no tilt and just use the slight angle of the steam wand.

    Also Koffee Kosmo kindly sent me some leather washers (and other alternatives) to deal with the leaking handle on the drip tray. I think the steady stream has been halted! Big thanks.

    Can anyone give me more info on erics thermometer ? ta


  18. #18
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Can anyone give me more info on erics thermometer ? ta
    The only thing I have on file is this PDF

    KK


  19. #19
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Hi Serenitynow, regarding the flush: the US data on home barista is not suited to our Aussie specd machines. Ours need a lot less flushing. Try 40-60ml after a 45 minute warmup, maybe up to 100ml after a longer wait. If it tastes burned, flush a bit more next time after warmup. If it tastes sour, flush less.

    After the flush, allow a brief recovery time as you grind, distribute, tamp and then shoot the shot. Dont shoot a shot straight after the warmup flush. If youre doing grind etc then shot, grind then shot, you dont need to do any more flushes.

  20. #20
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Theres Eric Ss file list here http://users.rcn.com/erics/ with order forms and info etc.

    And Intellidepth, fwiw the US data on the VBM super said it idles at 94C and requires no flush. Mine at home (aussie spec, naturally) idles at about 98C and usually requires a 150-200ml flush.

  21. #21
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Hi Sammus, out of interest whats your pressurestat set at? And what temp is the water directly coming out of the group near the showerscreen using a thermocouple DMM both pre and post your 200ml flush after a long warmup? Im interested as I recently had reason to start tweaking around with my machine and dont have erics adapter.

  22. #22
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    Re: My VBM experience

    I dont have a TC DMM to measure it... The pressurestat peaks at the top of the green on the dial (I think 0.9-1.1bar is the range over the cycles). I cant get numbers for the water temp at the screen. I think that huge hunk of brass does an admirable job though. While the coffee is unmistakable bitter and burnt with no flush or small (30-60ml) flush, Im hard pressed to tell the difference when making variations to a large (150-200ml) flush.. I havent the most trained or sensitive pallette I know of though I had a laugh. I was actually planning to pick up a dmm thermocouple in the near future, so Ill attempt to make some accurate measurements with that and let you know.

  23. #23
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    Re: My VBM experience

    I HIGHLY recommend the thermometer adapter that mounts in the brewhead by Eric S. here is why: I use the thermometer each time I flush. The amount needed to be flushed varies a LOT. As I turn on the brew cycle the temperature first rises and holds at around 209 F. or thereabouts. it then drops slowly for the first five degrees or so and then the drop increases. Without the thermometer it would be virtually impossible for me to know when to stop.

    So a flush of "X" seconds can be somewhat effective, for consistent results the thermometer is indispensable. Unless you have a need for the DMM, your $$ would be best spent on the basic adapter and digital thermometer mentioned. You can also get it with a thermocouple to read the temperature even more accurately.

  24. #24
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Hi again,
    thanks for those flushing posts.
    I agree with those suggestions. My experience is showing that if the machine is idle for say 1.5 hours then a flush of about 150-160 ml is needed. Then allow recovery (grind, dose tamp) before pulling first shot.

    I found that when I flushed say 180ml-200ml the shots had a sour edge at the back of the lower part of my tongue. So I started watching and listening to the initial flush (warm up flush) and I reckon you can hear the bubbling-superheated water noise abate at about 150ml in the above scenario. If watching from below (dont burn your eye!) you can see the boiling bubbles coming out of the shower screen cease and a more natural flow commence at 150ml. So far I have found it easy to flush too much, so perhaps erring the other side of 150ml is the go?

    But if its only been on for 40minutes, then I agree, much less of a flush is needed.


  25. #25
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Hi Randy, what diameter is your thermosyphon?

    BTW Ive downloaded your VBM manual, and its excellent material. I highly recommend it to new users, and for those of us (me) who cant remember which way to turn the brew pressure screw and the pressurestat screw. The diagrams, combined with having the cover off my VBM, have given me a much better understanding of the mechanics of the machine. Thanks.

  26. #26
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    Re: My VBM experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Intellidepth link=1220917215/20#24 date=1224391122
    Hi Randy, what diameter is your thermosyphon?

    BTW Ive downloaded your VBM manual, and its excellent material. I highly recommend it to new users, and for those of us (me) who cant remember which way to turn the brew pressure screw and the pressurestat screw. The diagrams, combined with having the cover off my VBM, have given me a much better understanding of the mechanics of the machine. Thanks.
    I do not remember the diameter of the thermosyphon- I would have to open the thing up and measure it...

    Thank you so much for the kind comments concerning the VBM manual. I am quite proud of that work. I am very glad that you found the manual useful as well as educational. I have always felt that understanding the process as well as the tools can be helpful, and my teaching background comes in handy in that respect. I think it shows in the Hottop manual as well. Unless you do that sort of work it is difficult to understand what goes into such a thing when you work with a staff of none. The work is not only (somewhat) profitable, but a labor of love as well.




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