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Thread: VBM Domobar junior/BFC Junior Plus/ECM Mechanika Slim

  1. #1
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    VBM Domobar junior/BFC Junior Plus Lever/ECM Mechanika Slim

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I have nailed my selection down to the above 3 machines. The first 2 have been around for quite awhile and the Mechanika slim is the new kid on the block. All 3 Manufactures have very good reputations. The finish/bling on the ECM and BFC ahead of the VBM, but all stainless frame is a plus for the VBM. Lots of discussion around about Stainless boilers versus Copper but the Slim has a Stainless group head also, any thoughts on this? Will be using a Everpure 4FCS water filter so should not have issues with either a Copper or a Stainless Boiler.
    Large 2.2lt boiler with 1200w element on the ECM, 1.45lt with 1600w VBM and 1.3lt with 1300w for the BFC. To me the VBM seems to strike the right balance here. I am a fan of the twin gauges on the ECM and VBM
    Our bench space would allow a larger machine but I don't need to go larger as I believe these 3 offer great performance for our needs.
    I like conventional knobs/valves rather than levers for steam and hot water.
    Not interested in PIDs etc.
    Rotary pump would be nice but realize they cannot fit in the smaller machines so happy with the Vibration pump setup.
    95% milk based coffees for my wife and I and will rarely make more than 4 coffees at any one time.
    Will be teamed with a very good Grinder.
    Hoping this will be the last Machine I need to purchase.
    Will be contacting the Site Sponsors for quotes after visiting a couple of the Sponsors stores here in Brisbane.
    Have I missed something that will help in my decision.
    Thankyou for any input.
    Maurice
    Last edited by Birkin7; 15th April 2018 at 01:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Hey there, I'm in the same boat as you with the sort of machine I'm looking to get.

    Have you also considered the Izzo Vivi, the Rocket Appartamento or anything in the Bezzera lineup?

  3. #3
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    Hi Horse, The Izzo is not on my radar as from what I can find it is not available in Brisbane. I know I can get it shipped up from down South without a problem but it is more the service/spare parts I am worried about. Also it has a PID and I am not really interested in this.
    The Apartmento I will be looking at in the next couple of weeks but it is not in the top 3 at the moment. This may change once I have given it a try.
    The Bezzera BZ 10 is great value at the moment but I like knobs not levers on the steam and water and also like the traditional E61 group head with the thermosyphon and lever rather than the BZ 10 electric element and switch/soleniod for group head. That's just my personal preference as Bezzera has a long manufacturing history and make some nice looking machines.
    Cheers

  4. #4
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    Hey Birkin7,

    What at did you end up going for? I’m in the same boat.

  5. #5
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    I brought the VBM Junior.
    I have replied to you in the ECM Mechanika Slim post.
    If you get a chance to look inside a VBM and a ECM it will give you some peace of mind in how well both machines are built.
    Maurice

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birkin7 View Post
    I brought the VBM Junior.
    I have replied to you in the ECM Mechanika Slim post.
    If you get a chance to look inside a VBM and a ECM it will give you some peace of mind in how well both machines are built.
    Maurice
    Hope your enjoying your machine. I ended up going for the ECM Mechanika Slim. What a fabulous piece of kit! I preferred the look and the larger boiler. Also the fact that the water tank is open and can be removed easily to fill. Not a fan of the Vibiemme tank with the little cap and hoses.

  7. #7
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    Great Machine I am sure you will enjoy the excellent coffee.
    Yes I am enjoying my machine, I am still keeping it very shinny.
    Cheers
    Maurice

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birkin7 View Post
    Great Machine I am sure you will enjoy the excellent coffee.
    Yes I am enjoying my machine, I am still keeping it very shinny.
    Cheers
    Maurice
    Haha, I know that feeling, buff out every finger print with the tea towel

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birkin7 View Post
    I am still keeping it very shinny.
    You kick it when it misbehaves?

    Like Zeppelin, I went the ECM Mechanika V route and love it, and like I have said recently, in that range it is pretty hard to make a choice that will produce poor coffee. Enjoy your VBM. I think my wife has started to settle down with the more dramatic appearance of the ECM compared with the old Silvia. At least, there have been no complaints at all about the coffee.
    Last edited by beensean; 7th September 2018 at 05:15 PM. Reason: better word

  10. #10
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    I've owned the VBM Junior and recently swapped to a ECM Mechanika V Slim,

    My impressions are that they are very close in terms of design however there are some differences:

    Compared to the VBM the ECM has:

    - A little bit wider (a few cms)
    - Slightly better fit and finish on exterior but similar overall quality
    - Has a painted steel chassis (internal) but VBM is stainless steel (= better)
    - Quieter vibe pump by a large margin. Probably due to the mount... so if you have a VBM and want it quieter, maybe look at modifying the mount?
    - More consistent steam power and stays around 0.9bar or better whereas the VBM did get quite low after a large latte or milk for 2 drinks.
    - Steam tap, valve and tip are very smooth to use ( but tip of VBM also good...ECM is just slightly better). VBM tap are not user friendly in a hurry...insufficient grip and too much rotation required to seal.
    - E61 Group is visibly a bit thicker (more metal?), and the shape is nicer (tapered).
    - E61 lever actuator is smoother and heavier, nicer operation
    - Reservoirs are about equal in volume; ECM is a bit squarer and maybe a bit easier to fill but requires 2 hands to lift up, VBM can be done 1-handed. VBM has a flexy hose but ECM has a plug/valve which is easier to use. (a filter can be attached via a hose)
    - Drip tray on VBM is larger volumetrically but is a 2-part unit that slides in and is slightly more difficult to remove & empty but easier to clean.
    - Larger/heavier portafilters, but they are nicer looking and they have the angle which is a good feature (if you use the double spout). However their edges are sharp so careful when locking into the group as I feel the sharp bits could scratch the chrome around the group!.
    - The factory-supplied filter baskets seem slightly nicer/better quality.
    - Feet are nicer and bigger (and height adjustable) VBMs had chrome that flaked off and they also left black residue when sliding on the bench. Not sure if ECMs will do the same after a few years.
    - I believe mine has a Stainless boiler and 1400w element. The boiler makes more sound while heating.
    - metal stamped logo badge vs vbm screenprinted/transfer (but not necessarly the same on all VBM models)

    - Coffee taste? Still too early for me to say! In a few weeks when I have everything dialled in , I'll report back.


    I think that's about it

  11. #11
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    Forgot to add a big point: Adjusting the pstat ont he ECM involves removing the drip tray and tweaking the valve with a screwdriver but on the VBM you have to unscrew the rear casing to access it. This was a big factor for me.

    Also, anyone thinking the VBM is maybe "too" slim and compromises ease of use? (eg wand and handle get in the way) - I did not find this to be the case...it was just as 'roomy' and in fact the guages up top are slightl easier to read on the VBM. Hot water spout/wand is shorter. VBM isn't great for hot water as the boiler is a little small and you get a Lot of steam. Americano/Long Black drinkers maybe look for a machine with a bigger boiler (and a quieter pump!)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    Forgot to add a big point: Adjusting the pstat ont he ECM involves removing the drip tray and tweaking the valve with a screwdriver but on the VBM you have to unscrew the rear casing to access it. This was a big factor for me.
    VBM must have changed this, on the one I recently fixed up the pstat is accessible through the top when the warmer tray is removed.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    Forgot to add a big point: Adjusting the pstat ont he ECM involves removing the drip tray and tweaking the valve with a screwdriver but on the VBM you have to unscrew the rear casing to access it. This was a big factor for me.

    Also, anyone thinking the VBM is maybe "too" slim and compromises ease of use? (eg wand and handle get in the way) - I did not find this to be the case...it was just as 'roomy' and in fact the guages up top are slightl easier to read on the VBM. Hot water spout/wand is shorter. VBM isn't great for hot water as the boiler is a little small and you get a Lot of steam. Americano/Long Black drinkers maybe look for a machine with a bigger boiler (and a quieter pump!)
    Are you sure? Adjusting the pstat on vbm junior could not be easier. just remove the cup warmer. Having owned both BFC junior/VBM junior I've found the pump on the VBM is a lot quieter, I suspect many of the issues raised here are only specific to the early models.


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    VBM must have changed this, on the one I recently fixed up the pstat is accessible through the top when the warmer tray is removed.
    Sorry you're right (I had too much caffeine!) it's the OPV (pump pressure) that's adjustable on the top of the ECM, and the VBM does have the pstat on top (I assume that's the sirai pstat shown in the pic with the yellow cap, and the earlier had the Mater version). Also it appears the reservoir is very different - in the earlier VBM junior it was an open-topped container that had a metal bar across the top. It deformed and rattled on my machine so I had to use rubber tape to quieten it.
    Not sure what else changed internally - potentially quite a lot. Did VBM heatwrap the boiler on the later version Juniors? I did mine DIY and it helped keep the rest of the machine internally cooler - very important in such a small chassis!!
    Making the pump quieter should be easier - if the mount is too firm, I would just drill some holes in it to make it softer.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    Sorry you're right (I had too much caffeine!) it's the OPV (pump pressure) that's adjustable on the top of the ECM, and the VBM does have the pstat on top (I assume that's the sirai pstat shown in the pic with the yellow cap, and the earlier had the Mater version). Also it appears the reservoir is very different - in the earlier VBM junior it was an open-topped container that had a metal bar across the top. It deformed and rattled on my machine so I had to use rubber tape to quieten it.
    Not sure what else changed internally - potentially quite a lot. Did VBM heatwrap the boiler on the later version Juniors? I did mine DIY and it helped keep the rest of the machine internally cooler - very important in such a small chassis!!
    Making the pump quieter should be easier - if the mount is too firm, I would just drill some holes in it to make it softer.
    Did VBM heatwrap the boiler on the later version Juniors? == Yes.




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