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Thread: Upgrade from a VBM Domobar Junior (HX) to a Bezzera / ECM - or ?

  1. #1
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    Upgrade from a VBM Domobar Junior (HX) to a Bezzera / ECM - or ?

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

    I think it's time for an upgrade. My knowledge on machines is a bit dated...I bought mine 9 years ago.

    I've been looking over the features of current models (especially Bezzera cos I have heard positive things...and I like their snake logo :P ) ....but I have no idea if these things will actually be useful to me:

    - Actively-heated group (Bezzera).
    - PID (do people who have them use them regularly?)
    - Dual boilers (more to go wrong?)
    - Rotary pump (I assume this is much quieter and I can plumb it in at a later date- any other advantage?)
    - Stainless steel boiler (ECM machines advertise this...do they last longer than copper?)
    - Commercial-grade pstat and other parts (more robust or just pricier to replace?)
    - Bigger boiler of 2.2L or more (will I notice much difference coming from a 1.45L?)

    My useage is 1-2 coffees a day and a few extra on weekends, almost all Flat Whites. I have a Mazzer Mini-E grinder . I like a quick morning routine without a lot of flushing etc but I don't mind spending an hour or two fine tuning it every few months or when I change beans.

    I don't have a specific budget but I guess I just want to know what are the important features that really make a difference in my situation?
    Bezerra Magica or ECM Mechanka V slim HX look reasonable in spec and price. The Mitica HX has the rotary pump and PID but it's quite a bit more money!

    Cheers for any help!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Depends on you budget but the recently released Profitec Pro 600 would probably be a good fit.

    The Actively-heated Bezzera group has been discussed at length here if you search but I seem to remember a thread that discussed modifications to stop it overheating the group on a Strega. Just found the link -http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...ra-strega.html

    PID on a dedicated brew boiler will give more precise control on Brew Temperature than a HX machine. Dual boilers probably cost a little extra to maintain but those with PID control don't have a Pstat to worry about. Stainless Steel boilers are less prone to scale build-up.

    Larger boilers on a Hx machine may help with temperature stability but on a dual boiler are only needed if you constantly make multiple coffees (say more than 2-4 at a time). The larger boiler will also take longer to heat-up. That's why the Profitec Pro 600 sounds a good fit as it has a 0.75L Brew and a 1L Steam boiler both in Stainless Steel.

    If you want to stick with Hx the Profitec 500 (now with PID) has been discussed at length here and seems to have a happy group of users. Won't give you the same level of control over brew temp as the Profitec 600 but you may not want or need that.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    Stainless Steel boilers are less prone to scale build-up.
    But more prone to stress/pit corrosion if proper maintenance of water quality isn't maintained... Chlorine and Chlorine Compounds removal.

    Mal.
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    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    But more prone to stress/pit corrosion if proper maintenance of water quality isn't maintained... Chlorine and Chlorine Compounds removal.

    Mal.
    Not sure if I remember correctly but I thought I was once told that at the low levels chlorine is present in the water supply, it dissipates fairly quickly if left to stand for a short while (In the reservoir not the boiler).

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    No mate, that's a furphy...
    It has to be actively removed using appropriate filtering as the simplest option.

    Mal.
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    The Bezzera models you're looking at (Magica, Mitica) are E61 group heads. Not the Bezzera active heating group.

    Main difference between the Bezzera Magica and ECM Mechanika Slim are toggles for steam/water on the Bezz vs regular taps on the ECM. ECM is also smaller. Otherwise specs are very similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    If you want to stick with Hx the Profitec 500 (now with PID) has been discussed at length here and seems to have a happy group of users. Won't give you the same level of control over brew temp as the Profitec 600.
    According to this review the Pro 500 PID has stable brew temp and thatís a very nice / amazing achievement for an HX.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ps4JfqRPuI

    The main reason for going to a Pro 600 is the extra steam pressure and maybe some aesthetics. Eg, the strong man arms
    Grillsy

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    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillsy View Post
    According to this review the Pro 500 PID has stable brew temp and that’s a very nice / amazing achievement for an HX.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ps4JfqRPuI

    The main reason for going to a Pro 600 is the extra steam pressure and maybe some aesthetics. Eg, the strong man arms
    Grillsy
    The Profitec 500 PID will hold a more consistent temperature in the service boiler compared to a Hx machine with a Pstat and no PID. As Brew Water is heated by the heat exchanger which passes through the service boiler, a Hx with PID allows a slightly better degree of control and adjustment for the temperature of water in the service (Steam) boiler. This by default has an effect on the temperature of brew water in the heat exchanger (as well as steam pressure in the Service Boiler) but isn't as accurate or easily controlled as PID on a dedicated Brew Boiler in a dual boiler machine like the Profitec Pro 600 (or a comparable E61 Single Boiler PID such as an ECM Classika). I think the design of the thermosyphon system in a Hx machine is also more critical to avoid overheating the E61 grouphead. Profitec seem to be one of the better designed machines in this regard.
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 19th September 2018 at 10:37 AM.

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    I see that 9 years havent provided any more definitive answers on PID vs Pstat, Active vs E61 and HX vs DB
    Id be keen to see some actual test results/data logs but it does seem the HX e61 single boiler machine is the most reliable setup, and the PID doenst add a whole lot. I might invest in a thermocouple to help me get consistent temps (flushing routine and machine settings etc.) Unfortunatley i cant see anywhere in NZ that hires out a Scace but that would be so handy for domestic folks like me

    I dont think I can get the Profitec locally but i can get the ECM Mechanika IV and the V Slim. Same internals???

    Currently I'm leaning towards the Mechanika V Slim as it seems to be a slightly newer model with a few bonus features on the Mechanika IV... plus it's slimmer (WAF).
    Bezzer Magica is an older model now..might be fine but I dont see it being better than the Mechanika - thoughts?

    For chrlorine water filters (just starting to read about this) , would this type of thing work? (small cartrdige attached to inlet hose and sitting within the reservior).
    https://www.bunnings.co.nz/stefani-c...iers_p05093644
    This means I wont need an underbench or on-bench unit (which i dont have space for).

    Cheers all!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    I see that 9 years havent provided any more definitive answers on PID vs Pstat, Active vs E61 and HX vs DB
    I'm currently rebuilding / modifying an old Izzo E61 machine as a test bed for some experiments, it would be a simple matter to rig it with both Pstat and PID control of the boiler (switchable) and measure any difference in brew temperature at the group: I'm putting in onboard pressure and temperature measurement at the group already.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skelly View Post
    I see that 9 years havent provided any more definitive answers on PID vs Pstat, Active vs E61 and HX vs DB
    Can't agree with this statement. All things being equal a well designed domestic PID Hx should hold Service boiler Temp in a narrower temp band than a PStat Hx. Should also be more durable long term.

    Hx with PID won't ever match temp accuracy of equivalent DB PID machine. Have spoken at length with someone who has done extensive Scace testing/tuning on multiple brands and models, not just the one. This was a statement which they made.

    I'd imagine there isn't alot of Scace test reporting, especially negative, due to commercial considerations and liabilty issues.

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    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    I am not sure that the argument was ever about boiler temperature: it is obviously the case that a PID will hold boiler temperature to a much better tolerance than will a typical pressurestat (but then so will a $20 non-PID temperature controller, since the system is single ended).

    What I, at least, am not certain about is whether this translates into meaningfully better temperature control at the group. It is entirely possible that with an Hx there are enough other sources of variability that tightening up the boiler deadband won't do very much.

    Yes, BTW I recognise that this confirms your point that tight control of a dedicated brew boiler is the best way to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    I'm currently rebuilding / modifying an old Izzo E61 machine as a test bed for some experiments, it would be a simple matter to rig it with both Pstat and PID control of the boiler (switchable) and measure any difference in brew temperature at the group: I'm putting in onboard pressure and temperature measurement at the group already.
    That sounds amazing...I plan to buy a machine this week but i would be very interested in retrofitting a PID to the ECM Mechanika V Slim.

    I've read that the temp/pressure curve of a well-designed HX is quite beneficial to extract flavour from coffee, even though it's not a consistent/flat curve. Not sure if that's just sales/marketing or proper evidence.

    That said - whatever deadband a pstat must be a limitation in the design of any machine (or it could be so easy to account for in the HX water path).

    Same with the bezzera actively heated group - adding elements cant be a bad thing but some people report that the flavour is "thinner" or "one dimensional" compared to E61. *shrug*

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    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    I am not sure that the argument was ever about boiler temperature: it is obviously the case that a PID will hold boiler temperature to a much better tolerance than will a typical pressurestat (but then so will a $20 non-PID temperature controller, since the system is single ended).
    This is one take on the PID v Pstat discussion I came across.

    https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/b...1/pid-vs-pstat

    and another CS thread on Hx PID

    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...on-pid-hx.html

  15. #15
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    THANKS to all for your valuable comments and advice.
    Results are in!

    After a mountain of research I narrowed my choice down to two machines, and purchased one today.
    (No profitec available to me; only ECM, Bezerra & Lelit)
    The two were:
    1) ECM Mechanika V Slim (HX, pstat)
    2) Lelit Bianca (DB, PID *AND* pressure profiling group)

    Each machine "best in class" but in two different classes, I would say.
    To me the Bianca represents the "go all in" approach versus the ECM's "play it safe." My decision really could have gone either way...a coin flip would have been useful.

    I picked up the ECM today. My choice was ultimately based on:
    - Simple, robust design, less to go wrong, cheaper servicing & parts.
    - Cheaper by almost half - which leaves room for future coffee equipment adventures.
    - Smaller footprint; never a bad thing (although I have to say the bianca also has a very nice "bench presence").
    - I drink flat whites and want a simple routine that my wife can't mess up; so really the nuances of profiling and fine tuning are possibly a bit overkill.
    - The temp surfing process doesnt worry me at all.
    Both have incredible ergonomics, style, useability (eg adjustable brew pressure on the top of the machine, drip tray and reservior)

    This evening I've only had time to pull 2 shots so far on my new Mechanika. Earlier today I just swapped my Mini E burrs to SJ E and so needed to dial in grind and volume. With the free 2kg pack of generic italian beans that came with the machine I was expecting to pull 20-50 shots to get settings all lined up.

    -> 1 sink shot just to "prime" the machine and get the grinder roughly dialled in...(didnt bother weighing it). Immediately noticed how quiet the vibe pump is. Bit of steam from the group for 4 seconds or so but it settled quickly. Brew pressure settled on about 9.8bar during the shot.
    -> 2nd shot was intended to be a sink shot, but it looked so good I decided to turn it into a flat white. 40% crema, great colour and body, perfect volume. Pure luck?

    So then I tried steaming milk...Wow! Perfect glossy microfoam on the first try! Felt very natural, too. Pressure held well at 1.1bar. Rotary knobs have very nice flow control and speed (much easier than VBM's version..but not as quick as the Bianca's trick "on-off" spinning knobs.) It was even nice and quiet - not sure how- a good tip design, I guess.

    And the result was a very tasty flat white. Better than a large proportion of flat whites I made on my old VBM Domobar Jr with expensive beans, in fact.
    More testing (with good beans) tomorrow.
    This feels like a definite upgrade to my old VBM domobar junior so I'm happy about that.

    sidenote: SJ grinder burrs are much faster and fluffier than Mini-E originals. I'm not surprised by that.
    another sidenote: a 20 gram dose of robusta blend is not something I'd recommend at 9:30pm, unless you plan to attend a rave or compete in le mans.

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    In it's new home
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