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Thread: Which HX machine for $2000 - $2500? Rocket, Isomac, Expobar pro's and con's?

  1. #1
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    Which HX machine for $2000 - $2500? Rocket, Isomac, Expobar pro's and con's?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I'm finally getting around to purchasing a new machine!

    I'm pretty set on either the Rocket Appartamento or the Isomac Tea Due.
    Mainly wondering if the extra $500 is worth it for the Rocket or is the Isomac in the same class?

    Other options I that seem to fit the bill are the Expobar office Leva or La Povoni Cellini Premium E61.

    Any other suggestions would be great, considering $2500 is my absolute max, wanting to pick up the Isomac on sale for $1900 really!
    I manly make latte's and caps about 4 - 6 a day.

    I use a Compak K3 touch with beans from Red Bean Cafe down the road (freshly roasted)

    My questions are...

    Are they all relatively similar build quality? I would like it to last 10 years or so and feel solid.

    Which are the loudest? I know about vibration pumps being louder than rotary. But don't think i can afford them!

    Which is the easiest or cheapest to service in Melbourne? Or best support base?

    Any major downfalls of any particular unit?

    I am impatient, and don't like a long process, I will be using timers but are any significantly faster or slower?

    And any advice or feedback from owners of these machines would be great!

    Thanks,
    Angus

  2. #2
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gusman View Post
    I'm finally getting around to purchasing a new machine!

    I'm pretty set on either the Rocket Appartamento or the Isomac Tea Due.
    Mainly wondering if the extra $500 is worth it for the Rocket or is the Isomac in the same class?

    Other options I that seem to fit the bill are the Expobar office Leva or La Povoni Cellini Premium E61.

    Any other suggestions would be great, considering $2500 is my absolute max, wanting to pick up the Isomac on sale for $1900 really!
    I manly make latte's and caps about 4 - 6 a day.

    I use a Compak K3 touch with beans from Red Bean Cafe down the road (freshly roasted)

    My questions are...
    The only ones who could offer experience based advice on all those machines are those who sell them . If you are based in Melbourne, you will be able to visit quite a few shops/ cafes that range some if not all machines on your short list. They may even advise about machines you haven't considered. The main thing is you get to look at and demo those machines. You could also try the Quote Form
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    Don't buy an unmodified Tea.

    They run super hot, and at 12+Bar. The pump microswitches are also flaky as.

    I know of a business which used to modify them and they were then not bad, but nobody wanted to cover the $$$ for the mods. They stopped selling them.

    Expobar- agricultural but also requires mods to get the best of it (better than the Tea). Appartamento, better than both of them. The Pav I have no experience but companies which steal the designs of other companies sheet me to tears.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    Don't buy an unmodified Tea.

    They run super hot, and at 12+Bar. The pump microswitches are also flaky as.

    I know of a business which used to modify them and they were then not bad, but nobody wanted to cover the $$$ for the mods. They stopped selling them.

    Expobar- agricultural but also requires mods to get the best of it (better than the Tea). Appartamento, better than both of them. The Pav I have no experience but companies which steal the designs of other companies sheet me to tears.
    I've recently rebuilt a Isomac Tea can't comment on the life of the microswitch what I will say though is the OVP is adjustable so reducing it from 12bar is easy from what I understand most retailers will set it for you before shipping. I fitted the 2.5mm Teflon Gigleur which is my understanding that all new versions of the machine come with this fitted (Maybe a Brass one) this fixes the running hot problem.

    Gusman with the above said it would seem the Rocket has a better reputation I can't comment on that machine I've not owned one. I don't think you will make a mistake either way.

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    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    At 10 years (+), $500 comes out to $1 a week. Do you appreciate using a machine with a high-end finish? If so go the Rocket. If not get hands on with them both and decide in the flesh. What's your location? Trying them out in person is highly beneficial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoggy42 View Post
    I've recently rebuilt a Isomac Tea can't comment on the life of the microswitch what I will say though is the OVP is adjustable so reducing it from 12bar is easy from what I understand most retailers will set it for you before shipping. I fitted the 2.5mm Teflon Gigleur which is my understanding that all new versions of the machine come with this fitted (Maybe a Brass one) this fixes the running hot problem.

    Gusman with the above said it would seem the Rocket has a better reputation I can't comment on that machine I've not owned one. I don't think you will make a mistake either way.

    Thanks for your feedback, I had a look at the Profitec pro and La pavoni Cellini today, Profitec is nice but still thinki I'll go with the Rocket!

    Hopefully get to look at one this week and do some more comparisons.

    Cheers!

  7. #7
    Member Martino's Avatar
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    I have an ECM Synchronika, a cousin to the Profitec line and can speak to the fact that this machine will outlive me and most of the common world, I suspect Profitec will also. However, the main reason I'm chiming in here is that there is another topic here on this forum that you might want to read before making a decision because there are a couple educational posts that I think you should read. Also, Jet-black espresso talks about an Hx machine that does not need a cooling flush before extraction, well at least not the PID version of it and he said it was the Lelit Mara 62T, there is a link to it in the post. Personally, I am not a 100% believer but suppose it could be true but maybe only under certain conditions, basically I have to see it before I believe it :-) That said, its still a good post for you to read.

    Just go here --> https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...ne-advice.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martino View Post
    at least not the PID version of it and he said it was the Lelit Mara 62T, there is a link to it in the post. Personally, I am not a 100% believer but suppose it could be true but maybe only under certain conditions, basically I have to see it before I believe it :-) That said, its still a good post for you to read.
    PID controlled or P/stat, makes no difference as it is more to do with properties of thermodynamics than the method of control used...

    Mal.
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    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gusman View Post
    ...........I had a look at the Profitec pro and La pavoni Cellini today, Profitec is nice but still thinki I'll go with the Rocket!
    A review of the Profitec 500 PID with some Scace info included.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ps4JfqRPuI

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    I've had my Profitec Pro 500 PID for about 1 week now. I can confirm that no cooling flush is needed before extraction. I'm pulling lovely shots with this machine (pic below is a shot using Jetblack's 'Royal' blend).
    IMG_4981.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
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    Member Martino's Avatar
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    Of course you are pulling shots but what is the temp of the water being used for those shots?

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    The PID is factory set at 120c

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    Member Martino's Avatar
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    Right, and that's way too hot for brewing coffee, that is the temp of the steam boiler. What is the temp of the water that is being used to brew your coffee if you are not doing a cooling flush?

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    With the PID set at 120C, the brew temp is around 93C.

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    Member Martino's Avatar
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    Did you actually measure it to be 93 without a cooling flush yourself?

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    No. Going by mouthfeel, it is absolutely not at all too hot. I'll test it next time with a thermometer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlecinOz View Post
    No. Going by mouthfeel, it is absolutely not at all too hot. I'll test it next time with a thermometer.
    Ok, thanks, I'm very interested in what the temp is without a cooling flush. It can be hard to measure though but give it a few tries to see what it is right at the group head. If you are drinking straight espresso and you brew it at 120 or 115 or 110, etc, its not going to taste its best. If you are making a latte/cap, you may or may not notice it, especially if you put any flavoring in it. By the time the coffee gets into your cup it may very well be around 93 or 90 or 87 so when you drink it, you may not notice the temp but that doesn't mean its being brewed at 93. I know with my brother in laws ECM Mechanica Slim, when he does a cooling flush the water exits the brew group spitting and sputtering for a few seconds till it cools down, then he puts his portafilter in and make the coffee.

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    I see. When I pull the lever, I get no 'steam flash' or spluttering. To me, this is a good indication that the water coming out of the brew head is not too hot. I'll need to get my hands on a good thermometer to get a precise measurement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    A review of the Profitec 500 PID with some Scace info included.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ps4JfqRPuI

    Cheers, I'm leaning towards the Profitec 500 PID now. They seem very tidy inside and out. better and more modern design inside than the Rocket it appears. The Profitec apparently is the quietest?

    The Expobar also seems like a good value choice. Any warning on these classics?

    A also found these comparisons helpful.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_ZjP2FxO-w

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GUy3ZGfzT4&t=192s

    I'll be looking at the Expobar Leva, Apartamento, Di Bartoli Lumina
    and Profitec 500 pid this week and hopefully decide! You can get different colours in the rocket inserts now, and a matt black version of the Profitec.

    The ECM/Di Bartoli seem great, just don't love the look as much. Any good reviews?

    I think it will come down to the loudness, build quality vs budget.

    Thanks for all your help. I'll update you all as I go and share my pro's and con's.

  20. #20
    Member Martino's Avatar
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    I don't think you can go wrong with either the Profitec or the Di Bartoli Lumina, they are both made by the same company. ECM makes the Lumina which comes to Oz via Di Bartoli. Expobar is a more basic, less frills machine out of Spain but does a good job as well. I own an ECM and so does my brother in law, they are built like tanks, will outlive us and they work great and are very consistent. I recommend a PID machine and one with a shot timer built in. You may think you've got a handle on brew time but I can tell you that even without anyone around to distract you, when you are frothing milk, you sometimes lose tract of how long your shot has been pulling. Its nice to have a timer running that auto turns on as you lift the brew lever.

    The Rocket Apartamento was not on my short list when I started looking, I didn't like how the boiler pressure relief was just open to the inside of the machine, I didn't it want the potential of it spurting water inside there. I also didn't like the silicone water hose going into the water reservoir, they're messy and the reservoir opening was small. I mean I know this is personal stuff, but it is what it is. I also didn't care for the round hole design on the sides no matter what color you got. I wanted that classic Italian look.

    I have been told that a cooling flush is not necessary with the Profitec 500 PID. True or not, I don't know. I understand the design of a Hx and they all need cooling flushes so why doesn't the 500? When it comes to money, I think a lot of people focus too much on this and make bad decisions. These level of machines last a very long time and are easily rebuildable when needed. So lets say you buy a $2,000 machine because you didn't want to pay $2,500 for the one you really wanted. That $500 difference over a 10 year span of time is only $50/year or 96 cents per week. Can you think of anything you spend money on that costs more than 96 cents per week? Yeah, just about everything. Heck, I can't even go to the cafe and get a decent espresso for less than $2.

    Make sure you buy from a reputable store, one that sells, services, gives free phone and email support and whose people are pleasant to deal with. You want to be able to call and talk to their service people directly if you have to. These machines are heavy and cost a lot to ship so you will want a company who will support you such that diagnosis can be done over the phone or email and parts can be send to you instead of you having to sent your machine to them.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martino View Post
    . I understand the design of a Hx and they all need cooling flushes so why doesn't the 500?
    You seem very keen on telling us this. I owned a Diadema Reale for 7 years, which never needed a cooling flush (I tried every now and then just out of curiosity....didn't seem to make any difference that I could tell). It was sold by a reputable local supplier (Cosmorex) who calibrate each of their machines prior to sale, and have them running b/w 0.9 bar and 1.1 bar.

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    Yeah, I am, I'm a "seeing is believing" person. I have seen Hx machines dispense (in a cranky sort of way - spitting and sputtering) water (no portafiler installed) and have measured that first bit of water to be well over 215F (101C). Yes you can in fact make espresso at any temp you want, the machine will do it. However, if you want to get the best from your beans, and I assume we all do which is why we spend the money on expensive grinders, calibrated tampers, scales and machines, then why would you not want to know the your coffee is being brewed at the proper temp?

    Somehow, the machine has to bring the water temp down from boiler temp of around 130C to 93ish at the group head filter. I think most Hx owners just assume that the machine and its design will somehow do it but I bet only a few actually try to get some repeatable temp numbers in order to know their machine can do it and is set up properly. Know what I mean? We take it for granted because of a spec or the price we pay or that's what the sales person said. If you just can't get happy about the taste of espresso from your machine, I think its easy to blame the grind, tamping, beans, etc.

    I like to know that I am getting what I am supposed to get and then I can play around/experiment. This also gives me a baseline by which I will know if something has gone wrong with my machine. I've also watched a lot of educational videos on Hx machines from the stores that sell them, they perform the cooling flush. My brother in law has an ECM Mechanika Slim, it needs a cooling flush if its been sitting unused for a short while.

    As time marches one, maybe there are some Hx machines that don't need it but I will not simply take someones word unless they show test results. Anyway, yeah, that's me :-)
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    Mark at WLL talked about the the Pro 500 PID and temp stability. I'm not an expert on these things, but the design of Profitec/ECM e61 thermosiphon and HX tuning eliminate the need for cooling flushes. In the video, he might have been talking about back-to-back shots. Mark is quick to answer questions in the comments under his videos, so you might want to ask him. Here is a thread from another espresso-blog on this topic: https://www.home-barista.com/espress...ng-t50574.html

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    Just goes to show that attempting to force your views on someone in another country half way around the world is a futile exercise. Well-tuned machines can and do offer terrific temperature stability across multiple shots. I have seen it and verified it with a Scace device. As for US 110V machines? Don't know, don't care.

    No need for any further across the ditch willy length comparisons IMHO. They're not relevant to Australian stocks and other importers.

  25. #25
    Member Martino's Avatar
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    Nope, no view enforcement here, just me and what I believe in. Anyone can do whatever they want, they have to live with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martino View Post
    Nope, no view enforcement here, just me and what I believe in. Anyone can do whatever they want, they have to live with it.
    Yes- so given that you have no experience of Australian spec. equipment, you have no idea.
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    Member Martino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    Just goes to show that attempting to force your views on someone in another country half way around the world is a futile exercise. Well-tuned machines can and do offer terrific temperature stability across multiple shots. I have seen it and verified it with a Scace device. As for US 110V machines? Don't know, don't care.
    Right, this is what I'm saying, you have to see it for yourself and not simply take the word of others. I see you did that too.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gusman View Post
    Cheers, I'm leaning towards the Profitec 500 PID now. They seem very tidy inside and out. better and more modern design inside than the Rocket it appears. The Profitec apparently is the quietest?
    They are renowned for being among the quietest of the vibration pump machines due to the pump mounts they use and how the piping is routed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gusman View Post
    I think it will come down to the loudness, build quality vs budget.
    The Profitec Pro 500 PID definitely ticks the first 2 boxes. As far as budget goes it may be worth considering which of the machines will be in demand on the used market and hold their resale value better. I'd suggest the 3rd box is then also ticked.

    My opinion only but there are plenty user reviews out there including here on CS and on the HomeBarista site out of the UK which uses the same voltage machine as we do. Alot of the Profitec 500 reviews are of the earlier non-PID model but there is also info on the later PID model.

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    Thanks for your help. After some good advice, I'm now pretty set on the Di Bartoli re- branded discontinued ECM Mechanika.

    It seems like great value and I like the look slightly more with the black gauge's and toggle's for steam and milk.

    Only thing is, no PID and possible extra hassle of a cooling flush. And a tiny little bit louder due to plumbing design. (same pump mounts)

    I make milk drinks, not sure if i'd really utilise the PID that much in the end? And a cooling flush doesn't really bother me.

    Di Bartoli are in Sydney, I'm in Melbourne.

    I can get the Profitec Pro 500 for $2900 from Segafredo around the corner. The Luminar For $2475 but still with Melbourne service options ect.

    I would like to keep the budget under the 2.5 but is $425 worth it just for PID and (maybe) no cooling flush?

    Any advice or warnings about interstate purchase's?
    I'm getting mighty excited for this one New back yard deck and a new machine for my 30th!

    Cheers!

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    Gusman honestly I wouldn't worry about the cooling flush... I'll come back to that though.

    This thread has been quite interesting mostly because I disagree with Martino... I understand where he is coming from and I would love a dual boiler with PID's truth be told I don't really know why I want one what can I say the upgradeitus is strong. Anyway Martino made some interesting points which I've spent the last couple of days looking in to. The main one being needing a cooling flush because of HX machines steaming and spitting because they get so hot while sitting so I have the Isomac Tea II which is well known for this as I mentioned earlier in the thread I repaired it I bought it in need of TLC so when I repaired it I fitted the 2.5mm
    Gigleur which is meant to fix that problem I've never had it spitting and steaming not even close so I've been thinking is my machine not running hot enough recently there was another thread talking about the pressurestat dead-band watching my boiler gauge it was clear mine wasn't right so I have some other machines I swapped one that problem solved stronger steam but still no spitting. So what next adjusted the pressurestat to 1.5 bar left the machine sit for and hour still no spitting I can't get it to, to be fair I don't have an accurate way of testing the water temp coming from the group but it's not boiling. While I'd like to know it's still not a big deal my coffee is the best it's ever been right now I don't know what I'd gain from a PID which due to the design of most HX machines isn't going to make any real difference and I don't really see my brew being much better with a dual boiler.

    Now back to the cooling flush I've always done it not a problem just part of the process takes a few seconds uses a small amount of water. That's a first world problem if ever I heard one.
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    My previous machine was a Rancilio Silvia V3. I can say that the Pro500 is MUCH quieter--and it's not even close. We have a young toddler who still needs his afternoon naps, and the Pro 500 does not disturb him. The vibration pump is on the quiet side, as advertised. Not all e61s are equal. Profitec/ECM have their own e61 thermosiphon design, which makes the cooling flush unnecessary. I leave the machine on and have not experienced spitting and hissing when pulling a shot after its been sitting idle. I've read elsewhere that, if anything, a 'warming flush' is needed. In anycase, the PID keeps the boiler temp stable (120C). As far as I can tell (no spitting, and not excessively hot to taste), the brew temp seems to be in the correct range (in the 90sC). I have not used a thermometer to find out for sure, but I'm not all that motivated to check either, as the brew temp seems completely fine to me.
    Last edited by AlecinOz; 1 Week Ago at 03:23 PM. Reason: Just correcting a couple of misspelled words
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    Hi gusman

    I’ve got a Lumina and find the only time I need a small cooling flush (100ml maybe) is when it’s been idle for 1/2 hour plus. I have mine on a timer so is one for 45+ minutes before I have my morning coffee. I use the flush water to heat portafilter and cups better so it’s not wasted.

    personal suggestion save the $425 and put in the bank for when you want to upgrade the grinder, it will happen.

  33. #33
    Member Martino's Avatar
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    Gusman,
    If all posts were of the same opinion, what value would they be?

    Hoggy42's post is very interesting, I enjoyed reading it. I like to keep up on the technology and especially what people do to their machines post purchase. Did you read the article via this link? https://keesvanderwesten.com/mirage/construction/ Specifically the section entitled Brewing. Hoggy42 used a 2.5mm vs the articles 1.5mm orifice. The idea here is to understand what you are buying and how it works so during ownership, as issues arise, you'll know how to spot and fix them and if you have the desire, you'll know how to modify your process and/or machine to your liking.

    As to whether spending the additional $425 for the Profitec is worth it...not sure anyone can tell you it is or isn't, that's up to you and what you really want out of your machine. If all the machines you've investigated were the same price, which one would you pick? That's probably the one you really want and like most other things we labor over in terms of their cost, once you've bought it and a month passes, what you paid isn't even in your brain anymore.

    You said you like the toggles over the rotary knobs, right? I can tell you that I too like the toggles (joysticks) and would buy them again but they do not provide the feathering that a rotary knob can. They are more like, well, toggles, on or off, very hard to get something in-between and if you did manage to get something in-between, you'd have to hold your hand on it the whole time, unlike a rotary knob. However, if your steam wand holes are sized to your boilers abilities, full open isn't a problem. Like any other new machine, it will just take some practice to get that nice microfoam.

    The PID in the Profitec is located behind the drip tray so apparently it doesn't offer a shot timer, if it did, that's the machine I'd get. The PID allows you to change boiler temps very easily and this equates to a change in steam pressure. The PID will not directly change your coffee brew temp, it directly changes your boiler temp but due to the co-relationship of your coffee exchange pipe running through the boiler, it will indirectly change the coffee brew temp as well. Is this good or bad? Depends on how well the E61 handles the temp in order to bring it down to coffee brewing temp. I change beans from time to time, so with that I also change my brewing temps and when I know I'm going to make several lattes, like 8 or 10 at a time, I change my steam boiler temp to increase the pressure. All this is done within seconds via the PID buttons. So again, it comes down to how you will want to use your machine.

    As for the cooling flush, your boiler temp is around 35 degrees hotter than you want your coffee temp to be. A PID machine doesn't change that fact. Its the inner workings of the E61 and its plumbing where the magic happens (per Hoggy42 and the link to the article). So paying more for a PID on a Hx machine is more of a direct way to know what your boiler temp is because you can see the display and it gives you a quick way to change it, that's about all I can see your $425 will buy in this case. Maybe that's enough to justify it, maybe not). Personally, I think whatever you buy, given a months time, you'll adjust to it and will love it.

    Mb21 is right, you will be wanting to upgrade your grinder soon after buying your machine, $425 goes a long way towards that end.

  34. #34
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gusman View Post
    The Luminar For $2475 but still with Melbourne service options ect.

    I would like to keep the budget under the 2.5 but is $425 worth it just for PID and (maybe) no cooling flush?

    Any advice or warnings about interstate purchase's?
    You'll find that Site Sponsor JetBlack Espresso (Profitec) has connections in Melbourne for servicing and warranty repairs (if the need arises). Give them a call to confirm this and discuss you're potential interest in purchasing a machine (Mention you're a CS member). You may get a better deal? JetBlack also have free shipping to Melbourne whereas you will be paying shipping from the other retailer.

    There are 2 Site Sponsors in Melbourne that may be worth a visit if you haven't done this already.

    Casa Espresso - 15/136 Keys Rd, Cheltenham VIC 3189 Phone: (03) 9530 8992
    https://www.casaespresso.com.au/

    Coffee-a-Roma - 740 Waverley Rd, Malvern East VIC 3145 Phone: (03) 9568 1276
    https://www.coffee-a-roma.com.au/sto..._Products.html
    Dimal likes this.

  35. #35
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    106
    I no have the Expobar Leva and a friend has the Rocket Appartomento, another friend has the P500.

    I got the Leva for $1800 from Coffee A Roma, why I'd spend nearly $1K more for a Rocket or Profitec is beyond me.

    I spent more than they did on the grinder, a macap M7D.

    In the end my coffee tastes better, is made faster and that's all that matters to me.

    The Rocket looks the best and the Profitec feels the best, the steam wand dial feels nicer. Not $1K nicer though!
    Dimal and Tridoros like this.



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