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Thread: Machine choice and reliabilty

  1. #1
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    Machine choice and reliabilty

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi All,

    Have been considering splashing out on a machine for a while and had my own little shortlist. I am a flat white drinker, so HX seems the way to go.

    The list:

    1). VBM Domobar Super Lever
    2). [s]ECM[/s] Rocket Giotto
    3). Expobar Office Leva
    4). Expobar Minore 2

    The VBM seems to offer a lot of bang for the bucks, hence the 1st in the list.
    Apart from the Expobar Office, they are much the same in price, as I believe that when you fork out such an amount on a machine a few hundred dollars is not going to make the huge dent in the wallet THAT much bigger :o

    Then I saw this thread:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1199833659

    After reading this thread I was curious, what is the failure rate of the Minore ? I know that the issue with the gasket seal around the electronics unit has been rectified, but there seems a lot of chat about cost involved to replace the electronics.

    I am not kocking the Expobar and know that there are a great deal of happy brewers out there with a Minore, but has anybody had to replace the electronic gizmo ? And if so, how much are we talking about for replacement electronics.

    BTW, I have a MACAP M5 grinder, which I bought after having a Rocky. Currently use my Mocha Pot, which (coupled with the Macap and a bit of practice) produces something that most cafes cant match ... maybe not true espresso, but the taste buds are happy ;D

    Any information on the Minore reliability and repair costs, as well as any machine recommendations would be welcome.

    BeanBrat

  2. #2
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    I recommend the VBM Domobar Super, only because I was tossing up between it and the Minore II and decided to go with the VBM :D Im sure anyone would be happy with either, but this is a few things I thought about:

    The Minore II has a lot packed into its little shell, and on top of the whiz bang electronics packed into the shell with all the heat and moisture, when you upen it, it is (apparently) fairly cramped and difficult to work on, whereas the VBM has quite a reputation for having high quality highly accessible innards.

    As for the ECM v VBM, they are fairly similar, and I was told the VBM has marginally higher quality build, and it has a much bigger boiler and reservoir etc.

    Those 2 arguments basically made my mind up about which machine to get. Once your at this level Im pretty sure the machines capabilities are pretty far up there, by which I mean shot quality and consistency from machine to machine (all other things equal) wouldnt vary a lot. I mean, you often hear of people upgrading from the Midrange category (Silvias and such), but not many people seem to want to upgrade their Giotto or Domobar Super...

  3. #3
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Personally, I think at this level your major influence should be service accessability.
    All machines listed have many happy owners on the site.

    If you buy model x and unfortunately do encounter a problem, how much is involved in getting it fixed?
    IE: Is it a case of putting in the car and taking it somewhere local OR boxing it up, freighting it off and fretting about it getting dropped?

    I have the Minore II (which is a dual boiler, not HX) and did have an issue with the board whilst under warranty. For me, it was a short drive, a quick fix and the machine was back on the same day. But that is mostly due to geography - service agents are near where I live.

    So, chat to a sponsor about what sort of arrangements would need to be made to do a fix and incorporatre that into your selection criteria.

    Brett.

  4. #4
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    I own and recommend the VBM Domobar Super.
    If you drink flat whites youll have the steaming technique down pat in no time and it steams super quick so you wont be standing at the machine all day.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Hiya Beanbrat. I think youll find that every CSer will always recommend the machine they own, as long as they are happy with it. Were all biased, and thats nto a bad thing. ;)

    I suggest you contact one of the sponsors, and pay them a visit. Its been my experience that these guys will give you an honest appraisal of each machine as each piece of equipment has its own pros and cons. Sponsors will also be able to inform you in regard to replacement costs, etc.

    Visiting a sponsor will give you the opportunity to try each side by side. The list of machines youve nominated are all good - especially the Giotto! ;) ;D

  6. #6
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Hi Beanbrat,
    I reckon the best thing to do is work out what you want most out of a machine, as far as tweakability, looks, build quality etc, etc(aside from the obvious), then go and try them out. I went the Minore II just before Christmas and I cant be happier. Being able to play around with temps without straight out temp surfing is something I liked the idea of. I havent had a single problem with it and have been playing with it everyday(yes thats what I do with my annual leave) for the past 3 weeks.
    Big thing though is try them all out, you might find you like this or that over this or that and will make it easier (or harder) to make your decision. Maybe consider the Isomacs too. I was leaning toward the Mondiale(which is a bit more) or the Millenium. Hit up one of the sponsors though - its well worth paying the trip to one and having a play. I went to Di Bartoli in Sydney; they had a good range.

  7. #7
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    I have the Expobar Leva and have been very happy with it.
    I also have the Macap M5.

    The only thing Ive had to do to the Expobar in the over 12 months Ive had it, is to put in a new group gasket.


  8. #8
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Ive had my Silvia blow a boiler element and am lucky enough to have FC (CosmoreX) only 25 minuts away so it was no drama to get it fixed. I have also had my Giotto originally delivered by courier ( from Chris at Talk coffee) and later upgraded, which did invovle packing it up and sending it away. No real issue as the courier depot is handy enough and sponsors are prone to go just that little bit further for fellow CS. Like Brett - AKA Fatboy says, at this end of the price range, it more a question of access to service agent. If you have no probs boxing it up and sending it off, that its not an issue either. Have you "test driven" either of the machines youre considering?

    Boris

  9. #9
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Thanks for all of the replies.

    In addition to the information posted, I also contacted a site sponsor (thanks Chris !).

    Hopefully wont be too long until I move onto a real machine and retire the mocha pot from daily duty .. though it will still get a workout when I am in a hurry and cant wait for the warm up time required on the machine :o

    Thanks again

  10. #10
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Hello All.

    This is a topic that does the rounds frequently enough *(no disrespect to BeanBrat who is asking legitimate questions in his own pursuit of a nice machine).

    Firstly let me throw my cards on the table up front, as my company imports its own machines that compete with all those in your list. Notwithstanding any obvious personal bias that might lend to my comments, I would like to throw a little bit of objectivity into the discussion.

    Anyone that has been watching / contributing to this forum long term will see a pattern of recommendation of very very few models that goes round and round, creating a monopoly of only those few models. Anyone that is relatively new to this forum, probably doesnt realise.

    Initially in the over $2000.00 bracket the reccomendation of choice in this site was always the Giotto.

    12 to 18 months ago, the Minore II became the recommendion of choice of this site, and in the last say 5 months or so it has been overtaken by the Domobar Super.


    But there are many many more really great models to look at besides those listed above, amongst them my very own imports the

    Diadema Junior Plus (3 models) and the *
    Unico Splendor Maxi.

    which have been around quite a while, have excellent design and build quality, and just do the job they are designed and built to do without fuss.

    Other site sponsors here are also importers and deserve to have their machines looked at too.


    There are many questions to ask when searching for the right machine for you, and most people get stuck on technical specifications. But 2 boilers are not necessarily better than 1......and larger boilers are not necessarily better than smaller ones, when you get to the level of equipment you are asking about.

    A machine is not the sum of its tech specs.....look rather at whether as a total "package", the machine is a good, reliable, long lived, attractive workhorse with good availability of service close by, and long term spare parts availability.

    In searching for the right machine for you, dont forget to ask questions like:
    Does it do the job at hand...brew great espresso and have good steam capacity to entertain?
    How solid is the frame, does it flex?
    If the frame is made of steel, how is it rust/corrosion proofed....is it only painted over, is the paint "baked", or is it treated as in galvanised or anodised?
    Does it have a known history of recurring electrical problems?
    What grade of stainless steel is used in the body...real stainless steel, or the lower quality type that actually does stain....
    Are all the edges nicely finished or will you cut yourself if you run your finger down the egde?
    Is the drip tray adequate.........slim and skinny and easy to overflow, or deep and substantial?
    Does the drip tray seat itself securely or does it rattle around?
    Is it attractive to look at.........you and your partner have to live with it long term in your kitchen, usually placed in a position of prominence.
    Is it locally guaranteed?
    Does it need "tweaking" / "pimping"....because if it needs a lot of that, why buy it?


    Lastly, go and talk to a local equipment vendor OR telephone a site sponsor.

    The internet is a wonderful thing but you ahve to take it for what it is....website reading *can only give you the answers to the questions you ask, as written mainly by owners of one machine who are of course, happy with their one purchase (why wouldnt they be....but that does not make for unbiased opinion).....whereas a real life conversation with a site sponsor who is a professional equipment trader will bring up more information for you to ask questions about...you will get a lot more out of a such a conversation.

    Beware of asking a handful of people in a website who mostly have the same machine, who will as a result mostly recommend the same machine to you...... it is very one sided.

    After that, you have to buy the machine you think is going to be the best one for you.

    Hope this helps,
    Attilio
    aka FC, first / original CS site sponsor.

    *




  11. #11
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    I had a laugh ;D..... Another excellent post Attilio [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

    Mal.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lizzie's Avatar
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Second that... ;)

    L

  13. #13
    TC
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    I cannot agree more.

    CSers sometimes get very pent up on spec sheets. How many of us need to drive a 400kw car or have the facilities to extend such a beast?

    Diadema (using Attilios example) are terrific machines and every single client of Talk Coffee with a Diadema is a happy camper. As a reseller, I love them too because they dont break!

    I have personally used a Diadema Junior Semi-auto (our office machine) twice now to make coffee for a gathering of around 50 people and it was a walk in the park. I did cheat a little with a second group handle ;)

    So perhaps a V12 Ferrari might give you bragging rights at the local with the boys....It will however cost more to run. Most of us drive much smaller machinery and love it. It does the job perfectly and still puts a smile on our dial.

    Coming back to espresso machinery, that huge boiler and the 1.8-3.0 kw element required to power it may well impress. One thing to keep in mind is that you will fill at least 50% more black balloons while it sits idle after making those 2 shots for breaky ;)...

    So as Attilio has so rightly said, ask the questions and get the right machine for you, not the right to bragging rights at the pub. We are all here to compare god shots not cohuna size!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lizzie's Avatar
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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    i drive a 40 bus towing a 18 trailer... :o heheheheh.... ;D ;D


    good post, Chris!!

    L

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    Re: Machine choice and reliabilty

    Haha, the more I think of it; if you had told me Id have a Minore II a year ago, I would have said you were crazy, "Why would you spend that much!" Then I became a CSer and part of my persona now is ODs on equipment I dont necessarily need - but I would feel inadequate without haha.
    Good call Attilio, and good call 2mcm - I definitely agree.



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