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My Coffee Journey to a Duetto

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  • My Coffee Journey to a Duetto

    Just felt the hankering to pen my coffee journey.

    Not quite sure when I started drinking coffee, probably uni days. Of course, I could only afford instant in those days. Never even knew that the espresso machines in the cafes were available for domestic use. Not that it mattered as didn't have enough money for such 'luxury' items. I think it was only about 30 years ago that I bought a plunger and started using 'fresh ground' coffee. Just bought the bricks from the supermarket and went thru the brands to figure which ones I preferred. Later I found Kakulas which is a store selling grains, flour, coffee beans, etc. Much fresher than the bricks. About 10 years ago the new manager put in a roaster and consequently all beans on premises are now less than a week old depending on turnover. Great for me as I now buy Columbian at about $22/kg.

    About 5 years ago a cousin gave me a Sunbeam machine and that started my journey into getting that proper brew. Went to the Sunbeam school and learnt how to froth milk. Found that the pressurised basket in the portafilter with the machine gave false crema. Bought a Krups unpressurised basket which fit perfectly and altered portafilter. Made a big difference to coffee, much better.

    Next I found CoffeeSnobs and thru this my little spice grinder was not sufficient to extract the maximum flavours. In looking for a proper grinder I found it on evil bay. Bought an older Compak K8 for about 25% (at that time) of retail figuring that I can replace the burrs and basically have an almost new machine in a manner of speaking. 1 week after winning the bid had a big regret as a less than one year old K8 appeared on evil bay. Didn't even want to know about it but I reckon it would have sold for less than half retail. Furthermore the grinder was only used domestically.

    Recently, my little Sunbeam needed its seal replaced. It's held in place by the screen which is screwed in but when I tried to remove the screw it broke leaving the screw in the thread. Took this as a sign and opportunity to upgrade as coffee from the Sunbeam was only ok. Can only remember a handful of times when the coffee was close to or better than the cafes. So really need a better machine.

    Having scoured CoffeeSnobs before I kinda had an idea of what to look at but first I needed to settle my budget. My philosophy in buying stuff is that where I can afford it is to buy the best possible. Whilst I can't afford a Rolls or BMW or Merc I can afford that kind of quality if the item cost only a few hundred dollars. What this does is that you not only get quality and everything that comes with it but being able to enjoy it. I love to fish and an analogy is buying fishing reels. If you are getting into fishing for the first time there is that temptation to buy cheap gear first. When the reel doesn't work properly you get turned off and probably never go fishing again. But if you had bought reasonable quality in the first instance you give yourself a proper chance at finding out whether you like to fish. Make sense? Anyway at the same time I don't want to upgrade again so it means that I need to look at a level of equipment that I will be happy with for the rest of my life (not much left as I am close to 60).

    Now, after sales service is also important, so in searching for brands and dealers there happens to be Dimattina that is close to where I live. They carry Expobar, Rocket, Viebiemme and Izzo. After going thru the threads in CoffeeSnobs I determined that what suited me was the Minore IV so I went to Dimattina's to play with it. The lass there showed me the Rocket Giotto PP as well. While waiting for them both to warm up I noted that the Izzo Alex Duetto II was heavily discounted due to model 3 just released. After playing with the Giotto and the Minore I went home and thought about the fact that the Duetto II was only $200 more. Question is was that worth it? Around the country you can find the Duetto II being advertised for about $3000 whilst price for the Duetto 3 is $3800. Quite a saving. How do I justify $3000? Well a cuppa in Perth averages around $4 so that's about 750 cups. I make a flat white for me and espresso for the missus in the morning. So that's one years worth of coffee and the recovery period. Plus the fact that we seldom go to cafes in view of having even the little Sunbeam meant that I had already saved a lot during the Sunbeam's life. The difference in price with the Duetto is actually a lot more as Dimattina was willing to provide a discount on the Giotto and the Minore. Still did I want to spend the additional coin? Were the features and difference in the Duetto what I will want and good value? In the end the answer was yes as its dual boiler, rotary pump, higher quality construction and flexibility to switch between tank and plumb-in swayed me. I would have been just as happy with any of them as the Minore has a smaller footprint although the Giotto's tank is the easiest to fill. The tank in both the Minore and Duetto are not as convenient to fill and the logic of the manufacturers escapes me. Looks like practicality isn't given much consideration in designing the machine. Why do I have to remove my cups and stuff just to fill the tank especially when filling is going to be a frequent event? Sooo inconvenient. Almost pushed me to get the Giotto just because of it. Whilst most Duetto owners may plumb-in what about those that don't? Any of them will provide great coffee and I'm not in a position to debate the finer points of any of them. I like the Duetto 3 but can't justify the additional $ for it at this point. Whilst Izzo has put in a bigger and open mouth tank they still haven't made it convenient to fill. Why not? Izzo just redesigned the exterior for the Duetto 3. Missed opportunity here I reckon especially when the Rocket R58 is being released and this looks like its competitor at its price point.

    What's next for me? I'll learn the Duetto but will need to seriously consider plumbing in for the convenience. Only other things are probably just accessories as there's not much else. Dimattina is going to teach me how to use the Duetto and this is great service. Happy Coffeeing!!!

  • #2
    Hi ken wahoo,
    Thanks for the story! I've had an Alex II for about 18 months and don't regret the purchase one bit.
    I know where you are coming from re tank refill, it's a bit of a pain, it's a pain whichever m/c you have........
    My top cover is in the cupboard. :-o
    I'm reluctant to plumb mine in as I know upgraditis will come again sometime in the near future.
    One more step to go in my machine evolution?

    Last weekend my Alex and Robur were on shot duty at a 3 day event, my daughter's wedding!! We went through
    a heap of coffee with the most going out on Sunday morning, as about 40 or so people stayed over and came for breakfast
    and morning coffee.
    I made approx 180 (only 4 long blacks and one double espresso) coffees over the three days. Nearly 100 on Sunday morning.
    The Alex never missed a beat, even when I had a queue. I was a bit worried about steam boiler temp stability problem.
    Each shot was a double ristretto, so I did one at a time with a naked p/f. Using the small 300 ml jug it was quick to
    texture, pour, serve and then do the next coffee. This seemed to give the boiler time to stay stable (I used a 2 hole tip as well).
    The people were happy, the coffee was awesome, I was happy.
    Congrats and good choice! I know you'll be happy with your Alex :-)


    • #3
      Just picked up my Alex but haven't set it up yet. Will do that tomorrow. Dimattina was good enough to show me what to do with my machine so we pulled a few shots. While we were playing with it I noted that the Duetto tamper wasn't a good fit. The Pullman tampers fit better. When I got home out came the trusty calipers which showed that the Duetto tamper measured 57mm. What the?? Isn't the group head a nominal 58mm. I then measured the baskets- the double came to 58.8 and the single is 58.9. I wasn't going to get another tamper but looks like I'm forced to. What's the point of providing a tamper that doesn't fit? A metal one is a big improvement over plastic but only if it fits! Almost 2 mm difference in diameter cannot be acceptable tolerance.


      • #4
        Only if you think you'll be swapping filters a lot. I use a triple, haven't changed it since experimenting over a year ago.
        My Espro tamper is a 'perfect' fit. You could also change the filter basket (s) so that one tamper will fit both; might be cheaper..
        and more convenient.

        p.s. don't be surprised if this thread gets shifted to the Alex II thread.


        • #5
          I'll repeat the above and continue over there.