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Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs ????

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  • Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs ????

    The forthcoming Rancilio price rise has spurred me to make my first post, although I probably wont get around to buying until early May.

    After three years of faithful service, my Gaggia Carezzas aluminium boiler is starting to corrode rapidly causing the group head valve to get wedged open and leak as a result of the crud floating round inside, ruining temperature stability. Despite cracking the machine open to clean out the boiler and replacing the grouphead valve, the problem continues so its (almost) time for a new machine.

    It will be sad to see it replaced, being my first machine.

    My new machine will generally be used for espressos, with 1-2 milk drinks per week. It will be mated to a Gaggia MDF grinder (no upgrade needed).

    After doing much reading, Ive pretty much determined the following three models are best suited to my needs, unless others can offer other suggestions.

    1) the Rancilio Silvia. The $730-ish price is quite attractive. Much has been written about it. PID mods are available. etc etc. But how tricky are these to get the hang of when compared to the Gaggia? Thanks to tips from kaanage, I was able to get a pretty decent espresso from my Gaggia, but could never quite get the milk exactly right. Also, how much is the post 1 April price rise likely to be?

    2) Vibiemme Domobar non-HX. I presume its still $995-ish at Hudsons (and Crivelli?). Does the extra $270 improve quality markedly? What benefits does the E61 group bring? Theres also the ECM Botticelli, but it seems to add little over the Silvia.

    3) Expobar Office Pulser. Presumably over $1k (how much are they usually?). While buying this would kill my upgraditis, it would also kill my credit card and Im not sure I need a HX machine given the low volume of milk drinks I intend to do. Would also look at a Nuova Simonelli Oscar if the price was right, but they seem to have vanished from the market, which does not instil me with confidence...

    So are there other candidates in the $700 to $1000 range worth considering?

  • #2
    Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

    Welcome samuel.

    Have a look at this machine comparison thread.
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163234999

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

      Originally posted by samuelowens link=1175179678/0#0 date=1175179678
      So are there other candidates in the $700 to $1000 range worth considering?
      Welcome to CoffeeSnobs Sam [smiley=thumbsup.gif],

      Some great buys to be had in our For Sale pages, e.g. http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1174702010.... a terrific bargain which includes an upgrade in grinder too, from the MDF ,

      Mal.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs


        There are a few machines in that price category that might be worth considering. The Viviemme Domobar is a very nice looking machine. It has a 500 ml copper boiler, brew pressure gauge and a variable thermostat to dial in the temperature and a really large drip tray. Its pretty much an espresso purists machine. The E61 head will run cool, requiring a heating flush, and there will be a delay for heating up to steam temperature. IMO, this is one of the best priced espresso machines around. For milk its not so good, as the transition to steam temperature will throw the E61 group temperature off somewhat, requiring a large cooling flush to get it running at brew temp again.

        Ive actually considered this machine myself about a year ago, but a 2nd hand HX machine came my way and I never got the Domobar.

        IMO its something out of the ordinary and probably worth the little bit extra over the Silvia. But you will be going it alone with this machine as it doesnt have a large user base, nor the support of the site sponsors.

        Otherwise, the Ascaso Steel Prof is worth considering in this price range (sold by De Bartoli - a site sponsor) as is the Isomac Venus and the ECM Botticelli II. All are Silvia-like machines with brass boilers and commercial 58mm groups and should last many years.

        Cheers,

        Mark.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

          As Mark said, I would imagine that the group would run very cold on the Domobar, but that might not be a problem if you are prepared to do a large heating flush. I think that the gradual pressure rampup from the e61 head is worth something.

          The MDF is a good entry-level grinder, but I think that you might want to upgrade it at some point, once you start to view the large steps as a limitation. Recently, there has been a lot of experimentation with changing the grind size and dose level to zero in on the flavours that you want in your espresso. With my Rocky, which apparently has smaller steps than the MDF, this would have been impossible - only one combination of grind and dose would result in a shot within the right parameters. With my mazzer, none of this is a problem. That said, my bias towards stepless grinders should be quite obvious by now ;P

          I think that you will struggle to find an expobar pulser for less than $1.6k these days.

          I would lean towards the venus or the botticelli if you wanted to PID the machine in future, as their boiler-on-group design is much more like a la marzocco saturated group design than the silvias piece of brass sticking off boiler with group underneath it design.

          ... so lots of options there, but, as always, its going to be a case of minimising the bad points.

          Cheers,

          Luca

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs


            I had an MDF for about 1 year. It works well but as Luca said, the adjustments are a bit coarse. For an espresso purist its not really good enough. For milk drinks its fine. I resorted to using half steps and even third steps. You can mod the grinder for intermediate steps if youre that keen. The thing I didnt like about it is the slow speed and the noise. Its really really slow and really really loud... but you know this.

            The Domobar wont run any cooler than an Expobar Minore, as they both use the same operating principle (ie. heating the group using the brew boiler). The Domobar is the only machine that has an adjustable thermostat straight off the bat. However, its not as good or as reliable as a PID controller.

            BTW: An Isomac Venus or Botticelli will not behave like a LM saturated group as Luca suggested. There are some major design differences that will adverseley affect this. Check out my thread on modding a Faema Family to see just how far you have to go to get LM-like temperature stability. It definitely not just a case of adding a PID control loop.

            Cheers,

            Mark.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

              IMHO a PID is an absolute must, to get consistant and adjustable temperature when brewing a god-shot.

              The Silvia has a very large following, and with good reason. It is built like a tank, is very reliable and holds its value. It is likely to deliver 15 - 20 years service, if properly looked after. There is a huge amount of write-ups about it. When coupled to a good quality Watlow PID, the Silvia will not only be able to deliver perfect temp, but also give the user the ability to adjust the temp in 1 deg C intervals. (PID on other machines would do similar).

              I found that prior to fitting a PID, the boiler temp would cycle within a 40 deg band, so I now think that a PID is very necessary to achieve satisfaction - for me.

              My recommendation is to get a Silvia + PID.

              2nd-hand machines can be found here.....
              http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?board=Sale

              Link modified to be in accordance with CoffeeSnobs Posting and Sale Policy. Cross promotion of personal sales is not appropriate and general link has been inserted in place of direct link.
              Mal.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

                Thank you for all your assistance.

                Thundergod, Ive looked at the machine comparison thread many times, wishing I didnt have a mortgage!

                The cool running group on the Domobar is not really a concern - having a Carezza, I usually pull a blank shot to warm the group, portafilter and cups...

                Mark, Ill be up in Sydney in late April, so Ill go and poke my head in De Bartoli and see whats on offer.

                Luca, I should have said theres no need for a grinder upgrade... yet. The gaping chasms between 5, 6 and 7 on the MDF along with the doser, the noise and the speed (or lack thereof) make for a slightly grinding grinding experience.

                As for second hand machines, alas the finances wont be in a position to cope until late April, so Ill have to pass on the many excellent looking offers currently available (but who knows what will be available next month ;-))...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

                  Samuel.

                  Looking forward to meet you in our store.

                  Regards

                  Renzo

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

                    Dont know much about those other models but got an Oscar 2 weeks ago and must say that so far I am quite pleased with it. Although some may not like all that black plastic, the machine never looks dirty and I find it pleasing to the eye.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

                      Hi Samuel,
                      I was in Di Bartoli a few months ago and had a look at the Ascaso Steel Professional .. its a great looking machine and I have read great reviews from owners .. well worth a look (i was sorely tempted to buy it but decided to save up and go for en Expobar in a few months .. or sooner if i win the lotto or find a rich sugar-mama !).

                      BeanBrat

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

                        K Fe, where did you find the Oscar?

                        After having a latte from a friends La Cimbali Junior S, Ive decided a HX machine would be desirable, although I want to spend as little as possible...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs

                          I live in Vancouver Canada, they are available at a store called ECM. (Espresso Coffee Machines Co.)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Silvia vs non-HX Domobar vs Expobar Pulser vs


                            I just checked out the new Domobar specs on the Vibiemme web site and it looks like it is now sporting a 750 ml boiler. The earlier version had a 500 ml boiler, so this machine now seems to be a Vibiemme version of an Isomac Zaffiro... ie. an espresso purists machine.

                            The Vibiemme implementation of the E61 group is also slightly different from the common Faema/Arete group. Im not sure if this will affect anything though.

                            Comment

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