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setup advice - single boiler or double boiler for flat whites/lattes?

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  • setup advice - single boiler or double boiler for flat whites/lattes?

    hi everyone,

    noob here deciding on a setup to get me started in my home barista journey. i have done some reading around the forum and elsewhere. my wife and i usually prepare flat-whites/lattes/cappucinos and rarely drink long blacks and don't drink espressos.

    i am looking at the lelit/NS oscar/ECM/rancilio machines at the moment which appear to be within my price range.

    question: some people insist i need a dual boiler setup/HX to prepare milk drinks but from what i can see in some of the videos, single boilers are perfectly fine - e.g. lelit pl41temd, silvia, ecm casa iv?

    please advise thanks!

  • #2
    Go single boiler if you are an espresso drinker and occassionaly have a milky drink. Otherwise invest in a HX/dual boiler.

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    • #3
      can you elaborate on why saoye

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      • #4
        With a single boiler you have to wait for it to get up to steaming temp, with a DB or HX there is a boiler for the brew water and another for the steam so the steam is always ready along with the brew water.

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        • #5
          Hi (Andy?), and welcome.
          Don' t know what your budget is, but as your coffee of choice is milk based, then I would suggest:
          1-2 coffees per session, single boiler will suffice.
          More than 2 per session, if you can afford it, go for a HX. I know a couple of people in this category who purchased a single boiler but upgraded to a HX within a year.
          Some of the site sponsers have good buying guides on their web sites which will elaborate further.
          Good luck with your purchase.
          Ps, don't forget a quality grinder and freshly roasted beans from a specialty roaster to ensure great coffee.

          cheers
          Mal
          Last edited by Brewster; 10 December 2016, 08:30 PM. Reason: Spelling

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mdrawde View Post
            With a single boiler you have to wait for it to get up to steaming temp, with a DB or HX there is a boiler for the brew water and another for the steam so the steam is always ready along with the brew water.
            i can wait the 2-3 mins (or 5 mins) it takes to get up to steam temp. it doesn't really bother me right now. i guess my question is more - does the 2-5 minute wait "spoil" the final preparation (i.e. the latte or flat white or cappuccino?) i can't imagine it does given the number of quality single boilers out there?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Brewster View Post
              Hi (Andy?), and welcome.
              Don' t know what your budget is, but as your coffee of choice is milk based, then I would suggest:
              1-2 coffees per session, single boiler will suffice.
              More than 2 per session, if you can afford it, go for a HX. I know a couple of people in this category who purchased a single boiler but upgraded to a HX within a year.
              Some of the site sponsers have good buying guides on thier web sites which will elaborate further.
              Good luck with your purchase.
              Ps, don't forget a quality grinder and freshly roasted beans from a specialty roaster to ensure great coffee.

              cheers
              Mal
              i find the rationale for getting HX/dual boilers because there is less wait slightly difficult to understand. my understanding is that HX machines take 10-15 minutes to reach brew temps anyway? so what you save in time between brewing and frothing you lose in the initial HX startup time?

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              • #8
                Welcome Andy...

                I'd advise a visit to a specialist retailer and in particular, one or more of our Site Sponsors, who could then demonstrate the differences between the machine types, their pros and cons and narrow your choices.

                Several Site Sponsors also have buyers' guides on their websites too and definitely worth perusing those...

                All the best,
                Mal.

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                • #9
                  setup advice - single boiler or double boiler for flat whites/lattes?

                  You'll need to wait a fair while for a good single boiler to heat up too. Perhaps not as long but still 10-25mins depending on machine. E61's will take 20-30 mins regardless of HX or single boiler.

                  As stated, for 1-2 milky drinks it's fine using a single boiler, just a couple of minutes waiting for the steam to come up to temp.

                  For me, the bigger problem is making more than a couple. Once you've brought the machine up to steam temp it's way too hot to then use as an espresso machine. You need to flush heaps and/or wait to get the temp back down to brew again.

                  No drama if you never entertain

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                  • #10
                    setup advice - single boiler or double boiler for flat whites/lattes?

                    If you're making milkshakes, HX minimum. Otherwise you'll be upgrading within a year.

                    As for warmup time, most users run a timer switch to switch the machine on ahead of time.

                    Go into a good dealer and see the machines in the flesh and discuss your needs, would be a good next step.

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                    • #11
                      thanks for all the reply guys. hmmm... seems like i may have a problem between needs and budget and starting up.

                      my budget is sitting around 1-2k (yup fairly broad) and i make one flat white for myself and one for my wife in the morning everyday, another flat white midday and one more late arvo. that's about max for my household. in terms of entertaining we have families over every few weeks or so but coffee is not always ordered. so i'd say that's of secondary importance. primary importance is our morning coffee and my home barista journey.

                      dual boilers and PID machine (plus decent grinder) probably out of my budget isn't it?

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                      • #12
                        Wouldn't be too far off if you're willing to go second hand. People sell long lasting, meticulously maintained, quality stuff on the for sale section here. Have a look, & let us know how you get on.

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                        • #13
                          Welcome Andy,

                          For your requirements (one or two milk coffees at a time), a single boiler machine will be fine. Out of your shortlist, the Lelit PL41TEMD has the fastest heat up time (10 minutes) and leaves plenty of room in your budget for a great grinder,

                          charlie

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by andysydney2003 View Post
                            i find the rationale for getting HX/dual boilers because there is less wait slightly difficult to understand. my understanding is that HX machines take 10-15 minutes to reach brew temps anyway? so what you save in time between brewing and frothing you lose in the initial HX startup time?
                            The heat up time issue is not so much about the initial time as both single boiler and HX machines take time to heat up, HX machines maybe longer then a single boiler.

                            The drawback of a single boiler is that you have to wait for the steam pressure to build up after making a coffee or the boiler pressure to drop down after steaming to move to the next stage. This is because steam pressure is too hot for coffee brewing and the brew temperature is not hot enough for steam so you need to wait while the machine adjusts.

                            If you are making two or three coffees in a row most people can live with this but any more the extra time becomes noticeable.

                            With an HX machine you can steam milk and pull a shot simultaneously.

                            We have had quite a few people coming back to us within 12months of buying a single boiler machine looking to upgrade to a quality HX

                            Cheers
                            Antony

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                            • #15
                              I have a single boiler, and a couple of HX machines, getting to temperature on turning the machine on is the single boiler's strong point getting to temp much faster due to the smaller boiler. The annoyance is more so the wait for the steam and then the priming after steaming or run the risk of burning the element out. No need to prime with a HX, ability to steam and pull a shot at the same time. I drink espressos only but when entertaining a dinner group of more than 2 then the HX is an asset, and we entertain quite often.

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