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  • machine modification?

    hoping to get lots of replies on this one.

    im looking for triumphant stories or dire warnings about pimping up domestic coffee machines so they match the performance of their commercial counterparts.

    has anyone got some experince in this area?
    im still thinking about modding my sunbeam ;D ;D
    maybe a bad idea, but i want to see if i can improve it

    anyway, any opinions?

  • #2
    Re: machine modification?

    I dont think you could do much to a Sunbeam as it doesnt have a commercial counterpart.

    It would be like trying to pimp a toaster.

    Which Sunbeam do you have?

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    • #3
      Re: machine modification?

      About all you can do with domestic machines is swap the pressurised basket for a non pressurised.

      If you do this and use freshly roasted coffee, a good grinder and have good technique you will produce a much better shot, but it wont ever match the performance of a commercial/prosumer machine.

      General domestic machine limitations such as Thermoblocks [6910 excluded] and cheap construction [low thermal mass due to cast iron PFs and groups] will always mean the shot is compromised.
      Correct brew water Temperature and Temperature stability throughout the shot is critical to good coffee.
      Prosumer and commercial machines are designed with this in mind, hence they cost more.

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      • #4
        Re: machine modification?

        Ripping out any plastic in the PF floor also- doesnt really affect the performance, just stops coffee oils building up and going gross.

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        • #5
          Re: machine modification?

          I dont think you can do too much with thermoblock machines but with single boiler domestic machines, you can do a bit to get the quality of the coffee improved. In terms of taste, as long as the machine is sufficiently heated, OPV calibrated to the correct brew pressure and PIDed, with fresh beans and ground with a decent grinder, you can make a very nice coffee. Definitely better than commercial machines and grinders using stale beans.
          The main advantage commercial machines have over domestic machines is that they can make a lot of coffees (milk and shots) in the same time you make 1 or 2 on the single boiler domestic machines. In that department, theres not much you can do about that.

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          • #6
            Re: machine modification?

            You could always dress it in a green sulo bin surround (or http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?board=Sale ) and buy a bright new shiny object of desire ;D (See store for details - as they say in the adverts)

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            • #7
              Re: machine modification?

              Originally posted by rong link=1212117278/0#5 date=1212122117
              You could always dress it in a green sulo bin surround (or http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?board=Sale ) and buy a bright new shiny object of desire  ;D (See store for details - as they say in the adverts)
              I second that
              It costs less to buy a used commercial machine than to pimp a sunbeam

              im still thinking about modding my sunbeam
              maybe a bad idea, but i want to see if i can improve it


              Yes a bad idea

              KK

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              • #8
                Re: machine modification?

                What model do you have?

                I did a couple of mods to my Sunbeam EM5800 before selling it.

                As mentioned above, the filter baskets were modded to remove the bottom layer, so they were no longer pressurised and making fake foam crema.

                I also pulled the plastic liner from inside the portafilter. Its scary what lives underneath.

                If you dont have at least a 4800 (I think), then you can upgrade from the aluminium PFs to the chromed brass ones, which will hold heat better, but its probably not worth investing in this unless you can steal one.

                Apart from that its all about using it properly:
                *give it lots of time to heat up everything properly.
                *Use freshly ground, fresh coffee.
                *Use filtered water
                *Give the steam a minute or so of blowing to heat up properly before steaming the milk.
                *Updose as much as possible (you can fill the small filters to near the brim with tamped coffee)

                If you want to get more serious with the pimping... if you have one of the models with electronic temperature control (rather than a thermostat) then it may be possible to intercept the signal with a potentiometer (in series or parallel as required) and alter the brewing temperature...

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                • #9
                  Re: machine modification?

                  wow.sounds like pimping my toaster is a bad idea then.
                  its the em 6910.
                  the new one with free grinder...man do i feel screwed

                  it was suggested by a friend of mine, but im starting to think he had a vested interest in it.or no idea, coz it just doesnt compare to a commercial machine.


                  if im looking a a used commercial machine, where would you guys suggest i look.any reliable models?

                  my knowledge is between old cimbalinos and a synesso, so im not sure.

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                  • #10
                    Re: machine modification?

                    The 6910 is not a bad machine. Its just that it is still classified as an appliance by most people.
                    I know a few people who have one and are happy with it.
                    If you want to go down the 2nd hand commercial path, you need to be prepared to do restoration/cleaning etc. and in many cases, rewiring.
                    Also, many of them use 3 phase power, so that needs to be taken into account.

                    I guess the questions should be asked:
                    What are you REALLY after?
                    Whats your budget?

                    I daresay your friend was trying to save you a grand or 2.

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                    • #11
                      Re: machine modification?

                      Originally posted by perfectionist link=1212117278/0#8 date=1214301799
                      it was suggested by a friend of mine, but im starting to think he had a vested interest in it.or no idea, coz it just doesnt compare to a commercial machine.
                      Commercial equipment costs $1000s - what were you expecting for a machine and grinder for 800 bucks?? [smiley=huh.gif]

                      IMO the best money you could spend at this point would be $800 or more on a good prosumer grinder. Reliability issues aside, the EM6910 can push out a good shot if its matched with a good grinder (ie, not the matching Sunbeam EM0480). I know of several pro baristas who use the EM6910 at home and recommend it, which should count for something!

                      If you definitely want to upgrade the machine, talk to some site sponsors about good quality domestic machines - they will give near to commercial performance but wont require plumbing in, three-phase or >10A power runs or an acre of kitchen bench space!

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