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  • “Philosophical“ question

    So I’ve been practicing on a used HX machine (Bezzera BZ99S) for a few years now and I’m toying with the idea of upgrading, I’m thinking of a dual boiler PID e61 with pre-infusion and dreaming about a profiling machine, but here is the conundrum: I only drink decaf at home (caffeine gives me migraine); I buy freshly roasted SWP decaf from local reputable roasters but obviously cannot venture into single origin or special blends.

    Would a high end machine make a difference on the palate brewing only decaf or is it like trying to squeeze blood out of a beetroot? In other words is currently the machine my limiting factor or the coffee beans? Btw the machine is coupled to a baratza sette 270wi

  • #2
    I'm not a huge decaf drinker although I do roast Andy's Decaf Wow every now and then. I like it but prefer some of the other caffeinated beans better. I think one of the issues for a decaf drinker is having a much more limited range of beans to select from. Changing brew parameters may be less important. Also, do you take your coffee with or without milk? Some of the nuances you may be able to extract from a bean will be undetectable with milk. If you are interested in experimenting you could always buy a Flair (or similar manual machine) fairly cheaply which allows you to pressure profile (admittedly not very repeatably), adjust pre-infusion time, and even change temp., if you have an adjustable kettle. Food for thought.
    Last edited by saeco_user; 1 week ago. Reason: added info

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    • #3
      A machine with better temperature stability than the BZ99 will be a big improvement even with a decaf blend. Most HX and dual machines will be able to achieve this. In terms of pressure profiling, you could think of the options along these lines: 1. pre infusion 2. analog flow rate regulators 3. digital pressure profiling. Cost and ability to "play" goes up with each. If you went with an E61 HX or DB you could add a flow rate reg later if you felt the need.

      charlie

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JetBlack_Espresso View Post
        A machine with better temperature stability than the BZ99 will be a big improvement even with a decaf blend. Most HX and dual machines will be able to achieve this. In terms of pressure profiling, you could think of the options along these lines: 1. pre infusion 2. analog flow rate regulators 3. digital pressure profiling. Cost and ability to "play" goes up with each. If you went with an E61 HX or DB you could add a flow rate reg later if you felt the need.

        charlie
        Thanks, what kind of starting prices would I be looking at for quality built machine at these three options? From my online window shopping I’ve found the Lelit Elizabeth one of the best value for money machines with the features I’m after, is there any other option I should consider? Also I’m i right thinking that a dual boiler is more suited to my use which very rarely requires me to brew more than one or two coffees at the time?

        The Crem One 2B R-LFPP Dual is the one I dream.

        I mainly drink espresso or long black, only occasionally milk based coffee.
        Last edited by Blackfish; 1 week ago.

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        • #5
          Yep the Lelit Elizabeth has a temperature stable boiler/group with PID control and digital pre-infusion so will be a big improvement on the BZ99 for espresso flavour (the BZ99 usually runs too hot). You could also look at a temperature stable HX with E61 group for some "anologue" pre-infusion, for example the Lelit Mara X.

          The Crem One 2B R-LFPP has digital pressure profiling which is good if you wan to do the pressure profiling thing and be able to replay a certain profile. But you can also do the manual thing with a flow rate regulator paddle like on the Lelit Bianca or add a flow rate reg to most E61 machines. The digital version has the advantage of reproducibility (but only if your other variables are constant which can be easier said than done). Going "manual" with a paddle while watching the shot may be all that you need especially when other variables are changing between coffees at home from day to day.

          charlie

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          • #6
            Just for my understanding, how would a more modern HX machine even with pid achieve greater temperature stability, I get how it works for dual boiler but I thought that the major cause of temperature fluctuations in HX machines is the variability of the cooling flushes, so more dependant on the skill of the operator rather than machine technology?

            That is basically the reason why I’m thinking of switching to a dual boiler for my next machine.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Blackfish View Post
              Just for my understanding, how would a more modern HX machine even with pid achieve greater temperature stability, I get how it works for dual boiler but I thought that the major cause of temperature fluctuations in HX machines is the variability of the cooling flushes, so more dependant on the skill of the operator rather than machine technology? That is basically the reason why I’m thinking of switching to a dual boiler for my next machine.
              There’s more to it than it just being an HX or not. Some have thermosiphons for heated groups, some have cartridge heaters in the group, and not all heat exchangers are designed the same in that some essentially have a double pass so that it’s not cold water entering the heat exchanger. And then of course some have PIDs. A Lelit MaraX would probably work as well in your situation as an Elizabeth. I hope you’re also hunting down a variety of different decaf coffees. The market is growing and there are some better quality single origin decafs available now, more so in North America but also in Australasia. Don’t restrict yourself to SWP either. The other decaf processes might sound nastier, but if you’re buying a quality coffee from a reputable seller it should be free of any nasties.

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              • #8
                The other kind of decaf you might like to try is the stuff that is decaffeinated using sugar cane extract. Google Colombia Montalvo Passiflora for an example you can buy in Oz.

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                • #9
                  If you google "aslan colombian decaf" you'll find the one I'm using at the moment. Favourite decaf so far because it isn't roasted as dark as most.

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                  • #10
                    Agree regarding the comments on the sugar cane method. I've been using a similar one to L3N ^ from a local roaster (Villino Colombian Papayan decaf) which uses this method and loses nothing in comparison to most good normally-caffeinated roasts.

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