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Advice on first home machine; DB vs HX and other questions

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  • Advice on first home machine; DB vs HX and other questions

    I'm new to the site, but have been using it for a while, recently got a breville smart grinder based on reviews on the site, time will tell if that was a good move, but so cheap who cares for now ($165 at Domayne, nice...) So thanks to all for being a great resource.

    I'm pretty well over my bialletti stovetop and in the market for my first home machine. I'm having a bit of trouble on a few finer points I need to resolve before narrowing down the search. I was hoping I might be able to get some guidance or advice on machines to look at. I'll give some thoughts on my needs below:

    I'm in the 1500-3000 bracket, but keen stay at the lower end rather than upper end if possible. Happy to consider second hand or refurb, or try and hunt for deals towards end of FY. Looked at the Breville DB machine when I bought my grinder and thought it looked cheap and nasty. Even if reviews are good I think I want a 'real' italian machine.
    Reliability is key for me, friends' Sunbeams have been in under warranty repeatedly, and it's a big pain taking it in etc.
    Want it to be a quiet - I get up early and share an apartment (my friends' sunbeams are a disaster in this regard) - what does this mean in terms of the pump to look for? Are all machines in the 1500-3000 bracket quiet?
    Want it to be relatively fast - accept I can put it on a timer to warm up, but I get up early and want to get out the door quickly, so not that keen on having to wait forever for optimum temps (is this an unrealistic expectation?)
    Want to brew and do milk at same time, but don't need to do large volumes of coffees - most days I'll make one coffee in the morning, sometimes two. Weekends and other days might make a coffee for someone else, so will brew two in a row, but rarely more than that
    Can't quite determine based on above if I should be going for HX or DB. HX seem to be cheaper, so if I can, maybe I should go HX? Getting confused with the possibility of HX with PID vs DB, vs DB with PID (if there is such a thing?). I'm a bit of a perfectionist and can imagine being disappointed at some time down the track if I get the wrong machine, but really want to keep cost down, so may have to sacrifice something.
    I drink flat whites, shots and macs
    Can't quite determine how 'auto' I want my semi auto. Appreciate the need to control the length of time for the shot, but in most cases I'd like to set and forget (consistent with moving out the door quickly in the mornings) - can I afford a machine that does this - what am I looking for here? Lever actuated vs push buttons? Something where I can set the volume for the push button? I don't really want to be counting out time for the shot (i'll probably walk away and forget!)
    Don't really know whether I need or have to have e61 head or not based on the above requirements.
    I don't need it to look amazing - don't own my own home so not investing in matching all my appliances to my decor etc
    However, I think I'd love a Rocket (but not sure I need (or can afford) one)
    I'm in Canberra, unfortunately I think the only place I can look at machines is Cosmorex, and they don't seem to have a particularly large range

    Hope that's enough info for anyone who's willing to offer some advice. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by rynogee; 7 May 2013, 10:50 AM.

  • #2
    G'day Rynogee and welcome.
    I'll try and give you some advice based on my personal experience.
    Looking at your usage, ie 1 or 2 in the morning and 2 in a row on weekends, I would suggest that you don't 'need' the capacity of a HX or DB machine, and that a good single boiler machine will suit you just fine. You say that you want to pull a shot while you're steaming, which you can't do on a single boiler, however are you willing to spend the extra $$$ for this feature? In reality, you'll be waiting no more than a minute or two for a single boiler machine to get up to steaming temp after pulling a shot.

    In regards to the noise factor, have you factored in the grinder into the equation? The grinder is usually a lot noisier than the espresso machine, but there are things (warranty voiding mods) you can do to make the pump quieter if you really want to.

    How long do you have in the morning before you have to leave? I take it that you have a shower, get dressed and have breakfast before you leave. If you turn the machine on when you wake up, it will leave plenty of time for the machine to get up to its operating temperature. You could look at a timer to turn the machine on at a pre-determined time, but there are things that you need to take into account using a timer which could adversely affect the machine.

    I would advise you to go and see Attilio at Cosmorex, he is a true gentleman and will give you sound advice.

    I hope this helps you out,
    Steve.

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    • #3
      Thanks Steve.

      I guess it's possible that single boiler might work. Maybe I need to have a try with one. I guess it also depends on the difference in price between that and an HX. I think i'd probably prefer to be able to do both at the same time though.

      Have factored the grinder into the equation, the breville seems ok in this regard, it certainly seems quieter than the pump on the Sunbeam thermoblock machine which i guess is my reference point for noise. The breville grinder seems quieter than the sunbeam grinder, but might just be my imagination.

      As far as warming up, I ride to work, so probably only have the time it takes me to make some breakfast to allow the machine to warm up (and it would actually be ideal to have made my coffee first). Of course I can just wait longer, but would be good if it's faster rather than slower at warming up, and I thought the DB machines maybe need longer, so was maybe a factor in deciding what type of machine.

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      • #4
        You're welcome.
        A good quality single boiler machine will be a less $$$ than a HX machine or DB machine (except a Breville, which you've already ruled out). To get the machine up to operating temp allow about 30 minutes, this time includes getting the boiler up to temp and also the components that the coffee comes in contact with (group head, group handle). This time can be shortened by running hot water from the boiler through the group handle.
        Steve.

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        • #5
          I think your made up your mind already you just need someone to tell you want you should get. For that price range you should try and find maybe a rocket giotto evo.

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          • #6
            what's the issue with running a timer at the mains outlet to get the machine up to temp?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by rynogee View Post
              what's the issue with running a timer at the mains outlet to get the machine up to temp?
              If you forget to prime the boiler and/or the steam wand is opened or leaking, when the timer starts up in the morning you can fry your heater element due to lack of water.

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              • #8
                What is working for me is my Lelit PL60t v2. This is my first "real" machine and I think it would tick most of your boxes. This machine comes up to temp in around 10-15 mins and should come in at the low end of your price range. As it is a dual boiler you can extract and steam at the same time. When I bought my machine I didn't know how much I would appreciate this. My old semi auto machine used to annoy me with the delay between extracting and steaming and then back again to extracting.

                It isn't the prettiest looking machine out there but that wasn't a deal breaker for me. It is pretty quiet compared to the grinder.

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                • #9
                  cool, well I guess the Lelit and the rocket Evo are on the list but are pretty different machines, need to throw a few in the mix to consider what trade-offs I might make in terms of price v features. Is (base level) warranty much different between brands?

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                  • #10
                    I have a very temperature stable HX and really like it. The only reason I can imagine "upgrading" to a dual boiler eventually is if I go crazy on a large variety of single origin coffees that do better with different brew temperatures.

                    With regard to warm up times, my experience has been that you really need the machine (any machine) to be on for about 30-40 minutes for the brew boiler and group head to be stable. I use a timer.

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                    • #11
                      what machine?

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                      • #12
                        I have an ECM Technika Profi IV...

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rynogee View Post
                          Want it to be relatively fast - accept I can put it on a timer to warm up, but I get up early and want to get out the door quickly, so not that keen on having to wait forever for optimum temps (is this an unrealistic expectation?)

                          ...

                          Don't really know whether I need or have to have e61 head or not based on the above requirements.

                          ...

                          As far as warming up, I ride to work, so probably only have the time it takes me to make some breakfast to allow the machine to warm up (and it would actually be ideal to have made my coffee first). Of course I can just wait longer, but would be good if it's faster rather than slower at warming up, and I thought the DB machines maybe need longer, so was maybe a factor in deciding what type of machine.
                          Hi rynogee,

                          The Lelit PL60T V2, ECM Technika Profi and Rocket Giotto are all great machines but very different in terms of heat up times. The Lelit dual boiler has it's brew boiler attached directly to the group head so when the boiler is hot, the group head isn't far behind (10 to 15 minutes). It also allows both boilers to heat concurrently. The ECM Technika Profi and Rocket Giotto are HX E61 machines and these need at least 30 minutes to warm up (more is better) because when the boiler gets up to temperature on these the brew circuit is still cold. If your morning routine is short, you will probably want a timer with a HX E61 or a fast heating machine.

                          charlie
                          Last edited by JetBlack_Espresso; 7 May 2013, 05:39 PM.

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                          • #14
                            thanks Charlie, that's useful info. Certainly starting to build a better picture of the different options; it seems I'm going to need to make some calls on trade-offs.

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                            • #15
                              Given your start-up I think a single boiler is probably a no-show. Unless you can find one with a boiler auto-fill, the timer-based start-up is risky. Most HX and DB machines will auto-fill the boilers, so unless the tank runs out of water you are unlikely to run the boiler dry (unless you **really** stuff up!)

                              Do think about a smaller lever machine as well. They usually heat up faster than HX or DB and make great coffee as well.

                              Greg

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