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What produces a better espresso, Isomac Zaffiro or Tea?

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  • What produces a better espresso, Isomac Zaffiro or Tea?

    These are available used for around the same money, ~!$1k. Zaffiro has E61 but Tea is HX. I don’t really need to steam milk often but if there is no obvious discernible difference then why not.

    Apart from shot quality, is/would the dual boiler hx set up of the Tea be less reliable/more maintenance that the single boiler Zaffiro? Logically it would but in reality is it?

    I’m leaning to the Zaffiro but not having to wait to steam is nice assuming shot quality, reliability and mtce are the same.

  • #2
    The Tea is also a single boiler, the heat exchanger (HX) unit allows steam and the coffee group to be used at the same time, those and the hot water function use the same boiler. A double boiler has one dedicated steam boiler and one for brewing.

    Used you should be able to get a Zaffiro cheaper than 1k, you see them and similar machines like Domobar Piccolo as low as $500 popping on Gumtree/eBay every few months. If you are not worried about HX and E61 group then you could consider Rancilio Silvia, Lelit P41 series, ECM Casa (all not as pretty but fine single boilers). There are heaps of used Silvias around for $300-$500 and they are a great machine to get started in coffee.

    I think coffee wise the same quality should be identical as both are E61 grouphead.

    You will find a HX machine easier to sell/turnover if/when you decide to upgrade later as HX with the E61 grouphead are very popular.

    In terms of servicing in the long run the costs could be slightly less with a non-HX machine.
    Senior Member
    Last edited by roosterben; 7 June 2019, 12:51 PM. Reason: Fixed error Domobar Piccolo not Junior


    • #3
      In theory the Zaffiro should be better. As an e61 single boiler machine it has the potential to produce awesome shots. Apparently it’s not a great steamer and obviously you have to wait for it to come up to temperature as well. If you’re making espresso most of the time, especially if you’re trying different coffees and origins it should be the better pick. You just need to accept it’s less convenient to steam milk with. If that’s likely to be a problem the Tea will also make great espresso as it’s also an e61, but a heat exchanger model so you can steam and brew at the same time or immediately before/after with no delay.


      • #4
        The Single Boiler should give you more control of adjusting Brew Temp than the HX. As with the VBM Piccolo, the Zaffiro used a capillary bulb thermostat that could easily be adjusted. There was a small dead band with the thermostat switching on/off but can be worked around with a little temp surfing if you feel the need. An E61 Grouphead thermometer is a valuable (I'd recommend one) addition in this regard. The real attraction of a non-PID E61 Single Boiler is the sheer simplicity. Very little to go wrong if looked after and easy to repair if you have the DIY inclanation. A PID upgrade is a DIY option also if you have the ability to do it safely. Unless you're making multiple milk drinks at a time, Steaming is adequate for a couple caps or lattes at a time. You can play with temp surfing the Steam as well and begin steaming just before the heating light goes out (time it beforehand) which maintains heating during Steaming for best results. Used price on the older model VBM Piccolo/Levetta with the rust prone powder coated frame is usually $700-800 for an average one. The cheaper they are, the more likely to have issues I'd suggest. Not sure about the Isomac Zaffiro used prices.