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Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Talk me out of...  
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ryandunlap
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 104
Location: Syracuse, NY
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 3:02pm
Subject: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

So tomorrow I'm pulling the trigger on an Elektra T1, and I'm going to pair it with the Vario-W. My last machine was an Alex Duetto II. A PID controlled dual-boiler. Can anyone talk me out of it moving FROM a dual-boiler TO a HX machine? Isn't that backwards?!

I was never quite happy with my Duetto. I'm not sure if it was the build quality or the taste in the cup (as some have argued the differences between shots pulled on a dual-boiler vs. hx.)

My budget for the machine is anything less than $3,500.

Thanks!

(Similarly, my last grinder was the standard Baratza Vario. Am I going to hate not being able to have a portafilter holder?)
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,411
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 3:17pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

First, would you like to be my new best friend? I don't know any rich people, and you could be the first!  :-O

This change of machine sounds crazy on the surface. I would STOP and get some help if I were you... No not professional mental assistance, nor chemical intervention, but get someone over with espresso experience and possibly who could bring a different grinder to play some espresso games. There may be something wrong with the grinder, or with the Duetto that can be addressed (incorrect offset temp as an example). Unless your tastes are very well refined I would say that you should be able to produce excellent shots with the Duetto. My second piece of advice which came to mind is that you would be better served getting a high-end grinder than changing the machine, but one step at a time. You are located in an area where, worst case, it should be easy to bring the machine to a good coffee shop and let one of the baristas play with it, even if you have to pay them... cheaper to find a problem than keep buying machines searching for something that you already have. If nothing else, it would professionally-verify that the machine is OK and make it easy to sell.

And either of those machines deserve a better grinder. The Varios are nice, but difficult to compare to a top-end, large conical. IMO, of course.

 
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samuellaw178
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samuellaw178
Joined: 22 Jan 2011
Posts: 382
Location: KL,Malaysia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Arrarex Caravel
Grinder: Rosco Mini
Drip: French Press, Aeropress,...
Roaster: DIY Copper drum roaster
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 3:43pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

If you cant pull a shot that makes you happy, either your beans or your techniques *have some issues*. Alex Duetto and Vario is a VERY good and EASY setup, if you cant pull great shots with that, I am not sure what will. Change your beans perhaps. Save the money, unless you are just keen on spending, then we would have different advise on that =D
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JPF
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Joined: 3 Jun 2010
Posts: 223
Location: NJ
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Espresso: Mini Vivaldi, Pre-millenium...
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Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 4:01pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

I agree with previous posters, but if money isn't an issue, the Elektra group is said to produce wonderful espresso if you like more nuanced less chocolate bomby shots.  However, if you prefer the comfort food, chocolate bomb shots, stick with the E61 group.

 
Living the caffeinated life.
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Bob_McBob
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Bob_McBob
Joined: 30 Jan 2006
Posts: 456
Location: Waterloo, ON
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 4:10pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

Keep in mind Ryan no longer owns a Duetto, so he is talking about starting from scratch again here.

 
Chris
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godofgwar
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Joined: 26 Aug 2009
Posts: 147
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Drip: Single Dripper/Aeropress
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 4:32pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

I am absolutely in love with my newly acquired T1 (not the newest model, but same body). Aside from running a bit hot (I brought the boiler pressure way down) and having a narrow drip tray, it's an absolutely beast of an HX with that friggin' 6-liter boiler!

That said, I use a LM Linea paddle version at my office quite a bit, and I can't say that I wouldn't give up my T1 for that (if I had endless kitchen space) or a GS/3. The temp stability on the LM dual-boilers is just awesome.

But there's something inherently pleasing about the few challenges of an HX...timing the cooling flush just right, etc. I've never used a Duetto, for what it's worth.
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,411
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 4:57pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

I missed the subtlety of the language that inferred that the first machine was gone... I couldn't imagine going from my VBM DD to a HX machine, but that's just me...

 
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ryandunlap
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 104
Location: Syracuse, NY
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 5:15pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

What I've not been able to do (and perhaps this is 100% technique, if so I'd save some money and get the Duetto again), but what I've not been able to get in the cup is that last dollop of frothed milk that sits in the cup 'till the very end, the dark striations (which I rekon is that I use a local small time roaster who's not as informed as the more third-wave roasters), and the way the espresso seems to stick to the edge of the cup (but maybe I'm just imagining things and this isn't really anything beyond the ceramic being used!)

(This was a cappa I had at Barefoot Coffee in San Jose---love that place!)

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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,411
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 5:45pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

Not getting good textured milk for lattes or thick crema, dark and mottled? The area that could cause that are enough to fill a website over an eleven year period... err.. wait. I already have one of those!  ;-)

Coffee freshness, grind, dose, distribution, water temperature, steaming technique, grinder problems, bad pressure gauge on the machine, and the list goes on and on of the causes of the problems you describe.  

I suggest you take a nice drive to Santa Cruz to Great Infusions (but avoid 17 until the rain subsides!) and work with Sebastian there. He carries the Duetto II and maybe he can help you work out the troubles and maybe pair it with a better grinder.. Just a thought. Spending more on the Elektra to find the same problem still exists would really be depressing!

I went from (ya, here he goes again) the VBM Domobar Super to the VBM Double Domobar, and could not imagine having to revert to a HX again.

 
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ryandunlap
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 104
Location: Syracuse, NY
Posted Wed Jan 18, 2012, 7:01pm
Subject: Re: Talk me out of going FROM a dual-boiler TO a heat exchanger (the Elektra T1)
 

frcn Said:

Coffee freshness, grind, dose, distribution, water temperature, steaming technique, grinder problems, bad pressure gauge on the machine, and the list goes on and on of the causes of the problems you describe.

Posted January 18, 2012 link

Very, very interesting. When I first got my Duetto (and one of the reasons I have a bad taste of the brand) was the pump pressure gauge would go wonky on me. Several times it would fill with steam so you couldn't read it, and with the needle would jump all over the place. ...this was consistent, but it happened enough.

I no longer live in the Bay Area, so I can't do as you suggest, but you've (and others) are convincing me that maybe I should give the Duetto another try and save close to a grand.
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