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The upgrade question again
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > The upgrade...  
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chill
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jun 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Fairfax, Va., USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Alexia, single PID
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Drip: Melitta 4c manual
Posted Sat Jun 23, 2012, 7:21pm
Subject: The upgrade question again
 

Long time listener, first time caller.

I currently have a Saeco which is more than 10 years old, and it's having
increasing difficulty in delivering a satisfactory shot. At this point it
doesn't owe me anything, so I'm looking at the Quickmill Alexia with PID
controller. I am exclusively an espresso drinker; if I froth milk once in
a year that would be a lot, so I don't really feel the need for an HX
machine, and certainly not a DB. Apart from the Alexia, there doesn't seem
to be much out there in a single-boiler E61. The E61 seems to be a good  
choice for good espresso with minimum hassles; am I mistaken about that?

Any gotchas, or even unfounded opinions, on the Alexia? Any other machines
I should be looking at?

Thanks!

PS - Usage:  I do two or three double shots every day, maybe more on the  
weekends. As you'll see to the left, my grinder is a Baratza Virtuoso
Preciso; it's six months old and I am delighted with it.
.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sun Jun 24, 2012, 2:16am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

The E61 by Faema brew head was developed for HX machines using a thermo syphon for heating the brew group. Nowadays it's used on SBDU and DB machines as well, but that's done mostly for looks rather than for functionality, because it gives those machine the appearance of a traditional Italian espresso machine.

I agree with you that a SBDU will suffice if you only use the steam wand every once in a while. A PID will give you better temperature control especially by having a smaller dead band. However, it doesn't release you from temperature surfing.

Here are some other SBDUs with an E61 brew head for you to take a look at:
  • Isomac Amica
  • Isomac Zaffiro
  • Vibiemme Domobar
  • ECM Classika II
  • QuickMill La Certa

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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chill
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jun 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Fairfax, Va., USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Alexia, single PID
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Drip: Melitta 4c manual
Posted Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:20pm
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

Thanks for the pointers, NobbyR. I will take a look at those.
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randytsuch
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Jun 2009
Posts: 578
Location: LA, Ca
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office with...
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Roaster: Customized Alpenrost,...
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 7:04am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

E61's are big, massive heads.
They take a while to heat up, but once up to temp, they are thermally stable, because of that mass.

When I was looking at machines a couple of years ago, I remember it was hard to find a E61 SBDU machine.  You may find those machines are not available over here.

Also, I thought the Domobar was either a HX or double boiler, I'm not aware of a SBDU version.

Randy
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chill
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jun 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Fairfax, Va., USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Alexia, single PID
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Drip: Melitta 4c manual
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 7:21am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

There seem to be a few different models of Domobar available from 1st-line. Yes, they are all heat exchangers, which is why I had originally culled them from the pool of contenders.

I had looked at  the Isomacs as well, but I was not able to find any actual machines for sale. Chriscoffee has parts, but not machines.
.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 7:27am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

E61 brew heads offer thermostability, that much is true.

I don't know if all those SBDUs are available in the United States. However, in Europe there are several versions of Vibiemme Domobar espresso machines: the Inox and Nero are SBDUs, the Super Auto is a HX, and the Junior Dual and Super PID are DBs.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,129
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 9:17am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

have you considered looking at levers?

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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chill
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jun 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Fairfax, Va., USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Alexia, single PID
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso
Drip: Melitta 4c manual
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 10:15am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

emradguy Said:

have you considered looking at levers?

Posted June 25, 2012 link

No. I don't have the space, skill or patience for a lever.
.
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TagTeamJesus
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 355
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: LM GS/3 AV; PID Silvia
Grinder: Kony E; Macap MC4
Drip: v60
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 3:56pm
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

I also only drink espresso.  Milk + coffee makes me feel tired for some reason.  And I just don't enjoy it as much as the wide world of flavors in espresso.  So, I have owned 3 single boiler machines: PID Silvia ==> PID Alexia ==> La Marzocco Shot Brewer.  Somewhere in there, I tried the Alex Duetto DB.

Perhaps because I generally pull slower, gloopy shots in the first place, I really zeroed in on textural differences in the espresso produced by each machine, and it became important to me.   When making these gloopy ristretto shots, Silvia resulted in the fluffiest, airiest textures and sometimes less clear flavors.  I found the E61 resulted in denser textures, maybe clearer flavors.  The La Marzocco feels the silkiest, still quite fluffy, not as insanely fluffy as Silvia - flavors are very clear too (grinder dependent of course).  And of course this is given that the shot is a good one in the first place (contingent on all those barista skillz).  To me it's not a matter of best but of preference.  Personally, I just never fell in love with the density of the spro from E61 and I prefer my Silvia and Marzocco - but I can understand if someone else prefers the E61.  In an ideal world you'd get to sample all these things before buying and contemplate what your preference is.  Alexia is undoubtedly a great machine, and during my ownership, she crafted some great tasting espresso.  FWIW, I didn't really notice any difference at all between the espresso from Alexia vs. the double boiler Alex Duetto.

I don't like to recommend anything I haven't used myself; however, other single boiler options I have not used but am interested in because they come equipped with PID are the Quickmill Silvano and the Crossland CC1.  I can't imagine much of a difference between Alexia or any other E61 single boiler, but it is nice that you can get the Alexia with a PID already installed in it.

NobbyR Said:

A PID will give you better temperature control especially by having a smaller dead band. However, it doesn't release you from temperature surfing.

Posted June 24, 2012 link

True.  PIDs control the boiler temperature, not the final brew temperature.  And there is a whole machine in between the boiler and the coffee.  I generally find that the first few shots of the day are colder compared to ones a few shots in, probably because the grouphead heats up as you pull more hot water through it.  Even with my Shot Brewer, I have found this to be the case, though perhaps to a lesser degree.  You might say, well when will I be drinking 4 shots in a row?  All the time!  Hahaha...actually, it's not that....it's that you may not nail the right temperature or grind on the first shot, or two, or three.  So, as you continue to dial in, at least be aware that just because the PID reads the same temp, this does not mean the brew temp is remaining the same.  It means that if I do nail the first shot and it's as sweet as caramel, I often have to lower the PID temperature down the road to achieve the same results.  In my experience, Silvia's group was the most prone to temperature variations, E61 less so, saturated group the least so.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Jun 26, 2012, 4:00am
Subject: Re: The upgrade question again
 

chill Said:

No. I don't have the space, skill or patience for a lever.

Posted June 25, 2012 link

I don't want to advocate taking a lever machine, but they usuallly take up less kitchen space than most SBDUs. As far as skill and patience are concerned, that's largely a question of practicing. And a spring lever machine is much easier to handle.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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