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Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
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eeeehaw
Senior Member
eeeehaw
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1, Francis...
Grinder: Breville Smart Grinder
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:33pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Okay, looks like about 1 yr since this Breville BES900XL discussion last post.  What is the opinion now of that machine?  Has it proven to "break the mold" of previous Breville machines (eg, reliability, value, etc)?

I'm looking at spending <$1K on a new machine (my Francis Fancis! X1 finally died on me after 12 yrs).   One poster in this thread so far exhibits actual personal experience using the Breville machine, with good results, albeit some time ago, but am interested in hearing more about how this looks today and hoping more folks here have had a chance to use and compare.

I make on average 8 mugs of Americano per day (wife & I).  Altho I rarely have the patience to steam milk for cappacinos, I do have to do that for dinner guests occasionally.  In all instances, time is my biggest concern, ie I don't want to wait a second longer than I have to for the machine to be ready to use for any function (this was my fav point about the X1, as it was ready to brew <1 min after flipping the power on, during which time I was getting the bean container out, releasing the vacuum lid - I vacuum them with a FoodSaver - grind, and load/tamp the portafilter).  Pull the double/triple, and shoot hot water wand with one hand while removing & dumping the portafilter with the other hand.  I'm fortunate to have a good selection of local micro-roasters where I live to buy the extra-oily beans I prefer from (I live in the Seattle area).  I'm also fortunate to have the best tasting water out of the tap here, non-chlorinated, 5000 yr old snow-melt from the Cascade Mtns I live in from an unusually large underground acquifer.  However, the X1 had an "old-style" boiler that imparted a noticeable metallic taste from the water sitting in it from the previous brewing session (albeit not noticeable to my guests), so I conceptually find the "thermo-block" style boiler design appealing, since I typically make at most 2 cups at a time with hours in-between brewing sessions.  I want either continued manual control over volume of water pumped, or ability to change programming for volume, as sometimes I want more "espresso" and less hot water in the blend (depends on the beans I buy) for my Americano.  Sorry, I can't bring myself to see spending >$100 on a grinder, but more than willing to buy used/refurbished as I'm also a bargain hunter.  I do want some durability, meaning I don't want to be paying somebody to repair the machine before 5 yrs is up (altho as a degreed engineer I do a lot of DIY repairs on my electronics/appliances/house), but don't mind buying another newer machine after that time.

Despite the OP question not being quite answered yet, I have enjoyed learning alot from the senior posters' info/links, so thanks for that.  However, I am looking for some info on the OP question without pressure to "move up" to a lofty league of significantly more expensive, or time-consuming process, equipment.  (BTW, I'm a "high-end audiophile" with $50K audio equipment investment, so I know a bit about that journey into a passion that sucks time, effort, money...and I have never really liked "the process", just the end-result product.)

Is there a $1K espresso solution that meets my needs in your respected opinion?
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cafeespresso
Senior Member


Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 107
Location: South Florida, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Roaster: FR 8+, SC/Turbo CO
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 2:22pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

there is a huge BES900XL owners thread..I suggest you take a look there
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eeeehaw
Senior Member
eeeehaw
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1, Francis...
Grinder: Breville Smart Grinder
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 2:43pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Thanks, will do!
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thebeardedbarista
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Nov 8, 2013, 11:26pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Hey all,

I realize I am resurrecting a considerably old thread, but I'm curious... For those of you who are skeptical of the Breville, what specifically about the Dual Boiler do you see as inferior to, say, an Izzo Duetto? From the posts I've read, the only actual reasons anyone could give are 1) they are more durable and 2) They have a better track record than Breville. Of course, those are important issues, but what about the actual performance of the machine is substantially different? Do you notice a $1,400 difference in the cup between an Izzo Duetto and the BDB? I know a few of you have said that to compare a BDB and and Izzo is "ridiculous", but I am interested in hearing specifically why. Real, concrete reasons (other than the ones already mentioned), not vague scoffing. I understand the skepticism of Breville. My first machine was a Breville and it SUCKED. I get it. I have no vested interest in proving one side or the other - I am honestly curious!

One little nuance to the durability question. Since Breville is carried by a big retail store like Bed Bath and Beyond, BBB has a "life-time, no hassle return policy." Yep, that means that you can return anything, at any time, for any reason. Something happens in 3, 5, or even 10 years? You can get a full refund. Just another factor. Take it for what it is.
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,277
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

One is hand made in Italy by old world craftsman with a design that has stood the test of time. One is a new design from a company
made famous by small appliances and made in a Chinese assembly line and mass produced.

Iluvdabean: espresso23.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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jonr
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jun 2013
Posts: 298
Location: Americas
Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 7:30am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

With independent heaters and thermostats for the brew boiler and the group and less non-thermostatically controlled exposed metal, I expect the BDB to have a more consistent temperature profile.  Not much data online for the BDB but see here for 2F changes in the Duetto, even without room temperature variations:

Click Here (coffeetime.wikidot.com)

I expect that both machines have a profile that is too flat for my taste.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,319
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 10:10am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

jonr Said:

I expect that both machines have a profile that is too flat for my taste.

Posted November 9, 2013 link

Probably.

The BDB's flatness -- which most people probably neither notice nor mind if they do -- is the biggest reason I find it hard to take BDB vs GS/3 comparisons (and there are a lot of them) very seriously.

Certain manufacturers like La Cimbali and La Marzocco seem able to get a signature, and lively cup.  Others, not so much.  For instance, I find the NS Aurelia boring compared to either La M or La C.  It brings up the question of whether or not there can be too much stability, too much regulation.  

At the end of the day, it's -- of course -- a "to each his own."  It appears you and I like a similarly "lively" cup.  Others don't.  

BDL
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jonr
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jun 2013
Posts: 298
Location: Americas
Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 10:18am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Isn't the GS/3 also a very flat temp profile machine?  What I really like (and have) is a machine that can easily produce any profile - flat, a HX shape (early increase then flat) or a small boiler curve (steady decline of say 6F).
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 11:08am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

boar_d_laze Said:

It brings up the question of whether or not there can be too much stability, too much regulation.

Posted November 9, 2013 link


I think you can have too much stability and regulation with food and by extension coffee.

Just like cooking a roast in microwave or a crockpot tastes nothing like roast cooked in the oven with a nice brown crust. That crust is really over cooked and the crockpot is cooked much more evenly, but does that really taste better?

jonr Said:

Isn't the GS/3 also a very flat temp profile machine?  What I really like (and have) is a machine that can easily produce any profile - flat, a HX shape (early increase then flat) or a small boiler curve (steady decline of say 6F).

Posted November 9, 2013 link

And what magical machine does all the temp profiles?  

I look forward to the day they have a machine that can do preprogrammed temp and pressure profiling with the push of a button.  I think that day is coming.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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eeeehaw
Senior Member
eeeehaw
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1, Francis...
Grinder: Breville Smart Grinder
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 11:10am
Subject: Re: Breville BES900XL Best For Pricepoint
 

Sat down this morning to check email and saw notices of new posts on this thread after such a long time.  Thought I'd post an update of what happened in my case since my old posting above...

I trialed the Breville DB and it seemed to work well enough.  A neighbor of mine has a Duetta, so I'm quite familiar with it, but I don't really consider it in the same price/performance category at least for what I want in a machine.  But I also trialed and wound up buying the Crossland CC1, which is about the same price (www.crosslandcoffee.com).  I worked with Seatttle Coffee Gear (I'm local to their store here) on this, and between their expertise guiding me, the PIV controller designer residing locally in Seattle, the ability to tweak PIV settings, I chose it over the Breville.  However, the Breville was impressive for the price, far better looking aesthetically (if you care about such), and given the liberal satisfaction policies of their dealers (as mentioned above, Bed-Bath&Beyond among others), I think it would have been a good purchase also.

I experienced a "problem" with the Crossland from the outset, in that the boiler temp display shows a dramatic drop from the brewing setpoint down to a low level when pulling shots (albeit much less after the machine's been on for >1hr).  Being a EE myself, I have a plethora of test equipment on hand, including a precision temp probe, and measured the brew water in the portafilter while this was happening, and saw that the actual water temp change there was much less than perhaps what was going on in the boiler; I say "perhaps" because the boiler temp sensor is located a bit near the cold water inlet flow, and may not be an accurate display of the diffused boiler water temp.  During the process of "troubleshooting" this, I wound up getting assistance from Crossland himself (in addition to Seattle Coffee Gear), which is comforting at least to an engineer.  At this point, I'm happy with the machine as it is very consistent in brew quality, the displayed water temp issue does not seem to have a noticeable effect on brew quality, and the machine has outstanding features.  The ability to easily change PIV settings proved valuable to me, as I was able to tweak the brew to something I liked better.  Ie, it did not turn out to be a "problem" after all.  I only mention the Crossland here in full disclosure vs the Breville that I first inquired here about.

My brief experience with this particular model Breville was positive, so I advise serious consideration.  I particularly liked it's very fast heating time, esp for steam.  Perhaps someone else who've lived with it for months could provide us more feedback.

An important factor for me and many others is VALUE, ie what you get for the price.  This particular Breville is impressive to me from that perspective.  You can typically purchase something better in terms of features, performance, reliability, aesthetics, support, etc, in any product, but you typically wind up paying much more of your hard-earned money for diminishing returns on your investment.  For those who are purposely finicky and passionate about one particular factor, it is often well worth it to them to pay thousands $$ for improvement that may be slightly noticeable to others (eg, I'm that way about hi-end audio).  But for the majority, a balanced compromise between the factors most important to them often translates into a purchase budget that may be very well suited for a good Breville machine or other fine machines that sell for under $1000 street, and where marginal improvement may mean paying at least 50-100% more for a "craftsman built machine from Italy".  I know a guy in my small community here who owns a business servicing & refurbishing commercial espresso machines (for Starbucks & other retail coffee businesses), and he has some revealing views about Italian vs other national products regarding both performance and quality that some here would find surprising).  Beware of "religious fervor" without concrete justification of why one style of manufacturing ("craftsman" vs "robotic" assembly vs "less-sophisticated workers who've built 1000 times are many of the same product"), one country, one brand, one technology is superior to others.  

With that said, this forum is meant for opinions, opinions can be valuable if they're carefully considered, and I for one enjoy reading them (except when the prejudice becomes blindly religious).  Most importantly, I've gotten some very valuable info here from others.  Hopefully you will, too, from others who've worked with this machine.
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