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Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Upgrade to Dream...  
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Mathfuzzy
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 18
Location: SF Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Dream T
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Posted Fri Mar 29, 2013, 12:08pm
Subject: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

This might elicit a huge "no duh" response, but I thought I'd share that I'm kind of shocked at how huge a positive difference my very new upgrade of both grinder and espresso machine represents.

I upgraded from an admittedly very tired (literally 20-year-old) Gaggia Classic and Pasquini Moka grinder to the new La Spaziale Dream T espresso maker and a Mazzer Mini electric (model B) grinder.  For the record, the Pasquini was / is probably fine as a general coffee grinder, but dealing with a doser turned out to be kind of a PITA and i now know that stepped adjustments on a grinder for espresso turns out to be less than ideal.  Specifically, in my case, the difference between one step and the next on the Moka respresented a 15-second double shot or a 35-second double shot.  Sure, I could have varied tamping pressure, but it's really nice to use the Espro tamper with a resulting consistent 30 pounds of tamping pressure.  And, although the Gaggia gave yeoman performance for a couple of decades, I realized it had several limitations relative to what I was asking of it.

The Dream T has no such limitations.  It's really nice to know that steam is ready and at the right temperature and in sufficient force whenever I want it.  Because I generally make milk (well...soy) drinks, this is a BIG deal and a huge improvement over the Gaggia.  After just a couple of days, i'm still adjusting to the difference in time to steam and change in technique; I basically have no time to think about what I'm doing and am having to learn new instincts and reactions.  It's completely fabulous and the resulting microfoam is great.  Once up to temperature, and now that i've programmed the various settings, the operation is pretty much dead simple.  It's actually a little anticlimactic; after the hour or so that it took me to get familiar with / configure the Spaz and dial in the Mazzer, there's not much to do except to make great espresso drinks.

Speaking of the Mazzer, it's looking to be a well worth it upgrade.  At first I was planning to stick with the Moka, but was so frustrated with the lack of fine adjustment on the morning that I placed the order for the Spaz that I pulled the trigger on the Mazzer as well.  I'm glad I did.  Being able to grind directly into the PF is really nice and it was a snap to find a grind that resulted in a 28 second double shot @ 30 lbs of pressure.  I kind of agonized over the A versus the B model, which turned out to be time poorly spent.  I can't comment on the superiority of one design over the other, but the B model works great, is perfectly intuitive, and looks nice.  It'd be great if it were exactly the same design, but weight-based, rather than timer-based.  But you can't have everything...

My better half, who isn't particularly mechanical but likes a good americano, reports that the new setup is quite easy to use.  Both of us are, however, adjusting to the size of the La Spaziale on the counter relative to the Gaggia.

The menu tree / setup of the Dream is fairly intuitive, which is nice.  The built-in timer is especially great.  My only wish list item would be wifi enablement and an app to adjust the timer / other menu items.  That might sound silly, but I travel regularly and don't have anything close to a regular schedule, so it would be great to be able to easily / remotely adjust the timer.

So, it's early days but I'm very happy with the upgrade and remain grateful to this forum for all of the helpful information I found here that influenced my research and ultimate decision.  My new espresso world is better, faster and easier!
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,775
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Mar 29, 2013, 1:45pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Congrats on the new gear and enjoy!
When trying to decide between A and B, when the money is available and will not affect things like paying bills, every time I choose the "better" item, I am always glad latter when I enjoy the item and after the bank account settles ;D

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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CarloM
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 323
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano V2B
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-E Type A, SJ...
Drip: Toddy
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 11:53am
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Thanks for sharing! I'm going to be in the market for a dual boiler some time soon. Last May I purchased my Rancilio v.3 w/ PID, and I also now own a Mazzer Mini-E Type A. I'm getting solid performance out of the Rancilio in terms of espresso quality (once I dial it in), especially since I bought the VST 18g ridgeless to go with my bottomless portafilter. But waiting for steam is starting to really annoy me, and I only make lattes (and occasionally cappuccinos for friends) about 2-3 drinks a day, 4-5 if I'm entertaining folks for dinner. Also, while making one drink is a relatively painless issue, making two or more in succession requires waiting for the boiler to go back down after steaming milk, etc. so doing 4 lattes for after dinner drinks is a 20 minute affair. By the time I'm done making mine last, everyone else has nearly finished.

I've narrowed it down to either the Dream T or the Duetto III. I want to buy from Chris Coffee so that eliminates options like the Vibiemme Double Domobar. Looking forward to more testimony from you re: your Dream T as you use it more in the days and weeks ahead. If I go Dream, I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to use my VST basket since it's 58mm...
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Mathfuzzy
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 18
Location: SF Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Dream T
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 1:29pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Yeah, the 53mm portafilter is a little bit of a "thing."  I'd initially crossed the La Spaziale off of the list because of it, but then realized I should reconsider.  I'd narrowed my decision to the Duetto III, the QM67 and the Dream T.

5 days in, I'm increasingly happy with the Dream.  Having the programmable buttons for single shot, double shot, and hot water has turned out to be unexpectedly nice.  That is to say, I hadn't really thought about the convenience of setting things up and then pushing the button for the shot / shots, the using those 30 seconds to do something else.  But it's nice.  And I've almost forgotten about not having great steam; funny how quickly one gets used to things like that.

My only complaint is that there isn't much room under the portafilter spouts.  I'm sure if you use a bottomless portafilter, then it's not as big a deal.  I solved it by getting a couple of 3 oz. brew pitchers and all is well.  Also, learned that you pretty much have to allocate 30 minutes for the thing to warm up.  I tried to rush it yesterday after 15 or 20 minutes, and figured out that you just have to be patient and give it the full 1/2 hour.  Other than those couple of minor complaints, I'm a very happy camper.
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CarloM
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 323
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano V2B
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-E Type A, SJ...
Drip: Toddy
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 2:13pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Thanks for the additional info! I will be using a bottomless pf (which I'll have to buy again, since my current one is 58mm, sigh) so cup clearance won't be an issue. I use the Intelligentsia 8oz latte cups which are also pretty short and wide.

A question: do you have yours running at 15 amps? I don't have a 20 amp receptacle so I will be running my next machine on 15. I'm worried about if I can do steam and brew at the same time. You mention it being great that you can just set it up and hit the brew button, which to me is appealing. So at 15 amp operation, can I hit the brew button and use those 25 seconds to steam my milk, or will running at 15 amps prevent that?

Also, do you have the preinfusion chamber installed? If not, was there a reason behind not having one installed?

Thanks! :)
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Mathfuzzy
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 18
Location: SF Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Dream T
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 2:59pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Yeah - i'm running at 15 amps.  And yes, I bought and had CCS configure the preinfusion chamber.  

What I'm finding is that If I steam 8 oz. of milk while I pull a double shot, it's fine.  But it's a bad idea to try to steam twice that amount of milk while pulling a double shot.  FWIW, the instructions advise against steaming and pulling a shot simultaneously (advises to steam first - then pull shot(s)), but it seems fine with a single drink volume of milk.  By the time you setup for the next shot / steam, everything has recovered in 15 amp mode.  Generally what I'm doing is hitting the double shot brew button about half way into the steaming process.
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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 3:15pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

As a second point of reference, if it helps, I personally own the Duetto, and in the past, owned a Vivaldi II.

Deciding between the two?

Tricky business.  Both are very good machines.  The two machines are at the level where really, the main difference will be what coffee you use and what grinder you have.  

53mm vs 58mm..  Honestly, I definitely prefer the 58mm.  More freedom to play around with a wider range of doses and baskets..  But maybe thats not your thing.  Maybe you would rather find a coffee you like, dial it in to your tastes, and then not mess with anything for a couple months aside from the slight grind changes due to coffee age.  In THAT case, Id say the Vivaldi would suit you perfectly.  Volumetric dosing makes it even easier to set it and forget it.

Maybe you like to play around with hard to use coffees, light roasted single origins and blends, that may or may not work at a wide range of doses requiring different baskets and techniques, not to mention extraction ratio and temperature.  In THIS regard, maybe choose the Duetto.  No volumetric dosing to reprogram, and the PID is adjustable in 1F increments, unlike the Vivaldi which is 1C.(The Dreams are 1F)


Please note,this is purely just one way to compare the two machines to make a decision... I played around with a LOT of single origins when I owned the Vivaldi, I was constantly changing temperature and shot volume programs.  Niehter machine is unsuited to either usage pattern..  I just figured Id put my opinion down, in one scenario, for these two machines.


Between the Dream models and the Vivaldi Models.. personally, IF its this machine you want, Id go with the Vivaldi/Mini over the Dream/T..  The current Vivaldi's are fully upgraded, version 2 control panels, and have been through a number of years of real life, customer feedback based upgrades.  There really is nothing left to upgrade on either of the Vivaldis.  Push button simplicity, a healthy community, and OODLES of steam power.  The Dream, with its touch panel, has some teething issues that are being addressed.  However, the nice thing about the Dream, is the on board USB port.  Updates can be downloaded as soon as La Spaziale makes them and gives to Chris, as opposed to having to wait for a new production run to arrive from Italy.  Immediate firmware updates.  So there is that.    End of the day, I like the Matte finish of the Vivaldis better than the gloss of the Dream, and I prefer the push buttons to the touch panel.  The espresso from both machines will be identical to its counterpart.

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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CarloM
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 323
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano V2B
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-E Type A, SJ...
Drip: Toddy
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 3:44pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Thank you Mathfuzzy, that is extremely helpful. I think steaming then pulling the shot wouldn't be a big deal to me because I could always use that time to keep swirling the milk, cleaning off the wand, and to do a quick 3 second steam to blow out any residual milk. Even if I'm not steaming and brewing simultaneously it will be miles better than my current Rancilio PID workflow of pulling the shot first and then waiting a minute for the machine to achieve steam power, and then another 30-40 seconds to steam the milk. By then my espresso has been sitting for nearly two minutes (not the end of the world but not ideal).
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Mathfuzzy
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 18
Location: SF Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Dream T
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 4:02pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

You're welcome - glad to help.

I think you have it exactly.  It literally takes me 20 seconds to steam 8 oz and I either start pulling the shot right after the end of those 20 seconds or near the end (because I can).  SO, either way, the milk is all ready to go once the shots have been pulled and the espresso isn't sitting around waiting.

With respect to the Vivaldi or Dream and either model vs. Duetto question, I'm definitely in the set it and (almost) forget it camp.  I have a high patience for finding something that I like and sticking with it.  I'll mess around with beans every so often, but not regularly.  And hopefully I won't live to regret the decision of getting a Dream over the MUCH more proven Vivaldi.  So far it seems that the current firmware version is stable and it will only get better from here.  Also, surprisingly, my wife kind of likes the look of the panels and even the, to my taste, cheesy font of the "Dream" logo on the front.  Honestly, I'd have paid more for a model designation delete option.
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CarloM
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 323
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano V2B
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-E Type A, SJ...
Drip: Toddy
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 4:03pm
Subject: Re: Upgrade to Dream T / Mini E - Completely Worth It
 

Jmanespresso thanks for your extremely helpful comparison between the two previous models of the two machines I'm in the market for.

I apologize in advance to Mathfuzzy for potentially hijacking his thread, I can create my own thread if you'd like, but I thought I'd continue the discussion here because my guess is that many people who are looking at buying a Dream T are also considering a Duetto III. Both are too new to have a huge user base but their predecessors were both very popular so I'm always looking for someone like JMan who has owned/used both models.

Jman: 58 v 53 I've tried to do my online research and I've read opinions ranging from yours (can tell the difference and prefer one or the other) to "it doesn't really make a difference at all if you dial both in correctly". One thing I'd be bummed about is having to buy a new bottomless portafilter and my inability to use a $30 VST basket I just bought (so in essence even though the Dream is $300 cheaper than the Duetto III this would add effectively $100 to the cost, plus another $80 for the preinfusion chamber).

You asked about beans: I've experimented with several beans, a local shop uses Vivace but I found that flavor too bold, another local shop roasts their own beans and I've found their mix to be good, but my favorite is Intelligentsia's espresso roast, and I live just 4 miles away from one so that's my bean for the foreseeable future. That said, if the 58 really does give you better performance and taste then I'll still go with that even though I've found my bean of choice.

How is the steam power of the Duetto compared to the Spaz? Not just in terms of pure steaming power but dryness of the air as well? My Rancilio is very powerful for a SBDU and can steam 6 oz in like 30 seconds, but no matter how much I bleed it first, it introduces a good amount of water into the milk, and the single hole tip while powerful doesn't produce latte art quality microfoam (and I realize I'm also a limiting factor). But I understand the higher end, multi-hole tip, machines which produce dry steam power make latte art microfoam more easily achievable.

Finally, are these machines internally and externally considered to be the same level of fit and finish? To draw an analogy from cars, sure a V6 Nissan Altima and a V6 Acura TL both give you about the same horsepower (270 v 280). But having owned and driven both, I'll take the TL any day over the other because of fit and finish, as well as rock solid stability and Acura/Honda overbuilds their engines. Obviously not a perfect analogy because the TL costs way more than a V6 Altima, while the Duetto and Spaz are within a few hundred of each other, less when you factor in the preinfusion chamber costs, as well as the sunk costs of me having to buy a new bottomless pf and inability to use my VST basket).

I thought I read in some forums people saying the Spaz was a near commercial build versus the Duetto was more consumer/prosumer. Is this true or are they very close in build quality? Some expressed concern that the electronics in the Duetto are right above the steam boiler (hence heat messing with it over time)? Also the Intelligentsia near me has a Duetto II on display which admittedly they don't take care of judging by the dust on it, but when I pulled the brew handle up it squeaked something awful. Again this may just be due to neglect.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
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