SStones Senior Member Joined: 24 Nov 2012 Posts: 518 Location: Canada Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket... Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best Vac Pot: No :( Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013, 7:39pm Subject: Re: Question for all you espresso machine owners on HX and DB machines
My answer is HX, because of familiarity. I can see how DB owners can appreciate their control over the separate boilers for maximum steam availability and no more than a "Look-See" rather than a cooling flush to check that it's ready to brew. But familiarity is very comfortable. Four seconds of cooling flush on my rather hot (1.1 to 1.3 Bar. For steam capacity) Giotto doesn't seem like a long time. It's a firm handshake between friends before we make an espresso together. You're going to get a lot of responses from people who are fairly certain that what they're used to is the better way of doing things. For what it's worth. I hope this properly expresses what I am trying to say. HX is a damn good way to do the job. Specifically devoted boilers is also a damn good way. :)
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 3,083 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013, 11:40pm Subject: Re: Question for all you espresso machine owners on HX and DB machines
I am very happy with the cost and performance of my HX. For the money I have spend on it I am getting much more value in return than I spent. I am sure I could sell it to another coffeegeek for more than I bought it for with my upgrades. I don't think I would be able to say that with an DB. However it would not have had the room for improvement that mine did and I probably could not have afforded a used one for the budget I had at the time.
To answer your question
Forever machine with money no object, I believe I would not upgrade ever if I had it:
(it is closer to an HX than a double boiler but in another class altogether really):
Why? Consistent taste in the cup and I don't need sugar in espresso from high dollar commercial pressure profile machines or commercial lever machines. (I have access to some of the best espresso in the country in the PNW with the best equipment and fine baristas. Some of the most expensive machines out there are moving towards pressure profiling. I believe they are using fancy electronics to basically do what a lever does naturally.) Taste in the cup from Londinium I on par (or better) with machines costing 2x as much- that have much harder/expensive to replace parts. (people sell 6k machines after getting this one, even one I know personally) Well balanced thermosyphan so it is "Lock and load", no flush except to clear grinds, 12 minute warm up, easy repairs that will not have do be done often and will be cheap to do because there is very little to go wrong (Old fashioned simple design, I love that idea) Simple machine taken care off can last long time and electronics will not be an issue (if they stop making the mother boards on the 6k machines they will be boat anchors when they fail). It can be tank or plumbed in, you can get it with a vibe pump or rotary pump. So it can be set up a lot of different ways. Therefore, I will not feel like if I had waited and gotten X machine I would have had this or that. Simple machine that can be set up different ways, doesn't need much in the way of maintenance and what little it needs I can do.... I think that is a winner for me.
After having improved the thermosyphan in my HX I can see how important that is to improving the taste in the cup for me. (basically, it is how the hot water flows around the machine to keep everything consistently warm. Engineers will freak out over this simplistic description but I am just trying getting the broad idea across)
Anyway, it really does come down to budget. I can afford a nice HX used, but not an nice DB used. I got HX, I am happy with it but I could have been happy with a DB too. You will be happy with whatever you get also.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
Posted Sat Sep 7, 2013, 8:42am Subject: Re: Question for all you espresso machine owners on HX and DB machines
Temping is not a big deal. HXs take a little more (very little) effort to temp a shot, but the same temperature agility makes them quicker and easier to dial-in; and that makes the overall temping experience about even for home use.
Stability IS a big deal. HX vs DB means a lot at the La Cuadra vs Breville 900 level; but much less as you climb the quality ladder towards ultimate. That's because better machines have better groups (a group is more than just the head), larger boilers, etc., which reduce some of the stability advantages which come from separate PID controlled boilers.
If, by ultimate, you mean a true professional (as opposed to prosumer) one-group, you're talking more about specific machines than the differences between HX and DB. For quality in the cup and the amount of barista technique it takes to get it, the Elektra T1, La Cimbali M21 Casa, and Nuova Simonelli compete equally with the La Marzocco GS/3.
Whether HX or DB, top prosumer machine in the cup performance is also about equal. As a general rule, you get more bang for the buck in terms of build quality with an HX than with a DB.
When I bought my ultimate I chose an HX; specifically the La Cimbali Casa because it was the machine whose looks I liked most, and because I knew I could consistently pull shots with it as good as with anything else. It didn't hurt that it was more than $2K less than the other two machines I liked.
That said, if you want to do a compare and contrast you need to get specific about particular machines, price range and whether or not you can "plumb-in." Deciding on HX or DB is one more good way to begin limiting the field so you can begin to make sense of your options.
For instance: There have been some recent upgrades to the Elektra T1 which further stabilize temps, improve reliability and add a little extra electronic versatility. At $3K it's the same price as the Casa (the old A3 was $5K when I bought the Casa). As it happens, I like the brushed stainless, industrial look of the La Cimbali; and if I had to choose again I'm not sure which I'd choose. Because I don't care for the looks of the NS Appia, it's not part of my considerations -- not to say it shouldn't be part of yours.
To give you some idea of how I rate the importance of some of the more obvious parameters: If I couldn't plumb in directly, I'd take a serious look at the DB Alex Duetto, Rocket R58, and VBM DD as well as a few up-scale convertible HX prosumers, probably eat the extra $3K (about) and get a GS/3.
Be aware that any machine at this elevated level is going to require a really good grinder to work its magic. GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,215 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 Mon Sep 9, 2013, 9:48am Subject: Re: Question for all you espresso machine owners on HX and DB machines
I have HX and am very happy. My dream machine is a DB but not because of that, it is for the pressure profiling it provides. I really could not care less about HX or DB, it is what the machine can do for me that counts. You DID SAY PRICE IS NO OBJECT that is good as this machine is $8K :-)
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!
emradguy Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2011 Posts: 3,633 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2 Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,... Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013, 11:17am Subject: Re: Question for all you espresso machine owners on HX and DB machines
I own a DB. I've posted some comments on your other thread (the one that led you to start this one)...but not within the past few days.
I love my Duetto. It's great for how I operate 99% of the time. The other 5% I wish I had a HX. Every once in a while I get the itching for a lever machine. I seriously looked at them (web-research only) before deciding on my DB. One of the deterrents for me, a big deterrent actually, was space (based on which lever I decided I wanted).
I've said in the past I'd love a speedster or a GS/3 - even mentioned them as "dream machines". In truth, if I had the opportunity to pick any machine on the market, I don't know what I'd get. I'd look at both of those. I'd look at the Synesso Hydra. I'd look at the Mirage and I'd look at the Slayer. Then I'd look at all the commercial levers. I'd make some sort of decision about which manual lever and which spring piston lever I liked, then try to compare them, pick one, and match it up against those other machines I've already mentioned.
In reality, I am extremely happy with my Duetto and hope I never have to replace it. As I am relatively handy, I think I can fix anything that goes wrong with it (though I suck at diagnostics, so I need help from others to figure out what needs fixing). So, based on that, I think it'll be something I'll give to one of my kids one day when I can't function anymore.
So, why do I love my Izzo Alex Duetto II? It's extremely well built. It's got great thermal stability. The steam pressure and quality are awesome. I like its aesthetics. I find it relatively easy to maintain and keep looking sharp. It's always ready to go when I am. It's quiet...quieter than my Macap M4 grinders even. I know when things go wrong, it's my fault, not my equipment's...as soon as I fix myself, everything is back to normal.
My current dream is to own one of each (HX, DB, lever, thermoblock, SBDU), and a slew of espresso grinders (HG one, Mazzer Robur, Compak K30 Vario, Macap M4, Rancilio Rocky, Baratza Vario and Preciso). I've seen many threads here and gotten the same questions many times at home...what should I buy, and how can I do it better? I think if I could set up a small class comparison at home, I could offer a one or two hour private consultation service going over the differences between these machine types and help people choose what's right for them. I could also give a short (1-4 hour) barista class, focusing on what people own. Maybe I'll do it one day when my kids are bigger?
Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013, 11:35am Subject: Re: Question for all you espresso machine owners on HX and DB machines
You guys are awesome I am really enjoying reading all of your personal opinions, it helps understand it all a bit better. I ended up deciding sooner because there was a 10% off sale at Seattle Coffee Gear, so I bought the Rocket R58 DB. When I get my feet wet I will start a new thread and let you know how it's going. I would still love to hear more opinions as they come along.
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