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Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
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mawst95
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 7:09am
Subject: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

Hi all,

I've been lurking for a while, searching, reading, learning.  I'm looking for my first machine.  I have a Precisio grinder.


1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?  80% milk based drinks.  I like my drinks a bit bigger on the order of 8-12 oz. total.
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time? (This will tell us what you need in terms of a machine's ability to work continuously.)  2-4.
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week? Unsure about this, but probably 2-3 a day, 6-7 days a week.
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir? Tank.
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit? Standard 15 amp.
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder? About $1600 give or take a hundred or so for the machine, tamper, knockbox, and, if needed grouphead thermometer.
7)  Are you willing to buy used or do you need new equipment? Do you or family member have the skills to repair used equipment?  I know just enough to screw stuff up:) I prefer new and robust.
8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these. I don't have accessories, only the grinder.

Space-wise I have about 20" of depth to play with, 13" of width and 17" of height.

I've tentatively narrowed the choice to the VBM Domobar Super HX and the QM Anita.  I can get both for about the same price.  The latter has a longer warranty from a popular seller; the former has "commercial terms," with a shorter warranty, though that seller also gets great marks from forum members.    

I lean towards the Anita due to its slightly smaller size and longer warranty.  I assume steaming will be slightly better on the VBM due to the larger boiler.  Enough to make a difference though?

I'd like to put either on a 15A timer with a surge protector to heat up in the AM and shut off when I leave.  Otherwise, I prioritize user friendliness, longevity, ease of repairm and of course, overall quality.  I'm a newbie to machines AND espresso.  

I've read a lot about both machines and I feel like I'm in a "can't go wrong with either" situation, but I'd like your thoughts, particularly if you owned or used both machines.  Lastly, if there's a machine in the same price range that is clearly superior, please let me know.

Thank you!

Mawst
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,054
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 Tue Apr 22, 2014, 7:43am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

Matt,

Welcome to CG!  

It would be helpful if we had an idea where you're located, as there are members here from all over the world, and some things that get recommended may not be all that accessible to you, or prohibited by shipping costs.  Also, if you happen to be near a machine retailer you don't know about, it would give you a chance to go to their showroom and see the machines up close and personal.

For instance, I'd like to recommend this power surge protector...

Click Here (www.1st-line.com)

As I have never owned either brand of equipment (Vibiemme or Quickmill), I can't make a recommendation based on use, but I can confirm that both are readily available from very high qwuality dealers, that are often recommended here.  I looked at the stock of Vibiemmes on 1st-line and Stefano's Espressocare (where you should also download the manual from, even if you don't buy it from him).  The Super HX comes in three versions based on their sites.  Two of them have a vibratory pump, while the other one has a rotary pump.  Rotary pumps are generally preferred due to being quieter and increased longevity, and the ability to plumb...but it's more the noise that could be an issue for some people.  I don't think most people with vibe pumps have much to complain about.  I think it's more that once you get rid of a vibe pump and then get a rotary, you have an oh, wow moment.

The Vibiemme has about 20# on the Quickmill.  That's enough to contribute to thermal stability.  As you said, it's got a larger boiler too, considerably larger (aboout 1.5x bigger).  It'll probably not be noticeable in your daily use, but if/when you entertain you'll probably see a difference - if you're at the point (or when you get to the point) where you can make drinks back to back with some degree of efficiency.

The Super dimensions say it's 21" deep, and you said you have about 20" of counter space to play with.  Have you considered the Vibiemme HX Jr? It will definitely meet your stated daily needs too.  I really don't think you'll notice a difference until you entertain (as above - but more noticeable, sooner).  It would save you a few hundred bucks, which you could put towards a grinder.  Yeah, your Preciso is adequate, but it's entry level and you're almost sure to notice a big difference when you upgrade it (assuming you've developed decent technique and you're using good quality freshly roasted beans).

I'm sure there are other machines worth considering, but far be it from me to be an expert in machine selection.

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


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,210
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 Tue Apr 22, 2014, 9:10am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

Indeed there are great deal of other machines worth considering, but the HXs clustered in the price range are much of a muchness from performance and use standpoints, and -- at least for now -- there doesn't appear to be a good reason to explore them in detail.

Alla breve, ECM has about the best construction quality; Expobar, which is not only very close alphabetically but almost as good as ECM, has about the  worst -- which ought to give you some idea of how narrow the differences are between machines.  Bezzera offers the most bang for the buck (although not considerably more than anyone else), and has two different, but apparently equally functional group designs.  Pasquini is another name for non-E-61 Bezzera, but in a better box.  

The entire range of prosumer E-61s (and their non-E-61 equivalents) is only about $900 going from no-feature compacts to to full size single groups with every feature imaginable (for an HX). Don't let a couple of hundred of bucks one way or the other scare you off or make you think you're in love.  Machines which were unjustifiably expensive or too good to be true were eliminated from this very competitive market long ago.      

Unless you're planning to plumb in eventually, a rotary pump is neither a performance advantage nor disadvantage with an E-61 or other group which provides pre-infusion.  They truly are quieter though.  

The choice between Anita and (a vibratory pump) Domo won't make any difference in the cup, nor provide significant differences in steaming, recovery time nor in any other aspect of performance.  They're both very slight variations on a decades old design, use the same parts from the same bins, are assembled by people who belong to the same union and work for the same wages.  

It is the nature of prosumer E-61s that they even look similar.  But given that they are even more similar in other ways, if one strikes as you slightly more attractive than the other, don't discount that.

If the idea of joystick steam and water controls appeals to you more than rotary valves, either expand your search or be aware that some makers offer kits so the user can replace the stock rotary valves for joysticks.  

Everything else being equal (and in this case it damn well is), always buy the widest machine you can comfortably fit on your counter.  Bigger may not mean better machine performance in and of itself, but wider is more comfortable -- especially in the universe of E-61s levers --and comfort means better barista (that would be you) performance.

Unless you live within easy driving distance of the retailer, or the retailer has a warranty tech in your area, think of the guarantee as "parts and advice" rather than "parts and labor."  Espresso machines are a PITA to prepare for shipping and cost a LOT of money to send back and forth across the country for work you can perform (pretty easily) yourself. Of course, if it's a situation where the machine is so screwed up that it needs complete replacement, you're going to ship.  

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
One of the good things about machines at this level is the way they "represent" a good grinder.  One of the bad things about them is the mercilessness with which they'll expose a bad one.  Unless you already have a REALLY GOOD grinder you should consider replacing what you have with something better, if you can expand your budget.  If you can't, you may want to buy a slightly less expensive machine and put the savings towards a better grinder.  

Hope this helps,
Rich
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Tue Apr 22, 2014, 9:33am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

Nice write up Rich, you said a whole lot is a fairly small space.
Do buy a good grinder, with 80% milk, do go HX. Do buy the biggest that will fit your space. Rotary do tend to last longer than vibe pumps but cost more to repair.

 
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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mawst95
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Joined: 22 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 9:56am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

I really appreciate the good advice from you.  

The actually space I have is 17.75"H x ~20"W x 24"D, but I didn't want the machine to come all the way to the edge and I wanted to leave room on one side for the grinder, tamper, and room to steam.  Steam wand on the left would be preferable but not essential.

I'm in DC.

I did check out the VBM Domobar Switchable HX with Rotary pump.  It's about 200 more, which I could swing and it comes with a rotary pump and the ability to go to a plumbed setup if I ever need to.

One other machine I mused about was the Izzo Alex III from Chris'. But now we'd be talking about $400+ difference, so the difference in quality/performance would have to justify that.  Based on Rich's thoughtful write-up, I might be better off saving that $400 and investing it elsewhere.  Like many things, there the law of diminishing returns would seem to apply so I'm looking for that sweet spot where 1-2 hundred dollars more gets you a decent value advantage, but ANOTHER 1-2 hundred on top of that gets you only very modest gains, if that makes sense.

Thanks again!

M
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,054
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 Tue Apr 22, 2014, 11:38am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

I'd suggest you carefully consider whether you might, some day, be able to plumb in your machine - even if that means moving from a built-in counter to a cart-like setup.  I'm saying this as someone who has never had a machine plumbed in, but has wanted to for a very, very long time.  Mine is a long story, and I've been close a couple of times already...and am close again now (waiting on one contractor to come over so I can show him all the things I want to do to my space, and another who has already seen it, to come back with an estimate).  I'm at the point where it's either cabinet work, granite work and plumbing...or just the cabinetry and me doing a plumb-in with bottles under the counter...depending on the estimates.  My cash is stitting in the bank waiting for this...but...enough about me...this is about you!  

Why do I say you should consider it? There really are two major reasons.  First is convenience. It is a royal PIA to fill a reservoir regularly.  It's an even more royal PIA to move the machine regularly so you can get the reservoir out to clean it.  Based on the space limitations you gave, you clearly have standard cabinetry above the counter where oyu intend to put the machine.  It's going to be a royal PIA for you as well to pull the reservoir for regular cleaning - and no, you can't ignore that part of it!

The second reason is that plumbed in machines can take advantage of pre-infusion.  If you read about E-61 design, you'll see how the water can circulate through the group to keep it at proper temperature. You'll also see how the design allows for a short burst of relatively low pressure water to hit the puck before the big 8-9 bar blast. Yes, there is an effect on the shot, but seeing as how I've never been privy to using it I won't purport to be an expert, and let others clue you in better.

So, as you make this decision, try to decide if it's worth it to you to buy a new machine later if you want to plumb-in, or if you want to go ahead and get a versatile one now.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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takeshi
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takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 968
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 12:15pm
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

mawst95 Said:

Based on Rich's thoughtful write-up, I might be better off saving that $400 and investing it elsewhere.

Posted April 22, 2014 link

Grinder
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mawst95
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Apr 23, 2014, 8:39am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

I'm leaning toward the VBM Domobar Super HX, mainly because of the larger tank and boiler.  It also seems to test very well in terms of thermal stability.  People say filling the tank is a PIA and the VBM seems biggest in class.

I checked out the Alex Izzo HX III (Tre) but it's more expensive and I'm not sure if it offers much more in terms of value.  Also, I couldn't find very much info on the HX v3 model.

There's a plumbable version of the VBM available but it's $200 more and has a smaller tank.  I don't own a home and won't for at least another 5 years, so while I'd love to have the option in the future, it's probably a feature I can do without for right now.

Matt
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Apr 23, 2014, 10:58am
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

I have my machine position close enough to the sink that the hose sprayer can  fill up the tank without removing it. I just top it off every day.

 
Coffeenoobie

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

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mawst95
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Joined: 22 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Apr 23, 2014, 12:31pm
Subject: Re: Help with First Machine -- Thoughts on Anita and VBM Domobar Super HX?
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

I have my machine position close enough to the sink that the hose sprayer can  fill up the tank without removing it. I just top it off every day.

Posted April 23, 2014 link

I've thought about putting it in a couple different spots that would facilitate ease of filling, but each involves trade offs.  I also rent right now so who knows what my next kitchen would look like.
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