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The Coffee Sensor can be fitted to almost all E61 Groupheads Before brewing, it will allow you to check the group head temperature During brewing, it will show you the exact temperature throughout the entire extraction For more information please visit https://coffee-sensor.com/
I'm doing something I wouldn't normally do and starting a thread to big up one of the forums sponsors and their product which I believe is their only item at the minute. My reason for this is that since they first put their banner up I took an interest and attempted to find out as much as I could, basically trying to find out how accurate they are, as a product like this stands or falls on the accuracy and consistency of the product. There wasn't any info available at all really so hopefully if we can make a bit of noise it may help a great little product. I've never been computer savvy, or particularly good at reviews, so anybody who stumbles across this thread from a google search could find better info than mine by reading this great thread posted by MrShades https://coffeeforums.co.uk/showthread.php?47156-REVIEW-Coffee-Sensor-E61-digital-group-thermometer I've been after a product like this for years but the Eric's thermometer was too expensive and not available in the UK so needed importing, with all the associated costs and taxes. Then came the Vidastech product from the Far East which was more reasonably priced and a much simpler product but still expensive and every time I was flush with cash and went to buy it, was unavailable. When the CoffeeSensor was brought to my attention I was interested. The product comes in a sturdy box that contains all you need to get going. I didn't receive any instructions at all with mine,but you really don't need them, it's very straight forward even for someone like me to fit after you've read MrShades review and once in place doesn't leak even without any tape around the thread of the screw in metal probe. I tested the accuracy by placing it in water on a rolling boil and it read 99.2c so less than 1c out which I can work with.This is the thing I really like with this as sometimes a PID ends up just being a general guide due to inaccuracy with often no way of really knowing the true temp of your extraction. It's plastic and metal in construction and doesn't feel like it won't last, although obviously it's a new product and only time will tell there. The only minor gripes I have is that the black plastic construction isn't great aesthetically speaking. E61 groupheads are usually a chrome type finish and my machine has wooden taps so chrome would have been better. Also, if the head was around twice as large that would look better in my opinion. As I said, I'm not great at reviews but loved the way this forum helped publicise the Niche grinder through Rajen's initial thread and then Dave and others comtribution from thereon so I thought this deserved a further mention.
I've recently received one of the Coffee Sensor digital E61 group head thermometers, and wanted to pass on my thoughts and experience to everyone - hopefully to assist with any buying decisions... You can see the full details of this digital E61 group thermometer, and buy them, from here: https://coffee-sensor.com/ The device arrives in a nicely constructed, branded and protective cardboard box. Inside is a bubble-wrap bag with the following contents: - Digital group thermometer itself - Small spanner for tightening the device in the group head - Small allen-key for removing the existing allen-bolt from the group head - Three copper washers On initial impressions, the thermometer looks to be well made out of plastic and stainless steel and well designed (without numerous o-rings or nuts / bolts) - and has simple push button controls on the top, for on/off, temp hold and C/F switching. You simply turn it on by hitting the middle "on/off" button and it'll turn off either after a few minutes or when you press "on/off" again. Testing it quickly when just out of the box, the unit shows ambient temperatre and the buttons all seem to work fine, with the LCD display looking good. Now, for some background and history : These sort of E61 thermometer devices have been around for a while... The first person to make them commercially was "Eric" - and you can still purchase "Eric's E61 group thermometer" from the US. The "Eric's" device seem to be (in my opinion) a strangely complex design - using what seems to be a fairly standard thermometer combined with a complex adaptor, various nuts and o-rings that allow it to be sealed water-tight within the group. I'm assuming that largely because of the complex design and various parts, it's expensive - certainly when shipped into the UK from the US (which is the only available source). If you're lucky, you may get one into your hands for around £100 - though probably more if you're hit by customs for duty, VAT etc. Crazy expensive for what it is! Then, a couple of years ago a company in South Korea started to produce a similar - but less costly device - the Vidastech E61 group thermometer. Design and construction of this seems much better, it's much simpler (read, better designed IMHO), and it's also available (either from South Korea, or via Amazon) at a slightly lower price that an "Erics" - but you'd still be looking at probably £70-80 to get one in the UK. Still expensive for what it is in my view. Now, it's not 100% clear to me whether this "Coffee Sensor" E61 thermometer is simply a resold Vidastech device, or whether it's a device that has been manufactured in a VERY similar way by 'TTP Coffee Sensor SRL' - but it certainly looks VERY similar, and it's available to buy in Europe (from them in Romania, via the website) - and at a more reasonable price point (€50 a piece if you buy two and get free shipping - though watch for [an early] Black Friday deal from 16th Nov to 18th Nov). The manufacturer states that "3D designs are drawn in Romania and the final product is manufactured in Romanian / Asian industrial and logistical parks" - so it may or may not be Romanian / Korean / Chinese / who knows! *** Black Friday update: The price has dropped from 16th Nov to 18th Nov to €35 - though the €20 shipping and minimum of €100 for free shipping still applies. Makes a single unit €55 shipped, or €35 each if you can find two friends !!!! *** As you can see from the website or my photos, the device is black plastic with a stainless steel sensor shaft. It looks neat and tidy, and generally seems to be well made and well constructed. Opening the device up using a small screwdriver allows you to replace the button-cell battery as and when required. The important part of the device is what's screwed into the E61 group head - the stainless steel sensor shaft. Fitting this is pretty easy, it took me about 2 minutes and all tools required are provided. With the E61 group cold, simply take the provided allen-key and remove the bolt in the front of the group head. This is present purely for maufacturing reasons, though allows the enterprising or resourceful individual a simple way to access the brew-water and measure the temperature of it! Anyway, remove the hex-bolt and save it for possible reinstallation at a later date - as typically these thermometers are fitted and left in place. Some advocate the use of PTFE tape on the threaded shaft of the digital thermometer, but I didn't find it necessary - so didn't use any in my installation... I simply used one of the copper washers, along with the existing teflon washer that's installed with the hex-bolt and gently screwed the thermometer into place by hand. You have to be careful doing this, as you're screwing stainless steel (quite hard!) into brass (relatively softer) and I guess it would be possible to damage the thread in the group if you weren't careful - and thereafter getting a watertight seal could be a real problem!!!! However, I was pretty careful and with the aid of the supplied spanner was able to finally tighten it a few turns and sufficiently for a water-tight seal on the first try. Once installed, the thermometer display is almost certainly not 'straight' - but by holding the shaft with the spanner and gently twisting the plastic thermometer head it can be realigned so that it looks straight and can be easily used and read. Testing the fitment, with a blank basket and running a backflush or two quickly shows whether any water is leaking out under pressure. If any does then simply tightening the bolt / shaft further will probably solve it - though be aware that on some machines more than one copper sealing washer may be required. It's worth running this test initially, with the machine just powered up and relatively cool, but also again once the machine is up to temp. Stand well back and be careful when running this test, as any leaks could involve 9bar (about 120PSI) water at 90+C being fired at you... though having said that, any leaks will probably just show as a slow build up of a drip! Using the thermometer is simple - hit the middle 'on/off' button and the E61 group temperature will be shown (probably just over 90c if the thermosyphon has it up to temperature). If you want to change between C and F display, then just hit the button on the right. Then pour a shot or run some water through and you'll quickly see the temperature change to reflect the (typically hotter) temperature of the brew water. This will differ from the water that exits the shower screen by a degree or so - but it certainly gives you a very good impression of the relative temperature of the water that's hitting your coffee (and by that I mean that whilst it might not show the EXACT temp of the water hitting your puck, it will show you the temperature of the water about an inch or so before it does so.... so you can easily see any temp changes (up or down) and record any 'ideal' temperatures when you have had an ideal extraction of any given bean. For machines with PID brew temp control it should be easy to tweak the brew water temperature up or down, and the thermometer will show this increase or decrease accordingly (not necessarily that a PID increase of 1C will show as a thermometer increase of exactly 1C, but it'll show a rise of approximately that amount). You can leave the thermometer on if you wish (or forget to turn it off) safe in the knowledge that after a minute or so it'll turn off automatically, saving the battery. So - in summary: In general, and certainly if you collaborate with a friend and buy two, this E61 thermometer seems to be well made, effective and the least costly (by quite a margin) of any similar device available today. Supply from within Europe means that there's no risk of duty / customs charges being applied also. If you only want one, and can't find a 'friend' then the shipping costs of €20 to the UK seem high - and make the unit a €70 purchase, which is obviously quite a jump - but still probably cheaper than you can find one anywhere else. The device seems to show pretty accurate temperature readings, it responds quickly (within around half a second I would estimate) and is a helpful addition for any owner of an E61 based espresso machine. I'll close by saying that, although this is the cheapest E61 thermometer device available - it still seems to be quite expensive for what it is. Is it worth it, for the insight it gives? Well, some of us have a PID showing what the temp SHOULD be, some of us have an HX where the temp could be anything.... and for me, always wanting to make sure that the numerous variables of making good espresso are as reduced as possible, it certainly proves very helpful. I'd thought of buying an "Erics" but never could find a way to convince or justify to myself that £100 was a good investment.... the price point of this device makes that buying decision significantly easier!