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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

 

9ba29e2d223baf00b19d2d7246d5ec47.jpg

 

 

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.

 

6c3aaa52e6257861cffd997709087e1e.jpg

 

902ca041f0f73d5247c2d2d133d7d28e.jpg

 

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.

 

1dacc2b527b7b13df20915de772acd65.jpg

 

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.

 

20c6bcbd5fef83527af1efe0835d4987.jpg

 

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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).

 

a574b5fb05baa8da669f8a59e142cff9.jpg

 

 

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!

Edited by MrShades
Black Friday deal update

Lots of everything: machines, grinders, roaster, beans, tampers, baskets, blah, blah

However - Too much is never enough!

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Great review @MrShades

 

Anyone fancy pairing up with me whilst they are on the black Friday deal?


Rocket Giotto Evo, Mythos, Torr x 2, Rapha Chris King Tamper (coz they are cool), VST's, Hausgrind, Airgrind, Hario Slim, Chemex, Aeropress, Oomph, Puck Puck, Bialetti, Black Acaia scales, Acia Lunas,fresh beans

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Great review @MrShades

 

Anyone fancy pairing up with me whilst they are on the black Friday deal?

@Daren I’m keen - am far up North though, would you be happy to post up to me?

Happy to pay for P&P from you to me. Looks like 3 needed to buy to get free P&P from CoffeeSensor, or a discounted €10 when buying 2 on the BF deal?


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Profitec Pro 500 PID || Acaia Lunar

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@Glenn - this is turning into a micro group buy by the look of it, I hope you have no objection?

@MrShades - sorry for the incursion onto your thread - I'll ask the mods to clear it up once we've sorted it.

 

@Gatty, - I'm more then happy to post it up to you.

 

Lets give it till later today to see if we have a third person before I order (I'll PM you first)

 

Amy more takers??! You'll need to be quick!!!

Edited by Daren

Rocket Giotto Evo, Mythos, Torr x 2, Rapha Chris King Tamper (coz they are cool), VST's, Hausgrind, Airgrind, Hario Slim, Chemex, Aeropress, Oomph, Puck Puck, Bialetti, Black Acaia scales, Acia Lunas,fresh beans

Blah Blah Blah - it makes coffee

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Guys,

 

This is available in the UK from here

 

https://www.theespressoshop.co.uk/Mobile/en/Coffee-Sensor-E61-HX-and-Dual-Boiler-Digital-Grouphead-Thermometer/m-m-4258.aspx

 

A wee bit more expensive but by the time you add P&P works out roughly the same.

 

I got mine from here a month or so ago, I'm sure if you asked for David and tell him your looking to do a group buy he would offer you some discount, or if you want me to do it for you I am more than happy as I have been using them for a good 3-4yrs and have struck up an excellent relationship with them.

 

Or if you want to go ahead and order direct from Coffee Sensor no worries, just thought I would offer.

Edited by Paul K

Expobar Office Leva, Gaggia Classic, Acaia Pearl Scales, Sage Smart Grinder, Ascaso i Mini Doser Grinder, Zassenhaus Hand Grinder, EB Labs Mesh Filter, AeroPress, IMS 18grm 25grm Baskets

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Great review, these are very simple things and I think it's something everyone who has a HX will find useful. I managed to justify the £100+ on an Eric's to myself and although I definitely feels like a rip off the feedback is easily worth the investment.

 

It may be worth adding to the review that after fitting you should run the pump on a blanking basket whilst the machine is cold. This way you put it through the max pressure it will experience and if a jet of water does somehow sneak out it will be cold.

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Great review, these are very simple things and I think it's something everyone who has a HX will find useful. I managed to justify the £100+ on an Eric's to myself and although I definitely feels like a rip off the feedback is easily worth the investment.

 

It may be worth adding to the review that after fitting you should run the pump on a blanking basket whilst the machine is cold. This way you put it through the max pressure it will experience and if a jet of water does somehow sneak out it will be cold.

 

Thanks @Dylan - the review already mentions running a blank shot with it cold, and then again hot - as it's definitely a good idea. As I also say, the chances of actually getting a jet/spray from a leak is very small, and it'll probably be a drip or growing drip that shows - Still, better to be safe than sorry - and 20c water is much better than 95c water! :-)


Lots of everything: machines, grinders, roaster, beans, tampers, baskets, blah, blah

However - Too much is never enough!

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Thanks @Dylan - the review already mentions running a blank shot with it cold, and then again hot - as it's definitely a good idea. As I also say, the chances of actually getting a jet/spray from a leak is very small, and it'll probably be a drip or growing drip that shows - Still, better to be safe than sorry - and 20c water is much better than 95c water! :-)

 

Ah, yes, I missed that!

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Also run a blank shot with the group fully warmed up use a tea towel just in case.


ACS Vesuvius DBPP, Izzo Duetto DB, Minima DB, Lelit Bianca Prototype DB (paddle flow control) BTC Machines: Roasters: Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster, other failed roasters: Grinders: Ceado E92, Niche US and UK: 145kg assorted greens: My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/

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Happy for Group Buy managed by Daren


Home Barista Training - contact me to discuss your requirements

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Waiting for mine to add some additional experiments to this wonderful review.


GaggiaEnthusiast

 

Buying expensive equipment won't make you barista!

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Just ordered three, so will have a couple spare if someone needs one (or two...) Not sure what the exchange rate worked out at, hasn't shown up in my online account yet, but happy to send on at cost + delivery.

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Got mine and installed it without issue today. Tightened it up with reasonable pressure and no leaks when running the pump.

 

Now I just need to work out what I should be doing with the temperature readings!


Rocket Evoluzione R 2017 | Niche Zero | VST 18g Ridgeless | Acaia Pearl | TORR 58.55mm

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Just to add to my original review - I've had a chance to remove the sensor and do a proper temperature test (using a crushed ice / water mix). Whilst the digital thermometer that I have read -0.1c (so slightly low) within my test ice/water bath, the Coffee Sensor was reading +0.8c (so slightly high). This correlates with the fact that my PID is set to 94.0C and I'm seeing temperatures at the sensor, during brew of around 95.5-95.8c, which then drops to around 94.2 over time. I'd expect the real temp to be slightly lower, so an over-read of about 0.5c to 0.8c seems about right.

 

I'll try a "boiling water" test (for circa 100c) at some point and see if it's off a similar amount at the 100c end of the readings as well, but from what I'm seeing I'd expect so. It''s not quite so easy to get water at exactly 100c (it's easier getting ice/water at 0c) but it'll be close.

 

Anyone else seen anything similar, or different, during tests?


Lots of everything: machines, grinders, roaster, beans, tampers, baskets, blah, blah

However - Too much is never enough!

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Just to add to my original review - I've had a chance to remove the sensor and do a proper temperature test (using a crushed ice / water mix). Whilst the digital thermometer that I have read -0.1c (so slightly low) within my test ice/water bath, the Coffee Sensor was reading +0.8c (so slightly high). This correlates with the fact that my PID is set to 94.0C and I'm seeing temperatures at the sensor, during brew of around 95.5-95.8c, which then drops to around 94.2 over time. I'd expect the real temp to be slightly lower, so an over-read of about 0.5c to 0.8c seems about right.

 

I'll try a "boiling water" test (for circa 100c) at some point and see if it's off a similar amount at the 100c end of the readings as well, but from what I'm seeing I'd expect so. It''s not quite so easy to get water at exactly 100c (it's easier getting ice/water at 0c) but it'll be close.

 

Anyone else seen anything similar, or different, during tests?

I tested mine under boiling water and it was exactly 100C so no issues there.

 

I haven't really worked out what to aim for with the flush and what it should read before I start the shot but I will start experimenting! I have my PID set to 95.1 and my earlier shot ran at around 93 so I definitely think I ran too much through for my cooling flush. Thanks for the helpful review.


Rocket Evoluzione R 2017 | Niche Zero | VST 18g Ridgeless | Acaia Pearl | TORR 58.55mm

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Just to add to my original review - I've had a chance to remove the sensor and do a proper temperature test (using a crushed ice / water mix). Whilst the digital thermometer that I have read -0.1c (so slightly low) within my test ice/water bath, the Coffee Sensor was reading +0.8c (so slightly high). This correlates with the fact that my PID is set to 94.0C and I'm seeing temperatures at the sensor, during brew of around 95.5-95.8c, which then drops to around 94.2 over time. I'd expect the real temp to be slightly lower, so an over-read of about 0.5c to 0.8c seems about right.

 

I'll try a "boiling water" test (for circa 100c) at some point and see if it's off a similar amount at the 100c end of the readings as well, but from what I'm seeing I'd expect so. It''s not quite so easy to get water at exactly 100c (it's easier getting ice/water at 0c) but it'll be close.

 

Anyone else seen anything similar, or different, during tests?

 

Accuracy at lower temperatures won't be the same as higher. Presumably it's calibrated to read accurately around 80-100c.


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If I remember correctly, according to Eric's guide for his product the temp on the sensor will be roughly 1deg higher than at the puck.

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I've just tested mine again in boiling water...

 

Wanting to do it vaguely properly, I got water on a rolling boil. At my altitude (about 150m above sea-level) the true boiling point of water should be around 99.5c.

 

My digital thermometer - with a k-type thermocouple sensor within a thermowell - that I positioned carefully in the centre of the water, read 98.4c - so about 1c low.

 

The Coffee Sensor thermometer at the same time and almost the same place, was reading 100.5c - so about 1c high. Again, reflects my previous measurements at 0c.

 

Anyway - it gives a good indication, even if it's not strictly accurate!


Lots of everything: machines, grinders, roaster, beans, tampers, baskets, blah, blah

However - Too much is never enough!

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My order for three arrived yesterday, so I've a couple spare if anyone needs one. £31.50 + £4.50 signed for RM. Let me know if interested.

 

Fitting was easy, works well.

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And here is my contribution to this review. First of all thanks to the admin for the opportunity to have it.

 

Although these are made in Romania, I would say they are just finished and packed there. The quality of the product is acceptable and the set has everything you need to mount it on your E61 machine.

 

What is in the package once again:

 

  • Coffee Sensor
  • Allen key for the original nut of the group.
  • A small custom wrench for tightening the sensor
  • 3 cooper washers

 

4.jpg

 

You have to use only one washer on the most of the machines, producer advises to leave the teflon-made washer on place as well.

 

Before mounting the device I have made some experiments regarding its accuracy and response in temperature changes.

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg


GaggiaEnthusiast

 

Buying expensive equipment won't make you barista!

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As I wrote before mounting I played a little bit with it, attached are some pictures of these experiments.

9.jpg

 

I would say the accuracy is in the range of +/- 1C and the tool has really fast response to temperature changes.

On theory all seamed nice :). It was time to finally mount it in place.

5.jpg

6.jpg

7.jpg

8.jpg


GaggiaEnthusiast

 

Buying expensive equipment won't make you barista!

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I mounted the sensor on WEGA Classic HX E61 group machine. About mounting there weren't any problems except I needed to tighten the sensor 3 times because of the small leakage from the thread.

At this point I felt a little bit disappointed of the result. The device is nowhere near good looking on my classical machine with wooden elements. They should have produced the sensor with chrome plated plastic IMHO. It will be more compatible this way.

 

12.jpg

 

Yet the functionality of the sensor is really good and it helped me to know my machine better. I realized that I have to flush longer and although massive the E61 has some temp variations.

Here is the short video of flushing and pulling the shot with sensor attached.

 

 

 

This sensor made me thinking of double boiler machines :)

 

BR

11.jpg


GaggiaEnthusiast

 

Buying expensive equipment won't make you barista!

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I mounted the sensor on WEGA Classic HX E61 group machine. About mounting there weren't any problems except I needed to tighten the sensor 3 times because of the small leakage from the thread.

At this point I felt a little bit disappointed of the result. The device is nowhere near good looking on my classical machine with wooden elements. They should have produced the sensor with chrome plated plastic IMHO. It will be more compatible this way.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]37722[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]37723[/ATTACH]

 

Yet the functionality of the sensor is really good and it helped me to know my machine better. I realized that I have to flush longer and although massive the E61 has some temp variations.

Here is the short video of flushing and pulling the shot with sensor attached.

 

 

 

This sensor made me thinking of double boiler machines :)

 

BR

Nice review. Has it improved the taste in the cup now you know the temp of the group?

Laissez les bons temps rouler

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Yep now I have better taste in the cup.


GaggiaEnthusiast

 

Buying expensive equipment won't make you barista!

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To MrShades, L&R and all others, thank you so much for the great words and review.

Glad to have such a large and experienced crowd testing and giveing such words regarding our sensor.

You know that a lot of clients, before buying, don't really trust the reviews on manufacturer website. But this...this is something else :)

Regarding the manufacturing process, the sensor is made in Romania.

We do not work with Vidastech. Or Eric :) Just me and my wife and that's it. It's as simple as any other family owned businesses in the world.

We take great pride into testing each and every sensor, because this is our product and our own design.

 

I guess that's why in our house we have the original design on a paper made by my father in law and about two V2 (second version) adapters with a new and a little bit improved design.

 

Regarding stainless steel style thermometer (L&R), we have such an order from Germany also.

Please write to me if there are any other wanting clients for something like this, so we could make a bigger purchase and modify a little bit the adapter, so we could send something like this also.

Anything for our client.

 

Cheers, Tudor and Tabita.

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