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Quality of Life Upgrade ~£2000


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Hello all,

For over 10 years I have owned, and been rather happy with, an unmodified Gaggia classic. It started producing pretty tasty shots once I understood temperature surfing. Moreover, I appreciate the relatively compact footprint in my (not huge) kitchen. During this time I have been through a few grinders and have ordered a Niche which should be arriving in November.

I don't drink a huge amount of coffee, probably 1 espresso based drink per day when working in the office but higher when working from home and at weekends.

A fortunate set of circumstances have left me with some money to invest into a new machine to go alongside the Niche. I would like to keep this machine for as long as possible (i.e. >= 10 years) as I don't think I'll have this kind of lump sum of cash again. Regardless of the machine I end up buying, I'll be investing in an Osmio or RO setup to feed it. 

This will be a quality of life upgrade, i.e. I am hoping to work less hard to get good shots. I don't think that I will have the time, inclination or caffeine tolerance to "play" with different pressure profiles, extraction techniques etc. 

I had originally decided the MaraX was sufficient. It's small size and simplicity are appealing and the brew priority mode seemed perfect for my use case. However, the cost of the wood trim, bottomless PF and flow control valve (for pre-infusion) brought the cost closer to the Bianca. Given the Bianca has dual boilers, a rotary pump, LCC, movable tank and better included accessories it seems worth the upfront extra for me. The only sacrifice seems to be the footprint. Great, I thought, Bianca it is!

However, while digging around for info on the Bianca, it was brought to my attention that it is often possible to find a Vesuvius for similar money (i.e. < £2000). I hadn't considered the V because it seemed well over budget. It seems like a fantastic machine that has been around for a while (and thus possible failure modes understood). I'm concerned because it literally just fits in the allocated space and seems like it would be a pain ergonomically:
    - I would have to move it every time it needed water (perhaps this wouldn't be a problem if it had felt pads). 
    - The steam wand would be against the wall and hence somewhat difficult to use.
    - The cups would have to be stored somewhere else as I don't have much cupboard clearance.

Thus my current trilemma: What is the best long-term choice; MaraX, Bianca or V? Or perhaps something else?

I'll probably take a trip to BB to look at them in the flesh.

Other things I have considered:
    - Other HX machines:
        - MaraX seems like the current peak of HX performance.
    - Lever machines: 
        - The new machine will live under a cupboard and hence no room for the lever.
    - Other DB machines: 
        - The Minima is appealing but also no longer sold at BB.
        - Profitech 700 and Synchronika look pretty nice but are quite a lot more than the Bianca. Both also are quite high and I'm not sure I could get my cups on the warmer.
        
What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

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A little light afternoon reading lol. Good thing we're in and honest people as FedEx just abandoned on the doorstep and legged it. Was driving off before I had the key in the front door Hermes or Yode

Totally agree! It can be satisfying feeling when you realise you don't need something, and can really appreciate what you already have, I like to practice gratitude every day and appreciate what I hav

Yes. That's the thing. I've been a BB client for a while now, and they are simply put... great! So, if it was me, I'd know where to go, but I do also understand that sometimes it's not as simple as th

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Just to throw another machine in the the mix - Bezzera Duo

A couple of members have purchased one from us so hopefully someone can tell you what they think.

I have one on my workbench to 'test' but in reality I think it will be staying put! They are beautifully put together, dual boiler, rotary pump, touch display, boiler priority settings, dual PID, wooden accents, toggle steam and water valves, full stainless frame and body, tank or mains fed etc etc. The spec sheet is endless. Plus you get a free matching bottomless portafilter, a discount for forum members and it comes in firmly under budget.

Let me know if you have any questions.

David

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Coffee | Espresso Machines | Grinders | Accessories

Bezzera machines back in stock!

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1 hour ago, Spooned said:

I don't think that I will have the time, inclination or caffeine tolerance to "play" with different pressure profiles, extraction techniques etc. 

Seems that you are kind of contradicting yourself as you shortlisted Bianca and Vesuvius 🙂 

1 hour ago, Spooned said:

I'll probably take a trip to BB to look at them in the flesh

Very wise.

Ultimately, you need to find something which looks good to you and doesn't become a burden to you. For instance, the E61 machines tend to take 40 minutes to be ready to brew. It will also require monthly dismantling the cam lever and lubricating it. Yes, granted, it will last you a while, until the weakest component fails (vacuum breaker, pump, probes... But you can source those, so it's ok). 

My journey: Gaggia Classic -> Profitec 700 -> V60 -> La Pavoni -> Lelit Elizabeth. 

 

Let me throw a few questions:

- Do you want to plan to have a coffee or would you leave the machine on all day? Would you rather have the machine off, turn it on, wait (15 minutes OR 40 minutes or 5 minutes)? 

- Do you drink milk-based drinks?

- Does the machine need to be easy, simple, and which doesn't look intimidating? Maybe for other people in the household? 

- Will you able to keep the machine clean, regularly? Backflusing, lubricating, dropping the shower screen, etc, etc?

 

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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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You've described the 5 very different machines. The first is a good compact HX design, the second is a dual boiler with flow profiling, the third a dual boiler with pressure profiling. You can add flow profiling to other machines with the bianca or profitec add on to go into an e61 group, you just need to make sure of compatibility.

The Minima is compatible with the bianca paddle and there is also a pressure and flow control mod coming from ACS for it in the future. 

I would recommend a machine with flow and/or pressure profiling ability either as standard or through an add on. The Bianca is a very nice machine and if the Vesuvius is out of the question because of its size I'd go for that. 

People seem to have the perception pressure and flow profiling makes things harder but the opposite is true.

 

Edited by Rob1
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One option to consider is the ECM slim, good quality compact machine with less fancy electronic controls than the Mara-x. More expensive though at ~£1,300 or so.

Will need some maintenance as it is an e61 but is compatible with the ECM/Profitec flow profiling kit as well if you wanted to extend in the future.

https://www.bellabarista.co.uk/ecm-mechanika-v-slim.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzt_9wrD_6wIVxYjVCh2rSQ7lEAUYAiABEgKQc_D_BwE

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What do i think?

A good grinder (check) with fresh beans and a reasonable coffee maker is probably going to get you high up on the slope of diminishing returns. One may argue that the Gaggia is reasonable  enough, once one has mastered its quirks and inconsistencies.

So, will a new set up make demonstrably better espresso? Perhaps not, maybe the margins will be small enough.

So, what point a new set up then? Ease of use? Will a Hx machine or DB be easier to use than a Gaggia with their slow light ups and convoluted maintenance?  Probably not.

But what to do with a hole burning in your pocket?

Buy something which the Gaggia should have been!

https://espresso.lelit.com/product/12

 

Easy to use, no faff. Great espresso.

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: Not sure if serious

 

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1 hour ago, BlackCatCoffee said:

Just to throw another machine in the the mix - Bezzera Duo

A couple of members have purchased one from us so hopefully someone can tell you what they think.

Sounds like a lovely machine. I'll take a look, thanks for the recommendation!

 

37 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Seems that you are kind of contradicting yourself as you shortlisted Bianca and Vesuvius 🙂 

I agree with you here. My thought process is: which machine is likely to have the best longevity, both in terms of features and construction? The Bianca and V represent high quality dual boiler setups and seem suitably "end game" for me. The fact they both also feature mechanisms to further alter the extraction is a nice additional feature that I don't value as highly as others looking at these machines. 

 

36 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Ultimately, you need to find something which looks good to you and doesn't become a burden to you.

Couldn't agree more. 

 

43 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

- Do you want to plan to have a coffee or would you leave the machine on all day? Would you rather have the machine off, turn it on, wait (15 minutes OR 40 minutes or 5 minutes)? 

- Do you drink milk-based drinks?

- Does the machine need to be easy, simple, and which doesn't look intimidating? Maybe for other people in the household? 

- Will you able to keep the machine clean, regularly? Backflusing, lubricating, dropping the shower screen, etc, etc?

1) I won't leave the machine on during the week unless I am here. Ideally, the machine would have a built in timer. Otherwise I'll get a plug with a timer.

2) Currently not a lot but the desire to make them comes and goes. We several have great coffee shops in Cheltenham and I typically go to them for milk drinks. 

3) Currently no need for a very simple user interface.

4) Yes, especially after watching Dave's E61 cleaning routine videos. 

Out of interest, what make you change from your P700 to the Elizabeth?

 

45 minutes ago, Rob1 said:

I would recommend a machine with flow and/or pressure profiling ability either as standard or through an add on. The Bianca is a very nice machine and if the Vesuvius is out of the question because of its size I'd go for that. 

People seem to have the perception pressure and flow profiling makes things harder but the opposite is true.

Thanks for the advice. Have you noticed much of a difference with the paddle vs without on the Minima?

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1 hour ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Will you able to keep the machine clean, regularly? Backflusing, lubricating, dropping the shower screen, etc, etc?

this is my first question to the OP - are you happy with regular maintenance of the E61 group head, dismantling and lubrication?  I wasnt - so i take a look at the Lelit Elizabeth?  I have just taken delivery so i'm a bit biased!

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1 minute ago, Spooned said:

 

Thanks for the advice. Have you noticed much of a difference with the paddle vs without on the Minima?

Yes, flow profiling makes a world of difference to any machine. Some beans do not benefit from it so much in which case you just set the paddle to an open position and leave it there.

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16 minutes ago, Northern_Monkey said:

@Blue_Cafe - Unsure on the Victoria PL91T, looks to not do preinfusion the nice way the Elizabeth does and has a group venting approach.

I would skip it and get the dual boiler Elizabeth instead if you wanted a switch operated lower maintenance machine than the Bianca.

I was just thinking about not having a DB if all you are doing is one Espresso a day.

Seems a bit of an extravagance for that lol.

 

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24 minutes ago, Spooned said:

Out of interest, what make you change from your P700 to the Elizabeth?

I found that, for my usage, it was just too much. I hate having to "plan" to have a coffee. For instance, I used to have the machine on a timer first thing in the morning (that was ok) and then switch off. If I wanted another coffee - often out of the blue - I had to think ahead and turn the machine on again, and wait 45 minutes for the machine to heat up. It was just a pain. Don't get me wrong, it was a great machine, but for what I needed it wasn't the right thing. If you do however have a fixed routine, then it can work for you. 

The E61 maintenance was also another factor - but not a decisive one. 

So, with the Elizabeth... Life is simple again. I get up in the morning, I turn the machine on. I do a few things, wait 17 minutes and the machine is ready to brew! Same goes in the afternoon. It's great. 

Also, the steam power on the Elizabeth is insane. It's far better than my old Profitec, but I do realise they have now upped their game and you can now set a 2bar pressure too. 

So, overall, I like the low maintenance and simplicity of the Elizabeth, as well as some of the features it has, namely pre-infusion. 🙂 

IF you don't have milk based drinks... It might not be a good idea to buy a dual boiler... or HX for that matter. The Lelit Victoria *WOULD* be a great choice, but Lelit messed up the pre-infusion routine. Such a shame. 

Edited by MediumRoastSteam
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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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32 minutes ago, Northern_Monkey said:

One option to consider is the ECM slim.

Thanks for the advice. It's a nice looking machine, I'll take a look.

 

32 minutes ago, Blue_Cafe said:

What do i think?

A good grinder (check) with fresh beans and a reasonable coffee maker is probably going to get you high up on the slope of diminishing returns.

Really interesting and I totally agree with you. 

I hadn't looked at these non-E61 machines before but they are actually very appealing. 

 

22 minutes ago, Rob1 said:

Yes, flow profiling makes a world of difference to any machine. Some beans do not benefit from it so much in which case you just set the paddle to an open position and leave it there.

Good to know. I'll go and have a bit more of a read. Thanks!

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@Spooned - 

Now... One thing that you can solve with a rotary pump which can be easily adjusted, or an easily accessible expansion valve, or via a pressure profile machine is the ability to adjust the pressure to something like 6 bar. 

I know some people really rave about it. When I had the Profitec, I experimented with that. It wasn't my thing back then at least 🙂 

Another option... A Decent machine? Have you looked into those? I never seen or used one, but those who own it really enjoy it.

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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28 minutes ago, Rob1 said:

One coffee a day, not really into milk drinks? ECM Puristika...

Which does not yet exist, apart from 3 prototype units... 

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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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14 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Which does not yet exist, apart from 3 prototype units... 

Op has had a classic for 10 years, so I assumed the upgrade wasn't urgent. Should only be a few months to wait for the Puristika. 

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1 hour ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Another option... A Decent machine? Have you looked into those?

I have. I love the idea of owning one and think the form and function looks really great. However, I know that I wouldn't make use of the features that the price commands. When corona is over I would really like to attend a meetup to see one in action though!

 

1 hour ago, Rob1 said:

One coffee a day, not really into milk drinks? ECM Puristika...

Oh my, that is one beautiful machine and I can really see that in my kitchen. Couldn't find much info though, I'll have a dig around.

 

32 minutes ago, Rob1 said:

Op has had a classic for 10 years, so I assumed the upgrade wasn't urgent. Should only be a few months to wait for the Puristika. 

Spot on, I'm in no rush at all to buy. For the next two weeks I'll be at home so going to organise that trip to BB but other than that I'm not on a time limit.

 

And just to say thanks to everyone who has posted so far. Definitely glad I posted and there have been some great suggestions. Thanks again! 

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3 hours ago, Rob1 said:

Should only be a few months to wait for the Puristika. 

I didn't know that. That's good news!

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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