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Compact espresso set up - anything better than Mara X + Niche


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I have a compact brewing area in my kitchen, currently using Sage DP and Mignon for size guidance.

Im hoping to receive my Niche grinder in Feb 2021.  So that is decided.

I exclusively drink flat whites and looking for a quick warm up, high quality steam, repeatable machine.  About same footprint as Sage DP - max budget 1500 quid.  Open to HX and DB - if they fit the size/speed needs.

Mara X looks great vs my needs, but wanted to know if there are other options that fit my brief.

Any suggestions?

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3 minutes ago, Mpbradford said:

I have a compact brewing area in my kitchen, currently using Sage DP and Mignon for size guidance.

Im hoping to receive my Niche grinder in Feb 2021.  So that is decided.

I exclusively drink flat whites and looking for a quick warm up, high quality steam, repeatable machine.  About same footprint as Sage DP - max budget 1500 quid.  Open to HX and DB - if they fit the size/speed needs.

Mara X looks great vs my needs, but wanted to know if there are other options that fit my brief.

Any suggestions?

Lelit Elizabeth. Come and join the club 👍😊

 

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

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21 minutes ago, MinesAbeer said:

They must be. Sadly not for me! 😂🤣

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2 hours ago, Mpbradford said:

I have a compact brewing area in my kitchen, currently using Sage DP and Mignon for size guidance.

Im hoping to receive my Niche grinder in Feb 2021.  So that is decided.

I exclusively drink flat whites and looking for a quick warm up, high quality steam, repeatable machine.  About same footprint as Sage DP - max budget 1500 quid.  Open to HX and DB - if they fit the size/speed needs.

Mara X looks great vs my needs, but wanted to know if there are other options that fit my brief.

Any suggestions?

Lots of threads comparing Mara X vs Elizabeth, quick google :) 

Probably best to stick between these 2. ACS minima is another option but I believe either of the Lelit machines are a more solid choice.

 

I went for the Mara X because of the option to add flow control, the look, features, and build quality.

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Lelit Mara X, Niche Zero, VST 7/18/22g, IMS comp SS, the force tamper + leveller, e61 thermometer, RO water (alkaline filter pH 8).

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Ultimately, any of the aforementioned machines (that might fall short of your “compact” requirement, same as the Pro-300) will deliver what you need. It becomes a choice between a top end HX machine (MaraX) or entry level dual boilers. Just see what suits best. the Lelit Bianca would be the next step in terms of dual boiler machines, but it’s slight more than your max budget.

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

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Mara x has tiny bit more of a learning curve but I think you can get better espresso after adding flow control.

Flow control is supposed to help more with lighter roasts but I haven't added it myself... Will be nice to try out once I order this part (£100-150)

Elizabeth is a better option if you are making consecutive milk drinks.

Mara x you must make espresso shots within 1-5 minutes of each other, otherwise you have to wait 15m for temps to stabilise. Do not do any cooling flushes, just walk up and pull the shot.

You can steam the milk after you've pulled the shots / whilst you're pulling the last espresso shot.

Heat up time 30m mara x vs 18m Elizabeth doesn't really matter if you have a WiFi plug.

Elizabeth also requires no lubrication of the lever (10m every 6 weeks with mara x) , I see why it's a better option for many people.

Mara x is best for me, but I think Elizabeth is a better option for many people.

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Lelit Mara X, Niche Zero, VST 7/18/22g, IMS comp SS, the force tamper + leveller, e61 thermometer, RO water (alkaline filter pH 8).

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Thanks @kico good to hear the balance of argument, without a bias for what you have.  So with WiFi plug I can take away the start up time.  Sounds like Elizabeth with strong ability to make back to back espresso might be a good feature.  90% of time I make two at a time.  I guess it comes down to the 200 quid premium and if it’s worth it.

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44 minutes ago, Mpbradford said:

Thanks @kico good to hear the balance of argument, without a bias for what you have.  So with WiFi plug I can take away the start up time.  Sounds like Elizabeth with strong ability to make back to back espresso might be a good feature.  90% of time I make two at a time.  I guess it comes down to the 200 quid premium and if it’s worth it.

Usually if you make back to back espresso they are within minutes from each other right? I don’t think the MaraX fares any different in this category. I really don’t. 

let me ask you this: is lubricating the E61 every 6 weeks an issue? Do you care about water wastage? Do you care about precise temp control? Do you care about having the E61 flow control in the future? 

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

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Usually if you make back to back espresso they are within minutes from each other right?

Yes within 5 minutes

.I don’t think the MaraX fares any different in this category. I really don’t. 

let me ask you this: is lubricating the E61 every 6 weeks an issue?

no

Do you care about water wastage?
No

Do you care about precise temp control?

yes

Do you care about having the E61 flow control in the future

i would add at the appropriate time, but not keen to add too many variables.  New roaster, new grinder, new machine is enough!!!

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1 hour ago, Mpbradford said:

Do you care about precise temp control?

yes

How precise? You do realise the MaraX is just some ballpark. You don’t know precisely what the temperature is - Unlike the Elizabeth.

you mention you want fast heat up... do you mind using a smart plug to turn the machine on in the morning or wait 35 minutes or so to heat up the machine from cold when you want a coffee? Or maybe you are happy to leave the machine on all day?

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I’m in the same position as the OP, although upgrading from a sage BP and yet undecided between the MaraX and Elizabeth.

I personally don’t like the idea of having to pull all the shots first and then steam milk, for consecutive drinks. The 5 min time constraint between shots is off putting. In theory I would also prefer the option to brew and steam at the same time, although in practice I’m not sure that would happen. 

Seems like the main advantage of the MaraX (over the Elizabeth) is the addition of flow control in the future? Appearance wise, in my opinion the MaraX looks far better than the Elizabeth. Why the cheap plastic steam knob on the £1150 Elizabeth?  

An Elizabeth in the body of a MaraX would be perfect for me. Good luck!

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16 minutes ago, HVL87 said:

I personally don’t like the idea of having to pull all the shots first and then steam milk, for consecutive drinks.

Who said you have to do like this? In fact, users do the opposite: they brew, they steam, they brew, they steam...

16 minutes ago, HVL87 said:

The 5 min time constraint between shots is off putting

In which way? 
 

16 minutes ago, HVL87 said:

In theory I would also prefer the option to brew and steam at the same time

Who said you can’t? 

all the above related to the MaraX.

 

As for the cheap steam tap on the Elizabeth... tell me about it. I get it’s an entry level DB, but why??? Apparently is so it goes well with the also tacky PF handle. Whoever made that decision has very bad taste. 

10 minutes ago, Doram said:

She is called Bianca

Riccckkkkeeeeyyyyy!!!! 😂😂😂😂😂

Edited by MediumRoastSteam

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

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1 minute ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Who said you have to do like this? In fact, users do the opposite: they brew, they steam, they brew, they steam...

In which way? 
 

Who said you can’t? 

all the above related to the MaraX.

 

Riccckkkkeeeeyyyyy!!!! 😂😂😂😂😂

I was going by a previous post - alternating between brewing and steaming works fine then. Do you still have to pull the next shot within 5 mins of the previous if you steam in between? Just trying to understand how this works (MaraX). 

 If you get distracted for whatever reason, having to wait another 15 mins for it stabilise would be a pain. 
 

 

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1 minute ago, HVL87 said:

If you get distracted for whatever reason, having to wait another 15 mins for it stabilise would be a pain

Yeah. I think the software is trying to do its best to manage the temperature well, but, whether you like it or not, due to the nature of an HX machine, the water in the HX loop will only get hotter as lon as there’s pressure in that boiler. And hence the 5 minutes, as otherwise the machine will start overheating and eventually will have to “reset” itself. 

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

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21 minutes ago, HVL87 said:

I was going by a previous post - alternating between brewing and steaming works fine then. Do you still have to pull the next shot within 5 mins of the previous if you steam in between? Just trying to understand how this works (MaraX). 

 If you get distracted for whatever reason, having to wait another 15 mins for it stabilise would be a pain. 

Reading between your lines, I think you want an E61 group, but fear the Mara X will limit you in pulling batches of shots. You therefore consider double boiler, but don't want to spend on a Bianca. Is that correct? If so, maybe something like ACS Minima from @BlackCatCoffee will do the trick? https://www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk/products/acs-minima?_pos=1&_psq=minim&_ss=e&_v=1.0
(@DavecUK review: https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/acs-minima-final-production-machine/).

If you are still considering the Mara X, I believe if your routine is 2 consecutive flat whites you should have no problem at all once you get to grips with the machine. You can also steam and brew at the same time if you want (just need to purge and give the machine a few seconds before you start pulling your shots). If you are happy with ~2C degree temp control and usually don't make more than 2-3 drinks in a row (maybe you can make more on the Mara X, I haven't tried) - then Mara X will be close in performance to a dual boiler. If you want more accuracy than that, and the freedom to pull as many consecutive shots as you want - then you will get that from a double boiler. 

Edited by Doram
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12 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Yeah. I think the software is trying to do its best to manage the temperature well, but, whether you like it or not, due to the nature of an HX machine, the water in the HX loop will only get hotter as lon as there’s pressure in that boiler. And hence the 5 minutes, as otherwise the machine will start overheating and eventually will have to “reset” itself. 

Makes sense. How does the Elizabeth look in person? I didn’t realise the pf handle was also tacky. Like you said entry level DB but I don’t think they should have compromised in these areas. 
 

6 minutes ago, Doram said:

Reading between your lines, I think you want an E61 group, but fear the Mara X will limit you in pulling batches of shots. You therefore consider double boiler, but don't want to spend on a Bianca. Is that correct? If so, maybe something like ACS Minima from @BlackCatCoffee will do the trick? (DavecUK review: https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/acs-minima-final-production-machine/).

If you are still considering the Mara X, I believe if your routine is 2 consecutive flat whites you should have no problem at all once you get to grips with the machine. You can also steam and brew at the same time if you want (just need to purge and give the machine a few seconds before you start pulling your shots). If you are happy with ~2C degree temp control and usually don't make more than 2-3 drinks in a row (maybe you can make more on the Mara X, I haven't tried) - then Mara X will be close in performance to a dual boiler. If you want more accuracy than that, and the freedom to pull as many consecutive shots as you want - then you will get that from a double boiler. 

Thanks, will have a look at the ACS Minima. Hopefully this is all still relevant to the op, didn’t meant to hijack the thread! 

In brew temp priority mode how is the steaming performance on the MaraX?

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1 hour ago, HVL87 said:

How does the Elizabeth look in person?

I have put the Elizabeth thread in reply to your OP. I suggest you do some bed time reading there. It has links to reviews (very first post) and plenty of pictures!

edit: @HVL87 - I have only now realised you are not the OP! 😂 - I must be getting old. :exit:

Edited by MediumRoastSteam
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13 minutes ago, HVL87 said:

In brew temp priority mode how is the steaming performance on the MaraX?

It works well, providing you accept the following: To keep the brew temperature right, you need to give the machine a little 'warning' a few seconds (maybe a minute) before you steam. This 'warning' can either be lifting the lever to brew coffee, or purging the steam wand or the water tap (a very quick purge will do). This then 'wakes' the heating element, and a minute later you are up to steaming pressure (but now your group is starting to heat, and this is why you have this '5 minute window' to brew more shots before the brass in the E61 group becomes too hot and you need to give it time to cool down again (the 15 minute wait).

You have a few options to have both correct brew temperature and steam pressure: 1) Walk up to the machine and brew a shot (this will 'wake' the heating element when you lift the lever), then wait a few seconds after the shot (e.g. wash your basket and portafilter), now steam; or 2) Wake the heating element (lift the lever or purge the steam wand), wait a few seconds (say put your coffee in the portafilter) - now you have the correct temp to brew and the correct pressure to steam both at the same time (but a little less time to brew consecutive shots, because you woke the heating element a little earlier).

If you do all that, your steam pressure will be ~1.5-1.7 bar, which will easily be enough to nicely steam a medium sized pitcher of milk.

Edited by Doram
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Thanks @Doram in my opinion the Minima cannot be beaten at the price point and if it appeals to the OP drop me a PM 👍

Reading through your want list, compact and fast to warm up is a little tough.

I am going to throw another machine in to the mix. Some people are not keen on it but I used one for years and as long as you are aware of the cons going in, they are very good machines.

The machine I am talking about is the Fracino Piccino. The one I would suggest is the model with PID. It is a compact dual boiler with an E61 compatible group. It has relatively small boilers at 300ml each but this is a pro in your case as heat up time is a lot quicker than a large HX thermosyphon machine. It will happily make a number of espressos in a row. A commercial machine it is not but drinks for a dinner party is no problem. The brew boiler is mounted directly to the group so it gets warm quickly. They are made in the UK and Fracino customer support is excellent, parts availability is second to none and they are cute!

The cons of it - build is not as refined as some models suggested, descaling is a pain, steam is not as good as a large boiler machine (it served me perfectly for a number of years of milk drinks though, and that was a non PID!).

If this is of interest then let me know. I don't have them on the site (yet) but I can quote you on it.

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www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk

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ACS Minima now in stock!

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22 minutes ago, Doram said:

It works well, providing you accept the following: To keep the brew temperature right, you need to give the machine a little 'warning' a few seconds (maybe a minute) before you steam. This 'warning' can either be lifting the lever to brew coffee, or purging the steam wand or the water tap (a very quick purge will do). This then 'wakes' the heating element, and a minute later you are up to steaming pressure (but now your group is starting to heat, and this is why you have this '5 minute window' to brew more shots before the brass in the E61 group becomes too hot and you need to give it time to cool down again (the 15 minute wait).

You have a few options to have both correct brew temperature and steam pressure: 1) Walk up to the machine and brew a shot (this will 'wake' the heating element when you lift the lever), then wait a few seconds after the shot (e.g. wash your basket and portafilter), now steam; or 2) Wake the heating element (lift the lever or purge the steam wand), wait a few seconds (say put your coffee in the portafilter) - now you have the correct temp to brew and the correct pressure to steam both at the same time (but a little less time to brew consecutive shots, because you woke the heating element a little earlier).

If you do all that, your steam pressure will be ~1.5-1.7 bar, which will easily be enough to nicely steam a medium sized pitcher of milk.

A very useful explanation! 

@Black Cat Coffee although I’m not the OP the Minima is definitely under consideration for me. How long does it take to heat up from cold? It would be interesting to know how it compares to the Elizabeth as they are so similar in price and both entry level DBs. Reading through DaveC’s review now. On a separate thread you also mentioned the Bezzera BZ10, an HX machine. 

@Mpbradford what are your thoughts?

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34 minutes ago, HVL87 said:

A very useful explanation! 

@Black Cat Coffee although I’m not the OP the Minima is definitely under consideration for me. How long does it take to heat up from cold? It would be interesting to know how it compares to the Elizabeth as they are so similar in price and both entry level DBs. Reading through DaveC’s review now. On a separate thread you also mentioned the Bezzera BZ10, an HX machine. 

@Mpbradford what are your thoughts?

The Minima will take longer to heat up than the MaraX. This is because the minima is a dual boiler, and heats the E61 using a thermal loop, same as in the MaraX. That loop uses water roughly at 107C in the Minima, whereas in the MaraX is heating at 140C or thereabouts. It then needs time to stabilise. So, the Minima, like a traditional E61 dual boiler, would take around 40 minutes to be ready to brew. This process can be accelerated by flushing water through the group or wrapping a towel around it if you want to. The issue with E61 machines is heating the group - it’s a considerable mass of brass to heat - and not the water inside the boilers, which come up to temp in no time (under 10 minutes).

if you want to compare he Minima with the Elizabeth, think about the E61 and bigger boilers. That’s the main difference. The Minima also has a solenoid operated E61, so no need to lubricate every so often like the MaraX.

And... you can turn the Minima into a.... (come on, give me a name...) Bianima? If one day you decide to have a play with a flow control valve or any other E61 accessory.

Dave has an in-depth - review on all machines you are considering, so worth taking a look.

Edited by MediumRoastSteam
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The Minima is an interesting beast. It is unusual looking certainly but I must say I prefer it to some its more boxy competition - personal taste of course. The large area of the drip tray makes a lot of sense ergonomically when you start using it too.  They heat up in around 25-30 mins but you can of course reduce this by pulling water through the group as with most all machines.

I have not used an Elizabeth so I can't give you a direct comparison but I would say the Minima has significantly larger boilers boilers so is likely to be more temp stable and offer greater steam power. The gauge of stainless steel used in it construction is quite something too. I have not seen another domestic machine like it.

The Bezzera BZ10 is a very well put together more traditional style Hx machine. I think they are fantastic little machines, the proportions are perfect. Problem with them is I wont have any stock until January.

 

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www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk

Coffee | Espresso Machines | Grinders | Accessories

ACS Minima now in stock!

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