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5 years Barista experience - Home setup - HX or Dual Boiler for a latte art lover, advice please.


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Hey guys,

 

I have been a barista in a great independent coffee shop for 5 years now, and did all my training and to this day still work with a commercial La Marzocco and Mazzer grinders.

For a long time I have been back and forth whether to invest in a set-up at home, but having recently moved into a new place, and now do the majority of my PhD at home. Now is the time.

 

This week I bought a Sette 270wi and some Acaia Lunar scales, but I just cannot seem to make a firm choice on my machine.

 

On a day, I typically drink a long black, sometimes an Americano, and more often than not, a flat white. One thing I really enjoy is creating some great latte art, so although I really care about my espresso quality, the steaming ability of the machine is very important to me. I understand, I have been spoilt from day one using a commercial LM, but I just wanted to get a good idea of what is the best machine I can get for my money, and more importantly, whether there is a difference in the steaming ability between a HX or DB machine. My own ability is there, I would just like to know whether the boiler difference has an impact on the ability to create that near perfect silky milk.

 

At this point, I do not mind if the machine is R or V pump, but if the machine ends up being a HX machine, then I want it to have a PID. However, flow control, pre-infusion function etc... are not absolute musts for me. I hope that makes sense so far.

 

Currently, I am looking at the following;

 

Profitec 600 (but if I really don't need a DB, then would a 500 suffice?)

ECM Technika V Profi PID

ECM Synchronika

 

Of course, the price difference is quite big, so is it worth it? I know personal preference etc comes into play, but for what I use and want my machine for, if a HX PID machine is going to give me the same output (steam/milk wise) as a DB machine, then I don't need to pay the additional £500-600 price difference (in the two ECM machines).

 

Happy to welcome all advice and suggestions, whether it be machine suggestions etc. If I have missed anything out, or you require more information, please just ask away.

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

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They are all quality machines. If you are happy with the work flow of an Hx then a model with a PID will give you some flexibility and is a good middle ground without going all out on a DB and could potentially give you better steam performance at a lower price point.

As you are keen on steam performance and are used to a commercial machine I did see a thread on here with a couple of people mentioning that their Pro 600 was very quick to run out of puff. I do not have a great deal of personal experience with this machine and so I cannot say either way but it is only a 1 litre steam boiler so if you are coming from what is likely a 10 litre+ commercial steam boiler in the day you may be left wanting. Might be worth reading the thread.

The Syncroika and the Technika certainly have a larger capacity for steam so might be a better bet for you. We have some options that might be of interest too though. The Alex PID Plus is very similar to the Technika spec wise (PID, rotary pump, E61 group etc) but has a touch larger boiler so potentially more steam and it is also full stainless steel build! We also have the ACS Minima which is a dual boiler vibe pump machine but it has an enormous steam boiler and is at a very attractive price point.

Happy to talk you through some options and always happy to do what we can for forum members. Drop me a PM if you wish.

David

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Thanks very much for the advice David, much appreciated. Steam boiler capacity definitely seems to be something I need to be more mindful of.

I guess in that sense, machines like the ECM Technika and Synchronika which both have the same steam boiler capacity, would in theory provide the same performance of milk steaming. Where the difference in the HX and DB comes into play, is through the consistency of great espresso outputs enabled by the separate brew boiler in the Synchronika. On this basis, for me, is that extra £500 worth it? Probably not... especially when I can still get incredible espresso results from a HX PID machine (albeit not bang on the money every single time (temp wise)).

Food for thought for sure.

 

Thanks again David

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A PID really does help stability a lot, and from anecdotal evidence and reviews it really helps an HX machine too. The perils of the top end of the market come down to tiny improvements that cost a fortune.

For steaming power, the vast steam boiler of a commercial machine will only really show its muscle when steaming for the second cup. How many cups do you make with frothed/heated milk in one go (or how many would you like to make in a row once covid is dealt with)? My little single boiler Gaggia will struggle its way through steaming for one cup quite adequately, but after that it needs a break. There's a long list of HX and DB machines that have good steaming power. 

I'd also point you towards the Lelit MaraX as an option for a machine. Neat little thing with good steam from all the reviews I've seen, and a solenoid operated e61 that's very temperature stable with some electronic wizardry hidden away.

Quick edit: That Sette 270wi is a great little grinder, but it does have the downside of a little too much plastic in the working bits. While they work they're brilliant, but it's not a forever grinder like the big commercial beasts.

Edited by allikat
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