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I currently have a rancilio silvia paired with a eureka mignon (both bought new in 2015). The upgrade itch feels like it may need scratching but I'm not sure which would be the better candidate to upgrade. The espresso machine or grinder?

I quite like the Lelit Mara and the Niche Zero. Would either/both be worthy upgrades to what I currently have?

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Well the Mara X is the goto HX machine especially if you want something compact. Niche seems to be the must have grinder at that price point but getting one seems to be pain and then have to wait for delivery. Looks wise a bit marmite as well (I'd get a black one but then not keen on the light wood combo so would probably change that). But not sure I can wait so may pull the trigger on the Mignon XL instead. At least with the Niche if you managed to get one and didnt get on with it you would not lose any money - would likely make money if you sold it on as going for crazy money on Ebay as people dont want to wait.

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All in all Niche is a tough package to beat. Various commercial grinders can be modded for weighing beans in but Niche is quicker and easier to use without the use of brushes to get residue grinds out.

Grinders with a hopper on and a timer can maintain a pretty constant dose providing the same beans are always used and they have time to settle down but the output will still drift and need correcting. Some people set one timer to give a low dose and the other to provide a small top up and use that as needed.

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As you have a very capable grinder I would opt for the MaraX. I have one and it’s been a joy to use since day one. It really is a case of walk up and pull a shot. No faffing about with cooling flushes like standard HX machines. If you like milky drinks it is a capable steamer as well. 

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Coffee. Because murder is wrong. 

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37 minutes ago, ajohn said:

All in all Niche is a tough package to beat. Various commercial grinders can be modded for weighing beans in but Niche is quicker and easier to use without the use of brushes to get residue grinds out.

Grinders with a hopper on and a timer can maintain a pretty constant dose providing the same beans are always used and they have time to settle down but the output will still drift and need correcting. Some people set one timer to give a low dose and the other to provide a small top up and use that as needed.

Called it on timed dosing... 2cup button is target dose, 1cup button is minimum grind time (0.2s).

PMA all day!

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@Scro I’ve upgraded from a Silvia and Rocky combination over the last six months. I’m now on a Silvia Pro and Niche Zero.

From my experience and the fact you have a better grinder already I’d say upgrading Silvia would give you the biggest step up. Moving to a clever HX or dual boiler with PID means no more temperature surfing and nice consistent results every time. For me the change meant every shot was like that perfect one when you hit the temperature just right on Silvia.

How many milky drinks do you make? Worth considering improvements on the steam side if that is important. Again the instant high volume quality steam was a big improvement.

On the grinder side the Niche has been a good step up and single dosing for us works well. The grinds are nice and fluffy with no clumps, so again improves the coffee flavours but not as much as the new machine did.

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Thanks for the replies! After much browsing and forum searching I'm now wondering how to convince my better half we need to upgrade both the grinder and machine 😛

Overall height is a restriction for me - I need it to fit under wall units that are just 360mm above the counter top, so that limits the choice of available machines. MaraX would fit, and I think an Appartamento could be persuaded to fit too. I really like the idea of the Niche grinder and kind of like the wooden detail on it. I've also come across recently released Solo which may be a compelling alternative to joining the queue for a Niche.

My current goal is to get consistent results for flat whites, and the occasional espresso shot or americano. Occasionally I hit jackpot with my current setup, but there is no consistency. It may just be me, but after looslely chasing this goal for the past few years while tweaking plenty of parameters I still don't seem to have nailed it.

 

Maybe a MaraX, and a Niche a little further down the line when the next back become available...

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If your go to drink is a flat white, maybe consider a dual boiler - how many would you make at a time? You’re going to have to factor in cooling flushes between brewing and steaming with a HX machine.

PMA all day!

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On 29/03/2021 at 21:32, Scro said:

I quite like the Lelit Mara and the Niche Zero. Would either/both be worthy upgrades to what I currently have?

You are looking at a very popular combo, and for a very good reason too. I did the similar route from Silvia/MC2 to Mara/Niche, and haven't looked back - both are a joy to use, and consistency isn't an issue. You didn't mention if your Silvia is PID'd. If it isn't, getting rid of temp surfing is a big deal. Your grinder should be okay until you get your hands on a Niche, so no rush on this department.

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I think I've settled on upgrading the Silvia first, and I have narrowed it down to either the MaraX or the Elizabeth (I have a workaround for the height issue). My typical usage is 2 flat whites in the morning and 1 or 2 more in the afternoon, or an espresso or 2. I can't see me making more than 3 or 4 drinks back to back, and mostly just 1 or 2. The points I'm still debating in my head are:

  • MaraX is a bit cheaper than Elizabeth
  • The better half likes the look of the Elizabeth more than the MaraX. I kinda like the almost steampunk look of the Mara
  • I "think" the Elizabeth may be easier to use than the MaraX. Is it? This is more an issue for the better half
  • MaraX would slot nicely into the space the Silvia currently occupies - Elizabeth would require some kitchen rearranging

I think either machine will be a very nice upgrade and more than capable of fulfilling my requirements. Any thoughts to tip me one way or the other?

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My usage pattern is similar to yours and I concluded a dual boiler was the route for me for steam on demand - my deliberation was between the Elizabeth and Minima and went for Elizabeth.

Big plus points: fast heat up (15-20min), steam on demand (no cooling flush needed as in a HX), accurate temperature control (set an exact brew/steam temperature rather than selection of 3 ranges), programmable preinfusion (mimicked a lever pulled shot with 18s preinfusion today), easy to clean (no cam lever to lubricate after backflush so you can do it as often as you like).

You can make the machine as simple or complex as you wish - both buttons are programmable and there are two styles of preinfusion (2bar using the steam boiler and bloom using pump on/off) so you can pull 4 types of shot with minimal effort.

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PMA all day!

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Posted (edited)

Well, many coffee beans have been spent and a Niche Zero and Lelit Elizabeth are on order now😁. It looks like I was lucky enough to get one of the batch of Niches that became available on 6th Apr. They went very quickly - pretty much all gone within 1hr!

It was a close call between the MaraX and the Elizabeth. What swung it in favour of the Elizabeth for me was slightly faster warm up time, programmable buttons and short overall depth of the unit. None of these points are big issues, though.

Now to wait impatiently for them to arrive..... 🙂

Edited by Scro
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3 hours ago, Scro said:

Well, many coffee beans have been spent and a Niche Zero and Lelit Elizabeth are on order now😁. It looks like I was lucky enough to get one of the batch of Niches that became available on 6th Apr. They went very quickly - pretty much all gone within 1hr!

It was a close call between the MaraX and the Elizabeth. What swung it in favour of the Elizabeth for me was slightly faster warm up time, programmable buttons and short overall depth of the unit. None of these points are big issues, though.

Now to wait impatiently for them to arrive..... 🙂

You’re gonna love it. Happy preinfusions!

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PMA all day!

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