Hi Guys

I need a bit of advice. I want to replace our Brasilia machine in our shop and I am in two minds as to what machine we should
get. We have a small shop but it does get busy on Saturdays and on lunch
times. On Saturdays we are 2 Baristas but for the rest of the time only
one. Our current machine is a 2 group and I have always felt it's ok.

Here is the two machines that I am looking at:

I can get a secondhand refurbished La Marzocco Linea 3 group from the
local La Marzocco supplier for about $5460(USD). It comes with a 1 year
guarantee. I love these machines but I am a bit worried about
maintenance on a refurbished machine.

My next option is a new 2 group Faema E92 it is the one with the auto steam for about the same
price as the Linea 3 group. My problem is that I have no experience with
this machine. I know that it has a heat exchanger with an adjustable
thermal balancing system.
I have heard that the big difference between these machines is that the La marzocco has a straighter extraction profile due to its double boiler
that gives a very constant extraction temperature.
I have seen the results of the Faema's auto steam and I have to say I was quite amazed.

Any thoughts will be appreciated

Renier

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I don't have any experience with Faemas, so I can't really compare. If it doesn't have a dual-boiler system, my thought is: stay away. No pressure and temperature stability means your shots won't be consistent.

I love Lineas, they're real workhorses. Assuming the refurbish job was well done, it should be pretty much good as new. Check to see what the refurb entailed--did they completely rewire it? Did they de-scale everything thoroughly? Also, I assume the price is $5,460, yes?
Thanks Jacob

Yes the price is $5,460 sorry my mistake.
I will ask what the refurb entailed.

I know the Faema works on the principal that it mixes cold water with the water from your HX and you can control the temp by adjusting the amount of cold water mixed into the group. This enable you to still have enough steam power and each group can be adjusted independently. It does sound all good but it will be great to hear from someone that have working experience on the Faema.

Renier
Conventional wisdom would indicate that a double boiler will be more temperature stable and consistent than a heat exchange system. That's the problem with conventional wisdom, it seldom takes all the important factors into consideration. Lets examine the two systems you are looking at, shall we?

Linea
- Double boiler, no pre-infusion, only simulated electronic pulse infusion
- Temperature when measured with a Scace Thermofilter device
+dle temperature is typically 7-9 degrees below target temperature setting, rising over the course of the first 5 ounces of brew water
+Peak temperature wanders up and down 3+ degrees depending on where it is in the heating cycle

Faema
-adjustable cool water tempering system, heat exchangers
-genuine pre-infusion
- Temperature when measured with a Scace Thermofilter device
+Idle temperature starts around 3 degrees below target temperature and rises over 2-3 ounces of flow
+Peak temperature will be cooler with over flushing, but precisely repeatable with proper flushing

The end result is that no mater which machine you use, you will only get consistency by understanding the heating system and developing a consistent flushing routing. The flushing required on the Linea will take more time and use more water. The flushing routing on the Faema will be shorter, but more susceptible to dropping temp by over flushing.

I realize there is much love and loyalty for the double boiler system, but I have found that the predictability of heat exchangers allows a knowledgeable Barista to achieve an extremely high level of consistency. I wish the Faemas weren't made with plastic sides and sliding steam valve knobs. Those things are aesthetically and physically unpleasant. Other than that, your temperature stability will be about the same on both. You don't get the scientific accuracy with temperature until you get into PID controled temperature, which doesn't come stock on a regular linea.

So if you go by what's trendy, you would choose the Linea. If you go by performance, I'm afraid it is a coin toss.
Hi Renier

Ek ken die Faema's baie goed en het al self op al die modelle gewerk. Een van my kliente het een in Stellenbosch. Hulle het 'n 3 group met auto steam en die masjien werk baie goed. Praat met die mense by Culinary Equipment. Hulle verkoop die Faema. Hulle showroom is by Lanseria Lughawe. Miskien moet jy eerder kyk na die E91 Ambassador. Baie cool design, alhoewel die E92 ook bitter mooi is. Maar die besluit is joune.

Groete Werner van Main Street Coffee Roasters

Renier Geldenhuys said:
Thanks Jacob

Yes the price is $5,460 sorry my mistake.
I will ask what the refurb entailed.

I know the Faema works on the principal that it mixes cold water with the water from your HX and you can control the temp by adjusting the amount of cold water mixed into the group. This enable you to still have enough steam power and each group can be adjusted independently. It does sound all good but it will be great to hear from someone that have working experience on the Faema.

Renier
Thanks Phil.

Do you know what the build quality of the Faema is like?
I think you are right it is going to be a coin toss. I suppose I have to look at the maintenance as well.
Phil Proteau said:
You don't get the scientific accuracy with temperature until you get into PID controled temperature

^Which basically takes every heat exchanger machine out of the equation. I know that when I had mine the noisy clack of the pressurestat going off was annoying as all hell.
Also, you'll no doubt be continuously reminded from those in the HX camp that changing the brew temp by simply doing longer or shorter flushes is just as easy and accurate pressing buttons on a PID controller... total BS!
Dankie Werner

Ek is juis Saterdag opad Culinary Equipment toe. Ek sal kyk na die E91, maar ek dink dit gaan dalk bietjie duur wees vir my.

Groete
Renier

Werner Pauw said:
Hi Renier

Ek ken die Faema's baie goed en het al self op al die modelle gewerk. Een van my kliente het een in Stellenbosch. Hulle het 'n 3 group met auto steam en die masjien werk baie goed. Praat met die mense by Culinary Equipment. Hulle verkoop die Faema. Hulle showroom is by Lanseria Lughawe. Miskien moet jy eerder kyk na die E91 Ambassador. Baie cool design, alhoewel die E92 ook bitter mooi is. Maar die besluit is joune.

Groete Werner van Main Street Coffee Roasters

Renier Geldenhuys said:
Thanks Jacob

Yes the price is $5,460 sorry my mistake.
I will ask what the refurb entailed.

I know the Faema works on the principal that it mixes cold water with the water from your HX and you can control the temp by adjusting the amount of cold water mixed into the group. This enable you to still have enough steam power and each group can be adjusted independently. It does sound all good but it will be great to hear from someone that have working experience on the Faema.

Renier
Thanks Jeff

Jeff Jaworski said:
Phil Proteau said:
You don't get the scientific accuracy with temperature until you get into PID controled temperature

^Which basically takes every heat exchanger machine out of the equation. I know that when I had mine the noisy clack of the pressurestat going off was annoying as all hell.
Also, you'll no doubt be continuously reminded from those in the HX camp that changing the brew temp by simply doing longer or shorter flushes is just as easy and accurate pressing buttons on a PID controller... total BS!
I'd rather have a refurbished machine from La Marzocco. I've worked on both. Faema's aren't bad. They're pretty much a Cimbali. They use the same knobs, pressure stats, group gaskets, side panels, front panels, pumps, motors, Economizers, boilers, hx, electronics etc... This E92 seems a lot like the Cimbali M39 although I haven't popped the hood on the E92 so I can't swear by it. Some coffees seem to do better on a linea, some seem to do better on an hx. Find a dealer of each and go test your beans on both. I'm going to bet whatever the roaster is using is what he calibrates his "flavor profile" to. Who came up with "flavor profile" anyway? That seems like a pretty pretentious way of saying FLAVOR. I'll stop myself there before I get flamed.

Phil Proteau said:
Conventional wisdom would indicate that a double boiler will be more temperature stable and consistent than a heat exchange system. That's the problem with conventional wisdom, it seldom takes all the important factors into consideration. Lets examine the two systems you are looking at, shall we?

Linea
- Double boiler, no pre-infusion, only simulated electronic pulse infusion
- Temperature when measured with a Scace Thermofilter device
+dle temperature is typically 7-9 degrees below target temperature setting, rising over the course of the first 5 ounces of brew water
+Peak temperature wanders up and down 3+ degrees depending on where it is in the heating cycle

Faema
-adjustable cool water tempering system, heat exchangers
-genuine pre-infusion
- Temperature when measured with a Scace Thermofilter device
+Idle temperature starts around 3 degrees below target temperature and rises over 2-3 ounces of flow
+Peak temperature will be cooler with over flushing, but precisely repeatable with proper flushing

The end result is that no mater which machine you use, you will only get consistency by understanding the heating system and developing a consistent flushing routing. The flushing required on the Linea will take more time and use more water. The flushing routing on the Faema will be shorter, but more susceptible to dropping temp by over flushing.

I realize there is much love and loyalty for the double boiler system, but I have found that the predictability of heat exchangers allows a knowledgeable Barista to achieve an extremely high level of consistency. I wish the Faemas weren't made with plastic sides and sliding steam valve knobs. Those things are aesthetically and physically unpleasant. Other than that, your temperature stability will be about the same on both. You don't get the scientific accuracy with temperature until you get into PID controled temperature, which doesn't come stock on a regular linea.

So if you go by what's trendy, you would choose the Linea. If you go by performance, I'm afraid it is a coin toss.
Jeff Jaworski said:
Phil Proteau said:
You don't get the scientific accuracy with temperature until you get into PID controled temperature

^Which basically takes every heat exchanger machine out of the equation. I know that when I had mine the noisy clack of the pressurestat going off was annoying as all hell.
Also, you'll no doubt be continuously reminded from those in the HX camp that changing the brew temp by simply doing longer or shorter flushes is just as easy and accurate pressing buttons on a PID controller... total BS!

The loud pressure stats you mention are fairly rare now-a-days, at least I havent heard one in a couple years, even on some pretty old Lineas. I don't think you can speak from the perspective of "those in the HX camp", as this is not a single point of reference, or even a distinguishable conglomerate of people. Its not really a fair or logical argument to throw the lable of "total BS" on a statement you made up yourself. My point about the PID is exactly what I think your point is meant to shed light on; PID is precise. Heat exchange and pressure stat double boiler can be relatively consistent in the right hands.

However, PID control of the heating element does not insure control of temperature at the group head. A GB5 is consistently 3ish degrees below stable temp at each group head before flushing, and each group head drops about .75 degree F from the left group head to the right. A 3 group will have a 1.5 degree F differential at the far end group heads. I can keep a heat exchange group head hitting within 2 degrees of target temperature every time. So while it is not exactly precision, neither is a machine using PID (in a retail environment, single group machines excluded).

P.S.- I don't consider myself as being in one camp or the other; HX vs Double Boiler PID. I think this is bit of a false dichotomy when you single out "the HX camp". I am in the camp of using proper technique and compensations appropriate to the equipment one is using. Brewing equipment does brew good coffee, people brew good coffee.
If I were looking at a Faema, then I'd definitely try my best to splurge on a E-61 Legend two-group version. It will be expensive and it is old-tech, but it's a true genuine classic and has an excellent resale value like that of higher end La Marzoccos(GB5 immediately comes to mind here).
My input pretty much parallels Phil's with some additions.

A stock Linea uses a deadband style thermostat on the brew boiler(s in the case of 4grp) not pressurestat. While it's possible to surf the temp reliably within +or-1f (2f variance) via watching the heater on lamp and developing a routine, the problem is you HAVE to surf EVERY shot in order to know your actual shot temp. Totally impossible in a production environment, which leaves you with a shot +or-6f (12f variance) depending on where in the heating cycle. I have one three group, and two four group Lineas in production. I would NOT run any of them without PID!

On the other hand by design an HX machine will seek to maintain a specific narrow shot temp during production. Changing the steam boiler pressure up or down changes the sought after shot temp up or down. From idle is where flushing comes in since HX tubing just sitting there without water moving going over temp. On smaller HX boiler machines (like prosumer 1.5l boilers) you can accurately vary your shot temp within .5f about 3f +or- from machines seek temp. Accurately, time after time IF you know how to time your flushes (and made easier with Eric's digital thermometer in the group) Easier, not necesarrily more accurate. But on large boiler HX much harder to flush to a temp other than it's seek temp. Can flush for a lower temp "beginning of shot", but will yield an increasing temp intrashot as it seeks to return up to operating shot temp. Higher temp shorter flush will be a declining intrashot. And the amount of flushing can be huge to lower a desired shot temp without lowering pstat!

I use HX and DB daily, for shop much prefer PID'd DB for numerous reasons. For home actually prefer good prosumer class HX (have direct plumbed Fiorenzato Bricoletta).

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