I'm going to be upgrading to a new espresso machine soon. I know that I don't want an automatic or super auto, or whatever. I like semi-auto, but I really like the manual paddles or levers. I've used a few La Marzocco paddle machines that where excellent.  I don't know the advantages of either, and which outweighs the other, or if it's just a matter of preference.

This upgrade will also likely be the last machine upgrade I get for a very long time, (and maintain it so). I've heard from different people in the industry that multiple boilers is the way to go for temperature and pressure consistency is the way to go. I have also talked with others that say...true, but maintaining them will be a lot more frequent and difficult and expensive. There are some excellent single boiler machines that are good as well. I haven't been able to play around with several different machines, and likely won't have that chance in a short amount of time. I wanted to also think about going to a 3 group (currently 2). We don't have a volume problem currently with 2 groups, but we are growing, and I hear that boiler capacity for a 3 group can make a difference in pulling shots.

The manufacturers I'm looking at are UNIC, Wega, La Marzocco, and Synesso. I'm open to look at other manufacturers for sure. I'm not really needing the "cutting edge" in technology unless it's necessary for a higher end machine.

Initially I was thinking of a 3 group Linea with manual paddles. That was until someone told me that they occasional catch on fire. 

So paddles or no paddles? And are paddles any different than levers? Single boiler or multi boilers? And what manufacturer is worth looking into?

Thanks again!

Danny

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Paddle groups are very different from Lever machines of which there are different types Lever machines.

The fact that you are asking the types of questions you are asking leads me to HIGHLY advise staying far away from the LM manual paddle group. Maintenance of the MP is needed on a frequent (as often or more often than group gaskets) basis which entails (watch this video) which I suspect you are not up to and don't want to pay someone $75-$100 per hour to do for you multiple times a year.

 

I could type literally for hours explaining various machine features and differences but I ain't doing it. Seriously, it sounds like you need a GOOD EXPERIENCED consultation session.

 

I agree that consultation from someone experienced would be great. Do you know anyone?

Most manual paddle, especially LM, require rebuilding every 6 months. It's not difficult, but does require you keeping all the parts in stock and know how to do it yourself. I've never heard of a LM or any espresso machine catching on fire. I do have a LM Linea 3 grp. paddle on my shelf waiting for the right person who wants to roll their sleeves up.

I agree with mike that I'm just not there yet. I feel like a Manual paddle will be a good final machine if I still feel this way after some time. I don't really mind rebuilding the group every 6 months. But, I feel like it would be just one of many things that had to be maintained on an LM on a regular basis. Synesso looks similar for sure. What bout semi auto or lever machines? Wha are some good upgrades? One of my good friends/roasters swears by faema. And another tells me wega is the way to go. Does it even really matter?

It matters as much as you want to go down the Rabbit Hole in tweaking playing experimenting fine tuning shots. But basically you want ~200f water hitting the PF at ~130psi, that's the gist of an espresso machine, and doing it repeatably and reliably.

The grinder is more important than the espresso machine in the cup. Think large conical for best grind and grind consistency, electronic doserless ease of use. I LOVE my Unic 731C/Macap M7D grinders, prefer 'em over Robur-E or Compak K10 Fresh.

What are you running now? Some of the manufacturers that you mentioned may or may not be considered upgrades, depending on where you are now.

Tech support for Synesso in our region is getting better, LM support has always been really good. Shot quality with both are excellent. I'm obviously partial to Nuova Simonelli, and would consider them as being a better 3rd option than the others you've mentioned. Manufacturer matters very, very much.

Agree NS high quality build machines and wasn't implying mfg didn't matter, hence when I said reliably and repeatably. What doesn't really matter for most is bells and whistles like manual pressure profile capability like on the manual paddle groups. Watch most places in action during production slam that have them and you'll see it simply used as shot on/off zero pause for any line pressure preinfusion at all let alone any consistent preinfusion timing.

 

That said we are planning on upgrading at our main location from our 3group Linea (AV). Likely will be a combination of 2 ModBars and either a 2gr Spirit or a Speedster or possibly Mirage Idrocompresso. We do pull a lot of different SO and do want to play with pressure profiling AND want it repeatable and believe Modbar the current absolute cutting edge. But we are not an average coffeehouse and I wouldn't recommend what we do to any but those who already really understand/are learning the what, how and why of very advanced cutting edge shot pulling etc.

I was seriously looking at the macap M7D conical. I currently have a second hand super jolly, but it's refurbished and the burrs are about three months new. It has a doser, and I really don't care for it. I've seen the M7D and I love the solid build. How is the grind quality and does it clump much? I loooove the price.

Also, I'm currently working off of a second hand rancilio epoca. It's not aesthetically the prettiest machine, and it's old. It has problems, but we have learned how to adjust it to provide us pretty consistent quality. But as far as commercial machines go, I know it's pretty close to the bottom of the barrel. The first machine I ever used an Astoria Gloria. That was a decent machine. Great pressure.

Mike McGinness said:

It matters as much as you want to go down the Rabbit Hole in tweaking playing experimenting fine tuning shots. But basically you want ~200f water hitting the PF at ~130psi, that's the gist of an espresso machine, and doing it repeatably and reliably.

The grinder is more important than the espresso machine in the cup. Think large conical for best grind and grind consistency, electronic doserless ease of use. I LOVE my Unic 731C/Macap M7D grinders, prefer 'em over Robur-E or Compak K10 Fresh.

Agreed 100% with this!

Danny, Just looked at the map while I was up fixing a brewer in Winston-Salem this morning and noticed that you're awfully close to our area. Seems to me like you could take a drive south and within about 2 hours have the opportunity to check out Wega, Astoria, LM, Simonelli, and maybe even Synesso too. You're out of my service area, but between General Espresso and my friends at VP Coffee there's lots of stuff happening in the Greensboro and Triangle areas.


Mike McGinness said:

Agree NS high quality build machines and wasn't implying mfg didn't matter, hence when I said reliably and repeatably. What doesn't really matter for most is bells and whistles like manual pressure profile capability like on the manual paddle groups. Watch most places in action during production slam that have them and you'll see it simply used as shot on/off zero pause for any line pressure preinfusion at all let alone any consistent preinfusion timing.

Excellent and non-existent. My observations based on using 3 of them in two locations for only a month. (20lb beans run through each to break in the burrs before putting into production)

Danny Heiss said:

I was seriously looking at the macap M7D conical..... How is the grind quality and does it clump much?

 

I have had several dealings with Fortuna down in Greensboro. They have some nice coffee and good equipment. But I don't like getting tunnel vision when it comes to who I do work with, because as much as I'm trying to become the best quality cafe I can be, I'm also trying to learn everything I can. I feel like sales men lose sight of how important that is to me. What other places are around the triad that I need to check out?

I've also talked to to some ccc people's...and I'm not where I need to be for them (may never.) although their education is pretty gnarly,

In terms of total support, I can't speak highly enough about VP. They've worked on everything and stand behind the equipment they sell and service.

(In the interest of full disclosure those guys have become really good friends of mine. That said, my respect for how they approach the business came first.)

Agreed on CC's education program - absolutely top-tier. Fortunately it's open to everyone (at least I think it still is).

Hope that helps.

Danny Heiss said:

I have had several dealings with Fortuna down in Greensboro. They have some nice coffee and good equipment. But I don't like getting tunnel vision when it comes to who I do work with, because as much as I'm trying to become the best quality cafe I can be, I'm also trying to learn everything I can. I feel like sales men lose sight of how important that is to me. What other places are around the triad that I need to check out?

I've also talked to to some ccc people's...and I'm not where I need to be for them (may never.) although their education is pretty gnarly,

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