Marco: Uber Boiler - Has anyone worked with one of these?

I was on the new La Marzocco website and saw the Uber brewing station.  Looks really neat.  I haven't heard to much about it.  Can anyone shed some light on this for me?  List price point?

Best,

AP

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As a lab device the Uber is quite nice for cupping and in production for pour over when you have a volume compatible with it's abilities.

The Uber was developed as part of "The Uber Project", I felt that the information was readily available via James Hoffman and Paul from marco was was on hand at the WBC Coffee Bar in Atlanta. Availability was an early issue, and I received one of the first production units as I ordered right after Atlanta SCAA.

I'm curious, but does the Luminare keep up on a busy bar? I have seen the device on show floors, but never in a real world production environment. I would be stoked to find a device that could produce an endless/adjustable stream of perfect temperature water.

 

Jay Caragay said:

Terry-

I don't know if "fair" is really a consideration - especially when the Uber was also in a state of perpetual development for a very long time - and they couldn't be bothered to answer emails or questions of someone who was very interested in implementing one in the new brew bar he was building.  So much for listening and responding...

 

But I am interested to know where the Uber has "shined" as you have stated.

Terry, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the Marco Eco boiler.


Terry Z said:

As a lab device the Uber is quite nice for cupping and in production for pour over when you have a volume compatible with it's abilities.

The Uber was developed as part of "The Uber Project", I felt that the information was readily available via James Hoffman and Paul from marco was was on hand at the WBC Coffee Bar in Atlanta. Availability was an early issue, and I received one of the first production units as I ordered right after Atlanta SCAA.

I'm curious, but does the Luminare keep up on a busy bar? I have seen the device on show floors, but never in a real world production environment. I would be stoked to find a device that could produce an endless/adjustable stream of perfect temperature water.

 

Jay Caragay said:

Terry-

I don't know if "fair" is really a consideration - especially when the Uber was also in a state of perpetual development for a very long time - and they couldn't be bothered to answer emails or questions of someone who was very interested in implementing one in the new brew bar he was building.  So much for listening and responding...

 

But I am interested to know where the Uber has "shined" as you have stated.

Terry-
I've heard quite a few people seemingly change course and touting the Uber at a "lab device" though even then I'm dubious of its applicability and practical usability in a "lab" setting. And for a shop that is as slow as would be ideal for the Uber, it's going to take quite some time to recoup that six thousand dollar investment.

I have to also disagree that "information was readily available." Marco's website during the development phase was ridiculously lacking content and information about the boiler - back then the only real source of information was Hoffman's blog and even that was sporadic. Not to say that I expect a product in development stage to have tons of public information published, but I disagree that information was "readily available." I know because I scourged very hard to get the unit dimensions so I could have our brew bar designed to accommodate the Uber (this was around 3Q 2009).

But in many ways, that's neither here nor there. Sadly, I haven't heard much excitement from those actually implementing the unit and I was disappointed to see that TPU didn't use the Uber as touted for its virtues.

Does the Luminaire keep up on a busy bar? That's a good question and one we kinda put to the test at Spro Hampden back in August with the most recent prototype. At Spro Hampden we're a bit different in that we use seven different hand brewing methods to prepare coffees to order. This means at any one time, our baristas could have a vac pot, french press, beehouse and aeropress running at the same time. Because of this disparate brewing technology, we've discovered that both the LB-1 and Uber would have limited applicability for our operations.

Meaning that neither unit could really replace completely the Fetco HWB-5 tower we currently use.

The LB-1 is limited by the very same reasons its an ideal unit for by the cup brewing. The small form factor, instant heat and 120v power means that the unit is limited to 11 ounces per minute. On paper it doesn't sound too bad, but when you watch the flow rate, it seems kinda slow - especially when compared to the flow rate from the HWB-5!

But the reality is that for pourover, an ideal brew time is 3-4 minutes. If we're talking a 12z cup then there is no problem with the flow rate as the unit is capable of delivering 33 to 44 ounces in that timeframe - and you only need 14. The instant on heat of the LB-1 means no undercounter tank which makes the unit very small and easy to implement in an existing build. Simply plop it onto whatever counter is convenient, connect the water and plug it into any available electrical socket and you're ready to go nearly instantaneously.

The LB-1 has the hand controlled "font" similar to the Uber, but I found the hose type device on the LB-1 easier to control the water flow placement in the brew than the Uber with its awkward font handle, limited travel and limited throw.

The LB-1 uses a volumetric flow meter to measure the amount of water dispensed in lieu of a scale. The effect is still the same but the design saves space and money. In addition, the LB-1 has the capability of programming complex (or simple) brewing parameters. Meaning that if you're Chemex method is as complex as ours (with so many ounces at so many minutes, multiple times throughout the brew) then that can be programmed in precisely. To me, that's a pretty compelling potential.

As I'm sure you are as well, in my world I'm concerned about time. I need to deliver coffees to our customers in a timely manner. Yes, we will make them wait while we brew, but I never want to ask someone to wait 45 minutes for a coffee - and the biggest concern with either of these machines is just that.

With either the LB-1 or the Uber, if you use them to their full potential, you're talking about one cup of coffee every 3-4 minutes. If you're talking a line of ten people, is that person going to wait 40 minutes? If they do, is there any real way to make them happy after that long a wait?

A solution to that is multiple units. With the Uber, that approach becomes prohibitively expensive very quickly - and not only in terms of dollars but also counter and cabinet space - most of which are at a premium for most of us, especially since most of us don't have Intelligentsia kind of money!

To my mind, in their current states, the LB-1 has the advantage. It can deliver precise temperature water in small form factor that can be installed in any pre-existing operation without major modification to the facility, offers programmability and does just about everything the Uber can do for about a third of the price (at least that is my understanding regarding price). In order to solve the multiple cup problem, you can purchase two (maybe three) LB-1 units for the price of one Uber - and they will take up about as much counter space as two Ubers, with no modifications necessary to the cabinetry below, simply plug and play. They're also talking about modifications where the LB-1 units can be ganged together for a more pleasing esthetic appearance.

And unlike the Uber, the LB-1 can operate continuously without a need to stop and wait for 4 to 20 minutes while the Uber refills and reheats the boiler and font. To my mind, that is what kills the Uber for production. "Oh sorry, mister tenth in line, your 40 minute wait will now be sixty. Sorry."

The advantage the Uber has over the LB-1 though is its higher flow rate. For shops where they deign to use the Uber as a large-scale boiler in a manner similar to the HWB-5 and simply refill their Buono kettles for hand-pouring, the Uber is the clear winner with its higher flow rate. To stand there and fill a Buono kettle with the LB-1 will probably drive you mad with rage.

In fact, the Uber is a proven Buono Kettle filler as that's exactly how they used the Uber at The Penny University.

But I think $6,000 is a bit much for a unit that isn't used much differently than a $1,500 Fetco water tower...

Hey Chris,

 

We have a ECO Smart isn the lab. I have used it a bit and so far these are my notes:

 

Pros

1. Even water temerature for most drinks.

2. Temperature adjustable from dashboard

Cons

1. Dispense  button is located right above the dispense point, thus creating an uncomfortable situation when filling a kettle.

2. Need a jet breaker / aerator to slow the dispense pressure, as when you dispense into a round bottom cup the water flows over the sides.

 

and that's where I'm at so far, from a use stand point. From a technical point the device is very well made, and easy to work on. We will see in the coming months what maintenance issues may or may not arise. Looking forward to really digging into it though.

 

Deferio said:

Terry, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the Marco Eco boiler.


Terry Z said:

As a lab device the Uber is quite nice for cupping and in production for pour over when you have a volume compatible with it's abilities.

The Uber was developed as part of "The Uber Project", I felt that the information was readily available via James Hoffman and Paul from marco was was on hand at the WBC Coffee Bar in Atlanta. Availability was an early issue, and I received one of the first production units as I ordered right after Atlanta SCAA.

I'm curious, but does the Luminare keep up on a busy bar? I have seen the device on show floors, but never in a real world production environment. I would be stoked to find a device that could produce an endless/adjustable stream of perfect temperature water.

 

Jay Caragay said:

Terry-

I don't know if "fair" is really a consideration - especially when the Uber was also in a state of perpetual development for a very long time - and they couldn't be bothered to answer emails or questions of someone who was very interested in implementing one in the new brew bar he was building.  So much for listening and responding...

 

But I am interested to know where the Uber has "shined" as you have stated.

Terry-

 

Pass this along to Marco about the ECO - if the pressure is too hard, it would be super trick to have a pressure sensitive dispense button so that the harder you press the greater the flow rate.  That would be cool.

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