What's the difference between the Slayer paddle and La Marzocco paddle?

My understanding is that there is only one difference. With the Slayer you can set the actual
preinfusion pressure by taking the top off the machine and turning a small valve that is next to that group heads brew boiler. With the La Marzocco, the preinfusion pressure is preset by your water main pressure. It should be possible to put a pressure regulator on the mains pressure to achieve the same result with the La Marzocco. Not only that but the regulator could be easily accessible without having to take the top off the machine.

Has anyone have any experience  with these paddle groups? 

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Ryan Soeder said:
...so, unless you install a pressure regulator between the line and your machine, you're at the mercy of your municipal water system (here in Louisville, it's 5 - 6 bars).
Thanks for the report, Ryan. Since you asked, here is what I think you missed: installing a pressure regulator should be a normal (and inexpensive) part of setting up one of these machines. (The regulator on my home paddle machine is set to 3 bar.) The shops that do not install regulators are most likely using their paddles as on-off switches, ignoring the line pressure position, and relying on their gicleurs for preinfusion.
I agree completely. Unfortunately, there are a lot of shop owners out there who buy the fancy gadgets without appropriate knowledge of how to use them. I know of a few shops off hand who haven't considered using regulators with their unrestricted machines simply from lack of awareness. Another important reason for installing regulators is to avoid changes in pressure as other water sources act on your system, ie. faucets, ice machines. It's entirely possible that if your ice machine kicks on while you're preinfusing with line pressure, you could shatter the coffee puck.

Of course, odds are that the people who aren't aware of the need for a regulator are not the kind of people who will be looking into the difference between a Slayer and a Hydra...

Marshall Fuss said:
Ryan Soeder said:
...so, unless you install a pressure regulator between the line and your machine, you're at the mercy of your municipal water system (here in Louisville, it's 5 - 6 bars).
Thanks for the report, Ryan. Since you asked, here is what I think you missed: installing a pressure regulator should be a normal (and inexpensive) part of setting up one of these machines. (The regulator on my home paddle machine is set to 3 bar.) The shops that do not install regulators are most likely using their paddles as on-off switches, ignoring the line pressure position, and relying on their gicleurs for preinfusion.
This is probably not a bright question, so please forgive me, but how do these machines compare to an E61 type of unit?

Are they at all the same?
Am I reading this correctly? That slayers recommend you only run 1 group at a time? That doesn't seem to be very practical in any bar situation. Why would you even buy a 2 group then? All the technical aspects of those machines seem pretty cool, but I'll stick with my lineas that can run 4 groups at a time if needed.

Also, bry I really dig your EE linea pre-infuse strategy. Going back on the floor to try it out.
Fraser, the E61 utilizes the other popular form of preinfusion, often referred to as "soft preinfusion." This method is also employed in the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia group and many other machines. It uses a separate chamber between the solenoid and the dispersion block that the water must fill before the full 9 bars of pressure can be applied to the coffee. Because the water is diverted, the pressure is split between filling the chamber and wetting the espresso puck - half pressure to each until the chamber is filled, after which, the water has no where else to go than to the coffee and full pressure is applied. I'm not sure if an E61 chamber can be modified for pressure and time but the Aurelia allows you to determine the length of time it will preinfuse by inserting teflon disks into the preinfusion chamber to change it's size and thereby the amount of time it takes to fill. For example, if you are using a group jet that allows 2oz of water to pass through every 10 seconds and you set the chamber size to 1oz, allowing for the equal diversion of water to the puck and the chamber (1oz to each every 10 seconds), it should take about 10 seconds to fill the chamber and thereby give you 10 seconds of preinfusion. Ok, I had to read that a couple times to make sure I got it right but I understand if it makes absolutely no sense at all. ;)

Kevin, Slayer recommends that you only use one group at a time for the same reason that you should only use one at a time on the Linea: single pump. If you're brewing on one group and begin on another, it will interrupt the constant pressure to the first, if even for just a moment, and can give you channeling. This is, of course, unless you have isolated pumps and boilers for each group, in which case Bry's preinfusion method (which I agree is brilliant) won't work. The reason it works is the same reason it's not advisable to brew simultaneously between groups no matter how many you have. Usually, a larger number of groups just allows you to go longer without dumping pucks and cleaning portafilters and gives you a bigger boiler for more stable steam pressure. I can think of one exception in which you can begin brewing on multiple groups simultaneously as long as you don't start one before the other. This will keep and pressure constant between groups. I believe Michael Phillips did this at the USBC. I can't find the video right now, but you'll notice that he does all four of his shots at the same time but never starts one shot before the other for this very reason.
Kevin Ayers said:
Am I reading this correctly?
No, you're not. Go back and read my first post...particularly the last paragraph.

Also, this...
Kevin Ayers said:
...but I'll stick with my lineas that can run 4 groups at a time if needed.

Directly contradicts this...
Kevin Ayers said:
Also, bry I really dig your EE linea pre-infuse strategy. Going back on the floor to try it out.

With a single-pump Linea, running two groups at a time will result in a lower-than-pump pressure at both groups. Starting one group will result in a lower pressure at another group. Furthermore, running three groups simultaneously will result in an even lower pressure at the fourth.
Something I just realized that goes against what Bryan said earlier, though, is the fact that cycling the four groups as explained would not yield a pre-brew pressure similar to the Slayer. The group will always run at at least line pressure. The Slayer allows pressures to be set below line pressure. Better?
Ray said:
Kevin Ayers said:
Am I reading this correctly?
No, you're not. Go back and read my first post...particularly the last paragraph.

Also, this...
Kevin Ayers said:
...but I'll stick with my lineas that can run 4 groups at a time if needed.

Directly contradicts this...
Kevin Ayers said:
Also, bry I really dig your EE linea pre-infuse strategy. Going back on the floor to try it out.

With a single-pump Linea, running two groups at a time will result in a lower-than-pump pressure at both groups. Starting one group will result in a lower pressure at another group. Furthermore, running three groups simultaneously will result in an even lower pressure at the fourth.
Something I just realized that goes against what Bryan said earlier, though, is the fact that cycling the four groups as explained would not yield a pre-brew pressure similar to the Slayer. The group will always run at at least line pressure. The Slayer allows pressures to be set below line pressure. Better?

I just double checked this on a Linea. The pressure drops slightly for each group you turn on but builds back up very quickly. The pump is set to put 9 bars of pressure into the system and will do just that no matter how many groups you're running, but it may just start lower and take longer to ramp up if more than one group is engaged. I'm more concerned with the effect on the shot that's currently pulling when you engage another group. The fluctuation in pressure would disturb the shot in progress more than it would the new shot.

I think a more steady method of Linea preinfusion might be to engage three groups simultaneously, quickly start your shot on the fourth group and let the pressure build up. This is theoretical.

Correct, though, that the Slayer offers below line pressure preinfusion.
Ryan Soeder said:
I just double checked this on a Linea. The pressure drops slightly for each group you turn on but builds back up very quickly. The pump is set to put 9 bars of pressure into the system and will do just that no matter how many groups you're running, but it may just start lower and take longer to ramp up if more than one group is engaged.

Nice...I guess that makes sense. As soon as the cavity is filled, both (or more) running groups should be to full pressure. Thanks.
But if the cavity doesn't fill, e.g. "just turning on the group," isn't some of that pressure getting lost? I'm not sure the manometers on the Lineas can be trusted. Anyone with two Scace2's?
It's going to depend on different things guys.

Line pressure (perhaps), whether you have a load in all four groups or just one (or two, or three), different variances according to the pumps everyone is using, etc.

Now that people are actually exploring this silly experiment of mine, I'll list some of my observations:

For clarity's sake, let's number the groups 1, 2, 3, 4 with far left being #1, far right being #4 (as you stand in "barista" position).

Have #1-3 empty (just PFs with no coffee) and #4 loaded with the coffee to be brewed. Counting "one-one-thousand" in between each engage and disengage, it would seem that I'm getting about 3 bars when I first engage group #4, if I engage #1-3 in sequence. The pressure slides to 4 bars by the time I am disengaging #3 (which is about 2 seconds after I engage #4). When I disengage #3 (now groups #1, 2, and 4 are running) pressure climbs to about 6 bars across groups #1, 2 and 4. When I disengage #2 (now the outside groups, #1 and #4 are running) it would seem the pressure is at about 8.5 bars, so the final disengage of #1 really doesn't have that great of an impact.

Main thing to watch out for is temperature drop. Running groups #1 and #2 for the 8-10 seconds until they are both disengaged will drop the temperature on that boiler a staggering 12-15F. This is another reason to disengage #3 as soon as possible, so you don't greatly effect the temperature of the brew boiler for #4. If you plan on drinking the shot, you probably shouldn't have #3 engaged for more than 2 seconds.

If more people experiment with this let me know your results, especially taste. I'm not really adjusting my grind when I do these. Typically I would be grinding finer using this method because the shots normally run 22-24 seconds if I use this method and we shoot for 28 on our Delirium blend when in production. However, being that we aren't pulling our shots in production with this ridiculous method, I'm not going to adjust the grind simply to appeal to my curiosity for one personal shot, just to have to adjust the grind back again for the next shot (with that shot actually being for a customer). So, considering the general/blanket statement that shots with "soft-preinfusion" (or whatever we're calling Slayer's staggered soft preinfusion curve thing) generally have "more pronounced body and mouthfeel" the shots taste about normal, maybe a little thinner actually. Again, these really aren't concrete observations and I've only goofed around with this maybe 10 times in like 2 months. I never even paid attention to where the pressure was specifically at until this morning.

-bry

BTW, I'm not using a Scace2, but if anyone in Vancouver/Portland area has one and wants to come goof around on our Linea, hit me up.

The fact that some people are just now noticing/realizing that you can't start one group when another is running is a little surprising to me, to be honest. Hypothetically you could run all four groups at once, you'd just have to find a way to have all 4 of them engage at the same time (and 'same time' BTW, in my experience is sub .5 seconds). But if you start one shot- and only one- you've got yourself a 1 group machine until that shot is done, unless of course you're okay with putting out crappy 'spro :)
Well, I guess I will be only running two groups simultaneously if I can press the buttons at the EXACT same time. Never really thought about the loss in pressure when opening a new group while one is running. Guess I just assumed a $12,000 piece of equipment would have thought about this in it's design stage. I would however, love to see someone tell me (blindly, of course) which shot I ran first and which one I ran in the midst of another shot running. Probably shooting myself in the foot saying that though, so I'm going upstairs to test this out right now.
Thanks Ryan. There's only one Faema E61 machine around here, that I know of, and I've never played with it. Makes good coffee though!

As for using more than one group head: This must be an issue on many machines, at least it would seem so from my own other-side-of-the-bar experience. In shops using 3 or 4 head machines I've almost never gotten a good espresso when they were busy and using the whole machine.

As I've posted elsewhere, I switched to using one head only. I've got my own portafilter which I bring to work and I adjust the grind for it. The other head I use for Americano/Decaf water...but I never run the two at the same time.
Alright, not to come off as the biggest d!ck on the site, but seriously guys...?

You use one pump to create pressure... then you give the pressure a place to escape... why wouldn't it be common sense that the pressure would drop as it spreads out into the new place?

I thought everyone knew this?

*If you have one pump, you should either be engaging groups simultaneously or running one and then running the other.*

The difference probably isn't drastic, but neither is the difference between a 200F shot and a 199.2 shot, yet we still freak out about temperature stability, this should be no different.

====>WES<====
Sorry your thread has gotten so far off topic. Do you still have questions at all? Any new ones creep in?

-bry

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