Saturday, November 18, 2006

The exam over update - returning to regularly scheduled programming

Phew! That was perhaps the worst exam period ever! Oh well, back to business ...

[Edit: just putting in smaller photos ... damned flickr! ... you'll have to click on the wallpaper link to see it in all its glory now]

(a) Work stuff ...

Things are coming along quite nicely at Veneziano. First Pour is going to be awesome. Check out our funky wallpaper and lamp shades:

Pourn Movie Wallpaper

The funk factor is worth every penny.

We also had the FB-80 open to do some fooling around with flow restrictors. The outside of the machine, which I really should also take a photo of, inspires confidence through the attention to detail that obviously goes into the fit and finish of every part. The inside is the same, but to a higher degree. The welds on the groups are just superb and the boilers have little handwritten notes on them, just to name a few things. I'm going to enjoy working on this machine.

Belly Of The Beast (Large)

(b) Shout out to Jon!

Jon recently ordered a bunch of baskets from Synesso and mailed them out to a gagillion people, including Nim and I. I'm currently using the 14g ridgeless basket (on the right). The left basket is the 18g ridgeless. The middle basket is the LM double that I already had.


The pucks knock out so cleanly from the basket that I haven't even bothered with a proper knockbox:

Ascaso Pucks (Large)

(c) The shinier, the better

Reflective Group (Large)

OK. I finally succumbed. A few days ago I sold my silvia/rocky/ss base to Aaron (hazchem on coffeesnobs). The guys at work offered me a discount on any prosumer machine that I want, so I picked out a Maver Marte - Makin Espresso edition. Dave applied the sticker himself, but I really should have gotten him to sign the boiler, just for kicks ;P Nim has been kind enough to lend me his (spare!) mazzer mini to get me through 'till I get my own grinder soon.

Any new machine always takes some getting used to, so I burned through a bag of my freebie coffee without drinking any:

Hard Day's Work

I appreciate that I'm in the honeymoon period now when people are unlikely to say anything bad about their machine, so I'm going to try to keep my comments to stuff that's pretty uncontroversial.

First up, it was kinda nice to see that the machine came with two portafilters. This isn't at all rare for a prosumer machine, but coming from the silvia I was surprised. Needless to say I immediately ripped the single basket out of the single PF and shoved a blind filter in.

Having had the machine for a day or two, I'm still mesmerised by how shiny it is. This is a bad thing because one of the reasons why I bought it was so that I could get my morning cappuccino with the minimum of dicking around and I end up being mesmerised by my own reflection in the group ;P

Fit and finish seems pretty good. I love how the edges have been folded in and the cup warmer tray sits flush:

Attention To Detail

The drip tray is quite huge and slides right out:

Machine (Large)

(Oh yeah; and the rubber grab tabs sorta match my favourite tamper in the background ;P)

A quick look inside confirmed that this machine has the MA-TER XP700 pressurestat in it, just like Thomas' machine in Copenhagen. The deadband seems to be about 0.1 or 0.15 bar.

Nim also brought over a bunch of different steam tips for me to try out. So I put on the one that was most suitable for small volumes, as I pretty much exclusively use a 350mL jug, and I almost vomited in terror as it took about ten years to prepare the first jug of milk. Then the lightbulb went on and I realised that I could actually turn the steam knob more and all was good in the world. Early days yet, but I figure that if I'm getting reflective milk more or less right off the bat it can't be all bad:

Shiny Milk

... then we've got the espresso. I haven't tweaked the pstat and brew pressure yet, but things are looking promising. I pulled a shot of home-roasted Yirg today that tasted of lemon oil, as promised. My cappuccino with a shot of concordia as a base tasted like it had concordia in it, so I'm pretty happy, considering that the main reason that I wanted to upgrade to this machine was to make it easier for me to taste different espresso. Here's a rather bad photo of a shot:

First Shots

... so I'm quite happy with the machine at the moment and can't wait to crack it open and tinker with its ticker.

Alright, that'll do ... for now ...



At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen said...

Hi Luca,

First of all, congrats on exams!! Sounds like a rough stretch. My wife is in the middle of med finals these days, so I have seen the suffering (c:

And secondly, congrats on the Marte. It appears that yours is a slightly newer model, at least it sports different stickers both on the front and on the top. Mine didn't come with anything on the front and the one on the top looked so crummy that I took it off immediately.

Great that you seem to be enjoying the machine. I am still very happy with mine, especially after descaling the restrictor. Looking forward to hearing more from you and I am sure that I'll be learning new stuff via you in a short time.



At 11:01 PM, Blogger Luca said...

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the kind words!

The stickers on the front are Dave Makin's work - they're applied here. The one on the top is standard Maver issue. From left to right, it has amusingly ambiguous graphics that read, as Nim and I called them:

"windscreen wiper pattern" or "strange mushroom cloud"


"lightning bolt"

They seem to mean at temperature, element on and power on, respectively, so it's all good once you know that ;P

I was very glad to have the machine tonight with six people for dinner. Piece of cake! The cappuccino that I am drinking now seems to have a richer mouthfeel to it than most of the things that I got from the silvia.

I really should have composed an email to you the instant the machine landed ... I will do so shortly!



At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

Hey Luca,

Love the look of the Maver, is it a HX or dual boiler ? And how easy will the thermstat and pressure tinkering be ? Is it Brewtus like in changeability ? And why not the Brewtus II btw ? So many questions. I don't think I'm ready to ditch Silvia yet... but I have similar concerns about never being able to recreate flavour profiles at home...

What does the maver retail for in the real world ?

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Luca said...

Hi Matt,

I have been putting off answering your questions for a few weeks for two reasons. One is that I sell these machines and would like to try and keep my personal blog separate from my work. Of course, that was never going to be a possibility seeing as I do a lot of my experimentation and, indeed, a lot of the stuff that I blog about, at work! Anyhoo, I decided that seeing as I went and bought the damned thing I might as well answer your questions. After all, Veneziano is a distributor for most of the prosumer machines around, so it's not like I'm going to piss any of them off by saying that machine X is better or worse than machine Y.

The second reason is that over this week we have been tweaking one of the mavers and I wanted to see how that turned out. Results were good, so I have since tweaked my home maver to the same brew and boiler pressure settings.

So, now to finally answer some of your questions!

(a) It is an old-school e61/hx type thing.

(b) Every prosumer machine that I have looked inside recently has had some stupid metal plate over the boiler and pstats. I'm told that this is some new regulation or something. So tweaking the pstat required dismantling the whole shell and, because the metal making up the body has been made of several pieces that sit flush together to get those nice rounded edges and smooth joins, there are about a dozen screws that need to be undone to do this. That's why Dave drilled a hole to allow pstat access from the top of the machine and after that, tweaking the boiler pressure with a screwdriver was easy. I'll do that at home at some stage and we're going to ask Maver to do it stock for us. Adjusting the brew (pump) pressure requires removing the whole shell and is easiest if you also unscrew the brew solenoid. Again, we're going to ask maver to change the internal layout slightly for us. I don't regard that as much of a problem, though. Pump pressure is pretty much set and forget.

(c) I'm not quite sure what you mean about "like the brewtus" in terms of adjustability as last time that I played around with Nim's brewtus we struggled to pull a decent shot out of it. It is more like the synesso in adjustability in that you can raise and lower the pstat pressure to get the taste that you want. Because the HX only contains a small amount of water and because the machine has a pretty high wattage heating temperature for the boiler size, boiler temp changes quite quickly and once the thermosyphon water is flushed out the new water will, in theory, come out at the desired temp. The only real difference between using this and the synesso is that with the synesso you push a button and look at a temp readout, with this, you use a screwdriver and look at a boiler pressure gauge. Then there are temperature shenanigans that you can't do on the synesso, such as flushing for shorter or longer periods and allowing more time for the hx water to pick up more heat. To give you a practical example, yesterday it took maybe 15 or 20 minutes of screwdriver action and pulling about 4 or 5 shots to work out that 1.0 bar max boiler pressure was the best for the blend that I wanted to run on it. Does that answer your question?

(d) A few reasons, but basically I used a bunch of prosumer machines and I liked this one. There are a few design elements on the BII that I, personally, don't like. At the end of the day, too, I'm the kind of person that would prefer a high quality HX machine designed from the ground up to a dual-boiler machine made from components that just happened to be around. If I bought a BII, I would hate getting up in the morning and staring at the temp display, knowing that it is the same temperature controller that my refridgerator at work uses.

(e) Price is a bit cheaper than the giotto, with everyone running some sort of introductory deal at the moment. But you didn't hear that last part from me ;P



At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

Hey Luca,

Thanks for the info, as usual that clears basically everything up. I have my reservations about moving into the HX/Dual boiler class of machines, just because they all look the same to me, and it's really hard to know what the differences are. I had an idea that the Brewtus was designed to be a 'geek friendly' machine. ie: change brew temp and pressure at the push of a button ? Either way, it sounds like you've gotten a nice machine... congrats.


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