If Single boilers machines aren't perfect are double boilers?

October 27, 2011

If you decide that a single boiler is not for you the next obvious thing to think up is a double boiler.  You have two boilers.  The first is dedicated to espresso and the second to steaming.  How can this fail you ask?  Well, if done right it is a fantastic idea, but the problem is with the compromises that usually have to be made.


First of all is the obvious one.  Two boilers involves more parts and therefore more expense.  It is hard to create all these important parts out of nice metal cheaply.  You stop to say, but wait the espresso boiler does not need to be very big since a shot of espresso is so small, but then you realize that the temperature of this boiler is far more important than the temperature of steam boiler.  As you pull a shot the boiler may be automatically refilled dropping the temperature.  If this happens and the boiler is small the change in temperature can be dramatic.  Even if this does not happen a larger boiler will have much greater thermal stability, which is the goal.  


The steam boiler cannot be too small though, because if you are making too many drinks or large milk drinks you can outrun the steam you have in the boiler.   


Fine, we are going to make two boilers and they are both going to be fairly big.  Well, now we have the issue of needing lots of space meaning the machine has to be quite big.  This is another trade off at home, but in a coffee shop a big machine is no problem (and if I am in charge a big machine works great at home, too, but alas I am not always in charge).


Also there is the issue of power, most US homes are on 110 instead of 220 like they have in Europe.  This makes keeping big boilers at a desired temp harder here than there.  Alas.


Now this is not to say there are not AMAZING double boilers out there.  There are.  The problem is that all these trade offs turn into economic trade offs, meaning that you have to pay more for a double boiler than a comparable machine that is not a double boiler.

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