Prior to receiving the Vibiemme Jr HX, the only espresso machine that I have had a good amount of time with is the Gaggia Classic that is now sitting unused next to it's shiny breathren. One the hardest things that I am learning from having this machine is how much unlearning and learning that I must go through in order to get good espresso shots out of this new machine.
One of the big aspects of an HX machine is the cooling flush, and when I had been thinking about picking out a new machine I did not think too much about this. There is a lot of temp surfing on the Gaggia to get the machine to pull espresso at the right starting temp. I thought foolishly that this would be a lot a like. Even now I do not think it's hard just different from what I anticipated. Combine that with the fact that this machine has some aspects to it that make different from a lot of HX machines out there, I am really finding myself having to take the principles of using an HX machine and applying them. I.E. The YouTube videos out there are generally for larger machines.
So the one thing that I really like about VB Jr HX and what is becoming the hardest part is the fact that it appears to not get very hot when idling. So I appear to be pulling shot too cool and getting a lot of sour stuff. Combine this with the small boiler in the unit and I might not be needing much of cooling flush at all. Also, I have been so use to the Gaggia of getting it up to temp and pulling the shot immediately, that I believe I also need to give the machine a little time to get back up to temp.
However, one thing that I have not had any trouble with is steaming milk. While I am not sure what makes a machine a beat in steaming, this one is sure easy. The two hole steam tip allows me to put the wand straight down in the milk steam a few second to produce some foam on top and then dive it a little deeper and let everything get incorporated. Easy as pie. While my art has yet to improve much not have to sit there whirling the pitcher after steaming like I was doing with the Gaggia is nice. And the milk is so much thicker, this alone is worth an upgrade.
Overall, I am excited to have to learn how to control this machine more, as I have gotten a few shots that really show what it's capable of when everything is in order. Now just have to get consistent.
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