Buying decisions

Post general questions about operation of your new Mini here. Due to many similarities with the original VII you should also check the VII forum.
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kung

Buying decisions

Post by kung » Fri May 02, 2008 6:30 pm

Hi everyone, this is my first post. I've enjoyed reading your threads and watching the videos. They've been extremely insightful. I may be over-thinking my purchase decisions, but I was hoping some of you can share your thoughts...

I'm graduating from a Starbucks Barista machine/grinder and moving to a Mini S1 VII. I'm considering the non-plumbed version for portability (and my wife probably wouldn't agree to drilling a hole in our counter). From what I've read so far, the VII has significant improvements over VI; I'll have to see if Cafe-Union (in Montreal) has access to VII (I heard it's a Chris special). My only worry with buying from Chris is warranty coverage and on-going maintenance (don't want to ship it back to the US).

Should I hack my Barista grinder (for finer grinds) or splurge on a Macap or Mazzer Mini? Should I buy one on Kijiji/craigslist or negotiate a package deal with the S1?

Do I need an electrician to install a dedicated 20A outlet? I'd rather buy the 20A model (versus the 15A econo version).

My other concern is the placement of the machine. I have valence lights under my cabinets and am worried about the clearance. Other option is to place it on the island (away from sink), which would showcase the front Spaz panel. Anyone know where I can get detailed measurements (height + cups)?

Thanks!

MDL
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Post by MDL » Fri May 02, 2008 7:57 pm

Grinder:
A better grinder would be great, but it is somewhat dependent on your budget; there are always ways to spend more money...

Your electrician question has no simple answer. It depends on how handy you are, where your breaker box is relative to the place where you need the outlet, and how your home is constructed. In the US most kitchen circuits are 20 amp but the builders use 15 amp outlets to save a few cents. Check your circuit breaker and the gauge of the wire in your kitchen outlets. If you have a 20 amp breaker you should have 20 amp wires and all that you need to do is go to the store and buy a 20 amp outlet to pop in. If the circuits are 15 amp you are going to have to put a 20 amp breaker into the box and pull new wires for the 20 amp circuit.

I managed to plumb my machine without drilling through the granite counter top by running the John Guest tubing along the back of the cabinets and out the end. I then have the braided stainless tube running up the outside end of the cabinet to the machine. Not ideal, but actually not bad looking and I didn't have to drill the counter top. For me having the machine plumbed in is a real plus compared to having to fill and clean a tank (I did this for years with previous machines).

Good luck and I'm sure that you will enjoy either machine.
Mark

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zoey
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Post by zoey » Fri May 02, 2008 8:21 pm

I too moved up from the Proteo Barista (later renamed the Starbucks Barista).

For what it's worth, I've been using my machine on the 15amp setting and have not had an issue with slow performance.

I would highly suggest buying a different grinder. I had a La Pavoni grinder with new grinding plates. I could never get the grind consistent/fine enough for the Spaz. I even took it apart and manually moved the plates closer together, which still wouldn't produce a good grind.

I decided to plunk down the cash for a Mazzer Mini (doser) and couldn't be more pleased. I'm sure that I will own it for the rest of my life. I, like many other owners, have made minor modifications to the Mazzer.

I use mine without the bean hopper. Without the hopper, it is 30.4 cm tall.

The Mini-Vivaldi II is 38.1 cm tall (might me a hair off because I have the side panels removed for repair issues).

I would wait for a month or so before you get your machine. The latest shipment (soon to arrive at Chris's) will have in-line screens to prevent metal flakes from clogging up the inlet valve. The metal flakes are tiny and are produced during the machining process.

I have hockey puck lighting under my counters. From the counter top to the bottom of the hockey puck is 45 cm. I feel that, with the boiler on, it generates too much heat on my cabinet. However, as suggested by others, placing a towel on top of the machine insulates the cabinet well without overheating the towel.
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PBL
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Post by PBL » Sun May 04, 2008 7:21 pm

Bought the V1 at Cafe-Union and love the machine. Yes I have read about all the improvements in the S1 V11, but the V1 is still a mighty fine machine. Both make the same great espresso, and I did not mind not having the V2 and its new features.

Plumb it in, I believe the benefits are well worth the effort. There are many ways to go around the countertop if you don't want to drill through the countertop. I used the old hole from the hot water dispenser on the side of the sink and run both the power cord to an outlet under the sink and the braided line. It looks fine and the wife doesn't mind, it is the coffee that counts.

Get a new grinder, the grinders from some of the older machines are the pits. I got a Rocky at Union, it is fine, possibly not as great as some of the others out there but it is a fine and highly recommendable grinder none the less.

15amp or 20amp yeah 20 amps is ideal but 15 amps is more than adequate.
Vivaldi S1 and my buddy Rocky

kung

Post by kung » Tue May 06, 2008 2:53 pm

I measured my cabinet clearance. At 39.5cm, the machine will squeeze in tight, but won't provide easy access to cups - then there's the heat dissipation I didn't think of (thx). It looks like the home for my machine will be across from the sink, which also eliminates the plumb/no-plumb question.

I've decided to upgrade my grinder. It'll likely be the Mazzer (go big or go home, right?).

Now I just have to decide between the V1 (Cafe-Union) or VII (Chris). I'm going to Cafe-Union this weekend for a test drive. Who knows, if I'm convinced, I may just walk out with a new toy. =)

Thanks again!

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JohnB
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Post by JohnB » Tue May 06, 2008 8:06 pm

Just so you know when you buy the V2 you also get the original V1 mode that can be activated to give you a wider temp range if required.
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kung

Re: Buying decisions

Post by kung » Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:01 pm

I decided to go with the Mini and Rocky Grinder from Cafe Union. Can't wait to pick it up and start pulling shots.

Now the accessories...
- Which tamper do you recommend? Where to buy them? (Cafe Union doesn't have 53mm)
- They're including a 20oz pitcher
- I'll pick up a digital/magnetic timer somewhere (hardware store?)
- Any other recommendations?

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Niko
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by Niko » Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:33 am

Don't skimp on the tamper, get a real nice fitting one not just for the baskets - but your hand should be comfortable too! :wink:
The Espro is a nice tool, clicks as you reach the 30lb pressure or go for the slick CoffeeLabs.

Nice choice on everything from machine to grinder, you can't go wrong and it should keep you happy for several years. When you get bored - just buy another Vivaldi :D

Enjoy your new toys.
La Spaz VII (with timer) S5 Steam Arm & Passive Pre-Infusion, Mazzer Mini E Type B, MACAP MC4 Doserless,
MACAP Autotamper, 3 Thor tampers, Espro convex & CoffeeLabs tamper.
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kung

Re: Buying decisions

Post by kung » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:48 am

(This post also falls under the "Day One Problems" category)

So, I picked up my Mini V1 and Rocky this weekend. I'm running on a 15A circuit - instead of buying an adapter (and paying high shipping fees), I opted for switching the AC receptacle (~$5 at Home Depot). Once that was done, I was eager to start pulling shots, until....

1. I had to pop the top off and change the switch from 20A to 15A. Since I don't have a timer, the other switch remained OFF. (Note: I have the V1, so no ECON LED)
2. I tried to pull a shot, but got the non-blocking flow meter error. This happens with one cup, two cup, and with/without PF.
3. Hot water started to work, but stopped after a few seconds and gave me the blocking boiler auto refill error.

Hard reboot (unplug/plug) doesn't seem to fix the above. The bright side is these are happening within the warranty period.

Niko: Thanks for the suggestions on tampers. I'll be ordering a CoffeeLabs tamper soon - I was sold on the ergonomics, adjustable heights, and polished design. Unfortunately, they stopped printing their logo underneath. They said the logo quickly wore off.

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chas
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by chas » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:54 pm

The most obvious thing that could cause both of those problems is if the pump isn't running or if there is some sort of blockage preventing the pump from pulling water out of the reservoir. I assume the pump is running since that would be obvious as soon as you hit the shot button.
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by admin » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:15 pm

Did you get it fixed yet? If so what was the final resolution?
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kung

Re: Buying decisions

Post by kung » Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:10 pm

I'm a happy camper...

It took me a week, but I've got things sorted out (just in time for Canada Day parties):
- My grind setting on the Rocky was too fine. I had it dial in at 5 (too fine); 7-9 works great (thanks PBL). I didn't try 6, but I'm surprised the Spaz was so sensitive to choke at 5. At 7+, I no longer get the flow meter error.
- I have the Mini V1 (w/ recevoir). When I pull a shot and nothing happens, pushing the tank inwards fixes the problem. This is the biggest annoyance for the Mini. Otherwise, it's fine - I don't mind refilling the tank every few days.

I'm loving my new appliance. Thanks everyone for your suggestions and support. This forum was one of the reasons I bought a Spaz.

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PBL
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by PBL » Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:12 pm

Glad you get everything sorted out. The Vivaldi and Mini-Vivivaldi are quite sensitve to grind, I guess you experienced it the hard way. When I bought mine in December, I worked the other way down, from too coarse and wasted a few shots.

Now that you have her going its time to experiment. I really liked the Espresso Bar from Caf
Vivaldi S1 and my buddy Rocky

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zoey
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by zoey » Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:24 pm

Do you only have the issue with the pump not working immediately after you've filled the reservoir or does it occur 'whenever'?

If it's 'whenever', you can put a little bend in the sensor, which is located towards the back right hand corner of the opening for the reservoir.
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kung

Re: Buying decisions

Post by kung » Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:28 pm

Funny you ask, I pulled 4 shots this morning...in between pulls, I had the pump issue again. Pushing the reservoir in fixed the problem. I thought I might have dislodge the connection after emptying the P/F into the knockbox. The low-water indicator light never goes on, so I didn't think bending the sensor would help.

By "bending the sensor", do you mean bending the white (magnet) thingy forwards (towards me)? I suppose it's reading the 3-4 white discs found in the bottom-right of my resevoir.

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zoey
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by zoey » Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:50 pm

The low-water indicator light never goes on, so I didn't think bending the sensor would help.
Well, that changes things. I was assuming that the light was coming on.
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by mgwolf » Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:30 pm

Kung,
After you pull the reservoir out all the way, there is a little strip of metal behind it on the machine that you should pull out towards you a bit (maybe 1/8 inch). It's a contact and sometimes during shipping it gets scrunched in and doesn't always make contact with the reservoir (which then doesn't work). Michael

kung

Re: Buying decisions

Post by kung » Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:34 pm

I suspected the contact (little metal strip on the back right) was pushing against the reservoir, which was causing it to dislodge. So, I pushed it inwards and haven't had the problems ever since. I also make sure the drip-tray is firmly pushed in.

I just received my CoffeeLabs tamper. They claimed 10 days worldwide delivery. It arrived in 11 working days, which was more-than acceptable given the recent holidays. Great transaction for an awesome product. The plastik Spaz tamper has "moved on".

Shane A.

Re: Buying decisions

Post by Shane A. » Mon Aug 04, 2008 6:26 am

First off this forum is great!!! so much info and experience. I have been reading for sometime, this is my first post so excuse any ignorance on my part. I'm about a click away from purchasing the Mini Vivaldi II.......I already have a MACAP M4 doserless grinder. My initial plan was to purchase the Andreja Premium, but I kept reading and the mini Vivaldi II was close in price. I began reading this sight and reviews. A few issues have kept me from "pulling the trigger".

I live in Japan, I can get the machined shipped to me USPS, but this distance would present a significant issue if I had to send the machine back for repairs and could get costly. So reliability and dependability are important. I am fairly mechanically inclined, so self-repair is an option. I have read about some of the issues owners have had and the the brass shavings in the boiler has been a nagging concern of mine. Is this a common issue??? Also at this point I would only be able to run the machine in the 15 amp mode, should this be a significant concern? I'm pruchasing this machine for the long haul, so I want convience for that great morning coffee, but also the flexibilty to experiment on the weekends..........Anyway any input, previous threads, or suggested reading would be appreciated.

Shane

caf4brains
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Re: Buying decisions

Post by caf4brains » Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:45 pm

Shane,

I've got the Mini and only operate it in the 15 amp mode and I'm able to pour shots and steam for multiple drinks with no problems. The controller gives the group priority over the steam boiler, so you are always ready to pull a shot! :D

I haven't had any mechanical problems apart from adjusting the low water sensor for the reservoir. The folks on this forum have a lot of experience futzing with their machines, so you could lean on them for procedures, but the parts would have to come from elsewhere. I suggest contacting Chris' Coffee and seeking their thoughts on shipping to Japan.

Good luck!
eric

Shane A.

Re: Buying decisions

Post by Shane A. » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:21 pm

Eric, thanks for the reply. I've checked and shipping is USPS so I'm ok. Good to hear that the 15 amp mode works for you. I don't mind tinkering, and all the info and support on this sight is a real plus. Just curious do you have the timer(a little pricey)? If so have you found it worth while? I have been vascilating about strictly buying this machine from Chris, I found Great Infusions in Santa Cruz, They have a mini (from ChrisCoffee) apparently ordered for another customer with the timer, that they will sell at the same price as Chris's without the timer? A good deal, but I'm a little hesitant the tech support from Chris is very appealing especially given my location.

Shane

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Re: Buying decisions

Post by goldscalpel » Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:48 am

Hi Shane,
I have been running my Mini on 15 as well. Never had 20 amps so I can't tell the difference. I am sure if I had started with 20 amps, I would notice but as it is, I love my machine.

I installed the pre-infusion. It was easy but hard to put the side panels back. I hope I never have to do that again.

Just remember, that you still have to work on your skills to make a great shots. The Mini helps you to be more consistent.

Nana

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Re: Buying decisions

Post by caf4brains » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:16 pm

Shane,

I don't have the timer and I don't think it's really necessary. I simply turn the machine on when I wake up and by the time I've had breakfast the Mini is ready to do a warming shot or two before pulling the real thing. I suppose if you are on an incredibly tight schedule you might find it useful.

eric

Shane A.

Re: Buying decisions

Post by Shane A. » Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:37 pm

Nana and Eric, Thanks for the feedback. I sealed my fate and placed my order. Nana, you are more right than you know. Experience has always been my preferred teacher, I can only read so much then I just have to roll up my sleeves and do it. I'm sure there will be some swill in my future, .........Thanks again

Shane

Shane A.

Re: Buying decisions

Post by Shane A. » Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:09 pm

Just an update. I recieved my Mini II and it has been a joy, no mechanical problems or issues. The machine has worked great, and has been pretty user friendly. I'm operating in 15A mode and have had no issues with steaming or pulling shots. I did have to get a 20OZ steaming pitcher, it's a little easier to manage than with the 12oz. The machine steams great, and the learning curve has been pretty quick. If i just had some solid barista skills I would be in great shape. but, learning and using the machine has been a joy so far. I have no regrets about pruchasing this machine. Thanks to Chas and all the active members. This forum is a great resource.


Shane :grin:

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