What makes one espresso machine better than another? One of the answers is thermal stability. To understand this you need to realise that the way coffee infuses is critically affected by water temperatures. Typically, single estate arabica taste profiles can vary greatly with just two degrees temperature difference at the group head!
How do we achieve constant temperatures at the group head? There are machines that are equipped with individual boilers that you can programme at the group head. This means the same coffee will taste different depending which group you use.
Most machines operate with a single boiler so how can we achieve stability in these units?
First we need to understand why temperatures vary....
A machine that is being used for a lot of hot water or is making a lot of cappuccinos or lattes will be taking water and steam out of the main boiler, which is then replaced with cold water from the mains supply. The coffee groups are fed by heat exchangers submerged in the boiler. Thicker copper boilers are better able to cope with the variation in temperature and retain their heat better.
The Synchro has elongated heat exchangers, which, because they are longer, can balance temperature variations more effectively. A thicker box chassis also helps with heat dissipation from the boiler. Heavier brass group heads will also lessen temperature variation. It is common to see two machines with the same style group heads - they look identical, however one may weigh 1.8kg and the other 4kg. These factors all enable the necessity for the heating element to activate less often and thus the machine to have greater stability.
In an essence: Heavier machines, with more metal, will generally be better than lighter ones.
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