Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Plumbed in espresso machines


Recommended Posts

I can understand why a commercial machine in use all day long should be hooked directly to the water supply, but what's the rationale for doing it with a home machine? With just a few ounces of water a day going through the machine, doesn't that mean you're always going to work with the water that has been sitting in the pipes? Isn't the better strategy to run your water for long enough to have the fresh stuff, filter it with a Brita or whatever, and refill the reservoir of the machine as needed?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

It totally depends on how much coffee you make. In situations where one or more people work at home or maintain a home office, and if these people are using the machine 4-5 times a day (not all that unusual for some), then having a plumbed-in, double boiler machine makes a certain amount of sense.

--

Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds great for those of us who work at home, actually. I've seen a built-in Miele that I truly covet; ah, if we ever renovate the kitchen . . . :wub:

But I agree, for occasional use, makes no sense. Unless they come with a built-in filter.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But still, what about the sitting-in-the-pipes problem? This is the same issue I have with inline filtration systems for drinking water. I'd much prefer to run the water for 30 seconds and then fill a Brita pitcher. The amount of water that comes out of my tap in 30 seconds could probably make 9,700 espressos.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites
But still, what about the sitting-in-the-pipes problem? This is the same issue I have with inline filtration systems for drinking water. I'd much prefer to run the water for 30 seconds and then fill a Brita pitcher. The amount of water that comes out of my tap in 30 seconds could probably make 9,700 espressos.

It depends on the filter and on the diameter of the pipe that's plumbed to the machine. There's no reason not to use a low-diameter pipe with low flow-rate to the machine. As for the filter, it depends on the filter. I would argue that my two-stage under the counter filter is a lot better than your Britta, and will continue to be better until I replace the filters three years from now. As for the sitting-in-the-pipes problem... I think you're going to have to run your sink a lot longer than 30 seconds before you start pulling in fresh water straight from the Croton reservoir. All the water that comes out of your tap has been sitting in the pipes.

--

Link to post
Share on other sites
But still, what about the sitting-in-the-pipes problem? This is the same issue I have with inline filtration systems for drinking water.

Maybe I'm dense, but what's the "sitting-in-the-pipes" problem? Is there something wrong with the pipes in your house? Or is there something in the water in NYC that makes it turn stale?

What would you consider the "freshness" point?

Link to post
Share on other sites

We in NYC are blessed with some of the best water in the country, with the least foreign matter and the best taste. But even NYC water, as good as it is, has minerals in it that can build up -- just look at my humidifier sometimes. :shock: And much of the piping under the streets is still pretty old; they just replaced 100+-year-old pipes in my neighborhood. When the water main to the building has been off for a while, once it comes on again we get "brown water."

So if the gunk in water can be a problem here, it must be really bad in other places.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good point, Suzanne, and a reason why I would never plumb in an espresso machine without a very fine sediment filter on the front end of the line. Even in NYC which has, as you point out, some of the best municipal water in the country, I still have to clean out my 0.5 micron ceramic sediment filter around 4 times a year to keep the filter tap running fast.

--

Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't have to go back to the Croton reservoir. You have to go back to the point in the line where the water is running pretty much continuously. In an apartment building that means the main line that's bringing water to many apartments. The simple way to tell is to run your faucet until the water is cold. That's when you're drawing from the main line of fresh water, as opposed to the crap that has been sitting in old pipes collecting gunk, sediment, and off-flavors.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you leave your espresso machine on all the time it makes sense to plumb it in. You never need to worry about running the boiler dry, and you can install the machine where the water tank isn't easily accessable. Before pulling a shot I run a 4 or 5 oz of water through the grouphead&portafilter and leave some of the hot water in the cup to preheat it while I'm grinding. I go through maybe 10 oz of water per drink, including rinsing the PF after making the drink. I think it would be hard to argue that the water sits longer in a plumbed in system than it does in a pour over machine, since there is no water storage other than the 1.4ltr boiler inside the machine.

It took all of 15 minutes to plumb the system into the water line for the icemaker, and nothing needed to be cut/drilled/or modified in any permanent way.

Here's what it looks like behind the fridge - I'm planning to install a coffee bar on the other side of the fridge, which is why the plumbing goes back across itself for seemingly no reason. It also looks like the line from the filter to the espresso machine connects to the house water feed, the line just happens to be sitting there - it's just passing across there.

plumbing.jpg

In this house, with both of us working from home - it's absolutely ideal to have the machine plumbed in, but even if neither of us were here during the day I would still recommend it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A lead and heavy-metals take on this. From "Tap Water Recommendations" from the Brookhaven National Laboratory:

The use of lead solder to join plumbing pipes used to be common worldwide. In the United States, although use of lead solder in plumbing was banned in 1986, older plumbing may still contain lead-soldered joints. In addition, plumbing parts made of brass contain approximately 8 percent lead. Through the corrosion of lead-containing plumbing, water can contain elevated levels of lead.

Therefore, wherever you are in the world, if you are concerned that there may be lead in your drinking water, then the simplest thing to do is to follow the advice issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Water Works Association:

• Never use hot water from the tap for drinking or cooking. If you need hot water, then draw cold water from the tap and heat it on the stove or in the microwave.

• Only drink or cook with cold water, and let the cold water run until you notice that the water has become colder. Flushing a cold-water tap or fountain before use is especially important if it has not been operated for several hours, such as overnight.

• Remove the strainer from your tap periodically, and flush it and the tap for several minutes to remove any sediment that may have built up.

http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/water/colder.htm

Also, is this a legitimate claim?

Coffee connoisseurs recommend using refrigerated bottled spring water for coffee making, but if you are using water from the tap (faucet), run the water for a few minutes until it runs cold, the colder the water the more Oxygen it contains and the more Oxygen in the water the better the Coffee (or Tea).

http://www.chocolates-n-coffee.4t.com/how_...rmet_coffee.htm

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites
You don't have to go back to the Croton reservoir. You have to go back to the point in the line where the water is running pretty much continuously. In an apartment building that means the main line that's bringing water to many apartments. The simple way to tell is to run your faucet until the water is cold. That's when you're drawing from the main line of fresh water, as opposed to the crap that has been sitting in old pipes collecting gunk, sediment, and off-flavors.

I still don't think it's significant. In fact, I'd bet you the water coming out of my plumbed-in filter tastes the same or better than the water coming out of your Brita. Less sediment, too.

A lead and heavy-metals take on this. From "Tap Water Recommendations" from the Brookhaven National Laboratory:

My filter removes lead from water with 97% efficiency, and all heavy metals and other contaminants to well below the EPA's maximum contaminant levels (test results). This is not to say, by the way, that I have the best filter in the world. It's quire reasonably priced, and I am sure one can do better.

It is true, FWIW, that cold water holds more dissolved gas than warm water. I don't know how much this effects coffee.

--

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my set up.

First the water comes from one of the main lines that leads to my kitchen in the laundry room. It first goes through my softener so I don't get mineral build up on my boiler. Then under my kitchen sink it's filtered then off to my machine which is about 8 feet away. I used 3/8 inch line for the supply otherwise the machine will starve (at least mine will) I have no issues at all. The softener simply softens the water but there is still chlorine in the water from the city. Since the water is never exposed to sunlight the chlorine always remains active. THe trick is after the filter. MY filter removes chlorine and then your water is pure which means it can go skunky if not careful. The issue is not the water for the espresso as I always throw out the first shot and run water through anyway. The issue is the boiler where water can sit for weeks unless you purge it or make tea. I hate tea so I just purge mine every day to ensure fresh water is in my boiler. I never have any issues at all.

I make probably 4 a day as a minimum and it's definitely worth it. I never have any issues.

soft.gif

filter.gif

Edited by CRUZMISL (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Those are the people who keep sending me those fruit syrups addressed to Carolyn Tillie!

Kinsey: They have a word for letting toxic heavy metals build up in water in order to remove them with a high-tech filter, when you could just run the water for 30 seconds to get rid of them without a filter. I'm having trouble remembering the word. Oh, right, the word is . . . stupid!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kinsey: They have a word for letting toxic heavy metals build up in water in order to remove them with a high-tech filter, when you could just run the water for 30 seconds to get rid of them without a filter. I'm having trouble remembering the word. Oh, right, the word is . . . stupid!

:laugh:

Oh yea? I thought that was the word for people who spend 600% more on a yearly basis using a Brita filter. Seriously, though, I am not the least bit concerned about lead and heavy metals in NYC tap water. And the efficiency of my filter (those test results were after 20,000 gallons had run through the filter) is such that I have even less concern. Indeed, if in fact I did have a lead or heavy metal problem in my tap water, I am certain that the water coming from my filter would contain lower levels than the water from the tap after 30 seconds. All that said, it's not a big deal to run the tap 30 seconds before turning on the under-counter filter or flushing out a plumbed-in espresso machine, assuming that the filter and/or machine was plumbed into the same water line. That simple procedure should satisfy even the most paranoid.

--

Link to post
Share on other sites

The value of bering plumbed in is not to be understimated, even for folks like me who rarely make more than two doubles in a day. Most high end home machines have the E61 style grouphead and a HX (heat exchanger). In order to assure proper brew temp, it's essential to draw off about four to six ounces of water before pulling the shot. This is done not only for the first shot but anytime the machine sits for more than ten minutes between shots. It was already mentioned that the portafilter is often rinsed between shots with the water coming from the grouphead. I also do a backflush at the end of any day or prolonged session before turning off the machine.

The result? I have to refill the tank at least once every day even if I only pull two shots. An additional consideration for many people is the machine height relative to cabinets. In many kitchens the machine must be pulled out to refill - a real PITA. Some people use "magic sliders" under the machine feet but plumbing in has an advantage. There is a compromise - a "float valve" kit that allows one to use a five gallon jug of bottled water. This avoids true plumbing in but adds the convenience factor.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Seriously, though, I am not the least bit concerned about lead and heavy metals in NYC tap water.

You're not challenging my vocabulary skills at all this week. I get to use the same word again!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Seriously, though, I am not the least bit concerned about lead and heavy metals in NYC tap water.

You're not challenging my vocabulary skills at all this week. I get to use the same word again!

How many ways are there to say "informed?"

In 1991 the EPA lowered the maximum contaminant level for lead in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 15 ppb. According to the EPA rules, the City of New York must test at least 100 "worst case" dwellings per year to ascertain the lead levels. Upon doing so, 90% were found to be below 24 ppb. These are, mind you, the worst cases. In addition, for over 10 years the City has been adding orthophosphate to the water supply. Orthophosphate is an anticorrosion agent that forms a coating on the inside of pipes, thereby preventing lead from dissolving into the water. (Information from the City of New York Department of Environmental Protection). Since my filter can reduces the presence of lead by >97%, I could start with, say, 100 ppb and still end up way below the EPA's MCL.

But you can always do what I did. I already know my water is fine straight out of the tap. You know you can get the city to test your tap water for free, right? Just call (718) DEP-HELP.

:raz:

--

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, f'r th'Chrissakes. Remember what kind of machine you're talking about. Is anyone here talking about a Faema Due or a three-portafilter Rancilio? I'll put our water supply up against any of yours for mineral deposits, corrosive agents, and trace amounts of toxic refinery runoff.

All an espresso machine wants is a minimum of buildup. The heat generated by even the most industrial-strength espresso boilers is still insufficient to generate serious ionic reactions. And your little FrancisFrancis simply doesn't use enough constant water to warrant its own plumbing hookup.

Stay out of Sur La Table long enough to stop by Home Depot or Lowes, and you'll find plenty of filters that hook up to the supply lines or even to the faucet in your sink. Nearly all of them filter out the naughtly little particulates, and your espresso machine could hardly care less about the rest.

Nam Pla moogle; Please no MacDougall! Always with the frugal...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...