Are Italian HX machines a good choice?
Well, that depends. If you buy an Italian HX coffee machine that is referred to as Aus Spec the answer is YES. However, if you buy an off-the-shelf Italian HX coffee machine with Italian factory settings the answer is likely to be NO.
The reason for this is that Italian coffee machines are setup at the factory to run at 96-97 deg C to suit dark roast Robusta coffee beans. Ever wondered why Italian coffee tastes bitter and a little burnt? Now you know. Its a combination of Robusta beans and high Italian coffee machine brew temperature.
In Australia most of our beans are 100% Arabica - the more expense, fruitier and brighter coffee bean varietal. Occasionally a roaster will put in 10% Robusta to add a little body but even that's pretty rare over here. Our roasts are also lighter than Italian roasts. The ideal brew temperature for medium roast Arabica coffee beans is 93-94 deg C.
Some astute Australian importers get factory modifications to boiler pressures and to thermosyphon (water circulation) systems to reduce brew temperatures to 93-94 deg C. These machines are referred to as Aus Spec.
Before committing to an Italian HX coffee machine ask your retailer "is the machine Aus Spec?" If the retailer doesn't know what this means then let the warning bells ring. The second question to ask is "what brew temperature is the machine set to?" Again, the retailer should know.
Choose wisely, and good luck :)