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I have previously struggled with coffee equipment. I don't know anything about the technical side of making coffee. The ZPM Nocturn claims to have solved a number of technical issues, making better equipment more affordable.

I feel convinced, but I'm not an expert. Is it possible to tell (based on what they are describing before production starts) if the approach they are taking is sensible? If so, please point out what does/does not convince you.

I'm not looking for an endorsement, just to confirm that they aren't talking nonsense.

An answer before the Kickstarter deadline ends would be best :)

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Speaking as someone who's built a few control systems, sure, a PID controller is almost always better than a simpler control system, but it's not a magic gizmo that automatically solves all problems. I'm not familiar enough with how commercial machines are made, so I can't judge from their pictures and writeup how much difference their "improved thermoblock" is going to make.

Looking at your previous "troubles," I'd say the first step is to find a way to get good, fairly freshly roasted beans, grind them right before making espresso, and maybe get a slightly better machine. No temperature control algorithm is going to make up for lousy beans.

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PIDs may not be magic, but if they're tuned they can seem like it. When I was a particle physics grad-student we considered a good PID controller to be smarter than a professor. But then, having a professor take shift was always a nerve wracking experience: it's not that they're stupid, but they are the collaboration personnel least in contact with the stuff happening on the ground. –  dmckee Jan 19 '12 at 3:20
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There has been a lengthy discussion of this over on coffeegeek.com, and no one seems convinced they can deliver the results at the promised price point. –  Rick G Jan 21 '12 at 2:53
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