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It's time for another showdown between two great espresso machines, this time in the heat exchanger category. If you're in the market for a rocksteady machine, but you're not quite ready for a dual boiler, you might be looking at either the Profitec Pro 500 PID or the Quick Mill Arnos. With a casual glance, the two look very similar and you'd be right to think so, but let's get into the details and look at everything that makes them different.
First up, the Pro 500 PID. It's a long standing pillar of the HX class of espresso machines, especially since it received its PID upgrade. It's an all-stainless steel powerhouse with a single-piece steel frame and very organized interior (very good for working on at home). It's equipped with a 1400 W stainless steel HX boiler, which is insulated and has a capacity of 2 liters or 67.6 oz.
If you don't already know, the HX boiler allows you to brew and steam at the same time. Typically, the downside to this is that HX boilers tend to come up against temperature instability. That is, when left on for a long period of time, brew water can overheat and lead to undesired results in the cup. That's where the PID comes in. This is a device that monitors the temperature in the boiler and flips the heating elements on and off when necessary to keep a specific temperature. This hugely improves temperature stability, to the point that it's barely a concern at all.
Next is the Quick Mill Arnos, a newer arrival to our catalogue relative to the Pro 500 PID. It sports a lot of the same features discussed above: stainless steel body, HX boiler, E61 group, dual pressure gauges, etc. The Arnos is equipped with a PID temperature controller as well, but on the Arnos it's positioned at the top of the front panel so it's closer to eye level. Compare this to the Pro 500 PID, where it's hidden behind the drip tray and not visible while brewing. As an added benefit to the PID being on the face of the machine, it functions as a shot timer, as well.
The Quick Mill Arnos' boiler is almost as large as the Pro 500's (60.86 oz vs 67.6 oz), and is made of copper instead of stainless steel. The copper construction is an interesting choice, and could be an apt one due to copper's superior heat retention. For water reservoir capacity, the Quick Mill Arnos uses an 84 oz reservoir, accessed at the top of the machine.
Before I recommend either, I just want to say make sure you've thoroughly reviewed the specs of each machine. It's a big decision, and one you'll enjoy for years down the line. For me, a few things stand out with the Quick Mill Arnos, those being height, drip tray capacity, boiler material, and PID position.
Why those, of all things? Well, the Arnos is about an inch shorter, which is huge when it comes to fitting a machine under the kitchen cabinets. It has about 11 more ounces in the drip tray, so there's fewer trips to the sink to clean it out. The copper boiler is a nice choice for heat retention, which is important on HX machines. Lastly, that PID controller being visible on the face of the machine is a big win for convenience, and it doubles as a shot timer so you don't need any extra peripherals. Of course, the Pro 500 PID is a classic and I love it dearly, so don't feel bad if you happen to lean the other way.