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Livia 90 - how dated is it?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Livia 90 - how...  
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
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Posted Tue Jun 12, 2012, 6:36pm
Subject: Livia 90 - how dated is it?
 

So ... I am starting to really get the itch to move up to either an HX or double boiler.  And ... YES ... I've been reading (and reading and reading) posts about this for weeks.  

On the one hand ... I would really like to grab a Vivaldi II (the latest with line pressure programable preinfusion) --- the 53mm portafilter doesn't bother me at all (I like the shots I've gotten from 53mm baskets in the past).  And the idea of double boiler with good temp control ... no need to temp surf and ride the HX temp hump ... sounds appealing.

On the other hand ... I really like the idea of HX and of fresh water going to the brew head rather than water that has been sitting in a large boiler for days.

Now I don't often find a Vivaldi used .. and when I do they are priced high enough that I'd just as soon buy a new one on sale. (used v1 tend to go for $1000-1200)

But I do see Pasquini Livia 90 machines all the time for very cheap prices (like $4-500).  The old really old posts say the Livia is a fantastic machine .. but the newer posts describe them as really not so good by today's standards.  I can pick one up so cheaply that it would be easy to add a PID (if that is one of the reasons they aren't great by today's standards?).  But what other reasons make the Livia not so great?  Or are they?

And on a whole 'nother direction ... if I were spending as much as a new Vivaldi II I might go Strega instead.  

But for now ... I'm mostly interested in learning what the shortcomings are of a Livia 90 and if a PID (or some other upgrade) would bring it up to where it needs to be.  oh ... and I should add that I'm the type of guy who would have more enjoyment out of fixing up a used one than I would get from opening the box on a brand new shiny one.

thanks in advance.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,474
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012, 5:44am
Subject: Re: Livia 90 - how dated is it?
 

I am sure you know there is no "true" answer here, it is all personal opinion.

My personal feeling is that it is not any more "dated" than any other machine in it's class. The 1.5l boiler (in current machines, I don't know about older ones) is large enough to give you anything you might want in the way of thermal stability and steam power. If it has the features you want, then I can't see any reason not to buy one.

The machine is more boxy than a lot but no more so than any other "modern" design (not E61). I think if you can find an automatic version (volumetric dosing) it will serve you well for a long time. It is not a secret that I am a fan of volumetric dosing, it makes being consistent much easier to do. That is not to say that the semi auto version of any machine is "less", they are not, they are just a different way to work and whatever suits you and your habits is the way that you should go.

I am sure you also know that I am not a fan of PID units on a HX machine. That is not to say it will not control the temp, they will, I just don't see that you gain anything either on a HX machine, other than to replace a mechanical Pstat with an electronic device. There are people on the other side too which say that holding the steam boiler to 1 deg makes an improvement in the quality of the shot. I can't see it and I know I can't taste it but if you can, then, by all means, go ahead with the PID.

Good luck in your quest!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
Vac Pot: vintage Corey
Drip: AeroPress
Roaster: BreadMachine/HeatGun
Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012, 1:30pm
Subject: Re: Livia 90 - how dated is it?
 

Thanks so much for the reply ....

I've never owned an HX before ... but from reading posts I got the impression that the P-Stats need to be replaced every year or two (no idea if that is true or not - can't they just be cleaned?) but I wondered if that might be the reason some like to go PID instead of P-Stat.  

Is there any functional disadvantage to the group on the Livia vs an E-61 or is it just looks?
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,474
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012, 2:15pm
Subject: Re: Livia 90 - how dated is it?
 

Hi, Pstats are very hearty devices.

I have a Sarai on my ECM and it was used and about 5 years old when I bought it. I have had it for about 3 and a half years and the machine is still on the OEM Pstat.

I had an Oscar before this for nearly two years and it's Sarai Pstat performed flawlessly also. In short, yes they do on occasion fail but it is not as often as you might guess.

Depending on who makes the Pstat, some are built better than others (like all things) and the better built ones are going to last longer. If there is room in the case, there is no reason you could not "upgrade" the Pstat if there was an issue. Depending on who made the Pstat, there may or may not be rebuild kits but like I said, the device is fairly stout. I sometimes leave my machine on for weeks at a time and never give the machine a second thought as to it's operation. We sometimes leave home for all day and when I get home, I see I left the machine on. No big deal.

 There is no real difference in the cup for the most part, a well designed group is a well designed group. I have an E61 on my machine in the kitchen and I like it a lot, I like the looks of it. On my Brazilia two group commercial machine, it has a group like the one you are looking at and it works just fine also, in the cup, to me, they are the same.

I took another look at the 90 and it was a better look this time. The short story is your boiler is a bit smaller than mine and the brew system is manually operated with a rocker switch and the brew heads look different but other than that most all the other specs are nearly the same. My machine has volumetric dosing and I don't know if it is possible to find the 90 with that but just watch your shot as you pull it and the result is no different than any other semi auto machine on the market, this one uses a switch to operate it and others use a lever on the brew group. Personal preference.

If you find a 90 in good shape, odds are that you will like it very much but if the itch to sell bites, you likely will be OK on any resale too. Your choice for sure!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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russel
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russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
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Location: Los Angeles
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Espresso: 73' Cremina, '74 Club,...
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 9:33pm
Subject: Re: Livia 90 - how dated is it?
 

I just sold my Livia 90, and I sort of miss it.  I think that the reputation as dated comes from the fact that the price new puts it in competition with the more elaborate e61 machines, but it has the features of the entry level e61.  The performance is very good.  The heat up time is very fast.  From what I remember it's basically built like a gigantic Livietta (albeit with less beefy build than the Olympias).  The group, boiler, and frame are all bolted together.  The top lid comes off easily and the case sort of drapes around it.  Just about everything is hard piped, which is complimented by the machine's internal stability.

It's a great HX machine.  It's not a $1799 HX espresso machine, not these days anyhow.  There is no pre-infusion.  The drip tray is small and, more annoyingly, shallow.  The steam wand isn't anti-burn.  There is only a boiler pressure gauge and you can't adapt a thermometer as easily as you can on a e61.  The space under the group is a little cramped.  The steam and hot water knobs are utilitarian.  The buttons are crowded and also rather utilitarian.  The "flush and go" shot pulling demands that you move quickly and not putter around.  

All of this is nit-picking that is completely justified when spending $1799 on an HX.  All of it is completely irrelevant if you can get a great deal on a used one in good condition.  It's a solid machine that stands up to the wear of a very light commercial environment, and makes an excellent used value.  At $1000 I would prefer it to a new Oscar.  I think $750 or $800 is a fair price.  $400 or $500 is a bargain.

russel: 6751e348a87b11e181bd12313817987b_7.jpeg
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donnydregs
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donnydregs
Joined: 6 Dec 2009
Posts: 126
Location: Australia
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra A3 / MCAL / E61 Two...
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Posted Sat Jun 16, 2012, 5:16am
Subject: Re: Livia 90 - how dated is it?
 

The Livia, Bezzeras and Elektras all use the same group with only proprietary differences and are more than capable of matching an E61 shot for shot. The Livia 90, like the classic BZ99 is better proportioned than a lot of slab sided generic type E61 boxes and being so well built will outlast a lot of them as well.

If I were to go back to a HX tank machine I would not hesitate to buy another BZ99 (Livia) and would highly recommend either machine. And I consider them extraordinarily good value as second hand machines and would buy a used one over a new plastic Oscar every time.

I have not owned a Vivaldi but they get excellent reviews and a good used one for around a $1000 would probably pip the Bezzera although this price does seem very low.

Good luck.
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