Can you tell I like this machine? I'll let you in on a secret.
This was one of the more challenging reviews for me (along with the Solis Maestro review I did) because I was very conscious the entire testing and writing periods of the fact that the folks from Baratza are friends of mine. I was so concerned about being objective, that I think I may have stressed certain bad points about the machine too much.
But facts are facts. The Solis Crema SL-70 may have a few shortcomings, but overall it is a seriously good machine, one capable of "greatness" as they say. The amazing leap in quality by just changing the filter baskets show this. Don't take my word for it though, this was the consensus of my two testing groups involved in putting the machine through its paces.
It was during one of those two test groups that I also found out something else - the SL-70 is an "unknown" machine to a fair amount of people, even those who consider themselves espresso cognoscenti. In online forums, the talk is often on Gaggias and Rancilios and Pasquinis and Giottos, and when people think of Solis, they are usually talking about the nifty Maestro grinder, or the super automatics that Solis makes. The fact that they have a capable (but small) line of traditional machines, including one of only two or three "automatics" on the consumer marketplace in N. America often escapes people.
When coming up with the ratings for this machine, it was mutually decided that we should rate the SL-70 with the aftermarket filters, and without. It makes that big a difference. It affected two comparisons, shot quality and ease of use.
With these ratings, all the test subjects agreed to give one of the four (five) brewers a 10, then base the other ratings on that 10. The numbers shown represent the average rating, rounded to .5. Seven people were involved in the testing and ratings, including 3 espresso experts, 2 intermediate espresso drinkers, and 2 introductory espresso fans.
|SL-70 (reg filter)||SL-70 (aftermkt filter)||Via Veneto||Elektra Nivola||Pasquini Livia|
|Ease of Use||9.5||9.0||8.0||8.5||10.0|
|Value for Money||10.0||10.0||7.5||6.5||8.5|
I highly recommend the SL-70, even more so if you get the aftermarket filters. You don't need the single, just get the double, adding some $15 to the price. This is a machine with ample steaming power, a large reservoir and boiler, and it is quite capable of producing a great shot of espresso. The fast ramp up times for steaming and the innovative "boiler on" microswitch connected to the steaming knob are the little things that make single-boiler machines that much more of a pleasure to use.
Once again, I would like to thank Baratza LLC (website), including Kyle for his patience with my questions, Kyra for sending the machine, and Josie for helping with some facts checking on this review. The SL-70 can be found online for as little as $299.