This comparison is more or less a repeat of the comparison page for the La Pavoni Professional review we did last month. I had one additional test group which added to some of these results and changed them a bit, but by and large the results are the same.
We put the Micro Casa up against a La Pavoni Professional, a Solis SL-70, and the Pasquini Livia.
For this evaluation, we used the same grind, same beans, and same relative brew volumes (to the basket sizes) to evaluate the shots. Yours truly pulled all the shots on the manual and semi auto machines for this evaluation. The shots were double ristretto types, which act to further emphasise potential defects in a shot.
|Ristretto Shot Quality|
|La Pavoni||Micro Casa||SL-70||Livia|
From the totals, the Micro Casa came out on top - I was on that day :). There seemed to be an increased natural sweetness in both of the lever machines during our test and evaluation, and many of the comments indicated this. The shots were slightly shorter than the ones delivered from the Livia or SL-70.
This test was much more subjective. Each participant was asked to rate the machines on several common features - ease of use, intuitive usage, feel of use, and experience. The numbers shown are the average of all five participants, and the lever machines reflect a lower score because one of the participants was female and had usability issues.
|Usability of the Machines|
|Ease of Use||5.0||5.1||8.6||9.4|
This test definitely favoured the semi auto machines, and the numbers for the lever machines are skewed down slightly because the machine can be difficult to use for some people.
This one took into account instant steam ability, the ability to microfroth, the speed and also the usability of the steam functions on all four machines. The Livia has my own custom modified steam tip. The numbers shown are the average of all five participants.
The Elektra is a close second to a HX machine, the Pasquini Livia 90.
I asked each participant to give a select quote about the test and the machines.
Toby: The Elektra is the most beautiful espresso machine I've ever seen. I like how easy it is to use, and I feel it is very intuitive. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't pull a great shot with it, but it just makes me antsy to use it more. Can I have it?" (ed.note: no :)).
Steve: As you know I own a Livia and have used it for three years now. Just as with the Pavoni you had me test, I can see why people like the romance behind these lever machines, but I still like my automated pump machine. I think I would have picked the SL machine over either of the levers if the SL had a heat exchanger. The Elektra is totally sweet looking though. I just don't want the frustration. I'd put it up on the bar and use it twice a year."
Chris: I like the all chrome look of the Pavoni more than the brass and chrome of the Elektra. But the Elektra was great to use. I couldn't get a great shot out of it, but the ones Mark made were easily some of the best espresso I've had in some time.
Jeanette: I think the Pavoni and the Elektra are beautiful, but I didn't feel confident using the machines. You have to be tall (er) and pretty strong to use them, especially the Elektra. At least it doesn't slide around much. It does seem really simple to use - just looking at it you sort of figure out how to use it. I would also be worried about little kids around this machine, it gets so hot. From a woman's point of view, the most important fact - Clean up is simple and quick.