Outstanding performance, minor adjustments with very slight room for improvement. If you buy, buy at 1st-Line!
Positive Product Points
Powerful pump HX provides back to back shots One can pull shots while steaming Asthetically very appealing
Negative Product Points
Steam tip has four holes out of the box A bit noisy Cup warmer is a bit cramped Water reservior does not have any external indicator.
I began my espresso journey very cautiously with a steam toy known as the Briel Artimus, but quickly ramped up to a Solis SL70. I was very happy with the SL70 (and the Maestro grinder I paired with it) until I began to have guests over for coffee and conversation. I then found myself chained to the machine for the better part of 15-20 minutes just to make 5 or 6 drinks. The lag time between pull and steam as well as the waiting time for pressure to bleed off began to really wear on my patience.
After teaching my wife to pull shots, and waiting for her to get as tired of waiting between shot and steam as I was, I began to brooch the subject of an upgrade. Cut to Bezzera:
I became intrigued with the BZ02S for three reasons; One; it was a HX model (eliminate my wait time), Two; it had the internal workings of a Livia90 for a fraction of the price and Three; it featured the three way solenoid to relieve pull pressure instantly. I made the decision to purchase based on one reason, Jim at 1st-Line Equipment. Cut to Experience:
Out of the box Bezzera was a true performer. Unpack, dab off the water (the machine are fully tested prior to shipping), fill it up, plug it in and make espresso! I attempted to save a bit of money and keep the Maestro in play with the BZ02S, but soon learned the Maestro couldn't grind anywhere near fine enough for this work horse. Enter Jim at 1st-Line again and the acquisition of a shiny new Rocky Rancilio. Now I was in business! If one has had any espresso experience at all, there is really no learning curve to speak of going to an HX machine other than remembering that one can pull shots and steam all at the same time (so don't let that crema fade!) I spent about 20-30 minutes dialing the grinder in and re-learning my tamp skills to match the increased power and larger filter basket (SL70 has a 53 mm basket and BZ02S sports a full 58mm). Cut to bullet point:
The noise surprised me at first, but I considered that a trade off for the increased pump power. I also found that what little foaming skills I'd learned for latte art went out the window. The Bezzera's steam tip is four holed. It makes it a little difficult to get that nice swirl in the pitcher as one steams. My very positive experience at 1st-Line brought me back for the upgrade over factory tips (a two holed tip) which was as easy to replace as it was to acquire. If I had wishes, I'd get a tip with a single hole in the end. The only plus the SL70 had over the BZ02S is the steam wand. The wand on the SL70 is just a straight tube with a hole in the end. That allows for complete control of the direction the milk spins and moves. Two holes is better than four, but it can still be a challenge if one desires to move the milk in any particular direction than simply "churning". I didn't lose too much square footage to the cup warmer in comparison to the SL70, but enough to cramp things a bit. I can four demitasse cups comfortably which leaves the other two in my 6 cup set out in the cold. I can't even dream of getting a latte cup up there.
Outside of those minor drawbacks, the BZ02S does not disappoint. It is a workhorse for extractions, and has the speed of pressure release with HX temperatures. It is a beautiful piece of machinery sitting on the counter. It is an intriguingly lovely mixture of chromed stainless steel and black plastic molding. It has the weight and feel of a large commercial machine, but the artistic curves like a work of art. I have not advanced to “tinkering” with thermostat settings and the like as I can pull a very good shot as it sits. Based on my experience with the machine, I would say it was built, configured and tested by someone who understands the art of coffee. All in all, when one considers the deep discounts offered at 1st-Line it is a hard machine to beat.
In the words of eBay A++++++ HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!! My first experience with Jim and 1st-Line has made me a return customer at least three times over now. I don't even take the time to "price" them any more. Jim not only knows his machines, he knows coffee and he is more than willing to answer his emails when I have had questions. 1st-Line is truly a one stop shop and takes care of their customers. Kudos!