Finally (after being held up in a train derailment) my Bezzera BZ02, Rocky Grinder and ESPRO Tamper arrived this past Tuesday from 1st Line. I would like to share with the community my unpacking, plumbing and run first few shot impressions.
The UPS delivery driver knocks on my door with a large box (2.5’ x 3’) which weighs over 70LBS. I promptly open it up and am delighted to see that 1st Line did a stellar job packing it. I took out all the individual boxes and was totally surprised how heavy the Rocky box was (heavier than my Estro Vapore Espresso machine in fact). I unpacked each box and placed them on my counter then took a step back to gazed at my new setup. I thought to, myself “WOW”, I am a Coffee Geek!” The BZ02 is BIG! Much bigger than my Estro Vapore. It looks like it could easily be in a small café. My wife was also very surprised by its size. Beyond it’s size, it looks very nice. I must admit, I had my concerns about it’s looks based on the pictures on the web. In person the machine just looks cool and appears very well built (commercial quality looking even the ABS sides which are very thick feeling). The website picture does not do this machine justice at all!
The Rancilio Rocky dosing grinder was a breeze to setup, simply plug it in and fill him (seems like a him) with beans. The Bezzera BZ02 on the other hand…not so easy. You see I ordered the plumbed model which means I have to hook up the water and drainage. The BZ02 comes with a braided hose which in the manual says that it is a 3/8 NTP fitting. I head down to the Home Depot to get the plumbing parts and discover very quickly that this is not a 3/8 NPT braided hose. It’s close, but a 3/8 fitting will not screw in more than a turn. The plumbing department associate tries to find me something that will work, but concludes that my hose must be metric. It turns out that even though Canada is a metric country, plumbing standards are still imperial? I called every specialty plumbing store in the city and all of them said good luck finding that part. Finally a plumbing store call Plumbeteria said that that may have a conversion fitting (from metric to imperial). I bring the hose into the store and the staff there spent almost an HOUR with me to figure out how to plumb it in. Thanks to IKEA and their crazy European taps and facets the Plumbeteria carried a conversion fitting which was close enough for my needs. To complicate things further my house (which is only 8 years old) had a different plumbing standard than the current standard which meant I had to convert from metric, to imperial, to copper to PEX and finally to P8 which is what I have. In concept hooking up the BZ02 seemed simple enough, but in reality it took me all day. Would I buy a plumbed in model again…you bet! Not having to dump the drip tray or fill the reservoir in the long run is going to more than make up for the hassle of plumbing it in.
Okay…I had my reservations that after spending all this money and effort that my shots would be similar to my Estro Vapore. I mean, how much better can it really get? Diminishing returns keep going through my mind after I ordered the setup. Well, I am happy to report that the shots are a big improvement over the Estro Barista. In fact, using the same open bag of beans one day on the Estro and then the next with the Bezzera was so different that it might as well been a totally different roast/brand/freshness etc. The most pronounced part of the shot is the smooth caramel taste and texture that just was not there before. My wife had the same comments. I am not sure what made the biggest difference the grinder or the new 30lbs calibrated tamper or the espresso machine, but the results make me feel like I made a wise investment. To my surprise, the BZ02 is WAY less finicky than the Estro Vapore (with an unpressurized basket that is). In fact, I have yet to toss away a shot. I literally grinded some beans with the factory grind setting, dosed the portafilter, levelled it, tamped it, and pulled a 2oz in 30 seconds. I’ve done this at least 25 times now and every shot has been within +/- 2 second of 30 seconds. I even opened up a new bag of beans and still pulled a consistent shot. The crema is fantastic (with the Guinness effect in full view) and lingers for quite a while. Don’t take my word for it…take a look at this video and see for yourself!
Though this shot did not produce the best crema, it tasted excellent.
The BZ02 is a power house when it comes to steam production and frothing power. The first time I turned on the steam wand I was very disappointed…it just did not produce a lot of steam. I poured about 12 oz of milk in my pitcher which usually takes about 60 to 90 seconds to get up to 155 degrees on the Estro. Well, that same amount on milk on the BZ02 takes LESS THAN 10 SECONDS. Yes, you read that right…less than 10 seconds to get 12oz of milk to 155 degrees. The steam is not visible like it was on the Estro, but it is there and in abundance.
What took me 5to 7 minutes before to make to cappuccinos now takes about 2 minutes thanks to the zero recovery time between shots, and the ability to steam and pull simultaneously. Temperature stability (as measured with a milk thermometer so take this data with a grain of salt) seems to be rock solid even after letting 6 to 8oz goes through the portafilter at once.
I am going to spend some quality time with my new setup and write up a more formal review in about 3 months time. In the meantime, feel free to post any questions that you may have, on this forum post:
Click Here (www.coffeegeek.com)
Thanks to this community and Mark Prince for putting the Bezzera BZ02 on my radar. I think that we are going to live happily together for many years to come.