A high quality machine that produces extremely good espresso.
Positive Product Points
- E-61 Gruppo - superior thermal stability, styling
- consistent ability to brew quality espresso without tricks or hassles,
- heat exchanger and large copper boiler (1.8L)
Negative Product Points
- Assembly. Be prepared to get out a wrench and screwdriver and tighten parts when it arrives (not a big deal if you‘re expecting this).
- Steam pressure is not equal to a commercial machine for sure, more than adequate for home use,
- included plastic tamper is a joke (why did they bother including it)
- lack of a blind filter (Ranchilio metal blind filters fit perfectly) distributors could supplement the package
I purchased this machine for $1450 Cdn (equivalent to the $1000 US price tag that‘s commonly quoted when converted to Canadian) from Mr. Cappuccino (yes I know there‘s a rant on this site about them, but they‘re the only Canadian distributor and I decided to take the chance... without incident so far).
The machine was shipped same day I ordered it and arrived via UPS in about 3 business days. I also purchased a Rocky grinder at the same time. On arrival the machine was in good condition, double packed. I followed the terse startup instructions and had it running in no time. I did need to unscrew the four screws holding the top on in order to get the water reservoir out and properly seated and decided to tighten up the slightly loose nuts holding the side panels at the same time (a frequently reported complaint) although all parts were attached just slightly loose. Also the water spout part wasn‘t fully tightened and the nipple on the steam wand needed tightening. Basically, if you purchase this machine go around and make sure things are tight before using.
Before purchasing I read the alt.coffee posts on deja in detail and found much confusion and misinformation. To clarify based on my experience:
backflushing yes/no - answer yes you can and should backflush, the Ranchilio metal blind filter fits perfrectly but must be purchased separately,
The shower head doesn‘t come out: false, it just doesn‘t have a screw, it‘s held in by the friction of the gasket, which is also easily removable just put a flat screwdriver up along side the metal part of the cup (it‘s about 3/8" from the screen up to the gasket, don‘t pry at the screen itself or the gasket) press in gently and pull down.
Someone reported that the prongs under the doser of the Rocky are too narrow for the Giotto portafilters. Again, false, they fit well and the Rocky grinder is a good choice for use with this machine.
Metal particles in the water... no sign of this on my machine.
Sensor defects and pump not filling boiler, again, no problems with my machine. Where the reservoir sensors are it‘s a close fit so I can see where problems might occur on some.
Plumbed in option. Yes there‘s an option for this, I didn‘t order it but there‘s a hole in the bottom of the case under the reservoir specifically for this so it‘s possible.
The famous lack of professional steaming ability. Ok, there‘s truth to this one. When I compared it to a single group Gaggia TD machine we have at the office the steam seems quite anemic. However for an amateur, this might actually be easier to use, I find the Gaggia at work a bit more difficult to achieve good results.
Boiler pressure on guage goes up and down. Yes it does. On mine it varies from the 1.1 bar near bottom of the green area up to the 1.2 bar near top of the green area on the guage, this seems normal and I can hear the thermostat clicking on and off as it cycles about 6 seconds on/heat and 20 seconds off/cool. Temperature setpoint is adjustable via a dial on the front-right under the top cover. So this range can be adjusted up or down to surf the correct temp for a specific coffee. This is the only temperature adjustment and affects brew temperature through the heat exchanger and steam temp/pressure.
The "thermosyphone water circulation" through the gruppo is a great feature since you just switch the machine on in the morning and about 20-30 minutes later everything is hot including the portafilter if you‘ve left it in the group, no need to run water, etc.
Other machines I considered included: Pasquini Livia 90, Wega Mininova, Salvatore. Since I live in Canada I hate getting things shipped through Canada Customs (if you live in Canada you understand, period) it‘s significantly more difficult to get things into Canada than out of Canada. The Giotto won since all of these machines had various strengths/weaknesses that averaged out in my mind and the E-61 gruppo is a significant plus (the Wega uses this gruppo as well).
In summary, I‘m glad I went with this machine. I‘ve had no significant problems or difficulty with the machine and I‘d definitely purchase it again. I‘m going to rate the construction at 4 because they really could have put locking washers on and tightened the parts a bit better. Once corrected, however, the construction is high quality in and out. I‘ve found I can get extremely consistent good results with this machine, which is the reason I paid more money in the first place, and for this consistency I rate the ease of use a 5 along with output/quality.