I wake up like a little giddy schoolboy when I hear the HX pump kick on in the morning
Positive Product Points
Easy to use machine with consistent performance. E61 group head at an entry level price. Can steam and pull shots for hours without interruption if needed. Adjustable.
Negative Product Points
It isn't portable! The manual de instrucciones was a little strange to try to interpret but does have schematics and exploded part diagrams. Initial factory group head pressure setting was too high.
Installation - I purchased a Marcuzzi Office that is a rebranded Expobar Office that has a factory installed water inlet than can be connected to a water line. This installation was a pain but was well worth the effort for subsequent ease of use. I used John Guest fittings to tee into my cold water line under my sink and ran this to the inlet valve that is located under the drip tray. John Guest fittings are plastic fittings that do not require any soldering. They are hard to find but all the fittings were located at the best price at www.chriscoffee.com I bought the 1) Max adapter w/ 1/4" JG, 2) 1/4" JG shutoff valve, 3) 15' of JG 1/4" tubing, and 4) 3/8" male pipe to a 1/4" JG adapter, the mating adapter on the Office is close to mating to a US 3/8" pipe thread but I believe it had metric thread pitch, fortunately the JG adapter from #4 is plastic so you can put some pipe tape on it and tighten it down and it seals up great. I initially tried copper and it simply wouldn't fit. The Max adapter item #1 will fit right onto the feed line from your sink. Unscrew the existing line, bend it a little to adjust for the new fitting and simply screw the fitting and existing compression fitting back onto this adapter. This is nice because if you want to remove it later, just unscrew it and put the cold water supply back on the existing fitting. The return line from the drip tray was teed into the dishwasher's return line that is fed into the garbage disposal, this drain adapter (DLA-D) was found at www.freshwatersystems.com I purchased an Intermatic www.intermatic.com programmable timer (SS7C) at the local home improvement store. Power requirements for the Office are listed at 975Watts @ 110 V. This is about ~9 Amps resistive at 110 V so the 15 Amp timer has plenty of current capability. I wired it permanently to my electrical system and mounted the timer in a junction box under my sink. Intermatic also sells these 15 Amp units that can be plugged into outlets so you don't have to do the hardwiring. Check your local electrical code. I had to drill a hole in counter top of our kitchen island for the installation, my wife was very upset about this but has adjusted after 6 months of awesome espresso. I guess we can't move.
Adjustments - During the first few weeks of operation, I thought I'd made a big mistake because shots were bitter and inconsistent. I've had great espresso before and assumed that this would instantly happen with a better machine and good beans but I was dead wrong. After many failed experiments with adjusting the grind and tamp pressure I researched HX machines and decided to verify the temperature and pressure in the group head. I purchased a PF pressure gauge and discovered that the factory setting was 12.5 bars, which according to many, was to high. After more research on adjusting the pressure on the Office, it was turned down to 8.5 bars by adjusting the expansion/overpressure valve following Murray Holland's advice in this forum. I've been making great shots ever since. At this pressure setting, grind and tamp pressure makes a difference and pulling a great shot isn't so difficult.
Ease of Use - The programmable timer turns the unit on in the morning, I never have to mess with the plastic reservoir or emptying the drip tray because of the installation. I only make double shots so we programmed one of the four buttons and that is the only one we use. My wife uses the steam wand and hasn't had any problems with the steaming operation. At parties we can make shot after shot and steam do the delight of our friends.
I researched this unit and decided to buy in the 11/04 time frame. The price was really reasonable and the reviews were excellent, unfortunately the day I called up to purchase, the price increased $400 due to euro/dollar exchange. My $795.00 machine suddenly was a lot more expensive. Fortunately, I found the Marcuzzi Office elsewhere and this unit had the factory installed water inlet at this same price level. I believe prices have adjusted up and down on these units from these vendors. I called ifyoulovecoffee's tech support a few times and was very pleased with support, I think the guy that was answering the phone was also doing professional installs which was very helpful for my installation questions.
Three Month Followup
Actually a 5 Year followup. I really have been happy with this machine. Still plugging along after 5 years. I don't maintain it well and I don't clean it enough but it keeps making great espresso. I've had a few issues. The solenoid shutoff started sticking about a year ago. I ordered a replacement but when I took it apart to install the new one, I noticed calcium buildup on the piston so I just cleaned it off, put it back together and it started working great again. I have a replacment ready if it ever truly fails. The programmable buttons on the front of the machine have flaked out. I need to replace the controller but I just use it in a manual mode and that works just fine because that is how I always used it anyway. I've had more trouble with the stupid Intermatic programmable appliance timer that turns it on and off in the morning than the appliance. Thankfully Intermatic got their stuff together a few years back and now manufacture a very reliable appliance timer that I updated.
Overall, I'm very happy. Ifyoulovecoffee has replacment controllers but I just don't want to spend the cash to fix something that I don't use and doesn't impact the quality of the brew.
One Year Followup
Still happy with this machine! The only real issues I have involves calcium buildup. The shutoff valve started sticking again and my hot water valve for tea/hot chocolate was clogged. I previously removed and replaced the shutoff valve/solenoid thinking it was faulty a few years ago but the shutoff valve can be cleaned without taking the entire unit out (replacing the entire shutoff valve is an enormous pain). Remove the solenoid and then remove the shutoff plunger subassembly from the valve. It can be removed with a small wrench. The shutoff, which is located next to the bottom of the boiler, has a subassembly that has tiny pieces comprised of a little spring loaded cylinder that shuts off the water pressure to the boiler. When the solenoid is energized, it pulls up on this plunger and lets water flow into the boiler. I have my system permanently plumbed so it is crucial that this valve works. If it sticks closed, you have no water flowing into the the boiler, but if it sticks open, I'll have water all over the place because it will flow into the boiler and out the siphon valve at the top of the boiler. It is pretty difficult to get a wrench down and remove the shutoff plunger but is much easier than replacing the entire shutoff. Remove it, clean it, replace it and you'll be back in business.
I have soft water but not filtered. I probably should filter the water but don't want another maintenance item. ifyoulovecoffee's tech support is very helpful in these situations. I'm very pleased with this company. My hot water wand not flowing was a calcium buildup issue too. I had to unscrew this copper line from the bottom of the boiler and clean it out with a paper clip. This buildup has been settling in the bottom of the boiler for years. I should be good to go for another few years.
If I had to purchase again I would buy the Expobar Office Pulser that did not have the programmable buttons. This module has been so flakey and ifyoulovecoffee's tech support has mentioned how smaller coffee shops have literally worn out the little buttons. The programmable button module is clearly not designed well and I like to control the length of the shot based upon the looks of the flow anyway.