Great HX machine at a price so tempting we could not resist!
Positive Product Points
This HX machine is simpler to use than either the La Pavoni or Silvia we have owned, in fact my wife is learning to use it. Pulling back to back shots is simple (we have done more than a dozen back to back without a break and without running out of steam or having to wait for the machine to catch up). It looks great and takes up about the same space on the counter as our Silvia did.
*** 3 month additions... - I like the fact I can put all my espresso cups and shot glasses, spare baskets, tow tampers and PF handle on top and still pour over. - I like the steam wand length so a pitcher can be started steaming and set on the grate to finish steaming while I continue to pull shots...very hand in group situations.
Negative Product Points
It could have a stainless drip pan (minor point).
We have owned our Expobar for a while now. Performance is typical of the reported function of other E61 ‘type‘ machines on the market. That said, we moved when the price was right ($100 cheaper than normal).
It is solid compared to other machines we have owned over the past 10 years (Briel First Class, upgraded to La Pavoni Euripicola, upgraded to Silvia, and now Expobar).
We have never used a WEGA, Jr, Tea, Giotto or other E61 type machine owned by people who frequent this group, but realized after a few weeks using the Silvia that we were going to be happier with an E61 type group. We bought the Expobar Pulsar (non-auto) new for $650. Good reports from people here and in other discussion groups, and price were our determining factors.
Actual Use: From the first shots it has been wonderful. The only adjustment we have made is drawing off the customary few ounces of water through the PF before loading it if it has been idle for an hour or more (SOP for E61 style machines).
There is enough room under the PF to fit a 12 ounce stainless cup. It seems like there is more space under the PF than our other Machines. This is partially due to the fact that the PF handle came with the double spout not screwed onto it, and I began pulling shots without it (and continue to use it this way to this day). This gives us a bit of extra clearance.
The top of the unit is vented, and the heat, though indirect, keeps our cups and extra filter baskets warmer than the Silvia did ('warm almost hot', not 'warm but could be warmer').
It does not have any meters, or displays, only three indicator lights.
My wife is learning to use this machine (she would not touch the La Pavoni nor the Silvia). She is enjoying working with it.
Looks: Mirror Stainless Steel finish, and the only plastic on it are the knobs for steam and water, the 'adjuster' on the steam wand, and the drip tray, which is concealed under a metal wire drip platform. The PF is heavy duty compared to our Silvia’s (commercial grade).
When the unit was removed from the box, we said "Wow" and commented how much better it looked on the counter than the pictures online.
Our friends who have never closely inspected a good machine think it is beautiful. While 'utilitarian' has been used to describe it in online discussions, it certainly surprised us when we actually had it in front of us.
We thought from remarks in the discussion groups that perhaps we were buying a Sherman Tank or a HUMV! I suppose compared to other machines it may appear utilitarian, but you have to have seen the others to compare.
Heat Stability: Wow! We have the machine on a heavy duty timer so it comes on an hour before we arise, and it runs all day, and goes off at bed time. After it warms for an hour, single and multiple shots are consistent, and fast (as one would expect from the thermal siphon machines).
From what I read here, the Expobar is not exceptional...it just pulls good shots consistently. The other day I made 13 double shot cappuccions in 25 minutes without stopping to rest the machine, and never had to wait for steam or shots. In fact I was steaming in a 20 ounce pitcher while pulling doubles simultaneously. - 3month - We did 23 capps in a row at a gathering without stopping or waiting for the machine. It worked wonderfully. In these type gatherings, we steam in a 33 ounce pitcher while pulling shots.
Counter space: It fits under our conventional kitchen cupboards with room for cups and my tamper on top, and the top filled water reservoir can be filled without moving the machine. This model has the short feet - 3/8 inch I would guess (original model had 2 inch tall feet).
It is nearly the same external dimensions as the Silvia...1/4 inch taller, 1/2 inch wider and 5 3/4 inches deeper. Since the Silvia it replaces had to sit nearly 8 inches out from the wall so we could reach it on our counter, the Expobar fits in it's spot with minimal extra counter space.
Things we like: -Flexibility...I can miss a bit on my ritual and the shots get drunk and not poured down the sink. -Pre-infusion. -Extra space under PF for taller cups. -Separate wands for steam and water. -Quiet (La Pavoni has em all beat). -Hot water fast! (and loads of it). -Good steam...forever (well we have never run out). -1428 Watts of power. -1.7 liter boiler. -Heat Exchanger. -Self-priming. -Power cord can exit from underneath the unit anywhere. -The weight. It weighs about 15 pounds more than the Silvia (with water onboard), and does not move at all when I lock in the PF. -The Silvia would slide sideways.
Things we would change: -Stainless drip catch tray instead of plastic (minor point). -A different and sexier name (and nameplate).
Afterthoughts: -I hope to never be without an E61 type machine again. -I need to buy a 1 qt steam pitcher for parties. -We do a lot of entertaining, and this baby rocks in crowds! -The only 'mods' were to not screw the double spout onto the PF, and I wrapped small pieces of soft material around the corner edges of the drip tray grate so it would not vibrate against the plastic drip pan when the pump is running.
We continue to be happy with our unit and I will attempt to remember to update the report after a few more months.
Larry Jacobsen ljguitar
Whole Latte Love were very helpful and knowledgeable of the machine. The person I talked with had actually used one. They were courteous, helpful and prompt. It was packed well (double boxed), and arrived in three days.
Three Month Followup
Random 3 month additions... - We are in love with this machine, and our friends love it as well. It has continued to perform well, and is very consistent (maybe we are getting more consistent as well). - We have been using a particular brand of bottled water to avoid the need to descale, and it is efficient and economical. - The design and shape of the machine make it easy to keep it clean (all that Stainless). - We plan to continue using the PF without the spout. It gives extra room for fitting mugs under it. I stick my heavy mug under it and pull about 4-5 ounces of water then add grounds to make Americanos, and it saves transferring water to the mug from some other source. - I pull shots for capps and lattes right into their cups and the espresso is hotter. I steam the milk while I pull the shots so it all goes together nice and hot (we are not making latte art).
One Year Followup
After a year's use of the Expobar, we couldn't be happier. Based on our use of it, another friend recently purchased Expobar's lever model - which I have played with.
My wife's skills are improving as she builds her own lattes, and mine are steadily improving. It was such a quantum leap from the Silvia to the Expobar that most of the improvements in my shot building came around a year ago, but as my roasting improves, so does the quality of shots.
I have suffered no upgrade fever, even after playing with the lever model with it's improved looks and drip tray.
We did purchase a smaller two holed tip for building single lattes or cappuccinos, which works well with a small pitcher (6 - 8 oz). The tip on the new Expobar models is single holed and similar to the output of our small two holed tip. Were I to own one of those, I'd be looking for a large holed tip to do my 33 oz pitcher.