Beautiful machine. HX machine with a large amount of mass, which gives great thermal stability (what we called Termal Inertia in the mines) Easy to use, can be left on all the time, no restrictions on backflushing. Portafilters are nice and heavy. Built in pre-infusion
Negative Product Points
It throws off a lot of heat. For a Houston kitchen, it will be hot in the summer. The boiler tends to vapor lock when first turned on. The E61 grouphead needs to be bled if you are not making a lot of shots in a row. The steam wand is on the left side of the machine, and I am right handed (also I have been use to using the Silvia's right side wand). It takes a while to heat up, with all that mass.
I have had the machine for about a month now, and am beginning to get comfortable with it. It is real a beautiful machine, and has knobs, buttons, and levers that make you feel as if you are a part of the whole process, rather than merely an observer. It is a VERY heavy machine (ask for help before you take it out of the box) and is a commanding presence in the kitchen. I have a Rocky alongside it, and it dwarfs the grinder.
After the oddly complicated instructions on how to fill the boiler initially, I have left the machine on about 8 hours a day (I turn it on last thing in the evenings.) One of the peculiarities that I have found is that my boiler vapor locks after it has been on about Ĺ hour or so. All I need to do is bleed the steam wand, and then everything seems to be OK. The pressure immediately drops to zero, but then it quickly climbs back up to pressure.
I have noticed that I need to grind about one or two clicks finer than for my Silvia. I did a shot to shot comparison when I was saying goodbye to Silvia, and the Rituale shots came through much faster (same grind) and a little bit sour. Not hard to fix, but something to keep in mind.
The E61 grouphead does get hot. It is a simple matter to run water through it. Chris (from Chris Coffee) said to run the water until it stops sputtering. That seems to do the trick. I do this while I steam.
The steaming works like a champ. It goes on endlessly, but then again, so do the Silvia. I like the two hole tip, but it did take just a bit of time getting use to.
All in all I am very happy. I am almost at the stage where everything just happens, as it did with the Silvia. I canít say that the espresso is three times as good, but then again, that is never the point, is it? I consider this a treat to myself, rather than something that I needed to improve the quality of my shots. I will post a follow up in a couple of months to see if I change my mind. IT is one DARNED good looking machine, though.
Good. There was a shipping problem, but the CC people did a great job of getting it resolved. They are as good as their reputation.
Three Month Followup
So after three months with the Rituale, I have become more familiar with its quirks and operation. I turn on the machine each evening about 8:00 PM or so. I let it heat up enough to generate "False Pressure" and then bleed that off. It heats up again quickly after the bleed. In the morning before I walk the dog, I bleed it again.
When I come back from walking the dog (she lives for the walks. I live for the coffee) I grind enough for three doubles (Rocky. Several clicks tighter than I did for the Silvia) and then steam the milk (After, of course, bleeding the wand to remove condensed water) While steaming I run water through the group to cool down the E61 grouphead. That takes about three ounces. Then when I am done steaming, I run about two more ounces through the group, and pull some water out of the boiler for good measure.
I then pull my three doubles (Two for me, one for my wife) as the milk waits. (I have always been a steam then pull guy. I know that there are others who believe differently. To each his own, I say!) I still always time my shots, trying to hit between 20 and 25 seconds after the pump hits nin bars pressure. I can do that almost as well as I could do with the Silvia after four years.
The coffee is great, and I have had no problems with my machine (other than overfilling the reservoir, which I mentioned in a post here). I am still thrilled with the looks, and happy with the espresso. I would recommend this machine to anyone who has the money.
One Year Followup
The Rituale is now as integrated into my daily life as the Silvia was prior to this purchase. I have had no problems with the machine, and it consistenly produces cup after cup of great espresso without complaint. It still looks great, and I can't imagine a kitchen without it on the countertop.