A classy, capable and feature packed machine that delivers professional quality results
Positive Product Points
Beauty and function all in one package! The stainless is heavy and nicely finished on the Rituale. It's much better (and larger) looking in person than the photos portray. Love the dual gauges (in one gauge) and use both of them every day to fine tune my pulls. Plenty of steaming and water dispensing power too.
Negative Product Points
Really no negatives about the product thus far. I had a problem with loud rattling when I first began using the product which was due to the way the plumb-in option was installed by Chris Coffee. See details about this issue below. After that was solved, the only thing that ever bites me is occasionally forgetting to empty the drip tray since it holds so much.
This was my first step up in espresso machines since I'd bought the Solis SL90 last October. The difference is striking between the two products in every way. I feel like this is a "real espresso" machine compared to the SL90. One of the many small differences is that the Rituale doesn't leak water onto a freshly loaded PF like the SL90 does. The SL90 is always leaking a small amount of water through the group-head. Before I could even start the shot on the SL90, it would drip hot water onto the loaded coffee after locking in the PF. The Rituale remains bone dry in that department until I pull the lever to activate. Simply comparing the portafilters between the SL90 and the Rituale is like comparing a toy to the real thing. My subjective comparisons between the two machines are not really fair since they are in different worlds (consumer vs commercial). But what I want to convey is that it's not just that the Rituale produces better espresso, it's also the way it produces it and the user "touchy feely" stuff that also makes a big difference between the products. It was an upgrade in quality that is identifiable on several levels (taste, use, crema production, components, etc).
I took advantage of having Chris Coffee install the plumb-in option and it's worth it. I bought a Flow-jet water bottle pump to drive the water to the Rituale and have it running off a standard 5gal water jug. Rather than purchase bottled water, I refill the 5gal jug with filtered water from my PUR under sink water filter. This is an easy solution if you don't want to plumb into your home water supply or need to have the freedom to relocate the Rituale.
As previously noted, there was a problem with a loud rattling noise when I first began using the Rituale. As part of the plumb-in kit, Chris Coffee had tie-wrapped an add-on solenoid to the top of the vibe-pump without any rubber pad between the two devices. This produced a very loud rattle when the pump was activated that had me rattled until I figured it out. The tie-wrap that was wrapped around both the solenoid and the vibe-pump had just enough play left to allow me to insert a couple of thin rubber shims between the solenoid and the vibe-pump. This quieted things down a lot. In Chris's defense, there's not a lot of room to place the parts they install with the plumb kit. They just need to employ some rubber shims so that any metal to metal contact (solenoid to vibe-pump) is mitigated.
Back to good stuff. Removing the outer shroud (for repair or ogling the insides) on the Rituale is very quick and easy. The Rituale is as Chris has said "engineered to enable easy access". Chris includes some additional information about use and cleaning the product that is helpful. I love the ability to pull shot after shot with no loss in temperature delivery with the E61 group. It is truly everything that people report it to be and I enjoy using this product (fun, fun, fun). You get everything you need except a decent tamper with the Rituale. That was corrected with a stainless steel tamper from Chris that I added to the order. The gauges are not just geeky stuff, but are useful in everyday use. This is especially true if you use a wide variety of different coffees as I do. The boiler pressure gauge helps me see when the boiler pressure (read temp) is in the zone. The pump pressure gauge helps me see when a shot has been properly ground and packed. While it's true that you can find the same information by watching the way the shot exits the PF, I find the pump pressure gauge a visual aid as well. Having all these features in a single machine, at a reasonable price is just a plus in my book for the Rituale.
Purchased from Chris Coffee and they have been terrific for pre and post sale support. I called them several times (post sale) for advice and questions. They were always helpful and more importantly knowledgable about the Rituale. I could go on, but Chris's reputation stands for itself as the "standard" for customer support. Highly recommend.