Pasquini Livia 90 Auto, Nuova Simonelli Oscar, Rancilio Silvia
Excellent, smooth espresso from a super high-quality machine!
Positive Product Points
Stable brew temperature with the E-61 group, pre-infusion option, large drip tray, powerful but not overly-forceful steaming ability, aesthetically pleasing design. The Millenium makes it easy to produce terrific espresso!
Negative Product Points
Lack of a water level indicator. Also, the body of the machine gets very hot - this is not really a negative (the cups get nicely warmed!), but a person just has to be aware of this.
The Isomac Millenium is a pleasure to use in the pursuit of a finely crafted espresso at home. After having owned a number of espresso machines, I'm happy to report that I'm satisfied with the Millenium. The E-61 group is terrific for maintaining a stable brewing temperature range. After finding the proper grind for a particular bean, and using good dosing and tamping techniques, I've found it almost impossible to pull a bad shot on the Millenium. With some of the other machines I've owned, I needed to very actively "temp surf" in order to pull a good shot. If the Millenium has been idling for a while (more than 10 minutes or so), it's necessary to flush the overly-hot water from the heat exchanger, but that's it - otherwise, it's good to go. The end result - smooth, full bodied, crema-laden espresso.
The Millenium creates the lowest level of pump noise of the machines I've owned. It's more of a steady hum than the noise created by the others.
Steaming ability is very good. A two-hole tip came with the Millenium, and it seems to work well with the machine in creating powerful, yet easily controlled steam.
One big plus for me - the drip tray is huge, and the water level in the tray is easily discerned through the tray cover. One thing that is not easy to discern is the water level in the reservoir. There's no water level indicator, and since the plastic reservoir is completely contained within the stainless steel body, the only way to check the water level is to remove the top cover. Which means removing the nicely warmed cups and the cover. Also, this design arrangement would make placement of the machine under a kitchen cabinet a bit impractical.
The Millenium is aesthetically pleasing and impressive. The combination of design elements - the front to back curvature, the height and width, the placement of the lights and gauge, the placement of the E-61 group - work together to impart a sense of elegant purpose. At 48 lbs., it's a serious piece of machinery.
The machine is also viscerally a pleasure to use. After locking in the portafilter, a slight lift of the brew lever (after moving the lever from the "full down" position to the first detent) releases some hot water without actuating the pump. (I'll have to experiment more with this pre-infusion before commenting here.) Lifting the lever to the horizontal position actuates the pump, and it seems to be smoothly delivered pressure.
After all the machines I've owned, the Isomac Millenium is the one for me!
It was truly a pleasure doing business with Chris at Chris' Coffee Service. He earned my business with his pricing and assurance of service after the sale. Chris is always available via e-mail or phone, and has promptly helped me with my questions.