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La Scala Butterfly - Robert Iantria's Review
Posted: January 28, 2008, 11:09pm
review rating: 7.4
feedback: (3) comments | read | write
La Scala Butterfly
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Arrow The La Scala Butterfly has 10 Reviews
Arrow The La Scala Butterfly has been rated 9.06 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since October 22, 2002.
Arrow La Scala Butterfly reviews have been viewed 91,374 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Hugh Grierson 8.00
Robert Iantria 7.40
Ken Willis 7.00
Michael Pruenner 6.75
Michael Baryzewski 6.44

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.6
Manufacturer: La Scala Quality: 8
Average Price: $1,000.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $2,100.00 Cost vs. Value 8
Where Bought: Espresso Coffee Machine Co Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 6 months Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: La Pavoni Professional Lever
Bottom Line: Great machine, easy to use, makes good consistent shots--Save a bundle of money and purchase it in the US.
Positive Product Points
  1. Very nice looking machine, available in a few neat colours (if your supplier can get them).
  2. Easy to use, forgiving for the novice user
  3. Makes consistent shots
  4. Drip tray is substantial in size for home use
  5. Considering its size the warm up time is not that long
Negative Product Points

OK, here goes an honest and critical review of my baby!  Have I told you that I really love my machine?

  1. I really dislike the way the water tank is designed, there is no handle to lift it out (like the ECM Giotto Premium), it is very clumsy to get into.  Also-there are 2 large steel plates attached to a green wire that must be removed from the tank before you pull the tank out.  The plates and wire are used to detect a low water condition.  Again, its main competitor in this class of machine has a better design.
  2. The price in Canada for this machine is high in comparison to what it sells for in USA.  At the time of writting this review I found this very same machine for $1,250.00 (Internet Price) at Vaneli's Espresso Machines.  I don't know how Canadian retailers can justify a list price that is almost $900 more than what it sells for in the US!  If your Canadian I would encourage you to buy your machine in the US and save a bundle.
  3. The steam wand drips water once the machine has warmed up.  More on this later.
  4. Does not fit under my cabinet
Detailed Commentary

For me it was between this machine and the ECM Giotto Premium.  I carefully weighed my options by talking and visiting local suppliers on a frequent basis during my 2 months of "shopping around".  Both machines have very similar spec's.  Some of the features I favoured on the Giotto were:

  1. Water tank design, accessibility and functionality.
  2. Steam and hot water wand were very robust in their construction, cool to touch even after use.  The Butterfly has clip on plastic tabs that you use to move the wands so that you do not get burned.
  3. It fit under my cabinet
  4. Less expensive

The clincher for me on buying the Butterfly was made during one of my many visits to a local Giotto supplier.  While there another customer had come in with their broken Giotto.  While listening to the other customer talk to the tech I had learned that her machine was in for service for the 3rd time in 2 years. According to the conversation the technician it was stated that on one of the previous repairs they replaced the main circuit board.  It sounded like the machine would shut down on its own and not be able to re-start even though the light would come on.  Well it goes without saying that once I saw this my mind was made up with the Butterfly.

The machine I purchased was tested and adjusted by the supplier before I took delivery of it.  When I received it the boiler pressure was set to 1.1 bar.The warm up time for my unit is between 7-10 minutes.  Pulling hot water out of the wand causes the boiler pressure to drop significantly and rapidly, the recovery to get back up to 1.1 bar is reasonable.  The steam pressure on this machine is stunning, it works really well.  I was making micro foam on my 3rd try.  The one thing I noticed from my previous machine (La Pavoni) is that I had to fill my milk container with significantly more milk to get better foam.  If I filled my container with too little milk the milk temperature would rise too quickly and therefore not enough airate the milk to make micro foam.  I do not see this as a negative, Iím just trying to give you an idea of the steam characteristics of this unit.

I have heard others complain about the pump noise on these units, I do not find the noise to be bothersome.  The machine will sometimes make a noise at start up for about 3-5 seconds but then it pretty much runs silent until its time to pull a shot.

Another observation I made is that I get slightly better results on the qulaity of my shots when I use a tamper with a ďEuro CurveĒ.  I have compared both the flat base tamper to my euro base and I find that I get slightly better crema with the euro base.  Another small benefit I find by using the euro curve is that it minimizes grinds that are left behind on the screen of my group after I remove the portafilter.  

I have never needed to use 30 pound pressure to tamp to get great shots with this machine .  I use the #10 setting of my Racillio Rocky for grinding, and I tamp to level.  This really surprised me actually because I get wonderful shots and all I do is use the weight of the tamper to level the grinds in the portafilter with the usual twist to clean off the grinds from the base.  This was a big change for me from my Pavoni machine where the quality of my tamp would affect the quality of my shot.

Cleaning this machine is very easy.  I usually make 3-4 shots a day on weekdays and about 5-6 per day when Iím not working.  I use a brush to remove left over grinds from the group screen everyday.  I also back flush with water once a week and use a detergent once a month.  Maintenance and cleaning this unit is by far easier than my Pavoni.  I do not use a de-scaler as the water in my part of the world has very little, if any, dissolved minerals.

I have not considered plumbing in my machine but I have been told a kit is available for about $150.

Buying Experience

Aside from finding out how much I over paid in comparison to what the same unit sells for in the US the buying experience was very good. The staff at the store I purchased my machine were very passionate about this product, and I have to admit it was a factor in my purchasing decision.
I was disappointed in how I was treated when I brought my machine in to get the drip in my steam wand fixed.  After the shop tech looked it over I received a call from him and he told me that the steam wand was not leaking at all.  I told him the drip goes away once you apply alot of force to tighten the knob, unlike the hot water knob which turns completely off without having to over tighten it. He went on to tell that the wand did not leak at all and that there was nothing to fix but that he would check it again.  At best I would describe the technicians attitude towards me as dismissive to my dripping steam wand.  The next day I received a call where he told me that they had fixed the problem and that I could pick up the machine.  Once I got it at home I noticed that the problem was still there.

Three Month Followup

No change in my opinion expressed below.

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review rating: 7.4
Posted: January 28, 2008, 11:09pm
feedback: (3) comments | read | write
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