The machine I bought is a plumb-in version. The tubes are plumbed to the machine in an awkward position, which required you to drill a large hole on the table right underneath the machine to avoid bending and breaking the tube.
First thing that impressed me is the huge e-61 group that attached to the case. It looks very muscular and assured me it will give consistent shots. However, when I look at the shower head under the group, it has a blind screw which I canít take it out with screwdriver. That means I couldnít open and clean it.
I plugged it in and switch it on, the pump pulled the water from a 6 litre reservoir that I use temporarily to test the machine. The salesman told me to put the water tank at the same level or above the machine to help the pump to work easier. The machine pulled about 0.6 litre into the boiler and stop, then I heard the boiler working.
I was staring at the boiler pressure gauge for about 15 minutes to see the boiler get to accepted temperature (about 1.2-1.4 bar). Then I pulled the lever up to let some water out from the group head. Ooh, it was pretty hot. Then I heard the pump started but see no water was sucked down, and I looked at the gauge seeing its arm moved down steadily. The machine might not fully ready yet, so I decided to wait. But the gauge kept on falling down to below 1 bar, and the pump working too long, I decided to switch the machine off.
I waited for a minute, blowing off the steam from the steam wand, and hot water too. I decided to switch it on again. The pump started and now some water was sucked in. The gauge movd up again very fast to reach 1.4 bar. I pulled the lever to let some water off, and this time the gauge falling a bit but not below 1.2 bar. Then I insert the filter to the group and let some water out again through the filter. The gauge indicates a good result. Ah-hah, itís time to brew some espresso.
I ground some Brazilian Arabica beans to match the ground I saw in illy pre-ground can. Followed Schomerís technique, I managed to tamp at 20 KG, and put the double basket filter back to the group. I had one espresso cup and one shot glass under the filter sprouts. Since this is a new machine the filter canít reach the straight angle yet, so one cup is very close to the rim of the drip tray. I left the lever up, pushed my stopwatch, and counting to 8 until I saw the first drip of black liquid came out. After completing the shot, no good quality crema was shown in the shot glass. I adjusted the grind a bit finer, thinking, "Never mind, this was only for seasoning."
Crema, crema, crema is everywhere. Mdm. Butterfly filled my cups with only crema in the second try. By the time it reached 1oz. mark, I pulled the lever down and watched at my watch, it was about 24-25 seconds. Away I thrown these two cup of coffee down the drip tray after tasting it. Taste? Sweet!
Itís steam time. I pulled a bottle of 100% milk from the fridge, and poured to about half a 250cc jug. I blew off some water from the wand, after that I saw a very dry steam came out. I should be great with only two holes with that kind of power. The wand is in 90 degree down position only. It was a fast machine, and I could manage to get quite acceptable micro bubbles, even it's not as great as what I got from three groups cimbali. I poured it into a cappuccino cup, and tried to make some latte art.
It was an ugly one. But the taste was good even without any sugar.