I owned 2 Livia 90, one older model and one brand new one that I bought from Pasquini. Total priced included tax and upgrades (more later) was about $1,400.
Pasquini‘s Livia 90 Espresso/Cappuccino Machine was considered the Cadillac of home espresso machines by many enthusiastic espresso fans that can afford one, like a real Cadillac. This machine has all the attributes of a great home espresso machine: Name, look, compact, ease of use, convenience, safe, high performance, quality, reliability. This is basically a commercial machine, repackaged small enough to fit easily into any existing home kitchen, while retaining all the features/performance of a commercial machine for a small business. The Livia 90 used all the same heavy duty commercial components from their bigger brothers (Bezzera, not La Cimbali), but just with a smaller boiler to reduce the package’s size, improve the heating up time, and add the convenience of a huge water tank for home and portability uses.
This machine was actually built by Bezzera (Italy) for Pasquini, but with a different set of specifications to meet Pasquini’s standards. The current Livia 90 model has many improvements added, compared to the older Livia 90 put out a couple years ago. Bezzera also made OEM machines for Gensaco and some other companies with a different set of specs. All these machines look slightly different cosmetically, but internal components were pretty much about the same.
Over all, the new Livia 90 looks more attractive than the older model. The front panel is now all stainless steel (gone was the black glued-on paper face plate on the older model), giving it an “all stainless” steel look. The stainless steel surface was satin coated for easy cleaning and reducing finger print smears. The cup holder/warmer tray on top was redesigned to be a little deeper, to add an additional vented cup-rest rack on top to distribute the heat more even and keep the rim of the cup off the heating surface below for better cleanliness (the older model doesn‘t have this rack). A stronger (rectangular-shape) pump with brass fittings on both ends was used. This was about the strongest commercial vibration pump in the market that I knew of. Heating element wattage increased from 1,000W to 1,200W. A color-coded steam pressure gauge was added, along with an adjustable steam pressure regulator insides (the older model can’t adjust steam pressure and thus it has no steam gauge: When the non-adjustable regulator went bad, the steam pressure could built up dangerously high insides the boiler that the owner may not be aware of, and it may blow the safety valve in the boiler and ruin the machine). A sensor was added to detect low water in the reservoir and prevent the pump from running if water in the reservoir was too low (not present in the older machine), prevent damage to the pump from running dry; and the water was now drawn from the bottom of the tank via a self-closing valve instead of the hanging-over-the-rim flexible water inlet pipe as in the older machine. All electrical lines were now heat-shielded from hot pipes and boiler. The water reservoir tank was now made with a much thicker and sturdier plastic material, and was also insulated from the heat of the boiler. More water return lines was added to stabilize the pressure, bleed off the excess pressure as needed, and return the unused/clean water back to the reservoir.
General features: Used the most powerful commercial pump available. Can brew espresso and steam milk at the same time. Make Single or Double shot of espresso at a time, continuously. Required no recovery time for steaming milk. Over one-gallon water reservoir for less refills in between. Fill the 1.5-litter-boiler tank automatically with water from the reservoir as needed. Self-vented steam pressure release to eliminate false startup pressure (required no manual steam bleeding at the beginning) - Just turn it on and it’s ready when the Green light was on. Designed to be left “ON" all day, make it Ready-for-Use any time (my calculation showed that it costs only 1 to 2 cents per hour to operate!). Low Maintenance. Warm up in less than 10 minutes. Won’t run the pump if low water in reservoir. Won’t turn on the heat if low water in the boiler. Heavy-duty powder-coated steel frame and stainless steel surface panels. Has hot water dispenser, cup holder/warmer tray, porta filter with single and double filter for making coffee, blind filter for back flushing, manual.
This is basically a commercial machine in a small and compact package for home/office/small business uses. I recalled reading a Livia 90 brochure that said the Livia 90 was used by the caterers who served the crew while filming the movie “Maverick”, making more than 80 cups of espresso/late each morning. By accident, it was dropped from the horse’s back to the ground, suffered a bent frame, but still continued to crank out 80+ cups of espresso/late every morning without any problem.
I bought this machine new in mid 1999 from Pasquini. To new prospective owners of the new Livia 90: The dilemma about buying this excellent espresso machine is this:
If you buy a couple-year old machine, you may miss out on many added improvements in the latest model and facing the possibility of internally rusted pipe work/calcified boiler, but
If you buy a new machine, you will stuck with the louder pump noise and the restricted water flow due to the way Bezzera redesigned the pipe work in this machine, adding a flow restrictor to the internal water-line path, which many current Livia 90 owners were not even aware of its existence.
The "flow restrictor" I mentioned here is a tiny up-side-down plastic "U" tube, installed right in front of the pump‘s water outlet. This reduced the water output flow (for better infusion, I resumed), but the negative side-effect was that it produced a "kickback" pressure to the pump and made the pump work harder and ran louder than normal. This was the same reason that made the excellent espresso machine Livietta a bit louder than others: Due to the compact side and narrow width of the machine, the water outlet was redirected upward in a 90 degree angle; thus, producing the same kickback to the pump; and that‘s why a less powerful pump was more favorable: it‘s not as noisy to operate with the exactly same design.
I haven‘t seen this design in any existing home or commercial machines that I had my hands on (10+). Remove this "U" tube and replace it with a straight and normal diameter plastic tube will do. Any espresso shop should be able to do this operation for a reasonable price - 30-45 minutes labor, minimal part cost.
The work involved for handy Livia 90 owners:
- Removing the water reservoir tank.
- Remove the plate with the water inlet where the reservoir sits on by first removing
the bottom screws from under that machine (set the machine on the side), to expose
the pump and its inlet/outlet tubing.
- Remove the "U" tube and replace it with the proper-size brass fittings.
- Reassemble everything back in reserved order.
Note that this modification is for maximizing the Livia‘s capability, not that it doesn‘t work well right out of the box un-modified.
I sent my Livia 90 back to Pasquini to have them take out the water flow restrictor in the standard machine, to reduce the pump’s noise and kickback pressure and to restore the water flow to normal rate. Now it runs very quietly, even though this stronger pump supposed to be a lot noisier than the previous pump used.
I like the Teflon Turbo Frothing tip: It makes milk frothing/steaming MUCH FASTER and MUCH EASIER than the standard 4-hole tip, with minimal skill or effort. Available directly from Pasquini for $8-$10 or so. It will fit in any espresso machine with a 1/4” male-threaded steam wand. This is almost “a must” item to obtain. Again, since the Livia 90 produces a commercial strength steam volume, frothing a larger volume of milk does work better than just a few oz of milk.
Just like any high-end/PRO machine, the advance in the design make the task of making espresso so simple that it almost boring: Just turn on the machine, wait till it‘s fully warm up and everything is ready, for coffee or steaming milk. No need to watch the temperature, bleeding water or steam between coffee-making/steaming cycles. You can‘t out grow this machine unless your need requires tons of water to make regular coffee out of espresso for many people at once (then there is some recovery time involved, waiting for new water to warm up after a lot of hot water was drawn off). So, even though the cost a quite a bit more, you do get the comfort and luxury of the "Cadillac" that you paid for. I paid more for this machine (plus Tax, shipping, cost of modification). You may get a better deal by dealing directly with your supplier on the purchase price and specify the modification as part of the upgrade that you request Pasquini to do before shipping the unit out.
I have spent a lot of $ on my quest of finding the ultimate "home" espresso machine. If I knew everything I knew now, I can just buy this machine do away with the rest. It‘s definitely one of the best all around machine in $1,000+ range.