Care-free excellence. Easy to use; forgiving; makes delectable shots; great steam; and very striking design
Positive Product Points
- gorgeous, striking appearance! All stainless steel and chrome. - forgiving E61 performance - quite good steam capability - VERY dry steam; no need really to vent the steam wand to get any water out - "no burn" steam and hot water wands (still get quite hot, mind you); but the real benefit is that there is less "baked on" milk to clean off after steaming - large 3 litre water tank and 1.8 litre boiler - good capacity drip tray ~850ml that removes and dumps smoothly and easily - backflush capability - large warming tray ~80 sq. in. that gets the cups nice and toasty - easily keeps up with high volume use when entertaining friends - the smoked plastic warming tray edge; others have stated that they feel it should be metal, but aesthetically, it works. - accepts popular sized accessories like Rancilio pfs and baskets
Negative Product Points
I wonder if my Giotto were plumbed in would make me any happier? As it is now, I don't mind filling the water tank with a Brita jug 2 or 3 times a week and emptying the drip tray about as often. It gives me an opportunity to clean them regularly as well. A friend inherited a plumbed in older Rancilio S27 (or similar) and it was disgusting to see the grody condition of the drip tray and drain tube. (No offense, Duff!) Still, I wonder about the convenience of having it plumbed in. (BTW, I also did not want to commit to one location for it in our kitchen and was loathe to drill any holes through our countertop anyway.)
When the water tank runs out, the machine just stops and the power indicator light goes out. It's happened to me twice in four months and it's not a big problem, I just add more water and carry on. But a water level indicator of some sort would be nice.
The indicator light is relatively easy to see but it could be brighter.
It just has the boiler pressure gauge. I don't know what I'm missing by not having a group pressure gauge.
The vibe pump. I have my machine on a timer set to go off at 6:00 AM and about twice a week it commences with quite a loud pump noise. In use, the pump noise isn't really much of an issue. I have come to regard it like the somewhat messy grounds around my grinder: really, how much silence and tidiness can be expected with such an endeavor?
I've held off on posting a review for my Giotto for four months now. The further along I get on my espresso journey, it seems the less I know! But I feel an obligation to share my experience with my fellow CGers just because I've benefited so much from everyone else's opinions here.
I roast at home with an i-Roast II and use those beans within a 2-7 day window without exception. My grinder is a Macap M4. I haven't really settled on any one bean or blend, but am leaning towards either Guatemalan Antigua, Costa Rican Tarrazu, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, or some blend thereof.
It seems I can't pull an un-tasty shot with my Giotto Premium. We drink almost exclusively lattes and cappuccinos. I get the odd bit of channeling, barber poling and spraying, mind you. But the character of each type of bean I try is very apparent.
After being very confused initially by the concept of a heat exchanger cooling flush, the routine for the Giotto that seems to give very consistent results is: flush ~2.5 oz until the water stops "dancing" and hissing on the dispersion screen (easy to perceive with my naked portafilter in place), then flush another 2 oz. for a total of ~4.5 oz, wait ~60 seconds and then pull the shot. For ensuing shots, pull ~40 seconds after the previous shot ended. If idle for longer than a minute, start the cooling flush procedure all over again.
Not sure how long it takes to get up to a stable temperature. I have it on a timer and it's always on for at least an hour before I use it.
I also have a number of other goofy steps in my routine. I have 4 pf baskets and a naked pf from which I've removed the spring (so the baskets with grounds in place can be gently inserted into the pf). Other steps include: weighing out precisely 14.0 g of beans per shot, grinding per shot directly into a Pyrex beaker clipped onto the front of my Macap M4, doing this for the number of shots I'm making in a row, dumping the beakers into the baskets, distributing the grounds with a little device I concocted that has 20 pins sticking out of it (my version of the WDT), tamping with an Espro tamper with the NSEW technique, then placing each basket into the pf just before pulling the shot. Hey, it works for me.
For maintenance, I backflush once or twice after every session as well as doing a portafilter wiggle. Once a week I run cleaner through the pf and it's amazing how much grounds and coffee oil come out despite my daily routines. Also weekly I remove the water tank and give it a good scrubbing inside. Leaving it for two weeks causes some slime build up. I use a Brita jug, changing the filters every 6 weeks. I believe I read here that the Brita jug filters remove some water hardness but their on-tap filters do not.
It steams adequately. I steam to 130 degrees. If I steam a larger quantity, say 12+ oz of milk for 2 or 3 drinks, it slows down appreciably before reaching that temperature. Steaming for one drink is almost too quick. Be mindful or else the temperature will shoot up too fast to allow you to form microfoam. The 2-hole tip is just fine. Initially, like a typical newbie, I was concerned that I had the wrong tip and had to upgrade. Of course it was just my lack of knowledge and skill; once my skills progressed it was no problem to create microfoam.
Another minor point and I'm not sure if it's good or bad is that you can't use more than 14g of coffee with either the ECM or Rancilio baskets without having the puck disturbed by hitting the dispersion screen when attaching the pf.
The machine came with two pf handles, a single and double basket. I never use the single basket so I just leave the pf blank in one handle for easy backflushing. And included of course was the usual less-than-useful manual. For instance, it doesn't tell you a thing about the hx flush. Without it, the water is far too hot to pull a decent shot.
After innumerable hours spent researching machines and techniques, I'm at the point where I just want to easily get great drinks 4 or 5 times a day and the Giotto Premium delivers them without fail. I can't tell you which factors contribute to this: the fresh beans, my technique, the Macap grinder, the e61 group or some other aspect of the Giotto, ... but the end result is superb.
Up to about a year ago, I would prepare a 22 oz cup of drip coffee each morning with milk and believe it or not, a quarter cup of sugar. Now the cappas I make are so creamy and sweet that I use no sugar.
Purchased from Espressotec in Richmond (Vancouver), B.C. Knowledgable and friendly folks. Took a few bucks off and threw in a triple pf and basket. They also service what they sell and that was a big factor for me. They were willing to ship it to me quite cheaply but I didn't mind travelling 4 hours to see it in person and pick it up.