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Reneka Techno - David Lewis's Review
Posted: March 13, 2003, 1:05pm
review rating: 8.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Reneka Techno
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Arrow The Reneka Techno has 7 Reviews
Arrow The Reneka Techno has been rated 9.69 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since June 13, 2002.
Arrow Reneka Techno reviews have been viewed 79,608 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Jeroen Vriesendorp 8.89
Jim Pellegrini 8.39
Pete Landera 8.00
David Lewis 8.00
Stanley Coleman 6.33

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.6
Manufacturer: Reneka Quality: 10
Average Price: $1,500.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $1,500.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Boyd's Coffee Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 2 years Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Spidem Cappuccino Express
Bottom Line: A complete joy of an espresso machine.
Positive Product Points

This is a small machine with rotary pump, dual boilers, good aesthetics, and excellent temperature control. The ability to easily vary the (quite stable) temperature is a huge bonus. The limit on your espresso will definitely be your roasting and technique, not this machine. The ECO mode is a plus for home use, reducing power consumption.

Negative Product Points

The steam tip is good for commercial use, with a full pitcher of milk, but very hard to use for microfoam in single-cappuccino quantities.

Detailed Commentary

The Techno is an extraordinary machine for its price range. It is small enough to fit on a standard counter under the cabinetry, and looks at home in a normal kitchen. Any plumbed-in machine represents a commitment, but as many have said, you won't want to go back once you make it. Like all plumbed-in machines, the Techno requires some sort of water filtration in hard-water areas, but it also keeps track of filter replacement intervals for you. The brew and steam boiler temperatures are both adjustable in 2 C increments from the keypad on the front, and I have, on many occasions, turned roasts and blends that were initially too sour or too bitter into delicious espresso by adjusting the brew temperature. This feature is one of my favorite on the machine. There are three buttons to brew three programmable amounts of espresso, with automatic pre-infusion on the first two. In addtion, there are buttons to release programmable amounts of hot water and steam. Any of the amounts can be cut short by hitting the button again. The on/off nature of the steam switch has caused concern among many potential users of the Techno, but I have yet to hear of anyone who has found it a problem in actual use.

Steaming, with the standard tip, is somewhat problematic. The standard tip has five holes, and delivers a lot of steam. This is fine if you're steaming a liter of milk, but I've found it very difficult to steam for a single cappuccino. Many users have blocked two or three of the holes to good effect, and others are experimenting with different tips. Reneka themselves have some new tips in the works. Unlike a heat-exchanger machine, you cannot steam and brew at the same time, but you can steam as soon as the brew cycle has finished. In practice I have never found this to be a problem.

The ECO mode is a help to those of us who leave the machine on. It puts the boilers at about 70 C, which saves a considerable amount of energy while allowing a fairly fast warmup.

The build quality inside the machine is outstanding. The boilers are both insulated, the machine is quiet, and access to the internal components is fast if you need it. Both the sources for Technos in the US ship complete technical manuals with the machines. This brings me to a point that should be mentioned, though. Like any machine, a Techno will eventually require service. Both sources, Just Espresso and Boyd's, are happy to ship parts and allow the user to do warranty work, and both will provide help to a user doing this. Beyond that, though, you are faced with shipping the machine back, either to Portland in the case of Boyd's, or to Reneka in France in the case of Just Espresso. While I would not, in any sense, call the Techno unreliable, this factor may militate against purchase of the machine by a user who is not sophisticated enough and willing to handle installation and minor problems themselves with help. In Boyd's case, they have a traveling cadre of technicians who service their commercial accounts, but I don't know whether they would handle problems in the home of an end user.

My time with the Techno has been an utter joy. I am now regularly able to produce espresso better than almost any I've had commercially, except for Espresso Vivace in Seattle and Dr. John of Josuma, and occasionally reach shots that might, dare I say it, be approved of by Mark Prince himself. The Techno is definitely in the "last machine you'll buy" class, and while all human artifacts can be improved, the Techno is a great job of engineering and construction, and as I said above, the limiting factors in the quality of your shots will definitely lie elsewhere.

Buying Experience

Mike Johnson at Boyd's has been extremely helpful, down to driving me across Portland when I picked up the machine so I wouldn't have to call a cab. All issues with spare parts and warranty service have been handled quickly and honorably. I should probably mention that the price I got was an "early adopter" price for a machine that wasn't UL approved. Since then, Boyd's has gone to the expense of getting UL approval, the Euro has taken a dive, and the drip tray has been upgraded from plastic to a gorgeous piece of stainless steel, so I'd expect the price to be somewhat higher.

Three Month Followup

After using the Techno for more than a year, there are, of course, a few things I would change. While the machine is easy to temperature surf between the existing settings, it would be nice to have 1 C or finer resolution instead of 2 C as on the existing machine. The stock machine has about a 2 C brew temperature difference between a shot pulled twenty minutes out of ECO mode and one made after being on all day. Following the lead of an altie, I insulated the top of the brass plate between the boiler and group head using two layers of 1/2" cork sheeting, which eliminated the problem. Other than that, I still love the machine.

One Year Followup

There were a few early problems with the machine. The pump failed early on, and was replaced without question by Boyds and Reneka. When Reneka developed better seals for the boilers and a stainless-steel drip tray (the early ones were plastic and tended to crack), those were shipped to me with no charge. I recently replaced the group-head gasket because I thought I should; it turns out to have been fine. The new machine has the 1 C temperature control Id asked for. It would be nice to have a programmed wake-up out of ECO mode; even with the insulated top plate it still takes about twenty minutes to really stabilize (at that its still faster than most machines). I modified the drip tray by adding a lip to its rear side to improve the seal so that water didnt get past when I did a portafilter wiggle. I also replaced the steam tip with the two-hole one from Chris Coffee, the threads of which I had to chase with a ? BSPP tap; this has allowed me to microfoam small amounts of milk. I still love the machine after two years of use.

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Posted: March 13, 2003, 1:05pm
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