I read every Quick Mill Vetrano review written here befor buying this machine. By far, John Weiss's review is the best written and after using this machine for 6 months, I have to agree with most everything John had to say, so read his review...it's one of the first written and was written almost 6 years ago...a testament to the legacy of this machine. Let me start my review mentioning my experience making and drinking espresso. I've been making espresso at home day in and day out for 3 years now, starting in April 2008. My first espresso machine was a PID'd Gaggia Classic modded by Robert (Tex) Harmon. I used it for approx 10 months. Nice beginers machine but short on any real steam frothing capabilities. Because I like to drink cappucchinos my next espresso machine had to be an HX so I purcahsed new from Salvatore Espresso, one of their One Black machines and a truly fine HX machine. I used the One Black approx. from May of 2009 until I sold it in the fall of 2010. Regretably, financial problems forced me to sell my One Black. On the upside, my cash flow improved around X-Mass of 2010 so I purchased the Quick Mill Vetrano I now use
There are several main reasons I bought this machine, and since owning and using it daily for the past 6 months, I'm so very glad I bought this particular machine. Why?, simply because it produces a quality shot of espresso. It's also very easy to produce steam for milk drinks. I'll admit it now, I'm a cap drinker. I like and occasionally drink straight shots of espresso but 95% of the time I drink milk with my espresso. If I'm not building a cappucchino, lately I'm drink espresso con panna. eh!, I'm stuck on taking milk fat with my shots=:-) I also roast the coffee beans I use to pull my shots. I have been roasting my own espresso beans since June 2008. Every bean, every shot. I started with a Behmor roaster and after 100 roasts with it, I sold it and have been using a Hot Top drum roaster and am on roast #324 w/the Hot Top (B model). I am of the opinion that you need fresh roasted coffee beans to pull quality espresso shots, and what better way to have fresh roasted beans than to roast your own?
Getting back to why I decided to buy a Vetrano HX espresso machine, first off it uses an E-61 group. My One Black used a commercial 58 mm thermosyphon group and it produced good espresso yet it was no match for an E-61 group. If I had to list what I would consider the E-61's strongest feature, it's how it lets you know it's time to stop the water dance. Quite simply, when running water through the group to cool it down, after you hear the water no longer sputtering coming from the group, I count to four seconds (one one thousand, two one thousand) then it's time to stop flushing and put your coffee filled PF into the group and pull the shot. When making milk drinks, after the PF is locked into the group, that's when I start frothing my milk. When the milk temp hits 100 degrees, I pull the shot (start the pump). Timing my shots, the shot is usually finished at the same time the milk is ready (155 degrees F)
FWIW, I use a Flo-Jet pump on top of a 5 gallon water bottle to supply water to this machine. I filter my well water using an RO system. I also use a Chris Coffee calcite carbon filter after the RO filter, so my water is 50 PPM hardness (checked with water hardness test strips). This water hardness level will not clog any part of this espresso machine yet will deliver good mouth feel (taste). Directions supplied with this machine to set it up were easy to follow and not complicated. I will differ with one part of the instruction manual. The part where Chris suggests to only detergent back flush once every 3 weeks. I'm sure that interval is fine in keeping the valve clear of any residual coffee oil, but I prefer to detergent back flush far more often for better tasting espresso. That said, all other advice supplied by Chris and his staff using this machine I have followed to the letter
In my opinion, the finish used on this machine (stainless steel) is easy to keep clean. I'll use a damp cloth with water only most of the time followed by a dry cloth to prevent surface streaks. It's an easy keeper. Build quality is high and I can find nothing wrong with any of the fit and finish. The drain tray and cover seems heavy and substantial and the amount of water the drip tray holds is more than adaquate IMO. I dump the tray daily and most every day I'll wash the drip tray and cover as well as I like to keep everything clean. My shot building capabilities are such I seldom experience any squirters, but if and when I have one, they are easy to wipe from the machine's surfaces
I find the dual pressure guage and it's placement to be quite satisfactory. I've never found a need to adjust the P-Stat but I did upon installation on my counter top, find the need to adjust the group pressure, to get it to operate in the realm of 7-8 bars pressure. Not surprising as I'm sure the water pressure at the tech's bench is different from my own. I also keep a liquid-filled pressure guage on hand to check group pressure on past espresso machines so I also used this guage (via brass fittings on a PF) to check the pressure guage on the Vetrano, and found it to be spot on. Cup storage on top of the machine is more than enough for the cups I use on a daily basis. I keep 4 cappucchino cups, 3 shot glasses, 2 single shot (demitasse) cups and one large latte mug, all fit on top. I have extra back stock of cups so when dinner company wants coffee drinks, I don't have to wash cups but I will use the Vetrano's hot water tap to fill the cups to pre-heat first. I tend to make sure I use at least one cup of water from the boiler through the hot water tap once a week, just to keep the water in the boiler tuning over. I don't make Americanos often but the few times I have, there is plenty of water in the 1.7 litre boiler to supply hot water for teas or Americanos
If you've concluded that I've written a glowing review of this machine, then you have also determined that I am quite happy with it. Yes I am. It does everything I have expected it to do. And I have no desire to upgrade. At one time I never would have thought I'd say this but it's true. I have no desire to use another espresso machine. The Vetrano does everything I expect an espresso machine to do, period