Spain might have nothing but bars, Mexican food, and Chinese food, but somewhere, somehow, they are putting out decent machines.
Positive Product Points
Easy to tweak boiler temperature. Easy to tweak brew pressure. Large chassis; easy to tighten leaking hoses. Drip tray sized for a party.
Negative Product Points
As-shipped settings mean 8 oz cooling flushes. To remove drip tray cover: remove portafilter, move hot water hose out of the way, move steam wand out of the way. The hot water feature is unnecessary and has little use. A $40 water boiler should be used for tea and offers more control.
This will be my revenge follow-up to an earlier review I made of a Mr. Coffee steam-driven coffee maker. In that review I predicted upgrading to either a Le'Lit PL041 or Expobar Office Lever. Today I am making good on those predictions.
In keeping with my boycott of Italian words, in this review I will try my best to avoid the use of any overtly-Italian words. The Italians will make fun of Americans pronouncing "Pavoni" on Youtube, all the while drinking a product not possible without Latin America, and at the same time I'll walk to up an "American Hamburger" stand in Sicily and order a "hamburger" and they'll stare blankly at me. I've simply given it up ever since being all over the world and discovering that Chinese food can be had anywhere.
A few collected observations from someone entering the hobby:
1) the demand created by internet sources such as Coffegeek was driving the price of the RS to overinflated levels.
2) The RS, at price-inflated form, still could not reliably brew a good cup without a significant modification.
3) The PL041 model was slightly cheaper and more reliable.
4) The Ascaso Dream could be had for even cheaper if overall metal-contact feel was desired.
5) An Expobar Office Lever was all metal housing, unlike its plastiky younger models. Not quite up to Quick Mill Anita, but still built to last.
6) At $750 returned/refurbished, the Office Lever was a steal and dropped the hammer on the RS.
7) Take the price of your first espresso machine, and add $300. The bare essentials to get started with basic operation and maintenance, I found, was $300.
( Rubberized-handle aftermarket portafilter, knock box, triple basket, triple spout, double basket, single spout, stainless blank basket, Dow Corning 111, Cafiza, clear shot glasses, white shot cups+saucers, gasket removal tools, thinner E61 group head gaskets sized for aftermarket portafilter, 58mm tamper).
From reviews, I already knew a prone failure item on this was the power switch (the on/off). To prevent future replacement, I've kept the switch in the "O-N" mode, and use a digital timer w/manual "ON/OFF" function.
The brew temperature was too hot for my tastes, and since I never use the steam wand I dialed the boiler temp down to cycle between the "green zone" on the temperature gauge.
My pressure gauge only goes to 11 bar/160 PSI, and as-shipped this was off the scale. I dialed the brew pressure down to 9.5 bar. The only question is whether this has any relation to actual use, when the pressure does not build up but escapes through the ground coffee and out the spouts.
I carted this off to work one day on a dolly, and during operation the bottom leaked water. But it did not stop me from serving everyone, about 30 shots. Once I had it back home it was easy to see the leaking pipe connection under operation with the back cover off, and even easier to tighten it down. It just came loose during travel over bumpy surfaces.
This morning I roasted about a half pound of Brazil Coromandel Fazenda Sao Joao, and Aged Sumatra Grade One Lintong. Then I proceeded to cool, grind, brew, and drink. That should be enough information, although I have some pictures below of other times for those interested. There's little else that can be said without people dropping off their rockers in this community. The hobby itself is a relative baby compared to other drinks such as tea whose cultural heritage stretches thousands of years. Yet for such a young baby its sneering attitude is far out of proportion to its level of experience. I'm quite put-off by it.
Did not submerge the water softener. It was floating on the surface and the pump had a hard time filling the boiler.
Did not lift the lever all the way. Pump thus did not activate when brewing and resulted in poor extraction.
Espressoparts shipped a wrong item, triple baskset instead of the triple SPOUT I ordered. 2 weeks wasted and some money shipping back to them. Chris Coffee was ok, Grainger was ok (ordered Dow Corning o-ring lubricant). Home Depot was terrible and had no decent awls. Across the street was Lowe's where I purchased a bunch of small scratch awls in different angles, 4 piece set. Still need to buy a rubber mallet to hammer off the stock spouts. Initially used a lead weight and towel; my lead weight is all dented up now.
No, I will never buy a $700 grinder and I wish everyone would stop the hype.
Lastly the Mr. Coffee steam-driven coffee maker was not a total waste. It came with a pouring glass with 90 degree handle, and works great for dispensing water from Pur into the Expobar water reservoir.