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KitchenAid ProLine - Mike Garner's Review
Posted: September 4, 2005, 12:03pm
review rating: 7.3
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
KitchenAid ProLine Espresso
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Arrow The KitchenAid ProLine has 17 Reviews
Arrow The KitchenAid ProLine has been rated 7.22 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 8, 2003.
Arrow KitchenAid ProLine reviews have been viewed 125,808 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Russell B 10.00
Mike Martin 8.00
Glenn Little 7.75
Greg Hancock 7.42
Mike Garner 7.25

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 7.2
Manufacturer: KitchenAid Quality: 7
Average Price: $800.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $300.00 Cost vs. Value 5
Where Bought: AmEx WishList Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 1 year Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Various Gaggia
Bottom Line: It's a good machine with a few limitations, but overpriced unless a deal can be found.
Positive Product Points

Dual boilers
Reasonable temp stability
Gaggia parts
Fairly easy for beginners to use
Decent sized drip tray

Negative Product Points

Small Gaggia Aluminum boilers
Terrible froth enhancer
Limited steaming ability
Concerns about machine longetivity

Detailed Commentary

I used the machine for around nine months and really have mixed feelings about it.  I think that at it's heart, it's basically a good machine with a few somewhat serious flaws, the biggest of which is the price.

If one is not familiar with the machine, it's a dual boiler machine, designed by Kitchenaid and built primarily by Gaggia.  

The biggest issue would be that while it is a dual boiler machine, they are the 3 oz aluminum / brass boilers that are used in all other Gaggias.  As such, this machine still has the steaming, brew temp stability, and corrosion issues others have reported.

Having the dedicated brew boiler has actually overcome some of the temp issues that I saw with my other Gaggia machine.  The temp fluctuations caused by switching modes are no longer an issue and one now uses the steam boiler for hot water.  As such, it's much easier to keep the boiler up to temp since one will only be using it for pulling shots.  This seemed to translate to higher temps while brewing as well as better temp stability during the shot.  At various times over the time I used it, I'd jam a TC up one of the PF spouts.   While not being particulary scientific, in my observations, I tended to see the same trends.  On average, two ounces of water were pulled through the group with a one minute wait between pulls.   Over the course of 6 runs, the lowest starting temp was 197 with the highest at 200.  Temperatures usually peaked a couple of degrees higher, and dropped no lower than two degrees less than start temp over the course of the shot.  At no time did temps drop below 195 with the average being around 199-200.  This was all done without paying any particular attention to the boiler cycle. Which is good, as there are no indicators to tell if the heating elements are on or not.  One had to develop an understanding of the temp gauges.  While it's true that the temp gauges are not marked with much more than a "ready" zone. As one gets used to the machine, you learn where the needles should be during operation and can use clues, such as what letter of "ready" the needles are pointing to.  Not exactly accurate, but fairly precise.

Steaming performance was pretty absimal out of the box.  There was plenty of steam available, but the horrid Gaggia Panarello attachment could produce nothing but stiff foam.  When removed, you are left with a barely functional stub with which to steam.  This really isn't a problem specific to the KA machine, but to all current Gaggias.  However, the Saeco Panarello Wand can be fit to this machine and it features are removable sleeve that actually leaves a usable single hole wand once
removed.  After installing this wand, steaming was what I expected from a Gaggia.  Not extronordanary, but sufficenet.  Eight oz. of milk could be steamed in 80-90 seconds or so.  One isn't going to be steaming a full 20 oz. pitcher with this machine, but the quick recovery time of the steam boiler almost makes up for it.

Biggest problem that I had with the machine is durability.  I had the hot water and power switches break twice.  KA replaced the machine with a brand new one under their total protection warranty w/o any hassle.  The clock even reset on the warranty so one is covered for another two full years on the replacement.

I ended up selling the machine to move up to a HX machine.  Despite the overall positive impression that I had of the machine, I was concerned that there would sometime come a point where a replacement wouldn't be available.  Parts availability was a concern too.  While it was built mostly from Gaggia parts, sourcing the parts that aren't from Gaggia could be an issue.

Overall, the coffee was good, brew temps were higher and more stable than my other Gaggia machine.  Steaming was par for the course for Gaggias and not having to wait when switching modes convinced me that I was never going back to a single boiler machine.  My biggest complaint about the machine is that you aren't getting value for your money.   Considering that this machine sells for approximately the same price as an E61 based HX machine such as a Quickmill Anita or Expobar Office Pulser, there is just no comparison.   If you can find the KA PL for around the same price as a Silvia, then it's certainly worth it.

Buying Experience

NA due to buying through a special promotion

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review rating: 7.3
Posted: September 4, 2005, 12:03pm
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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