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La Valentina
Conclusion


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Contents

Introduction
Getting Started
Espresso Performance
Steaming Performance
Conclusion
Dimensions
  

Don’t be surprised to find that few cafés will be able to compete with what you’ll make at home with La Valentina. Unfortunately, that is partially an indictment of commercial establishments’ failures. This ain’t rocket science and yet... well, don’t get me started.

As usual this guide closes with the same scores of previous installments, beginning with the exceptional espresso score™. This is a rating of the espresso quality a barista with moderate experience should expect on a daily basis. In recognition of its impressive temperature stability and toleration of minor faults in technique, La Valentina joins the ranks of other E61s rated in earlier installments, meriting an 8.5 (owner pride tempted me to raise this by ¼ point to 8.75, but I resisted).

The “morning after” score sums up what owners who are learning should reasonably expect in the early days following delivery. Here again Valentina joins her E61 cousins with a strong showing of 7.5, which is considerably higher than Silvia, in recognition of the E61’s comparative ease of obtaining an ideal extraction and temperature.

The cappuccino lover’s score is one ranking where La Valentina really stands out. Its agile swivel steam arm, commercial-quality valve, and ample steam volume and velocity are big selling points, leading to a score of 8.5. If you generally make single-serving cappuccinos and are willing to overlook the extra 15-20 seconds to finish frothing, substituting the Gold Pro steam tip raises this already impressive score by a full point to 9.5—the highest usability score of the semi-commercial HX models that I’ve tested to-date.

Valentina also merits top-contender ranking in the convenience and features score. The two-tone shell makes keeping the machine sharp looking a snap. The driptray wins Home-Barista.com’s “Big Gulp” award. Access to the interior for simple adjustments is straight-forward and, as a bonus, adding direct plumbing for both incoming and outgoing water are possible (note: adding a drain, while not difficult, isn’t an out-of-the-box option; that is, some do-it-yourself ingenuity is required). Some owners may miss the convenience and added extraction-diagnosis feedback of a built-in brew pressure gauge, so I docked Valentina ½ point to arrive at a score of 8.5.

A recent addition to the Home-Barista.com rankings is the materials and workmanship score. The manufacturer nicely balanced their selection of components. The internal layout is tight but workable. While I may have quibbled about the framing material, the truly important working components like the expansion valve, auto-fill controller, and valves are among the best available, earning placement among the upper echelons with a score of 8.0.

So what is the bottom line? Simply stated, La Valentina is a well designed machine. The careful selection of quality components is clear and the performance for straight espresso and steaming is impressive. Those who like to tweak their espresso machines will be thrilled. Those who don’t will be pleased to know they can expect consistent results without a lot of effort.

Exceptional
Espresso

Morning
After

Cappuccino
Lover’s

Convenience / Features

Materials / Workmanship

La Valentina

8.5

7.5

*8.5

8.5

8.0

Giotto Premium

8.5

7.5

9.0

8.0

8.5

Rancilio Silvia

7.0

3.0

6.0

5.0

8.0

Steam-type (no pump)

2.0

1.0

2.0

3.0

4.0

Typical café

4.0

n/a

4.5

n/a

n/a

(*) Raise the cappuccino lover's score to 9.5 if you regularly make single-servings and use the Gold Pro steam tip.

As always, I don’t offer an overall score because it depends too much on the relative weight you place on each of the other scores. Lastly, to help you better appreciate the relative scale of these scores, I also offer the same off-the-cuff evaluations for Rancilio Silvia in the table above. The table also includes the ubiquitous steam-type espresso machine and what one could expect from most cafés in my area, if only to put things in proper perspective.

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