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Buyer's Guide to the
By Dan Kehn
E61 with rotary pump
One of the most popular espresso machine designs among home
enthusiasts is unquestionably the E61. Its gorgeously sculpted and
highly polished group is recognized as a hallmark of fine espresso
machines. The design of the E61 group earns its reputation as the heart
of an espresso machine that is forgiving of minor errors in barista
technique. This guides considers the latest rotary pump-equipped E61
model from QuickMill, the Vetrano, named after a gentleman from Milan
who worked for Faema for forty years and now restores original Faeme E61
one and two group espresso machines simply for the pleasure.
Knowing how to maximize the E61's forgiveness necessitates a certain
understanding of how heat exchanger espresso machines like the Quick Mill
Vetrano work; the article How I Stopped
Worrying and Learned to Love HXs explains the easily mastered
techniques of their brew temperature management. Even if you're familiar
with this kind of espresso machine, I think you'll agree it is worthwhile prerequisite
reading. On the other hand, if you're anxious to learn more about the
Vetrano, feel free to bookmark it for later and then continue with First
Note: It's been over a year since the Buyer's Guide to the Andreja
Premium was published. Chris Nachtrieb, owner of Chris' Coffee
Service, proposed that Home-Barista.com review its new sibling, the Quickmill Vetrano.
They share a lot in common, so this article will be
an update and comparison of the two models rather than a start-from-scratch review.
The Vetrano arrived double-boxed with the inner container held firmly
in place by foam corner supports and Instapak side inserts to assure no
shifting of the contents. The Vetrano contained within the inner box is
surrounded by custom foam pieces that together envelop the machine. It's
easy to remove the foam inserts to reveal good grab points. If you're
capable of lifting its bulk, you'll have the Vetrano on your countertop
in minutes. The shipping department thoughtfully taped down the drip
tray to prevent it sliding out during this maneuver.
Some of the noteworthy differences between the Vetrano and many other
E61 espresso machines include:
Cutout allows easy conversion to direct
drain; inset shows driptray drainhole
- Rotary pump
- Direct plumbing means no water reservoirs or emptying driptrays
(drain hookup is optional)
- Swivel "no burn" steam arm and swivel water tap made of stainless
- Dual pressure gauge; one for the boiler pressure and another for
The Vetrano fits under standard-height kitchen cabinets with
just enough room to allow for cappuccino cups on top.
As a general rule before powering up an espresso machine for the first time, I
remove its cover to check for wires and fittings that
may have worked loose during the bumpy ride— the Vetrano checked out OK. The technicians had threaded
some plumber's tape on the male fitting for the water hookup located on
the machine's underside, so it required only a few quick twists to make
the connection watertight. At the other end of the braided
stainless-steel tubing is a 3/8" female John Guest push-in type fitting.
The driptray setup is unique— it can be used as a regular
manually emptied driptray, or optionally converted to drain directly
into your house's waste water plumbing. As shown in the photograph to the right, the
drainhole is located in the center of the driptray and the support
beneath it has a U-shaped cutout that allows you to easily remove the
driptray for cleaning.
Most espresso machines in this price range have big rubber tabs affixed to the underside to
keep the machine from skidding around, or blocky fixed-height legs. I
like how the Vetrano's solid metal legs look and how they adjust.
Turning the bottom section changes the height without compromising
appearance. I used this adjustment to compensate for our off-kilter
countertop and also to aid the draining of the plumbed driptray. The
latter point— the level driptray —works to the advantage of
those who don't wish to install a waste drain line, but means some water
rests in the bottom otherwise. Other espresso machines with drain hookups that I've
used skew the driptray towards its drainhole, i.e., they are
intentionally not level.
Boiler and brew pressure "green
zones" are clearly marked
The instructions for the Vetrano are a modified copy of the Andreja
Premium's. It covers the initial setup and provides hints and tips for those new
to making espresso at home. Although I loath reading an owner's manual,
the Vetrano's describes the key steps to setting up within the first couple pages.
The instructions intoned that the boiler should auto-fill within 45
seconds. I noted the clock as it passed 30 seconds and the pump was
still running. Then I realized how quiet - how blissfully quiet -
the pump was. Quickmill did a nice job of securing the pump motor and
surrounding components, plus they used high-temperature plastic inlet
and outlet lines for the pump to reduce vibration transmission. Putting
the claims of better clarity from a rotary pump aside for a moment, it's
difficult to go back to buzzy vibratory pumps once you've grown accustom
to their whispering counterparts.
Once the boiler was filled and I had followed the rest of the
first-time setup instructions, I let the machine warm up for a good half
hour. The boiler's pressurestat setting was 1.1 bar at the top of the
heating element's cycle. I double-checked the brew pressure was a
reasonable 8.5 bar by activating the pump with a portafilter having a
blind basket (no holes) locked into the grouphead. The enclosed
instructions explained how to adjust the brew pressure.
The Vetrano has three indicators to tell you what's going on. The
leftmost green lamp is the power indicator; it's on whenever the machine
is plugged in and the power switch is in the on position. The other two
lamps are indicators of the boiler's status: Green means it's up to
temperature and red means it's heating. Note the dual-pressure gauge is
wisely marked with "green zones" for brew pressure (8-9 bar)
and boiler pressure (0.9-1.4 bar).