I'm planning on buying the Lelit Bianca PL162, are there any better options for my needs and budget?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
Hubro

#1: Post by Hubro »

Quick context: I drink a ton of coffee and I make pretty good money (I'm a software engineer). Recently I bought a Niche Zero to up my filter coffee / AeroPress game and it was life changing. I'm still riding high on how much more enjoyable my morning routine is with a proper coffee grinder. This has convinced me to invest in an espresso machine as well. I love espresso and I love cappuccinos, plus I work from home so I'd get to use it a lot :D

As I started researching espresso brewing, I naturally found James Hoffmann and Lance Hedrick on YouTube and I've consumed most of their videos over the last month or so.

I love to tinker and tweak, so I know I want a flexible machine. I want full control over brew temperature, flow and pre-infusion time. I would get all this with a manual espresso brewer, but I also want convenient access to hot water and a milk steamer, so I'm definitely getting a machine. (Really, my ideal machine would be a Decent, but it's waaaay too much of an initial investment for a hobby. I'll consider it if I'm still going strong in a couple of years :D)

After looking around for a bit, I've tentatively landed on the Lelit Bianca PL162. It seems to check all my boxes:

- (!!!) Easily configurable brew temperature
- (!!!) Flow control (via the flow control paddle)
- Full control over pre-infusion (via pump lever and/or flow control paddle)
- Dual boiler, super quiet rotary pump
- Pressure gauge
- Hot water spout, milk steamer
- High build quality

I've also considered the Rocket Chronometro, since it has a built-in automatic shot timer, which is *awesome*, but it doesn't seem to have any kind of flow control.

Are there any other machines out there that check all the same boxes as the Lelit Bianca (at a somewhat similar price point) that I've missed? (My budget is 2000-3000 USD ish, but unfortunately everything is 20-30% more expensive in Norway than in USA :( )

boren

#2: Post by boren »

I own a Bianca V3 and can highly recommend it based on your needs. I shared a long list of pros and cons here. Check it out, and if you don't see anything too alarming, go for it. I don't think you can do better at this budget, at least not in a single machine (a Breville/Sage Dual Boiler w/Slayer mod + a Flair 58 might be an overall more capable combo, if you have the counter space).

palica

#3: Post by palica »

Welcome!

The Bianca does check all the boxes and my only concern (it is just me) is that it is a very complete machine with many parameters that can sound complicated for beginners. Personally, I would learn to make good coffe in a very simple machine (could be a single boiler), playing with grind size, grind qty, preparation etc... And then, I would switch. If you know how to do good espressi with a basic machine, the extra tools of the Bianca will open the door for new discovery. My 2 cents.

Also, all E61 type machine can be equipped with flow control paddle.

Happy shopping!

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

The Lelit Bianca is a very solid machine. In my opinion, its primary competitors are the ECM Synchronika and Profitec Pro 700. The features of the Rocket are, at least for me, not at all compelling. I'm not sure of comparative pricing of those units in Norway.

I agree with others that deciding if you even like making espresso first may be a good decision. The Cafelat Robot is one good option. It tends to have a high resale value, perhaps as it seems that people seldom sell them. The Flair 58 is another machine that has some advantages with its built-in water heater and ability to change baskets. I haven't followed the resale value on them.

The Breville/Sage Dual Boiler is a modder's favorite. In the US it is priced at $1,600 which makes it attractive compared to most e61 HX units, as well as not a lot more expensive than the single-boiler or thermoblock machines.

macal425

#5: Post by macal425 »

I have the Bianca V2, paired with the Niche Zero, and couldn't be happier with the setup. However, if this is your first foray into espresso machines, there will be a steep learning curve. You seem to know what you like in a coffee, but it may take you a while to get there. You will get frustrated and at times wonder if you made the correct choice, however, if you persevere and use the knowledge from others on this site, you'll get there. BTW, the Bianca also has a shot timer.

DaveC

#6: Post by DaveC »

i think you will love the Bianca, very quiet, the ability to move the tank around, or remove it altogether if plumbed in. The latest software is also a joy to use, especially the hi and lo flow, where often you can produce nice shots without bothering with the paddle.

If you go for black, ask if you can have the normal darker handles (you never know they might do it), as I think they look way better against the black.

Hubro (original poster)

#7: Post by Hubro (original poster) »

boren wrote:I own a Bianca V3 and can highly recommend it based on your needs. I shared a long list of pros and cons here. Check it out, and if you don't see anything too alarming, go for it. I don't think you can do better at this budget, at least not in a single machine (a Breville/Sage Dual Boiler w/Slayer mod + a Flair 58 might be an overall more capable combo, if you have the counter space).
That's awesome! Extremely useful information. I wonder if the vacuum breaker can be modded to go underneath the drip tray.
Jeff wrote:The Lelit Bianca is a very solid machine. In my opinion, its primary competitors are the ECM Synchronika and Profitec Pro 700 ...
Thanks! I'll give those a look :)
Jeff wrote:The Breville/Sage Dual Boiler is a modder's favorite. In the US it is priced at $1,600 which makes it attractive compared to most e61 HX units, as well as not a lot more expensive than the single-boiler or thermoblock machines.
Yeah, I was actually pretty set on buying the Sage Dual Boiler for a while, but I concluded that I'd probably quickly get annoyed by the build quality, plus it needs a mod to be able to control flow, at which point the hot water spout wouldn't even work anymore...
macal425 wrote:I have the Bianca V2, paired with the Niche Zero, and couldn't be happier with the setup. However, if this is your first foray into espresso machines, there will be a steep learning curve. You seem to know what you like in a coffee, but it may take you a while to get there.
I've watched a ton of videos on how to dial in espresso based on ratio, shot time, grind size, taste etc. so at this point I'm just super eager to try it out myself :D
macal425 wrote:BTW, the Bianca also has a shot timer.
Holy crap, yes it does! I completely missed that!
DaveC wrote:If you go for black, ask if you can have the normal darker handles (you never know they might do it), as I think they look way better against the black.
Wow, I didn't even know it existed in black. Unfortunately in Norway I can only find a single supplier, and they only sell it in the classic stainless steel look. For that matter, I'm not even sure if they sell the v2 or v3, they don't specify.

Doolittlej
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by Doolittlej »

I recently jumped ship to the Lelit Bianca v2. I previously owned a La Spaziale Vivaldi II for the past 15 years. I've only been using it for a few weeks, but I can tell you the shots fluctuate between good and great. On the Spaz, I pulled some amazing shots but felt like I had to adjust way more frequently to keep it there. I think the pre-infusion control is the big difference. I did lower the pump pressure on mine (it shipped set at 10 bars). While some would tell you to get a simpler machine to learn on, I disagree and think this in an excellent machine to start with (way easier than upgrading in 6 months when you feel you have maxed out a cheaper unit). Then if you want to go down the rabbit hole there is an endless number of directions to go (lever, descent, etc.) On the flip side, this is the type of machine you could be happy with for the next 15-20 years.

DaveC

#9: Post by DaveC »

I would think it must be the V3, ask the retailer if it has the high /ow flow options, they are solenoid operated, nit via the paddle.

It might be black isn't available yet. I saw it in May at world of coffee, Milan.

Plinyyounger

#10: Post by Plinyyounger »

You mentioned Bianca and Decent. Both are great machines, as well as the ECM and Profitec versions. But based on your career path and tinkering love, go straight to the Decent. Besides you being a software engineer you can actually participate in making the machine better while making awesome coffee.
Big 98mm flat grinder, been there done that, sold it. I’m happy now.