Izzo Alex or La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II?

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

#1: Post by Makanmata »

I am now entirely over the GS3 I have been waiting for three years to arrive, and ready to move on from my 9 year old ECM Giotto. Although I thought that I would perhaps just replace it with another Giotto -- which has served me quite well -- I would like something a bit better having waited so long to replace it.

Aside from the fact that it didn't need to be plumbed -- a necessity for me -- the two features which most attracted me to the GS3 were 1) the rotary pump, and 2) the temp control (probably in that order).

As such, I have pretty much settled on a decision between the Alex and the Spaziale Mini II. Since rotary is a priority for me, mostly due to the noise but also because I perceive it to be a better quality component, the Alex is the frontrunner. It gets bonus points for being a rather good value, in that it is several hundred dollars less than the Spaziale and practically the same price as the vibe equipped Giotto. In fact, the specs on the Alex are more similar to the step up ECM Veneziano, which is rotary pump equipped plumbed only unit, but is roughly double the price. The Spaziale Mini seems like a very interesting machine as well, and my only misgiving is the proprietary size grouphead, and perhaps the less winning aesthetics.

For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be as much buzz about the Alex as many other machines, and I am wondering why. I understand that people generally seem to be very happy with the Mini. Can anybody offer me any guidance as to the choice I am facing? Thanks in advance.

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HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB »

Makanmata wrote:For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be as much buzz about the Alex as many other machines, and I am wondering why. I understand that people generally seem to be very happy with the Mini. Can anybody offer me any guidance as to the choice I am facing? Thanks in advance.
My guess is the lack of "buzz" about the Alex may reflect the saturation of the E61 market and how aggressively a given espresso machine is promoted (or not). From the scant information I've read about it, the Alex is a solid E61 with good steaming capability and rotary pump/tank, a relatively rare combination.

Not sure what to offer you as advice. The La Marzocco GS/3 certainly meets your requirements, albeit at a huge premium. If easy brew temperature control is a top priority, it's hard to argue against a double boiler. You could add Eric's thermometer adapter to an E61 and nail brew temperatures by precision flushing, but that would be essentially the same as your Giotto in terms of espresso quality.

Were it not for the no plumb-in requirement, I would recommend "outboarding" your Giotto's vibratory pump and saving a ton of money. That's what I did for La Valentina and it's no louder than an inboard rotary pump espresso machine. See Banishing the noise - vibe to rotary conversion, Eliminating noise from vibration, and Is it really that hard to design a quiet vibe pump system? for related discussions.
Dan Kehn

lparsons21

#3: Post by lparsons21 »

I think you are right. There are so many good E61 HX boxes out there, it is hard for one to get a lot of buzz.

I have the Alex, had it for about a year. It is an excellent, solidly built HX E61. Plenty of power for steam as the boiler is 2 liters, I believe. I bought the Alex over other E61s primarily because of the rotary pump, easy switch from pourover to plumbin and cost. I've never had a problem with mine and a year later it just works like it did when it was new.
Lloyd

Makanmata (original poster)

#4: Post by Makanmata (original poster) »

I spoke today to the people at Chris, who carry both machines, and they tried to steer me toward the Spaziale.

The Spaziale's electronic temperature control was pitched as the big step up over the Alex -- which was portrayed as not significantly different than my Giotto -- and that the rotary pump in reality offered no real benefits. Having replaced several worn out vibe pumps, I am a bit skeptical on that point.

I was particularly surprised though, that when I mentioned how important the silence of the rotary was to me, I was told that the vibratory pump on the Spaziale is actually quieter than the Alex's rotary, because of the way the vibrations were damped in the Spaziale but not in the Alex. I am wondering if anybody with either machine can comment on the sound levels vis a vis the average E61 vibe machine (like my Giotto)?

I really am quite confused regarding my choice. I was ready to order the Alex, but am now leaning towards the Spaziale Mini. Thanks again for any advice you can offer.

lparsons21

#5: Post by lparsons21 »

The damping could make a difference. One of the complaints in the 1st version of the Alex was the noise from the way they mounted the pump.

I have the 2nd version that incorporated a different mounting from what I read before I bought it. After listening to other HX E61 machines with vibe pumps, my Alex is much quieter than them. But I don't know about the Vivaldi as it wasn't on my radar screen. If I were looking now, I suspect I would still go with the Alex as $400 more for the Vivaldi wouldn't seem worth it to me. It does appear that the Vivaldi is one hell of a machine though. I'm glad I'm not in the market! <G>

That said, Chris Coffee has always been very upfront with me about what I was buying, so I would give them credence in what they are telling you.

Alex is a quality E61 HX machine, is the Vivaldi worth more to you than what that brings to the table? Only you can answer that. It is an unfortunate fact of life for most of us that we have to buy sight unseen since the mid to upper end of the espresso equipment market isn't sold in storefronts that are local to us.
Lloyd

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HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB »

Makanmata wrote:I was particularly surprised though, that when I mentioned how important the silence of the rotary was to me, I was told that the vibratory pump on the Spaziale is actually quieter than the Alex's rotary, because of the way the vibrations were damped in the Spaziale but not in the Alex. I am wondering if anybody with either machine can comment on the sound levels vis a vis the average E61 vibe machine (like my Giotto)?
Placing them side-by-side and taking a quick video of them running from a fixed position would answer this question. You could ask Chris to do it; the worse he could say is "no." He's right that vibe pumps themselves aren't noisy, it's the reverberation of the surrounding case that causes the racket.
Dan Kehn

Makanmata (original poster)

#7: Post by Makanmata (original poster) »

I don't know whether Chris would have been willing to do the video for me, but I decided that more analysis at this point is counterproductive. One can -- as I've proven -- overthink the choices available to them in an unproductive way. The marginal differences are probably not great in either direction, and either will offer a clear improvement over my ailing Giotto. Although this is my first time doing business with them, Chris' certainly does have a reputation for fair dealing, so I'll just take them at their word. As such, I've ordered the Spaziale Mini II, along with the 53mm accoutrements.

If anybody is looking for a fixer-upper ECM Giotto, please let me know. Thanks to all.

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jesawdy

#8: Post by jesawdy »

Makanmata wrote:As such, I've ordered the Spaziale Mini II, along with the 53mm accoutrements.
Please share your impressions when you get it....
Jeff Sawdy

AmishMenno

#9: Post by AmishMenno »

iparsons21 wrote;

I have the 2nd version that incorporated a different mounting from what I read before I bought it. After listening to other HX E61 machines with vibe pumps, my Alex is much quieter than them. But I don't know about the Vivaldi as it wasn't on my radar screen. If I were looking now, I suspect I would still go with the Alex as $400 more for the Vivaldi wouldn't seem worth it to me. It does appear that the Vivaldi is one hell of a machine though. I'm glad I'm not in the market! <G>

One year ago I bought a Red Ascaso 1-2 grinder cuz of your good advice and am very happy with it. But, am still searching for a new espresso machine. I still use an old Krups. I need to take a photo some time to show you all the unusual taper I use, you will not believe it. I still like the Alex but it seems so huge. Is there anything available with the specs and price range of an Alex or less, but is much smaller in size? I probably would have purchased it long time ago. I'm still in the market!

lparsons21

#10: Post by lparsons21 replying to AmishMenno »

Glad you like the Ascaso. Mine gets used every day for about 4-6 grinds and has held up as well as I expected. Kind of pooh-poohs the 'oh it is not as sturdy as the Mazzer and Macaps' stuff I heard when I went looking. Yep, it isn't as sturdy as them, but it is much more sturdy enough for home use.

Now to the Alex. I think some of the Quickmill machines are slightly smaller than the Alex, but I don't know of any HX E61's that are anything you can consider small. But assuming you can find one, I think the very design of the HX E61 setup makes all the machines excellent. I know I didn't find any that were considered bad, only some people though were better. My pick of the Alex was because I had already decided on either HX E61 or Dual-boiler, neither was better enough than the other to make it be a big difference to me, but the fact that I could use it either plumb-in or pour-over was the tipping point.

If you do mostly Espresso shots and Americanos, the Quickmill Alexia might be a consideration. Call Chris Coffee and discuss that one if you are interested. Otherwise, good luck! :)
Lloyd