Rocket Appartamento vs. ECM Mechanika vs. Lelit MaraX

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

#1: Post by Velocoffee »

Hi All, thanks so much for this amazing wealth of information.

I currently have a Breville duo temp pro with a Breville Smart Pro Grinder. And am looking to upgrade to a HX machine in the $1500-1900 range. I make usually five drinks a day, four milk based for me and my wife and a straight espresso sometime later. I am not concerned about warmups etc, as i can put the machine on a timer.

Currently deciding between the

Rocket Appartamento
ECM Mechanika
Lelit MaraX

I am very interested in the MaraX due to the lower price and new tech in it that looks intriguing. However, I am concerned about build quality as opposed to the Rocket or ECM and am also wondering if a standard HX would be a better machine for making the quantity of milk based drinks as I do?

I think in general, if between the Rocket and ECM, i would go with the ECM due to the larger, insulated, stainless boiler.

Any advice between the three?

Thank you!

walr00s
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by walr00s »

The main thing you're looking for with a nice espresso setup is repeatability, and the grinder is a bigger factor in that than the machine itself. While the Smart Pro Grinder may grind fine enough, it probably leaves something to be desired when it comes to the consistency of the grinds. Espresso of Brevile Smart Grinder Pro? There's a video in that thread showing some grind consistency differences with those produced by an SJ, and another with differences between its product and that of a Sette 270, which isn't exactly a revered grinder around here.

The MaraX was released earlier this year or last year? So I don't think you're going to see a lot of specific testimonials about that machine's longevity, however tons of people seem to have Lelit machines that function well, can easily be repaired, and maintain a standard amount of resale value. Based on all of the reviews I've read, it's the only HX machine I considered. Multiple knowledgeable reviewers stated that it is the new standard that all HX machines will eventually conform to. Sounds like it's redefining what an HX machine will be in the future, and anything engineered before it will be considered dated in a decade or however long it takes the industry to catch up.

Velocoffee (original poster)

#3: Post by Velocoffee (original poster) »

Very good points.

I am likely to upgrade the grinder in the near future. But since I need both a machine and a grinder, ill go machine first and then start researching grinders. The lower-end profitec ones look like a good match.

I agree on the Lelit and have spent several days reading the entire thread on the machine. Do you think there would be any major differences between the Rocket/ECM or Lelit running on Classic mode? It seems then, it is essentially a standard E61HX and would closely compare to the Rocket. (boiler size, but insulated and stainless)

marc-antoine2667

#4: Post by marc-antoine2667 »

Hi! I'm having the same questions myself. However, the 2 machines still in contention are the Profitec pro 500 PID and the Lelit MaraX. To me, everything in the MaraX is more desirable, especially the amazing temperature control thanks to its 2nd probe in the HX. However, Profitec wins it in terms of build quality and general reputation for reliability and durability. So, to other Lelit owners (of the Pro Line machines): are you satisfied with your machine's reliability? Does it have frequent issues? Did you switch to another brand? That's really the only thing that scares me with Lelit... Thanks !!

Edit: if you plan to run it on steam priority mode, I would definitely go for the ECM or the Rocket... To me, the MaraX is a winner if you use it in Brew priority, that's where it outclasses its rivals...
Just my 2 cents.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

Though everyone wants to argue that their Italian-made machine is head and shoulders over the others, manufacturers, retailers, owners alike, the reality is that the key internals and group head are generally commodity items or at least likely made by the same handful of OEMs. There may be subtle differences in construction or materials, but, at least in my opinion, the stuff that is going to need routine maintenance or are the likely failure points makes them just about the same for long-term reliability and ongoing cost.

There may be some differences in "fit and finish" among them and every manufacturer out there ends up shipping a handful of machines that have issues that need to be resolved. Selecting a vendor that is known to support their customers would be, to me, more important than deciding among equivalent models from well-respected Brand X, Y, and Z.

The Lelit Mara X is unique in its temperature management approach for an HX. That is a strong point if you're looking for a classic E61 box at a moderate price.

Other HX units with a PID controlling the steam-boiler temperature (rather than the group-head temperature, as the Mara X does) can provide marketing bullet points, but seem to provide little tangible improvement in brew-temperature management. Some have been reported to be able to provide "walk-up" first shot, but then have significant usability challenges with the second shot, such as 10-15 minutes required between shots, even after a sorely needed recalibration of the PID offset. One thread that discusses some of the issues is HX-PID SCACE measurements (Profitec Pro 500)

HX units that use a PID to manage steam-boiler temperature, but haven't been "tuned" for that first shot to be flush-free, are likely to behave better. However, the PID does not eliminate need for a flush routine with a HX machine, preferably with a group-head thermometer to guide you.

Velocoffee (original poster)

#6: Post by Velocoffee (original poster) »

This is exactly why I eliminated the Profitec on my list in favor of the ECM. I just don't see the benefit of a PID in a HX machine unless it is working the way the Lelit is set up to do.

I suppose one question I don't understand is that if you run the Lelit on steam priority mode, then the only thing you would be giving up over the ECM/rocket is a subjective question about fit and finish as well as build quality?

DeGaulle

#7: Post by DeGaulle »

Recently a German-spoken comparison video was posted on YT by kaffeemacher.ch concerning a range of HX machines, including all three machines the OP mentioned (the Slim version of the ECM):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M0l1nhTVO0

Apparently the Appartamento and the MaraX were among the best in the field of troublefree steaming.
If one is sensitive to it, what might give the MaraX the edge is a more silent pump and reportedly a more linear pressure ramp-up, i.e. more favorable kind of preinfusion. This might outweigh any variations in brew temperature over multiple consecutive extractions, especially if they are mostly made for milk-based drinks. Also the eco mode and boiler insulation make a difference in reducing power consumption.
Bert

marc-antoine2667

#8: Post by marc-antoine2667 »

This might outweigh any variations in brew temperature over multiple consecutive extractions, especially if they are mostly made for milk-based drinks.
So are you saying that they report important temperature fluctuations on the MaraX? I thought that if you stayed within 5 minutes between shots, it was supposed to be very stable... ?

User avatar
slipchuck

#9: Post by slipchuck »

My question to you is...are you the type of person who likes to take a sip of your espresso and try to guess all the different flavours?
Or are you the type of person who enjoys a good espresso without over complicating things?
If you are the latter then the MaraX is more then capable of delivering to your expectations



Randy
“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#10: Post by Jeff »

marc-antoine2667 wrote:[Are there] important temperature fluctuations on the MaraX? I thought that if you stayed within 5 minutes between shots, it was supposed to be very stable... ?
Though I haven't used the machine myself, based on the temperature bands for cooler/normal/warmer, I agree with the conclusions and recommendation of Lelit MaraX Review
You can set the group temperature to 89-91, 91-93, 93-95 centigrade with a three position switch located at the front left behind the drip tray. The switch has 0 (89-91, 1 (91-93) and 2 (93-95) markings. The machine is delivered in 1, 91C-93C.
Personally, I don't think this machine (or any E61) is for someone who wants ultra-precise temperature control. The point is that it delivers no muss, no fuss, roughly right temperature control that is as good as most DB E61s in a very compact and economical package
The temperature control in controlled mode is probably better than someone who is generally pulling medium-dark or darker roasts, and occasionally lighter needs. If you decide to grow into more challenging coffees, it can be put into "normal HX" mode, and you can develop a precise flushing routine with a group-head thermometer. The other HX machines will require that kind of flushing routine for every shot, no matter the roast level, preferably with a group-head thermometer. In my experience, if you're within a 1°C window, the flavor doesn't change much. I typically need a 1°C shift, if not 2°C to get a significant change in flavor. Based on that, the temperature bands of the Mara X seem reasonable and usable. With the next step up being into machines around $3,000, it makes the Mara X an attractive option for those that aren't enamored with the BDB.