The Vibiemme arrived at the house within a couple of days of shipping from 1st-Line. The machine is well packed in its heavy cardboard box from Vibiemme. That box is then re-boxed in a larger one with ample Styrofoam packing to keep things safe in transit. The machine tips the scales at 70 pounds, a light weight this is not. It would be advisable to have an extra body present to assist with unpacking.
Once out of the box, there are relatively few things to do. The stainless steel feet must be screwed onto the base of the machine, remove the cup warmer protective film and put it on a suitably stable location. Assembly complete.
The Super ships with two portafilters, one double and one single spout, a Faema style double basket, single basket and a blank basket for backflushing. You also get the summary black plastic tamper toy suitable for tossing in a cabinet, and a grouphead brush for cleaning the shower screen and gasket. Make sure you order a proper 58mm tamper with the machine. Then there is the typical, less than informative owners manual. You still need to read it prior to using the machine but as with most espresso machines, it is relatively bland and poorly written.
The Domobar Super, which is home bar super in Italian, needs no water supply or drain line, just a suitable electric outlet. Let me point out that there is a Vibiemme (pronounced "Vee-bee-m-may") Domobar and a Domobar Super, two different models with very different specifications.
The Super is commercial UL rated and requires a 120v outlet capable of delivering 17.5 amps of power to drive the 1600w heating element and a 41W vibratory pump. The Super also has a longer than average electrical cord that measures 7 feet long and extends from under the machine emerging from the center of the undercarriage.
The Super is larger than your average E61 clone home espresso machine. Front to back she measures 20 inches deep (not counting one inch for the drip tray handle), 10-1/2 inches wide and 15-3/8 inches tall. You will want to make sure your cabinet is large enough to hold the machine. The Super also tips the scales at 70 pounds so be careful moving it around.
The unit I received is the black powder coat variant. I must say, it is quite attractive and a nice departure from the all polished stainless machines on the market.
The Super is outfitted with both a boiler pressure gauge and a brew pressure gauge mounted across the top front of the machine; reminiscent of the popular Isomac Tea. There are three indicator lights, one beside the boiler pressure gauge and two beside the brew pressure gauge. The amber light by the boiler gauge illuminates when the heating element is energized. The lights on either side of the brew pressure gauge are for low reservoir water (amber on the left side of the gauge) and power (green on the right side of the gauge).
On the semi automatic and automatic versions of the Super, the brew controls are located across the face of the machine between the two gauges. Our sample machine is the manual, or lever actuated version. The lever is mounted on the right side of the massive E61 grouphead. Earlier I mentioned that the Vibiemme used a real E61 group, a little background information may be helpful at this point.
Vibiemme was formed by a handful of employees from Faema when they fell on hard times and went out of business. The employees purchased the patent to the Faema E61 group. Every machine on the market that uses an E61 style group can trace its lineage back to the group on this machine. While other manufacturers make E61 style groups, VBM holds the patent for the original E61 group design.
The differences between the current market E61 offerings and the group on the Domobar Super is obvious at first glance. The group is massive when compared to most machines. Interestingly enough, the E61 group was patented based on a method of preinfusion and not thermal stability.
Moving on down the machine, the drip tray is a two part design. The tray cover consists of a frame with an expanded stainless steel cover. The mesh is spot welded to the stainless frame and provides plenty of space. The mesh is relatively fine; as a result it initially wanted to hold water. After a little use that tendency was diminished, but using a slightly larger mesh expanded steel would improve the flow through the surface of the drip tray cover. The drip tray itself is quite spacious. The two piece design allows you to leave the cover attached to the machines frame and simply remove the drip tray like a drawer. Grasp the drip tray handle and pull it out to empty.
The Vibiemme Domobar Super has dedicated steam wand and water dispenser. Both are outfitted with a ball joint which gives you a large range of motion. The wands are fitted into a valve assembly that angles out from the front of the machine at about a 60 degree angle. While giving you two axes of movement, there is a limitation. The wands will make contact with the valve assembly when moving them out to the sides of the machine. This is a relatively minor issue given the range of motion. The steam wand is capped with a large two hole tip while the water dispenser sports an aerator.
The Domobar Super is a reservoir, or pour over machine. Located under the cup warmer and at the rear of the machine is one of the largest water reservoirs I have ever seen. This machine holds a whopping 3.8 liters of water. The reservoir has an enclosed top with a removable refill cap to prevent anything from falling into the water. The pump pickup tube has a screen tip to prevent any sediment from being drawn into the system. The over pressure valve (OPV) return line also feeds into the reservoir.
The water reservoir sits atop a spring loaded stainless steel plate. Under that plate is a switch. When the reservoir get low, the springs will push the plate up and trip the pressure switch under it killing power to the pump and heating element. When that happens, the amber light to the left of the brew pressure gauge will illuminate. The 3.8 liter capacity provides plenty of water. I have pulled six back to back doubles along with steaming over 30 ounces of milk and the tank was only half empty. You will have to remove the cup warmer to refill the reservoir. Thankfully, Vibiemme put raised handles on the cup warmer so it can be removed without having to take everything off of it.