Great value in the Lelit Mara so far

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
Tonefish

#1: Post by Tonefish » Apr 14, 2018, 2:40 pm

I'm really happy with my levers but with all this talk about the E61s and HX machines I just had to try one out. This was just another step in the path of figuring out what the ultimate espresso machine will be for me, and knowing that the only way to know what is best for me is to try a bunch of different types machines before jumping to a $3k to $10k machine ... the only way to know IMHO. So I jumped on the opportunity to buy one of these E61 HX machines from 1st-line at $999 ... what a great deal. It's the PL62S-T, an Italian made HX with copper/brass-end insulated, auto-filled boiler, spring steam and water valves with no-burn wands, and a PID. I've had it for just over a month and I'm really happy with it as I've evolved to pulling some really good shots lately after getting it setup well to do trickle-preinfusion.

I'd been researching the Slayer and Decent profile approaches along with Jake's recent and other relevant threads and I'm really appreciating the gentle preinfusion approaches. Being tank fed, I didn't have to deal with line pressure being high and It made a big difference in the cup to do the 20s dribble-preinfusion (learned from Rao/Decent vids) to saturate the puck, followed by the ramp to 3-4 bar for about 8 seconds and then the ramp up to 9 bar for the rest of the shot. This produced unchanneled shots, two in row possibly the first time ever, with no change in my other prep variables. Tasty, lovely, shots. I'm becoming a believer in the gentle preinfusion to setup the puck well before being hit with the full pressure, and also ramping to the full pressure.

I wish I could trail off the end somehow, to really reach presumed ideal profiling and reduce the potential for late blonding, but hey, this is a $999 machine. I may try to valve the gicleur a bit someday, but not while the machine is under warranty. I'm thinking about just cutting off early, where I'd want the rampdown to start, with an immediate restart to ramp to the 3-4 bar level-off before final-ending, to maybe fake it. We'll see.

Here's the profiles I get (2 different coffees, grinds) from recording the brew pressure gauge and then slow-mo the video into a table of pressure versus time:Image

I really like the trickle-preinfusion capability that I learned about in the 1st-line Mara videos, but my machine would not do this as delivered. I sought tech support to figure out why theirs can do this but mine wouldn't and I was a little frustrated that the only way to get tech support for a new machine was to submit questions on the webpage, but they responded quickly and relatively thoroughly. The 2nd quirk with that Q&A approach though is that when you can't talk to them they have no idea how much you already know, what you've already tried, and a quick phone call would allow them and me to get on the same page much more quickly. I guess the good thing about their approach is that they don't have to talk to anyone that way, and the answer will already be there for the next person with the same question ... again, that way they won't have to talk to you. It all worked out in the end though, as the pump microswitch just needed to be moved inward a little.

So here I thought I'd buy a new, inexpensive E61 HX to try it out figuring risk was limited since it has a one year warranty, but I'm becoming pretty impressed by this machine since I can get a pretty darned good profile out of it and some really good shots. Notes on any longevity issue will follow, but looking under the hood it seems solid and well built. I'm really happy with it so far.
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

LegallyBlind-Barista

#2: Post by LegallyBlind-Barista » Apr 14, 2018, 8:49 pm

Thank you Jim for this update is this is actually one of the machines I have been researching for myself I am a newbie with a max budget of $1000 for an espresso machine. Wondering how long this sale will continue? Although I hate the idea how you say Tech Support is only available via email. Would that tech support be with 1st-Line or Lelit?
How long does this machine take to get up to brew temp in the morning?

Is P.I.D. For the brew temp or the boiler temp? Approximately how large are the numbers on the PID?
Are there any cons you found on this machine especially for a newbie that would be my first and only machine?

BTW I am legally blind but do have vision to use hand held magnification and such. I am interested in an easy to use, easy to clean and very durable & long lasting Machine. [Duh, aren't we all?]

Very kind regards,
Joey

Tonefish

#3: Post by Tonefish » replying to LegallyBlind-Barista » Apr 14, 2018, 10:10 pm

Hi Joey, Since the machine was new I went to 1st-line for the Tech Support, which you engage through the product webpage Q&A. I did not try Lelit although they did have an Italian contact number on there website.

Regarding warmup time, it's been pretty cold here since I got the machine but I'd guess 20-30 minutes (1.4L boiler). EDIT: The 20-30 minutes is based upon a passive preheat letting the thermosyphon do its thing. The boiler comes up to temperature much more quickly, and the group could be preheated more quickly using flush heating. I put it on a timer so it is hot when we get up in the morning. I also got the erics E61 thermometer so I could surf to temperature. He's a member here but I don't think he sells them directly anymore. Here's where I got it: https://www.chriscoffee.com/E61-Group-D ... sss-04.htm

As far as the PID, you may be thinking about the PL62T which has the frontplate PID temperature reading and adjustments. This model is the PL62S-T which is the PL62S with a preset and internally adjustable PID. Although I too have been curious about it, I do not know where the sensor is for the PID or for the brew pressure gauge.

As far as easy to use, I can make anything difficult to use. I'm a techie so I try to instrument and study everything. I think the only time I haven't changed something in the month I've had it is the first time I used it, so I'm probably not a good person to judge its ease of use.

As far as durability, I do feel this item is very sturdy and well made. I can't answer the long lasting question because I've only had it for a month, besides in almost every product made, no matter how well it is built, some number of the products will have some kind of issue, so its best to expect that possibility.

As I said above, I'm really enjoying this machine, as a part of my espresso adventure, and I wish you the best, most enjoyable and fulfilling path with yours.

Happy Pulls!
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

santa

#4: Post by santa » Apr 15, 2018, 2:31 am

Great posts. Thanks!

This is one of the 3 machines I'm looking at (BDB and Lelit Diana are the other two) as they're right around my max budget of $1000 and can do steam, so I really appreciate the info.

One of my biggest concerns about this model of the Mara is the fixed PID. From the product page it sounds like you can't adjust the temerature: "Although this unit does not have a user programmable PID controller interface to change the boiler temperature, the manufacturer has a preset temperature for the boiler based on years of studying the PID"

But you said it's "internally adjustable". Can you tweak the boiler temperature somehow?

Tonefish

#5: Post by Tonefish » Apr 15, 2018, 10:53 am

santa wrote:Great posts. Thanks!

This is one of the 3 machines I'm looking at (BDB and Lelit Diana) as they're right around my max budget of $1000 and can do steam, so I really appreciate the info.

One of my biggest concerns about this model of the Mara is the fixed PID. From the product page it sounds like you can't adjust the temerature: "Although this unit does not have a user programmable PID controller interface to change the boiler temperature, the manufacturer has a preset temperature for the boiler based on years of studying the PID"

But you said it's "internally adjustable". Can you tweak the boiler temperature somehow?
David, Thank you for the correction. My information comes from both the product page and the 1st-line video of the PL62S. It looks like the 2 internal adjustments are the OPV for brew pressure and the "steam power" which I am not sure whether that is simply a valve or a pressure/temperature regulator. I have not had the desire to adjust either of these. When it comes down to it, the brew temperature is controlled through the surf/flush for an HX machine since the boiler temperature is for steam. Based upon the boiler pressure gauge it looks like the temperature is set to about 255F.

EDIT: Looking back at a couple pics I took when I had the hood off to adjust the microswitch, it looks like there are other changes beyond the PL62S in that I do not see an adjustment for the "steam power." Looking at the PL62S video you can see that the steam is plumbed directly from the boiler so the "steam power" must be an adjustment of the boiler which I would expect would control the temperature and pressure of the boiler. This PL62S-T machine is kind of a morph between the S and T versions so you may want to discuss any further specifics with 1st-line. I have used their sales line and they are very responsive. In any case, the steam is coming straight from the boiler at a set temperature (again, based upon the pressure gauge) of 255F.

I have no experience with the Breville products but based on the solid construction of the Mara I would likely start my search for an inexpensive double boiler machine with the Diana.
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

LegallyBlind-Barista

#6: Post by LegallyBlind-Barista » Apr 15, 2018, 10:31 pm

As far as the PID, you may be thinking about the PL62T which has the frontplate PID temperature reading and adjustments. This model is the PL62S-T which is the PL62S with a preset and internally adjustable PID. Although I too have been curious about it, I do not know where the sensor is for the PID or for the brew pressure
[/quote]
Thank you Jim for your response as it seems as if I had the models mixed up a bit. I guess I assumed or hoped this was PL62T which has the frontplate PID temperature reading and adjustments. To be clear, the PL62 S-T has a fixed, non adjustable PID displayed on front panel for some reference which shows boiler temp? However it seems with an HX machine I can hear a distinct difference when flushing which helps let one know approximately when brew time is ready, even without thermometer?
I imagine Eric E61 thermometer would be wise as I assume that would give me the actual group temperature letting me know when ideal brew temperature was, after flush?

LegallyBlind-Barista

#7: Post by LegallyBlind-Barista » Apr 15, 2018, 10:54 pm

[quote="santa"]
This is one of the 3 machines I'm looking at (BDB and Lelit Diana are the other two) as they're right around my max budget of $1000 and can do steam, so I really appreciate the info.

David, Does the Diana have an adjustable P.I.D.?
And where can you find a Lelit Diana for $1000in the U.S.?


One of my biggest concerns about this model of the Mara is the fixed PID. From the product page it sounds like you can't adjust the temerature:
quote]Yeah this is my biggest concern on the PL62S-T as well.

santa

#8: Post by santa » Apr 16, 2018, 1:52 am

LegallyBlind-Barista wrote: David, Does the Diana have an adjustable P.I.D.?
And where can you find a Lelit Diana for $1000in the U.S.?
1st line has it on sale for 20% off which brings it down to $1080US. And yes the PID can be used to adjust the temp for both the brew and steam boiler.

https://www.1st-line.com/buy/lelit-pl60 ... ual-pumps/

It don't think the PL62S-T has a PID display at all. It has one on the inside the control the boiler temp. More stable than a pressure stat I guess, but not adjustable. That said, it's pretty remarkable to get a HX E61 for $999.

LegallyBlind-Barista

#9: Post by LegallyBlind-Barista » replying to santa » Apr 16, 2018, 8:54 am

Wow David Thank you as the Diana seems to be another fantastic option! The only slight cons on the Diana I see are:
1) The boilers are NOT insulated? Not sure if this is a huge deal or not?
2) The P.I.D. does not seem to have a shot timer? Not a big deal, just would be nice to know when the 25-30 second time to stop shot. I guess a handy stopwatch would work?

As far as I understand the differences between the Lelit PL62s-t and Diana are that first one is Heat Exchange with no adjustable PID and second is Dual Boiler with adjustable PID for both steam boiler and brew boiler.
On the HX if I want to know the group temp to get best time to brew I'd have to get the eric e61 thermometer.
The Dual Boiler Diana has the adjustable and visible PID that is for both boilers, hence giving me the group temp to know when best time to pull shot?

Group question: The HX has the E61 but the Diana does not? What is difference between both these groups? I think dual boilers don't have or need the E61? (Newbie here just trying to learn)

Curious which model you are leaning to and why?

Thanks,
Joey

BoulderGeek

#10: Post by BoulderGeek » Apr 16, 2018, 4:41 pm

It's nice to see some chat and traction about this machine, here. I am a recent purchaser, as well, and have been chatting on other forums where the Mara has had more of a following.

I got mine about a month ago, as well. Along with it, I got a Quamar M80 doser grinder. I sort of wish I had paid the extra $25 to step up to a Eureka Mignon. Oh, well.

AFAIK, they (1st-Line) are still honoring the $999 promo, which is to use the code BEMINE on checkout, after creating an account on their site. You'll also get 2% of the full $1350 purchase price back, which gave me $28 off on my next purchase, so that's nice.

My Mara is an upgrade from a PID'd Silvia V1 that I bought from 1st Line in 2000 or so. The Silvia was "good enough" to keep me from spending $1800 or more on a new Italian or German machine. But, this sale was significant enough to get me off the fence. And I am glad that I did.

I would definitely recommend your next purchase with your reward points to be the Lelit Wooden Knob and Portafilter kit. https://www.1st-line.com/buy/lelit-bott ... ara-models At $75 or so, it is a bargain. I refinished mine in a quick paint of mahogany polyurethane, and everything looks very nice. Much, much better than the terrible round plastic donut knobs it comes with.

I have mine on a smart plug, which is then controlled by Amazon Echo ("Alexa"). It starts warming 25-30 minutes before I am ready to use it, and it is always ready to go. I don't need a cooling flush to the brew group, but run one anyway to get the portafilter heat up. On the stock settings (non-adjustable internal PID) the grouphead does not flash to steam. The hot water tap does flash to steam. I usually drop a couple of ounces of hot water into each mug, as a preheat, prior to pulling my shot. When I leave teh house, or by 9AM, whichever comes first, the machine goes dormant until the next day, or until I say "Alexa, espresso on."

The steaming power is very strong. So much better than a SBDU like the Silvia. I can steam a 20oz pitcher of milk, half full, in about 25 seconds, to 145F. That's faster than the microwave. Lined steam wand means no burns if you move it while steaming. The tip will burn, though.

The factory setting of the digital PID thermostat is just fine, for me. I had my Silvia at 223F with offset. This got me to ~200F at the puck. I am just as pleased with my pulls on the Mara. Once I found the right temperature for my machine and elevation, I never changed my old programmable PID, anyway.

I'm exceptionally pleased with this machine, at this price. After my mods, I don't think I'd be happier with a Profitec Pro 500, old style, had I bought it for $1600.