Hey Everyone! I posted a bit ago that I had recently purchased a Lelit Elizabeth and I wanted to go over some first impressions (I haven't used all the features so far... like the pre-infusion feature).
Eureka Mignon Instantaneo
Usual routine: 17g in 34ish out
Background (aka.. why the Elizabeth?)
I had been given a Breville Café Roma as a gift around last year (lovely birthday gift from my very amazing fiancée). It was an amazing surprise because we had always joked about putting one on the wedding registry but I figured it would be a purchase that would be long into the future. I used it pretty frequently and made lots of espresso based milk drinks as well as steamed milk drinks ( in the vicinity of 3-6 per week). I like doing it! It was usually just us but we would occasionally have parents or friends over too. This was a bit annoying because making 3-5 drinks back to back was very time consuming between having to switch between brewing and steaming.. and steaming took over 1 minute per drink. The time added up quickly! Over time though, with not having any temperature or pressure feedback, and noticing that shots always seemed a bit acidic, I wanted to increase the amount of control I had with the temperature (needed a PID) and didn't want to deal with the HX flushes. So my options were a good quality single boiler or a double boiler. I decided that even if 90% of the time it would be just 2 of us I would be making drinks for, getting a double boiler would future proof any desire to upgrade because now I could entertain the idea of having to make drinks for 3 + people and it not taking too long.
Initially I only wanted to spend $1,500CAD.. namely when I was looking at the single boiler machines.. and Lelit's Victoria came up as an option as it had everything I wanted including the electronics. They are also known for heating up fairly quickly because the grouphead sits below the boiler. I thought about getting an e61 (they look amazing) but the time you need to wait to get the grouphead up to temp was frustrating... also.. I felt it might be a bit dangerous to have a super hot grouphead so exposed. The other options I was looking at were the ECM Classika w/pid (e61 grouphead, but single boiler), Lelit Victoria, and Profitec Pro 300. The Profitec pro does meet all of my criteria and was in the range of the budget, but I did like the fact that there were 2 programmable buttons on the Victoria.
The Lelit isn't a tank, but it isn't a poorly built machine either. The frame is stainless but is still magnetic. It isn't massive but it isn't small. My kitchen has lower cupboards and without anything on top of it, it can be put under them, but when I want to use it, I need to pull it out (to have access to the water tank and to be able to put cups on it). It doesn't feel flimsy when moving it in and out at all. The drip tray is fairly big (wide and shallow) and can hold a lot of water! This is good, but the way in which you have to remove it means that you might/will get splashed if you pull too hard and the water is too high. The cupwarmer is big and mine has a silicone wrap around the top presumably to keep the heat from escaping.. but it seems to be off from the edges a bit and there is currently a piece at the left hand back of the cup warmer that is a bit elevated from the rest of it. I am not sure if this is intentional or it just got a bit bent (there are no creases anywhere). You will be able to fit lots of cups on here and everything will heat up nice and quickly.
I bought their 18-22g filter with a bottomless portafilter and this is what I use. I haven't used the proprietary filter that comes with the machine. That said, it does lay flat which is a pretty nice thing. You don't have to tip it to get your tamper in even. The portafilters themselves feel like decent quality.. the plastic wrap handles feel a bit squishy when you squeeze and you will have to have a tight grip because I find that fitting them into the grouphead can be a bit of a struggle. The instruction manual does say that it may be difficult at first and to wet the grouphead/rim of the portafilter, but I wasn't expecting it to be so hard at first. With the backflush disc it is much easier, but I do find myself still having to brace the side of the machine and pushing with my left hand to really get it into place or close enough to the locked position. This and the steam wand are my only real annoying criticisms. The drip tray being wide and shallow can be frustrating, but just don't let it fill up beyond a ¼ to ½ of if it and you should be fine.
The steam wand is advertised as a no burn steam wand but it does get very hot to the touch on the metal parts after steaming and the silicone elbow only dampens that a bit. The other issue is that the steam wand, while easy to move, is also easily moved when resting the milk jug against it when steaming. This can be a bit annoying and mostly happens when the spout aligns with the arm of the wand. Lastly, milk will get caked on the tip. My machine came with a 2-hole steam tip that screws on and off. After steaming I do purge as soon as I can (try to put everything down and touch the arm as little as possible but you can see the milk while it is steaming bubble and stick to the wand itself. This is frustrating because I would be hoping that a no-burn steam wand would not let this happen. I am seeing if I can replace it with the Bianca's steam wand as maybe it has the Teflon coating or is at least a bit thicker so that touching it won't burn as bad. The knob that controls the steam is on the right hand side which makes it a bit awkward for me, but it's not impossible.
Ease of use
Steam wand and grouphead issues aside, the machine is very easy to use. Once you turn it on I would suggest setting the temperature to whatever you want. I can't remember if it saves your last temp setting but it is just a few clicks of the LCC. I haven't really had a need either to mess with the steam temp, but you could. However, without a manometer reading up the pressure, I would hazard against it. That is set to be 125c/257f by default and things steam fine (more on that in a bit). The brew boiler temperature starts at a default of 93ish-c/200f and like I said if you want to make changes to your set temp, do it when it first turns on. The temperature of the brew boiler will blink presumably while the machine is heating up to reach the desired temp. It blinks when it hits the tempt too for some time also probably because it will take a bit for the internals to hit that temp too. However if you change the temp after it hits it, you will never know if you are at the new temperature or not. It doesn't give you an indication that the brew boiler ha reached or lowered to specific temp. I would suggest probably tha tif you want to raise it, great! Increase the temp and wait a bit of time (you can hear the boiler kick in when you do this) but if you want to lower it, I'd suggest running a lot of water through the grouphead to force it to fill at the new, lower temp. If anyone else has a better method to lower the temp, please let me know.
You can program two different buttons on the machine. The programmable items are the shot length (in seconds) and the preinfusion time (in seconds. If shot length is 0, when you press the button it will keep running until you press it again. If the preinfusion is at 0, it is off. I have not tried the preinfusion feature yet and I am not sure I will. It pulls water from the steam boiler (which is set to 125 degrees) and runs on line pressure to wet the puck (less than 1 bar apparently). But so far, what I have done is set the second button to be 1 button purge button (3-5 seconds) and the first is a manual control. Once you have dialed in your shots.. I see no reason not to just set your desired time, but if you want to maintain that control you can keep it manual (which I have for now). Obviously because it is a double boiler you can definitely steam at the same time. If you are wanting to maintain the manual control it does require a bit dexterity to hold the cup in the position and then press the button again, but it isn't insurmountable. With steaming, I usually do 4-8 oz of milk (usually a flat white/cap or latte) and it takes in the vicinity of 20-30 seconds to heat up. So, about half the time it took my Café Roma, which is amazing. I don't know if this is considered fast or about as fast as the Profitec 300 but it is plenty quick for me when dealing with also wanting to watch the shot. As I mentioned before the wand will get hot and you will want to have a wet cloth on hand right away to deal with the milk otherwise things will cake/bake on fairly quickly.
When pulling shots you do get a pressure reading that typically cuts out at 10 bar. This machine doesn't not have an easily accessible pressure adjustment but I wanted to ask the community here, how do you aim to get 9 bar pressure shots that pull in 20-30 seconds? Do you only modify grind size? Tamp lighter?
The shower screen is OK. Apparently it is made of brass which is cool. I tend to brush it between shots and do a couple purges to remove any coffee grounds that are stuck to it. Also, at the end of use I will do water only backflushes and will use 2 cafiza pills at the same (4gr) time when I backflush with detergent (approx. once a week). I get a little flack for babying it but it cost a lot and I want to maintain the crap out of it! Typically when pulling shots
You can turn off the steam boiler if you are fancying only have an espresso. Oh and in terms of the water tank, I fill it with my Brita and have one of their resin filters attached to cut down on any scaling. I hope it is enough!
Overall I would give this a B+! I am happy I jumped in. Their only other dual boiler is twice the price (after tax) and I couldn't justify spending that much. I think I should be good with this one for some time now and am only looking into switching out the steam arm to avoid the burn.
If you have any other questions, ask!