Lelit Elizabeth Owner Experience

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hercdeisel
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#1: Post by hercdeisel »

Table of Contents:
1. Why Lelit Elizabeth?
2. Using the Machine
3. Nice Quality of Life features I'm appreciating as I'm using it more
4. Things I wish were different
5. Misc. Observations.

I've had an Elizabeth for around a month now and hadn't noticed many discussions of it. There are a few videos on youtube demonstrating preinfusion control and temperature stability as well as promotional videos about how it works and evidence of it making lots of cappuccinos back to back but beyond that there really isn't much information or owner experience reported yet. I'll be back this weekend to post some pictures and videos as well as answer questions but figured I'd get this out now so people can ask questions, etc.

1. Why Lelit Elizabeth?
  • My usage: My general use is 2-3 espresso brews in the morning during the week along with sporadic afternoon usage when I happen to be home during the week. On weekends, the machine might be used at any point during the day, usually for about four drinks in total. The usage is probably about 2/3 espresso, 20% americanos, the rest with milk drinks but that milk drink proportion is much higher on the weekends when I might be making vanilla steamers for kids and cappuccinos. During the week, I'll occasionally make a cortado. As for coffee preferences, this is a fun hobby from me and I pull in coffees from around the country of all sorts of roast levels and origins. I'm really new to espresso and am in love with experimenting.
  • My constraints: first, I didn't want to worry about warm up times or, in general, temperature stability; second, while I don't care about steaming large quantities of milk, I want the milk steaming I do to be as easy and quick as possible; third, I want easy control of variables like temperature and preinfusion; fourth, I don't have a ton of counterspace; fifth, I was pretty hard-capped at $2000 for the machine.
  • My gear: I have a Robot paired with a Lido-E at my office. I dearly love this combination and it's produced some of my favorite shots I've ever had. At home, the Elizabeth is paired with a 9-month old Sette Wi. My previous home machine was an Ascaso Dream PID. It got me into espresso and actually was quite nice for my purposes—not the least of which was that the machine was good enough looking and small enough for it to be accepted by my wife, which then helped me hook her on that espresso life. However, the construction quality was abysmal (I'll leave that for another thread) and after having numerous unrelated parts fail I just gave up.
  • To profile or not: The big question for me was whether to go down the flow and pressure profiling rabbit hole. Personality wise, that's probably where I'm going to end up. I love the idea of tinkering and experimenting and tailoring a profile to a bean. The closest I've got to this is playing with pressure and flow on my Robot which I've had success with. I just couldn't make the money work. The Elizabeth doesn't allow you to pressure profile but you have lots of variables to play with when it comes to preinfusion (more on this below) and temperature.
  • Other machines considered: DE1+ (especially once the new ordering infrastructure went in), but it was just too much money. Profitec Pro 300 (no preinfuse control, more $ than Elizabeth), BDB (lost out on aesthetics)). I didn't really consider e61 machines too closely because of their 30min+ warmup times. Once companies started releasing their kits for pressure profiling, the choice between, e.g. a Mara with profiling kit and the Elizabeth became a little tougher but honestly at that point I'd also be throwing in the variable of temperature control on an HX which I also didn't want to add.
2. Using the Elizabeth
  • Basics of brewing. You brew with one of two brew buttons. Each can be configured in a number of ways with respect to pre-infusion or total brew time. You can program each button for its own pre-infusion length and shot length (the pre-infusion is not counted in addition to the total shot length but as part of the total programmed shot length). There's no cap on the pre-infusion length. If you set total shot time to zero, you have manual control. That's what I've done as I cut my shots by watching the shot color and texture. So, these are time based rather than volumetric based controls but that doesn't matter for me anyway since I'm cutting my shots manually. My current setup is with one button that brews with no pre-infusion and one with a pre-infusion which I change.
  • Pre-infusion: This, to me, was the fun and unique part of the machine. Given the way that the preinfusion mechanism works (lelit has a video on this you can look up), it's done with no pump pressure but instead uses pressure (and hot water, mixed with fresh water) from the steam boiler. So, that gives you an indirect tool for manipulating preinfusion time and pressure.
    Out of the box, the steam boiler is set at 275F. At that temperature by about 5-7 seconds the brew pressure gauge will reach about 3bar and you'll get your first drips for most coffees. When I'm playing around, however, I can decrease this pressure and increase your preinfusion time. When I drop the steam boiler to 260F, for example, I have preinfusions that are just beading at 15 seconds and pressure is a bit under 2bar. So, no, I can't flow or pressure profile with this machine but I can play around quite a bit with pre-infusion.
    If you just turn the pump on with no pre-infusion timer set, everything ramps to full pressure in about 5 seconds, which seems fairly standard among machines I've seen.
    For darker roasts, I omit the programmed preinfusion. For lighter and/or fruitier coffees I play around with it quite a bit and have had quite a bit of success (for my tastebuds anyway!)
  • Steaming: Steaming capacity (for my admittedly limited purpose) has been great. I'll try to get more precise measurements this weekend but my usual routine is to pour 5-6oz of milk into a 10oz frothing pitcher. I've had excellent quality microfoam (my skills are weak but the milk has supported my attempts) and quick heating. I've done two of those pitchers back to back with only 20-30 so seconds between steaming each pitcher.
    I haven't experimented with it yet, but since preinfusion works by opening a valve to the steam boiler, it might not be possible to steam well while preinfusing. That's not really a problem for me. If I'm playing around with a long preinfusion, that's not generally the kind of coffee I'm putting milk in. I want to taste it directly!
3. Nice Quality of Life features I've appreciated since living with the machine
  • The drip tray feels enormous and spacious. Luxurious even. There's loads of room for even larger scales to fit. There's just so much surface area underneath the brew head, water spout, and steam wand.
    Speaking of scales, there's terrific space between the group and the drip tray, especially when using a bottomless portafilter. But Lelit have not left you hanging with too much space as they include a little riser that brings espresso cups close to the portafilter. I can fit a coffee mug on a scale underneath the bottomless portafilter easily for pulling americanos.
  • The 'coffee slide' spouted portafilter is kind of cool. I like it enough that I often dial in a coffee with the bottomless and then swap over to the spouted.
  • The LCC control system is super easy to use and program. The screen is also very nice to read and easy to understand. It doesn't look too techy while being bright and clear. It allows you to change: brew boiler temp, steam boiler temp, steam boiler on/off, button 1 preinfusion, button 1 brew time, button 2 preinfusion, button 2 brew time, and C or F temp displays. It also has a shot counter.
4. Things I wish were different
  • I wish I could change the OPV easily. One of the really nice things about the Ascaso Dream was that it had an externally adjustable OPV to set a max pressure wherever you want without opening anything up. I wish I could do that on this machine to lower the max pressure. I'm sure it's easy enough if you open up the machine, but it's just something I wish I could do myself.
  • My first machine was a thermoblock so the hot water dispenser was delivering fresh water. When I'm using a coffee that I don't preinfuse, and I'm not steaming much if at all, the water doesn't taste all that great coming out of the hot water tap. I've never had a dual boiler machine before so I don't know if that's just part of the deal with a dual boiler. I suppose I could solve that by just not having the steam boiler turn on when I've got that kind of coffee in the hopper (you have individual control over turning the steam boiler on and off). Anyway, I've taken to either heating water for an americano in such cases by steaming it (for some reason steaming the water tastes fine) or just turning on a kettle.
  • Given that I'm working under cabinets, I prefer machines with reservoirs that remove from the side rather than top.
  • The supplied portafilter is pretty cheap feeling. My Dream PID wood handled portafilter was much nicer. Same goes for the steam knob—cheap plastic.
  • Sometimes, especially if I'm steaming quite a bit, I think it might be nice to have a steam boiler pressure indication somewhere to have a clearer sense when it's up to temp or has recovered. There's no indication concerning its status.
5. Misc. Observations
  • The included (by 1st line? By Lelit? I'm not sure) resin filter replaces the plastic particle filter that's already in one hose, not the other hose which goes into the reservoir.
  • I have played with both VST Ridged 15g and the supplied 'Double' portafilter. The ridged VST is a *very* tight fit but works fine. I used it with lighter, fruitier coffees and long preinfusions (15sec) and it works great.
Verdict so far:
I'm very happy with the machine. I still am drawn towards profiling but I just don't have the resources right now. The machine has made really excellent shots, shots that have made me really smile. I'm drawn back to the machine again and again to make shot after shot, to tinker and improve and tinker some more.

I'll come back this weekend with pictures and hopefully some video. If you have any specific questions feel free to post here and I'll reply.

Stanford55

#2: Post by Stanford55 »

This is excellent, thanks. I'm intrigued by the machine and looking at it as an upgrade to what I have now. "DeGaulle" posted this on a first impression thread on the Elizabeth:

Feb 08, 2019, 12:16 am

"This is an interesting design. It seems the autofill solenoid sees bidirectional service (fresh water into the steam boiler and hot water from the steam boiler), since it is also used for pre-infusion and for topping up the brew boiler when the HW wand is used. It defeats the separation between brew circuit and steam boiler, so it may be off-putting to people who don't want to mix brew water and steam boiler water. But if you can control the mineral buildup by filtering and/or regular use of the HW wand, why not? It will be interesting to know if there is some safeguard against dirty coffee water flowing back into the steam boiler if the autofill kicks in during brewing, like a check valve or perhaps the autofill is electronically inhibited during a brew cycle?"

I think you alluded to this in your review; perhaps you or others could expand on it as a potential issue.

hercdeisel
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#3: Post by hercdeisel »

Yeah, that was a question I had as well. As I said, I noticed that I did not like the taste of water coming out of the hot water dispenser on its own, so I started to wonder whether preinfusion would add a taste I didn't like. So, I did the following experiment:

1. Pull 2oz water from a no-preinfusion setup. This is all water coming only from the brew boiler.
2. Pull 2oz water from the hot water tap, coming (I believe) almost entirely from the steam boiler.
3. Pull 2oz water from preinfusion (ie just set a long preinfusion timer to get 2oz water).

1 and 3 were pulled without any portafilter in place.

Cup 2 was distinguishable from 1 but cup 3 was closer to 1 (brew) than 2 (steam). In fact, the more preinfusing I did, the less 3 tasted like 2. (not that this is all that scientific)

My guess was that when you're brewing regularly with preinfusions, you're cycling more water through the (fairly small) steam boiler and so you're keeping that supply relatively fresher than a steam boiler on a standard double boiler.

babalu120483

#4: Post by babalu120483 »

Can't wait for the pictures and some videos.

Interesting observation about the taste of the water.

Any idea how often you are filling the water reservoir?

betrudrew

#5: Post by betrudrew »

Thanks for posting this and looking forward to more. I am in a similar position as you were and also considering the Profitec 300 -- and the Spaziale Mini: basically double-boilers that fit on a 17" counter. Got a small boatload of questions, if you post an update.

Is the depth of the machine truly the 11" stated in the specs? That's smaller than any double boiler I know, by far. I am also interested in the routine of changing the water, if it's a major pain from under the cabinets, how often do you need to change it etc? Would love an update on the water taste from the tap and if it improves over time -- and your thoughts on build quality separate from the plasticky knob and portafilter handle -- and, last one, what your basic routine is to make, say, 2 drinks back to back--anything in the workflow hurt or helped by this machine? Thanks for the thorough review and any future updates. . . .

hercdeisel
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#6: Post by hercdeisel »

babalu120483 wrote: Any idea how often you are filling the water reservoir?
I fill it more often than I need to. I add water twice a week but could get away with once a week. It's not much of a pain but I could see myself putting some felt underneath the pads to slide it in and out with no hassle at all. As is I lift it ever so slightly and pull it out. I don't have it all the way under the cabinets, though, because I use the space behind it to store frothing pitchers, cleaning tools, filter baskets etc.
betrudrew wrote: Is the depth of the machine truly the 11" stated in the specs?
Yes, it's the same depth as my Sette. Not really much deeper than a portafilter. Here is a picture with my portafilter and with the sette set against it. As you can see, they're basically the same:




Here's the setup from the front:


The angle that picture is taken from makes it look like it doesn't fit under 17" cabinets with the cups on top but it does. I have some not neutral cortado glasses and those don't fit under the cabinets. The portafilter is a clive bottomless i bought because it pretty much matched the wood on my old ascaso dream pid and I wanted a bottomless filter to check my distribution skills and puck prep as I was learning. It actually doesn't look bad. Aesthetically I was thinking a red Specialita would look pretty fantastic with this setup!

Some more thoughts on the pre-infusion and water taste. I made a shot today that had a 12second preinfusion and it tasted exactly like a shot I'd pulled with my Robot at work yesterday with the same beans. The robot obviously only uses fresh water from a kettle, so I don't think there's really much worry about the taste of the steam boiler water affecting the shot taste. Again, though, that's with me regularly using the preinfusion function on just about every shot. I also run about 10 seconds of prefinsuion and 5 seconds of regular pump after the machine has warmed up for the first time, so that's flushing water pretty regularly through the steam boiler.

I'll post some video and workflow shots later/tomorrow.

babalu120483

#7: Post by babalu120483 »

hercdeisel wrote:I fill it more often than I need to. I add water twice a week but could get away with once a week. It's not much of a pain but I could see myself putting some felt underneath the pads to slide it in and out with no hassle at all. As is I lift it ever so slightly and pull it out. I don't have it all the way under the cabinets, though, because I use the space behind it to store frothing pitchers, cleaning tools, filter baskets etc.
That's actually not that bad - I used to fill up my Breville at least 3 or 4 times a week (that was with 2 double shots and some hot water for my wifes tea daily).

The machine looks really nice and the size is perfect next to the Sette. I had made up my mind to go with the Lelit Mara HX due to the price and the fact that Lelit is coming out with a Profile Kit but your pictures make me doubt my decision (once again LOL).

Can't wait for some videos to see it in action. Thanks for posting and giving us your feedback.

hercdeisel
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#8: Post by hercdeisel »

babalu120483 wrote:I had made up my mind to go with the Lelit Mara HX due to the price and the fact that Lelit is coming out with a Profile Kit but your pictures make me doubt my decision (once again LOL).
Yeah, that's such a tough choice. The warm up time is what I didn't especially want to worry about with an e61 but being able to play around with profiling is just so tempting. Honestly, it would probably be a coinflip for me to choose between these machines.

Here's a video of with preinfusion. This shot ends up tasting a lot like a delicious syrupy shot that I pull with my robot at work (I actually have come to treat the robot as my reference machine for dialing in shots with medium to dark roasts on my home machine...).

As you can hear, the first 12 seconds are preinfusion with no sound. It's not my best distribution effort as you can see from an early channel popping on the side and the somewhat uneven preinfusion wetting but the taste was great. I could probably let the preinfusion go another three seconds or so to get the whole basket beaded at the bottom. It was a 15g in 30g out shot over 42 seconds. With the preinfusion I think that's actually a pretty good time and the taste is great with these beans. I'll also follow up with a beginning, middle, and end series of pictures for the actual drink.

The basket is the stock Lelit basket instead of the VST 15g ridged. The VST basket is much wider in the bottom of the bottomless portafilter. Also, fwiw, the giant scale fits easily on the drip tray. Sometimes I put it under the riser to weigh as I'm pulling when I'm playing with a new bean. It's way bigger than most coffee scales folks are using—it's a $5 cheapy from walmart.

The sound in the background is a dryer...sorry about that!
Here's what the shot looked like in the cup, beginning, middle, and end:




The shot's got a nice viscosity to it, clinging well to the cup. It was delicious.

babalu120483

#9: Post by babalu120483 »

I still haven't made up my mind. Im probably heading over to 1st line sometime this week and hopefully I will be able to see both machines and I will make a decision.

hercdeisel wrote:Yeah, that's such a tough choice. The warm up time is what I didn't especially want to worry about with an e61 but being able to play around with profiling is just so tempting. Honestly, it would probably be a coinflip for me to choose between these machines.
What type of beans are you using? Also, I noticed you cut the shot manually. Have you tried the volumetric setup?

The machine is really simple but looks really nice in that stainless finish. One of my big back and forth is the fact that I want an E61 because of its function and classic look but really like the overall design of the Elizabeth.

Thanks again for the video and pictures. BTW - not sure if you have noticed but 1st line has linked your review to their page :D

hercdeisel
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#10: Post by hercdeisel »

babalu120483 wrote:I still haven't made up my mind. Im probably heading over to 1st line sometime this week and hopefully I will be able to see both machines and I will make a decision.
Good luck! I wish I lived close enough to a dealer to be able to play with the machines before hand. I think it really is the coinflip. I do love the classic look of the e61, for me it's just about warm up time.

babalu120483 wrote: What type of beans are you using?
The beans are from Prelude in Oklahoma City, Inwell blend. They're new but descended from Mariposa Coffee, which I've enjoyed for a while. The blend isn't as dark as GGET's Minor Monuments or Topeca's Topeca's Italian Roast but it's pretty similar. I'd say medium-dark.
babalu120483 wrote: Also, I noticed you cut the shot manually. Have you tried the volumetric setup?
Yeah, I cut the shots manually just because I like to cut by color on the bottom. Since I was filming I couldn't watch as easily and film. But the timing function works great. The only thing to remember is that preinfusion time comes out of the total time, it's not additional.
babalu120483 wrote:BTW - not sure if you have noticed but 1st line has linked your review to their page :D
Cool! I hadn't see that.
betrudrew wrote:...your thoughts on build quality separate from the plasticky knob and portafilter handle -- and, last one, what your basic routine is to make, say, 2 drinks back to back--anything in the workflow hurt or helped by this machine? .
Build quality is solid. The machine is pretty heavy and there isn't much flex in the chasis when you move it around. The drip tray is beefy as well.

As for routine, lots of other machines have this capability as well, but something I've started to do is to program one button for a flush and the other for the actual pull. So, I can hit the flush button while grinding the second shot. I grind and hit the flush button at the same time. By the time the puck is ready I just wipe the shower screen and insert the portafilter. With the cavernous drip tray dumping some extra water into it is really no big deal. Other than that, the machine seems fairly stratightforward. It's main day-to-day perk is it's quick warm up time, I'd say.