Lelit Mara vs Elizabeth: differences in cleaning and maintenance

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babel

#1: Post by babel »

First of all I am new to this forum and to this caffeinated world. I am so happy to say hi and to learn from all of you. Second is apologising if I have posted this question in the wrong string. If so, please advise where I should do so or the administrator could just move it to the right place.

As I've just mentioned, I am new to the espresso world. I come from an Illy iperesresso machine and have decided to take a leap into the home barista experience (good heavens!). I am looking into paring a Elektra Mignon Specialita with either a Lelit Elizabeth or a Mara PL62T with PID.

I will tell you that I am planning to make one/two lattes/flat whites/capuccinos in the morning and one or two espressos in the afternoon. They say the double boiler is best if you are (also) into milk-based coffees, which I am. It is true I like my silky textured milk prone to latte art (in my bucket list).

So far the pros and cons of both machines I have found are:

MARA X:

Pros:
- The looks. love them.
- Heavier
- Water tank more accessible.

Cons:
- Heat up time. I like to drink my coffee on demand since I do not have a fixed schedule, so wi-fi plug is ruled out.
- Lack of a timer and shut off button.
- Lack of preinfusion time.
- Maybe a bit too deep in length, since the portafilter also sticks out a bit, or so I'm told.

ELIZABETH:

Pros:
- Technology
- Preinfusion
- Steam power
- Quicker heat up time
- Shorter in height than the Mara

Cons:
- The looks: Not crazy about them; same goes for its long and squared portafilter. It seems as it the machine belonged in the back of a restaurant's kitchen, but this is me, of course.
- Water tank. The remaining space between the machine and my cupboard, once the Elizabeth would be installed, is a bit limited, so to refill it I would need to slide the machine forward constantly, something that would damage the rubber feet in no time. I also understand the water tank is messier than the one on the Mara.

Now, there is something I have looked for but couldn't find anywhere in all the comparisons and reviews... That is, which of both machines is easier to clean and maintain. Let's keep in mind that I am a complete newbie here, and probably if there is too much cleaning and maintenance I could be easily put down. I am aware this is a hobby that needs time and dedication (specially coming from my previous machine) and this is not for those in a hurry or with little patience, but... is there a difference in maintenance between the two machines?

And last but not least, which of the two is easier to, I'm not going to say "master" because I'm at a different beginner level, but to feel comfortable around?

As a side note, I'd like to mention that I am also looking at the Sage Double Boiler, because I've read that cleaning is easier, but... I think is a very different game.

Thank you all for your patience.

dndrich

#2: Post by dndrich »

I am moving up from a Breville Barista Express, and now have a Niche Zero grinder. It is terrific, but that is another story. I went with the Elizabeth, and it is being shipped now from Clive Coffee. The main reason I went with the Elizabeth is that the double boiler arrangement makes for stable brew temperature without dealing with HX purges. True the MaraX does a good job with this, but it is a compromise. It is probably the best you can do with an HX machine, but it is still an HX machine. Stable brew temperature is important. Additionally, I too do not want to wait the 45 minutes it take for the E61 group to truly reach temperature stability. Yes you can brew sooner than that, but this is what it takes. The Elizabeth will be stable enough at 15 minutes, and really good at 20 minutes. That is a big issue for me too. In terms of cleaning the Elizabeth will be much easier. No contest. And the brushed stainless will look better much longer. With regards the tank, yes that is an issue. But I plan to add some cheap felt adhesive pads like you get at the dollar store on the rubber feet, thereby making it really easy to slide the unit in and out from under the cupboard. I have that problem too. I have a similar arrangement with my current Barista Express, and I just slide it out to get to the tank and fill it.

Furthermore, with the ability to program the buttons for timed brewing, I will be able to dial in one of the buttons close enough for my wife, so that she can get close to a good pull without thinking too hard. She can steam the milk, and milk based drinks are more forgiving. So it will work for her too.

Yes, I know what you mean about the aesthetics. I find those shiny E61 boxes with their beautiful knobs and levers so appealing too! They look like a machine should look, and makes your house look like a nice café. I get it. But in the end I need function over form, so the Elizabeth is really likely to be a great choice for me. I bet you would be happy with it too. If you don't like the portafilter, you can get a new lovely one of your choice for under $100 that can be naked or ported. Any E61 58 mm should fit.

Here is a link to the extensive review of the Elizabeth from Dave Corby. He talks about cleaning in it also.

https://sway.office.com/YUuIpMmQlYAFkxIO?ref=Link

babel (original poster)

#3: Post by babel (original poster) »

Thank you for your prompt and extensive reply.

Can't agree more about Elizabeth's stable brew temperature made easy. And also I agree that the MaraX does a great job at this--but it is still an HX machine. Still those Mara looks... Man... gota love them.

I spoke to www.ecafe.es, the guys who distribute Lelit in Spain, and they told me that for the Elizabeth to truly reach its healing power I should give it NO LESS than 25-30 minutes, which puts it 15' "only" ahead of the Mara X. Still they say their Mara X sales triple those of the Elizabeth's, although not that this is important.

For what I gather, the Bianca has the best of both worlds, but it's way out of my reach, and let's be frank: I am still a newbie. I will get there--eventually.

I am familiar with Corby's reviews. Amazing the patience he has to make those easy to understand graphics. The man really takes his time.

I am really curious to read about your impression after some time with your new toy. I will sure use your input.

Thanks again!

dndrich

#4: Post by dndrich »

You bet. As it is I have no experience with either machine! But many on this forum do. I suspect it will be hard to go wrong no matter what you do. I am looking forward to the arrival of the Elizabeth. It should arrive Friday. I may miss it as I am on vacation for a week starting Friday!!

babel (original poster)

#5: Post by babel (original poster) »

Just got my Elizabeth. I would love to hear your first impressions.

dndrich

#6: Post by dndrich » replying to babel »

I have had mine for about 2 weeks now. It is superb, and checks all the boxes I hoped it would check. The coffee is terrific combined with my Niche Zero. Very easy to dial in. Temperature control is fantastic. Back to back drinks no problem. Steam is fabulous. I have felt feet now on the bottom so I can slide the machine easily on the counter, and fill the tank no problem. That was my biggest fear actually, with all the complaints about the tank. It turns out to be a non-issue. I have been leaving it on all day, and it is rock solid. I have my PID programmed with the advanced setting suggested by Dave Corbey, and it is working out nicely. I love the easy cleaning. So, this is a winner.

gobucks

#7: Post by gobucks » replying to dndrich »

The Elizabeth + Niche seems like a very popular combo, I received my Elizabeth a couple weeks ago and am expecting my Niche in the next week or two (treading water with my Baratza Encore for the time being). This is my first machine, so it's quite a learning curve, but it seems very capable. I also added felt feet, and can't imagine trying to deal with the water tank without them. I'd like to eventually get some wood accent feet or something like that, but I'm not sure if the screw in ones for the Mara X that I've seen floating around would work or not. In the meantime, the felt feet make it super easy to slide, especially due to its light weight.

As far as problems I've had so far, the first one is the really terrible included accessories - the tamper is nearly unusable, and the portafilter is a real PITA to keep clean (I just use it for my blind disk for backflushing as I've bought an ECM bottomless portafilter). I get that they're probably trying to keep costs down, but as a new user, it was frustrating to immediately have to figure out all the accessories I wanted to buy because the included stuff is so subpar. The other issue was a weird PID temp stability issue on the brew boiler - I would sporadically see the temp dip all the way from 93ish to 83ish before finally coming back up to temp (this occurred both using default and Dave Corbey settings). After playing around with a bunch of settings, I think it may have been caused by running the steam boiler too hot (I initially cranked it up to 145C to take advantage of the increased steam pressure), because once I backed it off to about 130C I didn't observe the issue anymore. It could also be that the reduced power availability in the US affects the way that the Elizabeth switches power between boilers, as I've talked to a few european users that keep their steam temps high and don't have this issue, but I'm just speculating. TBH this is not a big issue, as 2+ bar pressure is pretty hard for a newbie to work with, so I'm fine with dropping it down to 1.5 bar. Anyway I guess my advice would be to not go overboard with the steam temp, especially if you plan to leave your machine on all day.

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randyr5
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#8: Post by randyr5 »

Good move. 145C steam is way too high, IMO. That's pushing 300F