Review: Victoria Arduino Eagle One Prima after two weeks [Part 2 - making coffee]

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bobbieO7

#1: Post by bobbieO7 »

I'm still discovering and experimenting with the process of espresso making.

The beans, particle size and uniformity, elements in the water, pressure and temperature orchestrate together with machines and the hands of a human through a process that produces a few millilitres of liquid subjective to individual tastes.

Of course, the coffee machine is only a part of this process. But as a tool priced on the higher end of the scale, a certain level of accuracy, consistency, performance and usability shall be expected.

My setup:

Eureka Mignon Specialita with a single dose hopper
Puqpress mini
An unbranded needle-based distributor
An unbranded OCD like distributor
A bottomless portafilter with a few IMS baskets

Daily usage:

I'm not running a coffee shop, so I can not comment on the performance under load. For my home usage, a few espressos a day (well, maybe more than a few when dialling and experimenting), with some long blacks and flat whites, E1P handles with ease.

There was only one situation when I found the machine struggled. I was making two drinks at the same time, a long black and a latte. Immediately after drawing hot water, I started frothing milk, then the pump kicked in after the hot water draw, and it was at that moment steam pressure could not maintain, I had to work with 1.3 - 1.5 bar for that cup. I haven't tried to reproduce this scenario yet.

I suspect some race condition is going on when the water flows into the pump, and at the same time, other subsystems demand pressure and water simultaneously. I've discussed this roughly with VA Melbourne, and they are working on a software fix.

You may encounter this problem on other machines as well, I suppose? I speak from my own limited experience.

The steam is powerful and more than adequate. Compared to the two groups commercial La Marzocco at work, I can't tell the difference. Hot water works fine and plenty, only limited to the size of the water tank.

The water tank is on the small side without plumbing. For me, the size works, but I wouldn't have anything smaller. I'd take out the water tank to refill or use a funnel with care, as the electronic board is in a compartment next to the water tank. But still better than having it under the water tank.

Water pressure, volume and temperature:

There is no hardware pressure gauge; that's fine by me. Occasionally I found myself missing the immediate feedback of a physical meter. It's available in the app, though.

The pump pressure adjustment is under the machine, and it can be a little confusing as to which way to turn it to increase/decrease. But I only change it occasionally, mostly leave at 9 bar.

You might want to confirm and adjust the offsets of group head and pump pressure in the app depends on your altitude. I acquired the figures from VA Melbourne.

I've tested the volumetric dosing settings from the app, programming the buttons and using a measuring cup to confirm its accuracy. I found them accurate. Pre-infusion adjustment is precise.

Volumetric dosing was a crucial element in my purchase decision. There are days I want to pretend to be a chemist, but there are many days I want a good coffee quickly. I can dial everything once and leave it on for my family to use with a button press.

The machine has digits on the group head telling you what temperature it's at, and I always leave my portafilter in the group head. Hence, it maintains the same level of temperature. That's one parameter out of the way.

I try my best to adjust other parameters first and trust the machine operates with a standard level of stability and accuracy until proven guilty. So far, I haven't found the need to start an investigation yet.

Working in the software industry for more than a few years, I'm a little exhausted to look for more problems because they just come to you.

The app

The ability to use an app to control aspects of the machine is fantastic, and it is a significant step forward in the coffee machine industry.

Many industries are going through digital transformations. They are turning aspects of their product and organisation structures into software companies, if not data companies. I'm glad to see VA taking this step, and personally, this is one of the contributing factors to my purchase decision.

But the app's quality and design are on the verge of pass and failure.

Opening up the app for the first time, I can tell this is most likely an app outsourced to a third party company. The experience and design of the app have a disconnection with the coffee machine.

Parts of the registration process is broken, reset password doesn't work (on IOS 15), Bluetooth connection is intermittently broken and slow, user interface design is dated and lack taste IMO.

I had to uninstalled/reinstall the app a few times to re-establish a connection to the machine. This problem seems to happen randomly after a period of usage.

Occasionally the settings will not save correctly, and when it can't save, sometimes it just randomly set it to zero.

There is a cloud recipe section. I like the idea but haven't found it helpful yet.

In general, the app has quite a few bugs. I sense that testing wasn't adequate, and the development feedback loop is perhaps slow and broken.

And I hope the app has a proper logging and feedback mechanism to help developers diagnose and report in-app issues.

But with all that said, it is still a pleasure to use an app-enabled machine. If VA is serious about it, they need to start iterate on it soon.

Conclusion:

Overall I think this machine is a great job, and I find myself looking forward to making coffee with it every day.

I enjoyed recording my thoughts and using this as an excise to work on my writing. I hope my little words and rants will provide valuable data points.

This is the second and final part of my review.

BoArler

#2: Post by BoArler »

Apriciate you're review, thank you :)
Especially about the app, 3'rd party in charge of the app, dangerous setup.
The machine in it self can be good, but if the app isn't, it will leave the user with a general bad impression..
At this point of time the app should only have small issues.
Any further updates should only implement new features and/or slight improvements/adjustments

Baratza: skilled in the art of grinding
Sponsored by Baratza
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BaristaBoy E61

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

+1
Especially regarding the App - TNX.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"