Expobar Brewtus III
Conclusion


WholeLatteLove For me and my somewhat "espresso-challenged" wife, the Brewtus III turned out to be a most delightful espresso machine to have in the kitchen. The PID control made temperature management simple—good for those folks who want to try experimenting with different coffees at varying temperatures. The no burn steam arm and single hole tip made for easy steaming and the Brewtus' narrow dimensions fit comfortably into the kitchen environment. The E61 group delivered consistently tasty espressos across a broad range of coffees and its built-in preinfusion was quite tolerant of Karen's less precise leveling and tamping methodology.

As always, the conclusion offers scores for the various equipment criteria, starting with the exceptional espresso score. This is a rating of the espresso quality a barista with moderate experience should expect on a daily basis using a wide range of coffee beans and blends. Here the Brewtus III performs quite well with a score of 9.0. The Brewtus's consistent temperature control and E61 group deliver consistently good espresso. The only area of improvement might be in the clarity of the espresso, but this is an area most pump-driven espresso machines concede to their lever counterparts.

The "morning after" score considers those who are learning and what they should reasonably expect in the early days following delivery—assuming of course that they have read the manual, usage notes, and so on. Again the Brewtus scores a 9.0. The double boiler configuration, electronic temperature control and built-in preinfusion of the E61 group make for dog simple, by-the-numbers espresso. Even in the blurry-eyed haze of the early morning, it is easy to pull a very respectable shot.

The cappuccino lover's score weighs the speed and ease of frothing. The Brewtus falters slightly, meriting an 8.0. The single hole tip produced great microfoam with ease. However, both the single and two-hole tips fell short of the steaming power one would expect from a machine with a dedicated steam boiler. A beginner will want to use the single-hole tip. It is slower, but allows finer control over the process and can deliver excellent microfoam. The two-hole tip cuts steaming time almost in half, but falls short on delivering silky microfoam, instead tending towards fluffier drier foam cappuccinos. The Brewtus III will deliver an excellent single cappuccino or double cappuccino, but will definitely tax the barista serving a dinner party if they are banging out more than three or four milk drinks in succession.

On the convenience and features score, the Brewtus really shines. The Brewtus gets high marks for the ease of setting and controlling brew temperature, uncomplicated flushing requirements which produce impressive no-brainer consistency, a giant drip tray, an easy to use no burn steam arm, and the convenience of plumbed in operation. The only knock on this score is the Brewtus' inability to turn off the steam boiler for espresso-only operation.

Exceptional
Espresso

Morning
After

Cappuccino
Lover's

Convenience / Features

Brewtus III R

9.0

9.0

8.0

9.0

La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II

8.5

9.0

9.5

9.5

La Valentina

8.5

7.5

9.0

8.5


In conclusion, the Expobar Brewtus III delivers consistently good espresso on a solid chassis that will last many years. As my wife would happily point out, the learning curve on the Brewtus III double boiler is thankfully short from day one. The Brewtus III is also equally capable of delivering superb espresso with great coffee and an experienced user.

Confessions of a La Spaziale Vivaldi VII Owner

As some readers may be aware, I own a La Spaziale Vivaldi II. It's always a challenge to review a product on its own merits without comparing it to other similar products, but I have tried my best to do that in this review. Having used both machines for quite awhile, I offer the top five things I like best about one versus the other:

I like the Brewtus III over the La Spaziale Vivaldi II because:

  • E61 group. The mechanical preinfusion is inherent to the group design and the group has no bolt in the center of the dispersion screen to interfere with even water diffusion. Note: Mechanical preinfusion is available as an option for the La Spaziale and it aids consistency and significantly reduces channeling.
  • No burn steam arm. Yes, you can get it on the La Spaziale but it requires a retrofit. The no burn arm is easier to manipulate when steaming milk since you can hold it anywhere along the barrel.
  • Insulated double boilers. Cuts down on the heat delivered to the cabinets, but still keeps the cups warm.
  • PID control. Marginally better control than the precise temperature sensors on the La Spaziale.
  • Numerical temperature display. I prefer that over the LEDs on the La Spaziale.

I like the La Spaziale Vivaldi II over the Brewtus III because:

  • Great steaming power. The Brewtus just isn't fast enough for me.
  • Four hole tip. I like the steaming pattern of the four hole tip better than the one or two hole on the Brewtus III. The pattern enables me to get great microfoam without too much attention—great for early morning blurry eyed cappuccino preparation. 
  • Volumetric dosing. This is a great feature to have when you're putting breakfast together in the morning and have a gazillion things going on at the same time. I can pull shots and forget about exact timing.
  • Steam boiler power switch. I like espresso, my wife likes cappuccinos. I make cappuccinos in the morning for her, then I turn off the steam boiler and have espressos during the day, saving some money and feeling greener.
  • Wider working platform. This gives me more room to pull shots, clean the portafilter and have a heated glass standing by. It is also easier to flush the steam wand with the wider platform.

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Whole Latte Love for supporting this review. Also I'd like to thank the Home-Barista membership for their many comments, corrections, and encouragement offered during the research on the Bench forum. A special thanks to the following coffee roasters who generously supplied the large volumes of coffee for this review:


Few people are probably aware of the amount of coffee it takes to review a machine and their support is very much appreciated.