Izzo Alex Duetto V3 Review
Conclusion


Evaluating the modern improvements embodied in E61 double boiler espresso machines like the Izzo Alex Duetto, it's tempting to focus on its impressive brew temperature reproducibility. Holding within 0.5°F of the target brew temperature? That's approaching the world-class performance of commercial designs like the La Marzocco saturated group. But recall Ernesto Valente was granted US patent #3230974, "Alternately seating valves" in 1966 for the innovation claim of automating the gentle initial preinfusion brew pressure that before was performed by the barista, not temperature control. Almost 50 years later, this automation of preinfusion continues to influence the evaluation of an E61 espresso machine, impressing newbie and experienced baristas alike with its high "forgiveness factor" that ultimately leads to better, more consistent espresso.

In 2013, Phillip Marquis and I made the video series Newbie Introduction to Espresso. With six months of experience as a home barista, Phillip shared his decision process and offers his own advice for buyers in similar circumstances:
Phillip Marquis wrote:It's been 6-8 months now since I've been introduced to the world of home espresso, and I've definitely graduated from the belief that a Starbucks latte was the best of the best. Don't get me wrong, I do still very much enjoy Starbucks lattes when I'm out and about, but I realize that since I've had the proper training, I can produce a latte that far surpasses Starbucks. Not to toot my own horn, because I still need a lot of practice.

[When it comes to] ease of use... the Duetto took it again. Still trying to get a grasp on why, but when my grind is right, and I have fresh coffee, it just makes a perfect espresso every time. The steaming also is crazy. I could probably boil a quart of milk in about 45 seconds with that thing. The Breville Dual Boiler was also impressive, especially for having two small boilers. If I had never used the Duetto, I wouldn't have known that the Breville's steaming capability was not the best you could get. The Breville also made things very easy for me, especially since it was the first machine I used. Again, on the other end of the spectrum, the Gaggia New Baby almost made me want to give up home espresso all together. I found myself making many more trips to Starbucks during that timeframe. Not only was it nearly impossible to get my espresso right, the steaming was feeble.

To sum it up, the only real comparison was between the Duetto and the Breville. But between the Duetto and Breville, it's a very close decision. The conservative side of me says that I don't need the Duetto when the Breville does such a fantastic job, really everything I need to have a great espresso machine. However, as we all know it's not always about just needs. Now that I've had the Duetto, I WANT it.
Thanks Phillip for your "newbie" perspective! This review continues the use of this site's streamlined format, which includes a simplified 5 star ratings rather than the 10 point scale of the detailed Buyer's Guide. The Izzo Alex Duetto V3 ratings are as follows:

  • Overall: 4 stars
    Espresso Performance: 4.25 stars
    Forgiveness Factor: 4.5 stars
    Cappuccino Performance: 3.5 stars
The Forgiveness Factor rating captures how well the espresso machine tolerates minor errors in barista technique. Time and again, the E61 group design has demonstrated its strength on this front, earning 4.5 stars. Its barista-friendly performance contributes to its impressive 4.25 stars for Espresso Performance, which puts it nearly in the ranks of the world-class espresso equipment it competed with in our group taste test.

For its Cappuccino Performance, the Duetto is plenty fast for the cappuccino/latte requirements at home. Thanks to the dedicated steam boiler, you can brew and steam at the same time. With practice, a home barista can start the brew cycle and finish steaming small volumes of milk for a cappuccino before ending the extraction. Added to its consistent steam performance is its easy-to-clean no burn steam wand, leading the Duetto to a solid 3.5 stars.

The Overall score considers all the other previously mentioned categories as well as considerations like fit and finish, serviceability, and maintainability. The Duetto is based upon the popular E61 group, which means that should problems ever arise, owners have lots of parts suppliers to choose from at reasonable prices and a huge community of other home baristas with similar equipment to solicit for advice. Plainly stated, with regular maintenance, you can expect many years of reliable service from the Izzo Alex Duetto. In the event that the Duetto does need repairs, most can be done at home by the modestly handy owner, with support from vendors (**) and the online espresso enthusiast community. Combining this expected longevity and the solid performance that's been demonstrated again and again in blind taste tests, the Izzo Alex Duetto earns 4.0 stars overall.

If you are an espresso machine shopper looking for a strong performer that will cure upgraditus for a long, long time, look no further.

Acknowledgements

Without the support of HB sponsors, reviews such as this would not be possible. I would like to thank Prima Coffee for the loaner evaluation equipment. I would also like to thank Counter Culture Coffee and Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea for the test coffees used during this review.

(*) Previous E61 espresso machine reviews, in order of publication from newest to oldest: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
(**) As site owner, I will admit to some bias towards HB sponsors, but not because they're sponsors. I recommend them because they actively support the online espresso community; see the section entitled Commerce on the Resources page for a list of site sponsors.

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