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La Spaziale Vivaldi II

La Spaziale VII Chris Coffee Service has definitely hit a winner with this machine. With a little practice and high quality coffee, the double boiler configuration and tight temperature controls make it easy to bang out good espressos and cappuccinos shot after shot. The price point positions it well in the prosumer and small commercial market and Chris Coffee Services has always been ranked high in their support for their machines. The La Spaziale Vivaldi II definitely has some noteworthy additions to its sibling the La Spaziale Vivaldi S1. The most impact on espresso performance has been the tighter temperature controls on the brew thermostat and programmable preinfusion. Preinfusion has overcome some of the channeling issues experienced by the S1. For those of you who have an earlier vintage machine Chris Coffee Service has also preserved an upgrade path for these new features. Something I wish other vendors would follow suit with.

In comparison to the La Valentina; both of these machines are among the top of their class. In the hands of an experienced barista both will produce exceptional espresso. There are however some notable differences due mostly to the dual boiler versus heat exchanger configurations. Now let's review the scores.

The first is the exceptional espresso score™. This is a relative scale of the espresso quality a barista with moderate experience should expect on a daily basis. Both machines get an 8.5 here. High end heat exchanger machines like the La Valentina consistently score around 8.5 in this category. The La Spaziale S1 received an 8.0 in the previous review. The La Spaziale Vivaldi II has gained a half a point over the first review primarily because of the addition of preinfusion. Setting up the preinfusion for 3 seconds improves the consistency and clarity of the shots making it comparable to those I could pull with La Valentina.

The next score is the “morning after” score. This is another relative scale that 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. Here the VII gains some ground over the heat exchanger, meriting a 9.0 thanks to its ease of temperature control, auto dosing and additional preinfusion. The La Valentina follows closely behind with 8.5. The heat exchanger design does make temperature control more challenging for the growing barista. It is a great idea and works very well but does demand more hands-on attention than the VII double boiler.

Steaming performance is an important consideration if you are a latte or cappuccino lover. The VII speed and ease of producing exceptional microfoam has it slightly ahead of the La Valentina in this category. Dual boilers do have an edge here. I would however suggest that if you are consistently steaming smaller quantities of milk (as most of us at home do) you invest in the smaller steam tip. Again the learning curve on the smaller tip will be less steep and you will get more consistent results with the smaller volumes of milk.

On my final ranking, the convenience and features score, the VII does take a decisive lead. The auto-dosing and on-the-fly temperature adjustments give it a significant edge over the La Valentina. It also provides for convenient rinsing of the portafilter, a go-anywhere steam wand, large drip tray, easy cleanup, and waterfall-like water tap performance that will definitely keep the Americano lovers happy.

Although aesthetics haven't played a role in the ranking here they do impact our buying decisions. The VII's design with its colored side panels and shorter stature fits well into the kitchen but is more understated than its shiny stainless steel cousins. If you are looking for a kitchen centerpiece the VII will fall short. If you are looking for a clean, functional design that blends with rather than stands out in the kitchen, then it does remarkably well.




Convenience / Features

La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II





La Valentina





Hopefully this review has given you some insight into the La Spaziale Vivaldi II and has given you some information about the differences between its double boiler design and the heat exchanger design of the La Valentina. At this level of semi-commercial and prosumer machines the differences are frustratingly subtle, and the value of each distinction as subjective as the definition of a perfect espresso. That said, you will be hard pressed to find a better machine in this price range and with this level of consistency, ease of use and customer support.

Good luck in your selection whatever it may be!

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